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Title: Oral History Interview with George and Tessie Dyer, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0161. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Dyer, George, interviewee
Author: Dyer, Tessie, interviewee
Interview conducted by Jones, Lu Ann
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 224 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© 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:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-07-21, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with George and Tessie Dyer, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0161. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0161)
Author: Lu Ann Jones
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with George and Tessie Dyer, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0161. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0161)
Author: George and Tessie Dyer
Description: 217 Mb
Description: 52 p.
Note: Interview conducted on March 5, 1980, by Lu Ann Jones; recorded in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Sharon King.
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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Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with George and Tessie Dyer, March 5, 1980.
Interview H-0161. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Dyer, George, interviewee
Dyer, Tessie, interviewee


Interview Participants

    GEORGE DYER, interviewee
    TESSIE DYER, interviewee
    LU ANN JONES, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
LU ANN JONES:
You say you grew up here in Charlotte?
TESSIE DYER:
No, I didn't. I grew up in Cabarrus County, but I moved to Charlotte when I was eleven years old.
GEORGE DYER:
You can't hardly say you grew up in Cabarrus County. You must have grew up. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
No, I said I was eleven years old when we moved to Charlotte, but I attended school here in Charlotte—over here at Villa Heights School. When I was old enough to go to work, I was signed up and I went to work down here at Highland Park. First went in the spinning room, and then from there, I went to the draw-in room. I stayed there until 1969. The mill closed down.
LU ANN JONES:
What had your parents done in Cabarrus County?
GEORGE DYER:
Mill work, textile. That was all was in these towns. They call them textile mills, but they called them cotton mills back then.
TESSIE DYER:
They're not any cotton mills here now in Charlotte. They're all closed down.
GEORGE DYER:
They were small works but didn't manage too much.
TESSIE DYER:
This was the last one—Highland Park #3. Highland Park #2 and Highland Park #1 is in Rock Hill. I guess it closed down too; they all closed down.
LU ANN JONES:
Had your grandparents also worked in textiles?
TESSIE DYER:
No, my grandparents didn't work in the mill as I know of.
LU ANN JONES:
Did they farm? Do you know what they did?
TESSIE DYER:
On my father's side, they farmed. On my mother's side, I believe they did live on a farm one time. Moved from Albemarle here, I mean Cabarrus County.
LU ANN JONES:
Did your grandparents live close to you?
TESSIE DYER:
Oh, yes.

Page 2
LU ANN JONES:
Did you visit them on their farm?
TESSIE DYER:
Yes, my grandfather did. My mother's parents, they didn't live on a farm. They moved to Concord off the farm.
LU ANN JONES:
What do you remember about visiting on the farm? Did you like that?
TESSIE DYER:
Oh, yes. I enjoyed it very much.
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of crops did they grow? Did they have animals?
TESSIE DYER:
Cotton.
GEORGE DYER:
What else?
TESSIE DYER:
I remember I went there one time and it was a-blooming; it was red. I asked him when it opened up good would it still be red. He said, "Oh no." The first time I'd seen it, I didn't know that, but I enjoyed going to the farm very much.
LU ANN JONES:
Did your grandmother help him work the farm, or did she primarily stay in the house to work?
TESSIE DYER:
Not too much, she didn't.
GEORGE DYER:
I guess she had a full-time job looking after the cooking, and milking cows and things, like all them women.
LU ANN JONES:
So she did things like that, she tended cows and stuff. How many brothers and sisters did you have?
TESSIE DYER:
Did I have? I had two sisters and one brother—three girls and one boy.
LU ANN JONES:
Where were you in all that? Who came first?
TESSIE DYER:
I did.
LU ANN JONES:
You were the oldest then?
TESSIE DYER:
I'm the oldest.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did your parents decide to move to Charlotte?
TESSIE DYER:
We were living in Concord. My mother had several brothers

Page 3
here and a sister. They wanted us to move to Charlotte, and we moved to Charlotte when I was eleven years old.
LU ANN JONES:
Was it exciting to move from a smaller town like that?
TESSIE DYER:
Oh, yes, because we moved on wagons then.
GEORGE DYER:
Think how long it took her to get here [laughter].
TESSIE DYER:
We had two wagons—I never will forget this—had four horses. They left about 4:00 in the morning, and they got to Charlotte 5:30 that night. It was the latter part of September, it was getting dark. They couldn't go back home, they had to spend the night, stay over till the next morning to start back.
LU ANN JONES:
Who was it that brought your family over? Were they your wagons, or were they relatives' wagons?
TESSIE DYER:
No, they were just friends that my father knew and had wagons. I had an uncle; it was about his first car. He came to Concord and got us and brought us to Charlotte. Oh, boy, we thought that was something.
LU ANN JONES:
So all those wagons, you just packed up everything that your family had?
TESSIE DYER:
You know how they pack now, that truck and all. They just packed and didn't hurt anything.
GEORGE DYER:
Not many people had much back then. A bed and a cook stove's about all they had. I know when my father got married, he said—it's funny to tell it the way modern things is now—"I had a horse, and I had a pig, started out getting married. My daddy give me a barrel of flour and some chickens. That's how we started housekeeping." Starting off, that's all the food they had start off with. Like you said, he raised that pig to be a big hog the next year, and they a-plenty of meat. He was a farmer, he was raised in the country. That's how he started out. He built a three room cabin. My great-grandfather was Civil War—he was a

Page 4
surveyor. He knew that money that was going to be killed—money wouldn't be no good. So he bought up a lot of land and give all of them a piece of land. My father had 150 acres of land. He had five brothers, two sisters. So when his parents died, they left him a lot of land. That's all they left him.
LU ANN JONES:
That was in Roanoke, Virginia?
GEORGE DYER:
No, that was in Franklin county, Virginia, where this happened. I wasn't born in Roanoke, Virginia; I was born in Franklin County.
TESSIE DYER:
He lived on a farm, but I didn't. I always lived in town. . . .
GEORGE DYER:
I was eleven years old too. We moved from out to Henry County, Virginia—that's Martinsville, Virginia. People talk about the good old days back then; them's was the hard old days. People really has it good now. Kids spend more money now. Just young teenagers now spend more money now than I made when I was fifteen, sixteen years old. I's work after school.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did your parents decide to move from the farm?
GEORGE DYER:
It was hard and people could make more in town. They could make a better living, unless you's a big rich farmer. Unless he had good equipment and everything, he couldn't make a good living. But we had a plenty of food to eat, but our clothes wasn't too much. We got by, but it wasn't like people ought to have.
LU ANN JONES:
Did your mother help your father on the farm?
GEORGE DYER:
She done just about everything, milk cows and look after all of us.
TESSIE DYER:
There was about eleven in your family wasn't it?
GEORGE DYER:
I was eleven in the family. We all had to work when we got big enough to work. We couldn't lay around and play off like something was wrong with us. He made us work. That's the way people was brought up

