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Interview with Linda Solomon Lidington

Lidington, Linda Solomon
Lowrance, Jessica
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming Obstacles; Relationships with People and Places; Stories and Storytellers; Tolerance and Respect
Linda Lidington talks about her great-grandparents' experiences during the Depression. She also tells the story of how their kindness affected a neighbor.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Jessica Lowrance interviews her mother to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
JL (Jessica Lowrance): What's your name?
LL (Linda Solomon Lidington): Linda Solomon Lidington.
JL: And this for the Charlotte Narrative Project.
LL: Well, my grandmother, who's your great-grandmother, used to be able to tell me a lot of, you know, a lot a stories that happened in her family, and since I was a history major in college and I was studying and I was studying about formation of unions and so forth, particularly in the South, I thought this one was really interesting, but it's really two stories in one. And it was back during the 1930s, and, you know, the country was in a depression, and my grandmother and my mom lived with her, mm, lived with, lived with her mother and father. In other words, my mom's grandmother, which would be my great grandmother, your great-great grandmother. And my [cough] great-great grandfather, my great grandfather was the general manager of a woolen mill. I believe it was a woolen mill because, in South Carolina, oh, in a lot of parts of the Carolinas there were a lot of different types of mills: cotton mills, woolen mills. Um, and he was over this woolen mill in Union, South Carolina. And at that time there was a movement to unionize, and most of the mill owners and managers and so forth were against unions at that time. But my great grandfather was sort of open to it. He was a very, you know, nice person and very good mannered, supposedly. And, um, not only was he over that mill, but they, he also owned, or co-owned or rented or something, some small houses, some small, I guess, we would probably call them shanty type houses 'cause they were very small. Ah, and they were used by some of the, you know, some, some of the black people and some of the white people in this little small town. And everybody knew everybody even the black families knew the white families. And, um [cough] anyway there was this big push to unionize and I guess my uncle, my grandfather was, great grandfather was trying to be open-minded about the whole thing, but apparently, there were some real problems, and one afternoon, one of the, uh, union organizers, who was from Union, who was actually a citizen because they had brought, because lots of times they brought in people from the North to help form these unions. And, uh, this guy was actually from Union, was actually a neighbor, but he had a history of mental problems. And, uh, this afternoon he, that afternoon he came over and got very, I guess he was very demanding and, uh, was, I guess he was also acting very strange. For whatever reason he shot and killed my great grandfather over a union issue in his front yard, in my grandfather's front yard, and my mother and grandmother and great grandmother all witnessed it. And the guy was never charged with murder or anything because he was so mentally unstable. So he was just, you know, trotted off to a mental institution for the rest of his life. But the one thing about it was that [cough] my great grandmother, who was a very strong woman, knew, OK, knew that all these people, all these people depended on my grandfather for different things, and, um, even when times were really bad my grandfather would great grandfather would help you know some of these really poor people out and there was this one couple this one guy who was just a really hard worker really nice person but he was having a really hard time and so my grand great grandmother and my great grandfather took a great big, anonymously took a great, big basket of food to their door and he knew that they would never take this stuff from anyone that they knew was one of those real proud people and so they took it like late at night and right before they put it down, my grandmother, my grandfather slipped 50 bucks, which was a lot of money back in those days, into the basket. And he never told or anything. Well the thing about it was in, I'm sort of telling this story out of order, but my grand, after my grandfather died and my great grandmother was sort of alone, um, it must have been right around Thanksgiving and she was feeling real depressed or whatever and this lady came and invited her to come to dinner, and when she, and so my grandmother didn't think she really wanted to go and everything, but she thought, "Well, OK," she'd go ahead and go. And so she went in. When she went all these people, all these different people from all over the place she said half of them, you know, I guess they, back then, I guess they called them vagabonds. A lot of them were just, I, or what we would call I guess homeless people but they were also people that they knew were there. And so my grandmother was talking to this lady saying they couldn't believe that she had prepared this meal. It must've been Thanksgiving, this meal for all these people and that she didn't know, and some of them she did know, and the lady said, well she said, well, what happened was several years back when she in her husband were having such a horrible time one night, they got a great big basket of food that had 50 dollars in it. And she said, "And that tied them over for the longest time, and they never found out who it was." And they thought, "Well once they got on their feet if they could repay people somehow." This is what they would do, and so they, you know, every time, this time of year, or whatever, they would have this meal, and, I guess, you know, she's just hoping that some day she would pay back the person perhaps that had given them that money, because she didn't know who it was. And she didn't know if it was a friend or a stranger, and this way they invited friends and strangers. And so she said that was why they had this meal every year between, it must be between Christmas and Thanksgiving, or something like that. And so my grandmother told me that, and, uh I, I thought it was just a really a nice way that this woman had, had actually, she didn't know it, but had repaid her kindness because it had been my great grandmother. But my great grandmother never told her that she was the one, and yet, at that time, that lady was inviting my grandmother, great grandmother over to this dinner and everything, um, anonymously. And I just thought it was just a really cute, or not cute but really sweet way to be thankful this time of year. So I guess that's a little confusing but I thought it was a good family story.
JL: Is that it?