0:00

GASTINGER: --now, I didn't see anything in the paper ----------(??) and he's a lawyer, I think.

FOSL: And a state senator, too.

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: Okay. I'm here in Louisville on June 25th with Chris Gastinger and his home. And maybe you could just begin by telling me a little bit about yourself, your age, where you were born.

GASTINGER: Well, I was born across the street from here.

FOSL: Oh you were.

GASTINGER: (laughs) And, uh, my mother lives there.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And, uh, I'm sixty-eight, be sixty-nine next month. And what else you wanna know? (laughs)

FOSL: Well, uh, when did you start working at Harvester?

GASTINGER: Uh, when I got out of the Army. I was in the Army and, uh, got discharged. And, uh, so I guess played around for a month or two and finally figured, better go to work. (laughs)

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: So I headed to, headed to Harvester, got a job.

FOSL: Um-hm. So what year was that, probably?

GASTINGER: Uh, let's see, that would have been in '46, I guess.

1:00

FOSL: So that was before the union came in.

GASTINGER: Yes.

FOSL: So there was no union at all.

GASTINGER: They were in the organizing bit, I guess, while I--when I started there, uh.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: I'd worked there--oh, I don't know, just a short while, when, uh, the union started organizing for, uh, the FE.

FOSL: And what was that like? Was there like a lot of struggle around that, or?

GASTINGER: Uh, well, no, not really, I don't think. The, uh, there were a number of unions, uh, in the election, and, uh, Farm Equipment won easily, I think.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: It was based more on the, uh, fact that they had a larger amount of, uh, uh, Harvester plants, I guess--(laughs)--that they won 2:00so easily.

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: And they had a, uh--I didn't get active in the union till the strike though. They had a strike, uh--

FOSL: Right after they got the contract.

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: Yeah. And what was that strike--

GASTINGER: Right after they got the election--

FOSL: Election.

GASTINGER: Before they got the contract.

FOSL: I'm sorry, yeah. And what was that strike about?

GASTINGER: Uh, well, for us, the, uh, key figure was, uh, they had a wage structure, uh, in their international--I mean their national contract, where all of the Harvester plants that was under that contract got, uh, a, uh, the same rates.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And--(clears throat)--they had a rate here that was considerably lower than that.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And, uh, we were striking to--for the same rates, which, uh, we did get eventually--(laughs)--to end the strike.

3:00

FOSL: How long did that strike last, do you remember? Appro-, --

GASTINGER: Forty days, if I remember correctly.

FOSL: Um-hm. And the whole plant was out?

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: And was that about--how many workers was that, do you remember?

GASTINGER: Uh, at that time I suppose there must have been--just wild guess, I'd say three thousand.

FOSL: Um-hm. But actually, that's a very good guess. It says--

GASTINGER: Somewhere in that range, I would think.

FOSL: Um-hm. Some of the news clippings I have said that it covered three thousand workers by 1949.

GASTINGER: I would judge right at that.

FOSL: Um-hm. And did you ever notice organizer I guess his named was Vernon Bailey?

GASTINGER: Uh, yeah. I can't remember him--(laughs)--too much about him. But I tell ya, I knew about, uh--

FOSL: Um-hm. I was just wondering if he was a, if he was an FE organizer or if he was there in the plant.

GASTINGER: Uh, he was an organizer, an FE organizer. Uh, fact, there 4:00were, uh, more than he. There were, uh, several of 'em, from FE down here, uh, when they had organizing, they'd have--

FOSL: Um-hm. There was another one named, uh, Gibson, Chuck Gibson?

GASTINGER: He was finally at, uh, he came here, uh, with the, uh, he had contacts with the union board ----------(??) Murray came from here.

FOSL: Huh.

GASTINGER: And, uh--(coughs)--they were--(clears throat)--he was eventually the president of his local. And, uh, was--heck, he had experience in that kind of stuff. Uh, I don't--much labor but he was, had belonged to the Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.

FOSL: Oh, that's right. I read that.

GASTINGER: Uh--

FOSL: So he was very progressive-minded.

GASTINGER: Yeah. Uh, I guess he came--best I remember, he came 5:00originally from New York. Uh, had been in, uh, that kind of stuff up there. But--boy he went, well everybody went to the Lincoln Brigade in--(laughs)--that kinda stuff, I guess. (laughs)

FOSL: That's right. Well, what, um, what was your life like before the union versus after it?

