Bobby Ross’ Durham Story

Susan Cranford Ross’ interview with her father-in-law Bobby Ross is featured in the MoDH 2014 Holiday card. You can read their story below. 

This is Susan Ross and I’m here with Bobby Ross; we’re going to talk about his memories of the tobacco business…

Tell me how the sales went. Was the auctioneer at the head of the line?

See, the buyers were on one side and the auctioneer and warehousemen were on the other side. So, you’d reach down and what they call “pull” a pile of tobacco when you walked by, just before you bought, and that was a matter of seconds. A good tobacco auctioneer was absolutely a joy to watch because he was smooth, he was fast, he was quick with his eyes.

 The kids and I went with you one time out to the tobacco history museum, where they were doing a mock auction. It was like watching you go back in time a little bit. They don’t have tobacco buyers like me anymore. ‘Course they don’t have auctions either.

I remember when Bobby [Jr., my husband] was looking for a job, and you said ‘I don’t think this industry is going to be there for your whole career.’ That was when I first realized that Durham was getting ready to change a whole lot. It was not going to be a tobacco city anymore. And it’s not. It’s changed nicely, but we didn’t know what was ahead.

No. The City of Medicine, it was a Godsend to Durham. The tobacco’s gone and now you’ve got all kinds of new things coming up. Yeah. Absolutely. And Durham is finally getting its place. I’m sitting here watching these buildings being built. It’s getting its place.

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