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(transcript) Oral History Interview with Junie Edna Kaylor Aaron, 1979 December 12. Interview H-106. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007):
(series) Series H. Piedmont Industrialization. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-4007)
Junie Edna Kaylor Aaron
Chapel Hill, N. C.
Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Interview conducted on December 12, 1979, by Jacquelyn Hall; recorded in Conover, N. C.
Interview transcribed by Jean Houston
Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original transcript on deposit at The Southern Historical Collection Louis Round Wilson Library.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH
digitization project, Documenting the American South.
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 24th edition, 2001
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[Interview conducted] by
Original transcript on deposit at
The Southern Historical Collection
Louis Round Wilson Library
Jacquelyn Hall: Where were you born?
Junie Aaron: I was born here in Catawba County down near St. Peter's Lutheran Church.
JH: When were you born?
AARON: 1904. February the twenty-second.
JH: What did your mother and daddy do?
AARON: They farmed all their lives.
JH: How big a farm did they have?
AARON: Not too big a one. The farm that my mother lived on was owned by my grandmother. [unclear] She didn't really own one of her own.
JH: So your parents lived on your grandmother's farm and farmed it?
AARON: Yes, my mother did.
JH: Your mother did the farming?
AARON: Yes, she farmed all her life.
JH: What did your daddy do?
AARON: My daddy was a farmer, too. Mother and Daddy didn't live together.
JH: Did you live with your mother?
JH: So she took care of a farm by herself.
AARON: She had some help from my grandparents and from some of her sisters.
JH: Did she have any hired hands?
JH: She just did it with the help of her family?
AARON: Yes, with the help of the family.
JH: Do you know how many acres she farmed?
AARON: I don't know how many acres she farmed, [unclear] but it was a little over 300 acres in my grandmother's farm.
JH: What did she raise?
AARON: They mostly raised cotton and corn and some wheat.
JH: Did you kids work in the fields?
AARON: Yes, I did. [Laughter] I'm used to it.
JH: What did you do?
AARON: I'd hoe or pick cotton most of the time, about all I'd do.
JH: How old were you when you first started going out to help?
AARON: I don't know just how old.
JH: Pretty small?
AARON: Yes, I was pretty small, but I was big enough to get out and work.
JH: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
AARON: I had a brother and a sister at that time, but then my mother remarried and she had three children after that. She married Thomas Miller, and she had three children by him.
JH: How old were you when your mother remarried?
AARON: I was fifteen. I lived with my grandmother. Next fall I went to work in the glove mill at Conover.
JH: The next fall after she got married?
JH: You were up there living with your grandmother?
AARON: Yes, my grandmother and I was living with my aunt and uncle that lived at Conover at that time.
JH: Why were you living with your grandmother?
AARON: Just because I wanted to stay with her, and she wanted me to stay with her. She didn't have anyone with her.
JH: How did you feel about your mother remarrying?
AARON: I felt like if that was what she wanted to do, it was all right.
JH: Was it kind of hard to have a new stepfather?
AARON: Yes, it was strange. [Laughter]
JH: I can imagine.
AARON: But we got along all right, all of us, but I lived at Conover from then on. I went to work in December. I was fifteen, and I was sixteen in February.
JH: What date would that have been, 1919?
AARON: 1919, I guess, yes.
JH: Tell me a little bit more about your grandparents. What do you remember about them?
AARON: About all I can remember about them, they was farmers all their life. My grandmother's parents were Dutch. They never spoke anything else, and I never seen either one. Well, I didn't see either one [any] of my great-grandparents.
JH: But you just heard that they . . .
AARON: Yes. But they spoke Dutch. My mother told me that. She said that's all they ever spoke. And she could talk a little Dutch, not much, but she could speak some.
JH: What about your grandparents? Did they?
AARON: They could, I guess, but I never did hear them talk too much of it, because they didn't use it with their own children.
JH: Do you remember any stories that came down about the family?
AARON: No, I don't believe I do. [Laughter]
JH: About how they migrated here or anything like that?
AARON: No, I don't remember them telling any.
JH: Had they always been in that same farm, as far as you know?
AARON: Yes, as far as I know, they had always been there in that same section, that farm. My grandmother inherited the farm from her parents. She was the only living child. She had a brother, but he died as a young boy.
JH: Do you remember any stories about your great-grandparents or
grandparents having slaves?
AARON: No, I don't remember if they ever did or not. They didn't say anything about it.
JH: What about on your father's side? Do you remember anything about those grandparents?
AARON: No, not too much I don't.
JH: Did your parents separate when you were very young?
JH: What happened?
AARON: Well, I don't know.
JH: You never did know?
AARON: No. [Laughter]
JH: Did you know your father?
JH: He lived around here?
AARON: Yes, he lived around here. He lived over here on the Rifle Range Road.
JH: Did he help out or anything?
JH: You never had much to do with him?
JH: How did you feel about that when you were coming up?
AARON: I just didn't think too much about it. I just didn't worry about it or anything.
JH: Your mother didn't really talk to you much about those kinds of things.
JH: You went into Conover, then, when you were fifteen and were living
with your grandmother.