Page 5
years ago. They had no idle time to get into anything. You had off from Saturday afternoon on to Sunday. On Sunday you had to go to church. Get us all in a wagon and take us! Drive three miles there and three miles back.
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of church did you belong to?
GEORGE DYER:
This here was Primitive Baptist. They usually were the "hardshell" Baptists.
LU ANN JONES:
What does that mean?
GEORGE DYER:
That religion, they believe it and don't believe in no other kind—"hardshell." They just believe in what's to be, what's going to happen to you, that's the way it supposed to be. God intended and that's the way it's going to be. I don't believe that way. I joined the Missionary Baptist Church when I was a grown man. I married my wife here, I converted to the Methodist Church. I don't believe in switching one church to another.
TESSIE DYER:
He says he is still Baptist, but he's joined the Methodists.
GEORGE DYER:
When you're raised up, I don't think that parents should think their kids are going follow what they are. Cause you got a mind to think what you want to be, whether you want to be a Baptist, or Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist or Catholic, that's the way it is now. People generally follow their parents' religion.
TESSIE DYER:
We had two sons. When we were married, he joined the Methodists because I was a Methodist, and both of my sons, they belonged to Methodist. One of them married a Presbyterian, and the other married a Catholic. So we're Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, and Presbyterian, all in my family. All of them's good. They worship the same God.
LU ANN JONES:
In that church, was there a lot of singing. Do you remember ever being frightened at a sermon?

Page 6
GEORGE DYER:
Yeah, I was a little boy. They didn't get frightened, they got happy. They shouted. They'd sing and hug each other and all that stuff—men and women both, old people. When I was a boy, my brother would hold to me, he'd say, "George, what are they going to do? I'm scared." I said, "They ain't nothing to be scared of." They'd just get happy and shout. They was good people. That's what they knew. All they knew was hard work and go to church. They didn't have time for all this other, the wordly things like people does now, all this wordly stuff goes on.
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of farm did you all have?
GEORGE DYER:
We had a pretty good farm, 125 acres of land. A lot of it was in timber. My daddy sold a lot of timber. He cut lumber in the wintertime when he couldn't farm. That's how he made some money, and then in the summer, he'd raise crops. He'd raised just about all the food we need.
TESSIE DYER:
Coffee was about the only thing you had to buy.
GEORGE DYER:
Coffee and sugar and stuff like that. Money was hard to get hold of like I was telling you. My mother sent me and my brother to the store with eggs. We'd get all that sugar and coffee.
LU ANN JONES:
You'd barter the eggs for the sugar and coffee?
GEORGE DYER:
Yeah. There wasn't no money back then. My daddy worked for the lumber company, he'd get paid off in chips. They had the amount of money on that chip, and you'd trade that for clothes and stuff like that in a clothing store—general store like they come to, they'd have everything. They called them commissaries back then. They had everything you wanted. Didn't see much money. I never will forget the first fifty cents I'd seen when I was eleven years old.
LU ANN JONES:
What did you all do when you moved to the city?
GEORGE DYER:
We moved to Martinsville, Virginia from Franklin County.
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of work did they do?

Page 7
GEORGE DYER:
There was furniture factories there—American Furniture Factory, one of the biggest in the country. A couple mills there, and a glass factory. They blowed this glass, that's how they made it. Different things, lumber companies there, all through Virginia.
LU ANN JONES:
Did your father work in a furniture factory?
GEORGE DYER:
No, he run a store. He sold the farm and he put up a store. He didn't need too much help, small store, but he liked it better than he did hard farming. He made pretty good.
LU ANN JONES:
How did you get to Charlotte?
GEORGE DYER:
That was after I got grown. That was after my family done died and passed on. I was looking around. I went around different places. I wanted to see some of the country.
LU ANN JONES:
Where did you go?
GEORGE DYER:
When I left Virginia to come here?
LU ANN JONES:
How old were you when you left Virginia?
GEORGE DYER:
I was around twenty-six.
LU ANN JONES:
How old were you when you went to work?
GEORGE DYER:
I was around sixteen. The first job I had, I worked in a soda shop. I met a lot of nice people, waiting on people, serving them lunches and drinks from the soda fountain. Met a lot of nice folks. I learned a lot from people. Lot of people come in there and get lunches from the rail office. That's the way it was. I believed I made sixteen dollars a week.
LU ANN JONES:
That doesn't sound too bad for back then.
GEORGE DYER:
I quit and job. I had a date that night on a Saturday night. He wouldn't let me off, so I went on anyway. He wanted me to work. I come in Monday morning, he said, "I can't use you." That's where I made

Page 8
my mistake. Well, we all make our mistakes. What I should have done is kept on in that business and learned it and saved my money and went in business for myself. Anybody can make their mistakes, but they can't see them when they get over them. Everybody, I don't care who it is. It's too late then. That's just like you say something. You done said it, it's too late.
LU ANN JONES:
You can't take it back.
GEORGE DYER:
You can take it back, but it won't do no good.
LU ANN JONES:
Then where did you go?
GEORGE DYER:
Different places. Went up Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, tried it up there a while. Utica, New York, and all around.
LU ANN JONES:
Were you working in mills then?
GEORGE DYER:
Work in a mill in Utica, New York. I knew how to weave and all that stuff.
LU ANN JONES:
What was it like up there?
GEORGE DYER:
Utica, New York? It's cold up there. They don't have but two seasons - summer and winter. It's right close to the Canadian border.
LU ANN JONES:
Is that the first weaving that you had done?
GEORGE DYER:
No, I did weaving in Virginia, Danville, Virginia—Dan River Mills? I lived there a while until the home was broke up. I had two sisters that lived there. Their husbands was mill workers. I went down there and I got a job in the mill. It's just like anything else, don't take you long to learn.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you go in with them? Did they teach you how to weave?
GEORGE DYER:
They wasn't weavers. They worked in another department. One of them was the boss and one was an employment agent. They have an employment building there, and they hire people all the time. They work

Page 9
around 10,000 people. People going and coming all the time. If they hire you there and you don't know the job, they don't keep you. You have to know the job, they let you go. You can tell them you know so and so. You go in that department, and what you tell them you know, and if you don't know it, they'll let you go. I come on down here later on. I quit there and come down here. That's when I met my wife.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did you decide to leave Danville and go to New York?
GEORGE DYER:
My brother was a printer and another friend, they wanted to go on up there to find out if they could make bigger money. I made a little more money up there, but it cost more for a living.
LU ANN JONES:
How much were you making in Danville as compared to how much you were making in New York?
GEORGE DYER:
I was making around twenty-seven dollars a week. That was in '37. I got to New York, I made about thirty-eight. But the expenses of living was high.
We had a nice place to stay. It was steam heat and nice big homes. The people that run the place was foreigners from England, and her husband was a music teacher. They had a whole room with library books on both sides. Anybody could study if they wanted to in their spare time. She run a nice place.
LU ANN JONES:
So then you got to Charlotte?
GEORGE DYER:
When she take you, you had to have recommendations. `Fraid of you or something. I showed her some papers, she said, "We'll take you in and try you." People didn't trust you. They don't trust you now too much. Nice place, they want nice people. That's the way it ought to be now. All these other people would be discarded out. Of course, that wouldn't be treating them right.
LU ANN JONES:
So did you come to Charlotte then from New York?

