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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 auctioneer worked his way up to his position

Stephenson learned the auctioneer's trade "the hard way," he recalls, working his way up from a job unloading trucks as a teenager.

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

WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
Tell me how you learned to be an auctioneer.
EDWARD STEPHENSON:
I learned it the hard way. When I was about 17 years old, one day . . . . . .. I kept wanting to sell and wanting to sell. Of course the way I learned was I started out unloading trucks and I worked my way up to handing tickets. And handing tickets you're with the auctioneer all day, every day. Even though you're not selling. I watched and looked and then I got my chance to try it one day. And I did it, I sold two rows and then I sold four rows and then I'd sell six rows and eventually I got my own sale and here we are in 2002.
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
You started unloading trucks and then turning tickets . . . . . .
EDWARD STEPHENSON:
Right, you just don't walk up and . . . . . . I started at the very bottom of the scale. When I was a kid I sold lemonade, boiled peanuts. Then I got old enough to really work, to where you could get paid. You know, used to be it was all manual. You'd walk one pile [of tobacco] at a time to the floor with a buggy. Of course we've graduated up to a whole lot more mechanized way now. But just being there and then I got in the sale, maybe got to start placing the tickets [on a pile of tobacco]. And then I actually got into the sale, behind the auctioneer, handing the tickets to the ticket marker. And was in there then. And watched enough to where I thought I was capable of doing it I got a chance to sell a row and the rest is history.