WOBBLY MENTOR: C.E. "STUMPY" PAYNE [HUNTER BEAR  MARCH 1 2008]  FINE COMMENTS -- PLUS, LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW: ECONOMIC CRISIS [HUNTER GRAY  SEPTEMBER 30 2008]

 

PUBLISHED IN THE OREGON SOCIALIST, SUMMER, 2008

 

 

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR] AT 18 -- JUST BEFORE ENTERING THE U.S. ARMY

OIL PAINTING BY FRANK DOLPHIN, AT FLAGSTAFF ARIZONA

 

 

See also http://hunterbear.org/wobbly_art.htm

 

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:  MARCH 1 2008

 
Interestingly, I had yesterday, for the first time in a good while, a strong Seattle feeling -- a feeling from a very old and extremely important Time. Perhaps the atypical fog outside, rather rare in Southeastern Idaho, had something to do with it.  But then this morning, I received a good letter from a university student in the Canadian West.  He was interested in a major figure of the Old I.W.W. -- the Industrial Workers of the World [Wobblies.]  And that, for me, struck a great note of personal resonance:
 
Dear _____
 
Good to hear from you and to get your query about Fellow Worker C.E. "Stumpy" Payne.  I can tell you a few first hand things and, although to do so, I have to go back to early 1955, that particular seminal epoch remains extremely clear and vivid.
 
At the beginning of 1955, I got out of the Army -- served a full hitch, and very honorably by the Army's standards. I was turning 21.  But, even as I was leaving the military, I was also in the process of much personal change.  Before I returned to my native Northern Arizona, I spent some time in Seattle [later in the Intermountain West.]  In Seattle, I found the bastion of the IWW down in the always fascinating Skid Road setting.  I had heard of the Wobblies at many points in my earlier years and that which I had heard -- from those whose perceptions I respected -- had always been good.  I had no problem joining up with them pronto.
 
Most who gathered daily at the rather small hall/office to drink coffee, play cribbage, and talk were much, much older than I -- though there were younger people  [and most of those were working during the day.]  The old-timers were delighted with me and I with them.  From them, I heard rich, long and detailed accounts of major social justice struggles [and fights over various issues] -- and a great deal of all of this was first-hand in the most primary sense.  Throughout my life, right to the very moment -- probably because of my Native and rural Western background -- I have never asked personal questions of anyone. With the Old Wobblies, I listened carefully, occasionally asking a question about specific tactics and strategies.  On the other hand, on their own, they told me matters relating to personal background.
 
Early on, I met Stumpy Payne, C.E.  At that point, he was almost 90 -- vigorous, sharp, alert, contemporary. Like many of the old radicals, he dressed rather formally. [I looked like a cowpuncher.] He was interested in my youth and Indian background and, with no false modesty, I think he [like the others]  felt they were encountering a kid with considerable activist potential.  Others told me he had been at the founding convention of the IWW in 1905, had always been an extremely capable speaker [hence the moniker, "Stumpy"], a first rate organizer, writer, editor.  I also heard from at least one and possibly two of the really old-timers, that Stumpy Payne was born the son of a Georgia plantation owner.  I could never find anything more on that. [He had no Southern accent, but of course he'd lived in the Far West for virtually his whole life.]
 
He gave me a copy of his little pamphlet -- by then, it had been out for a few years -- Industrial Government [priced at a symbolic one cent.]  It was cleanly organized and clearly written and, of course, had little to do with "government" as the term is widely used. It was very much a proposal for a somewhat more structured version of the IWW's basic "frontier syndicalism" [my term.] [Syndicalism, of course, involves the primacy of democratic revolutionary unions -- grouped into One Big Union -- in effecting systemic change and administering the new cooperative society.]
 
But of especial interest to me was the fact that it drew heavily from Native American tribal communalism.  Stumpy had spent many years in Northeastern Washington state -- close to the Idaho Panhandle -- where he had had many congenial relationships with Indian people, tribes and cultures -- and he certainly had those with tribes and individuals in the coastal sections of Washington.
 
