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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Flake and Nellie Meyers, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0133. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Duties of an assistant foreman in the furniture industry

Flake Meyers describes his duties as assistant foreman in a furniture factory in Conover, North Carolina, during the early 1920s. In his description of his duties, the prominent role of machinery in the furniture-making industry is emphasized. Moreover, Meyers describes his role as assistant foreman as a sort of liminal position between that of worker and supervisor. His comments are revealing of workplace dynamics and tensions.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Flake and Nellie Meyers, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0133. 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:
When you were working for Conover, how many hours a day would you work?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
Ten. I got to be assistant foreman there. I had to put in a lot more hours, though.I don't know if Scott told you that or not.
PATTY DILLEY:
He had mentioned that you were some kind of foreman.
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
And I run a lot of the machines there; I run a tenon machine and a ripsaw andcutoff saws and a boring machine, band saw, dowel machine, rip saw, triplesaw. Anything that was in there, I could run.
PATTY DILLEY:
As assistant foreman, what would you do then, extra?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
Had to do a lot of machine setting up. Set up the machines and see that the stuff went through right. The right amount and all that.
PATTY DILLEY:
But during all of this time, youactually worked, too, running the machines.
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
That's right. Go in and set it up and see that the men had a job they were working on. That's nerve-racking.
PATTY DILLEY:
[Laughter] I bet. What was the hardest thing the foreman would do?
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
If you didn't get your stuff out right or get it on time. The superintendent would come around: "Why is this behind here? Meyers, you'd better get busy and get it on out." That was about the hardest thing.
PATTY DILLEY:
To get the people to get going.
FLAKE ORAN MEYERS:
"Get this man on it over here.. He's standing there. I would get him to work." [Laughter] I'd be out there working, getting something set up or something, cutting it out, and then a couple men standing there waiting. "Why don't you have them to do that? Them standing there, and you doing the work." Didn't like to see that.