Cobb County Oral History Series, No. 62
Interview with George Carson Conducted by Mary B. Cawley
Thursday, 5 November 1987
MARY CAWLEY Mr. Carson, why don't we start by you telling us your full name, when and where you were born, and who your mother and father were. I know you are not a Cobb County native, but that information is still very important.
GEORGE CARSON My full name is George Carson. I have no middle initial. My mother was Norma Carson, and my father was Wesley Carson. I was born in Peoria, Illinois. My father was a railroad mechanic, and he was working for Union Pacific in Peoria, Illinois. I was raised on a farm in Northwestern Pennsylvania. I graduated from high school. Do you want to know where?
GC In Meadville, Pennsylvania.
MC What year were you born?
MC In 1910? What was your birthday?
GC July 4.
MC July 4, 1910. You graduated from high school in what year?
GC I don't remember.
MC You don't remember what year you graduated from high school?
GC I'm 77 years old, believe it or not, and I don't remember, but I must have been 16 or 17 when I graduated from high school. Then I served a tool maker apprenticeship with Westinghouse Electric Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Then I started to work. I went back to Meadville, Pennsylvania, and worked there at Callon Fastener Company as a dye maker. That was the first job I had.
MC Callon Fastener, being --
GC Zipper company.
MC -- the zipper company.
GC The original, by the way. Colonel Walker invented that thing, no, he didn't invent it. Can't remember, it was a Swede, can't remember his name.
MC But they were the original zipper manufacturer?
GC He sold it to Colonel Walker, and Colonel Walker started Callon Fastener. I worked around the country as a dye maker, and in I guess it would be 1938, I went to work with Bell Aircraft as a dye maker.
MC Bell Aircraft, at that time --
GC In Buffalo, New York.
MC Buffalo, New York.
GC I got promoted from one job to another at Bell Aircraft Corporation, until I became the Assistant Plant Engineer at Bell Aircraft in Buffalo, New York. The war broke out, and Bell Aircraft made a deal with the Air Force, to build this bomber plant down here. Bell Aircraft sent me to Georgia in 1942, as a consulting Engineer, working with the Corps of Engineers, who were responsible for the building of the bomber plant, and Robert & Company, the architect engineers, who were responsible for designing the bomber plant. I was responsible for supplying the Air Force and Robert & Company, with the requirements that Bell needed in that plant to produce the B-29. When the plant was completed a year later, then I was appointed the Plant Engineer for this plant by Bell Aircraft Corporation, and I stayed with Bell until 1946, when they closed the plant. Instead of going back to Buffalo with Bell Aircraft, who in the mean time, had built a new plant in Niagara Falls, I stayed on here. I decided not to go back to Buffalo and decided to open a business here for my own, a small tool and dye shop here in Marietta.
MC When you originally came to Georgia, in 1942, and you walked out to the site, the plant site, what did you see?
GC I'll show you.
MC You have a number of photographs there, that were taken back in the 1940's, don't you?
GC That was taken in March 30, of 1942. I'm in this picture somewhere. I can't find myself. That was the very beginning. That was when they broke ground.
MC I see farm land back behind you. It looks like farm land.
GC It was. This is what that site looked like when they first started. These are pictures of what that site looked like when we first started to work. This was May of `42. This was May 5th of 1942, pictures of what that site looked like.
MC As they level and completely grade it.
GC As they grade. This was in September of `41. That was the picture of the first steel that was erected, the building steel that was erected.
MC On September 1, 1942, they put up that first piece of steel, what would you call that?
GC Columns, here they are.
MC Columns, right, the support columns.
GC That's right. This picture was taken November of `42, and it shows the beginning of the erection of the steel.
MC Right, and by December 31, 1942, the framework looks like it's nearly complete.
GC That's some more of it. This picture of April 15th of `43, was where the Air Force turned the key over to the plant, to the Bell Aircraft official, who was Captain Collins. He was Bell's representative that came on the scene sometime in late `42 or early `43. These are some pictures. This is July 5th of `43. That was when they first started to get things organized to start building airplanes, and this one is a picture of the interior of the plant with some of the equipment, and so forth. The rest of these are pictures of the plant.
MC The assembly line?
GC The assembly line. Here is a picture of the building.
MC The completed plant.
GC That was looking in from the east end of the plant. These were the big doors. That's all one door, three hundred and some feet long. These are just more pictures of the --
MC Completed planes.
GC -- completed planes and the completed plant, and so on and so forth.
GC I don't want to give you these -- I don't want to give up these three books of pictures. If you want to include these in your records, can you make copies of these things?
MC We can make copies of them, yes. I will leave them with you until we're at that point, but we would appreciate having those to include with your interview. When you came to Georgia, where did you stay? Did you stay in Cobb County, or did you stay in Marietta, or in Atlanta?
GC My wife and I stayed in the old Ansley Hotel, in Atlanta, for, I guess, maybe three months. Then we rented a house in the North side of Atlanta. It soon became obvious that being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, I couldn't commute between Atlanta and Marietta. It was just too much. We gave up -- we changed our minds about renting this house in Atlanta, and moved to Marietta and rented an apartment on Church Street. We stayed there for several months. I don't remember how long, and it was a rather unsatisfactory living condition, because apartments in Marietta were practically nonexistent, at that time.
MC Where was that apartment?
GC On Church Street.
MC Can you recall where on Church Street?
GC Oh, yes, Margaret Carpenter's mother's home on Church Street. She still lives there.
MC Margaret Carpenter does?
GC Yes, I don't know hardly how to tell you exactly where it is.
MC That's close enough.
GC It's where Page Street -- It's right there where they're building this connector thing.
MC Right, the overpass or the underpass of the railroad in finishing out the loop.
GC By the way, when we were trying to find an apartment, we were refused rental of a couple of apartments, when the owner of the apartments found out that I was with Bell Aircraft Corporation, even though I didn't have anything to do with Bell Aircraft people at that particular time, in the construction or influx of Bell Aircraft people. I don't know how long we lived in Mrs. Carpenter's apartment. it wasn't long, a couple or three months, I guess. Then I bought a house out on the west side of town.
MC Off of Whitlock Avenue?
GC No, it was one street north of the high school stadium.
MC Not Polk Street, Maple?
GC Maple Avenue. The corner of Maple Avenue and whatever that cross street was.
MC At Cleburne, which runs right there by the school?
GC Cleburne runs north and south?
MC Cleburne runs north and south at the end of the stadium.
GC It was on the corner of Cleburne and Maple Avenue. There was a house there that is still there. We bought that house.
MC Was it a new house when you bought it?
MC So it was built before the influx?
GC That subdivision out there was built for the anticipation of all these people moving into Marietta.
MC When you were living in Atlanta, and you were making that commute out here, whenever you were needed, how do you come up? What was the transportation facilities?
GC Automobile, up the old highway, down through Smyrna.
MC Up the old highway?
GC I can not remember whether this Highway 41, at that time -- Highway 41, per say, was not in existence. The earliest I can remember is coming up from Atlanta on what is now 41 Highway. It was just a dirt gravel road. I don't remember whether that road, 41 between Marietta and Atlanta was an original road of some sort there, or whether this road was established from scratch.
MC I think that 41, as a two lane road, was already there.
GC But it was dirt at one time.
MC And then it was widened for -- to facilitate transportation for Bell workers.
GC To allow the people in to the bomber plant.
GC That's right.
MC But the paved road that you're talking about is old 41, or Dixie Highway, down through Smyrna, isn't it, which is now Atlanta Road? Is that the way you came up?
GC Through Smyrna and Fair Oaks.
MC Through Smyrna, right.
GC Through Smyrna and Fair Oaks.
MC Right, down Atlanta Road.
GC That wasn't old, but I don't know what the designation was of that highway. The streetcar ran down parallel.
MC Locally it was called Dixie Highway, it was also Old 41.
GC Then this became new 41.
