DATE: February 21, 1980
INTERVIEWER: Kenneth West
INTERVIEWEE: Lawrence Tadrick
WEST: Mr. Tadrick, I wonder if we could start perhaps with some of your earlier
experiences, before you got involved in the union. Are you a native of Flint?
TADRICK: No, I'm from Oklahoma, the southern part of Oklahoma, right close to the
Texas border. I came up here in 1935.
WEST: 1935. When were you born?
TADRICK: Eighth month, ninth day, 1914.
WEST: So you came up in '35. You were just 21. And what experiences had you had
then working before you came here?
TADRICK: Well, I got out of school and I went into the CC camp. Then, after a little
over a couple years, then I got out of that and for about a couple months then I…I had
two brothers and two uncles up here. And at the time, why, they sent me a telegram, told
me they had me a job, and that's…
WEST: You had a job. When did your relatives come up?
TADRICK: Well, my uncle's up here in the latter part of the '20s. And my brothers, I
think it was '28 or '29 when my brothers came up.
WEST: So they had a job lined up for you, then. That's interesting. How would they do
that? I would have thought you had to be on the ground to…
TADRICK: Well, I don't know, but they took me right in, and there was a big line out
there waitin' on.
WEST: They were hiring, then, in '35. Things were coming out of the Depression, were
they just a bit?
TADRICK: Oh, yeah, they was hiring.
WEST: Were you single then, when you came up in '35?
WEST: And you hired in at Fisher Body, then, Fisher 1, right away?
WEST: What did you do, then, in Fisher 1?
TADRICK: Well, I started out there as an experienced metal finisher, but the only thing I
had filed laid in my hand was to sharpen the hoe for choppin' and cuttin' and that. I
didn't have experience metal finishin', and the guys in the shop helped me out. And
during my lunch hour, why, I picked up different trades, you know what I mean? I was
workin' at 'em during lunch hour, and the guys see that I'm not doin' it right, they'd
come over and show me, said, "Well, that ain't the way to do it. Do it this way."
WEST: Now, the foreman, was he critical of your work at first?
TADRICK: No, no, he was pretty nice about it. I guess, kind of…well, my uncles, two
of 'em was inspectors there, metal finishing inspectors. And I went in as a metal finisher.
So one of 'em was a foreman there for a while, and then he went back, that's why…
WEST: What kind of work was that, then? Could you describe that just a bit, if you
TADRICK: The metal finishing? Oh, it's where they the hood the tops together, weld
them together, and then they put lead over it. Then I went and finished that lead off and
smoothed it off and sanded it. Then they could paint it.
WEST: It took a certain amount of skill, then. How long would it take usually to get
proficient at that?
TADRICK: Oh, a couple months. But the guys helped me out there on the line, and they
seen when I'd make a mistakes, and they'd come over and help me.
WEST: When you were working in that job, about how many people would there be
together with you to work? Would there be a crew that you'd get to know pretty well,
you know, on a first-name basis?
TADRICK: Oh, yeah. We had teams. We had one on each side, see. I think there was
WEST: And how many would there be to a team?
TADRICK: There'd be two, one on each side.
WEST: So you'd get to know the guy next to you.
TADRICK: Yeah, you had a certain spot to finish, see, and a certain length of time to do
WEST: Could you talk to one another?
TADRICK: Oh, not as much as we wanted to, but they was pretty strict. There wasn't
no smokin' or anything. You had smokin' areas to…
WEST: Did you take your lunch on the job, or did you…?
TADRICK: Yeah. I carried my lunch.
WEST: You carried your lunch and ate right there. Did the other fellows do that too?
TADRICK: Oh, the biggest part of 'em did.
WEST: You had a chance to chat and talk then.
TADRICK: Oh, yeah, yeah.
WEST: Did you talk about union at all during that time?
TADRICK: Yeah. Well, I think it was AFL before I went in there. And I think that the
president was William Green. Now I wouldn't say for sure.
WEST: He would have been the president of the AFL.