GASTINGER: Uh, well, I just got out of the Army, just starting a family, of course. And, uh--

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: Uh, there was a significant, uh, increase in pay after-- (laughs)--the union, we won that strike--

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: --you know--(laughs)--I mean a significant one. And then I got into, uh, whole lot of stuff that I hadn't been into before, I guess.

FOSL: Well, tell me--do you mind telling me a little bit about that?

GASTINGER: Uh, the Progressive Party and that kind of stuff, which I hadn't done anything like that prior to that.

FOSL: Um-hm. What, what do you think, uh, what was it that radicalized you? What made you change that way?

GASTINGER: Hmm--I think the books I read as a kid. (laughs) Really, I 6:00think it, uh, I, I got my views in that regard, I guess, from stuff I read as a kid.

FOSL: You mean in the church, or?

GASTINGER: No, just, uh, I was, uh, well, heavens, fourth grade when I discovered books. And I read everything I could get my hands on. [chime sound] And, uh, oh, John Dos Passos and you know, stuff like that, people like that. And, uh--

FOSL: The--I'm sorry?

GASTINGER: Uh, Dos Passos or Dos Passos, the, uh, author.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: A lot of his, uh, stu-, stuff. And, uh, uh, oh, you know, I even read back to, uh, the old French writers--(laughs)--the French Revolution, I guess ----------(??) affected me some.

FOSL: Wow.

GASTINGER: (laughs) And, uh, just the stuff I read as a kid--

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: --I suppose--got me pointed in that direction. (laughs)

FOSL: Well, the reason I asked about the church connection is a lot of people felt like they came to social justice thinking through, through 7:00their Christian experience.

GASTINGER: That for sure happened with a lot of people. I think that's probably true of Anne.

FOSL: It is true, yeah.

GASTINGER: I would think it was, but, uh, Anne was, uh, come from a, uh, odd background--(laughs)--to have the views that she winded up with, I thought. (laughs)

FOSL: She sure did. (Gastinger laughs) Well--what was your own background? What--

GASTINGER: Just working class. My father--my grandfather emigrated from Germany. And, uh, my father--I think went to the eighth grade in school, best I remember.

FOSL: Here in Louisville?

GASTINGER: Yeah. Worked in a tannery here.

FOSL: A tannery?

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: He died when I was fourteen. And, uh--

FOSL: In that flood, your wife told me.

GASTINGER: In the 1937 flood. He volunteered out here high and dry.

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: But he volunteered to go down and, uh, work on rescue work. 8:00And, uh, him and a couple other guys from out here went out in there. And based on what--near as we can figure out what they told, he just worked himself to death--(laughs)----------(??)--

FOSL: Wow.

GASTINGER: --worked down to a complete physical collapse. At, uh--first we heard about it, he was in, uh, Red Cross Hospital in town. And, uh, and he died.

FOSL: Hmm. What, what was your place in the family? I know she said--

GASTINGER: I--

FOSL: --you were one of seven?

GASTINGER: I was the second oldest.

FOSL: Second oldest?

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: So you probably had to take on a good bit of responsibility.

GASTINGER: Uh, probably some, yeah. (laughs)

FOSL: Well, um, let's see, I got a few more questions here. Um, well, this was a pretty militant bunch out at the Harvester. I mean it--

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: --seemed like there was, uh--

GASTINGER: You're, uh, they--well, the, uh--that union definitely wasn't ----------(??).

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And, uh, the, uh, we were too--(laughs)--for that matter. 9:00And, uh--

FOSL: I just am trying to understand more what created the conditions for that to be true.

GASTINGER: The, uh, well, the, uh, people around here, workers--them days at least, and I guess some after, long time afterward, uh, tended to be kinda militant. The, uh, GE out there had a--well, now, the company caused a lot of it, too, I suppose. But GE, uh, had a kind of a militant movement out here.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And, uh, they had wildcat strikes every time you turned around out there for years.

FOSL: Now what union was that?

GASTINGER: Uh, the United Electrical Workers--

FOSL: Yeah, that's what I thought.

GASTINGER: --GE.

FOSL: UE.

GASTINGER: And, uh, they, uh, IUE was the ones that, uh, I can't remember which one's which. One of 'em got kicked out of CIO. 10:00(laughs) And, uh--

FOSL: Right. I think it was UE.

GASTINGER: The one who--well, this is IUE, it's out there.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: The one that didn't get kicked out of U-, CIO is the one that's out there. But, uh, they were militant as hell for years, too. And, uh, uh, some of it, I suppose, is the, uh, people around here--(laughs)--resent the, when the company, uh, uh, is little auth-, authoritarian with them I believe.