MC New 41, or the four lane, is how it's referred to. Most people called it the four lane. That's all they called it.
GC There was a streetcar that ran between Atlanta and Marietta. That's the way my wife used to get to go to Atlanta, was by that streetcar. I don't think I ever rode it.
MC So you moved up to Marietta when you first came to town. You said you had some problems finding an apartment. You finally found one in Margaret Carpenter's mother's home, but not without already encountering a little negative attitude towards being a Bell Bomber employee.
GC Very definitely.
MC Did you run into that in other respects around town, also?
GC Not that I know of. I don't believe so. Some people were very, very cooperative and helpful for us. You see, we were the first ones here, and --
MC And you were Yankee to boot.
GC Oh, yeah, you bet you. Then, after several months, I brought my assistant down here from Buffalo. I was the first, he was the second. I don't remember when other Bell executives began to show up. A man by the name of O. L. Woodson was Vice President of Bell Aircraft, and maybe he thought he was the best, but Larry Bell was the best. He was the Vice President of Bell Aircraft, and he was assigned as the manager at this plant. When he came on stream, I can't remember, but it wasn't until after the plant was built.
MC You was the first Bell employee to come to Marietta?
GC I was the first Bell employee to come to Marietta, and that was in March. Permanently assignment was about `42 -- there was a little bit of work that had gone on before, I guess, `42, sometime in the spring of `42 is when I came.
MC When you came, or shortly after you came, did you meet the Cobb County officials who were generally credited with getting the Bell facilities here?
GC Yes, Jimmie Carmichael --
MC Jimmie Carmichael, Rip Blair --
GC Rip Blair --
MC -- and George McMillan.
GC -- and George McMillan.
MC Did you meet them?
GC Oh, yes, I had a lot to do with all of those people.
MC Tell me a little bit about those men, your impressions of them, when you met them, and as you knew them through the years. Mr. Blair, what was he like? He was at that time, I believe, the Mayor of Marietta.
GC He was the Mayor of Marietta. He was a typical politician.
MC In what sense?
GC Well, he was a wheeler-dealer. He used his influence on everybody that he could contact. Jimmie Carmichael did the same thing, to get this bomber plant built here in Cobb County. George McMillan was the County Commissioner at that time, and he was also very influential with Washington, the Air Force, Bell Aircraft, to get this plant here in his county.
MC Are you aware of any role that General Clay played?
GC No, his name used to come up every now and then, and I'm sure he had some input into the location of this facility. I don't know anything specific. Carmichael, and Blair, and McMillan, were very, very active. They had their hands in everything that was going on with reference to getting this facility established in Cobb County.
MC How were they to work with, once you were on site?
GC They were fine. They were very cooperative, and very helpful. They were some of the people that made us welcome, here in Marietta. My wife and I were very welcome here in Marietta .
MC What was Jimmie Carmichael like? He came to work for Bell, as I understand it, after the plant opened.
GC He worked for Bell, and he worked for Lockheed too. He was a great guy, very personable, very intelligent, very knowledgeable of what was going on in reference to Cobb County and the attitude of the Air Force, and the Corps of Engineers, and Bell Aircraft. He was right in the thick of things. He was really a fine guy.
MC And George McMillan?
GC He was right in the thick of things also, and he was also a very cooperative, knowledgeable, the old southern gentlemen.
MC Mr. Blair had a reputation of being rather outspoken. Did you find him to be so, personality wise?
GC I think all three of them were, really.
MC Were they?
GC Oh, yes. Sure, sure. They didn't pull any punches. They said what was on their minds, and let the chips fall where they will.
MC Very few people in Cobb even remember that Rickenbacker Field existed. Describe, if you will, the physical layout of Rickenbacker Field, when you got here.
GC It was little to nothing.
MC Where was it physically?
GC Right where it is now.
GC Right, where Dobbins is now.
MC It was where Dobbins is.
GC I thought perhaps there might have been a picture in here somewhere of it, but I guess not. This is just a lot of people involved. We can go over these pictures, and I can talk to you about them. I don't know, I thought that there was a picture here of what Dobbins looked like back in those days, but I'm sure that I've got one.
MC Do you recall how big it was, physically?
GC No, I don't. It was very, very small. Very small, one small --
GC -- One small runway. I was trying to think, that present runway out there, I built, or was in charge of having built the existing runway, when Lockheed came on stream, but I think, if my memory serves me, Bell flew these B-29's out of the existing runway of old Rickenbacker Field.
GC I can't remember.
MC Do you recall the direction that the runway ran?
GC East and west.
MC It ran east and west.
GC Just like it runs -- just like the present runway. I'm almost sure that the B-29's took off and landed on the old Rickenbacker Field runway. I can't remember having done anything to that runway, back in those days, maybe we did, but I don't remember that.
MC In the construction of plant, did you use any local suppliers, and local labor. Now I'm talking in terms of Marietta, Cobb County, as opposed, I know you used Robert and Company in Atlanta?
GC They were the Architect Engineers, and they were the only architect engineering firm, but the actual construction was under the control of the Corps of Engineers.
MC The Air Force or Army Corps of Engineers?
GC Army Corps of Engineers.
GC They led all the construction contracts, and a Colonel York was the head man of the group of Corps of Engineers personnel, assigned to this project. They used a lot, mostly local, and when I say local, I mean Georgia.
GC Construction contractors -- I can only remember the name of one. It was Shepard Company, from over in the Powder Springs area. They were a large contractor. They just pulled people in from all over.
MC They tried -- they made a conscious effort to use Georgia materials and labor, is what you're saying?
GC Oh, yes, yes.
MC Did -- Over time, did the attitude of Mariettan's change towards Bell people, or did you notice that some retained that initial --
GC The majority of them changed after they realized that we were not -- Oh what expression can I use? Uncivilized? Uncivilized. Us Yankee's were civilized, and their attitude began to change. Of course, there were some Yankees brought in here by Bell Aircraft, primarily, that justifiably were never accepted by the local people. They just weren't over caliber that the local people were.
MC We're jumping ahead a little bit, but when the aircraft plant closed, what effect did that have locally, that you can recall?
GC The general opinion was that Marietta was going to become a ghost town. As far as I'm personally concerned, I couldn't believe that, that plant would become a deserted facility. There was just too much involved there. It had to put to some use. Sure enough, within -- let me see, from `46 to `51, what was that -- that would be five years --
MC Five years.
GC -- Five years later, Lockheed came in and reactivated it. In the meantime, that plant was used as a machine tool storage facility for government owned machine tools. That operation was handled by John Tumpane and Company.
MC John Tumpane was -- did they have contracts, this type of contracts, all over the world?
GC All over the world, yes. This was the first one, I think. They expanded from there into -- all over. They had operations in Saudi Arabia, for instance.
MC They employed a number of local people, did they not?
GC All local. A matter of fact, they hired a number of people, who had worked for me under Bell Aircraft. I worked for them for several months, when they were trying to get set up and get established.
GC Tumpane Company. I hired people. I hired people that had worked for me under Bell, because I knew what they could do, and they knew what needed to be done. My job with Bell Aircraft as Plant Engineer, was--we were responsible for the maintenance of that complete facility. Then Bell moved out, and I don't remember -- I don't know what the last time was between then, and when Tumpane came on the scene, but part of Tumpane's job, in addition to storing all of this government, Air Force, and everybody's equipment, their original contract was to maintain that plant in usable, operating conditions. They hired me to set up that program for them, and I hired a lot of the people that had worked for me during the Bell Aircraft days, and got the thing organized and set up, and then I left. In the meantime, I was running my own business.
MC Running your own business.
GC I left them, and went back full time, to running my own business.
MC Okay, let's go back now, and we'll talk about your time at Bell. The actual construction time of the plant was amazing, as I can recall. It was completely finished in about one year, is that correct?
GC A little over a year.
MC A little over a year. During that time, that it was under construction, was hiring already taking place?
