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Title: Oral History Interview with Ethel Bowman Shockley, June 24, 1977. Interview H-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Shockley, Ethel Bowman, interviewee
Interview conducted by Kuhn, Cliff Frederickson, Mary
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 136 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© 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.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-09-02, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Ethel Bowman Shockley, June 24, 1977. Interview H-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0045)
Author: Cliff Kuhn and Mary Frederickson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Ethel Bowman Shockley, June 24, 1977. Interview H-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0045)
Author: Ethel Bowman Shockley
Description: 114 Mb
Description: 33 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 24, 1977, by Cliff Kuhn and Mary Frederickson; recorded in Burlington, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Ethel Bowman Shockley, June 24, 1977.
Interview H-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Shockley, Ethel Bowman, interviewee


Interview Participants

    ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY, interviewee
    CLIFF KUHN, interviewer
    MARY FREDERICKSON, interviewer
    MR. SHOCKLEY, interviewee
    HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON, interviewee

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
CLIFF KUHN:
We're interviewing Ethel Shockley, and I first want to know did you know your grandparents?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes.
CLIFF KUHN:
What were their names and where did they come from?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
My father's parents was Sam and Adeline Bowman. They lived across Blueridge Mountain in Carroll County. And my mother's parents was Andy and Phoebe Ayers. They was from Virginia, Carroll County, but they came down here to Glen Raven, and they worked in the Glen Raven mill for years. And then I think they moved to Haw River. My daddy's parents always was farmers.
CLIFF KUHN:
Do you remember when your mother's parents came down to Glen Raven or Haw River?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, I don't, but I've heard my uncle say that he was real small, and him and myself's about the same age, so it must have been about 1900.
CLIFF KUHN:
Do you know anything about why they came down here to work in the mills?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
The way I understand, I think there was fourteen in the family. And then, the larger the family was, the more the mill owners wanted to get them in so they could have help. It was hard to get help back then, and if they got a large family they had plenty of help in the mill. That's what I've heard them say.
CLIFF KUHN:
So your mother was born in this area and your father was born in Virginia?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, my mother was born in Virginia, but they came down

Page 2
here to North Carolina when they was young children.
CLIFF KUHN:
How did your parents meet if your mother was a young girl and your father was still up in Virginia?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
That I don't know.
CLIFF KUHN:
What was your father's name?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
My father's name was Dennis Bowman.
CLIFF KUHN:
And your mother's name?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Susie Ayers.
CLIFF KUHN:
So you were born in Virginia?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes. I was born in Carroll County, Virginia.
CLIFF KUHN:
And when did your family come here?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I came here in '21, but I had some people on my mother's side that was living here, was the reason I came here.
CLIFF KUHN:
What relation were they to you?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
My aunts, my mother's sisters.
CLIFF KUHN:
So they stayed here, and your mother went back to Virginia and got married.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes.
CLIFF KUHN:
And then the whole family moved down here in '21, or was it just you and your husband by that time?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
My husband and myself moved in '21, but I came down here during World War I and stayed with my mother's sister.
CLIFF KUHN:
Why did you come down here at that time?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I just come down here to visit and went to work in Glen Raven mill. [Laughter] And then when he got out of service, I went back to Virginia, and that's where we got married, in Dublin, Virginia.

Page 3
CLIFF KUHN:
So you got married after he got out of the service?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes. And then we stayed up there till '21, and we came down here.
CLIFF KUHN:
Why did you decide to come back down here rather than stay in Virginia?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Because we rented on farms, and not too much money to make, so he decided he wanted to come down here and get a job at the mill. So he came down here and got a job at the Plaid Mill.
CLIFF KUHN:
How much were renters making back in those days on the farms?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
About seventy-five cents a day.
CLIFF KUHN:
How much did mill work pay in 1921?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I don't remember just how much he made. I guess if I could hunt long enough, I could find some things. It seems to me like when we came to the Plaid Mill, he made two dollars a day.
CLIFF KUHN:
So it was a big improvement.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
And we paid a dollar a month house rent to live in a company house.
CLIFF KUHN:
What kind of job did each of you have when you first came down here, in the Plaid Mill?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
He had a job in the dye house, dyeing yarn. And I didn't go to work until '27, and I went to work skein-winding; you run the skein of yarn onto a bobbin. That's what I did at the beginning. And after then it went out and I done odd jobs, first one thing and another, whatever I could do.
CLIFF KUHN:
Had you done any work before you worked in the Glen Raven mills during the First World War?