TADRICK: Now they claim that he sold everybody down the…
WEST: Well, they had a man in, I guess, who organizing. That would have been '35,
probably Francis Dillon. Was there an AFL union then?
TADRICK: Well, there was a little of it, but it didn't amount to nothing, because a good
friend of mine, why, Charlie Green, why, he was a steward. Then when they revolted
over to the CIO, why, he went on over as a committeeman on there.
WEST: I see. But he was in the AFL.
TADRICK: Yeah. He wound up bein' the, I think it's the plant manager down there at
WEST: Is he still alive? Charlie Green?
TADRICK: Well, last I heard he was, yeah.
WEST: When would that have been?
TADRICK: Oh, I don't know just right off hand.
WEST: Now there was a strike that we know of in Fisher Body 1 back in 1930, before
you came on. Was there any talk in the shop at all about that?
TADRICK: Well, I never heard too much about it, no. I don't think they'd let 'em talk
too much about it.
WEST: Did you go to any of the union meetings, the AFL meetings?
WEST: About how many would you say that you'd get to one of those meetings?
TADRICK: Well, those there then, it wasn't too many, right then, I mean when I went,
you know. I didn't go to every one of 'em, of course. I wasn't interested in it then, see
WEST: Did you have to be secretive about belonging to that union?
TADRICK: No, I didn't. I just went over to the union hall. They had a union hall across
the road over there from Fisher 1 there.
WEST: But I mean as far as the management was concerned.
TADRICK: Oh, no, they never said too much to me, no.
WEST: You didn't wear a union button or anything in the plant.
WEST: But it wasn't very active then.
TADRICK: No, it wasn't too active. Then after they started gettin' quite active, then it
started comin' out and…well, they was kind of hesitatin'. And they would tell you that if
you didn't feel like workin', why, just look out the window, and they had men out there
in the line, waiting for your job.
WEST: I was going to ask you, then, what you thought some of the grievances that lay
back of the union, you know, what there was about the job that may have prompted
people to be disgusted about it.
TADRICK: Well, it's the way they was kind of doin' it, they just kind of pushin' you
and that, you know. Like I said, if you didn't feel like workin', why, they'd just…"Look
outside, see the guys standin' in line waitin' for your job."
WEST: They played favorites, then? You have to play up to the foreman to keep your
TADRICK: Well, I didn't. No, I never did have to. I'd have them on my work and that
was it. You know what I mean, because I was pretty well good friend of the steward
there, and he said just do what you can.
WEST: Were you working on piecework then?
TADRICK: No, they just got through with that. They used to pull tickets. They had
some tickets on the front of the car. And when you get through the job, why, you pull
one of those. But they still had the tickets on her, but I never did pull none.
WEST: You were working straight pay, then.
TADRICK: Yeah. Straight pay.
WEST: Was there still a rush, did you feel?
TADRICK: Yes, to a certain extent it was, yeah.
WEST: I'm wondering. You came into the plant, then. You had been 21, you know,
pretty young. Was there any pressure on the older people? Did they find it more difficult
TADRICK: Well, not too much. Well, I mean to a certain extent, because they wanted
younger guys in there, you know. Kind of work 'em a little harder.
WEST: Did they keep 'em on 'til very old? Would people stay on there into their
TADRICK: Oh, yeah. They stayed right on up there.
WEST: Now when did you first get rid of the CIO?
TADRICK: Well, it was like I said. I worked for that there steward. We worked right
there close together, and he was fillin' me in on it, tellin' me about it. He signed me up
WEST: When did you sign up, then? Do you remember the month that would have
TADRICK: No, I couldn't tell you.
WEST: Would it have been '36, before the strike?
TADRICK: Oh, yeah, way before the strike, yeah, because we was goin' over there and
payin' our dues, see. They never had no check-off system. We went over and paid our
WEST: Where did you go to pay?
TADRICK: Right 'crost the street, there, from Fisher 1.
WEST: I see. So it was Charlie Green, then, who organized…
TADRICK: Well, actually he had a lot to say in there, yeah.