GC Basically, the answer is yes, and I'm trying to remember -- They set up a personnel office in Atlanta. I think it was in the Rhodes-Haverty building, if I remember correctly. Anyway, there was an employment office set up in Atlanta, and they started interviewing people. We rented a building down on Marietta Street. I can not remember the name of that building. I don't even remember -- it's still there. I don't even remember for sure what street it was on.
MC But all potential employees went through that center?
GC They started an engineering department down there, an aircraft engineering department, and they started training facilities for certain operations, and they were hiring people, and bringing them in there and training them. I can't remember. It seems like there was another facility in the area, somewhere. Marietta had a government subsidized operation -- It wasn't WPA. What did they call that thing? The buildings are gone and everything now.
MC Not CCC?
MC Was it left over from the depression years?
MC WPA, CCC, RFC -- offhand I can't -- that'll come to me.
GC I can't either, but there were --
MC It was a building, or an organization?
GC There was several buildings in town that had been used to train -- They were not originally set up to train Bell Aircraft workers. It was some other training program --
MC That the government had initiated?
GC That the government had established here in Cobb County, but it was turned over to Bell Aircraft to use as training facilities for potential workers, or people that had been hired to work at the Bomber plant.
MC Do you recall where those buildings were?
GC Yes. Do you know where the Farmers Market is now in Marietta, by that -- it's on the --
MC Where Upper Roswell and Lower Roswell --
GC No, no, no, right now, this is where the bypass road comes up and dead ends at Stephens Lumber Company, right now.
GC There's an area in there now -- there is now, a beer distributor --
MC Right, yes.
GC -- Well, that was all different in those days. There was an ice plant in there.
MC Yes, right there by the railroad tracks and Polk Street, that corner.
GC That's right. All in there. After Bell was finished with using that as a training facility, that building there -- Owenby Company.
MC Owenby Manufacturing?
GC Manufacturing company moved in there, and used that building. Now, the other buildings --
MC They were scattered. They weren't all --
GC No, there was another group of them on the north side of Roswell Street, where Sears Roebuck is, and where there is a Legion Hall back in there now.
MC Yes, where the old Sears was.
MC It's Macy's now, for furniture.
GC There was a bunch of buildings back in there.
MC There was a big Armory there, I believe.
MC Maybe that was gone by then.
GC No, it wasn't there.
MC But, that's where the other buildings were?
GC That's where the other buildings were.
MC So that during the construction period, Bell was recruiting and training. GC Hiring and training people --
MC Both in Atlanta and Marietta?
GC -- Both in Atlanta and Marietta. That's right.
MC Were you involved in that, or were you tied up?
GC Only in getting those buildings. Doing whatever was required to those buildings, to adapt them to the requirements of the training department.
MC The rest of your time was involved out on the construction sites?
MC Talk a little bit about what happened over that period of time, in the construction. Was it a smooth, problem free, construction period, or were there some tense --
GC Generally speaking, yes. It was well organized. Robert and Company is a very, very efficient architect engineering company.
MC They still exist today.
GC Yes, although Chip Robert is no longer there. All of the executives of that company that I worked with there, are now dead. Chip Robert, Jessie Sheldon, Al Stanford were the three top men in that organization. There were no crises problems while we were building the thing. The biggest problems that we had were getting materials, because steel was at a premium. The roof of that building should have been concrete and steel, and it wasn't. It was made of wood, because that's all the material that was available in sufficient quantities to do the job. The existing office building was built with the understanding that it was purely temporary, and building such a way that it probably would fall down after the war was over.
MC It's still there.
GC Well, yes. I spent a lot of money at Lockheed, renovating it. Lockheed has spent a lot of money since then, making further improvements, but yet the building is still there after all these years, but it was designed, and the materials used and the type of construction used, [to be] purely temporary. It was just until the war was over.
MC How were those materials gotten to the site?
GC By railroad. They built a spur off of this thing right here, that went back in there, and delivered the materials. Most of it was by railroad. Some of it was by truck, as I remember.
MC At the same time that they were constructing the plant, were they also working on South Cobb Drive access to the plant? What was going on in terms of getting the workers to the site?
GC Oh, yes, yes. All of that highway construction was going on all the time. Some of that work has been done since Lockheed came in there, but they were opening up what's now the 41 Highway, between what is now Dobbins Air Force Base and Lockheed. Is it South Cobb Drive that runs in front of Lockheed?
MC Yes, I think it changes names --
GC All right, now that stopped -- That terminated at this 41 Highway, it didn't go on over to 75. 75 wasn't built at that time.
GC It terminated there, and I don't remember now, but it did not go way on down like it does now. It got to the other side of the railroad track and it terminated there.
MC What about the little access road? Do you know where the Lockheed main gate is now. there is the road that curves and goes down the hill and picks up on Fairground. Goes in from of the Marietta Daily Journal. Was that road put in at that time?
GC Yes, and to the east of that road, which there is an industrial park out there now, there were umpteen cheaply built housing down in there for Bell workers.
MC You're talking --
GC Pine Forest was built at that same time --
MC Right, yes.
GC -- For Bell Aircraft people.
MC You're talking about -- when you're talking about the area off of Fairground, you're talking about where Lockheed's --
GC Credit Union.
MC -- Credit Union is, that area.
GC Yes, all that back in there.
MC That corner of Clay and Fairground?
MC It was all Bell housing?
GC The whole area was just covered up with temporary housing.
MC At the same time, Pine Forest was built at the corner of 41 and Roswell Street, and at that point in time, was there anything else there on that corner?
MC It must have seemed --
GC No, there was -- On the opposite corner --
GC No. The corner south of Roswell Road, east of 41, Frey's Gin -- Cotton gin was sitting there. That used to be Frey Road out there.
MC Right, where the K-Mart is. Frey's Gin still runs through there.
GC Yes, that's right.
MC But you're talking about the gin itself was physically still there.
GC Yes, that's right, and Frey's home was sitting out in there somewhere near where K-Mart is now.
MC So, 41 went as far north as Roswell Street?
GC That's right.
MC Did it go beyond Roswell Street?
GC Not at that time, I don't believe.
MC It stopped at Roswell Street?
GC I think it did.
MC So Pine Forest people had access to the plant down 41?
GC 41 in to what is now South Cobb Drive.
MC Marietta had access to the plant, Fairground, up the hill, and Atlanta workers --
GC Also, --
MC -- Down Atlanta road.
GC -- The old Atlanta -- The road that runs down through Smryna and Fair Oaks.
MC Atlanta Road?
GC Is that Atlanta Road?
GC There was a gate out there, you know where Glover Street joins --
MC Yes, by the railroad overpass.
GC -- There was a gate there. Everybody had to go through that gate. There was another one over here near 41, on that access route. Some of their employees could get into the plant through those gates.
MC Talk a little bit about the makeups of the plant's work force after it was finished.
GC By the way, let me say something about that. Bell Aircraft started manufacture of B-29 components in the main -- in the building, before the building was finished. I can remember, as they closed in the walls of the building and built the roof, as soon as there was an area that was closed in, Bell started operations in there to build, while they were still finishing the rest of the plant.
MC Even before they had finished hiring for that?
GC They didn't -- You mean --
MC They kept on hiring.
GC Bell didn't finish hiring until --
MC They laid off.
GC Well, that's about right. It was a constant thing.
MC Right, a constant thing.
