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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Icy Norman, April 6 and 30, 1979. Interview H-0036. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Norman's father prevents her mother from working

Norman remembers her childhood. Her mother briefly worked, but her employment rankled her father's ideas about womanhood, and he soon corralled his wife back into their home. While Norman's mother was working, Norman enjoyed free day care from her mother's textile mill employer in Schoolfield, North Carolina. The mill ran the whole city, she remembers.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Icy Norman, April 6 and 30, 1979. Interview H-0036. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

MARY MURPHY:
Did your mother ever work in the mill?
ICY NORMAN:
Not here. My mother worked some in Schoolfield. My daddy never would let her work. She had a job and worked I reckon about three months. My baby sister, she was just a little baby. They had a nursery. They would take me and my brother and my baby sister—she wasn't four months old—to the nursery. Mama worked three or six months, I can't say. One morning there my daddy told her, "I didn't marry you to work. You got all the work you need at home and your children. It's not a wife's place to work. If a man can't make a living for his wife and children, he ain't no business marrying. Now if you going to work, I'll quit and come home and tend to our children." So Mama went in and worked her notice and come home. That's all she ever did work. My daddy wouldn't let her work. He didn't like it because she worked then. I don't think it was over three or maybe six months she worked. He says, "I'm not dragging these little young ones out in the cold carrying them to that nursery of a morning. Your place is at home and that's where you're going to be. If I can't make a living for you, then you can go to work and I'll quit and tend to the young ones."
MARY MURPHY:
What kind of nursery was that?
ICY NORMAN:
They had trained nurses, real nurses. I mean they had a degree. It was a big nursery that the company had. They would keep tiny babies, year-olds, two years on up until they was sixteen years old. They had a category for each one. They had trained nurses. They checked when you went in that nursery—they changed your clothes, they put their clothes on you. They checked each child every morning. The little tots, where they could set up at the table, they had a big round table about that wide with little chairs for them little young ones to sit there and eat. Then they had place for the bigger children. It was a huge place, you know. They went in age groups. They had doctors to come in once a week to check each child. If any one of the children was running a temperature they would send for its mother to come home, to come to the nursery to take that child home.
MARY MURPHY:
Did the mill pay for that?
ICY NORMAN:
The mill paid for that. Old Dr. Crumpler was the mill doctor there. They had a dentist. I forget what the dentist's name was. One time I had a toothache. My daddy carried me up there. That old dentist pulled my tooth. Didn't numb it, I thought I would die, sure enough. That made me scared of dentists. It was years before I'd go to one.
MARY MURPHY:
It sounds like the mill ran the whole city.
ICY NORMAN:
They did. They built a Y.M.C.A. and they had this nursery. Then they built a huge Hilton Hall. Oh, that was a huge building. It was eight stories high, counting the two ground floors, counting the basement. They built that. People could go there that worked in the mill and have a boarding place. They served your meals and everything. They didn't charge but so much a week. All they had to do was cross the railroad and right into the mill. Then they built that Y.M.C.A. Then they put a movie in here. They had a huge city park. That was the most beautifulest park you ever seen. It was then, I don't know how it is now. I ain't been over there in years. Schoolfield just run all of Schoolfield. North Danville, they had a cotton mill down there. They went in together and expanded. They are kind of expanding like the Burlington Mill, expanding out. Seems like the Plaid Mill or the Mayfair did run some yarn, nylon, for the Dan River. They ex panding out too.