Charles A. Cannon: A Mind for Business, A Heart for People
Well. People like mr. Canada come along once every thousand, years they, were saying that he could just walk onto the factory floor and listen to the sounds, of the machines, and you, do exactly how well his mill was running, he. Had a vital. Interest in the community, the. Mail just meant a lot to us and to our families. He, never was, mired in the past he was always aware, the president but looking to the future. Charles. A cannon, was a powerful, visionary. Whose, leadership played, out on a global stage. He. Was called the great negotiator. And he approached life with a relentless effort, to build a successful business. And a, successful, town. He. Had a vision that was unconventional, and, uncompromising. And, when. He had fulfilled that vision, he, left a legacy of giving that, will continue, far into the future. Charles. A cannon, a mind, for business a heart, for people. Small. Towns, they. Were the heart of America. Across. This great country they. Embodied, the values we, lived as a nation, Kannapolis. North Carolina. Was one such place, it was totally, built around a manufacturing. Worksite but, it was not a typical, company town it. Was a true community created. By JW. Cannon and brought. To its full potential by his son Charles. A place, where the concept, of work play, live. Arose. A hundred. Years ahead of its time. Kannapolis. Was known around the world as. America's. Largest. Unincorporated. Town what does that mean unincorporated, well, mr., cannon owned everything. The, local, bank they subsidize the schools it, was his checks that paid the teachers he often provided, housing for a world-class, YMCA. They, didn't have paved streets, but two had sidewalks. So they could walk to work the, downtown, he owned the whole downtown. Provided. Police protection, provided. The fire department, the churches, he promoted, good health the services. That the mill provided, affected. Every, area of people's, lives, that's, a level. Of, involvement. That, in some ways is is wonderful, but it's also a level of control, he. Controlled, things because, he was the singular, elder. Of a, system, of elders that, worked all the way down through the community. Some. Say mr., cannon did this because, he opposed, incorporation. It would mean a loss of control higher, taxes, and a body of elected, officials to be held accountable by, others. Say he did it because he was a benevolent leader, of the people both, could be true, Jada Buchanan, and see a cannon, before, any. Manufacturing. Facility, was built made. Certain that, three, critical, components were. Present, and available in the community and they, were education. Schools. Faith. Churches. Hospital. And other health care facilities, to make sure that people had the basic, necessities. To, enjoy a proper, and a healthy, lifestyle. Death. And destruction from. The Civil War found, the country, anxious, to move forward, as the, nation's struggled, to recover the. Age of the great industrialists. And steel, railroads. And other enterprises dogged. But. In the American, South life. Was a daily, struggle. Federal. Troops, reconstruction. And carpetbaggers. Controlled, the former Confederate, States a greatly, depressed, economy made, the former aristocracy.
Poor And the land poor even. Poor, farmers. The, people of the land tried, to make a living, from the hard red clay, they, grew whatever they could scratch, out of the earth mostly. Cotton. Imagine. A place that is really invested. In the, agrarian, lifestyle, and, your. Land has been completely, disrupted, by war. The. South had a rich history of, hard-working people interested. In improving their lives. One. Such man was James. William, cannon, born, in 1852. James william, cannon known, as JW, had little schooling what. Education. He did receive was in a two-room session, house belonging, to a Presbyterian. Church near the family farm that church. And school formed, his early, thinking and set, the foundation, for the rest of his life at. 14, restless. And willing, JW. Quit school and discovered, that he had a knack for the merchant trade by, the age of 22, JW. Was buying cotton from farmers, and selling it to brokers and northern, textile, mills he, saw his opportunity why. Ship cotton, north when it could be easily manufactured. In a southern mill at a reduced, price he, recognized. Advantages, of having the raw material, and then, bringing the, actual manufacturing. From the Northeast, to, the south where things could be vertically, integrated and put together in the most efficient, manner possible he. Traveled, back and forth to New York beckoning, fellow merchants, to join him in his endeavors, he raised seventy five thousand dollars in, 1887. Canon. Manufacturing. Company received, its charter to, do business, so he, created, a, a, rough, Huck toweling, product, that, was rather easy to make and branded. It as canon cloth and. Kennen cloth was a cloth, that was sold on bolts, in general. Stores and it was very versatile, it could be used for, tablecloths. It could be cut for handkerchiefs. It could be used for dresses, about, a year later about 1888, he, began producing his, first house so in 1892. We built yet another plant and as, he built these separate, plants pretty soon that cannon chain referred, to ten, or twelve different, operations. Scattered, throughout two or three states, then. He turned his attention to.