Stumpy had worked with just about every luminary in the Wobbly World.  He thought pretty well of Bill Haywood but remarked to me that, "Bill was really never an office man.  Careless with his papers.  Had the habit of folding and putting important letters in the inside rim of his Stetson."  I grinned on that one which essentially summed me up as well.
 
And Stumpy was certainly no office man, either.  Few Old Wobblies ever were.
 
From every perspective, they were -- in the very best sense -- Free Radicals.
 
One afternoon a friend of mine -- a few years older than I and an IWW and grad student at University of Washington -- was in the Wobbly bastion.  The friend happened to remember that James P. "Red Jim" Cannon, the Trotskyist, was speaking that night at a public meeting.  He wondered if anyone was interested -- and indicated he was going to it.  I really wasn't all that attracted to that and, while my mind was considering it, Stumpy came to the fore and said, grinning, "John can't go with you.  I'm taking him with me."  I didn't even ask where we were going.
 
Where we went was off to hear a primary leader of the state ACLU, speaking in the context of a Humanist gathering.  I was a big kid, slightly over six feet [still am] and Stumpy was probably about five feet, nine inches -- maybe even a little shorter.  I was obviously very young and he visibly much, much older.  It occurred to me later, when we got to the august meeting, that they may have initially felt I was a body-guard of some kind.  The speaker was a Professor Gottfried from the Political Science department at University of Washington -- and he gave a good talk on civil liberties issues and ACLU's role.  The shadow of the Red Scare hung over the nation at that point -- and some attendees seemed a bit reluctant to talk.
 
Stumpy Payne was not reluctant.  Without in any sense seeking to dominate the meeting, he asked sharp and pertinent questions, politely challenging the then relativism of the ACLU.  While not a Communist  [no Wobblies were], Stumpy was critical of ACLU's then reluctance to defend CPs -- clearly thinking broadly in terms of "An injury to one is an injury to all."  The discussion picked up markedly after Stumpy -- always politely -- broke the ice. It was clear from the outset that several there had seen him before.  But I was intrigued by the fact that, when they addressed him, it was as a "Mr._____" and not his proper name.  I never, of course, asked Stumpy, Why the alias?  That was his business.  But then I felt -- and feel now -- that it was a reasonable precaution, given the times, and certainly the experiences with the most brutal and multi-faceted repression through which the Old Timers had passed, not just for brief periods -- but for long hard epochs.
 
My earliest hardbound IWW book [there were always pamphlets], was Walker C. Smith's The Everett Massacre: A History of the Class Struggle in the Lumber Industry.  Published by the IWW in 1917, it's a stirring and detailed account, with fascinating photos, of that bloody attack on the IWW in 1916 as the Wobblies attempted a Free Speech landing-by-boat at the Western Washington town. [My mother was born at Everett in 1906.]  It carried a fine, clear and vigorous preface/foreword by Stumpy Payne.  I have my first edition, but it was reprinted in the 1980s or so.  You may have it or at least have access to it.  When I look at that book, I always read Stumpy's great words at the very outset:
 
"In ten minutes of seething, roaring hell at the Everett dock on the afternoon of Sunday, November 5, 1916, there was more of the age-old superstition regarding the indentity of interests between capital and labor torn from the minds of the working people of the Pacific Northwest than could have been cleared away by a thousand lecturers in a year.  It is with regret that we view the untimely passing of the seven or more Fellow Workers who were foully murdered on that fateful day, but if the working class of the world can view beyond their mangled forms the hideous brutality that was the cause of their death, they will not have died in vain. 
 
This book is published with the hope that the tragedy of Everett may serve to set before the working class so clear a view of capitalism in all its ruthless greed that another such affair will be impossible.  C.E. PAYNE
 
After some fascinating time in Seattle -- the highlight always being for me the Old Wobblies -- I got back to Arizona.  I kept in touch with several of them by mail and at least once I got a very kind note from Stumpy.
 
