Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Title: Oral History Interview with Terry Graham, March 22, 1999. Interview K-0434. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Graham, Terry, interviewee
Interview conducted by Covington, Amanda
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 100 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-09-14, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Terry Graham, March 22, 1999. Interview K-0434. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0434)
Author: Amanda Covington
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Terry Graham, March 22, 1999. Interview K-0434. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0434)
Author: Terry Graham
Description: 69.3 Mb
Description: 33 p.
Note: Interview conducted on March 22, 1999, by Amanda Covington; recorded in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series K. Southern Communities, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as "
All em dashes are encoded as —

Interview with Terry Graham, March 22, 1999.
Interview K-0434. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Graham, Terry, interviewee


Interview Participants

    TERRY GRAHAM, interviewee
    AMANDA COVINGTON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
AMANDA COVINGTON:
This is March 22, 1999. Mr. Graham, I wanted to start this morning just asking you some questions about where you were born and where you grew up and kind of just hearing about you. So, so, tell me where you were born.
TERRY GRAHAM:
I was born out in a little town about 8 miles out west of Mooresville in a little place called Mayhew Town, which is in Iredell county.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So is it north of Mooresville?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Just west of Mooresville.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Just west of Mooresville.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Mooresville, yeah. And I went to church out there at Morris Chapel United Methodist Church.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Okay, so what is, is it -is that area still called Mayhew Town?
TERRY GRAHAM:
[unknown] it's still [unknown] rural.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
And it's still called Mayhew?

Page 2
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, it's still.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Well did you have any brothers and sisters?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, I have one brother and [unknown] sister. Both of them are married and have children, grandchildren.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Are they still living? Go ahead …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, one lives here in Mooresville and the other up Troutman - a rural area out there.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So tell me about then you first went to school, when you were living in Mayhew town.
TERRY GRAHAM:
When I first went to school?
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Well, I didn't go to school in Mooresville, I went to the Morris school out on Brawley School Road. I went out there for three years, I guess, and then we moved up to Troutman and I went to South Iredell. I finished school up there. That was a Rosenwald school. And when I first went there it was two rooms; they built one room, another room, made it three rooms.

Page 3
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.
TERRY GRAHAM:
And it went to the eighth grade but we didn't get credit for eighth grade, no certificate or nothing, for eighth grade. That's where I finished.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Okay.
TERRY GRAHAM:
And I went in the service up there in 1943-came out and came to Mooresville in '46 and started the taxi business and this Dunbar school that you were wanting to talk about, I remember when it was built, but I didn't go. I had some children that went there. And our first principal, we had, at Dunbar, he was a black man but he passed as a white man, and he ate in the cafés 'til they found out that he was principal of the …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Really …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Dunbar school.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Is this Mr. Woods?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Woods, yeah, uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Okay, okay. And then…
TERRY GRAHAM:
So they stopped him from eating in the café.

Page 4
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Oh my goodness, that's an interesting story.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah. So um…
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Well, going back to when you were going to school up at Morris and at South Iredell, what kind of - were there some classes you liked in particular? Or tell me some of the classes that you took.
TERRY GRAHAM:
I liked the mathematics and geography. Those was two subjects that I really liked. I was a little poor in spelling, but …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Oh, I was too.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Reading, I did very well in reading but I was poor in spelling. We had real good teachers at that time [unknown] Miss Harley (sp?) and Miss Wilkerson (sp?) [unknown] I really enjoyed going to Miss Wilkerson - she was real nice [unknown].
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So what kind of things did ya'll do [unknown] after school?
TERRY GRAHAM:
[unknown] work on the farm - in the spring of the year we plowed and planted the crops -cotton and corn and in the fall we had to gather the corn. But we never my family never did [unknown] Irish potatos and peas [unknown] it got to where more

Page 5
money in peas [unknown] I never had to pick too much cotton.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
It's probably just as well, huh?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So, did your family own land [unknown]?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah [unknown].
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Wow [unknown] did you, the family eventually sell the farm? Is that …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Well, yeah [unknown] in 1928 and bought it up and that's when we moved up to Troutman and, and bought a farm up there. [unknown] and [unknown] that stayed in the family, well, part of it's still in the family. [unknown] own, still own some of it [unknown].
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So, let's see, so, did you play any sports when you were in school?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Hum?
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Or did you play baseball or …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, I played baseball. I was baseball. I loved baseball.