Page 10
GEORGE DYER:
I come back through Roanoke, Virginia, tried to get a job there. New York, the reason I come back to Virginia, the mill had had a strike. I joined the union. Everybody had to join the union to hold a job.
LU ANN JONES:
Where was that, in New York?
GEORGE DYER:
Utica, New York. I come back there and couldn't get a job. Every job there was filled up. I wanted to get a job just most anything till I could do better. I knew I couldn't stay in New York. I had some money saved up, but I knew I couldn't stay up there long unless I got a job. So I looked for job up there; I couldn't get one anywhere else. Unemployment was just like everywhere else. You had to know the line of work; if you don't, they wouldn't hire you. So I come on back to Roanoke and stayed there a while. My brother and his wife, they wanted me to stay on, said I could get on the silk mill there. So I tried the silk mill, said they's filled up. The railroad, they had all the men they need. I couldn't get a job there, so I come on down to Charlotte. I got a job just `cause I asked for it over here.
LU ANN JONES:
What year was that that you got here?
GEORGE DYER:
That's 1940. We got married in '42. Been married ever since.
TESSIE DYER:
This lady, Miss Shue, she run a boarding house. That's how we got started a-going together.
LU ANN JONES:
Is this a house that you grew up in in Charlotte?
TESSIE DYER:
No, there's none but three families lived in this house. This house and the one back of me, and one down here and one right back of me, they wasn't built when the other houses were built. This was a playground. We're the third family that's ever lived in this house.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you live near here when you were growing up?
TESSIE DYER:
I lived out on the next street. North Myers Street.
LU ANN JONES:
You were eleven when you came to Charlotte?

Page 11
TESSIE DYER:
Un-huh. When I moved to Charlotte, I was eleven years old. I cried because I had to leave Concord. That was my home town. We've been in this house, I'll say forty-eight years—maybe longer than that. This was my father and mother's house. After we were married, we just stayed on with them.
GEORGE DYER:
You wanted me to. [laughter]
TESSIE DYER:
The mill company down here sold these houses. My husband and I bought this one, and my father and mother stayed with me. They died in 1963. My father died the first day of November, and my mother died the fifteenth of November. The shock of my father's death caused my mother's death. My father was eighty-three and my mother was eighty-one when they passed away.
LU ANN JONES:
They came here and they went to work in the mill.
TESSIE DYER:
They worked in the mill down here.
LU ANN JONES:
Who took care of you and your brothers and sisters while. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
While mother worked? My grand-mother.
LU ANN JONES:
She was here too?
TESSIE DYER:
She came too. Then we lived out on the next street.
LU ANN JONES:
Did your parents work the same hours? Did they go to the mill together?
TESSIE DYER:
My mother worked in the spinning room and my father was overseer in the card room.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you visit them in the mill?
TESSIE DYER:
That's how I learned to spin. I'd go and help my mother, afternoon when I'd get home from school sometime. When I went to work, I worked in the spinning room, I don't know how many years. My father asked them to transfer me to the draw-in department. So I stayed there until I retired.
LU ANN JONES:
Did it seem like fun to go into the mills when you were a child?

Page 12
TESSIE DYER:
Oh, yes.
LU ANN JONES:
Can you describe what the mill looked like?
TESSIE DYER:
I just didn't know what to think about it when I first went in, especially the card room, it made so much noise. Then I worked in the draw-in room. That's where you have beams, they draw those threads in to make cloth.
LU ANN JONES:
How old were you when you went to work full time?
TESSIE DYER:
I was eighteen.
LU ANN JONES:
Had you finished high school then?
TESSIE DYER:
No.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you want to finish high school, or was it time to go to work?
TESSIE DYER:
When I did start to work, I didn't want to stop.
LU ANN JONES:
Can you remember your first day at work?
TESSIE DYER:
I worked with my mother a lot. Then they just put me sparehand in the spinning room. My mother, she retired from there. Her health got bad. So I didn't like the spinning room then. I went to work then in the draw-in room. I just thought I couldn't do that. My brother-in-law was foreman down there then. The first day I worked, I was just so depressed about the job. I didn't think I could do it. I could tell you what I did, but you still wouldn't understand. I built harness then for the draw-in hands. I didn't draw-in. The first day I worked on this new job after they changed jobs—they always making something better for the employees—I told my brother-in-law, I went up there and sit in the office, I said, "Fred, I can't run this job." He said, "You learnt the other job, and I know you can learn this one. You just go on back. You're doing okay." That kind of picked me up a little bit. So I did better the next day. It just kept on till I worked there a long, long time.

Page 13
I really did enjoy my job working in the draw-in room.
LU ANN JONES:
What year was it that you went to work?
TESSIE DYER:
I couldn't tell you to save my life.
LU ANN JONES:
When were you born?
TESSIE DYER:
September 29, 1908.
LU ANN JONES:
So that was about 1926 that you went to the mill if you were eighteen.
TESSIE DYER:
Something like that.
LU ANN JONES:
Were there a lot of other young women in the mills then?
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you have fun in the mills, tell jokes?
TESSIE DYER:
Yeah, when we'd catch up we did.
GEORGE DYER:
They worked ten hours a day back then. Worked up till Saturday at noon at 12:00.
LU ANN JONES:
What would you all do to have fun once you were caught up?
TESSIE DYER:
We'd stand around and talk to one another.
GEORGE DYER:
Talk about your boyfriends [laughter].
LU ANN JONES:
What else did you talk about?
TESSIE DYER:
Just first one thing then the other. It's been so long, I can't recall back.
LU ANN JONES:
Is the place where you worked, was it hot, was it dusty?
TESSIE DYER:
It was kind of dusty. The spinning room was; you'd get cotton on you. [cough]
GEORGE DYER:
That trouble now, that's what's giving you all that trouble—bronchial trouble.
TESSIE DYER:
I remember one Saturday before I was married, my sister and I, we went to town. They wore black, gaberdine coats then.

