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Title: Oral History Interview with Hill Baker, June 1977. Interview H-0109-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Baker, Hill, interviewee
Interview conducted by Dilley, Patty
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 136 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-03-15, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Hill Baker, June 1977. Interview H-0109-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0109-2)
Author: Patty Dilley
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Hill Baker, June 1977. Interview H-0109-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0109-2)
Author: Hill Baker
Description: 101 Mb
Description: 32 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 1977, by Patty Dilley; recorded in Chesterfield, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Jean Houston.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Hill Baker, June 1977.
Interview H-0109-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Baker, Hill, interviewee


Interview Participants

    HILL BAKER, interviewee
    PATTY DILLEY, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
PATTY DILLEY:
This is going to be a work history. The last time I talked to you, we just talked in general about your life. You told me you started working outside the home when you were real young?
HILL BAKER:
Yes, ma'am.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did your brothers and your sisters start early, too?
HILL BAKER:
We lived in the country. We'd work on the farm. There wasn't no factory work then. Sometimes we'd walk in to the factory from out in the country.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did your brothers and sisters carry water with you when you were working at the factory?
HILL BAKER:
No'm, I were younger than they were.
PATTY DILLEY:
Oh, you were younger than some of them were?
HILL BAKER:
Had some that were older than I.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did the older ones work some at the factory, too, like your daddy? Did they work doing the same …
HILL BAKER:
One of them did.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kinds of jobs did they have there at the factory? What did they do?
HILL BAKER:
Some would do what we called hacking lumber. Sanding ax handles, all kinds of handle work. Sander on the sanding machine, as I reckon.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you got your first job where you got wages at the Conover Furniture or at the Hickory Handle.
HILL BAKER:
Hunsucker's Handle Factory. Then it growed up and got larger, you see, turned into a factory.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you remember your first day of work? It seems like you've been working ever since you were real little.

Page 2
HILL BAKER:
No'm, I wouldn't say that, because that's a long way back. Because I've been working ever since I was, say, twelve years old, big enough to work, go out with my daddy on jobs, carry water, be water boy, something like that. On different jobs.
PATTY DILLEY:
You said you worked as a brakeman on the railroad for a little bit. What age were you when you started on that job?
HILL BAKER:
I was about seventeen.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you left the factory and went to work on the railroad.
HILL BAKER:
That's right.
PATTY DILLEY:
Why did you leave the factory?
HILL BAKER:
I could make more money on the railroad. I got old enough that I could go up from the factory and on the farm, and I could get a better job.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you have to have someone teach you that job working on the railroad?
HILL BAKER:
They gave you time to learn, a learning period. You learned to do that braking work.
PATTY DILLEY:
Was it hard to learn?
HILL BAKER:
No, ma'am.
PATTY DILLEY:
How long did you stay there on the railroad?
HILL BAKER:
About seven years.
PATTY DILLEY:
And you were a brakeman the whole time?
HILL BAKER:
Yes, ma'am.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were most of the people that worked on the railroad white or black?

Page 3
HILL BAKER:
A mixture.
PATTY DILLEY:
Would you say they were more white than black?
HILL BAKER:
Yes, I believe they were. The whites had better jobs than we had.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kinds of jobs did the blacks have when they worked on the railroad?
HILL BAKER:
They were brakemen, switchmen. They wasn't no flagmen or conductors or nothing like that.
PATTY DILLEY:
The white people had those jobs?
HILL BAKER:
That's right. Well, they had some white brakemen, too.
PATTY DILLEY:
But it was mostly the whites that had the more paying jobs.
HILL BAKER:
Sure.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you work for a company, or what kind of a boss did you have?
HILL BAKER:
We had a boss and a superintendent.
PATTY DILLEY:
How many people were they in charge of?
HILL BAKER:
About five: fireman, engineer, brakeman, conductor, and flagman.
PATTY DILLEY:
These were mostly white people that worked as the supervisors?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes. There were more white folks worked on the railroad back then than colored folks. They had better jobs.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you feel any kind of a loyalty to the bosses or the supervisors when you first started working?
HILL BAKER:
Well, I had to listen to them, if that's what you mean.
PATTY DILLEY:
But you didn't have to like them?

