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Oral History Interview with Betty and Lloyd Davidson, 1979 February 2 and 15.
Interview H-19. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007):

Electronic Edition.

Davidson, Betty and Lloyd Davidson

Interview conducted by Allen Tullos

    Audio-enhanced transcript (streaming MP3 file)
[Full interview, ca. 82MB, 1 hr. 30 min.]


Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services
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Text transcribed by Apex Data Services, Inc.
Text encoded by Apex Data Services, Inc., Melissa Meeks and Natalia Smith
Sound recordings digitized by Steve Weiss
First edition, 2001
ca. 110 K
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
2001.

        © This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.

Source Description:
(transcript) Oral History Interview with Betty and Lloyd Davidson, 1979 February 2 and 15. Interview H-19. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
(series) Series H. Piedmont Industrialization. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-4007)
Betty and Lloyd Davidson
43 p.
Chapel Hill, N. C.
Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1979

Interview conducted on February 2 and 15, 1979, by Allen Tullos; recorded in Burlington, N. C.
Interview transcribed by Mary Steedly
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.


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Oral History Interview with Betty and Lloyd Davidson,
1979 February 2 and 15. Burlington, North Carolina.
Interview H-19. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Series H. Piedmont Industrialization.

[Interview conducted] by

Allen Tullos

Transcribed by

Mary Steedly

Original transcript on deposit at
The Southern Historical Collection
Louis Round Wilson Library


Page 1

Oral History Interview with Betty and Lloyd Davidson,
1979 February 2 and 15. Interview H-19.

Begin Tape 1, Side 1

        Allen Tullos: Why don't you just start back by recalling what sort of house you lived in, where it was, and things like that.

        Betty Davidson: I was born in a little four-room house in the country, the fourth child of my mother and father's, the oldest girl. And as far back as I can remember we had a big wood stove and a big wood heater and a fireplace. This is where we all got up our lessons around the big heater. We sit on the floor. And my chores--the main chores--was to take care of the children, and in the cooking my job was to make bread three times a day. And we had a big barrel that we kept the flour in, and that's where I made the bread, in the pantry. And I always built the fires in the cookstove. And we children brought in wood and packed beside of the stove and on the porch. And then as I grew older, my job was to milk the cow and help churn and wash and iron.

        AT: What about your mother and father? What did they do?

        DAVIDSON: My mother was the main one to watch after all the cooking and planning all the meals. And my father, he worked in the field with the boys. And he was a farmer. And my mother and father together run a set of looms in Dan River Cotton Mill under the supervision of Jim Copland. And my father, he would run the looms in the wintertime and go to and from work by horseback. And the horse would have to break the ice to swim across the creek. And in the summertime when he was farming my mother run the looms and she stayed in town because she couldn't ride the horse. And one day I was setting in the wagon and the cow jumped over the top of me. I remember my brother telling me that.


Page 2

        AT: Where did your mother stay when she stayed in Danville?

        DAVIDSON: She stayed with a Miss Mayhew on Belmont Avenue.

        AT: Was that a boarding house?

        DAVIDSON: No, just a friend.

        AT: She would stay there in the summertime?

        DAVIDSON: Uh-huh. But, you know, just while the mill was running. Then on the weekends she would come home. They'd go get her on the wagon or buggy. You can't remember those things, but I do.

        AT: Was it pretty unusual that a husband and wife would share a set of looms at that time?

        DAVIDSON: They let them do it. I don't know about other people.

        AT: Do you know anything about how your mother and father met? What about how they might have gotten their jobs at the mill? How they might have gotten their first job at the mill?

        Lloyd Davidson: That thing doesn't pick up shaking your head.

        DAVIDSON: I didn't want it to.

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, I remember him saying that when he was a young man that his brothers and sisters moved from North Carolina to Texas. And he stayed out there two or three years in Texas with them. And he was getting up around twenty years old then. So he decided to come back to this part of the country. So he rode the train--hoboed on the train back to Danville, and he went to work in the cotton mill there. And that's how he got back to Danville. He hoboed back from Texas. His sister and brother moved out there and he went with them as a young man and he came back to Danville then and got a job there in the mill, and I think that was when they met.

        AT: That they probably met in the mill?

        L. DAVIDSON: That's right. And he never seen his brother and sister from Texas any more until 1938. And we taken him and Betty's


Page 3

mother out there to see his people again. They hadn't seen each other from I think it was 1902 till 1938 and we taken them out there for a reunion with them.

        AT: When you all had time to go school, your brothers and sisters. . . .

        DAVIDSON: We had to walk to a little two-room schoolhouse about four miles through the snow and mud.

        AT: Would all of you be allowed to go to school? Did they want you to go to school?

        DAVIDSON: We had to go to school. And in the two little rooms they went from the primer--we called it the primer--through the eighth grade. And that's as far as we went--as far as I went.

        AT: What about your other brothers and sisters? Did any of them go any further?

        DAVIDSON: Yeah, all the younger ones went through high school.

        AT: All the ones younger?

        DAVIDSON: Younger than I was.

        AT: Why didn't you go on?

        DAVIDSON: I had to go to work.

        AT: Why was that?

        DAVIDSON: So many children. And during the Depression.

        AT: Where did you go to work?

        DAVIDSON: Dan City Silk Mill.

        AT: Do you remember how it was that you came to get your first job?

        DAVIDSON: Yes. A friend of mine, Miss Eunice Barker, she lived close to us and she got me the job, and taught me to weave.


Page 4

        AT: Did she already have a job in the mill?

        DAVIDSON: Yeah. She was older than I was, and she was married. She taught me to weave. And she just passed away about two years ago.

        AT: When you were learning to weave, were you being paid to learn?

        DAVIDSON: No. No.

        AT: How did that work?

        DAVIDSON: You got a job and until you went on looms you didn't earn anything.

        AT: How did you learn to weave? When would you get time? Would you just stand there and watch her?

        DAVIDSON: Well, she'd take me with her on the job. And we only had two and four looms. No drop eyes. So you had to watch the work all together. And we run pure silk and georgette silk.

        AT: And she would teach you and sometimes she would let you. . . .

        DAVIDSON: Start the looms up.

        AT: How long did that go on before you got a job? How long was she teaching you?

        DAVIDSON: A month. At least a month. But everybody learned on their own. They didn't pay you.

        AT: Generally, how long did you stay there at that job?

        DAVIDSON: About two years, and the mill closed down. And that was when we came to Burlington. March 21, 1932.

        AT: Do you know why the mill closed?

        L. DAVIDSON: Everything was closing at those times just about.

        DAVIDSON: It was during the Depression.


Page 5

        AT: And then you came to Burlington. Why don't you tell the story that you told a while ago about how it was that you all were able to. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, she and I were dating and both worked at this silk mill along with several other people that we knew, so when the mill closed we were all out of work at the same time. So her father told us, says, "Why don't you go get Vernell"--that's her brother--"Why don't you get Vernell to take you to take you to Burlington, and look up Mr. Copland." And says, "Tell him I sent you and you folks are out of work and need work." So we got Betty's brother to bring us down here and we went to several mills till we found just where Mr. Copland was. So we went in the weaving room and asked them if we could see Mr. Copland. And they went and got Mr. Copland and brought him down. And he showed us around over the mill and then he told the overseers that these were people that he knew from Danville, that they were out of work and needed work, and see what they could do for them. And so they said they could put one to work. So I taken the job, and Betty and the other couple they went back to Danville. And they came back in about two weeks and they put Betty and this other lady to work. I went to work on the third shift. And Betty went to work on the first shift, and the other lady when she came back, she went to work on the third shift. So that was the starting of our working in the Plaid Mill.

        AT: How was it that you all knew Mr. Copland?

        L. DAVIDSON: Her father worked for Mr. Copland in Danville, and he was a good friend with Mr. Copland. So he told us to come down here, and he didn't know where he was, but he was in Burlington. Come down, come to Burlington and look him up. See if he could help us any. All four of us


Page 6

came, but only one of us got a job that day. And I taken in. Went to Plaid Mill boarding house and got a boarding place. And I think it was about two weeks later that Betty and this other lady came back and they got a job then. But the other young man, he went to Reidsville and found a job. He never did get a job in Plaid Mill or anywhere in Burlington. So that's the way we got started here and that was in March of '32. And then we were married in January of '33.

        AT: Where did you stay before you all married and while you were working in the mill?

        DAVIDSON: Miss Hattie Denny on Plaid Street.

        AT: She had a boarding house?

        DAVIDSON: She run a boarding house for Plaid Mill.

        AT: Who all would be there? Would there just be men? Or. . . .

        DAVIDSON: Men and women.

        AT: How large a place was this?

        L. DAVIDSON: I'd say she had about fifteen people, probably. It was some couples, man and wife, but most of them were single people. And she had two to four to a room. It was only two blocks from the mill, but she was very strict. You had to. . . . She would really grill before she would even consider taking you because she was very strict.

        AT: Did you live in the same place?

        L. DAVIDSON: She came and stayed with the Vaughns for a few weeks and then her and this Sadie, the other lady, both came there and roomed together. So we lived there. We was living there--boarding there--when we got married. Then we got married and got a little apartment right across the street.


Page 7

Right on this street right behind our house now.

        AT: What was the name of that street?

        L. DAVIDSON: Askew. So we've lived within five blocks of Plaid Mill all that time, right around in different places. West Webb, and Avery Street, Askew Street. Course now we're still on the corner of Askew Street.

        AT: What do you remember about how you all met?

        DAVIDSON: We were both working at Dan City Silk Mills, and that's how we met. He was on the third shift and I was on the first shift.

        L. DAVIDSON: It actually was just day shift and night shift really because it was ten hours on day shift and twelve hours on night shift.

