Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with Jonathan Scoggin

Scoggin, Jonathan
Griffin, Ruth Faye
Date of Interview: 
Scoggin, Jonathan D., 1947-; Scoggin, Robert E., 1922-2003; Ku Klux Klan (1915- ); United Klans of America; Invisible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan; Committee on Un-American Activities; Race relations; Race discrimination; White supremacy movement; South Carolina--Spartanburg; Interviews (Sound recordings); Oral histories
Jonathan Scoggin, son of South Carolina Ku Klux Klan member and grand dragon Robert E. Scoggin,describes his father’s life and involvement with the Klan. Scoggin remembers his father as a strict disciplinarian with entrenched opinions who saw the Klan as a way to direct his political agenda. Scoggin describes his father’s opposition to violence within the Klan and the internal tensions between different factions of the organization.
South Carolina--Spartanburg; circa. 1950 - 2004
Interview Setting: 
Mr. Scoggin’s Home, North Carolina--High Shoals
Oral History, KKK in the Carolinas
Interview Audio: 

RG: Ruth Faye Griffin
JS: Jonathan [John] Scoggin

RG: Testing one, two three. Testing one, two, three. My name is Ruth Faye Griffin I am an undergraduate intern at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte working with Special Collections in the J. Murray Atkins Library. Today is November 20th , 2004. I will be interviewing Mr. John Scoggin, the son of Robert Scoggin. Hi, John. How are you today?
JS: Doing well.
RG: Good. For the record, could you state your name?
JS: It’s -- I’ll state it as my mother gave it to me. Jonathan Scoggin.
RG: OK. And when and where were you born?
JS: I was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1947.
RG: OK. And what were your parents names?
JS: My mother’s name was Rachel. Her middle name was Pecolier.
JS: And then Scoggin. And my father was Robert Echols
JS: Robert E. Scoggin.
RG: OK. How many, how many siblings do you have?
JS: Well, I have five brothers and one sister. That’s --
RG: What do --
JS: My oldest brother passed away a few years ago. But I still have the rest or all still around.
RG: OK. What do, what do each of them do now?
JS: Well, my older brother is a construction foreman for my youngest brother.
JS: Which they’re in a land development business in Tennessee, and North Carolina, areas of Kentucky, Ohio that kind of stuff. They build a lot of buildings and things for Walmart and Lowes and people like that.
RG: Do you keep in good contact with them?
JS: Pretty much so. Yeah. We talk about. We don’t see one another very often because we’re scattered to the four winds more or less. But we talk often.
RG: Good.
JS: Thanks to the invention of the cell phone. [laughs]
RG: Cell phone and email. [laughs]
JS: Yeah. [laughs]
RG: What were -- just going back to what you remember. And again if I ask anything that you don’t remember, don’t want to answer, just let me know and we’ll go -- we’ll keep going. What were the living conditions of your family growing up? I know y’all grew up in a mill town so what was life like there?
JS: Well actually, we weren’t per se in the mill town. We were just outside the borders from -- it was Saxon mill village. Which we were -- we lived on Saxon Avenue which was probably a from the old mill maybe a mile and a half, two miles that the village more or less centered around the mill area. More away from where we were. But, my father never worked in the mill. We always, he always done -- have plumbing, electrical, construction type stuff you know when we were growing up.
RG: Was your family from the area, or?
JS: Well that’s where we were all, all my brothers and sisters, all of us were born there and raised in Spartanburg County. Now my dad’s family was from Polk County, Rutherfordton area around Chesnee and Fingerville and that kind of small town in the edge of North Carolina.
RG: OK. Your dad was often described as an intelligent man, it was often said he would have made a good salesman or good organizer. What do you remember of your impression of him?
JS: Well, my dad was a very intelligent man. And he read a lot, and but, but he was also very opinionated. Then if -- his opinion is the only one that counted in his mind. Not to say that he wouldn’t listen to somebody else. But -- changing his mind about would be like moving that wall over there. So, he just, you know. But yep he would have, he would have. I think he would have probably been as good of a politician as he was in the state of South Carolina if he had chosen to go that way.
RG: Yeah.
JS: But back in those years. You know. That’s when times where changing and his views weren’t uh--
RG: Accepted?