GC They were building aircraft components. I remember a joke that was going around. They were having the usual problems getting started building things, and somebody said -- I heard this colored man say -- I guess he said it to some of my people, "Gee whiz, they're having so much trouble building these airplane parts, why don't they just buy them from somebody?" That was a pretty good comment. There is another interesting side light, it's been an interest to me anyway. There is a basement under that building, and right down through the middle of that basement, there is a sub-basement, which is an air channel. That's where all the air conditioning and all the air and stuff comes in, and the pouring of concrete walls, and footings, and so forth, which had to be done, of course, before you could start building above ground. That progressed so fast that they didn't have time to dig all the dirt out between the walls and around the foundation to pour floors, and they had teams of mules, with what's called a "skip", digging dirt out -- digging the dirt out of inside these walls and around these foundations territory, to pour concrete. They couldn't get a piece of equipment in there. Of course, you couldn't do it with picks and shovels. I don't know where they got the mules from, but they had farmers, I guess, come in there with their mules and scoops, to dig that dirt out that they had left when they poured the walls and the floors.
MC That's interesting. Probably local area -- I would think, have to be area farmers.
GC I guess it would have to be, yes.
MC That is interesting.
GC Another interesting thing -- You know how big this grading equipment is, big, big, bulldozers. They were trying to dig that basement in the winter time, in the rainy season, and they were trying to get that dirt out of there with carry-all's, is what they were called. They were big scoops, under their own power. They were in mud. They were working in mud that was at least three feet deep. It was horrible. It was such a difficult job, that they would have two and three great big caterpillar tractors dragging these carry-all's up out of there with a lot of mud on them. You couldn't even walk down there.
MC Did construction go on twenty four hours a day? GC Oh, yes.
MC It never stopped?
GC It never stopped, rain or shine. The rain created some real, real problems in the dirt moving phase of this construction.
MC Were they able to meet their construction schedule?
MC Did they?
GC Oh, yes.
MC They did meet it?
GC Oh, yes. They sure did.
MC Okay, the plant is finished, or not finished, and you've already begun constructing the airplane --
GC The aircraft's -- parts.
MC -- The parts. Tell me about your work force. What is it like? Where are they from? What's their general aptitude, in the beginning, for the type of work. This is something totally new to most of them, I would think. What are the kinds of problems that you'd find yourself encountering with that work force, initially?
GC These people came in from all over the area. Some of them were riding over a hundred miles a day to get back and forth to work. The only mechanical skills that a few of them had, was prior experience in cotton mills. That experience was of some benefit to the people, but 95 percent of them had to be trained from scratch. They were completely unfamiliar with equipments, and techniques, and materials, and so on, that were required to fabricate aircraft components. They just had to be trained from scratch. They had no concept of what they were getting in to, or what was required of them. They had never [seen] manufacturing equipment, such as that was, for instance.
MC Did that 5 percent that you're talking about, did a lot of it come from existing area industry?
MC Clark Thread Mill, for example?
GC Yes, from all over the state. There were some rather small manufacturing operations in the Atlanta area. The people who were accustomed to working with metals, not wood and paper, and so on.
MC Right, textiles.
GC I don't know how many, but a lot of them, of course, left their previous jobs, and came to work for Bell Aircraft. They had, had some previous experience with working with metals. As I say, they were in the vast minority, 5 percent, perhaps, I don't know.
MC What would you say was the general educational level of your work force? Had a majority of them finished, or not finished high school?
GC No. I would say the minority had finished high school. Most of them were eighth graders. My personal experience with them was that the Southerner's are very proud people, and they didn't take to readily to being told what to do. You had to kind of handle it with kid gloves. You had to bring them around. You had to do a lot of explaining why. They were not like the Yankee labor that we Yankees had been accustomed to, where we said you do this, and you do this, and you do this, and they go do it with no questions. You had to handle yourself a little bit differently with the Southern people, because, as I say, they are a very proud, hard nosed, type of people. There's nothing wrong with that, except they were suddenly thrown into an all together different element.
MC Right, so you had to learn some new training techniques, is what you're saying?
GC Diplomatic handling is what I say.
MC Right, You had to establish a relationship first.
GC That situation even exists today between the northern laborer and the southern laborer. You have to have a more kid glove approach when your dealing with the southern personality, than you do in the north. The north is, as I said before, they just -- It's just go do it.
MC Do you think that might be one of the reasons the unions have had such a difficult time getting a foothold in the south, is that pride?
GC Yes, now that you bring it up, I think so. They're not like sheep. You can't lead them around by the nose.
MC That which has it's advantages and it's disadvantages.
GC Well, that's true, too. The northern people -- I don't know, they just --
MC What percentage of that initial work force, would you guess, were women?
GC I can't tell you, buy I can find out for you.
MC Was it a fair number?
GC Yes, a lot of women.
MC A lot of women?
GC A lot of women out there. I don't know, 25-30 percent, I would guess, I may be wrong, but I know somebody who could probably tell us that if you wanted to make some notes of some things you want me to try to find out for you. There are very few of the Bell Aircraft people left around here.
MC I know.
GC I'm sure there must be more, but I only know of myself and one other.
MC Did you have women working for you?
MC Only janitors?
GC Yes, I had a total of three thousand people under me out there, and that included the janitorial force, which was primarily women.
MC Primarily women?
MC Did you encounter any problems, that you can recall, with those women, in terms of children problems, clothing problems. They were wearing pants for the first time, did that create any problems?
GC Not that I know of, no.
MC Not that you're aware of?
GC I don't recall any problems of that nature.
MC How do you recall the rate of pay, and I realize everybody earned a different amount, but the rate of pay compared to other area industry? What it just so far above that, that there was no comparison? Was there any competition there in pay, between local industry and Bell?
GC Yes, sure. Local manufacturing, or local operations, manufacturing and otherwise, could not compete with Bell Aircraft's wage rates, no more than they can compete with Lockheed, which makes at the present day.
MC What kind's of benefits did the company offer, that you can recall?
GC I don't remember that. Put that down and I can find that out for you, too. I don't remember, but they were better, by far, than any benefits that any local companies had provided for their employees.
MC Now, Bell Aircraft workers, were they required to join the Union, because Bell was unionized?
GC It was unionized, but I can't remember whether it was a must thing or not. I don't know. Make a note there, I can find that out for you, too.
MC Okay, that you're aware of, were there major differences in dealing with the union at the Marietta plant and dealing with the union in Buffalo?
GC Not that I recall, primarily, because it was the same union. You were dealing with the same union organization with the same policies all over the United States.
MC But, the members were very different, were they not?
GC Oh, yes.
MC How do you think these workers -- What's your general impression of how they reacted to the union?
GC They thought it was great --
MC Did they?
GC -- To have all that protection and representation, and so on, and so forth.
MC Do you remember that Bell provided any child care facilities?
GC I don't know. I don't think so. I don't think so, but I don't remember for sure.
MC Talk a little bit now, about what a normal day was like, what your position exactly was, and what your normal day was like during the time that you were with Bell.
GC That's a hard question.
MC There was no such thing as a normal day.
GC Well, that's about right.
MC You had three thousand workers under you.
GC That's right.
MC That included what types of things?
GC My organization was set up --
MC What was your title? Let's start with that.
GC I was the Plant Engineer.
GC I was responsible for maintenance of the existing facilities, operation of the existing facilities, design and construction of new and additional facilities. What that amounted to, we had our own sewage disposal plant, we had our own industrial waste disposal plant that I had to operate and keep.
MC You were air conditioned, were you not?
GC I had a group that was responsible for the operation and the maintenance of the air conditioning system, the compressed air system, the boiler plant that provided heat for the plant. One large facet was the lighting in that plant. I had a crew -- I can't remember whether they were working two shifts or one, but they were up in that steel changing light tubes continuously, never stopped. By the time you got to the finish, it was time to take out the ones that they had in the beginning, and it never stopped. It just went on, and on, and on.
MC It had florescent lighting, didn't it?
GC Florescent lighting, that's right.
MC It operated twenty four hours a day?
GC Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. It never stopped. We had crews on three shifts, that were on duty all the time.
MC What was the shift?
GC It was an eight hour shift. I don't remember what the actual hours were anymore, but they were eight hours.
MC They were three eight-hour shifts?
GC Three eight-hour shifts, yes.
MC You had, I would then guess, approximately a thousand people per shift, is what you're saying? If you had three thousand people?