The Sales process itself. From. Very, early on cannon, Mills was organized, around a New York sales. Office, that, was called cannon Mills Inc and so, their, goods to mom-and-pop. Stores to, chain, stores to JC, Penney's, you, name it they were a customer, of cannon, Mills so. By the early 1900's. He, had determined that he would go up the railroad and, build. His own mill, village in a, self-contained. Location. They actually ended up purchase a thousand, nine, acres, from, various, farmers, and that's, where Kannapolis, came from the, first real reference i've ever found to cannon, appleís, was, spelled with a c' it. Is very clear, that it was intended, from the beginning to, be cannon, City and it. Was only later that it morphed, into using, a K and adopting. The idea that it was the city of looms. But. Success didn't, come easy in. 1907. Economic. Times were so bad that his recently, constructed, buildings sat empty, and idle undeterred. He saw the advantages. Of the emerging, innovation, of electric, power he believed in the future of this form of energy so, much that he invested, $10,000. And asked, James B Duke to electrify, this, rural, part of North Carolina, and his, shuttered mill mr.. JD Buchanan, had a number of gifts one, of his gift was being able to see around. The corner a little bit he was said that he could see 20 years ahead. As far as sales trends. And, opportunities. In the cotton industry when. The economy, improved he, purchased machinery, raw. Coffee and, recruited. White sharecroppers to. Work as mill hands mill, owners and recruiters went, into the mountains of North Carolina, Virginia. West Virginia Tennessee, in, search, of additional. Labor the, reason they came to the textile mill villages was, in hope of a better life, so, one aunt, or uncle might. Go from the farm and then send back the news and then the siblings, come with their children until. You have parents. Children, and uncles, and another generation being born at the Mill Village there. Weren't enough male. Workers, to, go around and the first workers, who come into the mills, or women and children. It would not have struck any of them as unusual, for a 10 year old an 8 or even a 6 year old to be expected, to work on the farm as, soon as you're able to stand on your own two feet you're expected, to be useful and to contribute to the household survival. My. Mother was one of eleven children and, her, father unfortunately died, at age 42, so. She had to quit school at, 13 years old, to go to work in the meal hemming, towels and that's. What she did, the rest of her life until she retired, some. Mill, owners like Henin did provide important, health, and social, services, to those mill families, that may, have helped parents, make that decision about staying. On the farm with their children are headed into the Mill Village with their children. JW's. Children, also came to work at the mill including. His youngest son, Charles. From, the time, that he was a young boy Charles. Cannon greatly admired, his father and his accomplishments, he actually went to college he went to Davidson. For a little bit but then he quit Davidson, came back work for his father he was absolutely, dedicated from, the time he, was young -, working, in Texas, cannon. Open new plants and employed, a strong, work force of. 20,000. By, 1914. It, became known as the world's, largest producer. Of sheets, and towels. In. 1917. In, America, entered, into the Great War all of the Huck cloth was sent to the military or maybe, a bad thing for the people who are fighting it, but. It can be a good thing for the people who supply the, consumer, was only able to acquire towels, made of a new fabric, called terry cloth customers. Not only accepted, this new substitute, they preferred, it and a new line of manufacturing. Exploded. With the demand in, the Carolinas, World War one and World War two were, some of the peak times for textile, production.
You. Could hear the whistle blow for miles, you didn't need an alarm clock to tell it was time to go to work all areas, of life centered. Around the mill the, entire town, was built for a cannon, labor force three. Shifts worked around the clock and in, little time, JW, cannon, went from small town merchants, to, a giant, of the textile, industry. World. War one assured. In an era of change, confidence. In American, ingenuity ran high in. The 1920s. Women received, the right to vote and, prohibition. Became the law of the land the, stock market boomed, bootleggers. Prospered, and the Jazz Age assured in a sense of free spirit, the, South surpassed, the north in textile, manufacturing. And the, rapidly expanding industry not only changed, the way southerners, worked but, the way they lived. Instead. Of farming, and being outside, at the call of the seasons they, worked to the rhythm of the weave room. Really. Important, to the vision, and design of Kannapolis was. An opportunity, to cultivate. Community. By. Building, institutions, that were in great proximity, to the mill town and, the textile mills the, cotton mill village of the south was. Designed, to accommodate a. Set, of people who did not really want to work in the factories, James Wayne cannon had to create this, pill village before. Workers ever appeared. So a rental. Village made, both commercial. And cultural, cents. To, people like the cannons so, workers appeared, and already was front-loaded all this infrastructure, been built for them I think what you had was other. Opportunities. That allow. For those community, members to, flourish. On beyond their, work so it was important to be able to have a life outside of that it was, a town that, was intended, to create contented. Labor so they have all these amenities there as long, as they're compliant, in, his first six mills I know for sure you had to sign a labor contract and part. Of the contract, was that you never, had belonged, to the Knights of Labor and never would belong to it, and if you were not willing to sign that he, didn't hire you he. Needed. He felt people to work loyally. And, inexpensively. Do. Their jobs well and, that's. What he achieved his Mills, prospered. And JW. Continued, to lead up until, his health failed, in. 1921. Mr.. JD Buchanan, had been, quite ill and, on, the day of his, death he, hung, on to life, until the time when all the mill whistles, generally, sounded. So, he died peacefully there, surrounded, by his. Family, and a large group of a folks. He had worked with. Upon. His death traditional. Wisdom would have expected, leadership, to pass to his eldest son but JW, wasn't one to be bound by tradition not. When it came to what he determined, to be best for his business, JW. And his wife Mary Ella had raised a large family of six boys and four girls for. JW, there was only one worthy, of the leadership, responsibilities. His youngest, son Charles. Albert I, don't, think that was a decision, that his older brothers were very happy about so. It. Led, to a lot of family strife during, the the 20s and 30s and you. Know I believed, that the issue was simply a choice, as to who had, the skills and ability, to continue, the company, in a fashion, that JW, built, misiek, and said I think.
