Old photo of a man in a fedora and work jacket

Elbert Warren bio

Elbert Warren was born September 29, 1921, to John Warren, a hard‑working farmer, and his wife, Lucille, a homemaker.

The Warren children all attended county schools, including North Yoknapatawpha High School. In high school, Elbert earned passing grades but did not excel at academics. He was, however, one of the school's star athletes, excelling in both football and swimming. He graduated in 1940.

Elbert went to work for the Bowlan Glove Factory in Oxford in June of 1940. As most new hires did at Bowlan, he started in the warehouse. Elbert then spent most of his years with Bowlan until being laid off in April of 1958 in the packing department.

Elbert enlisted in the army in 1942 and served in Europe. He returned to Oxford after his discharge in 1944 with a purple heart and returned to his job at Bowlan Glove.

Elbert was recognized for his hard work, and he was well‑liked and respected by the men he worked with, earning their loyalty and hard work on the crews he supervised.

His bad temper and short fuse kept him from rising far in the supervisory ranks at Bowlan. He tended to solve problems with loud shouting matches and was well‑known for standing up to management in the same manner.

His outbursts may have prevented his promotion, but he was considered a leader among the majority of the workers, many of whom he grew up with, went to school with, and maintained social relationships with.

In 1958, when the United Garment Workers Union sent Elliott Perch to Oxford to organize a union effort at Bowlan, Elbert was one of the natural leaders. He welcomed Perch and gave him a room in his home for several weeks until Perch was able to find a place in a local boarding house.

Elbert's quick temper led to his involvement in multiple bar brawls, which resulted in several arrests, the last in November of 1957.

Elbert married Jean Louise Dreher McPhail of Oxford on December 2, 1950. They had five children: Elbert Jr., born November 29, 1951; Elizabeth "Peggy," born January 23, 1953; Edward, born March 3, 1955; John, born May 16, 1957; and Terry, born July 27, 1958.

Jean Warren worked in the local industrial steam laundry until it closed in June of 1959. During the period following the Bowlan Glove Factory layoffs in April of 1958, Jean's income was the primary income for the family.

Lack of work was a problem in Yoknapatawpha County when Bowlan closed, and Elbert took the double blow of the failed union and the layoff hard.

Forced to sell their home, the Warrens rented a house from one of the laid‑off Bowlan workers who left the area to look for union work in Detroit. The Warrens rented the Hadley house from September 1958 through August 1960, when they were again able to purchase their own home.

Elbert turned to drinking, and it wasn't until after the loss of Jean's job that Jean finally was able to bring the family together. She focused her energies on helping Elbert back on his feet and actively engaged the family in her church. Elbert credits her efforts with turning things around.

In March of 1960, Elbert went to work for Carter's Building Supply, where he worked until his retirement in 1987.

Jean Warren died in 1994. Elbert lives in Oxford.



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