Page 6
Yeah. We didn't have basketball like the children do now.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Oh, sure.
TERRY GRAHAM:
[unknown] volleyball. Baseball was my [unknown]. Then I had to have an operation for appendicitis. That time then they didn't allow you to play for a year afterwords and that, I just quit baseball then. And back in [unknown] in the fifties, I had a little baseball team here and we played around different places around here and in the country and had nice little games.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
[unknown]. So you were stationed- so you went into the service in '43, you said, so where were you stationed when you were in the service?
TERRY GRAHAM:
I took my training in Camp Leaf, Virginia and went to Omaha, Nebraska for advanced training and from there to Africa and from Africa to India and back home.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Yeah. Actually, my grandparents actually met in about 1945 in India.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
They were both over there. She was a nurse and he was an enlisted man.

Page 7
TERRY GRAHAM:
Well, I was in India, around Bombay and Calcutta.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh. I bet that was a neat experience.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
To be in a different place - a lot different that Mooresville, I guess, yeah.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, most different. Africa - it was nice in Africa. Africa was nice but India - it was dirty in India.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Yeah, just a lot of … yeah.
TERRY GRAHAM:
It's a nice experience - I'd like to go back over there now and see how it looks.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
I'm sure, I'm sure it's probably not as different as we'd like to think it was, yeah. Well, um, so you said that, so you moved to Mooresville, about, in the early 1950s …
TERRY GRAHAM:
I came to Mooresville in 1946, the last of 1946. When I came out of the army I came on down here and started my taxi business. October of ['96?].
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Was there - was it kind of a neat idea, the idea of moving into town? Did you like that idea- was that kind of appealing to

Page 8
you?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Well, yeah, it appealled to me. Overseas there they had a lot of taxis but different from ours here -I mean they call it [hack?] and the old cars, [unknown] they wasn't [unknown] - but I guess I just got interested when I came back, I said I wasn't farming no more. And that's what I took up.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Wow, so was it difficult at first to get your business started?
TERRY GRAHAM:
No, my uncle had started it in 1926, I believe, when he started. And he passed it - his son-in-law had it when I come home and they wasn't doing no good with it and that's when I bought it and started out.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So you bought it from your …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, it's been in the family all this time.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
That's neat, that's neat. Well, now, let's see, oh, I'm trying-I don't want to jump around too much. So, I wanted- so you said that your children had gone to school at Dunbar-
TERRY GRAHAM:
Um, yeah. That's correct-
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Yeah, and they all graduated before '66 or before the

Page 9
schools had integrated?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, yeah [unknown].
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Okay, so tell me about, so, when they were going to Dunbar - what is, what was, kind of - I'm trying to phrase my question well here - what kind of things did you … did they play any sports or play in the band?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, um, they played basketball.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.
TERRY GRAHAM:
But in fact, they didn't have a baseball team
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.
TERRY GRAHAM:
But they played basketball. I had one girl who was real good in basketball. And the boy was fairly well …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So, was there a big - did a lot of people in the community go to the basketball games on Friday night?
TERRY GRAHAM:
They always had a nice crowd, yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Do you remember the kind of things your children enjoyed

Page 10
studying at Dunbar a lot - what were some of the subjects that maybe they enjoyed or do you remember if they enjoyed any of the subject in particular?
TERRY GRAHAM:
I don't know. I had one daughter she went to college one year. She wouldn't go back.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
I know that feeling - whew. Yeah.
TERRY GRAHAM:
But I didn't have any of them get any scholarships or anything.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Did you have opportunities to go and visit the school when your kids were going there?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, yeah, we went to school. They had certain days, some days they had to go and eat, the parents go and eat with the children.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh. I haven't been able to talk with anyone who can tell me kind of what Dunbar was like …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So I wonder if you would kind of tell me …
TERRY GRAHAM:
That's the reason I wanted that girl to come over and …