My Father was one of the greatest. Text. Old men, ever. And. He said he's made it easy for me he. Says he started at all they put it together and all I've got to do is keep the doors open, but. He went a whole lot further than. Really. In. 1921. There were strikes in mills, in Concord, and also, they came to Kannapolis, employees. Were supposed to go to the Union store which they had set up to. Get food to run, their families and they. Decided. That they were not going to spend all their money on food, for the employees, so they picked up everything they had including, all the money and. Left. Town, their. Canada, meal workers were left with nothing. Charles, evicted, a lot, of the union organizers. And sympathizers, and told, the others who were out on strike if you turn your back on the Union you, can come back to work for us and. Essentially. He broke the back of the Union after that there was sort of a collective memory in Kannapolis, about, this event and I think after 21, the paternalism, is even stronger because, there's, this memory of how management. Dealt, with deceit. With this Union and with. The organizers, and they, were fired. Evicted, and gone move. Into the late 20s, at a time when he was consolidating. These companies literally, creating, a company that didn't exist before which, was called cannon mills which was the combination, of all these separate companies eventually, they get the to about to over, 24,000. Employees in, several. States and having. Done that probably. Was, one of the reasons they were able to make it through the Great Depression. They. Were said that he could just walk onto the factory floor and listen, to the sounds, of machines, and, you do exactly how well his mill, young. Mr., cannon was a great industrialist. Because he understood, the work and his, workers, Charles. Cannon was noted for the fact that he would dress like everyone, else go, through the floors of the factory, and talk with people slap him on the back and see them in an old agrarian, community, the, people who were the leaders the, elders were no other people who followed them the, success, of the business found, a need for more workers, many, came to the mill from small towns as far as 60 miles away. Run. Three ships bring. In the first year. Then. Went, to work the prior ship, would, take the bus and the package back home make, ship would come in and another bush and it was constantly. Going in that fashion, in, 1926. You could encircle, the earth three, times a year with the towels they manufactured. They could make one mile of towels every, two minutes or one, dozen, towels a second. They. Designed a trademark, the Napoleon, howitzer, accompanied. By cannonballs. So no one could forget what they were asking, for someone. Invented a machine that would allow you to sew your name on, each of your products, and he immediately ordered some and started putting the cannon brand on all of their towels and washcloths, and other products, cows, cannon, want a depression, who bunk a town they, remember, who. Made it when, they went back to get another and he wanted them to come back. Well. I think that's one of the basics. Of branding, is that you have to have a readily, identifiable. Piece, of art right, your, logo and you can see it almost every, time you used it there are the towels with that. Kanon tag even, people who couldn't read could identify the canon, logo, canon. Really. Moves, forward, in a way that no. Other towel. Maker could, canon. Was a trailblazer, when it came to advertising, essentially. Many products, at that time were commodity, products, where it really didn't matter where it came from the, towel was talons, for linens, but. Advertisers. Especially, like canon thought ours are special. Ours are unique, ours are different, and we need to let people know that's. Our brand and, one of the ways that you do that is through iconography. And a pattern. Message, that's very similar over time so that when people see, it they can easily identify who.
The Manufacturer, is who the marketer, is and that's very, very important, in communication, how. Is always for a utility, product, you know wipes things ups absorbent. Now, they're for display, and that's a whole other aspect of marketing I mean how many of us have towels that are for guests, that, our parents. Will say don't use the good towels so, you sell more towels only Canon, was very successful in, their use of reflecting. Themes that were going on culturally. Especially. With world, war two settings, I'm. Showing. Soldiers, bathing. And using. Canon towels, he, was the first to use advertising in. A way that. Involved. Some I, can't, think of a better word than sex. One. Of the primary reasons, especially in the early, days that you saw sex in advertising. Was, that it you grabbed attention and so if a man is gonna see that it's it's for titillation, purposes, but if a woman's going to see that it's it's for more aspirational, purposes. Where they project themselves, into, the ad and say hmm, I could be like this. On October. 29th, 1929. The. Roaring, Twenties were, silenced. By the thundering, crash of Wall Street, billions. Of dollars evaporated. As black, Tuesday signaled. The start of the ten-year Great Depression stocks. Plummeted, banks, failed and unemployment. Skyrocketed. Breadlines, became, common, and the homeless, clustered, in makeshift, camps called Hoovervilles. All, of the pressures on the southern labor force that had already existed, intensified. There. Were too many meals operating. At too low of profit, margin, not able to pay their workers or, their investors, very much so. It was obvious that some kind of sorting out was gonna be. Necessary. One out of four North Carolinians, was out of work in the 1930s. And, nobody wanted to be a troublemaker, because, there was somebody waiting to take your job more desperate than you back. In the countryside people. Practiced, the idea of Joseph, in the Bible they stockpiled, stuff in good times and they hope to have enough warehouse, to survive the bad times if you look carefully in Charles Cannon during the Great Depression he, practiced, that old country dirty he. Kept as many of his workers in, Boyde, as he could, warehouse. The products, which, could last for a long time until, he could sell them and by, doing so he, ensured. The success, of his community, kept. His community, intact, and actually. Operated. In a way that was perfectly, in keeping with his Calvinist, heritage, cannon. Had been. Very financially. Conservative. Not, taking on debt. Paying. For things as they went along keeping. Cash reserves. And that, stood them really well in the great depression here, and Emil at least three days a week so people, he had. Working for him to, put food on a table, during their depression that was the beginning, I think of a very close. Interpersonal. Relationship. Between. Charles, Cannon and the citizens. And workers, in. Kannapolis the. Hardships, of the depression were, not limited, to just families. And businesses, the state of North Carolina found.
