They are almost stereotypes of the South's redneck good ol' boys:
Harold Dean Flowers, 32, living beside a railroad track, laboring at a J.P. Stevens cotton mill and taking home $141 a week to support a wife, four children and a $65 monthly payment on a 1970 Olds, with a "Right to Bear Arms" license plate.
Lawrence Gene Morgan, 27, a manufacturing company employe, single and living on $150 a week and making $100-a- month payments on his 1976 Ford van, the one police said they found filled with guns, ammunition, chains, staves and eggs after a fatal shootout in Greensboro Nov. 3.
Both men, and five others from this funiture-and-textile town of 6,000 were arrested that day and charged with murder. They -- like a growing number of Southern whites -- have affiliated themselves with a newly energized Ku Klux Klan.
Not the Klan, but a seemingly unlimited number of klan groups are growing on a backlash among blue-collar and working poor whites to the advances made by blacks in recent years.
They have seen school busing, affirmative action give jobs to blacks instead of whites and blacks organize to support blacks charged with major crimes -- Joan Little, the Wilmington 10, Tommy Lee Hines.
Drawn by anticommunist and antiblack rhetoric, they are turning, in small but nevertheless increasing numbers, to the Ku Klux Klan.
"The niggers got all the rights. We feel the effects of affirmative action," said a Decatur, Ala., city worker who declined to identify herself or her job and who spoke hours after the mayor praised his administration's progress in increasing black hiring last June.
"The black people have organizations," said Joe Grady, former Grand Dragon of the Federated Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina. "The Klan is the only group helping the poor and working class white man."
"We got taken in by a lot of talk about the threat of communism and all that," said Karen Clinton, wife of Michael Eugene Clinton, one of the seven Lincolnton men charged in the killings of five Communist Workers Party members in Greensboro. '"They put a lot of stuff in our heads. We joined. We didn't know what we were getting into."
Billy Joe Franklin, a 33-year-old unemployed furniture worker, joined too. So did other Lincolnton residents during, a Klan organizing drive here last month.
All told, Klan membership nationwide is estimated at 10,000 -- up from 8,000 in March 1978, according to a new study by B'nai B'rith's Anti-Defamation League. Sympathizers, the ADL said, number 100,000 -- up from 30,000.
While noting that the resurging Klan still poses no threat to American society, the ADL observed an increased willingness among Klan members to use violence.
The Justice Department's community relations service has reported that in the year ended Sept. 30 it mediated 44 local racial disputes involving the Ku Klux Klan, a small number but up from eight the year before.
The new Klan -- more public, more political, more active than its night-riding predecessors -- is a Klan that marches through downtown Dallas as easily as it burns crosses in deserted fields.
It is a Klan that brandishes firearms, ostensibly for "defense," during marches. And with blacks and others more willing to challenge them openly, the risks of violent confrontation grow.
"Our very existence is threatened," ssaid Gorrell Pierce, the articulate grand dragon and effective spokesman of the Federated Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, one of three major Klan organizations based in the South.
"Everything we believe in, we see government shaking the South apart -- in the ground and in our pocketbook. People are becoming frightened of strong central government. We don't have the right of segregation anymore. We have no control -- and if we don't like [government action] they send bayonets to enforce it.
"Part of the problems, there's not enough jobs to go around. But strong central government is telling us we must hire a black, a woman, a Vietnamese before a qualified white male gets it."
Pierece, 27, farms 28 acres of land owned by his family for more than 200 years. A wood-burning stove heats the house that his great grandfather built; he, his brother, two sisters and their mother and a nephew live there, in Belews Creek, north of Winston-Salem.
The cash crop is tobacco, and he feels threatened by government antismoking drives. He feels threatened by a federal government that dictates policies down to the schoolrooms of Forsyth County, N.C. He feels threatened by communism. And because he feels the major political parties offer candidates of personalities, not of issues and convictions, he has turned to the Klan.
It is not antiback, he said, although he acknowledged many members are. The Klan is against race-mixing, and he detests racially integrated television coming into his home.
The Klan, Pierce said, is anticommunist and "we are the only enemies there are to communists. We are not killing in the streets. We are educating Americans to the communist threat."
Pierce disassociated himself from the violence in Greensboro, which had been preceded by a July 8 confrontation between the same communist group and his klansmen. Gunplay had been averted with strict discipline of the klansmen, he said.
A spokesman for the communists, Paul Bermanzohn, later singled out Pierce and former Grand Dragon Grady in laying down a challenge: "We invite these cowards to come out from under their rocks on Nov. 3."
It was not Grady and Pierce who crawled out, however, police say, but the men from Lincolnton, a few Nazis from Winston-Salem and several others. And Bermanzohn's five comrades were killed; he was seriously injured.
"Lot of communism's bad," said Kay Flowers, 30, while her husband sat in jail on murder and conspiracy charges. A roach crawled across the bare wood floor of the Flowers' brick home on Railroad Street here. "Everybody has concerns."