        AT: Well, how could you meet if one of you was coming on at one time and the other at the other time?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, I think this--we dated on the weekend. That's the only chance you had working those hours. And this friend of hers, I got her to get a date with Betty and I got her a date with my friend. That was the first date that we had together. And so Betty and I must have hit it off pretty good because we kept dating, but I don't think the other couple did. But we dated on as long as we were there. She would stay in town with this other lady I spoke about. She would stay in town in the wintertime because the road was so bad she couldn't get in and out at home. And in the summertime she would stay at home. See, she only lived two miles from town. It was out in the country--now it's part of town, but it was out in the country then, farming. But we dated until we came to Burlington, then we was married about a year after we came to Burlington.

        AT: Well what would you do on dates, say in Danville?

        L. DAVIDSON: Play Victrolas. That's about all you had to do, play records.


Page 8

        AT: Who had a record player?

        L. DAVIDSON: The lady she boarded with during the winter, they had one, but that's about all you could do. Or walk to the drug store.

        AT: Do you remember any songs that you heard?

        L. DAVIDSON: They are so old, I don't remember them.

        AT: How long did that go on--you all courting?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, it was about, I reckon, six months in Danville before the mill closed down, maybe a year after we started dating, when the mill closed down. And we was here almost a year before we married.

        AT: And then you came on and you worked there at the Plaid Mill, well, till it closed down?

        DAVIDSON: Uh-hmm.

        AT: And you stopped work in--when was it?

        L. DAVIDSON: 1956 I left the mill and went to work for Melville Dairy and I worked there until I retired in 1974. Well, they changed hands, management, two or three times, but it was still the same people. So I worked there, I run a route for about eight years and I went on supervisor's job until I retired, about ten or eleven years, I guess. But my health got so bad that I had to retire earlier than I planned to.

        AT: Was it related in any way to your work, occupational health?

        L. DAVIDSON: Probably some of it was. I had a lot of disc trouble. I think that was probably related to it, but otherwise, I think that was all. That was my first health problem.

        AT: How was the disc trouble might have been. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: By lifting. Lifting cases of milk, loading trucks, unloading trucks. But at one time it wouldn't be so much, but you do it over and over and over, and I think that over a period of time that was


Page 9

really what caused it.

        AT: And you were a weaver then?

        DAVIDSON: I've always wove.

        AT: Did you like that?

        DAVIDSON: I loved it. I still love it.

        L. DAVIDSON: Evidently she does because I can't keep her at home.

        AT: You've seen a lot of different changes?

        DAVIDSON: Oh, so many.

        AT: Is there any way you can think back on some of those changes, maybe in your work, the pace, how things used to be compared to what they became?

        DAVIDSON: Well, when I went to work I was only running two looms and then I went to four loom and then I went to six looms. Then we went to eight, and then on it was according to whatever styles was on.

        AT: Do you remember when it was you went from two to four or eight?

        L. DAVIDSON: You went to about six when you came to Burlington.

        DAVIDSON: Yes.

        L. DAVIDSON: From pure silk to rayon you went from four looms to six. Then gradually climbing ever since. As you modernize, you know, back then you would fill your own shuttles, you know, put in a lot of your break outs, and all those things. But eventually went to magazines, you know, and shuttle-change looms. Then they got battery fillers, shuttle fillers. So that just give you more and more looms to look after, but you had battery fillers to fill the batteries, you didn't have to do that. Then you went to cloth doffers. You had to take off all the cloth, you know, as you got a roll finished, someone taken that off. So you went more to just weaving. Before, at the first, you did it all. You did your battery filling,


Page 10

you did your taking off cloth, you did your smashing, and all these things. But as you modernize, you just take more looms and taken off a lot of the other work you had to do. When I left the mill in '56, I was running, I think, thirty-five looms. I went from two to thirty-five over that period of time. And now I think she'll run anywhere from seventy-five to a hundred. So it's through modernization, and she's running looms now that I've never even seen, such as push-button looms. And some of the modern looms I've never even seen. I mean, it was still shuttle-change when I came out in '56, but now it's bobbin-change or, I think they have looms that don't even have shuttles now; they call them shuttleless looms. I've never seen them, but that's how it's changed over the years.

        AT: What about your parents? Did they like their work?

        DAVIDSON: Yeah, my father and mother both loved weaving, and the ones that fixed looms loved fixing looms.

        AT: And did they ever say anything about their work that you remember?

        DAVIDSON: No, they just liked it, and my father liked farming. And I think it's real interesting fact, now my father worked for Mr. Jim Copland in Danville, and then I came to Burlington and hunted him up, and told him I was John Parker's daughter, and he gave me a job. And I worked for him a Plaid Mill all those years. And then retired. And now I'm working for his great-grandson--four generations.

        L. DAVIDSON: Grandson.

        DAVIDSON: Three generations. And I'm still working for a [unclear]

        AT: Did you ever thing about going into any other kind of work?

        DAVIDSON: Hm-mmm. I never did want to do anything else. I just love weaving. It's real interesting. You learn so many different things.


Page 11

        AT: What about the time that you might have--the hours--how did the hours change?

        DAVIDSON: Not too much. Now, when we first came to Burlington, weren't we on . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: Eight hours.

        DAVIDSON: We were on eight hours then.

        L. DAVIDSON: Back when we came to Plaid Mill, they had belt looms. I don't know if you've ever heard of belt looms or not. Running by belts. And we was in the newest section that had motors on the looms. They run by motors. But some of the older part of the mill was running belt looms, and they was working twelve hours a day. But that was two shifts, and we went to work on the newer type loom, and they was running three shifts, eight hours. So when we came to Burlington we actually started on eight hours, just like it is now. But there was some of the mill that was still on twelve hours and on belt loom. I never run a belt loom, but there was still some of them there. They taken them out a few years after that, and went to all battery looms.

        AT: Burlington had not yet bought the mill when you went there?

        L. DAVIDSON: No, it was the E. M. Holt Plaid Mill and Mr. Len Williams was one of the main owners, I guess, and Mr. Walter Williams was the superintendent, and Mr. C. D. Gaddis was the office manager, and Clow Fallow was the payroll clerk, looked after all the payrolls and timekeeping. Course back then you didn't have a hundred or so in your office, and all your social security and all your government programs, you know. You run your own business then.


Page 12

        AT: You were saying that when you all first went there to get a job you went right to the. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: You go right to the weave room and talk to the weave room overseer or the weave room boss.

        AT: In each section of the mill the person who was the supervisor in that part. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: They were set up where you had a weave room overseer that was over all the weave rooms. But you had what they called "second hands" that were under him. And either one could hire you. But you went and talked direct to the man that you was going to work for. You didn't go through any office, personnel office of anything of that type. You went directly to the man you worked for. And now the way it is now, you have a seniority system and you go to work on third shift and gradually build your seniority up and work yourself up to the first shift job. Back then you went to work on a shift that the man could use you on. Wherever he needs a weaver. So you went directly to the man you worked for and you didn't have to go through anyone else to get in touch with him. You went right in the mill and told the man you were looking for work.

        AT: Who was the person who would have been your supervisor first? Do you remember?

        DAVIDSON: George Gregg.

        AT: What do you remember about him?

        DAVIDSON: Just a fine, great, big grey-headed man.

        AT: What was his job? How would he have worked?

        DAVIDSON: Well, when we would go in, see we didn't have a job, we would just go stand on the floor and whoever was out he'd come and get you and put you on that job. And he was just your boss man, you know.


Page 13

        AT: I'm not quite sure why you would be--when you wouldn't have a job and he would come and get you and put you on one?

        DAVIDSON: You see, we would just stand in the middle of the floor up here at the front. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: Normally, when you go to work at a place like that, maybe you don't get a full-time job. You may not work every day. You go in and stand on the spare floor and if he can use you that day, wherever he can use you, he come get you and say, come on. And he'll take you to the job where he can use you at. And if he can't use you he'll say, "Well, we don't have anything today; there's nobody out and we don't have anything today, so you'll just have to wait and come back tomorrow."

        AT: How long did you have to do that before you got a full-time job?

        L. DAVIDSON: I believe--I know I run several people's looms before I ever got a set of my own.

        DAVIDSON: I did too.

        L. DAVIDSON: You'd just run looms that whoever was out. I can remember the man that--the first set of looms that I ever run. And I still know who the man was that was out. He got off that night for some reason, and so I run his looms. And I remember that was the first set of looms that I ever run. And then I run different ones until an opening came to give you a set of looms.

        AT: So even though you were hired as a weaver, you would have to go and work your way into the. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: You would have to take a spare job--what they call a spare hand in those days. And it might be a week, and it might be a month or two before they'd have an opening for a full-time job. And you'd just take what spare work you could get.


Page 14

        AT: Would you still be--you said you were learning from that woman how to weave. If you came to work and they told you that they didn't have anything for you, would you still stay around the mill or would you go home? Or would you stay and learn some more about weaving? What would you do?

        DAVIDSON: Well, after I was qualified as a weaver I'd just go on back home. Because, see, I wasn't making anything. And after I learned, you see, you're supposed to make your pay.

        AT: What time of day would you go over there?

        DAVIDSON: We went to work at seven, got off at three.

        AT: So you would know in a few minutes, or an hour or so, whether or not you were going to get to work?

        DAVIDSON: Yeah.

        L. DAVIDSON: Soon as they placed all the help, they'd know whether they had anyone out or anyone that wanted to be off that day. See, they may have someone come in and say, "I'd like to be off today." Well, then, that'd give you a chance to get a day's work there. But he would check all of his help to see if all his help was there. If he had on one out or no one wanted to be off, then he'd say, "Well, we don't have anything today." You just go back home, because you're not making anything if you're not running looms that day.