Itself In debt and it's New York bank refused, to renew its loans twice. In. 1932. The governor called on several North Carolina, businessman, including. Mr. cannon to help persuade, the New York Bank to renew the notes and they were successful. State, treasurer Edwin, Gill said these. People were, Patriots, it's. A symbolic incident. Of how private, individuals. Came to the rescue of the state in a, time of adversity, max. Gardner was the governor then he's eventually. Sent mr. Canada a letter commending. Him for being, the one who helped save North Carolina, from going bankrupt then a few years later North. Carolina, found itself in the same predicament, on that second, occasion the, state treasurer, traveled, to New York to renew the notes but was refused, a chance, encounter, with mr. cannon made all the difference he, was aware at the time that the bankers, had, told North Carolina that they would not renew the note so. He casually, approached, them he said I love, the people of North Carolina they're good people state. Of North Carolina is, a sound, state but, they're a little short on cash right now and I would just buy those notes and of, course that would take his money out of the bank but, they, knew right away and. If he did that they were gonna lose a two million dollar account, it, was a major change of heart one, of those unexplainable. Thing mr.. Cannons, loyalty, to North Carolina, was, unwavering, he. Was fond of the same North. Carolina, is a valley, of humility, between. Two mountains, of conceit. The, challenges, of the Great Depression, exacerbated. Textile, workers frustrations. Many mill owners were ringing the most impossible. Quotas, from the people there'd, been some talk about calling, a general strike but, by August, of 1934. Wildcat. Strikes already sprung up in Georgia in, Alabama and, on September 1st 1934. Tens, of thousands, of southern workers began walking out on mass. They. Began demanding union. Recognition, more. Hours, of work in more pay they. Convinced. A lot of southern extent. Workers that the, Union was on their side they. Hopped into cars, piled. In packing, in in those old Chevy's, and GM's, and drove. From town to town and what the newspapers, referred to as flying squadrons. And, these were groups of workers from plants, that were organized, that had gone out on strike who would go from mill village to Mill Village to try to get workers. In other places to, stop work so that there was solidarity. Among workers themselves biggest, strike, ever in American history had. Trouble catching hold in Kannapolis. And, the other cannon Mills forces. At work in Kannapolis made, sure that those flying squadrons, didn't get to the workers they. Essentially, told them you're on private property and the, only part, of the land they could really operate on was driving up and down Main Street deputized. Private, citizens, were, armed, Kannapolis. Employers. Said it was to protect the Kannapolis, mill workers who wanted to go to work and indeed, it would have protected anybody, who wanted to go and feared, violent, retribution for, crossing a picket line but. It also inhibited, anyone, who, would have stood on a picket line to, express their discontent with, no practices. With. The bloodshed, and the calling, in of the National Guard the, strike was settled in, three weeks and workers. Returned, to their jobs a major. Reason Kannapolis. Escaped, the violent, turmoil, of 1934. Was. The personality. Of Charles, a cannon, himself, he, was close to his workers and their families although, in public and in his presence, he was always called mr. cannon in private, he was affectionately, known as uncle Charlie. Charles. Cannon, understood, the importance, of supporting, all aspects, of community life people.