WEST: How did he do it? Just talked to you on the job?
TADRICK: Yeah. Oh, we'd be standin' there, waitin' on the job or something. We'd be
talkin' and that. But we wouldn't be out, you know, just like you would now talkin'
about it. It was kind of…
WEST: If the foreman got wind of that talk, would it be hard on you?
TADRICK: No, it didn't seem like to me that the foremans was very bad about it. Now
maybe there was some. But, you know, just like right now, you take some foremans
that's pretty good and other ones, you know…
WEST: Did you go to meetings, then, of the CIO?
TADRICK: Yeah, when they had 'em.
WEST: When they had those. This is before the strike. 'Cause we've heard that some of
those meetings had to be held in basements of people's homes and that.
TADRICK: Well, I didn't go to them, right then, see. The only ones I went to was when
we had 'em downtown at the, we had some at the Pengelly Building, I think it was
WEST: That was before the strike.
TADRICK: Yeah, before the strike, uh-huh. Yeah.
WEST: Did you know Bob Travis?
TADRICK: Well, I didn't know him personally, but, you know, I've heard of him.
WEST: Did you hear him at all talk then, during this period?
WEST: Anything of Wyndham Mortimer? 'Cause he came in, I think, earlier, in the
TADRICK: Yeah, the name, that sounds familiar. You know, you take back that length
WEST: It's a long while. That's certainly true. Bud Simon, you know Bud Simon.
TADRICK: I remember him. I used to go to his place and play cards and that. Bud
WEST: And Joe Devitt? Walter Moore? I guess they came together. Did you know
TADRICK: Yeah. Bud Simons, we used to be pretty good friends. Yeah.
WEST: When did you first get word that…or think that there would probably be a strike
TADRICK: Well, it was kind of goin' on around there, kind of silent. You know what I
mean. At first, durin' … Finally, it started comin' out, and they said that if they give
'em a certain length of time and they was goin' walk out. Well, when that hour come,
why, we just all took off. There's a lot of 'em stayed in. Lot of us went out, picket out
there in the front. I didn't stay in. I was on the outside.
WEST: But it was believed that there would be a strike, then, that it was in the air.
TADRICK: Yeah, it was in the air. They said definitely there will be a strike.
WEST: Now in November of 1936 I understand there was a "quickie" shutdown of part
of the plant, at any rate, by the so-called Perkins brothers, who were fired. Did you know
TADRICK: No, I don't recall that, no.
WEST: What shift did you work?
TADRICK: I was on the second, most of the time on the second.
WEST: Now it was apparently very late in December when the strike came. Do you
remember what things were like when you were first involved? Were you on the job at
work when General Motors was pulled down?
TADRICK: Yeah, oh yeah.
WEST: What happened? Can you describe that?
TADRICK: Well, just like I said, this Charlie Green, why, he was a steward there, and
we was on the torch solder line then. And that, right after, just, you know, put the solder
on, then finish 'em off up there, and he says, well, he says, "Time gonna come. It ain't
too far off." And he came back and, when the time come, why, he just stood up and
hollered. Everybody took off.
WEST: Where'd they take off to?
TADRICK: Some went outside and some stayed in.
WEST: Did you go outside right away?
TADRICK: Yeah, yeah, we went on out and picket out there, because they had the signs
WEST: You were a union man, but…
TADRICK: Yeah, oh, yeah.
WEST: Did they have any idea of who was going to stay in and who was going to go
TADRICK: No, nobody said anything to me about it. They just…some stayed in, some
WEST: What do you think would decide a person whether he stayed in or went out, in
TADRICK: Well, if anyone said me stayin' in, I guess I'd have stayed in with 'em. But,
you know, they said, "Well, let's go," and so maybe they already had certain…there was
two-fourths, three-fourths of 'em workin', some of them that stayed up in the other
WEST: But the people with you, you all went out.
TADRICK: Yeah, we went out.
WEST: Charlie Green, did he go out too?
TADRICK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
WEST: Did you form a picket line, then, outside?