JH: And your aunt and uncle lived in Conover.
AARON: Yes, they lived in Conover, and we moved out there with them in the same house. They hadn't been married very long. It was my grandmother's youngest daughter, Mother's youngest sister.
JH: Where had your grandmother been living before?
AARON: She'd lived back there on the farm. We lived back there on the farm.
JH: Did you and your mother live with your grandmother?
JH: Then your grandmother left your mother out on the farm when she got married?
AARON: No, my mother moved away from there when she got married.
JH: She moved away from the farm altogether?
AARON: Moved away from there, but she still lived on the farm. She lived down here just across the road from where we live now.
JH: So there was more than one house on the farm?
AARON: Yes, there was three houses on the farm.
JH: Why did your grandmother move into Conover?
AARON: Because she had no way of making a living. I was her support, what she had when I went to work.
JH: So you supported your grandmother?
AARON: Yes, she didn't have any other way. She was too old to get out and work.
JH: Where had you been going to school?
AARON: I went to Nowell School.
JH: What kind of school was it?
AARON: That was just a little country school, is all I can tell you. [Laughter] The building's tore down now.
JH: Were all the grades together?
AARON: It was two rooms to the school. I just forget how many grades was in each room. It was kind of divided up, I think about half and half. But, you see, the grades didn't go up high then. Seventh grade, I believe, was about the highest it went. Seventh or eighth, I forget which it was. I don't know what they called it. They didn't have them graded out like they do now.
JH: When you went into Conover, did you go to school there at all?
AARON: No, I didn't go to school. I had went down to Nowell School as far as I could go, and so I didn't have a chance to go any further to school, because there was no high school that I could go to, and when I went to Conover I had to work to make a living. I didn't have a chance to go on to school.
JH: Did you have older brothers and sisters?
AARON: No, I'm the oldest.
JH: Were you the first kid to go out to work?
JH: How did you decide to get a job in the glove factory?
AARON: I guess because my uncle knew the folks that run the glove mill. They also owned the place he worked at, too. He worked at the Conover. . . . What did they call it then? It's Broyhill's now, I think, there in Conover. But it belonged to Mr. Brady and Mr. Shuford, and they also owned the glove mill, and he worked for them till he died.
JH: Were these two factories right close together?
AARON: Yes, they was right close together.
JH: Did he speak to them about giving you a job?
AARON: Yes, he did.
JH: Do you remember what your first day of going down there was like?
AARON: [Laughter] I know it was strange. It sure was.
JH: I bet, for a girl from the country.
AARON: Yes. [Laughter] It sure was. I didn't know anyone. There was a neighbor who lived right beside of my aunt and uncle, and she was the first one I met. I was always. . . . It was strange to me to go to a strange place where everybody was strangers to me, so I felt . . .
JH: How did you . . .
AARON: I liked it, though. I liked the work. I liked the place. In fact, I liked everyone that worked there after I learned to know them.
JH: Did you have to go down and apply for the job?
AARON: No, my uncle had already got me the job, and all I had to do was go in and, of course, tell them.
JH: You just went in for your first day of work.
JH: What was your uncle's name?
AARON: James Curley.
JH: What was his job?
AARON: He worked at the furniture shop. I don't know just what-all he did in there.
JH: Did his wife work?
AARON: No, she never did work.
JH: What was your first job at the glove mill?
AARON: My first job was turning cuffs, I believe. I'm not sure. I almost forgot now. [Laughter] I worked a few days, and then they started
teaching me to sew. So I sewed gloves the rest of the time.
JH: Who taught you?
AARON: It was one of the ladies that worked in there.
JH: Was it one of the supervisors, or just another sewer?
AARON: It was just one of the other sewers. The only supervisor they had was a man. He was over all of it. It wasn't but about twelve worked in there in all when I went to work.
JH: Were they all women?
AARON: No, they had one cloth cutter, and then they had another boy that worked in there. And they had turners that turned the gloves; they were boys.
JH: Were certain jobs done by boys and certain jobs by women?
JH: Could you tell me a little bit about what the process of making gloves is like, what the different jobs are?
AARON: First they have to spread the material, and then it's cut with a die, and then they stack it in boxes. Well, they didn't at that time; we went up to the cutting press and got it. They cut in the palm and the thumb and the fingers. Some of it is according to what style it is. Then the sewers take it up to the machine, and they sew them together.
JH: So you would go to the cutting room and pick up . . .
AARON: It was all in one room at that time. But at that time you'd go to the cutting press, and when they'd taken it off they laid it on a big table, and you'd go over and pick it up yourself.
JH: And then you'd go sit down at your sewing machine.
AARON: Yes. Put it on your machine, lay it out where you could get it where it would all go together. You'd sew it, and then they had cuffers that would cuff them. At that time, I think we cuffed them as we made them, but
later part of the ladies made the gloves, and they had some to cuff them. Then when we got through with them, they was put in a sack at that time, and the turners would get them and take them and turn the gloves.
JH: How do you turn them? Just by hand?
AARON: No, it's a machine that they turn them on.
JH: Which of those jobs were done by men?