Page 4
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, I wasn't but about sixteen then. No, just housework and on the farm.
CLIFF KUHN:
Had your husband, before he worked in the Plaid Mill?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, he was a farmer on up till he come to the Plaid Mill.
CLIFF KUHN:
How did the two of you meet?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I was living in Virginia then, so that's where we met. And then he went into the Army, and I came down here.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did you have any brothers or sisters?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, my father died when I was six weeks old, and I'm the oldest one. Then my mother remarried; I had some half-brothers and -sisters.
CLIFF KUHN:
Back in Carroll County?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, they lived in Virginia till they got old enough to come to North Carolina. I have one half-sister lives at Gibsonville, and I have a half-brother that lives in Virginia. And the rest of them's passed away.
CLIFF KUHN:
When they came down here, did they stay with you?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes.
CLIFF KUHN:
How would that work?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
One would come and stay a while and get married, and another one would come. [Laughter] First thing you know, they was married [Laughter], so that's the way they came down.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did they come down for work, or did they come down to get married?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
They came down and held a job here. They was on a farm, so they followed us down, we told them. And they worked at the

Page 5
Plaid Mill.
CLIFF KUHN:
In the mill, were there any jobs that were considered better jobs than other jobs?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Oh, yes.
CLIFF KUHN:
Which were the best jobs?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
The best moneymaking jobs there were in the mill was weaving. And then it went down, and then they went on production.
CLIFF KUHN:
What was the difference?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
When you worked production, you had to work harder to make a little money, did more work.
CLIFF KUHN:
Your husband started working in 1921. When were the kids born?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
The oldest one was born in Virginia. That's the reason I know so well when we came down; I know how old she is. And the rest of them was born here in North Carolina. One was born in Virginia; one was born at Glen Raven; one was born on Cady Street; and the other on Plaid.
CLIFF KUHN:
Where exactly is Cady Street?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Cady Street is in West Burlington, up there one block from the Plaid Mill. One block from Plaid Street down towards town.
CLIFF KUHN:
Why did you move from Cady Street to Plaid Street? Was there any difference in the housing?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes. The one on Plaid Street had a little more room than the one on Cady Street.
CLIFF KUHN:
Was the rent the same?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, they was company houses.

Page 6
CLIFF KUHN:
So it was the same even for the one on Plaid Street as on Cady Street?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes.
CLIFF KUHN:
What years were the children born?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
The oldest one was born in 1920. Stella was born in '23. The next was born in '25, and Ruth was born in '37.
CLIFF KUHN:
So in 1923 Burlington Mills comes in. What was the effect in the community when Spencer Love first came in with Burlington Mills? Was the industry in good shape at that time?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
That was during the Depression when Spencer Love came in. He opened up a silk mill down where the Pioneer Plant is. Then he built the Pioneer Plant, and then Burlington Mills took over the Plaid Mills and Burlington. And then he started up Belmont; that was a division of Burlington Mills. So with Spencer Love coming in, that was what saved us.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did he offer the same wages as the other mills, or were there higher wages in different kinds of mills?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
You'll have to say Burlington Mills has always paid the highest pay. If this mill over here raises wages, you've got a key you're going to get one, too. And it'll be a little bit more than that one. That's the way it was then.
CLIFF KUHN:
During those years that you were at the Plaid Mill, did you ever have any desire to go to any other mills?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, I enjoyed working at the Plaid Mill.
CLIFF KUHN:
Where did you work, a lot of different places?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I worked at Glen Raven before I got married. And then

Page 7
when I went to work, I went to work at the Plaid Mill and stayed there till they retired me.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did you do the same kind of job all the time in the Plaid Mill?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No. I started off winding rayon; then come in with silk. Then I redrawed. I worked on the warp mills, wound cake yarn, cleaned frames, swept the floors [Laughter]. Anything that come along, that's what I did.
CLIFF KUHN:
They would put you on the different work, or you would want to work a different kind of work?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
If they didn't have somebody for a certain job and my job was not running, then I did something else.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did certain kinds of work have more prestige than other kinds of work?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, some of it was. Like cake winding; that was pretty hard work. I even cleaned tangled bobbins. Anything that come along, we did it.
CLIFF KUHN:
Then the Depression came, and how were conditions in the County during the Depression? And also in Burlington?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
The County, I guess, did pretty good, because they raised their stuff. In town it was kind of hard, because people with a large family on a day or two days a week, they'd just go to the A & P or anywhere they could find something a little cheap to buy.
CLIFF KUHN:
How did it start? Did you all of a sudden go down to a day or two a week, or did you start on four and then go down to three? What happened when the Depression hit?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Some weeks we didn't work at all, and then in some weeks

