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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Roy Lee and Mary Ruth Auton, February 28, 1980. Interview H-0108. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Competition between women has created a high-pressure work environment

Mary Ruth Auton remembers a time when working was not so difficult as it was at the time of the interview. She blames women in the workplace: women are more competitive, she believes, and push one another to work harder and harder.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Roy Lee and Mary Ruth Auton, February 28, 1980. Interview H-0108. 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

But law, we didn't have to work none hardly then. Maybe we'd work two or three hours a night and just run around and have a big time the rest of the time.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How come you had to work so little?
MARY RUTH AUTON:
Well, we just didn't.
ROY LEE AUTON:
They used to didn't try to kill people.
MARY RUTH AUTON:
You used to didn't have to work like you do now.
ROY LEE AUTON:
They get more production off in eight hours now than they used to in twelve.
MARY RUTH AUTON:
When my husband was sick, I'd get up every morning at six o'clock, and I'd have to do all my work here, and I'd run to Hickory and get him something to eat because he was on a diet and all. And I'd have to bathe him and shave him and everything. And I'd go to the mill to rest. But my land of mercy, it just got to where you couldn't hardly come home and work after work, because they worked you so hard. Of course, I think women's the cause of it. One'll try to beat the other. Especially after they put production on. See, we wasn't on production then. But after they put production on, one would try to outdo the other, and I think women's the cause of the jobs getting so hard. Because men don't work like that.
ROY LEE AUTON:
No, a man'd tell them to take it and jam it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do people get mad at the women who are so competitive?
MARY RUTH AUTON:
Yes, they don't like the ones that works and makes it hard on them, but there's nothing they can do about it. I got a sister-in-law, and she works just like fighting fire, and they all talk about her. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Does she realize they talk about her?
MARY RUTH AUTON:
I don't guess she cares. [Laughter]
ROY LEE AUTON:
After that dollar.
MARY RUTH AUTON:
As long as I could make a living, I didn't care whether I beat the other feller or not. I mean, you know, as long as I got a decent payroll. When I went to work, I didn't get no pay for seven nights, and then after that I started making as much as anybody, $15.95 a week. I thought that was pretty good back then; I didn't know what to do with all that money. [Laughter]