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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Flossie Moore Durham, September 2, 1976. Interview H-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

White mill workers hire black laborers to help with household chores

Despite the economic difficulty that many white mill workers faced, there was a class of African Americans laborers beneath them on the economic ladder who cleaned their homes, cooked their meals, and washed their clothes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Flossie Moore Durham, September 2, 1976. Interview H-0066. 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

FLOSSIE MOORE DURHAM:
Some of the women kept cooks, much less worked at public work, at that time. You could get a nigger to work for you a month for five dollars. My mother never hired any of them. She done her own work. But some of them did.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
If some of them had to work in the mill, would they have a black woman at home to cook?
FLOSSIE MOORE DURHAM:
Or if they didn't even work in the mill.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, they just would have someone to cook. [Laughter]
FLOSSIE MOORE DURHAM:
Yes, they just had a big family and had somebody to help them. I know several families done that. They had a big family, and like I say, they could get help for almost nothing and felt like they was able to do it and they did it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did people do their washing when you lived on the hill?
FLOSSIE MOORE DURHAM:
Oh, it was washed by hand for many years. Even after I moved down here, we didn't have no electricity nor any washing machines. We'd been down here in this house some little bit before there was any electric power that you could get. Didn't even have electric power at the mill for a long time. They made their own power.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did your mother do her washing?
FLOSSIE MOORE DURHAM:
She washed herself with tubs and board and wash pot. That's the way everybody washed then; there weren't no other way to wash. And they was used to it and didn't think anything about it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Were there any women in town who took in washing? Was there a washerwoman in town?
FLOSSIE MOORE DURHAM:
Yes, a lot of colored women would come in here and wash. You could get a woman to wash for twenty-five cents.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But they'd come to your house and do the washing?
FLOSSIE MOORE DURHAM:
Yes, they'd come to your house and wash and hang the clothes out. But Lord [laughter] , any of them now. Because most of those colored people is oh, so different now. Never see one now.