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C. Stuart Carr, Jr., oral history interview, September 15, 1980

Date: Sep. 15 1980 | Identifier: OH0062
C. Stuart Carr, Jr. was a tobacconist from Greenville, N.C who worked for a number of different tobacco companies in Eastern North Carolina and Richmond, VA. Carr first discusses the effect of the Depression on tobacco farmers in Eastern North Carolina. Carr next describes the competition between the companies selling to the Chinese manufacturing companies and the turmoil in China in 1938 with a strong Japanese presence. Carr worked for a time at Carolina Leaf Tobacco Company who sold American tobacco to Chinese manufacturers. Carr notes that employees of the British-American Tobacco Company were sent to plants up country and describes some of their living conditions. For much of the remainder of the interview, Carr details life in China for company employees and their families and discusses at length the business of American companies selling tobacco in China. He talks about the difficulty of small companies entering the international market; the use of filler tobacco and stems by the Chinese manufacturers; the cigarette as a status symbol with the Chinese picking up butts from the street to use the remaining tobacco for "coolie" cigarettes; the importance of "face;" and the difficulty of getting foreign exchange with companies in Japanese-held Manchuria (called Manchukuo by the Japanese). Carr describes the Shanghai nightlife, the use of contaminated whiskey, gambling, the prices of clothes, and the exchange with the tael and the "mex" dollar. Carr notes the increasing presence of the Japanese in 1941 and that B.A.T. employees left in China after the attack on Pearl Harbor were detained in concentration camps before being exchanged for Japanese prisoners. He left China in 1941 shortly before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He also mentions how Universal lost all their assets with the takeover of the Communists after World War II. On a more contemporary note, Mr. Carr discusses the Thai people, their position in the tobacco market, and the switching of tobacco after it is sold. He also mentions an arrangement to have American cigarettes made in China for tourists by Reynolds and Phillip Morris (ca. 1980) and the monopoly these manufacturers will have. Carr notes that China grows so much tobacco that it is an exporter, a fact which helps them in their foreign exchange. Interviewer: Donald R. Lennon. more...