AARON: The turning was done by a man. They ran the cutting press. Well, boys; it was mostly boys, the biggest part of them. They had one lady turner, but she came to work after I did. But she turned for years.
JH: Why do you suppose they had boys turning?
AARON: At that time I guess that was something the boys could do to give them a job. They couldn't sew, and that turning they could do. Of course, a girl could do it, too, but still it was more a boy's work.
JH: Why was it not a good job for a girl to do?
AARON: She had to stand there all day, and it was a pedal thing she had to pedal to mash the turner down, the thing that went down in a pipe, like, and it would pull the glove up and turn it. And that's a little hard for a woman, but it was a lot of women done it in later years. They may have some now at the glove mills. But they did when I quit. They had one lady turner, but she retired, too, after I did.
JH: Was cutting done by older men?
AARON: It was always done by men or boys. It was boys doing it at that time, but they were older. That's a little more dangerous work, because they have to watch those cutting presses. They'd lay the material and spread it out so thick, and then they'd lay the die on it, and they'd have to mash the cutting press down on it to cut it. They'd have to keep their fingers out from under it; if they didn't, they'd get them cut off. Most of the time they were older boys that done that, or men.
JH: Did they ever have boy or men sewers?
AARON: No, they never did, as I know of. There was a few of them, I think, could set down and sew a little bit by watching us, but they never did have any regular sewers.
JH: Why was that?
AARON: I guess they just felt like that wasn't a man's job, is all I know.
JH: How old were the twelve people when you went there? Were they mostly your age?
AARON: No, they were older than I was. Several of them were married. ladies. It was one other girl there that was the same age as myself, that had went in at the same time.
JH: Just a couple of them were married, would you say? Was it unusual for married ladies to work there?
AARON: No, it wasn't unusual for married ladies to work. They could work there. There were several of them married; I don't know just how many. I know there were three of them that was married. Our bossman's wife worked there. Of course, they had just got married right before then. One of the sewers was married. I don't remember whether there was any of the rest of them married or not. They worked married women, but it wasn't as many of them worked then as they do now. If the women had children, they mostly stayed at home and taken care of them.
JH: Who was your bossman?
AARON: Millard Holland. Millard come there at Christmas, but my first bossman was Clarence Smarr.
JH: It was Millard Holland's wife that worked there?
JH: Was Millard Holland from Conover?
AARON: I'm not sure, but it seemed like he was from over by Cherryville
or somewhere in there. He wasn't from Conover.
JH: Did he do any of the processes in the plant?
AARON: He would cut sometimes, and different things. The whole crew worked like a family, just about. It wasn't like it is now. They just all worked together.
JH: You mean they would sometimes do each other's jobs?
AARON: It was just a few of them that could cut, because they wouldn't let the younger boys cut. But [Holland] would cut sometimes.
JH: What hours did you work?
AARON: We worked twelve hours then. We worked from seven till six. Got an hour off for lunch.
JH: What would you do for lunch?
AARON: I usually went home for lunch. I didn't live too far from there.
JH: Would your grandmother be there for lunch?
AARON: My aunt was there. She fixed the lunch.
JH: Would your uncle come home?
AARON: Yes, we all went home for lunch.
JH: Did most of the people in the plant go home for lunch?
AARON: Quite a few of them did. It was several that stayed there, though, that carried their lunch.
JH: Did you have any other breaks during the day?
AARON: No, we didn't really have any breaks, but we could get up and go get some water or something like that. We just didn't have to sit down and stay at it like fighting fire all day. [Laughter]
JH: You could stop and rest a little whenever you . . .
AARON: Yes, a little.
JH: Could you leave and go outside?
AARON: No, we didn't go outside unless we had a reason to go or if we'd asked to go.
JH: Were there any other rules and regulations that you were supposed to follow?
AARON: I don't think so, not as I know of. Just to stay at our work.
JH: Did you find working for twelve hours at a stretch hard when you first started?
AARON: No, I really didn't find it hard when I first started. Of course, I'd get tired sometimes, but it wasn't any harder than it was working eight hours a day later.
JH: Oh, really? Why was that?
AARON: I don't know. I guess I just got older, for one thing, made it harder. [Laughter]
JH: Which did you like better, working on the farm or working in the glove mill?
AARON: Oh, I liked working in the glove mill.
JH: Why did you like it better?
AARON: I just did. I liked it. And, of course, I had a little income, where you didn't have much on the farm. And it was different. We didn't at first when I went to work, but sometime later lots of times right before Christmas we'd work till about nine o'clock at night to get the orders out.
JH: How much did you get paid?
AARON: I think I got a dollar and a quarter a day when I started. That was twelve dollars a week.(?)
JH: You weren't on piecework then.
AARON: No, not at first I wasn't. I don't remember what they paid by piecework then. But I wasn't on piecework for quite a while.
JH: When did you start in piecework?
AARON: I don't remember that. I know they didn't pay much on piecework at first.
JH: Which did you like better, working for a daily wage or being on piecework?
AARON: I couldn't tell too much difference. But, of course, if you was on piecework, you could make a little more if you worked real hard. It never was too much difference for me, though.
