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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eula and Vernon Durham, November 29, 1978. Interview H-0064. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Close-knit work environment has evaporated over time

Eula and Vernon Durham remember their textile mill as a close-knit workplace where employees helped one another and found plenty of time to relax. That work environment has changed: workers no longer share backgrounds or leisure time outdoors.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eula and Vernon Durham, November 29, 1978. Interview H-0064. 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

JIM LELOUDIS:
What were your relations like with the workers?
VERNON DURHAM:
Well, we was all raised up here and I knowed them all. Then, young boys staying around here, they'd learn to work in the mill, but a lot of them don't do it now, they're leaving so much. About half of the help down there now, I don't know them. They're all from other places.
EULA DURHAM:
Well, it was just like a big family down there when we was down there.
JIM LELOUDIS:
How do you mean that?
EULA DURHAM:
Everybody was raised here, you know, and lived here all their life, and knowed everybody, and was just like a big family. When one of them would get in a hole or something, all the rest of them if they weren't in a hole they'd bunch in together and help them get out, catch up.
JIM LELOUDIS:
You mean in terms of money?
EULA DURHAM:
No, in help. In the work. And they'd all catch up and all go outdoors and sing. Have a big time.
JIM LELOUDIS:
How much free time did you have to socialize in the mill?
EULA DURHAM:
Just as much as we wanted. John London was one of the best men that anybody ever worked for in their life. He was a manager—plant manager down there—and he loved to see us outdoors. He knowed then the work was running good.
JIM LELOUDIS:
You would go out whenever you got the work caught up?
EULA DURHAM:
Yeah. Just go out and sit down. I have gone out and sat down as much as an hour's time. Go back and catch up my work and go back again.
JIM LELOUDIS:
And what did John London think about that?
EULA DURHAM:
Oh, he loved it. He said one time he loved to see them set out like that, he knowed the work was running good.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Did you hear him say that?
EULA DURHAM:
Yeah! John was really good to work for.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Did you know him very well?
EULA DURHAM:
Yeah, I knowed him. He was raised over here in Pittsboro. And I know one morning a bunch of us was sitting out there—he come in at eight o'clock, and we went to work at seven—we was sitting out there in the window one morning when he come in. He come in, and he stopped and said, "Has the mill stopped off?" And some of them said, "No," and he laughed, he said, "I'm glad to see it running good." Said, "All of y'all out here having a good time." [Laughter] But he was, John was a good man to work for.
VERNON DURHAM:
He's still head up there.
EULA DURHAM:
But now, you can't even stick your head out the door. They don't even want you to talk to the one next to you.