Page 8
maybe we'd get one day, some weeks maybe two, and things like that. And it just went on till. . .
CLIFF KUHN:
How did people survive on just a day or two a week?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Back then you could buy meat for about five or seven cents a pound. Of course, my husband was a farmer, like; he always had his hogs and chickens, and we had our cows. My children say, "Mother, we don't know about the Depression," because we had our own food in that way.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did you have a garden?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, we had our garden stuff. But the ones who couldn't do that and didn't know how to do that, they were the ones that had it worse.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did most people know how to have a garden?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Most everybody on the Company Hill had garden places.
CLIFF KUHN:
Where had they learned how to keep gardens?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I guess from their forefathers and things that way. But didn't everybody have the hogs and cows and the chickens and things. That's the reason we're down here, because my husband got disabled to work, and he wanted to get out of town. That was when they decided you wasn't supposed to keep things that way in town. So we got down here and had all that place down there where the snack bar and stuff were.
CLIFF KUHN:
That was all yours?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
We could have our chickens and cows and things like that. We was down here just six months, and they put us back in the city. But we was still out far enough that we could go ahead and keep our cows.

Page 9
CLIFF KUHN:
Did a lot of people come into Burlington during the Depression?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, a lot of people left, hunting work, during the Depression.
CLIFF KUHN:
Where did they go?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
A lot of them went up north and things that way. But the biggest majority of the people that lived in the company houses stayed on and toughed it out. Mr. Williams was real good, and he would order a carload of potatoes from out different counties. And he'd bring them in and we'd have a barrel, and we'd put in maybe a dollar or two dollars for a big old barrel of Irish potatoes.
CLIFF KUHN:
What other kinds of things did the company do during the Depression?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
During the Depression, he didn't charge us rent for our houses, and he let us have our coal real cheap. He helped us; if he hadn't, we'd never have made it.
CLIFF KUHN:
Why did people want to start the union in '33?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I don't understand just now. Higher wages, I would say, though.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did you know people who were involved, who were not in the union that you were in but who were in the United Textile Workers?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, but the mills that went union was Haw River and Gibsonville.
CLIFF KUHN:
When the national textile strike was declared, what happened to the Plaid Mill? Did the mills stay open during the strike?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
They stayed open during the strike, because that's where we had to fight. If we had not went in, they would have declared

Page 10
us a union, so that's the way we did. We went in every day during the strike and worked. Them that wanted to join the union, they joined but they didn't have no job at the Plaid Mill. They done lost their jobs when they stayed out to join the union.
CLIFF KUHN:
Could they get jobs anywhere else in the county?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, I guess so.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How many people stayed out?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
There wasn't too many of ours stayed out.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Just a few from the Plaid Mill?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Just a few that wanted to run the place.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did the strikers have any parades or marches?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Just around the mills.
CLIFF KUHN:
The pickets.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes.
CLIFF KUHN:
Do you remember what they called Flying Squadrons?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No.
CLIFF KUHN:
What are your memories of the dynamiting case? What kind of things do you remember about when it happened and what happened to the people and how people viewed the dynamiting case when that happened?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
We was all kind of sad about it, because we didn't know what would happen next.
CLIFF KUHN:
What did happen next?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
There didn't anything happen after that, because they had more patrols. The patrols were at the mill all the time.
CLIFF KUHN:
And they were workers at the mill who were given a badge?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Some was workers at the mill, and some was extra patrols

Page 11
that came.
CLIFF KUHN:
Where did they come from, the county?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
The town.
CLIFF KUHN:
Had they been employed?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
They was policemen here.
CLIFF KUHN:
What year did the Depression end and things started to get better in the mills?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
It didn't get too much better till that little NRA came in, and that was in forty. . . .
CLIFF KUHN:
Maybe '40; maybe a little bit before then.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
It was when Roosevelt was in; he was the one declared it.
CLIFF KUHN:
That was in '33, when he declared the first NRA.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
That was when it began to get better.
CLIFF KUHN:
How so?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
People began to let their money loose and began to give orders for material and stuff. The salesmen, like somebody in New York, maybe they would call in an order for certain patterns of material. Then the Plaid Mill would go ahead and start up on it. Well, they'd keep bringing them in, and the first thing we knew, we was going full blast.
CLIFF KUHN:
So you feel that it was the NRA that helped.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I think so.
CLIFF KUHN:
What kind of effect did the Second World War have on the mill?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
It was not as bad. The Second World War was when everything was rationed out, and that was the worst part then. We