Page 11
AMANDA COVINGTON:
But you went to visit, so you can tell me about that.
TERRY GRAHAM:
She could tell you more about it than I did.
Really, I didn't visit like I should, because running the taxi business I didn't …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Oh, I understand that. I was just wondering - you were talking about - you know I was wondering how many rooms it was or kind of what it looked like.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah-
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Just things like that. That's all, that's all.
TERRY GRAHAM:
I couldn't tell you how many rooms it was, at first, but I guess, let me see, one, two, three - I guess about five rooms at first.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
A pretty big size.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, and then they added on to it. But it was pretty large 'till they tore some of it down here after desegregation.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh, uh-huh. Okay, let's see - when you first moved to Mooresville, and so we're in the late 1940's, or 1950's, did

Page 12
you go downtown to go to the movies … what were some of the kind of things that you got involved in?
TERRY GRAHAM:
They had a little movie here, then. But that was about all they had. I mean, a couple little restaurants. One on west end and one on east and people went on the weekends. Through the week … I opened up a restaurant in 1950 and we ran it until 1956 when my wife took sick and closed it down. And that took up a lot of time that we didn't get to go to the school to see what was going on. Because the kids would run over there right across the street. They'd run right over there and lunchtime, and try to steal potato chips and cookies …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Oh goodness - from your restaurant?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah. We sold hotdogs and hamburgers and Mr. Woods didn't like them to come over there and eat because he wanted them to eat in, but they'd slip over there. Let's see if that girl will come on … [gets up and walks across room to look out door]. No, she didn't show up.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
If you could just tell me her name at the end I could call her and set up a time when I could come talk with her -that wouldn't be hard for me to do.
TERRY GRAHAM:
That wouldn't be hard for you?

Page 13
AMANDA COVINGTON:
No, no, not at all.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So- the restaurant- you had mentioned about how Mr. Woods …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Would go to one, some of the restaurants …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
And he would pass for being white.
So at that time, were all the restaurants in Mooresville pretty much segregated?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, they were all segregated. Most of them had a little section where the black could go and be served, yeah, and had one or two seats where they could sit down, but not no whole lot that … They could get sandwiches and carryout.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
What about at the movies?
TERRY GRAHAM:
At the movies?
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.

Page 14
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, the movies were segregated. We were upstairs at the movies - up in the balcony.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Okay. I was talking to a white fellow who's a principal now and he said that remembers when they first stopped separating that, he says, a lot of the white people wanted to go sit up in the balcony too because they liked being able to sit up there.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Alright, let's see, so you mentioned that your - that some of the students at Dunbar would come over to your restaurant during lunch …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
What were some of the things - you had talked about how when you were out of school you would go work on the farm or you know, would go and pick, so do you maybe have a general idea what some of the things that your kids, in their age group, what were some of the things that they did after school? Did they go hang out somewhere? Was there a special place somewhere?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Well, yeah, they had a little place where they could go and have music. But my children mostly come over and stay with us.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.

Page 15
TERRY GRAHAM:
We had a little old jukebox in there, and they could dance a little but in there and …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
I bet that was a good time.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Neat, neat. Well, I wanted to kind of ask specifically about the time that, that the public schools began to desegregate, which is about 1965, 66, 67 about then … I wondered if you had any memories - what the talk was about it in the black community and what, what concerns where there that you could identify or what seemed to be going with that at that time.
TERRY GRAHAM:
At that time, I don't know, there was a whole lot of talk around then. I guess the biggest concern was that the white didn't want to come to Dunbar they wanted to close Dunbar …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
You're jumping on to one of my questions, asking about what that was like.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, what that was like. They tried, of course we fought it. Uh, they had all the excuses. They had the excuses that they didn't want their children riding across the railroad to get to Dunbar and all that and so we told them our children had to ride across the railroad to get to their school, so that kind of