In time, he and they all passed -- leaving me with many extraordinarily fine and deeply treasured memories.  A few of my old fellow workers lived long enough to very approvingly note my work with the Southern Movement.  I think they all felt that the great faith they had in a scruffy kid had been very well placed.
 
Those memories include true and loyal friendship.

And they also include Lessons and a Mandate.

 
Hope this has been of some help.
 
In Solidarity, Hunter [Hunter Bear]

HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

 

COMMENT:

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:
 
Yesterday I posted our new webpage, Wobbly Mentor, and sent the specific link around. [It's already been well visited.] I explained that its genesis lay in an excellent set of questions posed by a student at a university in the Canadian West.  Our website is huge, diverse, well visited -- and I often get queries, all of which I answer.  And I get many kind notes of thanks.  I am especially pleased to pass this one around -- the Old Wobblies are close to my heart, and a professor [even one who is an organizer] never stops professing.
Solidarity, H
 
 
Dear Hunter:

Thank you so much for all the great information and stories you've provided about Stumpy.  I'm very much indebted to you, as are all young activist scholars who can draw upon your life (and now your website) for inspiration. 

I've been interested in Stumpy for almost a decade now.  His were the first IWW writings I ever encountered.  While researching a paper on the Aberdeen, Washington, free speech fight of 1911-1912, I came across him writing letters to the editor of the Industrial Worker and Solidarity telling of the brutalities committed against the workers, and the inspirational actions taken by those men and women in continuing to fight for what they knew was right.  Following his journeys up and down the Pacific Coast from northern British Columbia to San Diego has been a way for me to learn much of the early IWW struggles by following his biography. 

I give him as much credit as anyone for getting me interested in the Wobblies, and it was my interest in the Wobblies that led me to activism and graduate school.  So, again, I'm forever grateful for the information you've passed along. 

On one side note: I had no idea that his nickname was "Stumpy" because of his ability to deliver stump speeches.  I had assumed that he was a stump rancher at some time or another, although in retrospect that didn't make much sense since - from what I know - stump ranchers were somewhat akin to farmers and thus needed as much unpaid family labor as possible.  And, I never heard much about him with a wife or kids.

If I ever do complete a biography of Stumpy I'd be honored to email or mail you a copy of it.

Again, thank you so much for your help.

In Solidarity,
Aaron

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

SPECIAL NOTE ON C.E. "STUMPY" PAYNE  [HUNTER BEAR  MARCH 3 2008]:
 
My good spouse of almost 47 years, Eldri, is an excellent researcher via computer -- especially in genealogy. 
 
Eldri was able to determine that Stumpy's name was Clayton Payne and that he was born in 1869. She then took that name and looked it up on Ancestry.com.  She found a Clayton E. Payne in the 1920 and 1930 Federal censuses.  In 1920, he was at Pond [Pend] Oreille, Washington, 50 years old; and in 1930 he was living at Aberdeen/Grays Harbor, Washington,  and his age is given as 61.  Both of those indicate he was born in Minnesota. On each census, his occupation is given as carpenter. On each census, his father is given  as "born in Georgia" and his mother, "born in Indiana."  This all meshes pretty well -- and the Georgia-born father could easily have been a landowner who left Georgia after the War and General William T. Sherman's assault and removed to the Minnesota frontier.  [Eldri herself is Finnish / Norwegian / Lapp and was born at Moose Lake, Minnesota.]
 
Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

_________________________________________________________________________________

 
JACOB:
 
Hunter,

Fascinating historical article (the part that caught my attention was
your mention of a "student at a university in the Canadian West"). We
(and I mean the working class as a whole) need more working-class
fighters like him these days.

