Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Estle Phillips, Mary Phillips, September 18, 1986

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:15 - Effects of strike

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Partial Transcript: Estle, will you tell me what you just were talking about?

Segment Synopsis: Estle Phillips considers the effects of the Brookside Strike on his life.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Hollers (Hollows); Jones Creek (Ky.); Mechanics; Odd jobs; Schoolhouses; Unions

Subjects: Blacklisting, Labor; Ginseng; Harlan County (Ky.)

00:03:06 - Living in mining company housing

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about how you all got--what happened at Brookside, and how got out--involved in that strike.

Segment Synopsis: Estle Phillips describes what it was like to live in a coal town while not working for the mine that established the town.

Keywords: Bills; Brookside strike; Coal camps; Eastover Mining Company; Houses

Subjects: Brother; Chicago (Ill.); Coal mining; Harlan County (Ky.); Housing; Mining camps; Neighbors; Virginia

00:06:41 - "Harlan County, USA" film

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Partial Transcript: Well, so what happened about coming out on strike?

Segment Synopsis: Estle Phillips talks of the documentary "Harlan County, USA," which included a poster featuring Phillips. The impacts of this publicity are examined, including the blacklisting of Phillips from coal mining jobs across the country. Estle Phillips also compares his experience to his brother, who also participated in the strike, but was not featured in the documentary. The popularity of the documentary is also mentioned.

Keywords: Advertisements; Brookside strike; Clinchfield Coal Company; Documentary; Farms; Lawyers; Nephews; Pictures; Posters; Profits; Regrets; Sisters; Sympathizers; Unions

Subjects: Academy Awards (Motion pictures); Blacklisting, Labor; Brother; Budget; Chicago (Ill.); Coal miners; Harlan County (Ky.); Harlan County USA (Motion picture); Son; Virginia

00:15:29 - Work of Estle and Mary Phillips

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Partial Transcript: Um, Estle, what did you do when you worked in the mines?

Segment Synopsis: Estle Phillips talks of his work in the mines. Mary Phillips also briefly discusses her work.

Keywords: Coal mining; Harlan County Co-op; Machinists; Supplies

Subjects: Blacklisting, Labor; Employment--Kentucky; Harlan County (Ky.)

00:17:29 - Picket line / Unions

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Partial Transcript: Well, when did you all get on the picket line? Tell me those--that story.

Segment Synopsis: Estle and Mary Phillips describe what it was like to participate in the picket line. Estle Phillips briefly considers the role of unions in the strike.

Keywords: Bonus; Brookside strike; Contracts; Highways; Organizing; Picket lines; Trucks; Unions

Subjects: Elections; Harlan County (Ky.)

00:22:47 - Organizing the strike

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Partial Transcript: Um, what did you think about the organizers, Estle, who were down there?

Segment Synopsis: Estle Phillips shares his opinions on the people who organized the strike.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Brother-in-law; Buses; Fighting; Mines; Organizers; Picket lines; Scabs (Labor economics)

Subjects: Harlan County (Ky.); Meeting; Women

00:30:56 - Brookside Women's Club / Estle's father

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Partial Transcript: Well did you--were you a member of the Women's Club?

Segment Synopsis: Mary Phillips discusses the role of the Brookside Women's Club in the strike. Estle Phillips then recalls his father's involvement in mine unions, as well as his participation in strikes.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Draper Mine; Hospitals; Outsiders; Pensions; Picket lines; Striking; Unions

Subjects: Coal miners; Father; Food; Harlan County (Ky.); Medicine; Money; United Mine Workers of America

00:37:32 - Sheriff Billy G. Williams

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Billy G. Williams was, uh, was the sheriff here then.

Segment Synopsis: Estle Phillips reflects upon the relationship between the strikers and the then Sheriff of Harlan County, Billy G. Williams. The circumstances behind the election of Williams as sheriff are explored. The character of Williams is also speculated upon.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Contracts; Cousins; Drunk; Salary; Sheriffs; Warrants

Subjects: Alcoholism; Chicago (Ill.); Coal miners; Elections; Harlan County (Ky.); Leslie County (Ky.); Mother; Police; Politics

00:42:42 - Involvement in strikes

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Partial Transcript: Besides, uh, Kermit, did you all know many of the people that were on strike?

Segment Synopsis: Estle Phillips details his participation in the RJ Corman strike, in addition to the Brookside strike.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Picket lines; R. J. Corman Railroad Group; Roadblocks

Subjects: Brother; Harlan County (Ky.); Injunctions

00:47:29 - Arrest / Public reactions to the strike

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Partial Transcript: Um, did you get arrested, is that what you were telling me?