JH: Was sewing a skilled job?
AARON: Yes. Most of the sewers could learn it pretty easy. You had to be careful and not just put the gloves together any way.
JH: Which jobs do you think required the most skill?
AARON: I think sewing did. Of course, the material had to be cut good, too. I guess one was about as much as the other one, because if the material wasn't cut good you couldn't make a good glove out of it. But if it was, why, you could make a good glove out of it.
JH: Which jobs paid the most?
AARON: I think cutting paid the most. Of course, the cutting was always hour work. Maybe some of the sewers could make more than the cutters when they was on piecework; I don't know about that. But cutting was a man's job; I don't think a woman could have done that.
JH: So the men got paid more than the women.
AARON: I don't know as they got paid any more. In a lot of ways, I think it was about the same. The ones that done the turning was paid just, I imagine, according to what the sewers was, so they was paid by the hour(?). They was on hour work at first, and then they were put on piecework later.
JH: What about accidents? Was it dangerous work at all?
AARON: Nothing only the cutting. I did see one fellow that got a finger cut off.
JH: Just one in your career?
AARON: That's right. But the cutting was, I think, the most dangerous part of it. Of course, the women sometimes would run a needle through their finger. I done that, too. But then it really wasn't as dangerous as the cutting press.
JH: What happened when you would run a needle through your finger?
AARON: You'd just run it through, and it was pulled out before you'd know it, if the machine was running, and you'd just have to put something on your finger.
JH: You didn't have to go to the doctor.
JH: What kind of gloves did you make?
AARON: I made canvas work gloves. Then I had sewed some jersey ready. They was all work gloves.
JH: Were they good-quality gloves?
JH: More expensive or less expensive?
AARON: They were just like what they make in the glove mill now out here in Conover, most of them.
JH: Just your basic work gloves.
JH: They never made fine ladies' gloves.
AARON: No, they never did.
JH: So you started work down there when you were fifteen.
JH: How long did you work there? Until you retired?
AARON: No, I didn't retire from there. I was in my late fifties when I quit the glove mill. It was just not too long before I retired. But I worked at the hosiery mill a couple years off and on. I didn't work regular. I worked at German Hosiery Mill a while, and then I quit there. I seamed toes there. That was after they started seaming the toes on the socks and hose. Then after I quit I worked part-time here at home after I retired. They wanted me to sew some upholstering, and they put me a machine in here at the house, and I worked part-time while I was allowed to work, because I had already retired and was drawing my retirement. And I was just allowed to make so much a year. I sewed patchwork covers for the Kaymar Furniture in Conover. I quit when I was sixty-nine. I think I worked for them about six or seven years.
JH: How did that come about, that they asked you to do that?
AARON: They didn't have enough to have regular work for any of them at the shop for that, and they really didn't any of them like to sew the patchwork covers. [Laughter]
AARON: They just didn't. They couldn't make enough on them, for one thing.
JH: Do you mean it's actually patchwork?
AARON: They cut the patches. You've probably saw those patchwork chairs already. Some of the patches was about that long. They were the same size. They had two different sizes, but they were cut to fit. I sewed them. They asked me if I would do it, said it would be part-time work if I wanted to do it, and I told them I would. They had just about quit covering the chairs with the patchwork when I quit.
JH: Did you know the managers at Kaymar Furniture?
AARON: Yes, I knowed them.
JH: And they knew that you were retiring.
AARON: Yes, I had already retired.
JH: So you didn't ask them for a job.
AARON: No, I didn't ask them for a job; they asked me [laughter] if I'd do it.
JH: Did they just call you up?
AARON: Yes. They just asked me if I'd do it. They knew I had sewed at the glove mill and all.
JH: Was it piecework?
AARON: Yes, it was piecework.
JH: Would they bring the . . .
AARON: Yes, they brought the material all to me, and they come back and picked up the covers.
JH: Like once a week they'd bring it, and then pick it up.
AARON: Whenever they needed them most, they'd come and get them.
JH: How many hours a day would you spend on that?
AARON: I don't know just how many hours. I didn't work, you see, all the time; I was just working part-time, and I done my work here at home, and I never did keep an account of just how many hours because it was piecework, and I didn't have to keep the hours.
JH: You didn't work any certain hours, like you didn't do it in the morning. You'd just do it whenever you . . .
AARON: Yes, whenever it suited me the best to do it.
JH: Was it just a sewing machine that you had?
AARON: It was an upholstering machine, one from the upholstering shop.
JH: So you had it set up here?
AARON: I sewed it on a regular sewing machine for a little while at first, but it was too hard to sew on that. You couldn't hardly sew it. So they brought me an upholstering machine out to sew it.
JH: How much did you make?
AARON: I don't know just how much.
JH: Did it seem like it was worth it?
AARON: Yes, it was worth it. I wasn't allowed to make only so much, and that's all I could make. After you're retired, you can't make only so much unless you pay so much of your Social Security back. So I just made what I was allowed to make.
JH: Did you get a pension from the glove mill at all?
AARON: No. They didn't have no pension fund when I worked. I worked long enough; I should have had one. I think I put thirty-some years in all in the glove mill.