JS: Yeah. So you know. But -- he wasn’t a cruel person. He was -- I guess if I could have chosen another father, I wouldn’t have, because of he was a strict disciplinarian. And with all of those experiences we had when we were growing up with accepting responsibility and doing things on your own in that kind of situation, you know, it was a lot. It, we learned a lot early my two older brothers and I.
RG: You grew up fast?
JS: Yeah.
RG: Aside from your dad’s plumbing business [background noise of woman in kitchen] and electrical business. How did he go from plumbing and electrical work to getting involved so heavily in the Klan?
JS: Well. My father course he served in the Second World War. Then -- he had two ships that were shot out from under him one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific. And when he came back from that he spent five to seven years in the veterans hospital because of his back and things like that, so. You know, he took his veterans benefits and stuff and that was. That was basically what my mother and my two older brothers and myself survived on for -- a long time.
JS: And he had to do this on -- he had to do this more or less on the side so that he could keep his benefits and then work enough to support a --
RG: Keep a living.
JS: Yeah so --
RG: Uh-hum.
JS: But as far as, I don’t remember when he first got involved.
RG: Yeah.
JS: You know, but I do remember. I do remember being around it when I was younger. But after we got old enough, teenage years -- I think I was actually fifteen or sixteen I didn’t go around it much anymore.
RG: Kind of got away from it. How did he, because I know he, as you said he came back from the war, he got involved. How did he rise in power so quickly? Even Peggy said like, it was very fast.
JS: Well, back in those years there were different factions of the Klan. And my father became involved with the gentleman out of Alabama which was -- shoot, I can’t even remember his name now. But my father started the organization in South Carolina, which was a little more different than the ones that were already there. And my father’s influence on it was to pull it away from what people considered it as a violent organization. [woman speaking from other room] And that kind of stuff, and more to trying to make it a political side to be able to express their views and stop and try to get people to understand where they were and what their thoughts were. And he read a lot of stuff from Nathan Bedford Forrest. And people that really first started the Klan. And he was very passionate about his political viewpoints at that time. And this was, I guess he felt like it was the only way he could be heard.
JS: Was to push his -- I guess you could call it political agenda through an organization that had some visibility. So, you know that’s -- like I said there were several different factions at that. But my father’s was the, the Invisible Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Which was, totally different from the --
RG: From the other groups.
JS: From the American Ku Klux Klan, and the, just. He never, I guess you might relate it to the difference between the NAACP and then what was FaraCon. And that, people would probably pay more attention you know to that because you know [cough] the NAACP was a non-violent organization and that kind of stuff. Where FaraCon and Black Power was a completely different aspect of that. So you know, it was just two different things but of course, on the white side of the end of it.
RG: Was he ever worried about the other factions of the group because I know like if say you had trouble with one member in your group you could ban him from your group but there was nothing to keep him from going into another group or making up their own. So was he ever worried about spies from other groups or problems?
JS: Well, no because -- I never heard him talk about it because those things happen in any organization. And if you, you have a difference of opinion about a certain specific thing. But my father was one, the type just, he didn’t put up with what you call, what we call the backstabbing people like that. You know that would say one thing and then do another because I can remember several people that there one time but they weren’t there the next. You know.
RG: Mm-hum.
JS: Because he just wouldn’t --
RG: Wouldn’t have it?
JS: He wouldn’t put up with it.
RG: Going back to your family. I know there’s one picture that sticks out in my mind when I was doing the research. There’s a picture of one of your brothers, I think Timothy?
JS: Yeah, that’s my youngest brother.
RG: Where your dad is helping him get dressed for one of the rallies or whatever. What do you remember of the rallies, or getting ready for them, the order?
JS: Well, that’s a different time context.
.JS: I was gone when that --
RG: You were gone doing that time?
JS: Yeah, when that time was -- my sister and younger brother and that. When I was you know, when I first -- I mean I can remember going to the rallies and being around there. But, we didn’t -- we were young enough at that time and he was just rising in the ranks more or less when we were there. My two older brothers and myself, but I mean, we didn’t. That was just another place for us to go and play with other kids and do other things.
RG: Kind of like a social gathering?