GC No, the majority of them were on the day shift. The second and the third shifts were more --
GC -- Or less stand by. We didn't carry on many major operations on second or the third shift. That was all done on the first shift.
MC So, they were considerably smaller in size?
GC Oh, yes. Roads and grounds, My division was responsible for maintaining all the roads, maintaining the runway at the old Rickenbacker Field. There were three thousand acres into this field. That's a lot of grass to keep cut.
MC Yes it is.
GC Keep the roads up, keep the grass cut, taking care of the landscaping, new construction of roads, things of that nature. We were responsible for maintenance of all of the equipment, all of the machine tools, equipment, and so forth. The service facilities required by manufacturing operations in the plant were constantly changing, and one of our major things was the design and installation of compressed air and electricity, and water where required. We were constantly digging up the floor and running air lines and water lines and electric lines and so on. That was a never ending thing, because manufacturing operations progressed while we were constantly having to rearrange, and update the services to these--
MC So that was a constant, on going thing? Of your three thousand workers, you had women janitors. Were they black or white, or a combination?
GC A lot of blacks. Mostly blacks. By the way, Arthur Bacon, the former Mayor of Smyrna, who died recently, he was in charge of all the floor sweepers, and the window washers, and things of that nature.
MC So, most of your janitorial staff was black?
MC What about the rest of your work force?
GC Relatively few blacks.
MC Relatively few blacks?
GC Laborers in the Roads and Ground Department were black. All the mechanics, electricians, the pipe fitters, and the carpenters, and the painters, and the machinist, machine repair people, the grave majority of them were white.
MC What about on the assembly line itself? Can you recall that there were a number of blacks?
GC There were a lot of blacks.
MC Did that create any problems?
GC Not that I recall.
MC Nothing major?
GC No, nothing major. The attitude was a little different at that time, than it is today.
MC When you say, "It was a little different at that time", in what way? There wasn't a sense of conflict? GC That's right. They were more cooperative. They were not as --
GC -- That's the word. That's the word.
MC Bell operated from 1943, I think the plant opened, until 1946, it closed. During that entire period of time you were in charge of plant maintenance?
GC And construction.
GC What happened when the plant closed? Did you immediately join Tumpane?
GC No, I don't remember how long, but it was a while. Maybe it was a year, that thing just sat idle over there, nothing doing.
MC Were you offered an opportunity to go back to Buffalo with Bell, and you turned that down?
MC Why did you turn that down?
GC I saw an opportunity to get into business for myself. You see, War Assets Administration were responsible for liquidation of government facilities all over the country at the termination of the war in 1946. They sold equipment out of this plant, and others, at quite a reduced price, very good prices to poor people. That was one of the opportunities to get into business for myself, was to be able to buy equipment for much, much less than it would cost me to go out on the open market and buy it. The other thing was, I saw a need for the kind of services that I could offer in this area. Having wanted to try and see if I could make a go at my own business, I decided that this was a good chance. If I could make it fine, if I didn't, I hadn't lost anything. I bought equipment out of the bomber plant. I borrowed money from the Small Business Administration, and started this business.
MC Carson Tool and Dye? When you began Carson Tool and Dye, the bomber plant had closed. Who were your customers?
GC Well, to name a few, I remember we did work for General Electric Company in Rome. We did business with Fairbanks Company in Rome. We did business with Scripto in Atlanta. There was a Plastic Injection Molder for whom I built the first injection mold. No I didn't either, I built the first one for Scripto. I can't remember the name of it now. In addition to that, we were doing a lot of mechanical maintenance work for manufacturers in the area, just doing machine repair, and contractors, road builders, dirt movers, saw millers --
MC Some in Cobb County?
GC They were all in Cobb County.
MC All of them in Cobb County.
GC All of that part of the business was local, was in Cobb County.
MC Was that the biggest percentage of your business, the repair and maintenance?
GC Probably was at that time, yes. Probably was at that time.
MC Three years after moving to the Cobb County area, you had established a fairly strong reputation and base among local businesses?
GC Yes. I worked for the County. I remember working with George McMillan when he was still the County Commissioner. We did a lot of equipment repair work for Cobb County. I worked for the City of Marietta. They all needed the services of someone or some company who had the facilities and know how to repair their equipment.
MC How had your feelings about Marietta and Cobb County changed at that point in time? Was this more like home? Were you used to the differences in people?
GC By that time, I was, yes. This was home now.
MC Did you have children? GC Both of them were born. My son was born in `45 and my daughter was born in `43.
MC Before you left Bell?
MC How did you feel about staying in Marietta, and having your children go through Marietta schools, after having grown up in the north?
GC No problem.
MC That didn't bother you at all?
GC No problem.
MC Did you feel that the quality of education they were going to get was going to be good enough?
GC It was good enough. I don't think it was as good as they might have gotten in northern schools, but it was adequate. It was adequate. Both of them have been very successful in their after life.
MC You mentioned that you started Carson Tool and Dye about a year or so after the --
GC It was the same year.
MC -- Same year it closed?
GC It was April, I opened this business in April of `46, and Bell shut down production, I guess, January, as I recall, January the 1st of `46.
MC So shortly thereafter. That was almost six months, you had begun your business.
GC About three months.
MC But you also joined, or acted as a consultant to Tumpane?
MC That began when?
GC I don't know for sure, but I would say, probably --
GC Yes, I would say late `47, somewhere around there.
MC When the plant closed, how long did it take before everyone was dismissed?
GC I don't know, but make a note. I can find that out for you, too. I don't remember, but it was pretty fast. They really shuffled them out of there in a hurry. They were a few left to help clean up and liquidate assets. Bell Aircraft owned a lot of assets. The Air Force owned all the major principal assets, but Bell had a number of lesser important assets that they liquidated here. They kept people on to help them get rid of all this stuff. There were a certain number of airplanes, in various stages of construction, at the time that they shut down production. I can't remember how many, but I would say there may have been somewhere between ten and twenty partially completed airplanes. Bell Aircraft's personnel handled that. What they did, they made a deal with an outfit down in Macon. He was with the Corps of Engineers, and his father had a junk yard down in Macon. I don't know who negotiated the deal with them, but he left the Corps of Engineers. He and his father and his brothers just came up here and cut up these airplanes into pieces small enough to load them on flat cars, and haul them away. Some went to Macon, some went to other scrap yards around the country, I guess. They were out there for many months, on the south side of the plant by the railroad over there, cutting up airplanes. Koplin was there name. K-O-P-L-I-N. He's still in Macon running the scrap company. I run into him every once and a while.
MC After you finished with Tumpane, and you're concentrating on your own business, I assume, in 1951, Lockheed takes over the Bell facilities. Tell me about your involvement from that point in time with Lockheed?
GC Dan Haughton was sent here from California to start up and manage this facility here. Dan Haughton came to see me and said he somehow or another found out what I had done with Bell. He asked me if I would consider taking the same job with Lockheed. We negotiated a deal with the understanding that I would continue to maintain my business. It was quite small at that time. I think they only had six people working for them, six, seven, or eight, something like that. So, I went to work for Lockheed in 1951. First thing that had to be done was to build some buildings, these temporary buildings that were on the south side of the plant, and move all the equipment, machine tools, that were stored in the main building, move them out into this other building. Tumpane was still in the main building. With their contract they had to get out. I had to move all that equipment out of there. At the same time, Lockheed was trying to equip the manufacturing facilities in that main building. Their first job was the renovation of B-29's that were in storage out in Pyote, Texas. I had the responsibility of selecting the machine tools out of that mess that was in there, and reconditioning them, put them back in first class condition, ready for production operations of Lockheed. I built that hanger that's down at the airport, the Lockheed Hanger, and I built that new runway down on the south side of the airport. I had the same job, the same responsibilities, that I had had with Bell Aircraft. I stayed with them until the end of `53. I left for two reasons, one of them was, I had gotten to the point where I just couldn't do both anymore. I was working twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
MC Your own business, and Lockheed?