JH: Did you think they should have a pension plan?
AARON: Yes, I think they should. I think every place that people work should have a pension plan.
JH: Did people ever complain about that to the company?
AARON: They didn't while I worked, not as I know of. I never heard any of them say anything about it. It was some places that had that retirement fund then, but not too many, not like they have now. There's lots more of them have it now than they did then.
JH: Did you have any kind of health benefits at the glove mill?
AARON: We always had insurance everywhere I worked.
JH: That would cover everything, or just accidents on the job?
AARON: It would cover sickness, too.
JH: It was when you were in your fifties that you worked at the hosiery
mill for a while?
AARON: Yes, I was in my fifties when I worked at the hosiery mill. I was in my fifties when I quit the glove mill.
JH: Why did you quit?
AARON: Making gloves was hard work. Now some people don't think it is, but it was hard work, or had got to be hard work for me. It really would tire you out, and you had to work hard to make good. They kept raising production, and I just didn't feel like I could keep on going up at my age.
JH: How would they raise production?
AARON: They raised production where you'd have to make more. If production was a dollar an hour--which it was the biggest part of the time I worked; I mean you had to make a dollar an hour--you had to make a certain amount gloves to make that dollar. And if they didn't pay enough a dozen for you to make it, why, you just had to work that much harder to make it.
JH: You made a dollar an hour most of the time you worked there?
AARON: Yes, I did when they raised up to a dollar an hour. I've worked for fifty cents an hour [laughter], but then it was less than that when I started.
JH: Why did they keep raising production?
AARON: They always do, as prices go up on everything.
JH: The glove mill changed ownership over the course of time, didn't it?
AARON: Oh, yes, I worked at Warlong Glove when I started.
JH: Did you know Mr. Brady and Mr. Shuford personally?
JH: What were they like?
AARON: They were nice people to work for. They were good people.
JH: How were they good to the. . . .
AARON: They was just good to everyone in there, and they knew everyone.
They were just good people.
JH: Did they come into the plant?
AARON: Yes, they'd come into the plant and talk to the hands. Now in later years as the glove mill growed--you see, it got so big--why, of course, then Mr. Brady and Mr. Shuford dissolved partnership, and Mr. Shuford taken the glove mill, and Mr. Brady the furniture shop. Then in later years Mr. Shuford didn't come in as often, because the glove mill had got so big. It growed and got bigger, and so many more were working there and all. But he would come in pretty often and walk through the mill.
JH: Why did they dissolve their partnership?
AARON: I don't know anything about that. I guess they maybe felt like it would be better if they did that.
JH: Were Mr. Brady and Mr. Shuford very different from each other?
AARON: In some ways there was right much difference. But they were both really nice people to work for.
JH: That's what I've heard. How were they different from each other?
AARON: Well, I just [laughter] can't hardly tell you how they was. I think Mr. Brady was just a little bit more serious than Mr. Shuford was in some ways. After I quit Warlong Glove, I went to work for Southern Glove, and I worked there thirteen years.
JH: You quit Warlong because they were raising production?
AARON: No, I didn't quit Warlong because of that. When I done that was when I quit Southern Glove because I was getting older. I had quit Warlong before our youngest son was born, and then I hadn't went back to work. I was out a little over a year. And this Southern Glove started up in Conover, just a small glove mill, and I went to work in there then when I went back to work.
JH: Did you try to go back to Warlong?
AARON: No, I didn't try. I could have went back to Warlong, but I didn't.
I felt like I wanted a smaller place. Warlong had got so big, and I went to Southern Glove and worked for them thirteen years.
JH: What were the advantages of working in a small place?
AARON: You just know everybody more. That's the only thing I know.
JH: Did you make close friends at Warlong Glove?
AARON: Yes, I had close friends both places I worked.
JH: Did you see them when you weren't on the job?
AARON: Yes, I had friends I seen out from work.
JH: Were you able to talk to each other while you were sewing?
JH: You could have conversations?
AARON: Yes, you could talk as long as you kept working.
JH: You could talk and work at the same time?
JH: Did people do that?
AARON: Yes, they did do that.
JH: Did you have any kind of parties or little customs?
AARON: Yes, they always had a Christmas party. Then if any of the workers wanted to get together and have a little party, they did.
JH: Where would you have your party?
AARON: Usually at the mill. They had a couple of the Christmas parties, I believe it was, at the schoolhouse, the last couple years I worked at Warlong, but we usually had them at the mill every Christmas.
JH: What did you enjoy the most about your work?
AARON: I think being with people was what I enjoyed the most. That's what I've missed the most since I've been retired and been at home.
JH: What did you dislike the most?
AARON: I couldn't tell you that. I just don't know if it was anything or not.
JH: Did things bother you more in later years?
AARON: Yes, they did me; when I got older, things would bother me more. Things gets on your nerves sometimes when you get older. You work so hard and get so tired, and then have to come home and do your work at home, too.
JH: It's hard.
AARON: Yes, it's hard.
JH: Do some people think that making gloves is not hard work?
