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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jane Squires, September 21, 2002. Interview R-0192. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Female tobacco auctioneer experiences sex discrimination

Squires always sought to resolve disputes diplomatically, she recalls, but opposing parties sometimes brought her sex into their arguments, telling her that she should be at home raising children instead of arbitrating sales on the warehouse floor.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jane Squires, September 21, 2002. Interview R-0192. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
Somebody told me that the auctioneer has to take control of the sale, is that right?
JANE SQUIRES:
Pretty much. You're the verbal part of the sale so you have the last say so. But there is a diplomatic way to do it, with out getting everybody in a stew. I learned that early on. You can be humble and still get the job done with authority. I never ever stood on my sale and argued with anybody. I'm just not going to do that. I never have done it and I'm not going to do it. I tried to learn every situation that I could so I wouldn't have to argue.
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
Tell me about the diplomacy, if you don't mind. And maybe examples.
JANE SQUIRES:
To me, and the other auctioneers that you interview may disagree completely. Of course they are not going to have anything to say like I have. To me 90% of tobacco auctioneering is just common sense. It's just black and white to me. There wasn't a whole lot of room for error once it clicked in my head what I was doing. Do you understand what I'm saying?
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
Once you knew . . . . . .
JANE SQUIRES:
Once I nailed it there was just not . . . . . . the challenge was still there, because things happen everyday. You have a different sale every day. You have different personalities with your buyers. Different personalities of your warehouseman. Your dealing with a whole different group of people. I've seen some auctioneers just get red in the face and look like they're going to have a heart attack and so mad. It's never made me that mad. I've wanted to get that mad. And I've probably gone to my room, where none of these other men have, I've gone back to my room and cried. Because the situation was not handled like was. Somebody was throwing, "You need to be home having children and washing clothes." That kind of comment. Two supervisors had given me that kind of comment one day. You get three or four things like that in one day and your feathers fall. So you go back to your room, you re-group, pick yourself up and you try it again the next day.
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
You're probably the only auctioneer . . . . . .
JANE SQUIRES:
That's going to say that? [Laughs]
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
Well you're the only one that's been challenged that way. Like I said, I think it's truly admiral for you to get out there and do that. And not only get out there and do it, but do it well. So hat's off to you for that.
JANE SQUIRES:
It's been a great job. I have no regrets. None.