Cheers,

Jacob
____________________________________________________
 
TIM MCGOWAN:
 
What a delightful piece.  I recall you regaling me with the story of your Skid Road I.W.W. sojourn on a bus trip we took from some where to some where else in these parts. A fine and richly personal grounding of labor's history.  Alex Gaby, closer to that generation, would have spoken well of it !
Solidarity,
Tim

_____________________________________________________

ADDED NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:

Our large website abounds with material on the radical labor movement in the West, the Southern civil rights movement, Native American rights, and grassroots community activist organizing [and much, much more!]  I especially point out, apropos of Wobbly Mentor, much I.W.W. material sprinkled throughout the website.

And, for a bit on my radical labor background and my interesting entrance into Mississippi, see:

http://books.google.com/books?id=dAI7yeY67NYC&pg=PA90&lpg=PA90&dq=%22john+r+salter+jr%22&source=web&ots=Y-ziGqtBI5&sig=WaiBWkCDws-EbI5xEqXDcbI2N_M

______________________________________________________

LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW:  ECONOMIC CRISIS  [HUNTER GRAY  SEPTEMBER 30 2008]

Reprinted in We Magazine 9/30/08  http://www.mytown.ca/ev.php?URL_ID=124795&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201

The Redbadbear discussion burns along -- smouldering and flaring.  No one could ever accuse that List of being monolithic.  If diversity fuels creativity and life -- well, we all have lots of it.
 
It's fascinating [and for many radicals, especially the long distance runners] vindicating to hear Wall Street so roundly and universally damned.  No one should be especially surprised at this debacle -- though some, of course,  inevitably are.  A basic Marxian perspective helps savvy it all -- including the global implications -- but I have never felt that an astute person had to read a word of Marx to grasp the realities of both the class struggle and the inherent contradictions in capitalism.  At this point, the organized American Left is miniscule and organized labor relatively toothless.  This can change -- I, at least think it will -- but it'll take hard organizing work on many fronts, realistically conceived and effected over a long stretch of time.  At this point, we can certainly take solace in the fact that the presumed infallibility and eternal longevity of capitalism has been shaken to its very core and its [dubious] soul.  There'll be a fix of sorts for this one -- more than aspirin but falling far short of a dig-to-the-roots, or even a New Deal at this point -- and the trail to the Big Rock Candy Mountain will continue for the Save the Worlders to be a long and tough one for sure.
 
But what's happened -- the genuine crisis -- is a critical first step in a historical development that, for a very long time in this country and much of the western world, has appeared to most people to be essentially static.
 
Things are happening.
 
On the other hand, looking at matters from another [but not exclusive] perspective, I can't help but recall the myriad of "easy money" offers that I and obviously a vast number of other homeowners in this country received over a several year period until not very long ago.  In our case, we put the bulk of our "capital" into this good house on a hill with a great view which, at one point, accommodated eight family members plus the pets.  Foregoing investments, we paid cash and own it outright,  No liens of any kind. [We are far more fortunate than most.]  But I must have received several hundred e-offers dangling sums ranging from $150,000 to $250,000 if we were to "take out a mortgage" at presumably low interest rates.  We were not tempted -- and not even by the ostensibly more palatable "reverse mortgage" ploys that have been coming recently. [We own our eleven year old Jeep outright as well but [atypically, I concede] it still has less than 51,300 miles on it.]
 
But as the sad news tells us, and everyone now knows, a hell of a lot of folks were taken.  Even around Pocatello, in a state not as pervasively hit by foreclosures as, say, Nevada and California, basically good people are losing their homes.
 
We personally have little in materialistic accumulation.  Both Eldri and I come from varied backgrounds -- but one of the things we have in common is an aversion to conspicuous consumption.  We've both read Veblen and we are both Depression Babies.
 
Yours, Hunter [Hunter Bear]
 

HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'
 
Check out our Hunterbear website Directory http://hunterbear.org/directory.htm
[The site is dedicated to our one-half Bobcat, Cloudy Gray:
http://hunterbear.org/cloudy_gray.htm
 
See Forces and Faces Along the Activist Trail:  http://hunterbear.org/forces_and_faces_along_the_trail.htm
And see also this companion piece, http://hunterbear.org/outlaw_trail1.htm

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