JS: Yeah. And we weren’t. You know I can remember seeing him on the back of a flatbed truck and speaking and that kind of stuff and being around it, but as far as a being more into it with the robes and that kind of stuff and all, we weren’t -- my two older brothers and I. I mean, we, we went because we had to go because we couldn’t stay at home you know, so. But that’s where we wound up as far as. And I can remember my dad traveling a lot, and my mom and the three of us, and then my younger brothers that were born at that time. You know, we more or less stayed around home unless there was a local rally or something like that. And mother had to go with him you know.
RG: What was, what was life like while he was gone?
JS: Well now, he would be gone --
RG: Was it just different?
JS: Yeah, I mean he would be gone for you know maybe overnight or next, maybe a day or something like that. You know. He traveled a lot at night back in the early ‘60s. ’61, 2, 3 --
RG: Was your mom ever bothered by him, him being so involved and being pulled away from the family?
JS: No not really, she never -- she never talked to us about it while we were growing up. I mean, my mother, my mother took care of all of us and whatever business was between, you know, him and her and that kind of stuff was never discussed in front of us or around us.
RG: What was your mom’s role in the Klan?
JS: Well, I guess you could call it kind of like a den mother more or less you know. Were people come to the house and there’s always food there and there’s -- the house was always clean and she hang around and talk and that kind of stuff. But, you know and -- but what went on upstairs in the meeting room that’s -- none of us were ever allowed up there.
RG: You stated that hmm, I guess at the end of high school, you and your older brother left home?
JS: Well, my older brother and – [pause] When I graduated high school, I got married. Which was a foolish thing to do, but I did. And that lasted about a year and a half. And after that I went overseas and I just, I left home and I. It was like ’72 or ‘73 before I ever came back. So, you know I was gone for five or six years. And then when I came back I was out on my own. I didn’t stay at home anymore.
RG: What military service were you in?
JS: I wasn’t in the military, I just left.
RG: You just left. [laughs]
JS: Yeah. I just left and my first stop was San Diego and then after that Hawaii, and then after that Japan. And you know, just wondering, doing whatever I could do.
RG: Yeah.
JS: You know.
RG: One of those, I guess how did you make it just from town to town?
JS: From job to job. I mean I, when we were growing up we were doing plumbing, electrical work, and you know.
RG: Odd jobs?
JS: Yeah. Well, when my father’s business you know I learned carpenter work with him, I learned how to do plumbing and all that kind of stuff you know. So you can always find a job like that somewhere if you wanted to go out and get it. I worked in California for six months and got enough money in my pocket to go to Hawaii. And I had had cousins that lived in Hawaii, so I went over there and stayed a year and a half or so.
RG: You were gone for five years. What finally made you decide to come back this way?
JS: Well, be honest with you, I got to missing my brothers and sister and my mom of course.
RG: Homesick?
JS: Yeah, more or less.
RG: Were you here when your dad was -- the Un-American Committee I know investigated him heavily.
JS: That was 1969, no I wasn’t--
RG: 1969, so you weren’t here.
JS: Yeah, I wasn’t.
JS: I do remember reading about it and I do remember hearing about. And I wasn’t, wasn’t around when -- they filed the contempt of Congress on him and he went to prison for the time he went to prison.
JS: I wasn’t around, I wasn’t around during those years, not per se.
RG: Not per se.
JS: You know. Right around with the -- involved with you know. But that was my father to a tee. You wouldn’t -- to him he looked at that as being interrogating by somebody in the war or something. He just wouldn’t tell nobody nothing.
RG: Yeah. It’s very impressive when you read the -- there’s a whole booklet if you can believe. There’s a whole booklet of the, the investigation. And it’s very impressive because the entire, the entire time he says the same phrase throughout the whole, something about -- I forget, “I can’t give that information,” or something like that.
JS: Yeah.
RG: He holds his ground. Was that, was that typical of your dad?
JS: Yeah.
RG: Just to don’t back down, don’t give up?
JS: Yeah. He wouldn’t -- I think they could have probably tortured him to death and he would have never told them.
RG: Mm-hum.
JS: It’s just the type of man he was. He wouldn’t going to.
RG: When you did come back, did you have good contact with your dad?
JS: Well, my dad, even when we were growing up, since he was such a strict disciplinarian and that kind of stuff when we were growing up, we would never sit and talk. You know, I didn’t really start sitting and talking to my dad until probably ten years ago.