Felt He knew them and they knew, him, he, was famous throughout the community, for, his open-door, policy, was, wildly known throughout the mill that if you had a problem and nobody else could help you with it you, could go talk to the boss talk to mr. cannon. About. It and he'd, make arrangements, to talk with you it was very, very, telling. That his telephone, number was in the book and that, you could call his number and at least by legend, he would pick up the phone there. Were not layers that separated. Him from the people that worked for him, but, he always felt, that his, workers had a right to come to him he felt close to them and he actually enjoyed. A great deal talking, to them he knew their children he knew what was going on to their families. He felt we're all part of one big extended. Family and they. Have a right to access. The. Biggest difference, between mr., Canada and so many other mill town owners was. He wanted everyone, to succeed and grow, with, him he wanted an educated, workforce and, freely. Gave scholarships. To children of, millon ploys he, promoted higher education. Through his philanthropic giving, but he also provided, work for those, who wanted work when. I was 17. Years old. Charles, cannon gave, her graduation, speech, at. The end of it he says you. Know this, is. 1937. The, Depression is almost, over, I think, things, are going to improve if. You want a job, you. Come up to the mill. Front. Desk. Monday. Morning, I'll, give every one of you a job I had, a hundred students. In the class 98. Of them went up there I. Went. Young. Men who, got hired into the mill would. Be given an opportunity, to advance with. Their peers they. Would be challenged, for example they would be assigned the second or third shifts. If. They fulfilled, those responsibilities. They, would be rewarded by. Moving back to a plumber job and they, would slowly. Demonstrative. Ly move, up the ladder of the factory, system with. Limited, opportunities, but. Yet. Advancement. Was possible, the, opportunity, was had very. Few people came in from the outside I, came. In the side door. Mr.. Cannon had tremendous, energy, and a, sixth sense he, could concentrate, intensely. At the moment and when. People would enter his office he, would focus purely, on them, some. Thought he didn't sleep or that he thought things out while, sleeping, he. Would come into the office inspired. With new ideas every day. Kannapolis. Was also known for the quality of its mill housing, the, textile, mill village. Was. Well, maintained, your. House was painted on a regular, schedule whether, it needed it or not and. Central, he a garage a fenced back yard I had water electricity. $50. A month mill. Houses, were not. Limited. To just workers, teachers. And, service. Workers often had. Mill. Houses the houses were well. Cared for if they had were. Sure to go out in a spicy they, call cannon mills and somebody would come down and put a wash rag or whatever, else they needed nobody. Kept, their mill houses that like cannon, Mills did. The. Late 1930s, were, brought with social, and political chaos, in, both Europe, and Asia Americans. Watched an alarm as Hitler's, forces invaded. Poland marking, the beginning of World War two the most destructive, conflict. In human history then, on December 7th, 1941, the. Dawn attack on Pearl Harbor brought war to the homeland, and American. Industry. Responded, cannons wise stockpiling. Of inventory, during the Depression, proved to be a huge benefit, the war brought an immediate, and desperate, need for cotton. Products, I think. 1943. Was one of the highest. Production, years, ever in, American, textile history right in the middle of World War two most, everything, was cloth one way or another in, addition. To uniforms, Canon manufactured. Towels that said to, hell with Hitler. Everyone. Felt, the effects of that war so it, was not unusual for, southern, textile workers to feel it was their patriotic duty to go to work Kenan mills have. 5,300. Of their workers went into the military so. These are 5,300. Male jobs, that, are now open to women and so in the, West, Coast shipyards, you had Rosie the Riveter and the, southern Piedmont you had Wilma the Weaver proudly.
Standing Behind her loom, for her men and boys fighting. The good fight across the ocean but. When the war was over and the. Veterans started coming home Charles, Albert cannon made a commitment, that we'll try to reintegrate, all those workers back matter of fact he created a veteran's, personnel, department, that his job was to reintegrate, those men back they. Actually built some new housing. In Kannapolis, called the GI houses. Whole, neighborhood. Of very small, houses, 20 by 24, feet and totally, guys to go in there and see if they would like to live in one of those houses so they were very small less. Than 500. Square feet and boys, they liked him like nobody's, business it was. One of the things that endeared, him to the workers. But. Every veteran did in return and the, cannon family, experienced. Personal, loss as, the cost of war, Charles. Can junior, enlisted in, the Army, Air Corps and immediately, was shipped to the, hump Burma, China India, area, Charles. Who was an aviator, was lost never found flying. To India Burma, Theater and every, time the doorbell rang, he, and Ruth, were, hoping, that that, would be first, some, news, that he had been found alive but, at least some, closure it never happened, it was something that weighed very heavily on, their minds, and I'm, sure influenced. How, he responded. Particularly. To returning veterans to make sure that they had housing, they had the ability, to reintegrate. Into normal. Life and, have a job that they could support their families, so many American, families identified. That way with one another across lines of class what. We do know though is that it did not extend, across the lines of race there, were no labor shortages, strong enough to, move African, American men or women out, of the, only rules they could have in the Middle's which were in the most menial. Low. Skilled or unskilled low-wage. Jobs a, national. Heightening, of awareness and growing unease, concerning. Workplace, standards continued. To develop in the 1940s. Thanks, in large part to First, Lady Eleanor, Roosevelt who. Was an advocate for the poor and disenfranchised. All mill, towns were often, painted with the same broad, brush so, she stopped in Kannapolis and, of. Course she was welcomed, with open arms, by mr.. Cannon and he took her to the YMCA that's, where they had lunch, didn't. Have another fancy restaurant, because I'm sure they had good food that's. What it happened, and of course they allowed her access, danni, workers, she wanted talk to or anyone else and she. Was literally. Flabbergasted. She left open mouth and, in. Her column, which she wrote for the newspapers, she said this is quite a revelation. Mr.. Cannon told me that most of the work is done on a