FOSL: Right. It sounds like Harvester jerked y'all around a good bit.

GASTINGER: They definitely did, uh, well, even after UAW got out there, uh, they had a good deal of labor strife till, uh--

FOSL: And when was that?

GASTINGER: Um, well, I'm not exactly sure when. It, uh--(laughs)-- happened long after I was outta there. But, uh, after the--when, uh, Murray kicked the, uh, uh, radical unions out of the CIO.

11:00

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: Uh, not long after that is when UAW took over out there.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: But even them, uh, had troubles until, uh, I think Harvester management consciously took a--made a change in their, uh, ---------- (??) and philosophy. (laughs)

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: I think I read a, uh, see, who wrote it? The guy used to work for the Courier, can't remember his name. Uh, I read a, uh, study he made about the Harvester's change in attitude, and--

FOSL: Huh.

GASTINGER: --how it had, uh, achieved some labor peace in that they tried to talk things out rather than, uh, write it on paper and go 12:00through the--(laughs)--grievance procedures.

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: Which, uh, I think probably is a good idea.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: I later was a-, uh, after, uh, I was--I got fired out there, I guess you probably heard.

FOSL: I, I, I know that you did. But would you tell me what, you know, sort of when and how and how that happened?

GASTINGER: See it was in '48, I guess. And, uh, we had had an executive board meeting at the union that night. And--(clears throat)--out there, we used, uh, wildcat strikes or threats of-- (laughs)--wildcat strikes as a, uh [chime sound] pressure to--

FOSL: Yeah, a lever sort of.

GASTINGER: --to set, uh, to or, uh, in our negotiating grievances. But we had this executive board meeting that night and decided that we needed to, uh, shut the plant down. So me and another guy was on the, uh, night shift, went back out there and, uh, spread the word and shut 13:00it down. And they had--tails on us all the time. And they, they had a dead right that we did it. (laughs) And, uh, they, uh, so they fired us. And, uh, they arbitrated our cases, but we lost 'em, 'cause they did have us dead to rights--(laughs)--and we actually went out there and did it. And, uh--

FOSL: But was that against the policy?

GASTINGER: Yeah, that's a--

FOSL: I mean--

GASTINGER: We have a, had a no-strike clause in our contract.

FOSL: I see. I see.

GASTINGER: And, uh, even though that was in the contract, we used to, do that.

FOSL: Oh, I see.

GASTINGER: Um--

FOSL: So in '48 you lost your job there.

GASTINGER: Yeah, I think it was '48, in fact I remember, or '48, '49, one.

FOSL: Okay. 'Cause I was kinda thinking I'd see your name in some stuff more recently than '48. I mean--but not more, but it was like '49.

GASTINGER: It was somewhere in--it might have been early for-, '49, I don't remember exactly. Uh, I guess probably it was, 'cause the election would have been in November.

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: I was still working there then.

FOSL: And before--

GASTINGER: And probably the following summer.

14:00

FOSL: Okay. All right.

GASTINGER: I would guess.

FOSL: Um, so were you still around--that's why I think it was '49, because Anne told me that Leona was involved with the women's auxiliary.

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: And that wasn't organized till spring of '49.

GASTINGER: Right. Well, it would have been probably the--sometime in '49 that I was fired.

FOSL: Right. Now how did that kinda come about? Or I'd have to ask her that, or?

GASTINGER: Uh, what, the, uh--

FOSL: The women's auxiliary.

GASTINGER: Um, well, I don't know--(laughs)--we, we just organized it, is all I can tell you. (laughs)

FOSL: And what did they actually do? They ran a strike kitchen at one point. Millie Neal told me.

GASTINGER: Yeah, I think they did--when, on that forty-day strike they had a, they, uh, now she wasn't involved--Leona wasn't really too active in that work, and, uh, but, uh, they had a, uh, little kitchen down at the union hall for a while, as I remember.

FOSL: Um-hm. Well, one thing that really stands out to me about this 15:00union is it seems--like I know, for instance, there was a, in '48, there were two black leaders that were fired. And even though there are only three hundred black workers in the plant, but the whole plant struck.

GASTINGER: Well, that was the union leadership and all that.

FOSL: Right. Right. And--

GASTINGER: Uh, see Mims and, uh, who was the other one? I remember Mims getting fired.