Page 4
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes, I had to like them if I stayed there.
PATTY DILLEY:
What exactly does a brakeman do on a railroad?
HILL BAKER:
They have a front brakeman and a rear brakeman. The rear brakeman looks after the tracks at the rear of the train. The front brakeman tends to help the engineer and the fireman. Guide them in when they want to go on a side track to meet another train or something like that, and you'd have to throw the switches, direct them in.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you rode on the train when you did this?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
So after you left the railroad, you then went back to the factory again?
HILL BAKER:
To Conover Furniture.
PATTY DILLEY:
And that was Brady then?
HILL BAKER:
Hunsucker was the handle factory. I went from there. And then when Brady bought Hunsucker out, then it was called Conover Furniture.
PATTY DILLEY:
When you worked on the railroad, do you remember what kind of wages you got?
HILL BAKER:
No, we never made too much along back in them days. Maybe forty-five a month. They didn't pay much way back in them days when I was on the road.
PATTY DILLEY:
When you left the railroad, did you leave again because you thought that you could make more money at the furniture plant?
HILL BAKER:
Sure.

Page 5
PATTY DILLEY:
So you got a little bit of a raise in wages from what you were making.
HILL BAKER:
The way the wages worked, with jobs at plants, your wages went up sometimes. We didn't make too much way back yonder when I was in the furniture plant, but it went up.
PATTY DILLEY:
When you first left the railroad and started working at the furniture plant, what kind of job did you do in the furniture plant?
HILL BAKER:
I fired the boilers. Then I got promoted from firing the boiler. Then I run two steam engines, tend to them, and electric motor power. The fireman had two boilers to furnish steam for these engines.
PATTY DILLEY:
When you were firing the boiler, did you have other workers that were doing the same job as you?
HILL BAKER:
Two of us.
PATTY DILLEY:
And then you got promoted to engineer. And that would be a supervisor over those men that were firing the boiler?
HILL BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
So that was a raise in pay, too, then.
HILL BAKER:
That's right.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kind of people did you have over you? Did you have a supervisor over you when you were firing the boiler?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes, I had a superintendent and a foreman.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you feel any kind of a loyalty to them?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
When you started working there at the furniture plant, did anyone have to teach you the job there?
HILL BAKER:
I come up through by the boilers, tending all that, and then

Page 6
I got promoted so that I worked inside the factory.
PATTY DILLEY:
So it was kind of learn-as-you-go?
HILL BAKER:
Yes, learn as you go. Tail rip saws or handle lumber or tricks like that.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you did other things in addition to firing the boiler.
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes, different things.
PATTY DILLEY:
What other things did you do?
HILL BAKER:
I helped handle lumber, and I worked in the finishing room, where you rub filler on the furniture, helped glue tabletops together. Just anything that would come to my line, that's what I'd glue. Tabletops or chairs.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you did all different kinds of things.
HILL BAKER:
That's right. That's what they do when you go to a furniture factory.
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter] You become a jack-of-all-trades. I know there's not too many black people that lived in Conover. Were there a number of them working at the plant?
HILL BAKER:
Quite a number.
PATTY DILLEY:
But more white than black?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes, there was more white than there was colored.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kinds of jobs did the white workers there have in the plants?
HILL BAKER:
They supervised and run over high-powered machines, ripsaws and all like that, checked them over. The colored didn't run them high-powered machines, but they tailed running them. Tailed machines for the white. They got so when they got promoted up, why, they could

Page 7
run a ripsaw, too. Just switch the switch. If you learned, you made it, and if you didn't, you didn't. You were in that.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did any of the blacks ever get to run the machines? Was there a way that they could learn, also?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes. Dumbies, you know, will pick up all the time.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you ever work any kind of work like an assembly line type of work? Did you ever have production quotas at the plant, that you had to glue together so much furniture, so many pieces a day?
HILL BAKER:
Yes, I had to glue these all like this. This here ain't nothing but just one little piece. Put that in a press and make the glue glue this together. This here ain't but one little piece, but they made the whole top, then ripped down to the size they wanted it.
PATTY DILLEY:
When Mr. Broyhill came in, did you feel like you owed him as much as you did Mr. Brady?
HILL BAKER:
Well, Broyhill had a bigger job. He had bigger machinery and more competition than Brady had. That was just a small thing. Broyhill went up, run two or three factories, of which he's got two or three now. He's at the top, making furniture.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you ever meet him or ever see him?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, Lordy, he used to have big dinners at Conover for us.
PATTY DILLEY:
He did?
HILL BAKER:
Watermelon to eat; there'd be a truck loaded with watermelon. And have long tables and give us a big pie supper, all like that. He were wonderful.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did Mr. Brady ever have any kind of things like that?
HILL BAKER:
He wasn't as well off as Mr. Broyhill. He'd give us