piecework basis, and outside, of a few people in the day laborer, class the, average earning, power of a woman is, $22. A week in view, of all this which, seems to meet high union, standards. I was, surprised, to find that the mill was not unionized, but. Mr., cannon, said they had always had remarkably. Good labor relations. The. Village the first lady, saw was in a large part the result of the philanthropic priorities. That mr. cannon believed essential, for a healthy community. This included, encouraging. And supporting, young students, he created, a full scholarship, for, medical school for me he named it after his son he was killed in the war, called. Charles, like cannon junior scholarship. And it. Was good for four years there. Were no strings attached and, he said when your three-minute school you. Know I said, I have to come back here to practice and go wherever you wanna. Go, I'm. Coming, to come into Concord, and Kannapolis to practice in. 1943. Mr.. Cannon took a major step to make certain the things he was doing to build better communities would, be supported, well beyond his lifetime he, established, the cannon foundation, with the goal of making an impact in the areas he held dear healthcare, higher, education. Faith. Human, Services and community. Although. He had been promoting, worthy endeavors, throughout his life the, foundation, provided. The means to carry on his vision Canon. Foundation, was, used. To, build, Cabarrus, Memorial, Hospital, and then, established, a charitable, trust. To. Provide money, to keep the hospital going. Well. Into nursing school so he'd have nurses, in the hospital, taken. As a whole, his. His, charitable, interest. Today. Exceed. The size of, the. Sales of the company at the time of his death never. Was. Mired in the past he was always aware. The President but looking to the future. Mr.. Cannon demonstrated. Interests, and influence far. Beyond, his Kannapolis, office he. Served as a trustee for both the University, of North Carolina at.
Chapel Hill, and Duke, University, he. Served on the board of New York Life with former US presidents. Calvin, Coolidge, and Herbert, Hoover he never missed those meetings, it gave him an association. With, some of the leading captains. Of industry in, the world. The. United States emerged from World War two as the preeminent military. And economic power, in the world the, American, attitude of can-do, prevailed. The. Post-war, years saw, an explosion of births as the baby boom generation arrived. On the scene, bringing. With them a cultural revolution and, music, and fashion, suburbs. Sprang up like mushrooms. Folks. Have never forgotten the fact that the first building, in Kannapolis was, the mill and the second one was the YMCA, adjacent, to it which. Is reputed, to be the largest one in the country they had a game room. They. Had two gymnasiums. In it. Play. Basketball, there you could shoot pool had, a bowling, alley had a swimming pool sandwiches. There are all kinds of clubs up there peanut butter crackers, and cold drinks, we had our pm Rashied was there even had a barbershop down, there mr. cannon used to get his hair cut over there you come in up the steps and go through the big doors and turn left and, you're into this beautiful, well-appointed. Library. With massive. Wooden doors and you could do your reading and your homework there and we often did and, you could join for a dollar a year it. Was just the heart of our community that, it was just a. Wonderful. Place, for kids to go. But. The prosperity, of the 1950s. And 60s wasn't. Universal, racial, discrimination. And the power of the Jim Crow laws went, on national display. The textile, mill, industry. Grew. In tandem, with the. System of segregation the. More skilled, jobs of course such as the Machine fixers, elude pictures, and so on, those. Jobs were highly coveted they were almost all held by white employees and they, were by far the highest paying. Jobs. Somehow, this notion that only, white people had, that either the capacity. Or the the. Right to participate in this in this, kind of modern, and textile industry, there, were many, african-american. Workers who worked, in the maintenance. Areas, the outside, crew and who worked in the opening room where the cotton bales were first. Oakland white, workers have opportunity, to see themselves as somewhat.
Better Than the, black, women, who worked in their particular, houses, if it hadn't been for, african-americans. Low-wage, domestically. Her the. White women who worked in the medicine, nearly 40. 50 percent by the 1960s, could, not have fed their families could not have watched them care for the children couldn't have put clean clothes on their backs it, was very very much sick. So. Many things that you, did, you take for granted, we weren't even exposed, to, such. As the library going, to library public, park, swimming pools and. Things. That really, mattered, to, make a good round of life was. Not even, available, for. Anybody. The. Civil rights movement, galvanized, into action a new generation, of leaders black. And white. Kenan. Mills became one. Of the. Poster. Kids for, change it. Was a big mill it was a successful, mill it was in many ways a progressive. Mill in terms of housing. And paying its workers in, an adequate. Sort of way and, so. Could, the, inequalities. The racist. Policies, that pervaded, the south could, they change it cannon Mills then that would be a, very. Good, thing for, this new America, that was coming, into be, in. 1962. Core in Cannon was one of the first African, American women to be hired to run textile, machinery you, know if you would have really hear news as they go to the barber shop or to the beauty parlor and I. Was at the beauty parlor and when my good friend said that she had heard somewhere that camomile. Was going to start hiring, black, women, I said, guys a caller said I mean you'd come to piano meal in the morning and prepared, to worry I would, say that it was the african-american. Men in women on the ground in the mills, who. Insisted. On equal, opportunity. To all, jobs, in the Middle's who really forced the change in the southern textile industry demographic. I don't, think there's any argument to, come up transition. From segregation. To. Integration. Was, very smooth in terr-berish county. During. The 1950s. And 60s, America. Was coming to terms with how to create, a nation of equals, enjoying. The rights of everyone to. Live work. And play together for many, the mill community, was an idyllic environment. Mr.. Cannon continued, to work well, into his 70s on. His business trips to the New York he liked to reconnect, with his hometown, folks at the cannon sales office, at, the end of the day if you were in New York he would try to find out who was up there from Kannapolis then. He he would gather those group of people and they'd say let's go then let's go to dinner and we going to the theater he loved, Hello Dolly and, we.
