Norman receives kind treatment rather than a pension
Norman remembers her last day on the job. She dressed in her Sunday best and said farewell to her coworkers. She received some gifts, including an inscribed gold cup she could spit in while doing snuff. This kind treatment moved her, but she regrets that she did not receive more financial compensation for her contributions.
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
On Friday morning I went in. I had my Sunday clothes on, my Sunday shoes.
Had my hair fixed right pretty. Everybody says, "You look so
pretty, you didn't come in to work."
I says, "I didn't. This is one day I'm
going to pester everybody." I had to learn a girl, Julia
Candem, to creel on my, she was going to take my job. I learned her how
to creel. I took more pains with that poor soul. She wasn't
old, she wasn't but thirty, maybe thirty-one. I took the most
pains. I said the way I was treated when I went in there, the way Essie
treated me, if I ever had to learn anybody, I'd do the very
best. Show them everything. And help them anyway that I could. And I
did. And I learnt, I don't know the hands I learnt. So Julia
went on over there and says, "Icy, Lord mercy, I
can't keep them two warp mills up."
I says, "I'll be back after a while and
I'll help you." So I went all over the slasher room,
talked to all the slasher men. They all hugged me and said, "We
sure will miss you."
Then I went on up to the cotton winding room and went around to all of
them. They all hug me and says, "I wish you the very best. I
wish it was me."
I come on around to the office there where Gene and Allen and Boyd, all
of them, I talked with them girls, their secretarys, Jean, all of them
was in there. They was all around me and hugging me, saying, "I
don't know of nobody in the world I hate to see, as bad as I
hate to see you leave."
I says, "Well, I hate to leave you all. I growed so fond of
everybody. I love everyone of you. Y'all feel like one of my
family. In fact, you're the only family
I got here in Burlington. All the bosses says, "If anything in
the world ever comes up and you need us, you holler. We'll be
I had talked to Sherry that lives right there. I was sitting there and
talking to her. All at once the telephone rung and I was leaving from
there going up to the main office, to talk to Fran and all. The
personnel man. She laughed and said, "Yeah. She's
fixing to leave right now. She's going up to the office and
talk to the personnel and Fran and all." And it was Milton, he
called. It was him she was talking to. He told her and her face turned
just as red. She says, "Well, I'll do my
He says, "I'm getting on my scooter and
I'll be there in a minute. You hold her there.
They're all down here."
I says, "Who was that. You looked at me and laughed.
I'm going up to Fran's and see all of them,
personnel, Jimmy, that was the superintendent. I'm going up
there and tell them goodbye."
She says, "No, you can't. Milton's on his
way up here on that scooter."
I says, "I ain't riding on that there little
She says, "Well, he's on his way." About
that time here he comes busting in the door.
He says, "I come after you."
I says, "You told me I could go around and tell everybody
He says, "I did."
I says, "I ain't got to the office up there.
I'm going up there."
He says, "You can go up there later. I got something down here I
want you to do for me."
I says, "Go ahead, I'll be on down there." I
thought maybe, what popped into my mind, was that Julia run up against
something she didn't understand. I says,
"I'll be right on down."
He says, "You're going with me."
I says, "I ain't riding that scooter."
He says, "Yes you are." I got on the back of that
thing. I says, "I'll fall off of it."
He says, "No you won't. I won't drive
He rounded the curb and the whole crowd was standing there. All of them
from the main office, slasher hands, dye hands, the warp hands, and two
or three of the retired hands was there. They had everything fixed. When
Milton drove up and turned the scooter this way and they snapped our
picture. Then Jimmy, he made a little talk. He didn't say but
a word or two, he filled up and he quit. Personnel man was talking.
Every one of them cried. They took the picture of the table.
I looked at Milton, laughed and said, "You didn't fix
me no blue floweredey cake, did you?" That was the prettiest
cake, I just wish you could have seen it. That cake was that long and it
was that wide. I have never seen a cake that long. It was decorated all
up. It had the year I come there and the year I was retiring. And says,
"Happy Retirement, Icy. We love you." That was the
prettiest thing. They give me several presents. Bobby, he knowed I did
snuff. They had paper cups there at them vending machines, and
I'd always take one of them and I dragged my cup along with
me. If I had to go over to the other warp mill, I'd take my
cup with me so I could spit. You know what he had, them warper hands
made up and bought me a gold cuspidor with my name
"Warpin', we love you Icy." He hand me
I says, "Bobby, if that's a cone of yarn,
I'm going to throw it at you." That's
what I thought it was. I opened that.
He says, "Well, it ain't no yarn." I opened
that up and that was so pretty. He says,
"I want you to use that."
I says, "I'll never spit in that. That's
too pretty to spit in." They made me up $350.00 to
give me and give it to me with a real pretty card with
everybody's name on it. It was real nice. All the other
retirements, they said something about it. A lot of times
they'll call and say, the bosses will,
"What's you going to do. You got anything planned
tomorrow." And if I did, I'd tell what I was going
to do. They'd call that next evening, "You got
anything planned tomorrow." And I'd say,
"Well, you be ready. We're going to take you out to
lunch." They come and carried me out I don't know
what the times for lunch from the mill. They ain't done none
of the other retirements like that. Thelma Ward especially, she said,
"They never did take me out for lunch."
I says, "They come and carried me out. They called me and asked
me, told me to be ready, they'd pick me up at five minutes to
twelve. We'd go out and eat dinner."
It kind of hurt me about the money they giving them now. Of course, I got
my little dab of profit sharing. It wasn't much. I got it.
But still that wasn't like that main. I could have really
used that money. I felt like if anybody was entitled to it, I was,
because I put my whole life there. My young life and I growed up there.
Where them that's getting that money, they have quit and be
gone for from two to five and six years and come back and get another
job. That wasn't fair. Probably it's fair to them.
I'm glad they're getting it. But it
wasn't fair to me. I felt a little hurt over that. Milton and
Jimmy and all of them said they done their level best to get it for me.
They said Klopman put in his two cents. They said it knocked me out of
it. They really felt that if anybody in the world needed it and got it
for the years that I give to the Burlington Mills, I deserved it.
Burlington Mills, I deserved it.