GC And Lockheed. I had to give up one or the other. I could have stayed on at Lockheed, and there have been times when I thought maybe I would have been smarter to stay on, because they were paying me a real, real good salary. As a matter of fact, Dan Haughton said, "He's the only man I ever hired who asked for a raise before he came to work". I said well the hard part is getting started. That's when I want the money, not after it's done. I got the money or I wouldn't go to work for him. I figured my future was better off in this business than it was working for Lockheed, and it proved to be right. Very definitely.
MC I've heard from some of the Lockheed officials, that start up wasn't as easy as some people assumed that it was, because of the bad taste left in the mouth of local people when Bell left so quickly. Did you find that there were problems like that? Paul Frech, for example, said that when he came to Marietta he could not get a check cashed, because so many Marietta businesses had been left in the lurch when the Bell Bombers left, the personnel left.
GC I don't doubt but what that was true, although I never experienced it. I never experienced anything like that. People were glad to get on Lockheed's payroll, making better wages than they had ever had in their lifetime, and fringe benefits that they never heard of before. They were jumping at the chance.
MC Were a lot of your old staff still around, that you could rehire?
GC At that time?
GC Oh, yes. You bet you, you bet you. Well, you see, I'd already rehired some of them when we were under Tumpane Company. I can only, actually, honestly, remember one guy, a guy by the name of Leonard Hickman. I had an operations control department to keep up with work orders and planning and scheduling of work and so on and so forth. He had handled that for me at Bell, and I hired him at Lockheed. I can't remember any other of the administrative caliber that I hired that had formally been with me at Bell Aircraft.
MC What about the general Lockheed work force. Would you say that more of them were from the local area, or did it seem to be like it had been with Bell, where a good percentage of them drove from all over the place for hundred of miles?
GC The numbers of local people who worked for Lockheed, were the same people that had worked for Bell Aircraft.
MC So a lot of them went back?
GC I think the distances that they commuted were more or less the same, because basically it was the same people. They had been idling for a couple of years until Lockheed came back. They just jumped at the chance to go back to work at the bomber plant.
MC Did they?
GC Oh, yes. Sure.
MC Do you recall people calling Bell Bomber "The Bummer Plant"?
GC Oh yes, that's what it was known as, "The Bummer Plant". It still is. A lot of people still refer to it as "The Bummer Plant".
MC So you left Lockheed in 1953, and at that point, your business is all you can handle, and have a normal day.
GC It was growing fast. There was no normal day.
MC Even for your own business?
GC Oh, no. I worked harder at my business, than I ever worked for anybody else.
MC What's happening around you in Cobb at that period of time? Is that when the growth is really beginning?
GC In `53?
MC Or is it later?
GC It's later. It's later. I don't know, but it seems to me, as if this growth has come about in the last ten years. If you back up to the late `70's, somewhere around there I think, is when it started. I'm not sure of that, I just don't --
MC Would you place it around the completion of 75 through the county, or later than that?
GC I think it was earlier than that.
MC Earlier than that?
GC I think so.
MC Where was your original business located?
GC Over on Butler Street over the old railroad tracks.
MC Right near Glover Machine Works?
GC Yes, just north -- just towards town from Glover Machine Works. I rented a building over there, and I leased it for tens years. My lease was up, and the building was too small, so I bought this property and built this --
MC On `41?
GC -- Right here.
MC When you bought this land, and built this building on 41, what was around you?
GC There was a fence company there.
MC Next door to the south?
GC Yes, and there were two dwellings sitting in there where that cafeteria is now.
GC There was nothing on the other side of the road over there.
MC Just wooded?
GC Yes, just fields.
MC And of course, 75 was not there.
GC No, no. That's right, 75 was not there. There was a cabinet making shop just the other side of the bowling alley, that was there, I think, yes, it was there when I built here. There wasn't anything between here and Dobbins, except that fence company next door to me, where that Taco place and pizza place is now. There was nothing on up through here. There wasn't anything there until you got to Pine Forest.
MC When you got to Pine Forest, there was Pine Forest. What about the little intersection at Roswell Street and 41, was there anything at that intersection?
GC Not that I can remember.
GC No, I don't think so, except Frey's Gin, as I said before.
MC Right. No development, really?
GC I don't think so.
MC So you were one of our first --
GC That is where this government -- What was the name of that government subsidized training thing? I can't remember.
MC It was located out there?
GC It was located in there where Sear Roebuck use to be, and on in a little bit further north, there's a big old wholesale grocery place or something --
MC Yes, Warehouse Groceries.
GC -- Yes, in there now.
MC Warehouse Groceries, right. It ran all through that little area, but other than that, you were fairly --
GC Out here by myself.
MC -- Out in the country.
GC Oh, yes, I was out here by myself. This road was paved, but it wasn't as wide as it is now. It was only two lane at that time. All of the rest of this stuff has been built since then.
MC What about East Cobb, I would guess that there was very little in East Cobb?
GC Very little, very little over there. Nothing in West Cobb. Everybody said that's never going to development out there. Look at it now.
MC I wish they were right. I live out there.
GC I look back now to those days, and sometimes I think -- Of course, I knew the tool making business, that's all I did know. When I look at the opportunities that I had to buy real estate, I wish the Lord that I had gone into the construction business, domestic construction business. Fortunes have been made.
MC Or just owned the real estate or the land.
GC Yes, just buy it and resell it. Let me give you a particular example of what's happened here, I bought this piece of property in 1955, for five thousand dollars.
MC Which is how much property?
GC Four hundred and fifty feet deep, a hundred and fifty feet wide, and I had been offered four hundred thousand dollars for it, if I would sell it and move out.
MC As recently as when, just this past --
GC The last twelve months.
MC -- This last twelve months, this last year.
GC It's unbelievable, and other real estate -- for instance, a friend of mine, as a matter of fact he's in the pictures here, he's General Rittenour, he worked for Bell. He paid seven thousand eight hundred dollars for a piece of property out around the back of Cheatham Hill. His son sold it recently for a million dollars. Think of it.
MC A tiny profit.
GC I had to put my money into what I knew.
MC That's right. That's right.
GC The opportunities.
MC Did you stay on Maple Street, or have you long moved from there?
GC I moved, I built a house in Whitlock Heights in `53.
MC Tell me a little bit about the development of Whitlock Heights, because that was a new area of Marietta.
GC A fellow by the name of Banks Dupree owned it. He and a guy by the name of McDonald owned part of it, and Banks Dupree owned the rest of it. They just developed it. They just graded out and put in to it and broke, and so on, and so forth. It was probably opened up in about `52, because I was one of the early settlers over there.
MC And have been there ever since, in that area?
GC Oh, yes. The same house.
MC So your children were in the Marietta City limits, were they not?
GC Oh, yes.
MC So, they went to Marietta schools?
GC Westside Grade School, and Marietta High School.
MC Marietta High School? You have two children. What are their names?
GC Kay Harvey, she married, luckily, very wealthy, into a very wealthy family, down in Bradenton, Florida. She and her husband, John Harvey, met at Florida State. Graduated with a Business Administration Degree, and then he went University of Florida, in Gainesville, graduated with a law degree, and he has a large law firm, about fifteen or twenty lawyers working for him down --
MC In Bradenton?
GC -- In Bradenton. He also looks after -- His mother and his uncle own the Harley Enterprises. Of course, he handles everything for his mother of their operations down there. My son graduated from Emory University. He's a dentist. He specializes in children's dentistry. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
MC Bozeman, Montana? So neither of your children are close by?
GC Not at all.
MC Your daughter, that's not too far of a ride.
GC Yes, but I haven't been down there since last Christmas.
GC I've made three trips to Montana.
MC So you should be --
GC She doesn't like it, but I go out there to hunt and fish.