Page 14
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
TESSIE DYER:
They had those street cars out here—wasn't buses, they was street cars. We went up here to the corner to catch the bus. . . .
GEORGE DYER:
You mean the street car.
TESSIE DYER:
Yes, street car. All those people from the Johnston mill there—I said, "No wonder a lot of people were called lint heads." Because they didn't care how they looked—they got on the bus. When I got to town, I was just about covered in cotton, and my sister was too, and we still laugh about that.
GEORGE DYER:
You mean it got off the people to you?
TESSIE DYER:
The wind was blowing and it blowed that lint on us, on those gaberdine coats. We liked not to ever got those coats clean.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you try to clean them off once you got off the car before you went around town?
TESSIE DYER:
Un-huh. It was in March. I never will forget that. I know we went to church the next day, we still had some on us. We just couldn't get it off, it was hard to get off.
LU ANN JONES:
What was people's response of people they called the lint heads? What did that make you feel like, or make people feel like?
TESSIE DYER:
I worked with a woman in the mill and she was kind of grouchy. She went fixed up all the time—she looked real nice. She said that that was why so many people in the mill was called lint heads because they didn't try to fix up. They'd just say, "I'm working in the mill, I don't care how I look." She wasn't like that.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you try to be like that too?
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember—I guess this would have been pretty soon after you went into the mill in the late 20's and early 30's—there

Page 15
were stretch outs and speed ups in the mill? Do you remember that when work was speeded up?
GEORGE DYER:
You know, Tessie, more work you had to do.
TESSIE DYER:
I never did because I worked in the draw-in room and the spinning room. I didn't run no kind of machine—well, I did when I was in the draw-in room.
GEORGE DYER:
You were speaking about on piece work—pick lots. I wove and I ran a loom for a while. I wove, and you got paid for the pick. They give you so much for pick—that's your cloth.
TESSIE DYER:
I got paid by the day on both jobs.
GEORGE DYER:
In other words, you didn't get that certain percentage, they wouldn't keep you. The rest of them could get it, you could too. So you had to run your own job, of course you do that anyway. But you got paid for the pick. The way it was when I first started, you got paid with the cut—a big roll of cloth on the loom. That was back years ago; that's when you got paid so much for cut. They made yard cloth. This cloth over here Highland Park where I worked, #3 mill, that was dress goods—men's, women's cloth both—dress goods. They made some nice material over here.
LU ANN JONES:
Was it colored cloth?
GEORGE DYER:
It was different colors—dress goods. It wasn't dark, it was mixed goods.
They made all kinds—dress goods for women and men. Shirt goods, women's dresses, things like that, apron goods. They made a lot of blue chambris, men's shirts. You know about that, they think that's nice now, blue chambris shirts. Put them pockets on double and put that decoration on, and overall goods the same way. I could have made a lot of money years ago, if I'd a bought some looms, me and a boy I knew. We was going to get us a few looms and buy the yarn and make this here overall goods. But we found out we couldn't sell it to big companies. Nobody else wouldn't buy

Page 16
our cloth from us.
LU ANN JONES:
Would some people do that, get their own looms and set up in their back yards?
GEORGE DYER:
They'd start out in small business, small weave shed. They'd buy the yarn already . . . and they wove it into cloth. They got these designs to make all this stuff look nice, these blue chambris shirts and overalls. I knew a German guy in Roanoke, Virginia; he did that in Lynchburg, Virginia. He become fairly rich. He first started up just a poor boy. He was raised up; his family was just working class people. He knew about how to fix these looms, and he started buying a little weave shed hisself. He ordered the yarn and then he made it into cloth.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you know any people in Charlotte who did that, who would have their own looms in their back yards or at home?
GEORGE DYER:
I haven't.
TESSIE DYER:
I knew one. Mr. Beaver that lived up here on Thirty-Sixth Street. He had a loom down in the basement of his house. I went up there one time to see him make cloth.
LU ANN JONES:
You say you would help him out some time?
TESSIE DYER:
No, I couldn't help because I didn't know nothing about weaving.
GEORGE DYER:
Ain't nothing to it, it's simple.
TESSIE DYER:
I know when I used to go through the weave room every morning, those things knocking like that. Oh, I just . . . my ears almost—made so much noise.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you ever get hurt on the job or did you ever see people get hurt on the job in accidents or anything?
TESSIE DYER:
Yes, there was several accidents.
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of accidents?
TESSIE DYER:
They'd get scratches or hurts, have to go to the doctor, bruises.

Page 17
LU ANN JONES:
Was there a doctor there?
TESSIE DYER:
No, there was a doctor though. It was a mill doctor, they called him.
LU ANN JONES:
Would he also come to your home?
TESSIE DYER:
No, you always had to take the patient to him.
LU ANN JONES:
Was there a nurse or anybody else there at the. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
Um-um.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you eat lunch at the mill?
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you have a lunch room or anyplace to eat?
TESSIE DYER:
No, we just usually eat at our table. They had a wagon that come around—hot sandwiches and things. They'd come around twice a day.
GEORGE DYER:
In the last years, but the first years, people didn't have nothing like that. They had to carry a lunch in a bag—eat a cold lunch.
TESSIE DYER:
I remember when I first went to work, it happened to be a holiday, and my mother in the spinning room. Every morning, if I wasn't in school, I'd help mother, daddy'd bring me some kind of a cold drink. Then this man, that had this, he'd get and buy crates of all kind of soda pops—Coca-Cola—he'd bring them to the mill in a bucket. I never will forget that.
LU ANN JONES:
Was he called the dope-boy?
TESSIE DYER:
He lived right in front of the mill. He'd bring those cold drinks to the mill in a bucket. He'd unfasten them and hand them to you.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember who that was?
TESSIE DYER:
Who was that man lived in front of the mill down there had all those girls?
GEORGE DYER:
I don't remember now. All I noticed was just you at that time. Before I met you, I noticed a lot of them.
TESSIE DYER:
Mr. Davis. That was a long time ago.