AARON: Well, I've heard a few say that they didn't think it was hard work, but the biggest majority of them thinks it is, I think. [Laughter] But I have had some few to say that they didn't think it was hard work, but I think they find out and change their mind a little bit when they get older.
JH: How would you compare working in a hosiery mill to working in a glove mill?
AARON: What work I done in the hosiery mill was lots easier than working in the glove mill.
JH: What about the atmosphere? Did you enjoy the people just as much?
AARON: I did. I had friends at the hosiery mill, too, but I just hadn't worked with them as long as I did a lot of them at the glove mill.
JH: Which was considered a better place to work, the hosiery mill or the glove mill?
AARON: I don't know whether there was any difference or not.
JH: In pay?
AARON: Most of the hosiery mills paid better, I think, than the glove mill did. But it's just according to the person. I mean some people like the glove mill better, and some the hosiery mill better. I've knowed of some
that quit the glove mill and went to the hosiery mill or even to upholstering, and would go back to the glove mill.
JH: They'd find out they didn't like it.
AARON: Yes, they found out that they liked making gloves the best. But now, as far as me, hosiery mill work was lots easier work than glove mill work. I don't know that I liked it any better in a way, but it was easier work for me at my age.
JH: Did you ever consider working in a textile mill?
JH: Why not? Was that not as good a job?
AARON: I guess it was, but I just didn't, I guess because I went to work at the glove mill when I was real young, and I just didn't think of anything else.
JH: Do you think those different kinds of work attract different kinds of people?
AARON: No, I don't think they're any different. I guess they just went and got that job, and then they just probably decided to stay on with it. I don't think there's any difference in the people.
JH: Do you remember any strikes at the furniture mill or the glove mill during the time that you were there?
AARON: I don't think they ever had any strike as I know of at the glove mill. Some of them would kind of get upset and walk out once in a while, but I don't think there was ever any strikes. [Laughter]
JH: You mean these people would get up . . .
AARON: No, just wander.(?) Some of the times they didn't get along on their job or didn't get along with their bossman. Sometimes they'd walk out, but they never had any strikes as I know of. They didn't at the glove mill
where I worked.
JH: What would happen when people would get mad and walk out?
AARON: They'd just go somewhere else and get them a job, or get over it and come back. [Laughter]
JH: Did people ever have complaints? For example, when they started raising production, did people complain about that and try to . . .
AARON: Sometimes they would, yes.
JH: What would they do if they wanted to complain?
AARON: They'd just . . .
JH: Did people have any other kinds of complaints?
AARON: I don't know. I was . . .
JH: When they started raising production, did people ever deliberately refuse to work quite so fast, everybody just agree to keep production down to some low . . .
AARON: No, not as I know of. They just tried to do what they could, their part, and tried to make production, and I don't think that any of them ever slowed down any to hold production back.
JH: Were some people much faster than others?
AARON: Yes, there's some lots faster than others. I never was real fast. Some are faster, and some are better sewers than others. Some make better gloves than others. And it's just that way in everything, the same way in the hosiery mill. Some does better work than others.
JH: Did you make good gloves?
AARON: I don't want to brag on myself, but they always said I did.
JH: You weren't real fast.
AARON: No, I wasn't real fast, but I always wanted to make them right. I wanted them beautiful.
JH: Did they people who worked very fast make production go up for the other people?
AARON: I don't know. They probably did. I don't know whether that was what caused it to go up, but it probably was.
JH: Did people ever get mad at the ones who worked so fast?
AARON: No, I don't think they did. It might have been with some people, but it wasn't with me. I always thought that if they could make more, that was so much better for them. I done what I could.
JH: Do you remember when the eight-hour day came in?
AARON: Yes. Charlie, didn't we start working the eight-hour day during the Depression?
CHARLES AARON: Yes.
AARON: What year was that? Thirty-one or '32, somewhere along there. I was trying to think what president it was that started that eight-hour-a-day work, and I can't think now of his name.
JH: Were you a Democrat or a Republican?
AARON: I've voted both ways, so I can't say which I am.
JH: Was your family traditionally one or the other?
AARON: My family was mostly Democrats, I think, but I've voted both ways. I think you need to vote for the man instead of the party, but sometimes you don't know which to vote for. It's kind of hard.
JH: What difference did the eight-hour day make to you?
AARON: The biggest part of the difference was you got home earlier, and at that time we had children, when that eight-hour-a-day come in. You got off earlier every evening. You got to do your work up earlier at home, and, of
course, if you had a garden, you got to work it earlier and such as that.
JH: Did you keep on having an hour lunch break?
AARON: No, we just had a half an hour of lunch break.
JH: Did you have to work harder once the eight-hour day came in during the hours you did work?
AARON: No, you didn't have to work any harder. It was the same thing. The sewers and the turners was on piecework then, and you just got pay for what you made.
JH: Did the eight-hour day make a lot of difference?
AARON: Yes, the eight-hour day made a big difference to people that had families and to married people.
JH: When did you get married?
AARON: I got married in 1926.
JH: Where did you meet your husband?
AARON: I met him in Davie County, between Mocksville and Salisbury.
JH: How did you all happen to meet?
