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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Hoy Deal, July 3 and 11, 1979. Interview H-0117. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The glove-making process

Deal describes his job turning gloves at a glove mill in Conover, North Carolina. The job entailed using machinery to turn the gloves right side out after the sewers assembled them inside-out. Deal also describes pressing the wrinkles out of the gloves with a dangerously hot machine, describes gender segregation at his factory, and recalls a strict work environment that allowed for few breaks.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Hoy Deal, July 3 and 11, 1979. Interview H-0117. 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:
Where did you go after you stopped working with your father as a carpenter?
HOY DEAL:
I worked in the glove mill in Newton for a while.
PATTY DILLEY:
What was that like?
HOY DEAL:
It was a pretty good job. I worked in it a while, and I went to the cotton mill and worked a little while there, but I didn't like that; it made so much racket and everything, and I couldn't stand that racket. And I went from there up to Conover and worked in the glove mill there several years.
PATTY DILLEY:
What did you do at the glove mill in Conover?
HOY DEAL:
I turned gloves. They're sewed up wrong side out, and then you had a machine there with a pedal on it, and you put that glove down on the thing. It had four fingers. You'd turn the thumb first, and then you'd turn the four fingers, and they was ready to wear then. But before you sewed them, you had a thing there with a hand. Have you ever been in a hosiery mill where they'd put socks and stocking on a hot board to press them?
PATTY DILLEY:
Yes.
HOY DEAL:
Well, this hand in the glove mill was like that. It had a little thumb there. You'd put the thumb on that bore, on one of them, and then you'd take that hand—it just stood up there like a man's hand; water went up in it; it was hot—and you'd put that glove down on there. You'd press that thumb, and then you'd turn that thumb around against the hand, and you'd put that down on that hot hand, and that pressed the wrinkles out of it, and then they was ready. You'd pair them off, two like that together, and they was ready to tie up in a bundle. Put a dozen pair in a bundle. And they had people to do different parts of it. Part of the time I turned that way, and part of the time I steamed them on that steam hand. The girls'd go get them some water and maybe take a glassful back to the machine they worked on to drink later instead of having to get up, going to the spigots so often. And if you got one of them gloves that they had spilled water on while they was drinking or something and put it down on that hand, why, you'd get burnt. [Laughter] I think it burned through them gloves and burned you just the same as laying your hand on a hot stove.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did the company try to stop that?
HOY DEAL:
No, they didn't pay no attention to that. You just had to go on and… The girls couldn't possibly get up and go every time they wanted a drink of water. If they did, they wouldn't get nothing done, because they …
PATTY DILLEY:
They wouldn't get their production.
HOY DEAL:
They wouldn't get enough gloves made that they could make any money on sewing them up. If you didn't get around fifty or seventy-five dozen or a hundred dozen a day, why, you didn't make too good money doing that sewing.
PATTY DILLEY:
Was it mainly women that were doing the sewing?
HOY DEAL:
The girls done all the sewing, and there was about four or five women that steamed on them hands. There was three of us that done the turning, and if we got caught up to where we didn't have much to turn, some of us would help the women steam part of the time on the steam hands.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did you have any kind of breaks?
HOY DEAL:
I don't remember whether they had any breaks during [between] the morning and dinnertime or not.
PATTY DILLEY:
I guess maybe that came in later.
HOY DEAL:
In the later years I imagine they got to where… I know way back up in the years after I was married and went to work on my own, that things got different to where you had time sometimes to go out and smoke and maybe have ten minutes off to eat a sandwich or something between dinner and … But back in the early days like that, I don't believe they had too many breaks. Because I know after I got to working at the other work in the shops and stuff, like I told you the other day, there was three of us quit at one time on account of they wouldn't let us smoke when we went out in the yard to take a break. [Laughter]