RG: Mm-hum. What kind of things would y’all talk about when y’all did talk?
JS: Well, his war years when he was in the service. And -- different, you know different things that -- you know, you get him in discussions about politics. And he read a lot and paid a lot of attention to what was going on especially in the political side of the thing. And you know, I base a lot of my political beliefs on things that he said in the last few years as far as, you know, he was a staunch Republican all of his life.
RG: Yeah. I got the high impression he didn’t like LBJ.
JS: No, and he didn’t like --
RG: Clinton?
JS: He didn’t like Clinton. And I mean and he also didn’t have much to think about Franklin Roosevelt either. So, you know, but that was before my time. But you know to sit around and talk about those years when he was in the service, and then what was going on in his life before the war and things of that nature.
RG: When he did talk about his war years with you, what kind of things would he talk about?
JS: Well, as far as -- just sitting around talking, you know, about his old buddies, and things that he could remember, and activities they had done and places they went and just --
RG: Various stories?
JS: Yeah. And then if we got into a discussion about politics then you know, he usually go back to the years with, and try to explain to us about the things that were really going on through in those years as far as the war and what they felt like it’d done. It really started it and that kind of stuff, you know.
RG: Mm-hum.
JS: To live through that kind of stuff was interesting to me, you know. You can read a lot of other people’s opinions, but somebody that lived thought it, that’s a lot more valuable to me then reading the --
RG: Reading the facts?
JS: Yeah. Mm-hum.
RG: When he came back from the war, I know Peggy told me, he just -- she said he seemed saddened by the way America had become. Did he ever talk about his viewpoints about maybe the shape America was in or what he had hopes for?
JS: Well, you know, you know. He talked a lot about, about the country becoming soft and a lot of -- and taking a lot of -- he wasn’t an intolerant person. And he never treated anybody with disrespect. And in return, you know he had his major opinion about the NAACP and the John Birch Society and all those people that they had a secret agenda behind what they were doing. To move things to the left instead of having either a central or path to the right. And my father -- he wasn’t as far to the right as some of the evangelicals and stuff know, more to the, more to the center. But, he had his very adverse opinions about the Jews and the blacks and what they were really after, really trying to do.
RG: Mm-hum.
JS: Because his opinion was that they were here to take away things that, that we had worked hard for and earned all his life that he’d been here, that his family had been here. It’s not that he was trying to hold anybody back. He just felt that they should be working for it and earning it just like every other citizen, instead of going to the government and having it handed to them on a silver platter. And that’s just the way he looked at it.
RG: Yeah.
JS: And they never gave him anything.
RG: “So if you’re not going to help me, why --“
JS: Yeah.
RG: I know one article I came across was very unusual. It talked about -- and even though this I don’t think it’s in the time period you remember, I wonder if you dad ever talked about it with you, is it talked about his group helping out with like local civic charities, and I know Peggy even mentioned that -- it wasn’t, she said it wasn’t uncommon for even the group to help out -- a black family nearby. She cited one older, elderly African American lady that he went and gave some flowers to because he always like how she kept her yard, so --
JS: Well, as he got older he got a little more temperate in his older years. That’s why my brother, my younger brother and sisters --
RG: They remember that?
JS: Yeah. But I mean, you have to kind of put it into another context. Cause when my oldest brother, my two older brothers and I -- our life was completely different then what it was, than what my -- what the fourth son and the rest, it was completely different.
RG: So you would say he, he kind of soften I guess as he got older?
JS: Yeah.
JS: Because I mean we were up at daylight, my mother always, when we got up in the mornings, my mother always had breakfast on the table for everybody, and we’d eat and go to school. But after that, we were working, we were doing, I mean we were gone, we were doing something. And then when the supper dishes got cleaned. I can remember when I was four, five years old standing on a stool at the kitchen sink washing, and cleaning and doing stuff you know. But it was more, you know, we, we didn’t -- we were more or less kept busy all the time. And we weren’t handed anything -- if you don’t earn it, you don’t get it. I mean that’s just the way it was. But later, in later years. Excuse me. That kind of changed around a little bit.
RG: Why do you think it changed? Why did he lighten up?
JS: Well, it really came after he was gone and went to prison in Arizona, when he came back. I wouldn’t say he wasn’t a different person as far as opinions. But he was a different person in the way he faced them.