Page 8
something at Christmas.
PATTY DILLEY:
What did he give you all for Christmas?
HILL BAKER:
He'd give us some little production to carry home, a box of oranges, a box of apples, something like that.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did Mr. Brady or Mr. Broyhill ever organize a softball team or anything like that?
HILL BAKER:
He done most everything that could be done in a factory. He was wonderful.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you feel like your work at the plant was ever dangerous?
HILL BAKER:
Some parts were. Running a ripsaw was dangerous, get your hands or arms cut off or something like that. You just had to be careful with everything as you worked.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you know of anybody that ever did get hurt by one of those machines?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, Lord, yes. I wouldn't know his name, but I remember some would get careless and get hurt, and maybe get their hands, fingers cut off.
PATTY DILLEY:
How was the working environment? Did it ever get real hot in the factories?
HILL BAKER:
You had an electric fan. In the wintertime we had steam heat.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you remember it being real well ventilated? Were there lots of windows?
HILL BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they ever brick up any windows while you were there?

Page 9
HILL BAKER:
Not too often.
PATTY DILLEY:
Why would they brick up the windows sometimes?
HILL BAKER:
Sometimes they'd throw a block or something and hit one of the windows where it was close to the window, the machinery. Something they threw would hit them. They didn't do it purpose, though. Not on purpose.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you remember the plant being noisy?
HILL BAKER:
Not too much noise.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were the big machines that Broyhill brought in noisier than the ones Mr. Brady had?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, Lord, yes. Broyhill would have a real factory. Brady had to work himself up. He was small and worked up. Broyhill had the money to do it really. Brady never had the money that Broyhill had.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you know what I'm talking about when I say a speedup or a stretchout?
HILL BAKER:
I may and I may not. You mean speedup in my work? Why, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they ever run those while you were there?
HILL BAKER:
Yes, they're going high and low.
PATTY DILLEY:
You said when you worked as a fireman, you were assisted sometimes by people under you. If you ever got all your work done, were you allowed to help other people get theirs done?
HILL BAKER:
No, I just had one job, tending to the boiler room. I got promoted from the boiler room, two boilers, and they promoted me from that to the engineer's job. I had two engines and I tended to them, and I had a fireman to tend to the boilers who took my place.

Page 10
PATTY DILLEY:
So that was a fulltime kind of thing.
HILL BAKER:
Oh, Lord, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Your employers were mostly male. Did you ever have any female workers at the plant?
HILL BAKER:
No, ma'am. Not on the first one. On the last, I worked at the Broyhills', there was about as many women as there was men.
PATTY DILLEY:
Really? By the time you retired, they had as many women as men?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes. They've got them now.
PATTY DILLEY:
How many people finally worked for Brady just before he sold out to Broyhill?
HILL BAKER:
I guess maybe forty or fifty. It was a small plant. He wasn't in it in a big way like Broyhill was.
PATTY DILLEY:
And then when Mr. Broyhill came in, did he expand almost immediately?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, Lord, yes, twice bigger.
PATTY DILLEY:
So he had about a hundred people.
HILL BAKER:
Twice than Brady. Brady was just a small man. Broyhill built two big factories down there.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you remember how many of those forty people who were working there were your friends or relatives before you started working there, or during your work there?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, Lord, I couldn't begin to explain that, because it was so many.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they make a practice of hiring people that were relatives

Page 11
or friends?
HILL BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
How closely do you think you were supervised at your work?
HILL BAKER:
About three or four years. Oh, it was longer than that. I can't remember way back there, because I worked there all my life. I worked for Brady fifty years; then I come back to Broyhill and worked for him twenty-nine or thirty.
PATTY DILLEY:
That was a long time. When you were working at the boiler, and you had a foreman or someone above you …
HILL BAKER:
Sure, I had the superintendent of the whole plant. I was under him.
PATTY DILLEY:
How closely do you think he checked on your work? Did he come around a lot?
HILL BAKER:
We were in there all the time, in a great big brick room. There were two great big boilers in there, two big engine rooms adjoining, all built together.
PATTY DILLEY:
So he just came in every now and then? Was your room separate from the rest of the plant?
HILL BAKER:
The boiler room and the engine room were all together.
PATTY DILLEY:
Could you see the other workers from where you were?
HILL BAKER:
In the shop? No, it was upstairs. I couldn't see them all. They had a partition fixed. The engines and boilers were in separate rooms.
PATTY DILLEY:
So then the supervisor came around. Did he …
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes, the super came around every half hour to see how things were going in there.