        DAVIDSON: It's not that way now. You see, you go in, you're on a job. And they pay you to learn now.

        L. DAVIDSON: And you have no spare help now, you know.

        AT: When did that change?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, it changed over the years. One thing that caused it to change like that was back then if you went up there and they didn't have anything for you, it didn't cost them anything. But now, if you go


Page 15

in, they've got to pay you at least two hours work. So they just don't have spare help come in every day, because it costs now. But back then you was more or less on your own. You went in on your own hoping you'd get the work.


        

Begin Tape 1, Side 2

        AT: The other question I had today was why was it that you, for instance, came to Burlington at the time that you did?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, it was the Depression years, and you had to go where the work was, if you could find it. It was a tremendous amount of people out of work. And we heard that there was work in Burlington. Silk was going out as wearing apparel then, so rayon was taking its place. And Burlington Industries and the Plaid Mill and the mills in Burlington were starting up on rayon. It was a real good item then, so they were still running, and running good. So by hearing that there was work in Burlington, we came to Burlington looking for it and of course we did get a job. And course we had some short times there during the first year we were here, that things got so bad, but after the end of 1932, that was the beginning of Roosevelt's presidency and that's when things began to start--all work, textile and other work--began to start, starting up mills, and starting up plants and things. And NRA came in in 1933. That was a government program to try to put people to work and get people back to work. So after that it wasn't any problem to find work. But in, say, from '28 to '32 they were tough years. You were very fortunate if you could find work and make a go of it. I know of people--farm people even--they couldn't hardly make the expense of farming. And it was just rough all over. It was rough for everybody--mills, farming, or


Page 16

whatever you were doing, you were having a struggle trying to make a living.

        AT: But somehow it seemed a little better in Burlington.

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, this new rayon material they were coming out with, it was a real hot item. And it was for a number of years, till of course later years they came out with nylon and other man-made fibers. Rayon is to my knowledge the first man-made fiber. And it was a real good item.

        AT: Were there any other towns in the area that people thought they might could go to and get work?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, there was a mill in Reidsville that was starting up, because I know some people that went there. I guess that was Burlington Mills. And see, it wasn't only Plaid Mill in Burlington, it was--well, it was Sherwood, and Carolina, and Carolina Silk Mills, and the Pioneer Plant. All of those were in Burlington too, and all of them went on this rayon about the same time because it was something new. Everybody was getting on it. You know how that is. If something's hot, you better get with it. And get in on it. And so everybody was coming out on rayon then. After 1932 things really starting humming, cause that rayon was a good item, and everybody was running full time. And I know that when we were working in Plaid Mills--see Swepsonville Mill was closed down. Plaid Mill started up Swepsonville Mill. Belmont Mill was closed down. And Plaid Mill started up Belmont Mill.

        AT: You mean they bought them up?

        L. DAVIDSON: They bought them or leased them for a period of years. And so Plaid Mill, they expanded and the other mills did, because they wanted to get in on this rayon that was going real good. And Mr. Walter Williams, I heard him make a statement one time when this NRA come in


Page 17

and things started really blooming again, I heard him make a statement that they was making so much money that they didn't know what to do. I think that's the only man I've ever seen that was making more money than he knew what to do with it. But he explained that, he said that this NRA is a new thing, we have a new president with new programs and said we don't know whether it's temporary or permanent. Said if it's temporary we don't want to get too deep involved, but if it's permanent we want to get in on it. And says, right now we're making so much money we don't know whether to reinvest or whether we want to hang on to what we have. So things really started moving in 1933, from then on.

        AT: Would there be a different in one sort of work or another--people trying to get into it than another? For instance hosiery as opposed to textile?

        L. DAVIDSON: Hosiery was real good in Burlington. I've heard said over the years how many hosiery mills there was in Burlington. Well, some of them was small, maybe three or four people working there. But hosiery was real good. May Hosiery and McEwen's, and all of those are old names in hosiery here. They were real good. And hosiery was really better than the weaving end, the textile end of it.

        AT: Was it harder to get a job in hosiery?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, it was almost impossible if you didn't have very good connections, because they paid much more than weaving. It was real skilled work, though, knitting was.

        AT: It took more skill to be a knitter than a weaver?

        L. DAVIDSON: Much more. It was much harder to learn. You had to know, almost know somebody that worked there that could get you a job in a hosiery mill at those times. And especially in the knitting end of it.


Page 18

Course they had finishing and other parts of it, but the knitting was highly skilled.

        AT: When you say "know somebody" it would almost like a family connection?

        L. DAVIDSON: Family connections or some connections that they could help you with a recommendation.

        AT: It seems in some ways like the other textile mills operated in the same sort of way, you had to know somebody that needed someone.

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, it was certainly a help.

        AT: Cause you all knew Mr. [unclear]

        L. DAVIDSON: That's the way we got started in Burlington, cause if we came down here from Danville, told him we was looking for work, most likely they would have told us they didn't have no openings. But by knowing Mr. Copland and get him to say a word for us, asking him to try to help us, why, that's the way we got our foot in the door, you might say.

        AT: But it was even tighter in the hosiery mills?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, I think it was. And hosiery was like everything else. Well, everything was just about closed down back in the late twenties and early thirties. You were very fortunate if you could find a job anywhere. Like I said, you just almost had to have help. And hosiery after they started running good, why, on those skilled jobs, they were real hard to get.


        [Interview continued 2/15/79]



Page 19

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, you can just notice that her right shoulder is about an inch lower than her left shoulder, and this is from carrying a child on her hip when she was in a younger age, and over a period of years looking after these children, why, it did make one side of her body lower than the other. In other words, carrying that child on her hip in a growing stage, made that should lower than the other one. And she'll carry that as long as she lives.

        AT: You were the oldest girl in the family?

        DAVIDSON: Yes, I was the fourth child. The oldest girl and the fourth child. And my mother had so much to do I had to take the children, and take care of them while she cooked and prepared the meals.

        AT: So you would carry a child under one arm?

        DAVIDSON: Yes, and work with the other. We had to do that because there was always so much work to do.

        AT: What kind of work could you do like that?

        DAVIDSON: Well, you could wash dishes and cook.

        AT: But you had to do it with one hand?

        DAVIDSON: With one hand. Yes, you learned how to do a lot of things with one hand when you got a lot of work to do.

        AT: How old would these children be that you were carrying?

        DAVIDSON: Oh, two or three months old, on up to six months. Very small.

        AT: And as one of them got a little older, then you had to . . .

        DAVIDSON: Take another one.

        AT: And there were a whole bunch of them.

        DAVIDSON: Yes, it was twelve of us.


Page 20

        AT: Did you notice at that time that it was having an effect on you?

        DAVIDSON: No. My mother didn't either.

        AT: When was the first time that somebody pointed it out?

        DAVIDSON: I guess it was when I went to work. At public work. Noticed one shoulder was lower than the other.

        AT: And that's when you kind of figured out that's why. . . .

        DAVIDSON: Yes. My mother said that's why it was.

        AT: Have you ever known any other people like that?

        DAVIDSON: No.

        [Pause]

        DAVIDSON: Each child had their share of work to do, and my main share was to make the bread three times a day.

        AT: What kind of bread would you make?

        DAVIDSON: Biscuits and cornbread. For breakfast the children had oatmeal and the ones that worked, was large enough to go to the field, they had eggs and meat. And for dinner we had vegetables. And for supper we had cornbread and fried-out meat, and milk gravy.

        AT: And you would make the bread.

        DAVIDSON: And I always made the bread.

        AT: And who would prepare the other parts?

        DAVIDSON: My mother. And I always built the fire in the stove. We had a wood stove.

        AT: Which would have been the biggest meal of the day?

        DAVIDSON: Well, I think the twelve o'clock meal was our biggest meal, vegetables.


Page 21

        AT: And you just had vegetables?

        DAVIDSON: Just vegetables. We hardly ever had anything sweet.

        AT: No meat?

        DAVIDSON: No meat.

        AT: Was that unusual for families to have a mid-day meal of vegetables?

        DAVIDSON: Well, we was just brought up that way. I don't know.

        AT: You don't know what the neighbors did?

        DAVIDSON: No. See, out in the country, we didn't know anybody, because we was way out in the country. But we always had plenty of eggs and plenty of milk and butter.

        AT: And you raised most of it?

        DAVIDSON: Raised it all. Raised chicken and eggs.

        AT: And what about canning, or putting up food?

        DAVIDSON: We always canned in the summertime. We canned in half a gallon fruit jars.

        AT: Did you help with that?

        DAVIDSON: I always helped with that.

        L. DAVIDSON: Her father was a produce farmer, and that was his main crop, was vegetables and things. Tomatoes was the main crop, but other vegetables. . . . He was more of a produce farmer than a tobacco farmer.

        AT: He made a living selling produce?

        L. DAVIDSON: He was more so than tobacco.

        AT: How would he do this? How would he sell the produce?

        DAVIDSON: On a truck. We would go to the field and gather it up and bring it in on--pull it in, in big boxes, with the tractor. And grade it out in the front yard. And then he would put it on the truck and go sell it.


Page 22

        AT: In Danville?

        DAVIDSON: In Danville, Virginia.

        AT: Did he sell it on the street or did he have a particular store?

        DAVIDSON: Had different stores.

        AT: He would sell kind of like a wholesaler?

        DAVIDSON: Yes. One store to the other.

        AT: He didn't just go peddling.

        DAVIDSON: No, he didn't go from house to house.

        AT: And what kind of produce did he sell?

        DAVIDSON: Mostly tomatoes. But he had butter beans and peas and corn and string beans, turnip salad and turnips, kale.