JS: I mean his opinions were the thing.
RG: He just kind of, I guess, watched his opinions more.
JS: Yeah. But, you know when he was, when he was out there. What was her name, Joan Biased? She was out there and whoever the guy was that she got into trouble with back in those years. And he didn’t have a very high opinion of that woman at all. So, you know, but a. If – when I -- when my sister came along too, that also changed, changed him a little bit too.
RG: Yeah?
JS: Because he was a lot more tolerant of her then he was any of the rest of us.
RG: Yeah, that’s one thing I actually wanted to ask you. Because she even said he, he treated her just a little differently then he did the rest of guys, so --
JS: Oh yeah.
RG: What was the kind of difference between how he treated her and how he treated y’all?
JS: Well, I guess he’s more tolerant of her attitude than things of that nature. I mean she could, she could go do and do things a lot of us would uh --
RG: Never get by with?
JS: Yeah. Yeah. I mean when my two older brothers and myself -- we were in the house before dark. And when we come home from school if there wasn’t a job to go to or something like that, our school work was done before everything else. You couldn’t go out and play, you couldn’t go talk to anybody, you, school work was done, and then you had garden work till dark, and then you was in the house. I mean, I was fifteen years old before I got to stay out past nine o’clock. So, you know, and then things. You know later, you could see that of course I guess times had changed a little bit. But, you know, we were in the bed by nine. And I, we were doing that till we -- I mean when I was fourteen years old. And my two older brothers, were of course older than I was.
RG: Yeah.
JS: So. You know, but after that, after that it kind of changed a little bit --
RG: After she was born?
JS: With my other siblings, yeah --
RG: What was --
JS: Because it wasn’t exactly the same. You know, you could tell it wasn’t the same.
RG: Yeah. What’s your favorite memory of your dad? When you think about your dad what just always comes back to you?
JS: Now that’s difficult. [pause] I guess it probably when he started to teach me to drive.
RG: Really?
JS: Yeah.
RG: How come?
JS: Because that’s the only time we really had any one on one contact. You know, the rest of the contact that we ever had was with all of us together or as a family group or anything like that. But, as far as that, it’s just one on one. Because, you know, we had an old black sixty-model Ford straight drive truck that he worked out of. First four-wheel drive truck there ever was in Spartanburg County.
RG: [laughs]
JS: And I was, I was sixteen at the time.
RG: Yeah.
JS: So, you know, he’d let me back it out of the driveway and pull it back forward, and teach me how to operate the truck. And then he actually took me around the block and let me drive it home. And I was, but -- none of the older ones were allowed to get their driver’s license until they were eighteen. I mean, I still, was riding a school bus, going to school --
RG: By that point?
JS: Yeah, tenth, eleventh grade. But of course I rode the school bus when I graduated my senior year, so you know.
RG: Did he, like I know my dad has several sayings that just kind of kinda stick with me through the day or whatever. Did your dad ever just have any favorite sayings that he always said? Things that, I guess when you go about your work or life kind of come back to you?
JS: Well, the only thing, the only thing I can ever remember him saying is, was -- that really stuck to me, he said, “Son, never, never accept a gift unless you earn it.” And that was he’s way of telling us you work for everything you get.
RG: Don’t take anything with an open hand?
JS: No. Because you will always be indebted to the person that gave it to you and you go through your life owing nobody nothing.
RG: How do you -- what do you think about the media, I guess the normal books and resources treat him?
JS: Well, you know I never was a big reader. But I mean you hear about things like that. And of course back when they were, back in those years when they were when the FBI and all those people started getting involved and the House of Un-American Activities, and all of those people. To him, and actually to me to, that was just -- that was just the left trying to convict somebody in the media instead of really having evidence and stuff like that. You know and, I don’t have a very high opinion of the media these days either because -- you know, the only one my dad ever had any respect for was Walter Cronkite, after that the rest of them were just you know --
RG: Not worth it?
JS: Yeah. I mean he always listened to find out what was going on, but. He -- you know, their opinions were so far away from what his ideas of what American life should be that he just took it with a grain of salt and went on about his business.
RG: Did he ever feel that they singled him out a bit?
JS: Yeah.
RG: The FBI and the government?