Segment Synopsis: Mary Phillips recalls the time she was arrested in connection with her involvement in the Brookside strike picket line. How the public felt about the strike is also shared.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Contracts; Finger prints; Highways; Picket lines

Subjects: Arrest; Coal miners; Harlan County (Ky.); Injunctions; Men; Pictures; Station wagons; Women

00:52:46 - Lessons from the strike / Brookside Women's Club meetings

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Partial Transcript: What you think you learned from being down there, Mary?

Segment Synopsis: Estle Phillips considers the lessons he has learned from the Brookside strike. Additionally, the Brookside Women's Club meetings are discussed.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Finances; Movies; Picket lines; RJ Corman Railroad Group; TV; Television

Subjects: Behavior; Harlan County (Ky.); Letcher County (Ky.); Management; Meetings

00:57:59 - Expectations of the strike and the future

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Partial Transcript: Well, do you--when you were in the middle of the strike, what did you think--

Segment Synopsis: Estle Phillips recalls how he expected the strike to play out. Estle Phillips also explains how he hoped his future to be as a result of his participation in the strike.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Contracts; Expectations; Union mines

Subjects: Aging; Brother; Church; Death; Harlan County (Ky.); Retirement; Violence

01:03:07 - Pride in the strike / Careers

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Partial Transcript: Mary, is there stuff from the things that you got to do or you did that you regret?

Segment Synopsis: Estle and Mary Phillips explain their pride in participating in the Brookside strike. Secondly, Estle Phillips briefly talks of his various careers.

Keywords: Accomplishments; Brookside strike; Contracts; Employment; Jobs; Machinists; Pride

Subjects: Chicago (Ill.); Fame; Harlan County (Ky.); Mother; Talking

01:05:45 - Household during the strike / Health / Family issues and the strike

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Partial Transcript: I'm trying to get an idea from everybody about, um, what their households were like during the strike.

Segment Synopsis: Estle and Mary Phillips describe what the Phillips household was like during the strike. Additionally, the recent health of Mary and Estle Phillips is discussed. The rift between Estle Phillips and his brother because of the strike is also mentioned.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Cars; Election; Family; Hauling; Hospitals; Households; Houses; Junkyards; Kingsport (Tenn.); Odd jobs; Picket lines; Punctured lungs; Salary; Schools; Southern Labor; Unions; Workplace accidents

Subjects: Brother; Children; Chores; Coal miners; Grandson; Grocery shopping; Harlan County (Ky.); Health; Life; Mother; Ohio; Politics; Timber; Women; Work

01:16:58 - Moving away

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Partial Transcript: Did you all ever think about moving away during the strike?

Segment Synopsis: The Estle family discusses the possibility of moving away from Harlan County due to economic conditions following the strike. Betty, their daughter, shares her experience of moving to Michigan to find a well-paying job.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Motor lodges; Moving; Wages

Subjects: Daughter; Harlan County (Ky.); Life; Michigan; Minimum wage; Rent; Work

01:19:09 - Background information

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Partial Transcript: Um, let me get some background on you all.

Segment Synopsis: The backgrounds of Estle and Mary Phillips are examined. Their marriage and time spent living in Chicago are discussed.

Keywords: Black Mountain (Ky.); Candy factory; Drill pressing; Jobs; Machinists; Sisters

Subjects: Brother; Chicago (Ill.); Children; Cincinnati (Ohio); Coal miners; Father; Graphite; Marriage; Mother; Pineville (Ky.); Training

01:27:21 - Favorite place to live / End of the strike

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Partial Transcript: Where have you lived--where is the you place you liked the best of the places you all have lived?

Segment Synopsis: Mary Phillips reveals her favorite place she has lived so far. The history of the current Phillips home is also mentioned. Estle and Mary Phillips then recall the end of the Brookside strike.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Coal camps; Farms; Jobs; Picket lines; Post offices; Salary

Subjects: Brother; Chicago (Ill.); Coal miners; Grandchildren; Harlan County (Ky.); Neighbors; People; Proud; Railroads; Talking

01:31:51 - Impact of the strike on Harlan County

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Partial Transcript: Well suppose, um, when you're thinking about it now twelve years later or however long it's been, what do you think that strike has meant for Harlan County?

Segment Synopsis: Estle Phillips considers how Harlan County has been affected by the Brookside strike.

Keywords: Brookside strike; Coal mining; Eastover Mining Company; Hard times; Millionaires; Ronald Reagan; Unions

Subjects: Death; Harlan County (Ky.); Logging

01:38:17 - Other jobs

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Partial Transcript: So you then also in addition to doing the work you were telling me before, you did painting and paper hanging and stuff?

Segment Synopsis: Estle and Mary Phillips list the various jobs they worked after the strike.

Keywords: Cardboard; Changes; Injury; Jobs; Jones Creek (Ky.); Paper hanging; Saw mills; Woodworking

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Ginseng; Harlan County (Ky.); House cleaning; Money; Timber; Work