        AT: Do you remember the names of the tomatoes? Any particular kinds of tomatoes?

        DAVIDSON: The main tomato was the Big Boy.

        L. DAVIDSON: That Big Boy is a hybrid. There is one that he raised before that but I can't think of the name--it was a pink tomato. But that was before they come out with the hybrids. The hybrid tomatoes, you know, they've taken over everything.

        AT: He was raising Big Boys `way back at this time?

        L. DAVIDSON: Right many years he's raised them. Since they came out with hybrid tomatoes.

        AT: And he was also working in the mill some at that time?

        DAVIDSON: No, not then. He worked in the mill when he was young. At this time he was old.

        AT: What about your mother?


Page 23

        DAVIDSON: She passed away in 1949.

        AT: So when he began to sell produce--when would that have been?

        DAVIDSON: Around 1930, because I'd say around 1935 was his main years, wasn't it?

        L. DAVIDSON: Along about that period, because you went to work in the mill about '30, and he was selling produce then, wasn't he?

        DAVIDSON: Yes.

        L. DAVIDSON: And from '30, say from '30 to '50 was his main years.

        AT: Did he ever work at the mill and sell produce at the same time?

        DAVIDSON: Now that was back before I could remember. I just don't know.

        AT: Let's talk for a few minutes about Mr. Jim Copland, the senior Jim Copland. You told a story the other day, Mr. Davidson, about him firing Mr. Parker.

        DAVIDSON: No, he didn't fire Mr. Parker. My father worked for Mr. Jim Copland in Schoolfield, Virginia. And this incident happened one winter when it was real bad. And this man in the spring of the year he told Mr. Copland, he said, "See the sunshine? I'm going to get out there and make me a crop." And so he left the mill and went out. So that coming winter come a big snow, and so this man was working and Mr. Copland come up to him and said, "See the big snow outdoors?" He says, "Yeah." He says, "Now you get out there in it."

        L. DAVIDSON: That was his way of getting even.

        AT: Where did the Coplands come from? What was their background?

        L. DAVIDSON: They were originally from Alabama.

        AT: Is that right?


Page 24

        DAVIDSON: Yeah.

        AT: And then there was another story that you told about an incident one time when he--something had gone wrong in the mill?

        DAVIDSON: No, I came to Plaid Mill March 21, 1932 and Mr. Copland put me to work with the reference of my father, because he knew my father. And he expected everybody to work just like he worked. One day he came through the mill and I had a pickwheel missing. So he got me down, said, "Betty, you see that pickwheel's missing?" And he caught ahold of my arm and he didn't realize how big his hands was, and left the print of all of his fingers on my arm. But he didn't aim to hurt me, he just did it.

        AT: You said, he expected everybody to work like he did . . .

        DAVIDSON: Like he did.

        AT: What do you mean?

        DAVIDSON: Well, he was a hard working man, and he wanted you to work hard. He expected you to work just like he did. He didn't expect any more out of you than he did. He kept busy, real busy.

        AT: What was their background? What kind of a family did they come from? Were they farming people?

        L. DAVIDSON: I really don't know too much about them.

        AT: Was it a well-to-do family?

        L. DAVIDSON: I really don't know, but they are originally from Alabama. But now when they came to Alabama from Virginia I'm not sure about that.

        AT: You don't know how they worked their way up, or how he did?

        DAVIDSON: No.

        L. DAVIDSON: Back when my father worked for him he was--at that time he was a weaving room overseer, so he was a knowledgeable person then, because he was already a weave room overseer and that was back, I


Page 25

guess back in the twenties. So he had mill knowledge then.

        AT: Why had he left the mill there in Danville, Dan River Mill, to come here?

        L. DAVIDSON: I really don't know. I don't know that far back. Well, when we came to Burlington, Mr. Copland was the superintendent of Plaid Mill and J. R., Jr., as we called him then, he was in college--it was in his college years. He was learning the weave room business, and he would spend his summer months out of college in the weave room. He was learning to fix looms when we first came here. During the summer he spent his summer months learning to fix looms. And learning the weave room business.

        AT: And then what happened to the Coplands? What became of the father and the son?

        L. DAVIDSON: He was at Plaid Mill for a number of years. I don't remember--I believe he went to Swepsonville after he left Plaid. Virginia Cotton Mill was what the mill really was, and it was closed during the depression. And after the Depression years, during Roosevelt was elected president and the mills started starting up everywhere then. And Plaid Mill started up that old Virginia Mill at Swepsonville, and Mr. Copland went down there and run that mill for a good while. And then, I'm not sure when he went to started up Copland Fabrics, but Mr. Copland and Mr. Fowler, and some of the other businessmen here--Mr. Maynard may have been in on that, probably was--they went in and bought Copland Fabrics and started a plant over there.

        AT: And now what about James, Jr. Did he go to Swepsonville?

        L. DAVIDSON: I'm not sure. But he stayed in the mill business. He more or less followed in his father's footsteps. Mr. J. R., Senior, he


Page 26

wasn't over Copland Fabrics very long before he got in poor health and J. R. Junior, he taken over then and he's been connected with it ever since. Course I don't think he's maybe too active now, but he's still one of the senior officers over there, I think.

        AT: OK, now when the Plaid Mill started up the Swepsonville Mill, did Mr. Walter Williams go to Swepsonville at that time?

        DAVIDSON: They went, but now I don't know whether they went together or not.

        L. DAVIDSON: I'm not sure whether they went together, but Mr. Williams was over all three. They started Swepsonville, and they also started Bellemont Mill. They went from one plant to three plants; they started up two more plants. And Mr. Williams was superintendent over all of them. And I think Mr. Copland went to Swepsonville as superintendent down there. I can't follow too closely, don't remember too much about what happened after that. But he left Plaid Mill and went to Virginia Mill with the same company. And you know, back in--I believe it was 1939--see, Burlington Industries bought Plaid Mill. See, it was E. M. Holt Plaid Mill until then, so when Burlington Industries bought it, or Burlington Mills it was known at that time, they bought Plaid Mills, that's when you start changing personnel. Mr. Williams wasn't there too long after Burlington Mills bought it. Mr. Copland wasn't there too long after that. Start changing your management and personnel, start making changes when Burlington Mills started over.

        AT: Why was that?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, I don't know. They bought a number of mills, Burlington Industries, you know. Burlington Mills. That's when they


Page 27

were expanding. Course now they're world-wide, but. . . .

        AT: You don't know why they would have changed personnel?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, they had their own personnel that they wanted there, that had been trained by Burlington Mills.

        AT: Did they not buy the Swepsonville Mill and the Bellemont Mill at the same time?

        L. DAVIDSON: I don't think so. The Bellemont Mill I believe was sold to someone else and I think that it went into hosiery. But they closed out weaving. And Virginia Mills I'm not sure about that. I'm not sure who was buying that.

        AT: Let me ask about Plaid Mill--several of the mills around had baseball teams or brass bands, or things that they sponsored. Did Plaid Mill ever have anything like that?

        L. DAVIDSON: Burlington Mills had sponsored a baseball team, but . . .

        AT: That would have been after 1940?

        L. DAVIDSON: That was after World War II. But see, Plaid Mill at that time was just a one plant of Burlington Mills.

        AT: What about in the twenties or thirties. Did they ever have a ball team or a band or anything?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, it was in the thirties when we came here. I don't remember about that. We used to have picnics, I know that. But I can't remember us having anything but just picnics. I know they used to have company picnics.

        AT: Do you remember having a band or a baseball team? Do you remember the picnics?

        L. DAVIDSON: Don't you remember some of the picnics we went to? At the old mill they'd have a picnic.


Page 28

        AT: Where would that be?

        L. DAVIDSON: Seemed like we went to High Point Lake one time, don't you remember that?

        DAVIDSON: Yes.

        L. DAVIDSON: I don't remember where else we went. But that old mill--we went on Saturday, and we'd just make a day of it. Just a outing, you might say.

        AT: Did everybody go in their own cars?

        L. DAVIDSON: Yeah, everybody furnished their own transportation. Go when they liked and come back when they liked. But after the Burlington Mills got Plaid Mill, why, Burlington Mills, and Tower Hosiery Mill--where Mr. Maynard used to work and was connected with--McEwen Hosiery Mill, May Hosiery Mill, McCrary at Asheboro, and Lucky Strike in Reidsville, all those mills sponsored baseball teams. And Burlington Industries also bought McEwen Hosiery Mill. They also bought May Hosiery Mill. That was when they started getting in the hosiery business. They started out only in the weaving end, and apparel end of it, but they went into hosiery too. They also bought McEwen Mills and May Hosiery Mills. And that's when they really started expanding, when they got into the hosiery business, too.

        AT: What about any kind of musical entertainment in the 1930's. Do you all remember any of that?

        L. DAVIDSON: No, I don't remember any of that.

        AT: Do you remember any string bands or any of these hillbilly musicians coming around? Did you all like that kind of music at all?

        L. DAVIDSON: I liked it, but I don't think the mills ever sponsored it to my knowledge.

        AT: Where did you get to hear it?


Page 29

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, we heared mostly on the radio. I mean, you didn't have too much bands coming around.

        AT: Do you remember any groups that you liked to hear?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, we always used to listen to the Grand Ole Opry and that's from Roy Acuff's days until the present time. And I still like it--I keep this little radio on hillbilly all the time.

        AT: What about you? Did you like that kind of music?

        DAVIDSON: Yeah.

        AT: Do you remember any favorite groups at all, back in the thirties?

        DAVIDSON: No.

        AT: Do y'all remember the Blue Sky Boys, or Charlie Poole?