FOSL: Yeah, I just don't--didn't have the name in the clipping I had.

GASTINGER: I can't remember who the other guy was. I know Mims was.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: Uh, I can't remember who the other fellow was.

FOSL: Right. Um, at any rate, it seems like there was a remarkably high level of black and white unity in that plant.

GASTINGER: Well, the, uh--

FOSL: In, you know, in the union.

16:00

GASTINGER: For sure the leadership of the union, uh, was, uh, -------- --(??) whole lot of that was due to the leadership of the union, one of the, uh, vice-presidents of the union was a black guy. That worked at that time was rare.

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: Uh, I can't off hand remember his--(laughs)--name, either. But, uh--

FOSL: I can find that.

GASTINGER: I was up to, uh, went to his house up Chicago one time, uh, we went up there for something. Uh, but, uh, we went by his house like, um, we may have stayed all night there, I remember.

FOSL: So, so how would you say that that came about in terms of, you know, the workers at the plant, maybe they weren't the union leaders, but they were willing to support the union leaders around this interracial unity, and that was not the typical position that white workers were taking at that day. So how would you say that kinda came about?

GASTINGER: Well, it, the leadership of the union, for sure, plus, uh, we 17:00were, uh, pretty near everybody there, uh, were just out of the Army, uh, for, or a good percentage of 'em were.

FOSL: That's a very good point.

GASTINGER: And, uh, had come from--through the war and, uh, of course, uh, kinda liberalized as a result of that, probably. (laughs) And, uh--

FOSL: I hadn't thought of that. But I'm sure that's right. 'Cause that was the year--'46 was when there was a, a lot happening with those black returning servicemen.

GASTINGER: And as far as that goes, even now, in my opinion, uh, you've got a bunch of, uh, rednecks who are prejudiced as hell.

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: But in my percent, uh, opinion, I'd say 60 or 70 percent of the people actually believe--(laughs)--in equality.

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: (laughs) And, uh, I mean I honestly think that's, my assessment of how the masses feel.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And, uh--

FOSL: But would you say you didn't really feel that--well, you felt that 18:00way as a result of your experience in the Army more than the union? Or the union reinforced that?

GASTINGER: Uh, well, I had practically had, or had had practically no association with black people, period--

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: --until--(laughs)--I went, uh, got into the union.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And, uh, and till I started working with them at, uh, Harvester. And, uh, I personally can tell little difference of with four other guys, a guy's a guy and, uh--

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: --they, uh, uh, I'm probably the least color conscious person I know. (laughs) 'Cause, uh, I don't even associate with black peoples--it don't register with me they're black. (laughs) Unless somebody calls it to my attention, I don't think.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: It's just the way I am, I guess.

FOSL: Huh.

GASTINGER: I have--I can't tell a heck of a lot of difference. (laughs) 19:00I mean they need to, uh, want the same things we do. And, uh, but I can't see anything different. (laughs)

FOSL: Right. Well--I don't think that was really the majority view of whites in the, in the forties, anyway.

GASTINGER: Well, I ain't even sure it is the majority view now. But-- (laughs)

FOSL: I--yeah, it's close--

GASTINGER: But I, I do feel like 70 percent of the people, uh, uh, favor equality.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: Or more.

FOSL: Now one thing Anne told me that was kind of interesting was she said in all the literature of the union and maybe in the speeche-, like the writings and maybe the speeches of the leaders, they would push this black and white unity--

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: --on the basis of, your worker's self-interest. You know, they'll divide us if, if we don't--

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: --unite.

GASTINGER: I mean, definitely the, uh, leadership of that union, uh, or the whole damn CIO, really--

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: --were organized by guys grew up in the Communist Party. 20:00(laughs)

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: They come right out of there to, uh, and, uh, oh hell, divide and conquer. (laughs)

FOSL: Right. But what she said was that, in practice, a lot of times, like with the firing of black workers or, you know, discrimination against black workers, that she heard a lot of white workers at Harvester say, "It's just not fair." And that's a different thing. That's a morals stance--

GASTINGER: The--

FOSL: --rather than a self-interest stance.

GASTINGER: Uh, I would say in working people, if they see something as unfair it, uh, you know, the fairness idea, uh, really goes over big with or really, uh, attracts the emotions of guys that have worked, have worked for a living.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: Um, in fact, the-, they--what unions are all about, really, 21:00is, uh--

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: --far as the worker's concerned, is fairness. Uh, they, uh, people will get unhappier in a factory if they think they're--been-- somebody has been treated unfairly. (laughs) They will, anything else that happens to 'em.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: I mean been--that's my opinion, at least.