MC So you should be relatively well pleased with the quality of Marietta High School, because your children did very well in college.
GC Yes, that's right. They both did very well. My daughter has a degree in nursing. They did very well in school, and afterwards.
MC Let's go through some of the pictures and papers that you have, so that we won't forget to mention the people that you want to mention, and in some of the instances trigger some of these --
GC That's me, believe it or not. This fellow here is my assistant. His name was Bob Doss, and I brought him down with me from Buffalo. I can't remember that guy's name. He was a Robert & Company employee, and that was a Robert & Company employee. He was a Chief Architect, I can't remember his name. He has an architectural firm in Atlanta. This is that Key Ceremony that I showed you those other pictures of, and that's Colonel York, who was the head of the Corps of Engineering group that handled this bomber plant. That's Chip Robert. This is Jessie Sheldon, who was Vice President of Robert & Company, he's dead. This Al Stanford, who was the other Vice President. This is Colonel O'Conner, who was the Air Force man on deck. That's Captain Collins who was Bell Aircraft's local representative. There's me back there, and some of these other people. This is just another social gathering we had with -- This is Robert & Company personnel, and this is Captain Wise. He was with the Corp of Engineers. I don't remember his name.
MC Did you find yourself associating 90 percent of the time, or 100 percent of the time, with Robert & Company personnel, Army-Air Force personnel, rather than local people?
GC Yes, that whole year we just --
MC There was no time for --
GC -- Oh, no. It was all association with Robert & Company. There's some more of that Key Ceremony. This picture was taken in Buffalo, New York. That guy was the Plant Engineer, and I was the Assistant Plant Engineer.
MC In Buffalo?
GC In Buffalo. This is just some more of the same thing. This is Colonel York.
MC You were just a young whipper snapper, weren't you?
GC I've always looked young. I don't look 77 years old, do I?
MC No, you do not.
GC That's Jessie Sheldon, Colonel York, and Major Furrett. That's some B-29 stuff. This is some more of that Key Ceremony. There's Chip Robert socializing with -- That guy was a drunk. He was.
MC We won't put his name in here.
GC Major -- This is just some more of the same stuff. I hired quite a number of Lockheed engineers to man up my engineering department. That's, that Chief Architect for Robert & Company, I hired him.
MC When you were at Lockheed?
GC Yes. That's -- I can't remember names. I hired him, he was Chief of my mechanical department, and he was Chief of my architectural department. Where is Newton? There's another guy here that I hired. That's Dick Head. He was with Robert & Company, and I hired him for my roads and grounds manager. I can't identify some of these other guys in there. There was Harry Robert. He was Chip's nephew. Here's that --
MC Are you still acquainted with people at Robert & Company?
GC No, everybody I know are dead and gone. I've outlived most of my compatriots. I really have, even here in Marietta. I used to belong to the Rotary Club. I quit, because I couldn't keep up with that crazy attendance restriction that they had. I quit several years ago. I go every once and a while as a guest of somebody that I know. All the old timers are gone. The time I quit, there were about 40-45 people in that Rotary Club, and there's over a hundred and something now, and I'll bet you out of that 45 or so that was in it when I left, I bet there aren't a half dozen of them still alive.
MC When you joined Rotary, when was that?
MC Who were some of your fellow members? Do you recall long time members that stayed?
GC Bolan Glover.
MC The Bolan, not the son?
GC Not the young one, the old one. He's dead. The old one is dead. Guy Northcutt, Bob Northcutt.
MC Guy Northcutt is Holeproof Hosiery.
GC He was there.
GC Bob Northcutt is B & N Auto Supply.
MC B & N Auto. Bo Glover is Glover Machine Works.
GC That's right. Who else? Jimmy Anderson.
MC Mr. Anderson is still around.
GC I think Dr. Riddle, I'm not sure whether or not Dr. Riddle --
MC The Veterinarian?
GC The old man. There was a Goldstein. He had a clothing store here in Marietta. I was trying to think whether George McMillan -- I think George McMillan was also a member at that time.
MC Mr. Blair?
GC Yes, Rip Blair was.
MC How about Mr. Carmichael?
GC I'm not sure about Carmichael, maybe he was. Off hand, I can't think of any others. I know one of them. One other was the ex President of First National Bank, that started -- The old man and his son took over. I can't --
MC Either Bill Beasley or J.D. Massey.
GC No, yes, Ed Massey, the --
GC -- Old man. Senior, Ed Massey, Sr. and Bill Beasley was a member.
MC Tell me a little bit about Mr. Beasley. What was he like?
GC He was a pretty good guy. I got disenchanted with him. I think he pitched me a curve, with reference to, I had borrowed some money from First National Bank, and then I refinanced and deposited the check in the bank. Beasley was supposed to apply it to the -- write off the loan that he had given me, and he applied it to that plus some other indebtedness that I had at the bank. All of a sudden I was short of money again, and I thought I had taken care of everything. He was all right. He was okay, I guess. My personal opinion of him, he was full of bologna. He talked. If he did everything he talked about, he'd be great, but he talked a better game than he played.
MC Than he played?
GC Yes, that's right. That's Chip Robert again.
MC How long did you stay in the Rotary? When did you finally decide you just couldn't handle the attendance requirements? Was Ernest Barrett, had he joined?
GC I don't know. I don't know.
MC Did you know Ernest Barrett?
GC No, vaguely, not well.
MC Not well?
GC I must have been in there 48, 58, 68, I must have been in there about twenty years, I guess. I don't know exactly.
MC So, you were there into the 60's?
GC Oh, yes. A good while.
MC Yes. A lot of people -- Now, you say that you only know Ernest Barrett vaguely, but a lot of people give him a great deal of credit towards modernizing Cobb and making it especially attractive to development, and he was elected, I believe, in 19 either `62 or `64. Apparently there were two political points of view at that point in time, the old versus the group they called -- I don't know whether you've ever heard this expression, the "young Turks", and Ernest Barrett was one of those, and they supported his candidacy. Did you get involved in politics at all?
GC I've never been involved in politics.
MC You stayed away from it? Do you just watch what goes on, and form your own opinions, and --
GC Keep it to myself.
MC -- Keep it to your self. You do not want to comment for the record?
GC No, I do not. There are three things I don't discuss: politics, religion, and bird dogs, because everybody thinks theirs is the best.
MC I'll leave the bird dogs alone.
GC I've been a bird hunter for the last thirty years. I have been in the right, because I'm out now. I've raised and trained bird dogs for thirty years.
MC Did you? Did you ever get involved with the group that went out to Red Rock and went hunting any?
GC No, I've always done it on my own.
MC On your own?
GC Except my son, he started hunting with me when he was eight years old. He and I have hunted together all this time.
MC So it was a family endeavor? It was not --
GC Yes. I'm kind of a loner, really, if you want to know the truth.
MC You're looking at a magazine here, called the Bellringer.
GC Yes, that was June 1943. That was the Bell -
MC Was it an employee type publication?
GC Yes, it was published by Bell Aircraft Corporation. I was trying to see if there was anything in here. You might be able to pick up something -- (Reading from magazine) "Atlanta area responds readily to the great employment needs of Marietta Assembly Plant". There are a bunch of women. Look at them.
MC Yes. We had heard rumors that there was a very prominent Marietta lady, who for, really, sort of public relations purposes, went to work at Bell Aircraft. Are you familiar with that?
GC I've got a vague recollection that there was somebody, but I don't know who it was.
MC Can't recall who it was, and off hand, I can not remember either, but it was strictly --
GC Do you want to know that?
MC -- It was strictly a public relations type of thing.
GC Do you want to know that?
GC Make a note. I've got another source of information on a lot of things. You probably could pick up some information -- Here's -- Here I am again, look at this? Boy, wasn't I young and handsome? There are the pictures of a bunch of the --
MC Managers -- Are those managers?
