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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frank Durham, September 10 and 17, 1979. Interview H-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Sexual harrassment in the mills

At one point, Durham's uncle, who was a mill supervisor, was accused of taking advantage of a single woman in his workforce. Durham asserts that his relation was innocent of wrongdoing, and in the process, he explains his opinion of sexual harassment in a workplace.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Frank Durham, September 10 and 17, 1979. Interview H-0067. 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

DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Do you have any idea when he became superintendent down here?
FRANK DURHAM:
About 1904, I think.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
So that must have been right after the Bynums left.
FRANK DURHAM:
Yes. It was about 1904 or '5, I think, moved in here.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
What sort of a man was your uncle?
FRANK DURHAM:
He had a right smart temper at times. He was a real good fellow, a nice guy. But he was a nice-looking fellow, a good mixer and all that. He got into trouble one time with a woman, the poor fellow. That's the reason he left here.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
That's the reason he went to Edenton?
FRANK DURHAM:
Yes. There used to be especially-and still is-right smart of trouble with mill superintendents, supervisors, and things, and oh, women give you a lot of trouble if you don't watch them sometimes.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
In the mill?
FRANK DURHAM:
Yes. They sort of make a play for you a little bit when you got a little authority and think you'll favor them or not. Oh, it just seems that way, used to be. I don't think there's much of that now, though, nothing like there used to be.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Did they ever give you trouble that way?
FRANK DURHAM:
Yes, he did. He got caught with one over there, and he had to leave here. Or he did. He left here. The rest of the help wouldn't have worked for him no more, I don't reckon. They were planning to come out, I think and strike. Planning to walk out, I think.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
How long was he gone?
FRANK DURHAM:
He was gone seven years. He come back here in '27.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
How was he able to come back then?
FRANK DURHAM:
The family died out and left here, most of them there was. Folks didn't pay no more attention to it, it looked like. And the manager and the Londons wanted him back. He was a good mill man. And the one that they had, they didn't like. And he wrote to him to come up here; he wanted to talk with him. Papa lived here then, and he came here, and Mr. London come over to see him while he was here and met him at a certain time. And they started, and they got dickering for him to come back and offered him a certain price and all. I don't know into it, but I know he did get him back. He had about the same thing or maybe a little more than he was making down there; I don't know about that. But he wanted to come back. He wanted to get things sort of straightened up. There never was no sense in it nohow. Some of them caught him He was a real nice-looking man, and the woman that he was going with was just a single woman, as far as that goes. He told me that he never dated her but twice in his life, and said he had no idea in the world of doing that, but it just slipped up on him, kind of.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Was there much of that that went on in the mill?
FRANK DURHAM:
No, not around here, no. Not in that day and time. Nothing like that hardly at all.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Did men and women work in the same rooms in the mill?
FRANK DURHAM:
Yes. She worked in the mill. She was a good-looking woman. Mighty good. And she was about his age; they were both about thirty-five or forty years old then, I reckon, apiece.