Page 12
had plenty of work, but you couldn't buy stuff like oil. Certain types of stuff, you had to have coupons and things like that to get. Shoes.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did the Plaid Mill make things for the War?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, they made that parachute stuff. And it seems to me like they made some khaki for it. But they made all that stuff we'd make the parachutes out of, that pure silk.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you work much overtime during the War years?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, I didn't work hardly any overtime. One or two times we worked on Sundays during the War, because I remember the first Sunday I ever worked we was on pure silk. And it had to be processed through oil or something before we run it. And the government was going to take it. And Mr. Copeland was our superintendent then, and he thought if we'd go ahead and put it in the oil and stuff. . . . Well, the government wouldn't take it. So we worked two Sundays straight. The government took every bit of it.
CLIFF KUHN:
How did work in the Plaid Mill or work in textiles in general change after World War II, in terms of different kinds of things that you made or other sorts of changes that went on in the industry the last twenty years that you were working in the Plaid Mill?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I don't think there was too much of a change, only we went out of silk. And we went into rayon, and rayon-cotton, and then we went from that to nylon.
CLIFF KUHN:
For each of those things, did people have to learn new, different kinds of skills?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, with the nylon they had to make different machinery

Page 13
and set up different ways.
CLIFF KUHN:
Was that hard, to learn the new machinery?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, it was really easier work on the nylon than it was on the rayon, because the rayon was a soft yarn and fussed up. It would break; you'd have to tie knots every time you look around. But the nylon was stronger and would go right on through your work.
CLIFF KUHN:
How did people like working with the synthetic fabrics, compared to the cotton or the wool, the natural fabrics?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Much better. It was better because it was easy, but still you had more production to get off on it because it run better. The better your yarn was, the higher your production.
CLIFF KUHN:
How did the production compare to what you had to do before?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
You'd get paid by the board. I think there was twenty-four bobbins to the board. If we had a good grade of yarn and it run good, they'd set the production on that up about ten or twelve boards higher. And then if you got off too many of that, they'd set it up a little bit more. So the harder you worked, they added more production.
CLIFF KUHN:
When did they go to the piecework?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Before World War II.
CLIFF KUHN:
Do you know why they went to piecework at that time?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Because they would give you more machinery to run, and you could get off more work with less employees. By your taking on more work, you could get more production, and they could make their material cheaper or get more out of the material.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did some people not like having to work more, having to

Page 14
make more production?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, we fussed, but what good did it do? [Laughter]
CLIFF KUHN:
[Laughter] How did you fuss?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
We'd tell them they was not doing us right. [Laughter]
CLIFF KUHN:
[Laughter] Was that Mr. Copeland you'd tell?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Any of them. They'd say, "Well, if we don't do so-and-so, we just don't get the orders," and that shut us up.
CLIFF KUHN:
I guess so.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
"We've got to beat So-and-so for a run," they'd say, so there we'd go.
CLIFF KUHN:
What are the bigger changes that you've seen take place in the community or in the textile industry over the time that you've worked here?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
When I first went to work up there, it was cotton and rayon. Well, that was slow. And the material was narrower. And then we went from that to the wide looms. And oh, there's a lot.
CLIFF KUHN:
How about in the community of Burlington? How has the City of Burlington changed?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Oh, it's changed. Back then we hardly had streets, and now nearly every little place is a paved street.
CLIFF KUHN:
You have a big one out here. [Laughter]
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
When we went to town, we walked.
CLIFF KUHN:
You walked all the way from here or from . . .
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
From where I lived on Plaid Street.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was there ever a streetcar you could ride?
CLIFF KUHN:
Did the streetcars go out to Plaid Street?

Page 15
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, we had streetcars. That was way back in World War I, and they went from Haw River to Gibsonville.
CLIFF KUHN:
That's right.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
And you'd ride them for a dime.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But then during the thirties and forties, you didn't have the streetcars or busses or anything?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
We had busses, but I can't remember: the streetcar has been gone a long time.
CLIFF KUHN:
When did the mill hands start to get automobiles?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
The big part, I guess, was during World War II, because that's whenever we had work, and on that thing everybody tried to get a car.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did that change where people lived? Did people live in the same area of the mill after that?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes. Along just after World War II is when the Plaid Mill sold their company houses. And a lot of the help that lived in the houses bought the houses and stayed on. A lot of them are living in the same houses today.
CLIFF KUHN:
Most of the people that you knew lived in the same neighborhood as you did?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did you know people from other areas of town?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Not too many.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was there a lot of turnover in the housing around the Plaid Mill? Did people come and go pretty often, or did people tend to stay

Page 16
for a long period of time?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
They stayed, most all of them. They didn't like come in today and leave tomorrow. Most of them, if they moved in, stayed.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Stayed for five or ten years?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Oh, yes, and some of them are still up there that was there when they was children.
CLIFF KUHN:
And stayed on the job, too.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
And stayed on the job. And some of them, I think, went from one company to the other, didn't they, at the Plaid Mill. Some of the help.
MR. SHOCKLEY:
Are you talking about going from one mill out there to another mill out there?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, like the Plaid Mill changed to Burlington Mills and then to Klopman's. Like Mary Taylor and them?
MR. SHOCKLEY:
Oh, yes, they have stayed on as the mill changed.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
And they lived in a house . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
MR. SHOCKLEY:
. . .without a reason.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, if they come, they stayed, unless it was somebody that was boarding. We'd call them drifters. They'd come in and get them a boarding place and work a while and then. . . . But that was mostly young people. But most of the families, when they moved in a house, they stayed several years. But if work would give out, then they'd have to lay them off, and then they would move to another place.