JS: Yeah. And they tried to take his veterans benefits away from him and all this kind of stuff. They done everything they could to try to pull him away from his opinions and his life, but, he wasn’t going to have it. But you know, that’s -- that was just the opinion at the time, and a. There is even today a certain context of reverse discrimination and he seen that coming years ago. So, you know -- I mean he never talked about that a lot, but when you know one on one or when we were talking or anything of that nature, but he just had the opinion that they’re not going to drag me down. They’re not gonna -- they’re not getting anything out of me, you know, it’s just ain’t going to happen.
RG: Do you find -- because I know that Robert isn’t exactly well known especially around here, but I just wondered, do people recognize that he’s your dad. You know when you’re talking and family history comes up, or is it just kind like of a side fact that --
JS: No, that’s -- I imagine there’s people inside of Spartanburg County and stuff that still remember that and still would bring it up and talk about it. But everywhere else I go, my last name doesn’t mean any more than yours to another person. Nobody ever relates, you know, that to it. And I don’t ever talk about it. You know, outside of the family, you know.
JS: But, I mean I -- even back in those years when we had, we had several black gentlemen that worked with us when we were growing up. -- I mean, he gave them jobs, he worked with them. That’s why I said, his opinions and his things were never personable between two people, it was just the political agenda and view that -- you know, they’re not going to, these organizations are not going to step in and change things that I’ve lived with all of my life and take away what I’ve worked hard for and earned as I see what’s going on. You know through the political things and that kind stuff, but. As society grew more tolerant, I guess it finally kind of wore him down over the years.
RG: Yeah.
JS: You know.
RG: What hmm. What do you think he’s, he’s greatest, I guess, legacy or impact on you or your family, or even in general?
JS: Well, you know back in, back in those years. If it hadn’t been for the tough guidance and more or less I guess you’d call it tough love these days. I mean you know back in those years when, I mean we didn’t, raising seven kids and keeping a roof over your head and having to do what you had to do with that. You know, I always respected my father for that. I mean, we never wanted for anything as far as stuff that we needed, you know. If we needed shoes or if we needed clothes or if we needed you know school, whatever, then there wasn’t a problem. But there was nothing there, there was no extras. If you got extras you extras you worked and earned it yourself somewhere else because it didn’t come out of the family pocket.
RG: Yeah. Had what you needed --
JS: That’s it.
RG: That’s it.
JS: So -- but I mean you know. That was just the way he was raised on the farm. And my grandfather was involved in this back in the early ‘40s. The -- and that may be once reason my father got involved after he got, after the war years. But now my grandfather died when he was 55, 56. So you know, we used to, my two older brothers and myself used to go up there and spend a couple of weeks during the summer time but we were always hoeing cotton, or picking corn, or hauling peaches to the peach shed or doing something in the summertime. We never really --
RG: It wasn’t a vacation.
JS: No. No, we never really go to sit down and talk. We got to go down to the bottom of the hill and play in the fish pond with the tadpoles and stuff, and that was the only thing we ever got to do that was, you know, when we were up there. But -- my grandfather was, he died, he died from a heart attack way back yonder. I can just barely remember. I think I was probably eight or ten years old. But back in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s my grandfather was involved in with people that were in this. And so, you know, and my dad knew it. But I guess he never -- he wasn’t involved in it then, but after he come back.
RG: From the war?
JS: Yeah so --
RG: So you grandfather had a large impact on him?
JS: I would say probably, you know, either -- I don’t. When we would all get together for a family reunion or something at grandmother’s house and my uncles and course now, my -- I had three uncles who were ministers, Baptist ministers. And that was a different side of my dad’s family. He was more or less the black sheep I guess. But there was no, he was -- there only two younger than him, my uncle Farris he was a few years younger than my dad and then my aunt Joanne but both of them died early. My aunt Joanne was killed in a car wreck and my uncle Farris was run over by a drunk in Atlanta. So, you know. But my dad was, you know, the younger, on the younger side of the family. Then he went to the war and came back I guess some of those influences my grandfather had on him probably pushed him the way --
RG: Everything came together.
JS: Yeah.
RG: What is your hope now for your family and maybe for the memory of your dad?