AARON: We met at a friend's house.
JH: You were down visiting a friend in Davie County?
AARON: Yes. I spent the night down there with a friend.
JH: And so you started dating?
JH: What did you do?
AARON: We just wrote to each other for quite some time. [Laughter]
JH: So you met once, and then you started writing letters back and forth?
AARON: Yes, that's right.
JH: How did you get to see each other again?
AARON: He'd come to Conover once in a while.
JH: Were you still living with your grandmother all this time?
AARON: No, my grandmother had died a long time before then. I was still boarding with my aunt and uncle, though.
JH: When your grandmother was alive, did you just turn your paycheck over to her?
AARON: No, I didn't. I paid a certain amount of the grocery bill and of the house rent for us.
JH: Why didn't some of the other children or your mother help pay for her groceries and rent?
AARON: I was taking care of her, so it was my place to do it, I felt like.
JH: Was that because you were the oldest, or just because you . . .
AARON: No, it was just because I had stayed with her, and she had helped look after me and all.
JH: Were you really closer to her than you were to your mother?
AARON: I was just as close. It wasn't much difference.
JH: Then after she died, you kept living there, and you would still pay for some of the groceries?
AARON: Yes, I stayed on, and I paid board after that.
JH: How did it come about that you decided to get married?
AARON: We just decided to get married, that's all. [Laughter]
JH: Do you remember when he asked you?
AARON: No, I don't. [Laughter]
JH: Where did you get married?
AARON: We got married at Mocksville.
JH: At a justice of the peace?
JH: Why did you get married down there?
AARON: Because he wanted to get married down there, and we just got
married down there.
JH: Then did you come back to Conover?
AARON: We stayed down there for a little while, but not long. I got off for a little while. Then we moved up here to Conover and lived up here for several months, and he couldn't find any work at that time. The Depression had started then, so we moved back to Davie County to his mother's. His father was dead. We lived down there a year then, and he worked on the farm. Then that next fall we moved back up to Conover, and he got work, too, in the glove mill, and we both worked there. He turned.
JH: When did you have your first child?
AARON: In 1930.
JH: And you took off for about a year when you had your first child?
AARON: Yes, I was off, I guess, about a year when Billy was a baby.
JH: Did you work right up until you had the baby?
AARON: No, I quit pretty soon after I got pregnant.
JH: Was that what most women did?
AARON: No, they didn't, but we just wanted a child so bad, and I just decided to quit.
JH: Just to make sure that nothing went wrong?
JH: Did you feel like you were having trouble getting pregnant?
AARON: Yes, I did have some trouble.
JH: Was there some medical reason?
AARON: I just don't know what it was.
JH: But it had been three years or so.
AARON: Almost four years. He was born the thirty-first of May, and we'd have been married four years the sixteenth of October.
JH: Did you ever go to the doctor and ask what was wrong?
AARON: No, I hadn't been to the doctor but very little, unless it was just something I had to go for. [Laughter] I hadn't been to the doctor till I got pregnant, and then I started going.
JH: Who delivered your baby?
AARON: Dr. Herman at Conover.
JH: Did you have him at home?
JH: Did you have any trouble with your pregnancy?
AARON: No, I didn't have any trouble with my pregnancy. I had a little trouble because of my age when he was born, but outside of that everything was all right.
JH: Was it a hard labor?
JH: Did your mother have midwives to deliver her children?
JH: Who were they?
AARON: I don't know. I couldn't tell you that.
JH: Were they friends that lived around, or were there certain . . .
AARON: They had several midwives around in the county, not too far apart, at that time.
JH: You have how many children?
AARON: We've got four children. We had a boy and then a girl and then two more boys.
JH: So once you started having children, you had plenty.
JH: Who took care of the children while you worked?
AARON: My aunt stayed with me, one of them, at one time, taking care of our youngest one, and after we moved out here my mother taken care of some of them part of the time. And one of my cousins stayed with me one time and taken care of them, so it's just different ones. But we always had somebody to take care of them when they wasn't in school.
JH: Who did the housework?
AARON: I done most of it after I got home of an evening, till some of the children got old enough; then they helped.
JH: So you were really doing two jobs, weren't you? [Laughter]
AARON: Most any woman has to that works at public work. She's got two or three jobs.
JH: Which of your jobs did you like the best?
AARON: I think I liked public work better than I did keeping house. I loved my children--I loved doing for them--but I mean I just. . . . Oh, I wouldn't have minded keeping house, but [it's] kind of hard when you've got two jobs to hold down. But I don't know, it seemed like it was always kind of hard for one to make a living.
JH: Did you take off for a while from work each time you had a baby?
JH: Did you take off as long as you did the first time?
AARON: I think I did with most every one except my second one, my daughter. I had to go back to work earlier after she was born, because Charlie didn't have work at that time. That was during the Depression, and they wasn't paying anything much for work, either. So I went back to work sooner after she was born. She was about three months old, I believe, when I went back to work.
JH: Were they laying people off at the glove mill during the Depression?
AARON: No, they wasn't laying anyone off. He had went to the furniture
shop a good while before that, and he didn't have any work. They had laid right many off then; they was out of work.