Page 17
CLIFF KUHN:
Was that the same for people of your generation stayed in the same area of town? Or did people in your children's generation move around?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
We just stayed in the same area of town up there in that section.
CLIFF KUHN:
Do you still live over there?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
No they moved out here from West Burlington. [Interruption in tape][Lives with parents.] But two of my sisters still lives up in West Burlington.
CLIFF KUHN:
Were there stores at that time up there, or did you have to go downtown to do shopping?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
There were stores up there. They had a meat market up there, and they had three or four grocery stores. I thought they had about two meat markets, too. Mr. had one, and then they had one over where Paul Greene lives; that place used to be a meat market and store.
CLIFF KUHN:
So you would do your shopping in the neighborhood?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, we could do our shopping right around there.
CLIFF KUHN:
What kinds of things did you leave the neighborhood for? Did you ever leave that community in West Burlington?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
The only thing we'd leave to come to town for would be to go to the show or something like that.
CLIFF KUHN:
What did people in West Burlington do for recreation or entertainment?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
We had a ball park up there, and people watched that. And then they'd come to the town to go to the show. You could go to the show for about a dime.
MR. SHOCKLEY:
They had a fair? once a year in the ballpark.

Page 18
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Once a year they had a fire in the ballpark.
MR. SHOCKLEY:
That's the show that.
CLIFF KUHN:
What were the medicine shows like?
MR. SHOCKLEY:
Just like you see on TV. Big. They was always selling soap and liniment.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
They'd have somebody with them to make music.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about churches? Were there several churches up there in West Burlington?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
That Hocutt Memorial is an old church.
MR. SHOCKLEY:
And West Burlington. We had the tent meetings.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, we had tent meetings back then.
CLIFF KUHN:
On the ballfield, or where were they held?
MR. SHOCKLEY:
That ballpark was the only. They had big tent meetings up there.
CLIFF KUHN:
But there were a number of churches in the one neighborhood.
MR. SHOCKLEY:
Well, that and the Methodist Church. Then they had one or two tabernacles.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes. One was down here on Atwater Street, and one was up on what they called the Greensboro Highway then; it's Webb Avenue now.
CLIFF KUHN:
Was the school in the neighborhood?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
No, you walked to Plaid Street Hillcrest. You had the Hillcrest, the a, and the Fisher Street. If one school was crowded in one grade, then they transferred you to one of the other ones.
CLIFF KUHN:
So you went to Hillcrest rather than to a?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
We went to Hillcrest; that was our district. But

Page 19
if it was overcrowded in your grade, then they would transfer you either to a or Fisher for that year. Then the next year, you'd go back to.
CLIFF KUHN:
Were the schools all kids of people who worked in the mill, or were there other kids around?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
It was other kids, because when you got out of the mill village, you had the and Gants who went to school with you.
CLIFF KUHN:
You did go to school with the Gants.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
[unknown]all those. See, that was the district.
CLIFF KUHN:
Down to Fountain Place.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Fountain Place and all around there, that was Hillcrest District.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
But they just had one high school, on Broad Street.
CLIFF KUHN:
The Broad Street High School.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
You went either to Hillcrest or or Fisher till you got as far a eighth grade. Then you went to Broad to get your last four years. It was three years back then.
CLIFF KUHN:
How much schooling did most people have?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Most of us got on through. The parents pushing.
CLIFF KUHN:
[Laughter] Were the children in the mills when you first came into town, and when did that change?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
They would let them go to work then, I think, at sixteen. Or fourteen.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
When was that sixteen law passed?

Page 20
CLIFF KUHN:
I think that's also during the New Deal, but I'm not sure about that.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I think before then, though, they worked them. Mr. Brooks said he went to work at eight, Wes Brooks' brother. Then there was some more men, a Mr. Preston; he passed away. He said he went to work at eight.
CLIFF KUHN:
When you came down here to Glen Raven or to the Plaid Mill, were there children in the mill either working or with their mothers or daddies in the mill?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
They could work then, but I think they had to be fourteen to work in the mills then. And then they passed a law that they had to be sixteen, and then they had to work first shift, I believe, so many hours or something. Had to obey it.
CLIFF KUHN:
How about the health conditions or the working conditions within the mills? How have those changed over time?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Oh, my, it's changed. Used to they had no spit things; people spit on the floor. [Laughter] We used to get so mad. You don't have that no more. And they smoked; they'd smoke and throw it down on the floor and step on it. And they have places now for them to smoke. You had a dipper, and everybody drank out of the same dipper. Brought the water in. At the Plaid Mill they finally got a fountain that had a spigot on it that you could turn and drink your water without drinking after somebody. And we have fountains now; have air conditioners. Back then, you'd have to open a window.
If a parent looked out the window and saw one of their kids doing something they shouldn't be doing, they'd stop