JS: Well, I don’t know so much that it should be a public memory of my father. I mean he fought hard for what he believed in and stuff. And I imagine, I imagine myself and my sister, and my older brothers and stuff will you know, we all have our own opinions and memories of our family. But as far as ever worrying about our father being famous or infamous it doesn’t really matter.
RG: Just family?
JS: Yeah.
[Sound of dog in background]
JS: And that’s the same way it is with me. I mean I’ve got a -- my daughter now, she joined the Air Force not too many months ago. And she’s in the Security forces with the Air Force. She’ll probably wind up having to go Kuwait here in February or March. And those kind of things now bother me, but as far as --
RG: Past is in the past?
JS: Yeah. Yeah because like I said my dad had his own opinions. And I talked to him more about his past life in the last ten years before he died then I ever did when we were growing up because it was a completely different environment then. He was out taking care of his family and doing what he needed to do and, you know, we were like I said, we were in bed by nine o’clock.
RG: Yeah.
JS: Up in the mornings, gone to school, there was no time to sit and talk.
RG: No time to interact.
JS: Nope.
RG: Well, is there anything else you’d like to add?
JS: Well, I can’t think of anything else. You know, my dad was a good man. But -- you know, a lot of people didn’t agree with his politics, is the way I look at it. You know, but -- as far as, you know. He worked a lot with the black neighborhoods and stuff that was in the area and those people, those people knew him. And they knew what he done, but they never treated him with disrespect and he never treated them with disrespect. But the older people, the older people that were, the older black community that knew him back then talked to him just like you and I.
RG: Just normal as can be?
JS: And they understand, they understood that --
[Dog barks in background.]
RG: [laughs] It’s OK.
JS: They understood that it was just a difference of opinion.
[Dog barks]
RG: He just happen to be the black sheep.
JS: Yeah. But then as the, then as the politics started to change and the younger people got involved I think that’s more when it got to the side of that he was an evil person. And that kind of stuff, course he didn’t believe in what they were trying to do. So, and that was -- but I can remember times when we were young on Saturdays, you know, we always had about a two acre garden. And we kept fresh vegetables in the freezer and stuff. And if we had extras, we’d put them in the truck and go distribute them in the neighborhoods.
RG: To whoever needed them?
JS: Yeah, didn’t matter who it was.
[Noise from kitchen]
JS: And that kind of stuff so you know, it wasn’t. That’s why I say, you know, it was more of a political view of what he felt was going wrong that somebody needed to stand up and talk about it. Then it was personal.
RG: Individual..
JS: Yeah. But now there were other people that were involved in other organizations that, you know, his organization broke and kind of separated one time. They went their way, he went his way. But that’s where him and -- gosh I wish I could remember that man’s name. I think that’s the reason that he pulled the organization more to him than the guy out in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I know, I know his name, but I can’t remember it. But that’s why he moved over to winding up being the Grand Dragon of South Carolina and that’s when he finally got to be in charge of the whole organization in the Southeast, and the organization that it was. Because he was trying to pull it away from the, the violent side of what people look at. You know people look at it even today, they look at it today and they think the whole organization was that way because of what went on back in the real early years. You know, in the 1800s and the early 1900s. Because it really, in the time he was involved I never heard of any violent acts or any thing that his organization committed anywhere or done anything that was never proven that --
RG: That anything happened?
JS: It’s just -- they were trying to subjugate his opinion. That’s mainly the reason he stood up and fought about it, it’s just he did, because he felt like that was his freedom. Just like anybody else that he could stand and talk and do what he needed to do he felt, but -- he felt like they were trying to take that away from him. And he wouldn’t, like I said, he wouldn’t give in. He wouldn’t going, it didn’t matter what.
RG: Stand his ground.
JS: Yeah did not matter. I mean he even had -- he lived during the McCarthy years and he had a very, very bad opinion of Mr. McCarthy too you know. But I mean there were a lot of things that we talked about in those contexts of what was going on back then when -- when we finally got time to sit down and talk. But nah, I think Dad would have made a lot better politician than he was a Klansmen if he went about it in the right way.
RG: If he could have gone a different direction?
JS: Yeah. Because he was intelligent and he had a lot of opinions that even today would make sense. But, only history will tell.
RG: Only time and history will tell.
JS: Yeah.
RG: Well, I thank you for you interview.
JS: You’re very welcome.