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Interview with Roland Osborne

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  • Roland Osborne 1 Interviewer: NC Natalye Carter Interviewee: RO Roland Osborne Interview Date: November 19, 2016 Location: Canton, North Carolina Length: 11:23 START OF TRANSCRIPT Natalye Carter: You can talk at whatever ... whatever level, it picks up everything as you already know. What is your full name? Roland Osborne: Roland Osborne. NC: Alright, do you know that you’re being recorded? RO: Yes. NC: Where were you born? RO: I was born in Little Switzerland, North Carolina. NC: Nice, where is that? RO: It's on the parkway, out of Asheville, I don’t know how many miles, North-East it is, I bet it's on the Blue Ridge parkway up through there. NC: Cool. RO: It was a summer resort. My parents weren't rich. Daddy was a road builder and they were renting a little cottage from the, from the summer residents because I was born in April and we were out of the thing before they came for the summer. NC: That's cool. RO: Mhm, no he, he understands. NC: If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you? RO: I'm 77. NC: So, what year does that make you born? RO: 1939. NC: That's awesome, I think that's really cool. RO: Graduated in Canton High School in '57. NC: Oh wow. Cool. I'll start with the more specific questions. So, you said you grew up in Little Savannah? RO: No, no I didn’t grow up there, I was just born there. NC: Oh okay. RO: I'm sure that, see my mother and daddy, daddy was from Haywood county and Roland Osborne 2 he was just building a road, so they moved around with that, doing that all the way up through the war. But, we would be back in Haywood County between jobs and so forth. NC: Okay, so, where in Haywood County were you born? Or grew up sorry. RO: I actually my mother moved back here in 1944, towards the end of the war, and Daddy had to stay in Williamsburg, Virginia until it was over, which would have been the next year and he came back here and went to work for Champion. So, I've lived in Canton and grew up here from about five years to about twenty something. NC: Okay. So, when I say "Champion Paper Mill" what comes to mind? RO: Well, paper. They started as Champion Paper and Fibre Company. Well initially they didn't make paper here, there were just a lot of trees here. And they bought-- They made pulp. They would dry it enough to ship it and they would ship it to Ohio where they're paper mill was. And then later on they started building paper machines here and it became a pulp and paper manufacturer plant. NC: I did not know that. That's really cool. RO: And if you'll notice the old signs they spell it "F-I-B-R-E." NC: I did, yeah, I noticed that online. RO: I guess that was one of the ways you could spell it back then. NC: What did the Canton paper mill mean to you? Was it a job or was it a livelihood? RO: Well, it paid the expenses of growing up and then I did work here and educated my children for the money that I made here so, very important. NC: Was the mill a direct part of your life? RO: Well I worked there for 31 years, well I worked there more. I worked there twice. For 31 years, though for record. NC: Alright, so since you worked there, did you feel like the mill fairly compensated you for the work that you put in? RO: Absolutely. NC: Well cool, how were you compensated for your work? RO: As an hourly wage, and of course we had insurance and we had retirement. Probably as good as anybody had back then, now when people your age hear about it and say it wasn't very good, but it was probably equal to other industries and so forth around at the time. NC: Okay, how did the mill affect your way of life? RO: Growing up the YMCA was the center of activity for youth and most everything else. And it you might say it was the mill because they paid-- they furnished the steam, Roland Osborne 3 they furnished electricity, the furnished the heat, they furnished the people to work on the stuff, so they didn’t leave the Y with a great did of expenses, so they had money to spend on youth activities, so I've been all over the south, playing one sport or another at the expense of the Y. Mom and dad didn't worry about you because they knew you were in good hands. It was really nice. NC: That's cool. RO: It was. NC: Yeah. RO: I think someone really ought to really write a book about this place and how involved they were with the people here. NC: Yeah, I had another man, I interview and he mention how the Y was a big part of Canton. RO: It was. It was the center back then, you’ve got to remember you, you, it's hard not to think about things the way they are now, all these youth teams that you see basketball, there were none. There were none until 1948, the Y started the Grey Y Program, and initially even then that was about the last few years of school, before they could start to play for the high school team, and it grew and grew and grew and now of course you've got little baseball teams everywhere and all the others too, but until that time, there were none in the county. Period. NC: Mhm, that’s interesting. RO: No youth activity, no youth sport. NC: How did the mill affect Canton society in your opinion? RO: Well you mention the word "society", and if you talk to a lot of people about it and everybody's agrees there's no social stratus in Canton, compared to a lot of other places you know there where people think they are little bit higher up than other people I mean we had course we had doctors and they were pretty prominent and you know salary people in the mill that made a good salary and just the kids, they had it all, there were never any distinctions made. NC: That's interesting that that happened. RO: I went to high with doctors’ sons and superintendents’ sons and daughters and they were just kids like everybody else. NC: How do you think people should remember the mill? RO: Well I do, I think they should remember, like I said, the good they did over the years, for instance, are you familiar with the company store had, what generally comes to people minds when you think about the company's stores and the textile mills and the paper town and textile towns, the goal seemed to be to get everyone in debt so they couldn't leave. NC: Mhm. Roland Osborne 4 RO: I owe my soul to company store, well they had a company store, but it was for the benefit of the people, if somebody got behind for two weeks, they cut their credit off til they could pay it. They didn't let them get into debt, now they didn't kick them out, they said until they paid up they couldn't get into debt that way, it was every year about Christmastime they paid they a dividend, which worked out to about two weeks’ groceries. NC: Oh wow. RO: A check. NC: Yeah. RO: So, there was a world of things like that. NC: Should the mill be an important part of local or state history? RO: By all means. Mr. Robertson was the Man of the South about 1948 and that would be a pretty big honor, I would think, wouldn't you? NC: Now who was Mr. Robertson? RO: He was the president of the company at that time, he married the founder's daughter. NC: Oh wow. RO: That's his picture there with the bow tie on and you know what standing in front of the wood fire. He came to Canton, father-in-law sent him down here, expecting him to stay a month or two and stayed the rest of his life. NC: Aw. RO: Eventually he was president. NC: That's so sweet RO: And, I will say this, you never see a picture of Mr. Robertson out some place that Mrs. Robertson wasn't with him. If he just came down here to speak to the old timers, she would be sitting there. NC: Aw that's sweet. My last question is there anything you would like to add about this? RO: Well, I could talk about Canton from now on, I hadn't well I think this - the town right now is nicest looking in, and everything and moving forward the best that I can remember. Once again the town is coming to life and people are moving here and wanting to move here and businesses are growing up every day, we've got a new bakery just the other day, we've got a sandwich store or two lined up its looking nice. NC: I agree that's cool that's all the questions I have, I'll let you sign the consent form and if you'd like to make any restrictions feel free to, what I can do is I can give you a copy of the transcript and the paper when I'm done with it? Roland Osborne 5 RO: Well, if you want to leave one here, that’d be fine. NC: Come again? RO: If you want to leave it here, that'd be fine, I'd be sure to get it if you do or whatever. NC: Okay. END OF INTERVIEW
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Object’s are ‘parent’ level descriptions to ‘children’ items, (e.g. a book with pages).