Page 16
closed down and then, then they decided they was, was going to make it an elementary school, and so they did that for a while, but now they got it as a training, training school school now. So [unknown] no problem.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
It didn't really…
TERRY GRAHAM:
Really, nuh, uh-uh. We never had no big deal with segregation. I guess we just liked to be by ourselves and it just kind of went along that way, I mean. We was raised here and we know about what to expect. It wasn't like people coming in here, and not knowing what, what was going on, but it went along [de?] segregation went along pretty smoothly - we had no big trouble.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh, was there ever-was there any kind of fear that there would be - that there might be may be some violence …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Naw …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Or was that ever a worry?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Biggest fear came when Martin Luther King, when they killed Martin Luther King. That was the biggest fear.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
In '68, I believe.

Page 17
TERRY GRAHAM:
That hit Mooresville, that was the biggest fear. They thought everything was going to go haywire then- but, it blew off, a week or two, I mean there's no more bother.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh. Well, um, now when they first decided to desegregate the schools they did a freedom of choice plan. I've been-kind of have been reading the old newspapers and it said that that the parents could choose - you know, that a black family could choose whether they wanted their children to go to the white school or go to Dunbar. And I just wondered - I know that your children had already grown at this time …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
But, uh, did you hear any kind of talk-about whether or not that was - did people want to sign it, you know, the form - or was there any kind of worry about that?
TERRY GRAHAM:
I don't remember whether that happened or not.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.
TERRY GRAHAM:
I think it just went along. Yeah. They just decided where they were going to what schools they were going to …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.

Page 18
TERRY GRAHAM:
And it just went along that way. Beause they left Dunbar as an elementary, they had Park View as elementary and those were the two elementary schools and then the high school. Then they finally built a middle school, and they built South, South school after that. But, other than that, I mean, it just, I can't say that we had any troubles. It wasn't no big deal over it.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
When the white students started getting bused to Dunbar, was there an issue - did the black and white students ride the bus together?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, they rode together.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Again, that seemed to go smoothly and…
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, that went along smoothly. I don't think anybody much ever got, you know, out of control over it.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh, were there any kind of meetings about this time?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, they had meetings talking about it.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Yeah- did they- did you ever get to go to any of the meetings?
TERRY GRAHAM:
No, I didn't because …

Page 19
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Because your kids were already grown …
TERRY GRAHAM:
And I was working and …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Were the meetings usually at the churches?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, they were at the churches and at the schools. Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh. Did you ever hear about any problems at first, when the schools integrated, at first, when they desegregated - were there ever any, kind of any talk of any problems with any teachers, or …
TERRY GRAHAM:
No, there wasn't no problem. Well, the only problem was about the teachers was they didn't hire black like they did- everybody thought they ought to have hired more blacks than they did. And of course, that's still today.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Sure.
TERRY GRAHAM:
So, but, other than that, I mean, that was the talk, I mean about hiring black teachers.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh. Did any teachers or did you know about any of the teachers from Dunbar - did they go to teach at the …
TERRY GRAHAM:
In the schools?

Page 20
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Yeah.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Students from Dunbar?
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Or the teachers who were at Dunbar …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Hum?
AMANDA COVINGTON:
When Dunbar …when they first integrated, did most of the teachers at Dunbar stay?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Most of them stayed, yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
They stayed.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh. And we've had some children that's graduated from Dunbar that teach and taught here - most of them are retired now.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-uh.
TERRY GRAHAM:
We've had some that went to college and came back and taught here.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
What do you think about Mooresville in 1990 - is it - what, 99?

