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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Oscar Dearmont Baker, June 1977. Interview H-0110. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Working intermittently at furniture and hosiery mills

Baker offers a brief overview of his work history with Conover Furniture during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Having initially worked on the railroads and as a horse groomer, Baker had returned to his hometown of Conover, North Carolina, by the mid-1930s. Here, he explains briefly how he worked at Conover Furniture under both Walter Baker and Jim Broyhill. Additionally, he also worked at the Newton Knitting Mill during these years. Baker argues that all of these jobs were similar and that he worked as a shipping clerk. His comments reveal the range of work available for workers at the time.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Oscar Dearmont Baker, June 1977. Interview H-0110. 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

PATTY DILLEY:
What was the first furniture plant you worked at?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
The first one I give you, down there where Broyhill has now.
PATTY DILLEY:
Conover Furniture.
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you knew quite a few people that worked there?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Oh, yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Your brother worked there, I guess.
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
About all my brothers have worked there.
PATTY DILLEY:
What kind of job did you do there?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
I run a… You use them in a cotton mill; they call it a… I believe they called it a spool driver. It was about that long and had a little round head on the top, but they used them for mills, to put the thread on.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you made those?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Yes. You make that, and then you make the head on another machine, and then you take that and glue that head on there. Some of them would be that long, some that long.
PATTY DILLEY:
I'll probably talk to you more about that. Right now I'm just going to go over and do some real general stuff. How long did you work at Conover Furniture?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Off and on, I imagine eight or ten years. Ten years, I know of.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you go to other jobs and then come back?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
I did one time. But the last time it was changed hands. Mr. Brady used to own it the first time. And then he sold it out, and then that's why, when I come back. At that time, that was just about the only place to work.
PATTY DILLEY:
Yes. Early on. So you left Conover Furniture and came back when it was Broyhill.
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did Mr. Brady lay off a lot of people when he started getting in financial trouble? Why did you leave?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
You could make just a little more money than you could other places. Now they paid, but it wasn't as much as you could make somewhere else.
PATTY DILLEY:
Where did you go?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
I'm not sure about that, but I believe I went in the hosiery mill business at that time. I was a shipping clerk in the hosiery mill.
PATTY DILLEY:
Which hosiery mill was it?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Down at Newton Knitting Mill, down there by Hickory, both of which… Fairview and Whisnant Hosiery.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you did the same thing, shipping clerk?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Yes, same thing. I did the same thing at all the mills.
PATTY DILLEY:
So you came back to Broyhill. How long did you work for Broyhill there?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
The last time? Not too long. A year or maybe two years.