Page 18
GEORGE DYER:
I really had my fun-my brothers and boyfriends.
LU ANN JONES:
What do you mean?
GEORGE DYER:
Back in Roanoke, Virginia, it was a nice day, and you'd go down the street on Saturday, get off from work. I worked a bake shop there four years. We'd get off from work—I worked long hours in a bake shop—we'd meet our boyfriends down the street, and girlfriends. If one of them didn't have a party at her house, the other one would. Everybody's there, and they'd have a big supper and everything good, their mother would. We had the best kind of time. Played post-office and all kind of games. I reckon you know about that. That's just like, all the people had to do back then, go to movies. They had the silent movies back then. What they'd say was flashed on the screen, you just read all of it. My brother and I and a girlfriend went—we was grown—there was a man sitting in front of us, and it must have been his daughter. They just read out! [laughter] You read to yourself, nobody wouldn't hear you, but they read out. The usher would come down, tap them on the shoulder different places. They had a time stopping a lot of them; they never did cut it all out. You couldn't enjoy the movie. They showed some good movies back in the silent movies. That's before the "talkies" come out.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember any of them?
GEORGE DYER:
Mack Sennett comedy, they called it the "bathing beauties." They had Fatty Arbuckle. All those good old westerns they had back then. I admired them very much. Eddie Polo, he was the real hero of one of ours—my brothers and sisters and other friends of mine. Ruth Roland, she was really good. They run a continued picture. Show them at the last of it get in trouble, you'd go back and see how they got out it in a tight spot. Pearl White, them good old movie actors and actress. I remember

Page 19
a lot of them—William S. Hart. William S. Hart, he was the gunfighter. He was a real tall built guy. Different ones back in the old times.
TESSIE DYER:
A lot of our movies is dead now, the old stars.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you go to movies here when you were a child in Charlotte?
GEORGE DYER:
We looked forward to them movies and them parties on Saturday night; I did back in Virginia. On Christmas, we'd take off a week going to parties.
LU ANN JONES:
The whole week. . . .
GEORGE DYER:
Just about, three or four days and nights. That's right, people back then, they didn't stop one day. They'll have plenty good food. You go to that girl's home that night, and they'd invite you next night somewhere else. Maybe we'd meet different people, different youngsters, boys and girls. I knew a boy one night, took a girl over to a party, and he met another girl there he liked better than this one. He'd been going with her a good while. Her brother was there a-sitting. "I tell you one thing, you better see my sister back home tonight." People didn't make much money back then, but they had a good time. It was a hard way, but people enjoyed life back then, I think; I did. I think the youngsters now is having a good time, but I don't think they enjoy it like we did, back when I was a youngster. We appreciated what we had and what we see and all, but people now, they have so much, they don't appreciate it. That's true, it really is true. Christmas now comes about every week for kids. Back then, when I was a kid, you didn't see all them goodies much about Christmas. Of course, my mother always made cookies. We had plenty apples back in the country. My daddy had all kind of apple orchards and all kind of fruits. She'd make those good cookies out of molasses and ginger and butter. You talk about cookies, I ain't never eat nothing like them.

Page 20
LU ANN JONES:
Makes me hungry now.
GEORGE DYER:
They were the best cookies. My brother what's living now, two of them, we get together sometime, we talk about them cookies.
LU ANN JONES:
Sounds like a good topic of conversation.
GEORGE DYER:
They was good. They was great big cookies. Big as a almost a quart bottom for a bucket, quart cup. Sometimes, she'd put a raisin in the middle, put plenty butter in them; mother had plenty butter and milk, country. Didn't have to be saving no milk or butter, you just had plenty of it.
LU ANN JONES:
When you first moved to Charlotte, I guess that would have been in the mid 20's when you got here. What did the mill village look like? Did people have gardens and animals?
TESSIE DYER:
Oh, me, yeah. They had gardens, they had chickens, I had cows, pigs. . . .
LU ANN JONES:
Did you all have that?
TESSIE DYER:
We had cow one time, I remember in Concord when I was little. Then we had some pigs too because I remember when daddy killed one, it was a great big old thing. Heared it holler when they killed it.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you have animals once you lived here, or did you have a garden?
TESSIE DYER:
Have animals, un-uh, no.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you raise a garden, though?
TESSIE DYER:
Yeah, I used to help my father out here have a garden. That's the reason he don't understand me now, why I don't help him. I do sometime, little things.
GEORGE DYER:
I like gardens.
TESSIE DYER:
I know daddy, he always had lot of cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers,

Page 21
things like that. Corn is one thing we never did try to raise out here.
LU ANN JONES:
Did your mother can out here?
TESSIE DYER:
Yeah, my mother canned a lot of stuff, and I can a lot of stuff too now. I canned sixty-four pints of green beans last summer besides the tomatoes I canned, and red beets, canned a lot of those.
LU ANN JONES:
You've got a can of green beans for every week of the year then.
TESSIE DYER:
Yes, I had sixty-four pints.
LU ANN JONES:
When you were growing up, were your parents strict with you and your brothers and sisters, did they. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
They always wanted us to keep nice company.
LU ANN JONES:
So what did that mean?
TESSIE DYER:
It meant that that, it's anybody that they knew that wasn't nice, they didn't want us to have anything to do with them.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember being spanked?
TESSIE DYER:
My father spanked me one time. Me and my brother was fighting over a belt. It was his belt, but I wanted it, and we were fighting over it. He kind of patted me one time. That's the only licking my father ever gave me.
LU ANN JONES:
Did your mother ever. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
But my mother spanked me a lot of times.
LU ANN JONES:
What kinds of things would she spank you for?
TESSIE DYER:
She spanked me a lot because my brother and cousin used to fight a lot, and I'd try to help them out. They'd always turn on me though.
LU ANN JONES:
I sympathize with that having grown up with brothers.
TESSIE DYER:
You have any brothers?
LU ANN JONES:
I have two brothers. I used to get caught up in their fights too.
TESSIE DYER:
These were my brother and my cousin, and I'd get caught in with them.

Page 22
LU ANN JONES:
What kinds of things were you expected to do around home to help out—chores, jobs around home before you went to. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
I always loved housework. I love to cook; I love to cook now when I'm able. I'm a pretty good cook, ain't I, when I'm not sick.
GEORGE DYER:
Have them all in here, tastes right smart. I have to do all the cleaning up the dishes and pans.
LU ANN JONES:
That's only fair, isn't it?
GEORGE DYER:
I'll tell you, I'd rather do the cooking anytime than to do all that, I'd rather had. I just hate to wash dishes. If I'm going to clean up the dishes, I want everything cleaned out of the plates—I want it clean. I don't want nothing put in the sink, I wash the glasses first, and the silverware next, and then I want the glasses. Don't mix none of that stuff. Some people pile the sink full, and you can't wash them like that. Just wash a few at a time. I always wash the glasses first, and I want all the plates cleaned out good. That-a-way, your sink won't stop up, give you no trouble much. Of course, sometimes it'll stop, it ain't got the right fall to them. Plumbers, a lot of them puts them in, they don't get the right fall to a drain line. It ain't like it ought to be, some of them. All plumbers ain't like that, but that's true. One gave you a lot of trouble all the time when you be careful with it, it's bound to be that's the trouble, ain't got the right fall to it—where it won't drain off. There's a lot to learn about everything you do.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you used to help out with the housework when both of you were working?
GEORGE DYER:
Here at home, since I been married?
LU ANN JONES:
Right.
GEORGE DYER:
Yeah, some. I always kept the boys shoes shined and going to school. I kept them busy; I'd teach them every night to get their lessons