        L. DAVIDSON: Yeah, I remember old Charlie Poole?

        AT: You remember him? Did you see him?

        L. DAVIDSON: No, I never seen him, but I remember listening to his music.

        AT: Where would you have heard that?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, you could hear it from Grand Ole Opry. That was the thing on Saturday night if you liked hillbilly music.

        AT: What about other stations in the area?

        L. DAVIDSON: Atlanta had a good hillbilly station.

        AT: You could hear Atlanta from up here?

        L. DAVIDSON: Oh yeah, on the radio.

        AT: WSB?

        L. DAVIDSON: WSB.

        AT: What about stations . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: Also, there was some good stations in Texas. McAllen, Texas had a hillbilly station that was real good. And I liked those western


Page 30

stations too. Liked a lot of those bands from Texas.

        AT: Do you remember Bob Wills' band?

        L. DAVIDSON: Yeah, Bob Wills, and I was trying to think of what this band would be. They sang "Cool Water."

        AT: The Sons of the Pioneers?

        L. DAVIDSON: Sons of the Pioneers. That was one of the better ones, I thought. They were real good.

        AT: Gene Autry used to sing with them.

        L. DAVIDSON: But you got all of that over the radio. They rarely ever come through in personal appearances.

        AT: Did you all ever buy any records with these people on them?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well no, you just listened to the radio.

Begin Tape 2, Side 1

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, we'd leave here real early Saturday morning and get up there about noon and we'd have all the afternoon to sightsee, spend the night and come back down through the Valley on Sunday. It was a real good trip. And we'd go through--we used to go deep-sea fishing right much. That's another good sport.

        AT: Back before World War II?

        L. DAVIDSON: Yeah.

        AT: Where would you go?

        L. DAVIDSON: We'd go to Morehead mostly. Get about three or four couples. You could rent a boat for twenty-five dollars then, and split it up four ways, you know, you could afford it.

        AT: What are some other things that you would do?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, that's mostly what we did, was going deep-sea fishing, going to the mountains.


Page 31

        AT: Where would you go to in the mountains?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, mostly to Asheville.

        AT: And what did you do there?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, just drive up there and back, see the mountains. It wasn't a whole lot to do. We didn't have all this big, modern things, you know, like skiing.

        AT: That sounds like a good bit, though, to go to Washington . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: Sky-lifts and things like that. We didn't have all those things then.

        AT: Did you all go to any ball games or anything?

        L. DAVIDSON: Oh, I went every chance I had.

        AT: What kind?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, semi-pro.

        AT: Baseball?

        L. DAVIDSON: Yeah. And football. Course football then, you know, we didn't have anything but Broad Street High School. And you'd go over here to Hillcrest, wherever they played at, just walked up and down the sidelines with them, you know. Maybe you'd have a hundred or two people there. Two hundred was a good crowd. Didn't cost you anything to get in, you'd just go over there and watch them, walk up and down the sidelines. As they went from one end of the field to the other the crowd would go with them. You didn't have these stadiums like they do now, you know, with all these conveniences.

        AT: Do you remember any boxing matches or anything like that?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, we used to have wrestling down at the City Hall. That was the only indoor place they had for any kind of sports.

        AT: And this would have been back before World War II?


Page 32

        L. DAVIDSON: They'd have wrestling matches down at city hall.

        AT: Did you go to the wrestling matches?

        DAVIDSON: Only thing I went to is bowling. I used to like to bowl.

        AT: Oh really? When did you first start bowling?

        L. DAVIDSON: They had bowling alleys when we first came to Burlington. And I bowled a lot. She bowled right much.

        AT: How often would you go bowling?

        DAVIDSON: Maybe two or three times a week. And I had a Sunday school class and they let us take the children bowling. We really enjoyed it.

        AT: Did you go at night after work?

        DAVIDSON: After work, at night.

        AT: How big of a place was the bowling alley? Several lanes?

        L. DAVIDSON: They had one on Main Street upstairs. I think it had eight alleys. Then they moved around to the old Chevrolet Building and I believe there was twelve alleys there. So bowling was a real good sport then. Her father was a great bowler and I reckon she probably liked it from watching him bowl.

        AT: When did he start to bowl? Was he bowling in Danville?

        L. DAVIDSON: I don't know where he started but he bowled till he was in his eighties. He was eighty-nine when he died, and he bowled until just a few years before he died. And he was real good at it.

        AT: This was popular among people. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: It was a real good sport. You know, you didn't have too much to choose from, ball games and bowling and pool rooms. That was just about the extent of it.

        AT: What about the movies? Did you all go to any picture shows?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, we used to go to some. We've never been much of a movie fan.


Page 33

        AT: Let me go back to when you all first came here and you were living in the boarding house--Miss Denny's boarding house. Would she cook the food there or had somebody that worked there?

        L. DAVIDSON: She had maids, colored maids. Course she helped. She more or less supervised and kept things in order. She was a very strict woman.

        AT: Did people eat there who didn't live in the boarding house?

        L. DAVIDSON: No, it was just people who was there, but she usually had about, I'd say, from twelve to fourteen, fifteen, about.

        AT: Do you remember what some of the food that you all had at the boarding house?

        DAVIDSON: It was all good. I don't remember just what.

        AT: What time to day would your meals be? Was it the same time every day?

        DAVIDSON: Yes, same time.

        L. DAVIDSON: She had a set time. Course, sometimes you had to stagger that, because back then they were starting to work then around the clock, all three shifts. And they used to have just two shifts, day and night. Then you start going to eight-hour shifts and you had to arrange your meals to take care of all shifts.

        AT: There seem to be a lot of boarding houses in Burlington.

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, a lot of people lived at boarding houses, and there was a lot of single people that would stay at boarding houses. They didn't have motels, and about all the single people had to stay at a boarding house.

        AT: Was Miss Denny married?

        L. DAVIDSON: She was a widow. Her son and daughter lived with her. They wasn't married. Well, I said they wasn't married. Her son and I


Page 34

roomed together. Betty and the girl he married, they roomed together. So when we got married, Betty came in the room I was in, and he went in the room she was in. So we was just in the next rooms. So we got married at the same time. But we didn't live there very long after we was married. We got us an apartment and started keeping house.

        AT: Did she start that boarding house after her husband had died?

        L. DAVIDSON: She was running it when we came to Burlington. Her husband got killed a long time before that, I think. Got killed on a construction work, I think. She'd been a widow a good while then, I think.

        AT: Could it have been that she began this after he died?

        L. DAVIDSON: Probably so.


        [Pause]


        AT: Maybe one way to get at some of the changes in mill life would be to start by remembering how particular kinds of activities changed. For instance, when you all came in the 1930's to work, how much time would you have out for lunch in the Plaid Mill?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, some of Plaid Mill was run in three shifts and some of it was run in two shifts. The part of the mill that was run in three shifts, you didn't get a break for lunch. I mean, it was eight hour shifts around the clock. But the part that was running two shifts, they got a lunch break, probably an hour, because I think they worked ten-hour shifts, and maybe an hour for lunch. But it was going into an eight-hour day when we came here, and some of the mill was already on an eight-hour day. So, you know, eight-hour day, that's round the clock with three shifts.

        AT: So you didn't have any time out for lunch on an eight-hour day?

        L. DAVIDSON: You eat as you worked. You had to take your lunch if you had anything to eat. And they did, though, in later years, have a commissary truck that came around that you could get drinks and sandwiches


Page 35

and things off of.

        AT: How could you eat as you worked?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, sometimes you'd start up several looms before. . . . You'd eat, you'd start up two or three machines, then you'd eat a little, then after you'd started up two or three machines you'd eat some more. And you just had to work your eating in with your work.

        AT: Did you have a few minutes in between starting up your looms?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, you'd just have to stop eating to start up looms, and stop starting up looms to eat. You had to work it in with your work. You couldn't take any time to amount to anything for eating, cause you'd have to eat and work at the same time. If you'd ever eat lunch with us, you'd probably understand it better, because if we sit down to eat, we just eat like we don't have but about a minute to eat in, you know. And it's real embarrassing because you don't get out of the habit. Just like I play golf. I used to work third shift and play golf of a morning. Well, I'd go to the golf course and almost run to get through to get back to--when I was working third shift--get back to go to bed. And I'm still that way on the golf course. I go out there now, I think you got to be through in a couple of hours or so, you know. You can't readjust once you set your pace like that. You don't readjust. You still stay in that same pattern. I mean, it's hard to. . . .

        AT: Were there people who couldn't adjust to that routine?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, I don't know. I couldn't. Well, we couldn't, because Betty and I, when we go out and eat with people, we're embarrassed still at the way we eat. We're through and setting there waiting and the


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other people are just getting into the meal. But you just, I reckon you just get in that routine. It's hard to get out of it.

        AT: Well, what about people who were working in the mill--were there some people who, while they were there in the mill, just couldn't get used to working at that pace?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, the ones that were on production, that's the way they worked. Now, everybody wasn't on production. You had people that wasn't on production. Well, they could take a break and eat. But when you're on production, you figure every time you got a loom standing you're losing money, you know, and that's keeping the machine to running. So it's a difference in being on production and being on hourly work. You pace yourself different. You work a lot harder as a rule on production than you do on hourly work.

        AT: What was the kind of work that was going on the 1930's? Was it mostly production?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, all your weaving was production. But you had loom fixers and other people, warp hands and smash hands, and all those people was hourly wage. The weavers was on production. Now your weavers and loom fixers both are on production. They pay, now, they say, according to how much work machines turn out, and the weavers and loom fixers too are paid that way. But back when I was working in the mill, the weaver was the only one on production. And he was fighting it all the time, to. . . . Well, in fact you were pushed to get production, and then you were also pushing yourself to get it, and to make all that you could.