Page 12
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you think you needed him to come around that much?
HILL BAKER:
Well, that was his job. He didn't have to come, as long as things were going good. If something broke down, he'd come around and see what to order to fill it out. Just like here. 1 * At the rest home. They've got a supervisor.
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter] Yes. I guess we do need them. Did the company have any certain rules at work? Did they have rules about smoking? Could you smoke in the plant?
HILL BAKER:
We had a smoking period, to give you a rest period twice a day for fifteen minutes.
PATTY DILLEY:
How about eating?
HILL BAKER:
While you would eat and smoked all was about the same, when you'd come out for what they called the eating period, smoking period. They didn't smoke in the building; they had to come outside.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they have a place for you to eat?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes, a great big fine place. Broyhill's.
PATTY DILLEY:
How about Mr. Brady?
HILL BAKER:
That way back then. He didn't have nothing like that.
PATTY DILLEY:
You all just went outside and sat.
HILL BAKER:
That's right.
PATTY DILLEY:
Could you talk to other workers while the work day was going on?
HILL BAKER:
You might say a few words, but you couldn't stand and have no conversation.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did the supervisors object to people talking?
HILL BAKER:
Well, you can't talk and work. You could talk to them, but

Page 13
you couldn't have no conversations.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they have any rules about things you had to wear to work?
HILL BAKER:
No'm, the men didn't.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did the women?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes, the women did. When they went to work. I mean the crowd what's working now. Way back yonder they didn't. The men just wore the overalls, and now the women got suits they wear, have them in the plant. Working in that paint and stuff.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they ever let you all have bathroom breaks? Could you leave your work in the middle of the day if you had to go to the bathroom?
HILL BAKER:
That's a work period. They have that.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they only let you go during the breaks that they gave you, or could you just go anytime?
HILL BAKER:
You couldn't just go anytime.
PATTY DILLEY:
You had to wait.
HILL BAKER:
Had the break period and the smoking.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they have a specific time that you had to be in in the morning?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
What time did you all usually go in the morning?
HILL BAKER:
Seven o'clock was the work hour.
PATTY DILLEY:
What happened if you didn't come on time?
HILL BAKER:
If you didn't come in on time, you didn't get time for the time you didn't come in. They paid by the hour, and you just got paid

Page 14
from the time you were coming in.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you remember anybody ever getting fired or reprimanded for not coming in on time?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes, they had to have a reason. They'd come in with a reason. Some of them may have been sick or something like that.
PATTY DILLEY:
So they gave you a little bit of leeway?
HILL BAKER:
You had to have an excuse.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kind of holidays did you all get when you worked there?
HILL BAKER:
The Fourth of July. At Christmas we'd get a week off. On all holidays we'd get the week off.
PATTY DILLEY:
So this would be everybody in the plant.
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Could the people in the plant ever take off without the supervisor's permission?
HILL BAKER:
They had to have permission. They couldn't walk off from their jobs. No, they couldn't walk off. If they would, they wouldn't walk off no more, unless someone was still sick. Their folks sick or they got sick or something, why, that was a different proposition. No, they didn't allow them to walk off.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you and the other workers ever decide among yourselves how much work should be done and how much work a person could do in the plant? Who was it that decided?
HILL BAKER:
The supervisor. The superintendent.
PATTY DILLEY:
So the workers never discussed among themselves …
HILL BAKER:
Oh, no. Your job is laid out. And the superintendent

Page 15
depends on you to do that.
PATTY DILLEY:
And everybody abided by those rules?
HILL BAKER:
That's right. If they stayed there, they abided by them.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you ever know of anybody in the plant that deliberately tried to slow down the production of the furniture?
HILL BAKER:
Not exactly. And if they did, they wouldn't fool with them.
Got to slowing down his production and work, they wouldn't hire them. They couldn't work for them.
PATTY DILLEY:
Could you or your fellow employees make up rules that had to be followed by other workers or supervisors?
HILL BAKER:
No, ma'am.
PATTY DILLEY:
It was always the supervisors that made the rules.
HILL BAKER:
That's right.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you ever complain to your supervisor about some of the problems related to your work?
HILL BAKER:
No, ma'am.
PATTY DILLEY:
How about the other workers? Did they ever complain about problems with their work?
HILL BAKER:
If they did, nobody didn't know it. It was a secret.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did the other employees ever complain about having too much supervision?
HILL BAKER:
Not as I know of.
PATTY DILLEY:
If a worker did have a grievance or a problem, how was it decided that the problem would be solved?
HILL BAKER:
You had to talk it out with the superintendent.
PATTY DILLEY:
It was always the superintendent?