Page 21
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Tell me what you think about -do you think its changed in some ways?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Change?
AMANDA COVINGTON:
What do you think about Mooresville?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Mooresville's just outgrown itself. That's the thing. I stayed on the planning board for 15 years and things when I started on there they were talking about what would happen in 20 years from then and we went around and made surveys and talked. I went to Belk's [Department Store] to the manager there and asked him what he thought would happen in twenty years from now and he told me then - [Hwy] 77 wasn't even down over there at that time - but he said Belk would be over on 77 in 20 years from that day-
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.
TERRY GRAHAM:
And it happened. They plan way ahead. I mean, white are way ahead of us. But we can't get our people to take interest in politics and know what's going on.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Um, so right now, the city government is kind of set up-there's

Page 22
the mayor I assume.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
And then the city council …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yep.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So are there any, are there any black members of the city council right now?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, well, [several?] on the city council. We have three on the planning board. And we've got black in probably every position there is around. They've always had enough - I mean, just to keep the problems down.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Right, right. Well, I've kind of skipped around again, but I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about the church that you've grown up going to or the church you've gone to since you've come to Mooresville.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Hmmm…
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Or did you go- have you gone to different churches?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Hum? Have I gone …

Page 23
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Like, have you gone to the same one since you've been in Mooresville?
TERRY GRAHAM:
I go to the same one I belong to but I visit all the churches. Yeah. We - I belong to the United Methodist Church and our preacher has three churches. He has one here in town and two out in the country. And we visit the white, and the white visit us. Now we've got a program coming on, next, week after next … [Removes church bulletin from television cabinet]
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Okay, oh I see, right here, the joint service of faith.
TERRY GRAHAM:
That's Sunday, but this is the holy week service, there, see how it's lined up …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
On everyday…
TERRY GRAHAM:
Huh?
AMANDA COVINGTON:
They have a different one everyday.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, every night - go to a different church everynight. And it will be at our church next, on Wednesday night, and that's a white preacher. He'll be the speaker there, that night. We go around, I mean, we have a joint Easter service, we have a joint, uh, Martin Luther King Day and usually the white and the black are all together, yeah.

Page 24
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Where do they usually have the Martin Luther King Day service?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Well, they go around different …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Different churches.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah. They'll be one church one year and another another. Same way with Easter program. Have it one year at one place and the next year at another.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh. I'm sure that's a nice thing to have all of the community together.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Well, tell me what your children are doing now.
TERRY GRAHAM:
What my children are doing now?
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Well, two of them are retired from Burlington.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Okay, okay, so they stayed …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Two daughters …

Page 25
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So they stayed in Mooresville?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Naw-
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Or they-
TERRY GRAHAM:
One stays about five miles out of town. She retired last year and then my other one she retired, uh, I reckon just before Christmas. And she lives out on the Amity Hill section, out there. Son, he's still working, he works over at the freight line.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
I was talking to one woman who came, a white woman who came to Mooresville about the time that Burlington was bought - or it used to be owned by …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Mooresville Mills …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
There was a family-oh, the Abernathy family, I think she said …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
They had owned it. She kind of talked about how when Burlington bought that …

Page 26
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Bought the mill - did things in town kind of seem to change?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Change?
AMANDA COVINGTON:
With that, or just kind of more people moving in, kind of …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, it changed. When Burlington come in, Mooresville mill, they didn't work too many blacks, they worked some but not too many, but when Burlington come in, I mean, it gave the blacks a chance of getting in the mills here. Now, I worked at Cascade mill before Burlington bought Cascade out, Cascade, before I went in the army I worked at Cascade. Now it, it was Celanese plant. They used a lot of black up there - they had more that than they had at Mooresville mill.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Huh, that's interesting …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Beause Celanese owned that and they hired a lot of black people. But Burlington was hard, they wouldn't hire black people till, I mean, Mooresville Mill until they sold out …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Sold out.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.

