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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Edward Stephenson, September 21, 2002. Interview R-0193. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Tobacco auctioneering is a family tradition

Stephenson describes his entry into the tobacco auctioneer profession. He grew up in the business—his father and eight uncles were all auctioneers—and he always knew he wanted to become a part of it. If that sense was not enough, it also offered a chance to perform and a decent wage.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Edward Stephenson, September 21, 2002. Interview R-0193. 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

What got you into being anauctioneer? How'd you get started?
Well, as I said, my father was a tobacco auctioneer, and when he went to Work, where I went to work with him, I went to a tobacco warehouse. Of course when he got ready to go to work in the morning he was practicing auctioneering in the shower and I heard it day and night, seven days a week. It was a part of my life. When I went to work with him, when into the warehouse working, when I got old enough to work, I wanted to be an auctioneer but more than that, it was just a job I was just expected to do. It wasn't really forced on me, but it's just like a bricklayer's son, I was an auctioneer's son, a warehouseman's son and just . . . . . . When I got old enough that's what I started doing. When I got old enough to get paid for it I started doing it for a living. Since then most of them, all of them, but one of my uncles [has passed on]. My daddy's passed on. My mother also. And we just kind of took up where they left off, and [we] went on with it. And now I'm operating my own warehouse and auctioning my own sale. I'm just carrying on my family tradition.
Well why did you decide go into auctioneering as opposed to managing the warehouse, or ticket marking, or . . . . . . Why was it auctioneering?
Well, I just wanted to . . . . . . I was fascinated with tobacco auctioneering. I just thought it was the neatest thing. I always thought my father, and my other uncle, the late Snoxie Stephenson, who I was named after, I just felt like it was what I wanted to do. And felt like it was what I should do. And I just pursue it with everything I had. That's what I always wanted to be.
When you say you were fascinated by it, what was it that appealed to you about auctioneering?
Well it was flamboyant. Seemed like everyone was, you know the auctioneer was kind of like the star. The better you could do it, the better job you could get. And, quite frankly, it was a very good paying job. And it wasn't a real strenuous job, like splitting wood or anything. It was just something that I though would be a neat way to make a living. And also carry on my family tradition.