JH: Did you have any health problems along the way that really made things difficult for you?
AARON: No, I didn't have nothing only low blood. I had low blood the biggest part of the time.
JH: You didn't have any complications from childbirth or pregnancy?
AARON: No, I never did.
JH: Could you tell me a little bit about the neighborhood that you lived in? Were you involved with your neighbors very much?
AARON: We lived in Conover till our oldest son was six years old. We did live on the farm for a while. After our daughter was born, I worked for a while and then we moved on the farm back down in Davie County. We lived down there two years, and then we moved back to Conover. We had good neighbors. I liked my neighbors, but about all we done was go to work, and of course we'd visit the neighbors. Neighbors visited more then than they do now. Get together. Then we moved out here right before our second son was born, and we've lived here ever since.
JH: What do most of the people around here do for a living?
AARON: They most all work somewhere.
JH: Do many of them work in the furniture and glove mills?
AARON: Yes, our son that lives right behind us works in the furniture shop, and our neighbor over here, his wife works in the furniture shop. He used to, but he drives a truck now. The ones straight across the road are retired now. She had worked at the glove mill at one time, and then she quit and went to this foam place, Hickory Something. My sister lives down there across the road, and she works at the Frye Memorial Hospital, and her husband works for Highland Porcelain. He has for years.
JH: So you've lived here since about when?
AARON: We moved out here in December of 1936, and our son Jimmy was born in April of '37.
JH: This is kind of far out from town, isn't it?
AARON: It's about five miles from here to Conover, but we drove backwards and forwards to work.
JH: Did you want to live further out? Why did you happen to . . .
AARON: No, we didn't. We just bought this land here and built and moved here.
JH: When you think back over the years, who would you say has helped you out [most] just in daily life, helping you when problems came up with the kids and. . . .
AARON: I just wouldn't know. It's been different ones that has helped. I just can't say who did really help the most.
JH: Were you involved in the church?
AARON: Yes, we go to Mount Zion Lutheran down here. They've been a big help to us for a long time. The children went down there, and they was all baptized and confirmed down there at the church. Everybody has really been good. I can't tell any difference. There's just been a lot of good people around.
JH: What have been the hardest times in your life?
AARON: The hardest times in my life, I guess, was during the Depression.
JH: How did you make ends meet?
AARON: Well, we didn't hardly make ends meet part of the time, because it was hard for us. You just had to do the best you could.
JH: What did you do for fun in the early days of your marriage?
AARON: We went to the movies. They had right many different things to do around once in a while, and we'd go, and we'd get together, younger married
JH: Dances or music?
AARON: We never did go to dances. We liked to go hear music when they had good music. They used to put on a lot of. . . . [Interruption]
AARON: We used to listen to string music and all. They used to have a lot of groups come from different places around to the schoolhouses and such as that and make music. We used to go listen to them; we liked them.
JH: They'd play at the schools?
AARON: Yes, they'd have them at the schoolhouse, or sometimes at the movies.
JH: Was there any music at the glove mill, any singing or anything like that during work?
AARON: Oh, we used to sing, a lot of them did, at work. They'd sing some, but they got where they made them quit it. [Laughter]
JH: Why did they make them quit?
AARON: They'd think it would disturb somebody else at work.
JH: What would they sing?
AARON: They'd just sing different, Whatever you decided you wanted to sing, they'd sing.
JH: Do you remember any of the songs?
AARON: No, I don't.
JH: They'd be hymns or popular?
AARON: Hymns sometimes. Yes, something. But they didn't get together and sing much; it was just if the one next to you sewing wanted to sing, sing together. But they got strict, and they cut it out; they wouldn't let you do that.
JH: Do you remember just when that was that they got more strict?
AARON: No, I don't remember when it was, but they did cut it out.
JH: Did Mr. Shuford's son take over the plant at some point while you were still working there?
AARON: No, he didn't take over while I was still working there. Mr. Shuford was still living yet, and as long as he lived I think his son helped him, I mean taken over part of it, but he was still living as long as I worked there.
JH: I wonder, since the same man owned the plant the whole time, why he would get stricter after.
AARON: It was just so many more of them. You see, the plant had growed so; it was just so many more workers who were there in all.
JH: Did you think that there was a need for a labor union at the plant?
AARON: I don't think there was any need for one, no. . . . I don't know as they ever said anything about a union at Warlongwhile I worked there. I don't think there was ever anything said about one.
JH: Do you think that you were fairly treated, that you got paid as much as you should have?
AARON: Just as much as they paid anywhere else, I think we did, I mean as much as they paid around at the other plants.
JH: Is there anything else that you can think of that has been important to you in your life that we haven't talked about?
AARON: I just can't think of anything right now. [Laughter] It's been a lot of important things, but I can't think of them. Talking about the Shufords, Mrs. Shuford was awful good to the girls that worked at the glove mill. For years it was just about like a family to her, I think. She'd come down, and a lot of times she'd take a bunch of us girls somewhere to a show if it was some special show on or something like that. She was really good.
JH: During work hours?
AARON: No, that would be at night.
[End of interview]