Page 16
HILL BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Was there ever any competition among the workers in the plant that you know of?
HILL BAKER:
No'm.
PATTY DILLEY:
How were promotions in the plant arranged?
HILL BAKER:
Work yourself up.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you were promoted to engineer. You were promoted twice?
HILL BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you remember ever any conflicts or jealousies between the different groups of workers in the plant, like the skilled workers and the unskilled workers in the plant, or maybe the blacks and the whites in the plant?
HILL BAKER:
No, nothing like that never did happen. Oh, sometime they may have a little quarrel or something like that, but it wasn't enough to amount to nothing.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were some of the workers treated with more respect than the others?
HILL BAKER:
Not as I know of. You find you got a pet anywhere you go.
PATTY DILLEY:
Can you explain that a little bit better?
HILL BAKER:
I don't say all plants, because I haven't been in all of them. I'll say where I worked.
PATTY DILLEY:
When you all left work, were there any relationships between the people that were managing, like the supervisors and the foremen, and the workers that did all the work in the factory? Did they live in the same neighborhoods?
HILL BAKER:
Well, I won't say that. It's different.

Page 17
Everybody didn't live at the same place and the same neighborhood. People are scattered when they're working in a plant like that. They move from everywhere.
PATTY DILLEY:
They come from everywhere?
HILL BAKER:
Mostly.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were any of the managers in the mill relatives of any of the other managers?
HILL BAKER:
No'm, I don't think they were. If they did do it, I don't know nothing about it.
PATTY DILLEY:
I'm going to ask you a couple of questions about the women that worked in the plant.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
PATTY DILLEY:
When did women first start working in the plant in large numbers?
HILL BAKER:
That was way back in the Second World War, I believe.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were the women ever treated any differently than the men?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, no. They did their part, in the part where they worked at. Of course, they had men supervising all the women. Had to work to themselves. Not to themselves, either, but did work in the same room in the plant.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kinds of work did the women do when they came to the plant?
HILL BAKER:
They would rub furniture, filler, sand, all like that.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were they mostly lower paying jobs than the other jobs that

Page 18
the men had?
HILL BAKER:
They made pretty good money.
PATTY DILLEY:
But did they make as much as the men did?
HILL BAKER:
No, they didn't make as much as the men.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did any of the women workers ever have to clean around the plant? Did they ever have to clean the bathrooms?
HILL BAKER:
No, they had men for that. They had janitors for all that.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were those mostly black workers or white people that did that kind of …
HILL BAKER:
They had black and white. Whatever the superintendent called them to do, that's what they had to do.
PATTY DILLEY:
So they were paid for this work, cleaning up and cleaning around.
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they ever have people stay late after work to clean up?
HILL BAKER:
Sometime they'd work overtime.
PATTY DILLEY:
They would get paid for that, then.
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you notice if any of the supervisors ever played favorites among the women?
HILL BAKER:
No, they didn't have nothing like that.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you ever have any of the women at the plant that were your relatives?
HILL BAKER:
Yes, I had a daughter or two worked there.
PATTY DILLEY:
What did you feel about them going to work?
HILL BAKER:
Well, they made good money.

Page 19
PATTY DILLEY:
So you thought that was fine.
HILL BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
When your daughters went to work, were they married then when they first started work?
HILL BAKER:
One of them was.
PATTY DILLEY:
So the one worked through her marriage. Did the other girl plan to keep on working even if she got married?
HILL BAKER:
She quit and went to Washington and went to school.
PATTY DILLEY:
That was the one that first went to Washington, then.
HILL BAKER:
Mum-m.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you know what your daughter's husband thought about her working in a factory?
HILL BAKER:
He didn't think nothing about it, because he worked there, too.
PATTY DILLEY:
So he didn't ever want her to quit or anything?
HILL BAKER:
They moved out. They moved to Washington. I don't know how it come out after that. They got better jobs, of course, government jobs.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did your daughter ever have any children while she was working there at the plant?
HILL BAKER:
No, ma'am.
PATTY DILLEY:
I just want some general ideas about what you think about the Broyhill Company in general. Do you have any impressions about them or about Mr. Broyhill or anything?
HILL BAKER:
No.
PATTY DILLEY:
What do you think of the company?

Page 20
HILL BAKER:
It was all right.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kind of benefits do you see that the company offered you?
HILL BAKER:
They gave me good work and carried me well.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they ever offer any kind of health insurance?
HILL BAKER:
I carried it at the plant.
PATTY DILLEY:
Was that through the company?
HILL BAKER:
The insurance come through the company.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you get some kind of a pension there after you stopped working?
HILL BAKER:
No, ma'am, that wasn't in yet.
PATTY DILLEY:
There wasn't any pension yet.
HILL BAKER:
No, nothing like that way back yonder, when I's working.
PATTY DILLEY:
What year did you retire?
HILL BAKER:
I don't believe I just hardly know, but it's been a good while ago.
PATTY DILLEY:
Was it in the fifties?
HILL BAKER:
I believe I was about sixty. [See page 30 for correction.]
PATTY DILLEY:
Did the workers that got hurt at the plant get any kind of a compensation for getting hurt?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes, the insurance paid it.
PATTY DILLEY:
And everybody that worked at the plant got the insurance.
HILL BAKER:
They carried the accident insurance.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did the company ever offer any kind of educational opportunities?