Page 23
I'd see if they get their spelling good and also read. I'd want them to read two or three times. If they missed a word, I'd let them go back over it. That-a-ways, they learnt more that way; they good grades.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you cook then too?
GEORGE DYER:
No, her mother did the cooking when we was working, when they was coming up. When we left here, we knowed they was in good hands, knowed they'd be looked after.
TESSIE DYER:
I didn't have to worry about my children because I knew they'd be taken care of.
LU ANN JONES:
Who took care of them?
TESSIE DYER:
My mother would.
GEORGE DYER:
One of them went up here to Plaza School. He'd go over here to the bus line and see if he got on the bus safe till he got big enough to take care of hisself. He looked after both of them, they got big enough to look after theirself. She'd put the clothes out for them—her mother—to put on next morning and went to school. She'd always have them clean shirts and everything, underwear, socks. I helped her out a lot. I'd come from the store and order the groceries; the man'd deliver them back then. They had a good grocery store up here, had everything you wanted, good meats and all kinds of good vegetables and everything. Sometimes I'd come by and get them and take them. If I didn't, I'd disappoint them, and I'd take them with me. And a little stand up there sold good hot dogs and hamburgers. Of course we going to have supper, but they'd still want something up there; it's fixed different. We'd go in there and get them one, what they wanted. I enjoyed that, and I enjoyed shopping on Christmas. We'd go and shop a month before Christmas, get things ready for them and put it away. Lay it away. Back then, I could have paid cash, but we see something we want, we just had it laid back. I never will forget

Page 24
the first bicycle I bought the oldest son. It was a good one; I got it at Western Auto. It was a good one. The second boy used it too. It was made out of good stuff. That bicycle was good. A few years later, we bought them a bicycle apiece. The older one, we give the boy up the street here, and he used it for a long time. Didn't cost but ten or twelve dollars. Money was worth something back then. People really worked hard back then, but money was worth something. Money ain't no good now.
LU ANN JONES:
I know what you mean.
GEORGE DYER:
What I mean, you got to have a lot of money to get what you got to have. I know people living better financially. They got all kind of appliances in their home, like in the kitchen and push button service. I think sometimes they got too much. That's the reason it's costing so much money to live—that electric bill. Every time you use an appliance, I don't care what it is, even an electric clock is costing. They say, "Well ain't but a little bit," but all that little bit cost runs up. I'll tell you what people needs—I hope it don't come on nobody—but people, I think, some of them have it too easy. They don't know the value of money. They don't know the value of a dollar—I didn't till I got older. I didn't know the value of a dollar, what it meant. Money's valuable; of course, money's not everything, but you've got to have money to get what you want. I think the smartest people in this country is the ones that come up the hardest way—that's the truth. The ones that had everything give them and all that, they don't amount to very much. There's some do. They take that money what their parents had left them and make millions and [unknown] and help other people, but a lot of them don't. They throw it away, big time too. They call it now living it up.
LU ANN JONES:
You were talking about how you really liked housework, so did you miss housework when you went into the mill to work, or had you rather have stayed home?

Page 25
TESSIE DYER:
No, I liked to work, I liked the money, but I liked housework too.
GEORGE DYER:
You wanted them nice clothes, didn't you?
LU ANN JONES:
Did you keep the money that you made, or did you give part of it to your family?
TESSIE DYER:
No, I gave part of it to my family. I remember one time I worked three days, I believe. Back then you didn't make much, and I drew eight dollars.
GEORGE DYER:
How much did you make?
LU ANN JONES:
You made how much?
TESSIE DYER:
Eight dollars.
LU ANN JONES:
For three days.
TESSIE DYER:
I felt that was something. No, that was just for three days. So I gave it to my daddy. The next Saturday—at times they'd have to lay us off for weeks at a time—I know I was worried, I thinks, "Well, I won't have no money this Saturday." So my daddy, he kept that check from me and gave it to me the next Saturday. I had a good daddy.
GEORGE DYER:
I bet you was glad.
TESSIE DYER:
I was; I had a good daddy. It's not anything that I could say to make my father and mother any better parents than they were to me.
LU ANN JONES:
What about them made them such good parents?
TESSIE DYER:
They was just so good in every way, wasn't they George?
GEORGE DYER:
Yeah, they was good.
TESSIE DYER:
They sure was.
GEORGE DYER:
They was firm, but they was good. Firmness means a lot of things, discipline. Children now, the way I look at it, a lot of them disciplined and a lot of them ain't. That's the reason so many of them getting in trouble, children. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
My father, he loved people. He was on the gate job down here

Page 26
to the mill. In fact, he worked on up till just about three weeks before he died. He loved people. He had to open the gate when trucks'd go in and out. When anybody come wanted a job, he'd have to get someone out of the office. He mixed good with . . . he loved people.
LU ANN JONES:
What did you do with your money that you had to spend? Did you buy. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
I saved up money one time till I had seventeen dollars. This is the truth. I went to town, and I bought me a dress, and a coat, and a pair of shoes, and I believe I bought me a hat. My next door neighbor up here, at that time, she went with me. She was wanting to go get her some things, wanted me to go. I told mother, I said, "Well, I believe I'll take my money and go buy me something," and oh, I thought I was dressed up. I never will forget it, it was black and white checked coat. It was pretty, it was made pretty, and I just loved that coat.
LU ANN JONES:
Where would you go shopping?
TESSIE DYER:
We had to go all the way to town then. We'd have to ride the street cars; there wasn't no bus a-running out here then, it was street car. We'd go there. I can recall back when my children was little, they both like to go to a movie. We used to work till 3:00 on Saturday evening, and we'd come home and we'd get ready and get them ready. We'd go to town and have supper and then go to a movie, usually a cowboy picture—western, that's what they liked. I really did enjoy that, I won't never forget it because they enjoyed it too. I'd always tell them that morning that we'd go to town see a movie that night, and we would.
LU ANN JONES:
What other kinds of things did you do to have fun like when you were a teenager? Were there parties here in the village?
TESSIE DYER:
Oh yeah, there used to be parties around. We'd go to parties