Page 21
come out the back door of the mill, went home and hit the child and went back to work. [Laughter]
CLIFF KUHN:
Where did most of the younger kids stay?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
We played. We always had somebody that stayed there and looked after us.
CLIFF KUHN:
Who was that?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Usually bring in a colored woman Sarah Nelson.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
They had a colored woman when I first went to work. She stayed with me ten years.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
But if a child got sick back then, the parent come home, too. Used to they'd come home and feed the baby, if they had a baby, and then go on back to work.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Come home for lunch. One time I came home for lunch and the children was all right when I left. And I went back to work, and in a little bit one of them came up there and wanted me to come home; one of them was sick. And I went home, and she'd got a big old dip of snuff [Laughter] in her .C.K.: When did that start to change, when people couldn't get out?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
That changed after Mr. Copeland came over there.
CLIFF KUHN:
Why do you think that changed, that people couldn't leave to go home?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
He was real strict. He thought if you went home or anything, you was losing a few minutes' work.
CLIFF KUHN:
Was that the reputation that he had up at Burlington Industries, too, before he came to the Plaid Mill?

Page 22
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes. They called him "Slave Driver." [Laughter] We had a good time till he came up there. We had stools that Mr. Williams made when we had so many ends to run. And whenever we got them ends a-running, we had a stool at each end of our frame. We'd sit on it till one run empty. When Mr. Copeland come up there, he had them all moved out. And you didn't sit down; he'd give you enough work, you'd stay busy. You didn't get caught up after he came up there. If he come through and saw you with all your ends run, the next day you'd get some more ends. But he was good. He believed in keeping your frames so you could make production and make good work and all, but he didn't want you to stop off.
I enjoyed my work, but I don't want to do it any more. [Laughter]
CLIFF KUHN:
Do you still see any of the people whom you worked with?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Oh, yes.
CLIFF KUHN:
Who are some of the people?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Emma Whitesell and Sally Wheeler. Her husband was overseer up there. His picture might be in some of them papers. I can't think of the [other] names that I know.
CLIFF KUHN:
What kind of work did you like the most, and what kind of work did. . .
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Skein winding. It's my type I like to do, so I liked that better than anything. And what I hated the most was quilling. Your frame sits just about like this, and you have rolls of bobbins, so many ends to make a warp. And every time it would come my day to quill, they'd say, "Get in the corner," because I was tall and skinny. And I hated that mess; I didn't like quilling. But that's the only

Page 23
job I didn't like.
CLIFF KUHN:
What kind of work did your husband do?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
He worked in the dye house. He was a dyer. He worked in the dye house all the time, the second man down there.
CLIFF KUHN:
Were there more men than women, or more women than men?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
In some parts, they was most all men, like the dye house. And then when they put in silk and rayon, they'd be tinted. They brought some women in then. But mostly all the dye house was men. And the biggest part of the weaving room was men. They had some women to thread the shuttles. In our part it was mostly all women, in the preparation. Most of the men was service, put up our yarn and take it down, things like that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you say that your husband was disabled?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, in '45 he got disabled, but he worked from '21 on up till then.
CLIFF KUHN:
Was that as a result of something that happened at the mill?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes.
CLIFF KUHN:
What was that?
Shockley!
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did they give him any kind of compensation when he was disabled?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, back then they didn't have anything like that.
CLIFF KUHN:
Do they have a pension now?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, they have one now.
CLIFF KUHN:
When did they start to bring in a pension?

Page 24
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I hadn't been in it too long when I quit work. It must have been in about '60.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
I don't know. all they do is give you a lump sum what you got in the pension plan.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
What I had, I brought it out, because it was just a lump sum.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
All they gave Daddy was insurance or something.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, they gave him insurance. But back then they didn't have no compensation.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So they just gave him one lump sum, not money.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, it was just insurance. They carried his insurance on.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, I see.
CLIFF KUHN:
So they just brought it in in '60?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
It could have been in the fifties. But I retired in '64, and I had $500 in pension plan. So it had to be around about '50-some.
CLIFF KUHN:
Why did it come in right then, in the fifties?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I don't remember just why, but it was supposed to, I guess, help in retirement. Then was when they were beginning to talk retire at a certain age. And when I retired it was women sixty-two and men sixty-five.
CLIFF KUHN:
So you retired at the age of sixty-two.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes. And then they found out they couldn't make it like that, and then they let the women come on to sixty-five. But I was glad to get out at sixty-two. They came down several times for me to go back to work. I told them I was too old, that I