TADRICK: Yeah, outside there. Then we had an organization goin' down to, that's
where the main office was, at the Pengelly Building downtown. And I was drivin' a
scout car then. Now to say that if you wanted to go down there, well, I'd take you down
WEST: Oh, you drove a car?
TADRICK: Yeah, just like a cab. Just like a cab. Anywhere anybody wanted to go,
why, I drove 'em.
WEST: The union owned that car, or what car was it, then? Was it your own?
TADRICK: No, it was another kid's car there, but they paid for the gas and everything.
WEST: They paid for the gas. It was just an ordinary car, was it?
TADRICK: Just an ordinary car. Then we'd…if anybody at the Pengelly wanted to go
to Chevrolet, you know, Fisher 2 over there, why, we'd take 'em over there.
WEST: Sort of a cab service.
TADRICK: Yeah, more like that. You'd call it a , just, you know. And we got word
that they's havin' trouble over there at Fisher 2, over there, and I took a load of guys over
there, and that's when they…
WEST: That would be the so-called "Battle of Running Bulls," wouldn't it?
TADRICK: Yeah. And when they turned the sheriff's car over, I don't know if you
heard about that. They just came down, and they got ahold of 'em and turned it over.
WEST: Was the sheriff in it at the time? Was anyone in it?
TADRICK: No. They just turned it over. And then there's a young kid that got shot
down there. I don't know who shot him or anything, but he got shot in the leg. I don't
know if it's accidental or what.
WEST: Now your job, then, was to drive this car. How did they arrange it when you
wanted to go? Did they call you, then?
TADRICK: No, I'd go back to the union hall. We stayed at the union hall most of the
time. And we ate there and everything. Then we'd go home and stay at home.
WEST: Did you have shifts at the union hall? So you'd have a shift where you'd be
there on call?
TADRICK: Yeah. On call all the time, see. I think we had five or six cars there.
WEST: And so when there was an emergency like that, you'd pile in. So how many
people could you get in?
TADRICK: About as many as we could get in.
WEST: Did they carry things with them, clubs and that sort of thing?
WEST: Were you armed, in the sense of carrying firearms at all?
TADRICK: Well, I never did, no. Probably there's a few that did, but I don't know.
WEST: Did you have protection, then, with certain cars? Were you involved with the
sound car at all? This is what I'm driving at. Did you protect the sound car?
TADRICK: No, uh-huh. No, just when anybody wanted a, you know…
WEST: Was that what was called a "flying squad" then?
TADRICK: To a certain amount, yeah. Yeah, pretty close to it, yeah, because when they
wanted, they'd get a call, wanted men, why, we just load up and take off.
WEST: How did you pick up the men, then? Were they there around the union hall, or?
TADRICK: Yeah, they was right around there. Then they'd get 'em off the picket line.
WEST: Did you have your club sort of ready?
WEST: Now how did you get notice of the trouble over at Fisher 2?
TADRICK: It was called over to the union hall. Some of the guys at the union hall come
out and told on the picket line.
WEST: And you just helped man the picket line. When you got out there, can you
describe what the situation was like?
TADRICK: It's been so long, you know, and it's kind of hard to think back, you know,
and remember. There was a awful crowd up there, and then, down, they got a gully down
there at Chevrolet. Probably you've seen that, where that overpass, where it separated to
Chevrolet in '52? That's where it was, right down there in that gully, like.
WEST: Was that at night when you got there?
TADRICK: Late in the afternoon.
WEST: Did you stay around, then?
TADRICK: Oh, yes. We stayed around for a while, 'til it kind of cooled down.
WEST: The police were there. Did you hear Genora Johnson, then, at that time? She
was supposed to have made a speech to bring the women.
TADRICK: I noticed a few women was in on it, but, you know, right offhand, I never
did think about, you know, any more. I forgot about a lot of it. I told Mrs. Taylor over
there at church on Sunday…
WEST: That was your job, then. You didn't take any food or gifts to the…
TADRICK: No. When the store would donate food, why, we'd go and pick it up and
bring it over to the…
WEST: Do you remember what stores you went to to pick up groceries? Were they
mostly small stores?