Page 27
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So, now, would you say within the black community, is Burlington still the largest employer?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, but Burlington's closing up.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Oh, okay …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
The one that I passed when I came in here?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-hum. That's Burlington.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
And they've officially closed …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, they're going out of business next month.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
That's right- they're going out of business, yeah.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh. Yeah. [Coughs]
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So as of right now, would you say, right now, not realizing that it's going to close next month, but uh, would you say right now that they're the biggest employer within the black community?

Page 28
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, yeah, but these race car drivers are coming in here and taking over now.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh.
TERRY GRAHAM:
They're buying up everything.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Is there any- does anyone see any plan for being able to - what's going to happen after Burlington closes? Is there any plans?
TERRY GRAHAM:
Burlington - well, there's people already looking at it …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Oh, to buy it.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah. I don't know - they're not sure whether its going to be a warehouse or some [unknown]. There's other companies already looking at it.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
I'm sure that everybody …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Will hope that they buy it.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.

Page 29
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Yeah, yeah.
What about the growth out at the lake - you know, a lot of people living at the lake - is that, do you feel like that kind of changed Mooresville?
TERRY GRAHAM:
It's really changed Mooresville. Mooresville was dead till that lake came out there. It was dead till that lake came out.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
It probably brought a lot of money.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh, yeah. Those people out there at the lake have got money, I mean, they spend money.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh. I'm sure they do, of course, even everybody who lives on the lake even down in Cornelius and down near where we are …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
It's the same story. Yeah.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, that lake brought Mooresville out. Mooresville was dead till that lake came.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Is there, is there kind of getting to be a worry in Mooresville that the growth of Charlotte …

Page 30
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, Charlotte.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Is just gonna take over …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah, Charlotte will take over, yeah. Mooresville's just a sleeping bed now for Charlotte.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Uh-huh. Yeah. Has there been any talk on trying to, you know, work on preserving Mooresville? I know that in Davidson …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
That has been a big talk - about not wanting Charlotte to come in and take over.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Well, I don't know. I ain't uptown like I used to be - I don't know what the talk is up there. But I know it's growing. It's growing. It's a sleeping town for Charlotte, I know that. And some of these days Charlotte's will be taking over …
AMANDA COVINGTON:
We're going to wake up and not know what happened.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Uh-huh, yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Well, that finishes up all of my questions, Mr. Graham, and I wanted to know if there was anything you wanted to talk about-

Page 31
any, any interesting stories you have about Mooresville, or, that story you told about Mr. Woods, that was the most interesting thing - goodness, of course, I didn't know that and I didn't - wouldn't learn that from reading the newspaper clippings!
TERRY GRAHAM:
No, you wouldn't catch that in the newspaper. But those are the things that happened back in those days. But no big problems happened over it, thank goodness.
Of course, when I started the taxi business, down on the Mill Hill, like Burlington, down where they go - they'd call us and if we went down there and they saw we was black they'd come to the door and go back - shut the door in our face - but now, it's … they ride or walk
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Yeah.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Because there's nothing else but black driving taxis now. No big deal over, over that. Just went along with the mood - because if we didn't make any money, we just didn't make none, that was it.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So, right now, are you the only taxi service in Mooresville?
TERRY GRAHAM:
No, I've got a competitor, but he's not doing much - he's hauling most of the ones that I don't want to haul. [Laughter]
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Oh, I see, okay, that works out well, doesn't it. Yeah-

Page 32
TERRY GRAHAM:
That's the way things go, I guess, down the road. I've got the best business and I'm satisfied.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
So are you semi-retired - do you consider yourself retired?
TERRY GRAHAM:
I'm retired.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
You're retired. All right.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah. I stay home until about one o'clock and leave out and go see if the boys are doing all right around and go to the nursing homes and hospital and back home, that's it.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
That's a job in itself, I'm sure …
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Going to visit people is.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Yeah.
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Well, I think we can finish, wrap this up then.
TERRY GRAHAM:
Okay, well, I hope that I gave you some of the things you wanted …

Page 33
AMANDA COVINGTON:
Yes, sir, yes you did.
END OF INTERVIEW