GC -- Very young. Here's Director of Production, and acting manager Stu Parr, Industrial Engineering, Labor Relations, man power coordinator --
MC This is a familiar name, is that in Marietta?
MC That's some where else?
GC Frank Knight still is alive.
MC Were there any Mariettan's among management, other than Jimmie Carmichael?
GC Not at that level.
MC Some Cobb countians?
GC You mean natives?
GC No, not that I know of.
MC Carmichael was the only one?
GC Yes, he was the only one. Yes, he was the only one. You might -- If you want to look through this thing, you might --
MC How would you access his value to the plant?
GC Who, Carmichael?
GC Great. He knew how to handle people. He really knew how to handle people. He could really fire them up. He had tremendous ability in getting people fired up, and getting them to do something.
MC Both at management and just among the ordinary workers?
GC Yes, yes.
MC He was well liked by the workers?
GC Oh, yes, very much. I guess you're going to take these things, aren't you?
MC If you have no objection to that, and I will return them to you.
GC This is Buffalo.
MC When the Bell Plant closed, what percent of management, would you say, left and went back to Buffalo or back with Bell? Did a large number stay here?
GC I can only recall one.
GC He was the Production Manager over here. His name was Demarcus. He went back to Buffalo. There was one other guy who was in accounting over here, who went back to Buffalo, and has since become the President, or General Manager, or Chairman of the Board, or something to Bell Helicopter, out in Fort Worth. Those are the only two I can remember.
MC How many, roughly speaking, came from Bell down here?
GC Al Brown, who was the Chief Engineer, me, Demarcus --
MC Other management was hired here? GC Yes, that's all I can remember. That's all I can remember.
MC But, a fair percentage of management that was hired stayed in the area after the plant closed?
GC Yes, I think so. Yes, I think so.
MC Why do you think that was?
GC They came from here originally, that's where they came from.
MC So they remained here? They remained here. The Bell employees who came, stayed --
GC Only for the duration, and they all went back. No they didn't either. Al Brown stayed here, and he went into some business. I don't know what it was, but he went back to work for Lockheed.
MC Do you think most of them stayed for the same reason you did, that they saw business opportunities?
GC I think so. I just saw Harry Tillinghast's picture in here. He went to work for Kraft, a company down in Atlanta, Kraft Foods, I believe it was. The story of the government owned Bell operated Marietta Aircraft Assembly.
MC The Bellringer, that was the name of the --
GC Here was O. L. Woodson, Vice President and Manager of the Georgia Division. He was a jerk. He didn't last too long either. He didn't last too long. There's Demarcus, Larry Bell -
MC Generally speaking, what did you think of your Georgia plant work force?
GC Do you mean at Bell or Lockheed?
MC At Bell?
GC I think they were all pretty good.
MC Were they?
GC There were a few in there that were not very high caliber people, but, then in fact, I hired a couple of them. They were pretty damn sorry, if you'll excuse the expression, but I caught up to them sooner or later, and they were gone.
MC Did you not have any problems getting rid of people when you needed to even though you were unionized?
GC Have you ever heard of a descendant of a long line of bachelors? Do you know what that is? Think about that a minute. Do you know what I'm saying?
MC I think so, yes.
GC Well, that's what I was with relations to the unions. They had --
MC You were not one of their favorite people?
GC -- The labor relations department had trouble with me all the time, because I just wouldn't sit back and let them shove people down my throat, and wouldn't let -- I had a reputation of having a Kingdom over there. I figured, by God, if I had the responsibility I needed the authority to do what I had to do to get the job done. I got to be persona non grata with a lot of people, but I out lasted all of them.
MC Did you?
GC We looked at this one.
MC We've looked through most of those.
GC We've looked at this one. I don't think --
MC I don't know that we looked at the other two that you have there. These are --
GC Actually, he was an Air Force something or -- No he wasn't, he's Corps of Engineers. I can't remember his name. That was in the lobby. There was a thing in the lobby, it was there a -- long after I left, a rendering of -- in two dimensions, of the facility. There's some more of it, more of it, more people. I got in that picture, too, and I got in that one, and I got in that one.
MC That's why you saved those, because you're in them.
GC You're right, you're right, you're right. That's what that main bay area -- That thing is three hundred feet wide, and it's twenty five hundred feet long, as I remember. Those are B-29's going down the assembly line.
MC From start to finish, how long did it take to construct the plane?
GC I can't tell you. Not very long.
MC Not very long?
GC Not very long. I can't remember.
MC Do you know what their total turnout was? How many planes they produced?
GC I don't remember, but I can find out for you. These are just pictures of social gatherings, it looks like. That's the way they use to transport visiting dignitaries around the plant.
MC The plant facilities? GC This is a private diner. That's Carlyle Rittenour right there. He was a retired Air Force three star General.
MC Talk about the area down where the Civic Center is now, during the Bell days.
GC The Civic Center --
MC During the Bell days. GC That was the County Farm, that is --
MC The County Farm.
GC -- Where the prisoners were kept and that's where they grew their food, and the fairground was down there.
MC Then, did they not build Larry Bell Center?
GC Oh, yes.
MC When was that? During Bell days?
GC Oh, no.
MC After Bell?
GC Oh, yes, after Bell. I can't remember, but that hasn't been there too long. Ten years, maybe?
MC There were athletic facilities, were they not available for the Bell employees? Where were they? They had baseball teams --
GC Where the parking lot is now.
MC Where the parking lot is?
GC Yes, it was up in the corner of the parking lot, as I recall. There was nothing there except that County Farm.
MC The County Farm was there, even then?
GC Yes, and the man in charge of the County Farm was John Hood. A great guy. A great guy.
MC I can't think of anything that we have left uncovered in regards to Bell.
GC Well, if you do, make some notes --
MC I will.
GC -- And I'll try to get you some answers.
MC Do you know what happened to the Bell records?
GC Didn't you tell me they were burned?
MC Yes, that's what we heard. We had also heard that when Lockheed came in, they had them, and they were put into storage. You don't know what happened to those, the personnel records? Lee Rogers wasn't familiar with where they might be either. We have talked with Lee Rogers and Paul Frech, and I believe Paul Frech didn't come until -- He may have been here at the beginning, but I believe he didn't come until `55.
GC I was going to say, he was there when I left. He eventually ended up Vice President in charge of the operation, but at the time I was over there, he and I were on the same level, and he was in charge of manufacturing engineering, something like that. I can't remember, but he and I were on the same level, and we had to deal with each other. This guy, Roy McKensie --
MC That's not a familiar name.
GC I'm not sure Roy's still alive. He was a Production Manager. Lee Poor, heard of him?
GC He was also another production executive. He's around here. I don't know if he could tell you and you might want to know or not. Lee Poor, Roy McKensie, are two guys that were around here.
MC These are Lockheed people?
GC These are Lockheed people. Tom Perry.
MC How do you spell his last name?
GC P-E-R-R-Y, I think. He's in Atlanta. I don't know how to get in touch with him. I haven't seen him in years. He was in charge of purchasing for Bell Aircraft, and Lockheed hired him to set up the purchasing operations for Lockheed. I guess he's finally sold out, but he had a large interest in a auto parts company in Atlanta. What was the name of that thing? Nationwide outfit.
MC Not Genuine Parts?
MC Genuine Parts?
GC Yes, Genuine Parts. He was a founder -- part of the founding group --
MC As we've sat here and talked, it sounds like a lot of former Bell employees, and former Lockheed employees, have stayed in the area, and have gone on to have very successful businesses and careers.
GC Some might have.
MC Have you noticed that, also?
GC They were relatively few.
MC Most of them in management type positions?
MC Well, I thank you for letting me come and take so much of your business day. I know this is hard for you --
GC Well, that's all right.
MC -- To find the time.
GC I feel, at the moment, that there's a lot that's been left unsaid, but I can't put my finger on it. Maybe, as time goes on, more things will come to mind.
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Updated on June 13, 2001