Page 27
and spin-the-bottle, like that. They used to have a band here in North Charlotte—a musical band.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
LU ANN JONES:
You were going to tell me something about the band.
TESSIE DYER:
This band—I forget how many it was in it—but it was real good; everybody enjoyed it.
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of music did they play?
TESSIE DYER:
It wasn't string music, it was just horns and different instruments. I remember this particular night, they had a club [of] girls here—cooking club. We'd meet every Tuesday night or every Thursday night, so we'd used to meet on Thursday night. We was asked to cook them a supper, so we did. They had one that they were going to ask to eat supper with the band boys that night. I never will forget that. They called my name out, and I just almost fell in the floor! They had me placed sixth at the end of the table; the table, it was long as from here down the hall, I'll say—you know how long those tables are like that—with the boys on each side. I was the only girl—I really did feel honored. I just wasn't dreaming of asking me to be, but it really got away with me. I enjoyed it.
LU ANN JONES:
That cooking club, did you meet every week?
TESSIE DYER:
Yeah, we'd meet every week.
LU ANN JONES:
Were most of the people in that, were they young women and women who worked in the mill?
TESSIE DYER:
Un-huh. I know we went to Washington one time on a trip. Then we went to Baltimore and somewhere else—I forget where we went on that trip.
LU ANN JONES:
Who was the organizer of it?
TESSIE DYER:
It was Miss Eves.
LU ANN JONES:
Who was she?
TESSIE DYER:
I forget her first name, but she was a Eves. She's out here

Page 28
I guess, for four or five year or longer than that.
GEORGE DYER:
She was the sponsor?
TESSIE DYER:
Yeah.
GEORGE DYER:
She sponsored the. . . .
LU ANN JONES:
Was that her job?
TESSIE DYER:
That was her job, but she got paid for it. The mill down here had something to do with it, see.
GEORGE DYER:
That was nice that they helped you all. I didn't know that.
TESSIE DYER:
She was out here a long time.
LU ANN JONES:
Were there other activities that she organized?
TESSIE DYER:
No, it was just cooking club. [interruption]
LU ANN JONES:
What would you do at the cooking club?
TESSIE DYER:
We'd cook. They'd show us how to cook, teach us to cook.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you like Miss Eves?
TESSIE DYER:
Oh, yes, she was wonderful.
LU ANN JONES:
How old was she compared to how old. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
She was about forty-two then. I guess she's an old lady now, if she's a-living.
GEORGE DYER:
She must be a hundred by that time. Years ago when she was a young girl, forty-two, Tessie . . . make her around at least a hundred.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember when your mother was pregnant with your brothers and sisters? Can you remember your mother being pregnant?
TESSIE DYER:
I can with two of her children.
LU ANN JONES:
What was her attitude toward being pregnant? Was she happy, was she sad?
TESSIE DYER:
She's happy.
LU ANN JONES:
Did she seem happier then?
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
Did she take that opportunity to tell you where babies came

Page 29
from or anything like that?
TESSIE DYER:
Not right then, but she did later.
LU ANN JONES:
Did she have her children at home?
TESSIE DYER:
Yes.
LU ANN JONES:
What happened when it was time for her to have her children?
TESSIE DYER:
I can remember that very well. I'd take my brother and I went to my uncle's house. It's on Monday evening. My other sister, she was so small, she stayed at home. My father came after us the next day and told us that we had a little sister.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you know that she was going to be giving birth before you left?
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
Is that what usually happened, the children were sent away while the. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
Yeah.
LU ANN JONES:
Did she have a mid-wife or did she have a doctor?
TESSIE DYER:
No, she had a doctor. Doctor with all four of her children. It was the same doctor—a Dr. King.
LU ANN JONES:
Did she ever have any problems during her pregnancy?
TESSIE DYER:
Not as I know of, she didn't.
LU ANN JONES:
Did she keep on working while. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
No, she didn't work [unknown] At that time, we lived in Concord.
LU ANN JONES:
A lot of children went to work when they were about fourteen years old?
TESSIE DYER:
They might now, but they didn't then, you had to be. . . .
GEORGE DYER:
Back then they did, they don't now. Yeah, they went to work fourteen years old back then. They had to weigh so much and be so tall;

Page 30
I forget how it was now. I remember talking to some boys. They had to weigh over eighty pounds and had to be close to five foot tall—had to have examination. I remember I didn't go to work that young—had no public works. I done a lot of work help my daddy out at the store and different things.
TESSIE DYER:
I used to hear mother and daddy talk about cheap wages, what they'd make.
LU ANN JONES:
Were they happy with the wages, were they upset with the wages?
TESSIE DYER:
They wasn't upset with them because everywhere else, didn't make anymore wages than that.
GEORGE DYER:
I wanted more. I didn't think I earned enough because they making too big a profit off of us. I figured all of them made too much profit until the union come in. Now the union organizer helped the people in people's work.
LU ANN JONES:
Where did the union organize?
GEORGE DYER:
It organized up north first before it come south. The northern states the ones organized. It started in the big cities; that's where it organized. Brotherhood Railways was the first to organize, I think—you can look that up. I'm not for sure. That's one of the oldest organizations in this country—the Brotherhood Railways.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you like being in the union when you were working in New York?
GEORGE DYER:
It was all right—they took out so much out of my check. They protect you and give you more money and see that you treated better and had better conditions. The union's all right if they don't carry it too far, you know what I mean. You can go too far of anything. You got to think about the man that owns the corporation, too, you know. He's got to make a profit so he can pay you. If you press him too much, if you put the pressure on the employer, they'll get fretted with it and they won't

Page 31
cooperate. Some of them close down, some of them won't, it's according to what kind of business they got; they don't like that. The way I look at it, nobody wants nobody to tell them how to run their business, I don't think. Course, the unions helped the working class people all over the country. It made better conditions in the plants; it made better conditions for the people. It got them medical attention. You were speaking about the nurse aid a while ago, that's what started the nurse aid. The unions done a lot of good. Lot of people retired now drawing good pensions on account of the unions—drawing social security and also a pension and fringe benefits, they call it. Wasn't no such thing years ago as a fringe benefit. A lot of people draws that now.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember, I think it was in the 30's there was a strike here?
TESSIE DYER:
A strike here? Yeah, I walked in the mill a couple strikes.
LU ANN JONES:
What was it like when the strike was on?
TESSIE DYER:
They'd holler at you and call you "scabby" and things like that.
GEORGE DYER:
What's that word mean?
TESSIE DYER:
I don't know; that's what they'd call you though.
LU ANN JONES:
So what did you think about the people who were striking?
TESSIE DYER:
Well, I'll tell you what I said to one one day.
LU ANN JONES:
What did you say?
TESSIE DYER:
I was going to work and my father had to go early that morning, and my mother, of course, wasn't going. I went with my neighbor next door and her second hand that worked in the weave room, he went with us. This boy hollered out, says, "Hey, Tessie, scabby, scabby." I said, "If I was you, I'd go home and hide my face. I sure would." He never did holler at me no more.
LU ANN JONES:
Was it dangerous to cross the picket lines?