FOSL: Um-hm. So that is kind of a moral stance--

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: --over just a clear self-interest.

GASTINGER: Yeah. It's, uh, I think that's true in unions all over, though. Uh, the fairness-- (laughs)--idea is, uh, uh--

FOSL: Right. Right. Although, in a way, that's what the, the segregationists kind of put it like, you know, you don't have to be fair to blacks 'cause they're like a different species or something. So I guess--

GASTINGER: Right.

FOSL: --that kinda broke down--

GASTINGER: Once you, uh--

FOSL: --once you got to know them.

GASTINGER: --are doing the same kinda work with a guy--

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: --uh, you find that, uh, hell, the--he thinks and acts much the same as you do. (laughs)

22:00

FOSL: Um-hm. Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And, uh, that--

FOSL: That's where I think things are different in Louisville than in the Deep South. There was a lot more conflict over that in the Deep South in labor struggles than there was in this area.

GASTINGER: Hell, that word fairness, mean, uh, is a key--(laughs)--to that, that kinda thing, I think.

FOSL: Um-hm. Okay. And, um-- well, what was your own view of the Communist Party in, in the labor movement?

GASTINGER: Well, that union there definitely, in my opinion, Murray was right, it was-- (laughs)--definitely a red dominated-- (laughs)

FOSL: But did you see that as being negative?

GASTINGER: Uh, no. Actually, I think I saw it as a positive. (laughs)

FOSL: I would think. 'Cause those were the more militant unions. (laughs)

GASTINGER: And I would say, I'd say I probably saw it as a positive. (laughs)

FOSL: Um-hm. So what was the atmosphere at the plant during these UAW raids, like I guess in '48,'49. Is that when they were?

GASTINGER: Uh, the UAW didn't really--I was gone by the time they 23:00actually started--

FOSL: Oh, was--yeah, it said the attack by UAW started in '49, and in March '49, there was a-- proposal to merge with UAW, and they refused-- your local refused.

GASTINGER: Uh, I think that I was-- remember that. I was still working for the union when that happened.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: Best I remember. Uh, I wasn't in the plant, but I think I was working for the union when that happened, best I remember.

FOSL: So you, you mean you--after you got fired--

GASTINGER: I worked for about a year for the union after I got fired.

FOSL: Oh, you did?

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: I s-, I didn't know that.

GASTINGER: Well, I did.

FOSL: So what were you ac-, what were you doing? You were organizing other plants, or?

GASTINGER: (laughs) Uh, ----------(??). Uh, uh, see--didn't, uh, we tried to, uh, go down to, uh, Evansville one time. They chased us 24:00away. (laughs) But, uh, uh, I was just a general flunky for the local.

FOSL: Um-hm. And so then how did that end?

GASTINGER: Uh, well, I--it just ended. (laughs) And, and--

FOSL: You got another job, or the union--

GASTINGER: Uh, while they, uh, while we, my case was being arbitrated from being fired took almost a year. And, uh, when we lost the case, why, I went on ahead and found another job.

FOSL: I see. And then were--did you continue to be active in the labor movement?

GASTINGER: Uh, shortly afterwards, I, see I got, uh, when we were forty-, in '49, October of '49, I started at, uh, working for, uh, Box Company, General Box Company.

25:00

FOSL: General Box Company.

GASTINGER: And, uh, about, uh, hmm, I don't guess I've worked there more than three to six months, uh, elected vice-president of the local.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And, uh, then the, uh, well our plant burned down and they built a new plant. So we moved out where General Box is now, which is out on Old Shepherdsville Road. And, uh-- (coughs)--so we split the-- that local into two locals because we were in two separate, uh--

FOSL: And what was the union--

GASTINGER: --locations.

FOSL: What was the union at that point?

GASTINGER: The Paperworkers.

FOSL: Paperworkers.

GASTINGER: Uh, it merged with, uh, you--they've had about four mergers. I'm not sure what the call their selves now. (laughs) 'Cause it's--

FOSL: Oh, really?

GASTINGER: Yeah, it, uh, I was president of that local for--

26:00

FOSL: When it was still the Paperworkers?

GASTINGER: Yeah. For, oh heck, I guess, ten years or so.

FOSL: Ten years, wow.

GASTINGER: Then, uh, finally got tired, just quit. (laughs) And, uh--

FOSL: Quit the union?