        AT: What sort of stress and strains would that produce in people?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, it depends on how much, I guess you might say, drive you had, in trying to make money. If you didn't have too much desire


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and drive to try and make all you could, why, you didn't have to work that hard, but the company would still push you to get production.

        AT: Would there be people who would just pace themselves at a slower pace?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, everybody is different, you know. I mean, two people on a job side by side, one will work faster than the other. It's just your nature. She's much faster than I am, because she works in a hurry all the time. I don't. I try to take my time all I can, but she always works in a hurry.

        AT: Would there be any feeling that you could lose your job if you didn't keep up with production?

        L. DAVIDSON: You could. You had to get production. That was a must, to get production. Maybe you'd just barely get it, or if you was real fast or worked hard at it, you could go on and make more. But you was required to get production. If you couldn't, why, you'd eventually be replaced.

        AT: How would they set the amount of work that you had to do?

        L. DAVIDSON: They have time study people that study how much a loom is supposed to run in eight hours, and you are expected to run that much.

        AT: Did that change, say, in the twenties and thirties?

        L. DAVIDSON: That's still changing. Only thing now--course I haven't been in the mill in a number of years, but the only thing now is the machines have been speeded up. They run much faster and you run a lot more machines too.

        AT: Would it be true that you weren't pushing yourself quite as far and as hard back in the earlier days?


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        L. DAVIDSON: Well, you probably wasn't pushing yourself as hard, and you wasn't pushed as hard by the company. I mean, you were pushed, but not, I guess you'd say, to the extreme, like you are now. Now you have too many people pushing a pencil behind you. And every one that's pushing that pencil is pushing you, too. So you've got all the M and S men and all that, you know.

        AT: What are they?

        L. DAVIDSON: Method and standards. Now, I'm behind, too. I haven't worked in the mills in twenty-five years, you know. But now they'll stand there and figure how long it'll take you to tie a knot. How long it takes you to draw that thread in after you tie that knot. And they've got it down now to fractions almost.

        AT: Were they doing any of that when you came?

        L. DAVIDSON: No. They didn't start that until about the time--a while before I came out of the mill.

        AT: Do you remember some of the first people that would have been those sort of people, that came into the mill? Were they looking at what you were doing in the thirties?

        L. DAVIDSON: No, not then. They didn't push you that much then. They pushed, too, but they just pushed by talking to you, or urging you, or telling you you'd have to get more production. But now they push you and then prove it to you.

        AT: What about any effects on people's health that might have had?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, I don't know. That would be hard to say. You know, most of the people back then in the older times lived a lot longer than they do now, so I don't know whether these modern conveniences and all this technology is helping us any or not. Just like my father lived to be


Page 39

eighty-two, her father lived to be eighty-nine, and they didn't push theirself like people do now. So I think that maybe you have some advantage and some disadvantage to all this modern technology.

        AT: Were there any cases in which folks were working in the mills were unhappy at all with their circumstances or would do anything to. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, have you ever seen a group of people that everybody was happy? There's always somebody that's dissatisfied, regardless of the circumstances.

        AT: People keep telling us how much they liked working, and doing these jobs, but it must have been. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, you always got somebody a-bitching, too.

        AT: Well, why?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, there's some people that you can't please. I don't care if you give them the moon, they'd want the sun too. Some people you can't please. So a lot of time it's not because they wasn't getting a fair shake. After they got a fair shake they still wasn't happy. See what I mean? Some people can be satisfied and contented with a lot less than others. I mean, that's just nature, I think.

        AT: Well, now, there was one time in the Plaid Mill where there was some trouble, and we heard about it on several occasions, that famous dynamiting case.

        L. DAVIDSON: I had to go to court about that.

        AT: Could you talk some about what you remember about that?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, really, we would go to Danville about every week, go over to her parents', and there was several people from Danville that was working at the Plaid Mill and at other mills here in Burlington. And we'd go home every week. Mr. Delon, he lived in Danville for years and years and would go home every week. We rode with him a long time a lot of


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weekends. We didn't go every week, but a lot of weekends. But after we got a car of our own and started going on our own, we were going to Danville this weekend, and the lady that came with Betty and I to Burlington when we came over here, she says, she was going with us, and she said this--can't think of the man's name now--said he was wanted to ride with us to Danville too. So he went with us. We went on Friday evening after we got out of work and came back Sunday evening. Well, Saturday morning is when the mill was dynamited. That was during this strike. I believe they struck at that time. But anyway, this man that went with us to Danville was eventually one that was charged with dynamiting the mill. So when he came to trial, he had me for a witness to try to prove that he wasn't in Burlington on that weekend, that he was in Danville. So I had to go to court and testify that he rode with us to Danville on Friday and came back Sunday. I couldn't say what he did during that time because I didn't see him, but I was a witness to verify that he went with us to Danville on Friday and came back Sunday. So it was a lot of ill will during those things, you know. They bring on a lot of ill will.

        AT: He was convicted?

        L. DAVIDSON: I'm not sure. I believe he was. I believe he was. Seemed like he got two years for that. I'm not sure.

        AT: They figured he came back in. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, evidently they--you could very easily come back to Burlington in an hour or so, you know. And that wasn't enough evidence to prove that he wasn't here, because he went Friday and this was did Saturday morning, and he came back Sunday. Course, I was a witness to try to help him prove that he wasn't here, but evidently it wasn't enough evidence.


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And they may have had other evidence too.

        AT: What were the reasons why they would have led them to do something like that?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, I really don't remember now, but you still have those things to happen now when you have a strike, you know. Like you read where there's feuding and dynamiting. Especially on these truck drivers thing, you know, going in and out of plants. You still have that any time you have a strike and all, if it lasts very long you're going to have some trouble and violence along with it.

        AT: What was the cause of the strike to begin with?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, just like it's always been, I guess. Better working conditions and more money. They felt like if they could force the company to give them more money and better working conditions. Course, that's just like I said a while ago about people being satisfied. You can't give anybody enough to satisfy them, cause if you give them one thing they're going to want two things, and it's just a snowballing thing. But it's working conditions, and sometimes they do get bad enough that you just have to do something to try to better the conditions.

        AT: About how many of the folks who were in the mill at that time were in support of that strike?

        L. DAVIDSON: I couldn't really say. It was some workers all the time. I mean, it wasn't a hundred percent. And that's where your bad feelings and your violence comes in. People going through--and some out at the gate a-picketing. And then people come going in and coming out, and that's when it gets real nasty. You know, back then everybody was out on strike would be at the gates. Now, you know, you're limited to so many that can picket, but back then you were on your own. Everybody that wanted to come to the gates and picket, and throw slurs and everything else at the ones that were


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working, well, they did. And sometime it just got real nasty. But I think that strike lasted maybe two or three weeks, something like that.

        AT: Well, what did you do during this time?

        L. DAVIDSON: We stayed out of work, I think we stayed out a week. And course we was young and we didn't know what to do. But I think we stayed out about a week. And we'd seen that we was just losing time and it wasn't going to amount to anything really, we wasn't going to get anything out of it. So we went back to work.

        AT: Did you all every come out on the picket line?

        L. DAVIDSON: We, most of the time we would stay at home. We could stay at home and see just about--we didn't live but about two blocks from the mill, and you could just about see what was going on at the mill. We didn't get involved in it too much.

        AT: Who would have been the people who tried to organize the strike?

        L. DAVIDSON: I don't remember who it was. I think it was American Federation of Labor, was about all we had. We didn't have the CIO and all these--I don't know how many of them there is now. It wasn't but one labor organization. Course I think this was more or less a local thing anyway.

        AT: Were there particular people who were here working in the mill who were trying to get the union going, or were people sent in from outside?

        L. DAVIDSON: I think it was mostly local. Just trying to get the people to go together and get something done. But you don't--your chances are real slim on something like that, because as a rule the people working can--most of the people working are week to week, or payday to payday thing. You can't stay out very long. In other words, the company can stand it a lot longer than you can, and so they just break you down.


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        AT: Did that happen some in this case?

        L. DAVIDSON: I think we stayed out about two or three weeks, but we wasn't out long enough to be any big thing. Now, they had a strike in Danville before we came to Burlington, about 1930, and that thing went on for about a year. They stuck it out a long time, but I think the company finally forced them back to work. They've got the upper hand. Course now you've got your labor organizations that if you have a strike here the labor organization will give support to you while you're out, but back then you was just on your own. You was losing time, that was all. And you couldn't stand to lose time very long, when you was just making barely a living wage anyway.

        AT: Were there any meetings of any of those people that would have been out on the strike? Would they get together and try to plan something?

        L. DAVIDSON: Oh, yeah, they had meetings and all.

        AT: Where would they be held?

        L. DAVIDSON: I don't really remember now. But as a rule you didn't have too intelligent people leading those things. A lot of times you just had your loudmouth people that had more mouth than they had intelligence. Usually you didn't have very good leadership.

        AT: What happened then after the strike was over? Did any of the strikers come back to work in the mill?

        L. DAVIDSON: Most of them did. Some of them they wouldn't take back, more or less the leaders and all. Some of them they wouldn't take back, but most of the people went back to work. You didn't accomplish anything really.

        AT: And did hard feelings remain?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, yeah, that creates hard feelings, even from one worker to another, you know. Like you come out and I stay in. Well, you're a scab and everything else if you keep working, and you're not trying to help us better the conditions, and all you know. That's where your hard


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feelings come in. It can get real nasty. Lot of people will get mad cause the other person don't agree with them, you know. In other words, they're right and you're wrong and they get mad cause they think you're wrong.