TADRICK: Yeah, kind of small stores.
WEST: Hamady's, did they?
TADRICK: Hamady's, yeah, I think they give some, and different small stores, but, you
know, they're out of business now. Oh, they was real good at givin' food.
WEST: Where were you living at the time of the strike?
TADRICK: I was livin', I think roomin' in the Plan Street, out here in the South End,
stayin' with my brother. I think that's where I was at.
WEST: I see. So you had a brother. Was he working in the…
TADRICK: Oh, yeah. I had two brothers working in there.
WEST: Were they in the union, too?
TADRICK: Yeah, two brothers and two uncles.
WEST: Are they still…?
TADRICK: No, they all passed away. I'm the only one.
WEST: Did you have a car of your own?
TADRICK: During the strike, no.
WEST: Did you have a telephone at your house?
TADRICK: No. No, we had a radio in there, but no telephone.
WEST: Later in February they had that big conflict down at Chevy 4, the takeover at
Chevy 4. Some of the women went down to break windows at Chevrolet 9, apparently a
diversion, when they took Chevy 4. Were you involved in that?
TADRICK: No. No, I wasn't involved in that. No, I just was in the major ones, like the
one there where they turned the car over, the police car and everything.
WEST: Do you remember anything else that's of interest? Any anecdotes that you could
recall at all from that time?
TADRICK: No, I really don't.
WEST: Did you ever experience any opposition? Anybody tried to stop your car?
TADRICK: Well, they did when we went up there, because, see, we didn't go down, we
had to get out of the car and go down. Police stopped us up there at Chevrolet.
WEST: The police stopped you before you got there, so you had to walk down. They
didn't try to stop you from walking, though?
TADRICK: No, no. We just took right off down the hill.
WEST: There was a group in town known then as the Flint Alliance, workers who were
opposed to the strike and tried to get George Boysen, I think, who was the head of that.
Did you have any encounters with any of the fellows who were opposed to the strike?
TADRICK: No, uh-huh, no. That's just about all I could recall of it.
WEST: After, you get into the post-strike situation just a bit. You stayed on in the union
after the strike, of course.
TADRICK: I still belong to it. After I retired, I still…
WEST: Did things change much after the strike?
TADRICK: Yeah, it started changin'. Working conditions started gettin' better. That
was the main thing. It was the working conditions. Pay was a little better.
WEST: Speed of the line?
TADRICK: Well, they kind of slowed that down a little bit. You could tell the
WEST: One of the things I understand the union was pushing for at that time was a
thirty-hour week. Did you think much about that?
TADRICK: No, I didn't think too much about that. We were lucky to get forty hours.
WEST: Well, I guess the idea was to spread the work, so that more people would get
TADRICK: I know we had to wait there a lot of times, when there wasn't a job. You're
settin' around, not getting' paid for it. No, I still belong to the union. I still pay my dues.
WEST: After the strike, there apparently was a wave of other strikes in Flint, I gather
from reading the papers in '37, a strike at Penney's, and that. Did you get involved in
any of those activities?
TADRICK: No, I was only involved at Fisher Body.
WEST: Did the union push the political angle at all? Did they try to get you and others
involved in political activity?
TADRICK: No, not me, no.
WEST: That's about all I can think of.
TADRICK: That's about all I can think of right now. Like I said, it wasn't too much, but
WEST: Well, still, that's interesting. Can you think of any other people, buddies of
yours or people who are still alive that we could talk to? You mentioned Charlie Green
as someone we could perhaps…
TADRICK: I don't know. He's retired from down there. I think he was the plant
manager down there. Hon, what's…
MRS. TADRICK: I heard you say something about Johnson. What was the first name?
WEST: Laura Johnson?
TADRICK: Laura Johnson.
WEST: Course there was a Kermit Johnson, but he was in Chevrolet. He was a leader in
MRS. TADRICK: Laura, she worked there. I think she was a foreman, though, at that
WEST: Were there many women working at Fisher?