Page 21
HILL BAKER:
I don't think so. They didn't me no way. No, ma'am. But now Broyhill did at the last. He promised you most anything, if he were able to do it. But when I first started out, we were on the poor scale. But Broyhill could give you most anything you wanted. Didn't miss it.
PATTY DILLEY:
In general things, like if the company ever promised the workers that they would get a raise or something like that, did they always keep their word?
HILL BAKER:
Well, if you worked yourself up, you got a raise, and if you didn't, you didn't. You had to work yourself up.
PATTY DILLEY:
Was there a certain amount of time that you had to be there before you got a raise?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
So this was standard; every worker had to work for a certain amount of time.
HILL BAKER:
Certainly.
PATTY DILLEY:
This is a section about what you did when you came home from work. When you got off work at the plant and came home, what kinds of things did you do?
HILL BAKER:
Around the house? There was nothing I could do because of the long hours and the time I went to work.
PATTY DILLEY:
How late in the evening did you work?
HILL BAKER:
Five or maybe six o'clock. Different [according] to how he laid them out. If you worked to four o'clock, five, or whatever he had for you to work, that's what you worked.

Page 22
You might get off at six, but no later than six.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were you real friendly with the other workers? Did you consider some of the workers your friends? You said you had a lot of relatives.
HILL BAKER:
Well, they were all right.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you all ever do anything after work or any activities on the weekends?
HILL BAKER:
No'm, because we worked till four o'clock on Saturday.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you go to church with some of the workers?
HILL BAKER:
No, I went to my own church, the Methodist Church.
PATTY DILLEY:
Where did most of the other workers go to church?
HILL BAKER:
They went to the church where I went and different churches. There wasn't many churches there. Yes, they went where I did, some of them. It was like it is now. The Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans. It was a mixture.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you ever think, while you were working at the factory, about doing other kinds of work? What other kinds of work would you have liked to have done?
HILL BAKER:
That was about all I could have done along in them days.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you ever dream of doing something else?
HILL BAKER:
No, ma'am. Because you couldn't get a job way back there like you can now. If you got the job, you had to stick to it.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you feel like the people that ran the businesses in the town and the supervisors ever looked down on the people that worked

Page 23
in the factory? Did the people in town ever treat the people that worked in the factory like they were second-class citizens?
HILL BAKER:
Well, them people is all gone, Hunsucker and Brady. Old man Broyhill, I think he's still living yet, but all them old people that I used to work with way back yonder are dead and gone.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did they ever think that you all were… The people in the town, like when you all went to buy at stores, did they ever look down on factory workers or treat them bad because they were factory workers?
HILL BAKER:
No, as long as you traded with them, everything was all right.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you remember if they ever sent any unions out to the plant?
HILL BAKER:
We had what they call a little old strike, a piece of union there, but it didn't amount to nothing. I don't think they was out more than three or four hours.
PATTY DILLEY:
How old were you then?
HILL BAKER:
I was about thirteen.
PATTY DILLEY:
And was this the only time?
HILL BAKER:
The only time.
PATTY DILLEY:
You never heard anything about …
HILL BAKER:
No, they didn't have nothing like that back yonder. Just a couple of deadheads that didn't care about work nohow.
PATTY DILLEY:
So that was the only time that you ever heard anybody talk any plans …
HILL BAKER:
The only time.

Page 24
PATTY DILLEY:
… was back then. Did you ever hear about any strikes not at your plant but maybe at some other plants?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, just plenty of them. Plenty of strikes. That's all they used to have.
PATTY DILLEY:
What did you think about those strikes?
HILL BAKER:
Well, I wasn't in it, and it didn't concern me.
PATTY DILLEY:
You didn't really care?
HILL BAKER:
No.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you feel proud or embarrassed about the work you did? Were you proud of it, or were you ashamed of being a factory worker?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, Lord, no, that's all I could have had to do. That or farm work. If I wasn't on the farm, I worked in a factory.
PATTY DILLEY:
Would you have rather worked on a farm than a factory if you could have gotten the same wages?
HILL BAKER:
I'd rather work in a factory. It's not hot in the factory exactly like it is on the farm.
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter] It did offer that. Did you ever feel like quitting at the company?
HILL BAKER:
If I could have got more money, I would have. Back along in them days never paid nothing, and when they did pay, if you could get the most money, that's where you went.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you never got disgusted or anything with the people there.
HILL BAKER:
No.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kinds of things did you like about the work at the Conover Furniture plant?

