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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kathryn Killian and Blanche Bolick, December 12, 1979. Interview H-0131. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Dislike for factory work

Killian hated her job making gloves, and she hated her job making overalls. She disliked the constant supervision, it seems, and the wages were certainly not enough to offset her frustration: she remembers her first paycheck for one dollar. Killian laughs through her denunciation of factory labor, but there is a note of wistfulness in her voice as she concludes that she wishes she had learned a different trade.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kathryn Killian and Blanche Bolick, December 12, 1979. Interview H-0131. 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

KATHRYN KILLIAN:
It's hard work, working and making gloves. If you don't believe it, I'll take you out there and show you. I work here at home.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You work here at home?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Yes. I've worked at home ever since I've worked for Southern Glove.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You were working at home at the same time you were working there?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
No, I had a machine in my home ever since I started working for Southern Glove. They put the machine at the house and I'd go get my goods and take it back to my house.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You mean you never have worked there, at the factory? You've always done your work at home?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Well now, I started work where she did, over at the Yount Glove Mill. I didn't work but about a year, times got so bad. And let me tell you, the first check I got from the Yount glove mill was for one dollar. I worked six weeks for nothing and then they paid me a dollar.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Six weeks for nothing?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
In order to learn. My daddy got me the job, like he did her, and it was such hard times. It was back during the Depression; I started to work in '35. That's the way you had to do. You almost had to pay them to let you work.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That's a long time to go without any income.
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Well, you see, I was with mama and daddy. I was with the family so it didn't matter. Then, they laid a bunch off in the early part of the year, and of course the last ones they took on, my sister, and another one of our sisters—she's passed away now—and I had gone on at the same time. So when they let us go, why I got back on at Conover Glove Mill. My daddy knew a man that worked up there and he got me on up there. So I worked at Conover Glove until I got pregnant the first time. Then after I had the baby, why I went back to Newton Glove Mill, and then I got pregnant again. I didn't go back to work; my husband was killed before my second one was born. Then I went to Southern Glove.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you find work?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
What do you mean now?
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you feel about it?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Making gloves?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Uh huh.
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Oh, I hated it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Really?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Oh my! I made gloves all night.
JACQUELYN HALL:
All night?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
In my sleep [laughter] I had gone to work in the overall factory and I think I worked two days and I quit there. I came home.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you hate about the overall factory?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
Oh mercy, everything about it. They made you work every minute. I'd do everything they told me to do and I didn't know what else to do. I don't know, I just couldn't take it. But when I went to work in the glove mill, I got along all right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You really didn't like to do it?
KATHRYN KILLIAN:
No. I can't say yet that I really like to make gloves, and I've made them all these years. I wished I had learned something else, but I didn't. Too late to learn now.