Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert Cole, May 10, 1981. Interview H-0311. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Ever-present guns during textile strike

Guns are the theme of this passage: Cole remembers carrying one during the strike, the sympathetic sheriff who determined he had not fired his weapons, and the crossed guns of militiamen at strikers' trials.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert Cole, May 10, 1981. Interview H-0311. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
Is this you at the time of the strike, do you think? You've got a gun?
ROBERT COLE:
No, that wasn't at the time of the strike. Now these two boys here, one of them is a second cousin of mine and the other is a boyfriend that he rode around with all the time. That was took at a church. Now see that pair of steps there? That was took at the church house. Wasn't made at the time of the strike, though. I think I was deputy sheriff when that was taken.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You became deputy sheriff? When was that?
ROBERT COLE:
That was right shortly after the strike. I became a deputy under Moreland. After he went out of office—he was out two years, maybe longer, I don't just remember how long he was out—a fellow by the name of Tom Nave was elected sheriff, and I was under him four years.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Sheriff Moreland was pretty much for the strike wasn't he?
ROBERT COLE:
Yes, he was. He was a whole lot for it. He was in sympathy. He come down on the highway when the shooting took place. He searched me twice, and never did find my gun. I had one. And they had this militia down there, you see, of soldier boys. And a man pointed me out and said, "That's the man who got the gun." That's why he searched me a second time. And I talked hateful to that soldier, told him he was so smart, he had stuff on his hip, to get up and use it. He never got up.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I should say.
ROBERT COLE:
They brought some soldiers to the court house. Had one on each side of the door with their guns crossed over. When I went up to the door they wasn't going to let me in. I pushed them back and went on in. I said this is a county, public building. You've got no business standing here. And I went on in. when they got in there they wasn't going to let them out. I came back out and they never said yep to me, nary a one of them.