Page 25
HILL BAKER:
Well, I had to like the all of it. It all were good.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kinds of things did you dislike about it?
HILL BAKER:
I had a good job in the engine room and boiler room; that was a good job. I couldn't go as high as some of them that was working in the factory. I didn't work in the factory too much. I worked down in …
PATTY DILLEY:
In the boiler room.
HILL BAKER:
Making money for myself.
PATTY DILLEY:
Would you have liked to have gotten a job up in the factory?
HILL BAKER:
No, my job I had was just all right.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you look forward to each new day, or did the days sometimes seem to drag by?
HILL BAKER:
Well, I just don't know. It was all about the same along back in them days.
PATTY DILLEY:
What do you think is the best thing that's ever happened to working people in your lifetime?
HILL BAKER:
The best thing is to treat them nice and pay them good money and a good job. That's the best I would know.
PATTY DILLEY:
What do you think has been the worst thing that ever happened to you at your job, or the worst thing that's happened to working people in general?
HILL BAKER:
It seemed to me like they treated them all about alike. Anybody that was no good and wouldn't want to work, why, of course you had to go. They would keep people who would work. Some folks won't

Page 26
work in a pie factory.
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter] Did you ever wish that you didn't have to work there so hard?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, no. It suited me.
PATTY DILLEY:
You liked the work?
HILL BAKER:
Yes, it was all right.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did any of the people you know ever have to go on welfare or food stamps or unemployment insurance?
HILL BAKER:
We never had that way back yonder when I come up. It's not like it is now. We didn't know nothing about that food stamps and welfare way back yonder.
PATTY DILLEY:
What do you think about that now?
HILL BAKER:
Well, people's got to live. You have to live. And there ain't enough work going on that they can make anything to live by.
PATTY DILLEY:
When you retired, did you ever do any kind of work after you retired? Maybe something small, short-time jobs, after you retired?
HILL BAKER:
I got little odd jobs.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kind of jobs did you do?
HILL BAKER:
Just most any little thing I could pick up.
PATTY DILLEY:
And that was in Conover?
HILL BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
When you retired, how did you get here? I know you'd lived in Conover. How long ago did you come here to Morganton?
HILL BAKER:
A little over five years. My folks are all moved to Washington. I had nobody to stay with me, so the welfare sent me up here. My folks are all living, but they're too far away that I

Page 27
can't get to them. They want me to come to Washington, seven of them, but I don't want that. Too much noise; I don't want it. I stayed up there, me and my wife, a while. Too much noise; I don't want to go there. And that throwed them. They wouldn't let me stay at home by myself. That throwed me to come up here.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you came up here after your wife died or before your wife died?
HILL BAKER:
After my wife died.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you all live at home?
HILL BAKER:
Lived at Conover.
PATTY DILLEY:
And you lived by yourself with your wife.
HILL BAKER:
That's right. Well, I had one boy. He had both legs cut off. He come up here, too. Me and him got separated after a while, because I didn't have nobody to stay with. I had a girl that stayed with me, but she overcharged me, and I couldn't draw enough welfare to pay her.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you were staying with somebody there in the community?
HILL BAKER:
I was staying in an old house there, and she went to the factory. I wasn't making enough to pay her.
PATTY DILLEY:
She worked at the Conover Furniture?
HILL BAKER:
Broyhill's now.
PATTY DILLEY:
Was this your daughter?
HILL BAKER:
No, it wasn't my daughter.
PATTY DILLEY:
It was just a friend.
HILL BAKER:
A hired girl.

Page 28
PATTY DILLEY:
Just a girl that lived there in town. Is your son still up here with you?
HILL BAKER:
Me and him both came up here. He got sick and had both his legs cut off. He died over here in the hospital. That throwed me by myself. Of course, I had a boy and a girl at home at Conover, but they're crowded up.
PATTY DILLEY:
Which boy lives in Conover?
HILL BAKER:
Bobby.
PATTY DILLEY:
Your brother still lives in Conover, too?
HILL BAKER:
I've got one brother.
PATTY DILLEY:
Is he living with his kids?
HILL BAKER:
No, he ain't got no kids. His wife died about two months ago, and he's by himself.
PATTY DILLEY:
How old is he now?
HILL BAKER:
He's retired, and I think he's drawing this here old pension. He must be sixty-two or -three, maybe more.
PATTY DILLEY:
He's a lot younger than you, then.
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes. He's my baby brother.
PATTY DILLEY:
You're one of the oldest.
HILL BAKER:
I'm the oldest one in the family.
PATTY DILLEY:
And you're ninety-three today. When you first started working, how long did you think you were going to work to?
HILL BAKER:
Oh, I didn't have no idea.
PATTY DILLEY:
You were just going to work until you got tired.
HILL BAKER:
That's just like I did.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you stopped working when you were about sixty?