Page 25
still was firmly retired and I wasn't going back then.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did they try to keep good workers?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Yes, they'd try to keep good workers.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Has the work force changed a lot in the mills? Do a lot of the sons and daughters of mill workers work in mills, or have a lot of new people come in from outside the county?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I don't know. I've been out since '64. What do you think, Hazel? She's still working.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
It's a family thing, one generation after the other one. Some of them might leave town, but it would be a small percentage.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Have many new families come in to work in the mills? Are there any first generation people?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
It would be a small percentage there, too, because most of them, even the colored, at some time their daddy had worked there.
CLIFF KUHN:
Really? So even there, their father had worked as janitor or in some kind of capacity?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Are there many black workers in the mills,?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
You see right many now. work. They're nice Once started, eventually. As far as the colored, they've been just as nice as they can be about it. And it's never been a problem to me.
CLIFF KUHN:
Was that a problem right in the beginning?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
No, I think they came in in such few numbers when they started, and we knew we had to accept them.

Page 26
CLIFF KUHN:
When was that?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
That was back when Mama was still there, when we first started hiring them. We've always had the colored to clean up, janitor work, tending machines. But I don't remember when the women started coming in.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
They started hiring them at the Plaid Mill when they desegregated. You had to qualify for a job. You went to the office, and you was interviewed, and you had to be up to the standard of what they would want to get a job. They just didn't say, "Well, come on and go to work." They picked the ones, and that way we had nice colored people work with us.
CLIFF KUHN:
How did they do that interview?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I don't know. I was back before that started, and I never was interviewed.
CLIFF KUHN:
How did you get your job, then?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I told my husband one morning, "The children's getting up to some age, and we need some more money, and I want to go to work." That's when they'd just said they was going to bring winding in. So he went up there and told Mr. Williams, and he said for me to come up there and go to work.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did your husband mind your working at all?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
No, he didn't mind it. So then we got a colored woman to come and keep house for us.
CLIFF KUHN:
Was that usual, for people to have a woman come and keep house?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Oh, yes, if you worked.

Page 27
CLIFF KUHN:
In how many families did both the mother and the father work in the mills?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
The biggest part of them worked in the mill, because they had to.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
The only one I can think of that she didn't work was Mrs. Williams. Everybody else worked.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did women usually just stay out for a few years while their children were real small?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Back then, they said some of them had their babies one week and went back to work the next, but I didn't see it like that. But they didn't stay out too long. Now they've got a period, I think, you've got to be out before you go back to work. But back then, you went back when you felt like it, I guess.
CLIFF KUHN:
So when you had your last baby in '37, you stayed out for how long?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I think it was three months before she was born and three months afterwards; I believe was the way that the insurance people had it then.
CLIFF KUHN:
Could you automatically get your job back?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Oh, yes. You got a relief for so many months, and then you went back on your old job.
And that was the only time, because she was next to her, and she was about two years old when I decided I wanted to go to work. She was born in '25, and I went to work in '27, that's how old she was.
CLIFF KUHN:
Thank you very much. Got a lot of information.

Page 28
[Interruption in tape]
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
. . . at the Plaid Mill. Then I have been in hosiery mills. Then I worked with Jim Copeland over at Copeland's. I've stayed pretty much in the mills, though. I've been back at Burlington Mills about five years.
CLIFF KUHN:
Which division are you in now?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Division.
CLIFF KUHN:
Why did you choose to move around from one place to another?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
The first was my second baby was born I left there. And then I married a man that wasn't from Burlington. He was from the eastern part of the state, down at Elen. And so we moved back and forth down there. And that's one reason I moved so much. And then when I'd come back to Burlington, I'd go back to the mill.
CLIFF KUHN:
So it's not a question of your generation wanting to move around more than your mother's generation, or do you think there is . . .
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
About World War II when I got married, a lot of the girls then married men from out of town. I guess if it hadn't been for the War, we never would have met men from out of town. We'd still be marrying town. That's the reason look like.
CLIFF KUHN:
So a lot of guys came into town during the War years?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Oh, yes. Back in the middle of the War, if this buddy's bringing two or three War buddies in, he'd come in on a weekend.
CLIFF KUHN:
So they came in from . . .
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Fort Bragg.
CLIFF KUHN:
How about in the industry, when the young men from Burlington