GASTINGER: Just quit that job.

FOSL: Oh, I see.

GASTINGER: And I don't know, a year or so later, I took a job as foreman. And was foreman for years.

FOSL: So that--at that, at that same company?

GASTINGER: That same plant, yeah.

FOSL: Oh, really?

GASTINGER: Um-hm.

FOSL: And so then you were out of the union, you were in management.

GASTINGER: Yeah, after I was gone--

FOSL: Wow.

GASTINGER: --uh, of course, I got out of it. (laughs)

FOSL: Now what was that like, being on the other side?

GASTINGER: Uh, well, that, that place out there has real good labor relations, uh, which I take a lot of the credit for. (laughs) And, um, uh, the union and management cooperate pretty good out there.

FOSL: Huh.

GASTINGER: And, uh, uh, of course I'm, would have an occasional 27:00grievance like that. But I had very little trouble with my people-- (laughs)--in that regard.

FOSL: Well, that's probably a, kind of a plus, if you're pro-union management, then you have a, a lot better stance to cooperate.

GASTINGER: Well, I'll give you an example, our company, they had to do--they had a strike. And, uh, the plant, uh, production manager, uh, come out there, was out there this day. And he got, uh, too close to this great big old ditch beside the road.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And he got hung up in this ditch, and the pickets come over and got him out of the ditch. (laughs) And, uh, now that--

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: --was a completely different atmosphere than they had at Harvester--

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: --I suppose--the, uh, the production manager at Harvester got in that ditch, they'd, uh, turned his car upside down ----------(??) (laughs). They could have been--

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: Even at--with the strike, or the fact that they were on 28:00strike, they were still the local management in the, uh, union guys still on pretty good terms with--(laughs)--each other.

FOSL: Um-hm. Um, getting back to the FE for a minute, when you were there in that Local 236, was there a lot of anti-Communism?

GASTINGER: In the local?

FOSL: Yeah.

GASTINGER: Uh, well, it was--not really, I don't guess. The, they, uh, didn't nobody, uh, openly say, "Hey, I'm a Communist--(laughs)

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: --I'm gonna organize the place." (laughs)

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: Uh, I don't imagine it was--they had had much luck if they had. But, uh, there was a dissonant group always in--there would have been, naturally, that, uh, the, uh, guys run the damn thing pretty well 29:00had--(laughs)--things under control most of the time.

FOSL: Um-hm. Hmm. Well, um, talking about the Bradens for a minute, can you remember when you met them?

GASTINGER: Uh, let's see, I met Carl first. Uh, and that would have been some time during that strike, I would imagine. And, uh, met Anne somewhat, you know, some later. Whether the strike was over or not at the time, I don't know. (laughs)

FOSL: 'Cause they were running that Labor Information Center for FE and a group of unions.

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: Do you remember that?

GASTINGER: Yeah, I remember that. Um, Carl was, uh, uh, see, a copy- writer, I guess, for the Courier-Journal at the time.

FOSL: Right. Um-hm.

GASTINGER: Uh, of course, they could use the, uh, expertise he had in 30:00the newspaper field for, uh--

FOSL: Um-hm. No, we're talking about--

GASTINGER: For, uh, [noise] he knew quite a lot about that kind of thing.

FOSL: Um-hm. And so, uh, what was your impression of them?

GASTINGER: Hmm, I liked both of 'em. (laughs)

FOSL: Well, you mentioned, uh, you know, remembering Anne's background and considering that odd for--

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: --what she was doing.

GASTINGER: Well, I, uh, associated with them, you know, fairly often, uh--

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: --in those days. (laughs)

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: I knew 'em pretty good.

FOSL: So then, by the time, later, like by the time the Wade case happened, did you still associate with them, or had y'all kinda drifted apart? Or what--

GASTINGER: I guess we kinda drifted apart for, uh, long period. Uh, my, uh, I just couldn't get a job in town, 'cause, uh, I'd been too 31:00prominent. And I was kinda keep-, keeping a low profile (laughs)--

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: --for a stretch there. (laughs) And, uh, uh, heck, I went for heck of a long time with, uh, couldn't get a job, period. Fact, the, uh, the job I got at, uh, General Box, the, uh, where I was--guess I was elected vice-president of the union when the, uh, before the manager knew who the hell I was. And he, he found out who I was, and was wanting to--ready to fire me.

FOSL: Wow.