Would Have seats probably, on the first a second row and and I would swear that Ethel. Merman, who was Dolly would. Wink at him when she saw him in the oldest and I called that wink very, clue tonic. Friendly. Human. By, all accounts. Charles cannon cared. About, Kannapolis. And cared about the people in Kannapolis one, mill worker was quoted as saying he, was our daddy, he was our Sandy Claws and there. Are downsides, to that kind of paternalism, but the upside, was, a I think a genuinely, caring. Knowing. Of each other when I represented. Kannapolis, as Miss, Kannapolis in 1961. And. I would go, and speak to people about it they would say oh one. Person, owns that whole town right, and that you, know they didn't seem to think that was a good thing but growing up I never, thought about that, it. Was my hometown and, I was proud of it it, never dawned on me that it wasn't a town like any other small town in the south but. As the world grew smaller there. Was an increasing, criticism of, paternalistic. Communities, the. Paternalism, begin, to take on more negative, connotations. And it, became as the factories, got larger. And, the. Business became more complicated, as seen as a way of controlling, and manipulating. People as opposed, to a way of taking care of them they can see this paternalism. Sometimes, it's not you're taking care of us but. It's sort of like it's a power issue it's like okay, you're saying like you're the parent and we're the children we don't know how to take care of ourselves so you got to tell us how to live, where's, the autonomy, here paternalism. Is a feature, of his leadership, in. Some really important, ways but. But not in the demeaning, ways, that we often define or, turn ilysm, I mean, he imagined. Kannapolis. As being his city and that. Isn't. Just, about return, ilysm, that, is about pride. Regardless. Of what the outside world thought. About paternalism. Mr.. Cannon was known as a man of principle, and high moral, character, values. He carried, forth in his company's, policies. He had a farm room, that. No. Supervisor. Is, going to take. Advantage, of any female. Employee, and. He told me he said it if. You ever find, any, employee. Messing. Around with one of the women. You fire him right on the spot. Character. Integrity, honesty and, being. Far. More interested. In others, than yourself, were, the way he lived his, competitive. Spirit was, matched by his high level of knowledge of, so many things art, history. Technical. Details, trusts. Cotton. Equipment. He knew enough about each thing in. Order to manage the people working, with it mr., cannon was surrounded, by people he truly. Trusted. And they, trusted, him he, didn't just want people around him who said, yes to everything that he said he wanted to hear your. Viewpoint, and he didn't mind hearing you, disagree, with him but, if you disagreed, with him he had to be able to give him reasons, why you were right and his, way was wrong one, day I had a message from my boss. He. Saw me he says no. Don't. Be mealy-mouthed, you, have an opinion what is your opinion about what, this, project is I want.
To Know what you think mr.. Cannon, was a planner, astutely. Alert to market changes he. Saw something, different than, many of us see and that's. Something, you can't teach part. Of it is applying. Himself every. Day to. The job of how can I improve this. Meal, and. How can I improve this community. Mr.. Charles a cannon was once quoted of. All the factors, affecting cotton. The two principal, ones are weather and politics, of the. Two the, weather is more predictable. So. The way he handled. The cotton Department which is about supply, price. And quality was, to create the, the, LT behringer, cotton company in Memphis, Tennessee hearta, cotton country LT, behringer, became. One of the greatest. Personal. Friends of Charles Cannon period. I think, they talked on the phone, daily, Kannapolis. Had the ability, to store, a year, and a half's supply. Of cotton, which. Is unheard of. Mr.. Cannon wasn't afraid to take a leadership role for the textile, industry, there's. Something called to price cotton, cotton, was so clued foreign, countries, the. Meals paid a higher price so bottom. Line was camomile's. Will fan about 30 percent more for cotton then. These competitors. Overseas, were paying that cotton, is ending up in the mills in Japan wherever. It's, being turned into cloth it's coming back to the United States. Cheaper. Than you can make it in the United States so, the textile, industry took. It upon themselves to, sort. Of appoint him the unofficial, ambassador to. Washington to, try to get this situation. Changed. Kenan. Was a master. At playing. With. Washington, cannon, was was pals with President, Kennedy they wrote each other notes, he, did manage to get. The situation rectified to, get a bill introduced, Kennedy, didn't sign the bill he was assassinated before, he could but Lyndon, Johnson, did sign the Agricultural, Adjustment Act, of 1964. And gave. One, of the Pens -, Charles cannon the. Political, winds were blowing against. His business, and he, realized, a struggle, lay ahead they. Didn't sell, old. Equipment. It, got, destroyed we'd. Go out and take. Sledgehammers. And break. Up the old looms, so they, wouldn't end up going to some foreign country. Charles. Cannons paternalism, caught, the attention of, Ralph Nader who, was the, corporate. Whistleblower. Of the, 1960s. And in, 