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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 >>

Mill workers' disinterest in striking

Eula Durham remembers some short-lived strikes at her textile mill. One died out because the mill boss threatened to shut down the mill, but disinterest among mill workers seems to have been the major factor in preventing strikes from gaining momentum. Eula remembers with contempt a fellow worker who tried to get her to join a strike.

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:
Why did those people go out on strikes?
VERNON DURHAM:
Probably wasn't making enough, or overworked, or something. Didn't make enough for what the work they did, or something.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Were either one of you involved in either one of those?
EULA DURHAM:
No.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Did they win?
VERNON DURHAM:
I don't think so. I don't believe they did, did they?
EULA DURHAM:
Naw. No, I know one time, the spinning room went out there and wanted more money or something, and John told them he'd shut down before he'd give any more, and they went back to work.
VERNON DURHAM:
They make good down there now. More than they ever have.
EULA DURHAM:
It ain't like it used to be.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Were there any hard feelings among the workers after some went out and some refused?
EULA DURHAM:
Yeah, some of them got kind of ticked out about it, but didn't take them long to get over it. They come around and wouldn't speak or nothing, but it didn't amount to nothing, cause sooner or later they had to call on them. Didn't amount to nothing.
JIM LELOUDIS:
What do you mean they had to call on them?
EULA DURHAM:
For help, or something.
JIM LELOUDIS:
You mean the other workers in the mill?
EULA DURHAM:
Yeah. I know one woman she went out with that bunch of strikrs down there one time. She come over to me, said, "Come over here and help me—I ain't never seen such a mess as I'm in. Please help me some." I said, "I'll not do it. If you'd been in here like you ought to have been instead of out yonder striking," I said, "You wouldn't have got in a mess." And she went for a long time didn't speak to me, Lizzie Neals.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Do you remember any other instances like that?
EULA DURHAM:
No, I don't believe I do. But this she got so mad at me that day, she went up in. Well, she didn't even want to join the union. Well, she had a lot of curiosity, and she wanted to find out what was going on. She was a big old fat woman and she couldn't run no sides noway. She nosed around out there till she ain't never seen such a mess as she was in. And I was helping around that day. "Come on over here and help me some. I won't never get out of my hole." I said, "I'll not do it." I said, "Cause if you'd have been on your sides like you ought to have been instead of out there nosing around, you wouldn't have been in that mess." I said, "I ain't going to do it."
JIM LELOUDIS:
How long did the strikes last?
VERNON DURHAM:
They didn't last long.
EULA DURHAM:
About an hour or two.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Oh, is that all? I had the impression that they lasted much longer than that.
EULA DURHAM:
No! About an hour or two.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Did John London usually come up and say something?
EULA DURHAM:
No. I don't know whether he did or not, cause I never was out there.