Page 29
went off to war, what happened? Did they bring in other men from outside, or did the women fill the jobs?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
Women did the jobs.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
The women filled the jobs. That was the first time a woman had worked in the spinning room, in World War II. That was when they had to put the women in the spinning room.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did they stay in the spinning room after?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Yes. stayed till they closed it down. But when we first started in the spinning room—that's where I started, during World War II—we had our own trucks to. Anyway, it was quite a bit of weight. But we had to load and unload our trucks. But then a couple years after the War, the women continued to do it. The men, I think, were waiting they come into the insurance or something. But a woman wasn't allowed to lift over so many pounds.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did you want to continue lifting or?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
That was after I had left the spinning room. And then that's when they brought men in to load the trucks again. Back at the end of the War, we was loading our own trucks.
CLIFF KUHN:
What differences do you see between working in your generation and work for your mother's generation?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
It's different; I don't work so hard. Back then, spinning was not on production when I first went in the spinning room. But still, we had a certain number of ends that we had to keep up.
CLIFF KUHN:
When did they change that to production?

Page 30
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
That was a long time after I left. I think when the men started loading the trucks, then spinning was on production, wasn't it, Mama?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
I don't know. I never did work in spinning too much.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
I think it was when they brought the service men in to load and unload the trucks that they went on production.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think it's harder work now than it was when you first started?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
You've got easier work.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
I've got the easiest job now I've ever had.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What do you do now?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
I'm in the department now. We make up that go to the sales.
CLIFF KUHN:
Was that a promotion?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
No, it wasn't exactly a promotion. I was in one of the knitting that warp mill. And so there came an opening in the department, and they wanted to know if I'd take it, and I told them yes, I'd be glad to. So that's one way, you know, you'll get switched all around from department to department.
CLIFF KUHN:
When they have vacancies.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
If the work gets short in this department, they'll ask you if you want to go to another one.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
And that's why you get to stay so long. If you do just one thing, when it's done, you're done; that's the end. Do other things, you stand a chance.

Page 31
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
That's the way with these department to department, mill to mill, wherever they were needed.
CLIFF KUHN:
That's how they made it a little bit more interesting or. . . .
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
You don't get bored, because you change.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Then they know that if something happens that they can ask you to take another job,.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
It seems that a lot of the people we've been talking to have gone from mill to mill.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Mama was here at the Plaid, and if they needed any help at Belmont, she'd go to Belmont. They'd give her transportation over there and back.
CLIFF KUHN:
Belmont was the Holts'?
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
It was a division of Burlington Mills at one time.
CLIFF KUHN:
So they'd shift you to another division if they needed you.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Like if my job now, they'd give me offers of jobs in other B.I. plants, so's you can have the right then to say, "I'll go" or "I won't go." But if you say, "I won't go," job is vacant. . . . They try to place all their help, just like. Now if you're close to retirement age, I don't think they'll try to place you. But now if you try to place you in another B.I. Or you're willing to learn a new job.

Page 32
CLIFF KUHN:
Not only your job, but you say on the whole the work is easier now than it was?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
In my job, it is. But the last five years, I have not been on production work, and so that's one thing that's made it easier.
CLIFF KUHN:
The majority are still on production, though.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
No, I don't think they are. In the department, the winding and redrawing and things like that, they're still on production. But as far as warp mills and knitting and frames and things like that, they're not on production. I think the department is still on production.
CLIFF KUHN:
When you went to the Broad Street High School, did people from different parts of town look down or have hostilities towards people from other parts of town? Was there rivalry between different parts of the town?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
No, because we grew up together. My district was Hillcrest. If your grade was overcrowded at Hillcrest, then they'd transfer you to Fisher or Belmar. By the time you got to Broad Street in high school, and you had been transferred from school to school, you knew pretty much everybody from around there. That's all the school we had.
CLIFF KUHN:
Including people from East Burlington you had known.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
Oh, yes. Broad Street was the only high school in Burlington, so everybody eventually ended up at Broad Street.
CLIFF KUHN:
But there wasn't any antagonism or anything between people from East Burlington and West Burlington.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
No, back then you walked all over town if you wanted to. You wasn't afraid of anything, but there wasn't anything out there

Page 33
to be afraid of.
ETHEL BOWMAN SHOCKLEY:
But now you're afraid to get out the front door.
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
You're afraid to go sit on your front porch. But back when I was growing up, you weren't afraid of. . . . Now we was afraid of hoboes. People were always talking. If a train come through and hoboes got off. . . . I think the parents told the kids this to keep them out of the woods. down there in the woods.
CLIFF KUHN:
A group of gypsies. Is that right?
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
But we never saw any of them. I think the parents just told us that to keep us out of the woods.
CLIFF KUHN:
Now what does the parent say? [Laughter]
HAZEL SHOCKLEY CANNON:
We played in the woods woods; they were woods . . .
END OF INTERVIEW