1970. He, released. Nationally, red white and blue for uncle, Charlie it was part of a general, questioning. In the 1960s. Of whether father, knows best. Do. You think that the measure of mr. cannons control has been exaggerated, the unionization has, not been able to get into Canada Mills because he is, good to his people and, people. Enjoy working there I think, the responsibilities, of a dominant, company, in a town which. Employs most of the workers in the town inescapably. It's going to have to exercise a kind of beneficial, paternalism. In terms. Of taking some of its profits, some, of the great wealth that it draws out of the town and putting, it back in in terms of facilities, both cultural, educational, recreational. Public. Health and the like our company. Cannon. Mills company, was. Criticized, in some of the leading. Financial. Magazines. Of the day for. Being too printer, allistic, they, said we weren't paying enough, attention to, the bottom line to. Make a profit, to do good on the stock market, that we. Were using too much of our operating. Money to. Provide, schools. And, housing. And health care so, we were somewhat. Criticized. For that but. That, was mr. cash wish. But. Criticism, of his paternalistic. Practices, global, competition, and, unfavorable. Government, policies, weren't, mr. cannons only concerns, the, passing, years brought, a new set of personal. Challenges. Unfortunately. My grandmother, had, a stroke and, I, never will forget he. Hardly ever left. Her side. Six. Years after the death of Ruth cannon Charles, cannon, suffered, a mild stroke in his office, he refused. To let them take him out on a gurney, and they. Pushed him to the door in his, desk, chair we, picked him up at the back door of the office and drove. Out through, the mill, yard. At shift, chain and, he, wanted to stop and talk to everybody and everybody wanted to talk to him later, that night in the, very same hospital, he built for his beloved, town, Charles. Cannon, died of a, massive stroke, he. Died with his boots on he, died doing what he loved he loved his work, and he worked because it was who, he was and he felt like he was making.
Life And. Everything. Better for people by, staying engaged. The. Era of Charles, a cannon, came to an end but. Like his unincorporated. Town without any city limits mr.. Cannons, impact, was not limited by his death he, had made sure that, the values, he believed in would, be there for the people he believed in keeping. The philanthropic work, of his lifetime going, forward as embodied. In the Charles, a canon Charitable, Trusts, and the, Canon Foundation. How, is Charles, a cannon viewed through the lens of historical, context. Free. Enterprise, with a conscience. Paternalistic. Benefactor. Today. The, town of Kannapolis is an incorporated, city with elected, officials and the, full range of city services, the. Mill is gone a victim. Of the foreign manufacturing. Charles, cannon foresaw. In. Its place has risen a 1.5. Billion, dollar scientific. And economic, revitalization, project. That's emerging, as an internationally. Recognized, research hub, leading. In groundbreaking, discoveries. In nutrition, disease, prevention and, agriculture. Charles. Cannon has been such an essential part of. Helping. On the south cultivate, a compelling, story he provided a seed, that we, continue to see flourish, today there's, something, very. Unusual about. The. Kind of dedication and, the vision, that a man like this had to, build us this, entire. Town. And to, build the. Kind of environment, where people could work and live and go to school and go to church and die, all. In a few square miles, people. Like Charles cannon are hard to find today and I. Think that we will find overtime he. Will be seen for all the complexity. That he brought to a very difficult time, of transition. I do, think Charles, cannon understood, that, an educated, healthy, workforce, was. In the best interest of his company and I, think he thought it was in the best interest of his region in the state his country and in. The, examples, we see across, the globe. The. Absence of any investment, in the human capital behind. The textile and apparel industries. Places. Like Bangladesh I, think, we would love to see a Charles cannon they're taking, care of his workers building, hospitals investing. In schools, attending. To the social services, of the community for whatever the reason is behind it. When. Charles a cannon died in April. 1971. He, had achieved many, personal, honours during his lifetime. But. One of his proudest, accomplishments. Was creating, at least one. New, job, for, each day in his 50, years of leadership today. The, Charles cannon charitable, interest support, those pillars, of society that, he himself cherished. Healthcare, higher. Education. Human. Services, and local. Communities. These. Values, are the legacy, he leaves a legacy, that will continue, to touch thousands. Of his fellow citizens and the families, of his employees, for, generations. To come he. Gave to, 20 or 30,000, people the, census they were all part of one family.
Everybody. Was somebody, when, John. Skinned I think, my grandfather would probably want to be remembered, as a as, a builder. As. A man. Of his word and, someone. Who left the world a better place absolute. Power and the wrong person's hands is, a terrible, thing but. It, can be a good thing in. Fact in mr. Khanna's hands it, was a great thing. You.