Begin Tape 2, Side 2

        L. DAVIDSON: You know, you don't have a very strong leadership with something like that.

        AT: A lot of people [unclear] seems to me were going to the Hocutt Church at that time.

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, the most of them were.

        AT: Did the minister in the church have anything to say about the strike?

        L. DAVIDSON: I don't think they got involved with it. Course he had people with the company and the workers too. In other words, he had people on both sides of the fence, so you can't be too outspoken in something like that. When you're in a situation like that, you're going to say something against somebody, you'd best not say it.

        AT: What about looking back through those years at Plaid Mill, times in which they lowered people's wages?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, no. Not after `32. In `33 is when Roosevelt was elected and that's when things--well they was on the bottom them. Most everything was closed down. But they come out with this NRA and Roosevelt, when he was elected, they started up mills and people started getting jobs. The wage scale and everything gradually started going up then. Up until `33 if you could make enough money to pay board, you wasn't doing too bad. But after that the wage scale started going up some, and people started living better.


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        AT: Did people ever have a sense that they were working very hard in the mill and they were making money for the folks who were owning the mill? Did they ever feel that that was unfair?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, it's hard to say how people feel, but you always feel like the company is making money and they're not giving you a fair share. I mean, that's just a normal feeling. You always feel like they could pay you more than they are. But that comes right back around to what I said a while ago, that regardless of what you get, you're not satisfied, you know.

        AT: Well, do you think that they could have indeed paid you more and done all right as a company?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, I don't think their profit is nothing like it is now. They was operating on a much smaller margin that the companies are now. Course, the dollar was worth a lot more too. You made a dollar then it was worth more than thirty or forty cents, like they claim in is now.


        [Pause]


        L. DAVIDSON: I was boarding with my brother at that time . . .

        AT: This was during the Danville strike.

        L. DAVIDSON: During the Depression. I know one of my cousin's wife--they got where that they was living in a company house. Back then most of the companies owned a lot of the houses, you know, mill houses. And they had to move out of the mill house and they moved in with my brother and his wife. And they lived with us for months. And they'd issue us--they'd go to the union and all and they'd issue us a little food and groceries, you know. He was out I would say six to eight months. That was a long-drawn-out affair. And they got real nasty over there. Oh, they turned over street cars, I think, and I don't know what all. You remember all that up at Schoolfield. Man, they really got nasty up there. Because


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it went on for a long time and there was a lot of ill will. But this one at Plaid Mill, it only lasted a couple of weeks and it was just a little small, localized thing, but see that Dan River Mills, why that was about all there was in Danville, for public work. And just about everybody was involved. And all your stores and everything, they'd depend on the mill people for the business, too. It didn't only affect the ones that were working. It affected everybody. So the whole city was involved in that, you might say. But you take here, why you have the hosiery mills, you have the weaving mills, and you also have so many different companies, it wasn't no one big company here. Course, Burlington Mills got to be pretty strong in later years, but I think that's one thing--it was just a little small, you might say local thing. You didn't have enough clout, I guess you might call it, to really do much.

        AT: And there wasn't enough sense in general that you could get other. . . .

        L. DAVIDSON: Yeah, you didn't have any backing. I mean, it was just a local thing, and you was on your own, and it was just you and the company. You didn't have anybody to give you any backing, you might say.

        AT: When you were starting and you were doing your weaving, back in the thirties, what time of day would you get to the mill?

        DAVIDSON: We would get there about ten minutes to seven. And at seven o'clock we would take the job over that would already be running. We would read the pick clocks, and then we would start in working. You inspect your cloth first, fill your own shuttles, draw your own ends in, take off your cloth. And at twelve o'clock we stopped off for thirty minutes for lunch, and then went back to work and worked four more hours. And then read the pick clocks again, and always leave the looms running.

        AT: What time would you get off work?


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        DAVIDSON: Three o'clock.

        AT: When you say, read the pick clocks . . .

        DAVIDSON: The pick clocks, uh-huh. That was the picks you would get paid by as the loom turned over, they would register picks.

        AT: When you were talking about reading it, would it be numbers?

        DAVIDSON: Be numbers. I think back then a loom run around sixty picks, if the loom run real good.

        AT: And how many looms would you be running?

        DAVIDSON: Well, at the beginning I went to work at Plaid Mill on four looms, then I went to six looms, and then to eight or twelve, and the first large set I had was straight up and down in front of the windows, and it was twenty looms. The first long set that was started up at Plaid Mills, I started them up.

        AT: And would you be standing up most of the day?

        DAVIDSON: Walking real fast all the time. You never sit. Then we was not stopping off for lunch, by that time.

        AT: You had to walk all the time?

        DAVIDSON: You had to walk all the time, work all the time, and eat on the job by then.

        AT: What kind of things could go wrong so that you had to keep moving like that?

        DAVIDSON: Ends breaking out. Looms stopping off. Fillings breaking. Looms slamming. Getting out of fix.

        AT: Would you fix any of those things yourself?

        DAVIDSON: Very few. Loom fixer had to fix the loom when it was out of fix, or breaking filling. I had to throw all the ends in.


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        AT: How would you let the loom fixer know when the loom was broken?

        DAVIDSON: Put up a red flag for the loom fixer, a yellow flag for the filling, and green flag for the cloth doffer. By then you wasn't taking off your cloth, running twenty looms.

        AT: Would something like that go wrong every day, or once of twice a day?

        DAVIDSON: Oh, dozens of times.

        AT: And how long would it take for the fixer or someone to come?

        DAVIDSON: Well, he usually kept up pretty good, if you had a good loom fixer, he kept up with his job. And you didn't have to wait very long, because that was your money.

        AT: You were being paid by how much you could produce?

        DAVIDSON: How many picks I run.

        AT: And would you ever get a chance to take just a few minutes to rest during the day?

        DAVIDSON: Sometimes. Sometimes your looms would run so you could rest a few minutes.

        AT: Did you enjoy moving around and doing all this?

        DAVIDSON: Yes. I enjoyed weaving. I always enjoyed my job. I always enjoyed working.

        AT: Did you like watching the machines?

        DAVIDSON: Yes. You always enjoy watching a loom run, if you're weaving. That's when you're making your money. If the loom's stopped, you don't make money.


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        AT: What about in terms of being something interesting to watch? Is that an interesting thing?

        DAVIDSON: It's real interesting. Weaving is always interesting because you're doing something different every five minutes.

        AT: There's so many different things?

        DAVIDSON: So many different things. You're doing something different all the time.

        L. DAVIDSON: Also you're changing styles all the time. Coming out with new styles, new patterns. And you're always trying to progress, you know. Coming out with new patterns, new styles, new materials, new types of yarn.

        AT: Would you be able to talk to anybody?

        DAVIDSON: Oh, yeah, you'd talk.

        AT: How close would the person be to you?

        DAVIDSON: You'd learn to read lips. It's so much noise, you see. And I'd just look at the loom fixer and he'd look at me. And we'd talk to each other.

        AT: Would you talk to any other weavers?

        DAVIDSON: Oh yeah. Anybody in the weave room. Because everybody learned to talk to each other.

        AT: Would you do that a lot?

        DAVIDSON: No, because you didn't have time. You would talk about the job, but you didn't have time to run around and talk. They didn't keep anybody that did that. I went from two looms at Plaid Mill to eighty-four looms at Plaid Mill.

        AT: In how many years?


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        DAVIDSON: I went there March 21, 1932, and at the time I was running eighty-four--I didn't run eighty-four very long, the very simple weave style then--I can't quite remember but not too many years before it closed down. You always went by styles how many looms you run.

        AT: I see. And did you get a sense that things were getting faster all the time, or slower, that you were there? How did that seem to you?

        DAVIDSON: About the same. You know, you just work fast all the time. I always worked fast all the time anyway. And anybody come up to you to start talking, I always kept moving. And I still find myself doing it on the job I'm on. Somebody come up to me and start talking, and I'll catch myself going off.

        AT: Would there be people who might try weaving for a while and didn't like it?

        DAVIDSON: Oh, just lots and lots of them. A weaver hardly ever stayed. That's why they can't get weavers today. People just will not stay with it. It's hard work, and it's hard to learn.

        AT: So you would have lots of turnover in the weave room?

        DAVIDSON: Lots of turnovers.

        AT: Would people go back to other jobs in the mill that they had done before?

        DAVIDSON: Yes. Try something else.

        AT: When you first began, do you remember if it made you real tired?

        DAVIDSON: Real, real tired. I was only sixteen years old, but I can remember coming home and falling in bed I was so tired.

        AT: How did the noise affect you?

        DAVIDSON: It never did bother me. I can't remember the year, but it was after I moved down here, and we've been down here seventeen years. How


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long has it been, Lloyd? Twelve, fifteen years? I was walking around starting up my looms, and I was eating. And I reached and caught a-hold of a wheel and it had a live wire. And I got five hundred and fifty voltage. And something--it felt like my brains was just going up. And I thought I was lifting the loom, but the loom was lifting me. And I hit the handle--wood. The doctor said that's what happened. My hand hit the wood and it knocked me from the loom. Couldn't move--I was paralyzed. But I could holler. And I hollered, and my overseer was up the alley. And he came to me, and of course he could tell. See, I was yellow. And I told him I was paralyzed. And so he asked me, and I could tell him that that was the loom that got me, and of course they cut the motor off. And then I passed out. I was out about two hours.

        AT: And when you woke up, could you move again?

        DAVIDSON: Well, I was in shock, but I was at the hospital. They carried me on to the hospital.

        AT: When would this have been?

        DAVIDSON: It's been about fifteen years ago, hasn't it, Lloyd?

        L. DAVIDSON: I believe it has.

        DAVIDSON: I guess it's been about fifteen years.