TADRICK: A few up there, yeah. Nothing like it is now.
WEST: Did they get into the union, too?
TADRICK: Oh, I guess they was right in there, yeah.
MRS. TADRICK: I could call her.
WEST: You were describing your experiences with the CCC, Mr. Tadrick.
TADRICK: Well, we's getting' 30 dollars a month. Twenty-five of it went home to your
folks, and you got five dollars there and you got your room and board and clothes. And
that was any kind of, you know, work you wanted to do, you had a chance to do it right
then and there.
WEST: What kind of work did you do particularly?
TADRICK: Well, I was real young then, and I went from one thing to another. I helped
cook a little bit and done a little surveyin', rock mason. You know, about everything you
could think of was right there. It was doin' it, you know, for the county, and the state,
buildin' parks for the state and everything. And I think that would be real nice if they
could get that for the younger people right now.
WEST: They're talking about it.
TADRICK: I was tellin' my wife about it. I said that would be wonderful. They've got
all kinds of job they want to learn right there, if they want to learn it.
WEST: How did you get into it?
TADRICK: Well, I quit school. And they had that goin'. And my dad said I'm going to
have to get out on my own if I quit school. So I went down there and enlisted in the CC
camp and I put my two-and-a-half years in it, and I came out, and that's when I come up
WEST: You didn't go back to finish school, then.
TADRICK: No, I didn't go back. I went about halfway through the ninth grade.
WEST: Well, a lot of people would have then.
TADRICK: But I really enjoyed that CC camp.
WEST: It helped the family.
TADRICK: Oh, it really did. That's right. Though I had five dollars there, why, you got
a canteen book. They called it a "canteen book," with coupons in. And it cost you two-
and-a-half, and you got five dollars worth of trade in there, for two-and-a-half.
WEST: At the local store.
TADRICK: The store right in the camp there. Oh, we built some beautiful bathhouses
and open-air theaters and that. It was really beautiful.
WEST: That was in Oklahoma.
WEST: What part of Oklahoma?
TADRICK: Colgate, Oklahoma. Well, where I was in the CC was at Bate, Oklahoma.
That's about forty miles from my hometown. I got to come home every weekend. It was
WEST: Was it like the army life? You were in the army later on, in '42.
TADRICK: We had regular army clothes, old-fashioned, World War I, with the wrapped
leggings and that real heavy wool. That's what we had to wear.
WEST: Did you march?
TADRICK: Oh, yeah. We done a little marching and everything. But it mostly was
working, you know. But we had just like you was in the army right today. You had time
to go to bed and get up and get your meals.
WEST: Were there officers, regular army officers, that supervised?
TADRICK: Yeah. Oh, yeah. And we had doctors there, a little hospital there, and
everything. Same as right in a…
WEST: Where did you live? In barracks?
TADRICK: Yeah. We lived in barracks. Oh, maybe thirty or forty in each barrack.
WEST: When you came up to Flint, then, were you fully employed all the time you were
here, from '35?
TADRICK: Yeah. Well, we got layoffs, you know, during changeover and that, but later
on, why, then I worked through the changeover.
WEST: Were there quite a few boys from the South?
TADRICK: Well, around through Arkansas and Missouri and that they have up there,
but very few I've seen from Oklahoma.
WEST: Were there a lot of what you might call ethnic people, Poles, Hungarians and
TADRICK: Oh, yeah, you had a lot of Polish people working in the shop there, yeah.
WEST: Many blacks working?
TADRICK: No. Then, if I'm not mistaken, there was two, and they took care of the
office, clean the office. But out in the plant, you never had any out there until after the
strike and everything. Then they started comin' in.
WEST: Did they come in after the strike, or was it World War II that brought them in? I
wonder if they came in.
TADRICK: Well, I think we got a few after the strike. I think there was something in
there that they had to hire so many. But all we had was two, one on first and one on
second shift, clean all the offices out and everything.
WEST: Well, that's very good. I thank you.