GASTINGER: And the international rep with the Paperworkers Union, said, "Unh-uh, the guy ain't--(laughs)--done nothing." And he just ---------- (??)--

FOSL: And this was purely because of FE having been one of these unions ousted from the CIO?

GASTINGER: I, I, the, uh, I was definitely on the black list for the, uh, uh, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers. (laughs) There's no doubt about it 'cause I just couldn't get a job, period, for a stretch there.

32:00

FOSL: Huh.

GASTINGER: And I got that one down there, and, uh, uh, I definitely been fired by the international rep for ----------(??). He was telling me about it--(laughs)--and he ----------(??).

FOSL: Wow. (Gastinger laughs) Huh. And then, um, how long were you in the Progressive Party? Were you in it during the Henry Wallace campaign?

GASTINGER: Yes. Uh, well, that's when the Progressive Party here started.

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: Fact, I guess that's the only time ----------(??).

FOSL: I mean, it keep hanging in for a while.

GASTINGER: (laughs) It died afterwards too. It started, yeah, I was active in that. Uh, we went, in fact, I went to their convention. And we collected signatures and stuff like that.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And, uh--

FOSL: Where was that convention--in Philadelphia?

GASTINGER: Philadelphia.

FOSL: Yeah, that's what I thought.

GASTINGER: Um-hm. And, uh, in that election, uh, it's my opinion that, uh, they won a million and a half votes or something like that, I think.

33:00

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: And, uh, I'm sure they only counted about half of 'em. So. (laughs)

FOSL: Right. Were you there that night that--

GASTINGER: I know in my particular precinct that they didn't count one, 'cause I sure as hell know how I voted--(laughs)--and mine wasn't counted.

FOSL: Right. (Gastinger laughs) Interesting. Huh. And were you there that night in August of '48 when Henry Wallace came to Louisville?

GASTINGER: Uh, yeah.

FOSL: Spoke in Louisville?

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: So you would say there was some significant amount of support for Wallace in Louisville?

GASTINGER: Yeah. Uh, and some in fair-, reasonably high places. Uh--

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: Uh, I remember, uh, Mark Ethridge's daughter.

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: Who Ethridge was the publisher, uh, for Courier-Journal Times then. And they--even, uh, and the Binghams, I'm sure, were sympathetic with, uh,Wallace, at least. Now they may have thought he got, had been led astray.

FOSL: Right.

34:00

GASTINGER: (laughs) Uh, his daughter, uh, uh, I think I saw her write a check for a hundred and fifty dollars for that campaign. (laughs)

FOSL: She was very involved in that campaign, I think.

GASTINGER: Yeah. I remember her, uh, I think I was there. We were getting ready to go out and pass out leaflets, I guess. And, uh, she was there. And Banks Lead (??), you know who she was?

FOSL: Unh-uh.

GASTINGER: Uh, Courier-Journal had a writer named Bill Lead (??) that, uh, uh, wrote, uh, kind of a--how do you classify his column--uh, he wrote, uh, human interest stuff, I guess you'd call it. (laughs)

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: Anyway, his daughter--

FOSL: Hmm.

GASTINGER: --uh, uh, the Ethridge girl and, uh, Red Vance, I think, was 35:00there. He was a reporter for, uh, one the radio stations. I don't remember which one.

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: And, uh--

FOSL: I'm sure Carl and Anne.

GASTINGER: I, I--

FOSL: Well Anne was still with the paper at that time, so she, she kinda kept a back seat, she says.

GASTINGER: Yeah. I--she was still working for them then, I think. She was with the paper for--

FOSL: Till--it was only about a month or two after the election that she left the paper. End of '48.

GASTINGER: I don't remember when she did.

FOSL: Yeah, it was end, very end of '48.

GASTINGER: At, uh, what was the name of it, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference or something? She went with them after that, didn't she?

FOSL: Well, later, after that Labor Information Center stint, she went with the Southern Conference Educational Fund. But that was after that Wade case. And what did you think about the Wade case? Were you still--

GASTINGER: I was not--

FOSL: --friends with them or anything?

GASTINGER: --like I said, I was probably keeping a lower profile at that 36:00time. (laughs) I hadn't seen them in ages, I don't guess, by then.

FOSL: It just seemed like everybody in Louisville had an opinion about it. I was just wanting to hear yours 'cause I've asked so many people that question.

GASTINGER: They, uh, well, I didn't see nothing wrong with what they did--(laughs)--myself.

FOSL: Right. Right.

GASTINGER: Just as an opinion.