Page 29
HILL BAKER:
I got disabled with diabetes. I'm a diabetic, and I couldn't do no more, and I had to come out. If it hadn't been for this diabetes, I could have been… No, I couldn't have on account of my leg. I had to come out. I take a needle every day.
PATTY DILLEY:
Is that why your leg hurts? Do they put the needle in your leg?
HILL BAKER:
No, they put it in my arm. Rheumatism, I guess, in my leg.
PATTY DILLEY:
When you first started working at the plant, did you expect to get promoted when you got promoted?
HILL BAKER:
From low to high? Well, I done my work.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you expected if you worked hard and did your work, that you would get promoted, or it just happened that way?
HILL BAKER:
Well, I guess it just happened that way. I done my job. And it fell to my luck that I took that job, that the superintendent put me on that job.
PATTY DILLEY:
I asked you earlier about the Depression. Do you remember about the Depression? You said the plant closed up for a while. What exactly did you all do? How did you all live then? How did you get your food during the Depression when you couldn't work?
HILL BAKER:
Well, you had to do the best you could. Welfare, I think, probably contributed some.
PATTY DILLEY:
Was this the only time that the plant stopped and you were really unemployed?
HILL BAKER:
The only time.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you ever get any work during that period that the plant

Page 30
was closed down, like odd jobs or anything?
HILL BAKER:
Yes, I'd pick up anything I could.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kinds of things could you do, and who did you work for during that period?
HILL BAKER:
Work around people's houses cleaning up around the yards, just like that. No regular job.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you think you retired in the sixties, or when you were sixty?
HILL BAKER:
No, I was about eighty.
PATTY DILLEY:
You were eighty when you retired.
HILL BAKER:
Yes, I'm ninety-three now.
PATTY DILLEY:
I thought you were older than that, and I didn't know whether I just didn't hear you right the first time. And right now is the welfare paying for your living, or is it your pension from the factory, or a combination of both?
HILL BAKER:
No, I don't get nothing from the factory.
PATTY DILLEY:
You don't get anything from the factory.
HILL BAKER:
No.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you see your nieces or nephews or children often today?
HILL BAKER:
They come in about once a year.
PATTY DILLEY:
So they have to come in all the way from Washington.
HILL BAKER:
Oh, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
I guess that's all I wanted to ask you today. Do you have anything else that you would like to tell me about your work in general?
HILL BAKER:
No, I think that's enough.

Page 31
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter]
HILL BAKER:
It seems I couldn't think of nothing else.
PATTY DILLEY:
You think I pretty well covered it.
HILL BAKER:
I think you've got it.
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter]
HILL BAKER:
You want to show them papers to Bobby?
PATTY DILLEY:
I'd like to maybe go talk to Bobby some.
HILL BAKER:
He works eight hours a day. He don't come in till four o'clock.
PATTY DILLEY:
I might call him in the evening sometime and see if he'll have time to talk.
HILL BAKER:
Now that's it. Or you maybe could go to the plant and catch him at the plant. They may let you come in; I don't know.
PATTY DILLEY:
Yes, I don't know that they might or not. But I'm pretty sure I can find his phone number at home and give him a call. I'd like to talk to him, too. And I really do appreciate your talking to me and spending time. I might come back again. They have some different things here to …
HILL BAKER:
What benefit is that to me?
PATTY DILLEY:
I don't know. I like to talk to people sometimes to tell them what I've done. This will benefit a lot of people that want to look and see what life was back in Conover back when you were working and other people were working, and let them know the conditions that the work was done under and just some of the things that happened. It's like studying history. So I might come back sometime.
HILL BAKER:
That would be all right.

Page 32
PATTY DILLEY:
I don't want to wear you out talking to you.
HILL BAKER:
You're not wearing me out. I ain't got nothing to do nohow. Fat supper and go to bed.
PATTY DILLEY:
Okay. There's some other sets of questions here that I might want to ask you, but I think this is enough for today. And I do appreciate your talking to me, and I'd like to talk to your son, too.
HILL BAKER:
He'd be glad to talk with you.
PATTY DILLEY:
And he might have some messages or something for you next time I come out here, and I'll bring them with me. And so I guess I can come back sometime next week.
HILL BAKER:
He works at the Conover Furniture Company.
PATTY DILLEY:
Okay. He still works there.
END OF INTERVIEW