        AT: Would there have been back in this time before World War II, what about people that were weaving? Were there any kind of accidents that the weavers would have?

        DAVIDSON: Yeah. It's always accidents in weaving, because people are getting their hands caught in the looms, and their fingers mashed. I've been real lucky. I've never had any serious trouble, except the electric shock.

        AT: Could you lose a finger?

        DAVIDSON: Oh, yes. A lot of people lost fingers.


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        AT: Lots of weavers.

        DAVIDSON: Yes. And you always had to keep your hair close, and we wore dresses then, and I've had mine, just big chunks pulled out of them. And if you weren't careful, if you got caught in them, you know, it'd just jerk it off of you.

        AT: If people would lose a finger in a loom, could they still be weavers?

        DAVIDSON: Well, it wouldn't be easy. Because you need all your fingers weaving, because you could get just a tiny cut and you know that would really bother you weaving.

        AT: Did you have any friends who lost their fingers? Do you remember any particular accidents like that?

        DAVIDSON: No, I really don't. That did happen, yes.

        L. DAVIDSON: Any time you work running machinery, you should be getting hurt. And those looms would throw shuttles out too. If the loom wasn't running right, it would throw a shuttle out, and it's liable to hit you anywhere. I've got a scar behind one of my ears now where one hit me. And it just knocked my head down. It didn't really hurt me. But any time you're around running machinery, you're subject to get hurt.

        AT: Other than this time you got a shock, you weren't ever hurt?

        DAVIDSON: I never was seriously hurt.

        AT: Would that be unusual?

        DAVIDSON: The shock, that was very unusual.

        AT: I mean, for. . . .

        DAVIDSON: Yes, it's kindly unusual, as long as I have worked and never got hurt. It is unusual. But I've always tried to be real careful. And the time I got shocked was not my fault. The wire fell a-loose and got


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on the wheel of the loom, and see, that wore it naked.

        AT: How long did it take after you began weaving so that you were able to work this hard without being tired? Or did you ever get used to that?

        DAVIDSON: You never do. You're just tired when you quit weaving. I guess that's one reason though I keep on the go, cause all these many years, you see, and I'm still able to go and it don't bother me. Never got a leg nor nothing.

        L. DAVIDSON: It'll wear you out mentally and physically, because you're studying all the time along with working all the time. And it'll exhaust you both ways.

        [Pause]

        L. DAVIDSON: I quit weaving in 1956 and I think when I left the mill, I think I was running thirty-eight looms, but they got on up in the seventies and eighties after I left. But it's mental and physical.

        AT: Would you say it would make people nervous to do this?

        DAVIDSON: A lot of people it did. It didn't bother me. A lot of people it would work on their nerves so they couldn't weave.

        AT: How would that show up in those people?

        DAVIDSON: Well, I guess they just give out. Because I have seen people say, well I just can't take it any longer.

        AT: While they were working?

        DAVIDSON: Uh-huh. Just get on their nerves so bad. And it still does till today. A lot of people can't weave.

        AT: What would happen if something like that happened to a weaver while he or she was on the job?


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        DAVIDSON: Oh, he'd just go out. I've seen lot of them, just lots of people just knock the looms off and go out. Walk out. Just quit.

        AT: And not come back?

        DAVIDSON: Not come back. Oh, no, they'd never come back.

        AT: And then someone else come in? Would they have someone else standing by to come in, or would it be the next day?

        DAVIDSON: Well, back then, back in the early thirties they did. They had spare weavers. But up until today they can't get weavers. They begging for weavers everywhere now.

        AT: What about at the Plaid Mill-were there any kind of benefits for people if you had an accident or if you retired during this time? Were there any kind of hospital benefits or sick leave or doctor bill payments or anything like that?

        DAVIDSON: Well, back then I don't guess they did.

        L. DAVIDSON: The only insurance back then they had was to protect the company. They looked out for the company interest, but you didn't have any benefit. There was no retirement, no hospitalization, no benefits whatsoever, as far as for helping you. They carried insurance to protect the company.

        AT: Would any workers ever sue the company or anything like that? For benefits?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, they probably have, but it's a losing cause when you do. They have their own lawyers and they always have the upper hand, you might say. Kind of like David and Goliath, I reckon you could put it that way.


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        AT: When would benefits have first begun to come it?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, it hasn't been too many years that you had very many benefits. Well, they did come out with hospital insurance and maybe a death policy; hospital insurance, in other words, hospitalization insurance and all, but as far as retirement, it's a late thing.

        AT: The hospitalization would have been after, say, World War II?

        L. DAVIDSON: Oh, yeah.

        AT: In the fifties?

        L. DAVIDSON: Probably in the fifties before they got that to where it would do any good or be any benefit really.

        AT: And the retirement would have even been later than that?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, they started this profit sharing--what did you have it? ten years?--probably about ten years. So it's one of the late things. The only benefit you had back then was getting paid. That was it. Long as you had a job you got paid. That was the only benefit.

        AT: What about in some of the other jobs beside the weaving? Were there any harder jobs than that in the mill?

        DAVIDSON: Nothing but fixing looms. I guess you would call that a harder job. And the smash hands, that was a pretty hard job, but they didn't get paid as much as a weaver. And then they went to magazine hands, and they didn't make near as much as a weaver.

        AT: Did those sorts of job require as much. . . .

        DAVIDSON: No skill.

        AT: And you didn't have to be moving all the time in quite the same way?

        DAVIDSON: Not quite the same way.

        AT: More rest time?


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        DAVIDSON: That's right. And they had break time.

        L. DAVIDSON: You don't know what rest time is in the mills.

        AT: Even if you're, say, a loom fixer?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, you're getting paid by the hour, but there's somebody pushing all the time. Your loom fixers and your smash hands and your magazine fillers, they're all getting paid by the hour, but don't think that's a gravy train either, because there's somebody there pushing you all the time. If they see you get caught up and they think you can handle more, well then they increase your job, so you're just like the weavers. You've got more than you can do. All those jobs are figured out for more than you can do. That'll keep you busy most of the time.

        AT: Did it take a particular sort of person to be, say, a superintendent or overseer in the mill?

        L. DAVIDSON: Yeah, somebody who didn't have any better sense than to take the job.

        AT: How did they get along with the workers? Did it require a certain kind of skill?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, I guess it required it. Some of them didn't seem to have it, but I guess it required it. But most of those jobs is pull. Somebody else--you're somebody else's friend or you're somebody's kinfolk. That's the way most of those jobs work. You know, back in the early years. You know, you had to be--you had to have some connection with somebody who was already in there and he'd hire his son, or his friend or something. I mean, if you was on your own you didn't have a chance. Cause you had to have somebody to pull.


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        AT: What would happen if you had a superintendent or overseer who couldn't get along and kept causing problems with the workers?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, they kept getting rid of the workers. Yeah, the workers would go. You never seen one that was wrong. The worker's always wrong. Not the management. Have you got that thing on? See, I'm retired now. I can say these things now. I could think them back then, I can say them now.

        DAVIDSON: I've had some real good overseers though. Real good.

        L. DAVIDSON: There's a few good ones.

        AT: Would each department have an overseer? How would that work?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, they'd have a overseer, or what they'd call second hands. They'd have somebody looking out after it.

        AT: And then above them would be the superintendent?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, you had your superintendent and your overseers and then your second hand.

        AT: Would there be any cases where they would get a worker so mad that they might get in a fight?

        L. DAVIDSON: Oh yeah, they had fights some time. You get mad enough just any time. But when you know your job depends on it, and you might not be able to get another one, why sometimes you have to grin and bear it.

        AT: But now and then somebody would just have had enough?

        L. DAVIDSON: Oh yeah, I've known people to have fights.

        AT: What would they have started over?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, disagreements over something.


Page 58

        AT: Can you remember any kind of examples?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, just like you had a loom fixer that the man was on your butt because you wasn't running the looms, and the loom fixer wouldn't fix the looms where it would run. Well, then, that'll start an argument, you know. And sometimes you can settle them in one way and sometimes you settle them some other way, you know. So, it's a whole lot in the temperament of the person, I reckon.

        AT: If someone were to get in a fight, then that would be the end of them?

        L. DAVIDSON: Well, you know your job's at stake. There's no company will keep people that are fighting. I mean, you know you're going to lose your job when you do it, because as a rule they don't like to take sides, and most of the time they'll just discharge both of you. Cause there's two sides to anything and they don't know who's right and who's wrong a lot of times, so they discharge both of you. And they're sure they got the right person then.


        [Pause]


        L. DAVIDSON: . . . kept swearing you wasn't going to come back the next day. But you did.

        AT: You mean you came home crying some times?

        DAVIDSON: Oh, mercy. You don't know what weaving is. Weaving is hard. How many weavers have you talked with?

        AT: Oh, a handful.

        DAVIDSON: Don't they all tell you it's hard?

        AT: Yes.

        DAVIDSON: And it's really harder now than it used to be. Cause last week I like to worked myself to death.


Page 59

        L. DAVIDSON: These little old efficiency experts from North Carolina State College, man they got to make a show, you know. And they give you about twice as much as you can do, you know. Like this other man give you forty looms, why he'll say, I'll give you forty-four. That'll make it look good for me, you know. But they ain't thinking about what they're doing to you. You've already got more than you can do. Then they give you more. Well, that looks good to them.

        DAVIDSON: And they don't know a thing about weaving.

        L. DAVIDSON: And he's getting it more efficient, you know. He's got them running more looms. He's more efficient than this other fellow was. It looks good on him, and it's just killing them other people.

        DAVIDSON: Well, for instance, you know when they first started time checking us. I've had them time check me for solid weeks, and you know what time studying is. They walking after you every step. . . .

[End of Interview]