FOSL: They sure suffered for it. They sure did.

GASTINGER: Yeah, they did.

FOSL: Hmm. Um--

GASTINGER: That, uh, Wade guy, I always wondered what happened to him. They had an electrical company that was, uh, kind of, odd that they were one of the most successful ones around, uh, black operated, which was kinda rare here in this city at that time. Often wonder what happened to, to him. I haven't really seen anything about him since then--(laughs)--hardly.

FOSL: Right. And, and he feels like both in the black and the white community he lost a lot of support.

GASTINGER: I don't doubt--

FOSL: Because the Communist tag had such a powerful--

37:00

GASTINGER: That could very well be.

FOSL: --powerful influence at that time. I mean, in terms of people that you knew around Louisville, would you say that there was a lot of animosity for the Bradens during that time, or get--that you could see?

GASTINGER: Uh--

FOSL: I mean it sure sounds like it to me. But I haven't talked to that many, just, working people--

GASTINGER: The--

FOSL: --people that weren't connected with the case.

GASTINGER: Uh, yeah, I suppose probably there was a good deal of animosity--(laughs)--from, uh, uh, well, hell, it--the red-baiting was at its highest along about that time. And, uh, uh, at that--I guess generally all over people felt that, uh, the Russians was out to get us. (laughs)

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: (laughs) I'm sure they did.

FOSL: Right. They certainly did. (Gastinger laughs) Okay. Well, is there anything that I haven't asked you about either the Bradens--that, 38:00that you think would be significant for me to know--either about the Bradens or about the labor movement in Louisville at that time, or just about the, you know, the political climate in Louisville?

GASTINGER: Uh, I think there are--the Bingham papers took a definitely a liberal stint, which, uh, I'm sure influenced the thinking of the people in, in Louisville. And, I--generally I'd say--by and large, Louisville was a fairly liberal town. (laughs)

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: Like as compared to, uh, ----------(??) many of 'em that's this far south.

FOSL: Right. No, I agree with you.

GASTINGER: Uh, and being called a liberal is not a stigma here, which it 39:00seems to be in some parts of the country. Uh--

FOSL: You think that's true even among working people?

GASTINGER: Uh, in some parts of the country it seems--

FOSL: No, I mean here in town, that it's not a stigma.

GASTINGER: No, I--

FOSL: I think it really is elsewhere.

GASTINGER: I can't really say that it is. Or I don't--

FOSL: Certainly in the South, I think it is.

GASTINGER: I don't think being called a liberal is viewed as, uh, terrible here. (laughs)

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: Unfortunately in some parts of the country it seems to be it is, from what I read.

FOSL: Um-hm. Right.

GASTINGER: Uh, hell, I call myself a liberal--(laughs)--and, uh--

FOSL: Well, in the, in those days of the late forties and being in the left wing of the CIO, as you were--

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: --did you feel that it was, uh, was it an isolated place to be? Or was it, you know, I think at that time, the witch-hunts and the anti- Communism was really kind of cracking down progressive movements. But--

40:00

GASTINGER: At that time, uh, I think the way I personally felt is the revolution is coming and I wanna be--(laughs)--part of it.

FOSL: Right.

GASTINGER: I say I have mellowed since then--(laughs)--I think. But--

FOSL: Um-hm.

GASTINGER: --my thinking then was pretty much that was it.

FOSL: Right. Right. (Gastinger laughs)Yeah, it was quite a time. (Gastinger laughs)

GASTINGER: Now I don't know whether everybody felt that way or not. But that's definitely the way I felt. (laughs)

FOSL: Um-hm. So you were proud to be in that left wing--

GASTINGER: Yeah.

FOSL: --of the CIO.

GASTINGER: For sure.

FOSL: Huh.

GASTINGER: Remember that during the Progressive Party convention, uh, William somebody was in, I don't remember who all was there, ---------- (??) uh, restaurant, violin player. And I got him to, uh, uh, play "The Internationale"--(laughs)--a couple of times. (laughs) Which at-- I'm 41:00sure would go, uh, the majority of the people now, barely seem to know what that was, but, uh, I'm sure you do that here, they wouldn't know what the hell you were talking, know what it was. (laughs)

FOSL: Right. Yeah, it was a different time. Sure was.

GASTINGER: I have mellowed somewhat since then, I agree.

FOSL: Right. (Gastinger laughs) Okay. Well, I think that's about it. (Gastinger laughs)

[End of interview.]

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