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TESSIE DYER:
No, not really because a lot of times when they thought they was going to have any trouble, the law came out. They never did have no trouble down here, not as I know of, but I was in two strikes that I know of.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember what years those were?
TESSIE DYER:
No, honey, I don't.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did you decide to cross the picket line?
TESSIE DYER:
I was supposed to go to work, and I was going.
GEORGE DYER:
She's going to work.
TESSIE DYER:
I was going to work, see, and he wasn't going. He just called me that.
GEORGE DYER:
That's the reason he called you scab.
TESSIE DYER:
I said, "If I were you, I'd go home and hide my face. He didn't call me that anymore.
GEORGE DYER:
Did anybody get into fights?
TESSIE DYER:
Um-um. It was Oliver Stover.
GEORGE DYER:
They did in Virginia. They had to call in the National Guard.
TESSIE DYER:
They did at other places here in Charlotte, but not as I know of, they didn't have any trouble down here because the law would always come out, protect them.
LU ANN JONES:
Was there a lot of talk about the strike and organizing in the mill before the strike actually came.
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
What would people talk about?
TESSIE DYER:
About striking and all. I remember one time, there's a crowd come along out here—then we didn't have a little tool house out here and it wasn't wired in like it is now—this girl, she kept hollering, "Scabby, scabby." Nobody didn't go out or nothing around here; everybody stayed

NA3 page
in at night. She says, "Where they's smoke, they's bound to be fire, and I know somebody's at home around here." Everybody around here would just stay in the house.
LU ANN JONES:
Was she part of the union?
TESSIE DYER:
She was the union, yeah.
LU ANN JONES:
How did the organizers contact people in the mills to talk to them about the union?
TESSIE DYER:
On the outside.
LU ANN JONES:
Outside the gate?
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum, outside the gate.
LU ANN JONES:
So what would happen when an organizer came in, could you tell that the management people at the mill would get upset? How would they respond?
TESSIE DYER:
Not too much because they wouldn't let them come on the inside.
LU ANN JONES:
Could you tell, did they do anything to improve things in the mill when they knew that the union was being formed or trying to be formed? Did things change at all?
TESSIE DYER:
No, they just wanted to get in there. They just couldn't get in there, you see.
LU ANN JONES:
What did your supervisors, did they tell people not to join the union or anything like that?
TESSIE DYER:
No, they wasn't supposed to say anything to us.
GEORGE DYER:
That's against the law. You can't do that, that's one of your rights people has. Our Constitution give them that rights.
TESSIE DYER:
I know one time they said they was going to strike. I don't know if that was after you and I were married or not.
GEORGE DYER:
No, I wasn't
TESSIE DYER:
They all stopped the machines off, but everybody just stayed

Page 33
in there that didn't want to go out.
LU ANN JONES:
So you just shut the machines. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
Closed it down. Them that was going out, they just stopped.
GEORGE DYER:
What did people do, stay?
TESSIE DYER:
We stayed in there.
GEORGE DYER:
I mean didn't work or what?
TESSIE DYER:
No, we just stayed in there and went back to work the next morning.
GEORGE DYER:
Well where did you sleep?
TESSIE DYER:
I mean, they come out, George, at the right time. They come. . . .
GEORGE DYER:
I see, certain hours, changing hours.
TESSIE DYER:
Yeah.
GEORGE DYER:
I thought you meant you stayed in there all the time.
LU ANN JONES:
Instead of striking, they just shut down the machines.
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
Did things start back up?
TESSIE DYER:
Didn't everybody come out though.
LU ANN JONES:
Did things start back up the next day
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
Can you remember any other times when there were spontaneous shut downs? Why did people do that? Do you know what had caused them to do that?
TESSIE DYER:
It was the union men and all had them to do that.
GEORGE DYER:
Want to get them organized?
LU ANN JONES:
Did anybody help you walk through the picket line, were there police?
TESSIE DYER:
One time when they was on strike, my mother was working and my father, but this last time that I was speaking about, I went with my next door neighbor. She was in the weave room, and I was in the spinning

Page 34
room. She got her boss man and we walked with him.
LU ANN JONES:
Were there enough people working in the mills to keep the mills going during the strike?
TESSIE DYER:
Yes.
LU ANN JONES:
What happend to those people who struck? Did they get their jobs back?
TESSIE DYER:
Some of them did and some of them didn't.
LU ANN JONES:
Who didn't get their jobs back? Were the leaders the ones who wouldn't get their jobs back?
TESSIE DYER:
No, they was all asked to come back if they wanted to. Some of them would, some of them wouldn't. I guess they's afraid they'd be fired if they did come back.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you get upset when there were times where you were laid off? Didn't you worry about your job?
TESSIE DYER:
No, I knew that when things got better and started up, I'd go back to work. I do know one time I was laid off. I was supposed to work, and this other girl came in after I did, and he kept her and laid me off. So, the spinning room boss was a good friend of my father. He went to him and told him, says, "You better get that girl back in this mill. That's Mrs. Helms' daughter. She's never worked nowhere, only here." He sent out to me to come back to work.
GEORGE DYER:
Why did he lay you off and keep her?
TESSIE DYER:
I don't know, but he just did.
GEORGE DYER:
He favored her better than he did you. It's always been politics.
TESSIE DYER:
It was Everett Young's sister.
LU ANN JONES:
Is that right? Were there supervisors who showed favorites in the mill?

Page 35
TESSIE DYER:
No, not too much, I don't think they did. I know my brother-in-law didn't. I worked for him.
LU ANN JONES:
So he didn't treat you any differently?
TESSIE DYER:
No, he didn't treat me any better than he did anybody else. He sure didn't.
LU ANN JONES:
What would happen if you had wanted to change jobs. Suppose you wanted to go to another part of the mill. How would you have gone about doing that?
TESSIE DYER:
Well, I wanted to go to the draw-in room, and I was in the spinning room. My father talked to the spinning room boss, and he got me on down there—got me on in the draw-in room, so I was just transferred down there. I didn't like the spinning room, all that lint. I didn't like it.
GEORGE DYER:
Dust too. There's a lot up where them spinning things.
Them quills runs on a spindle; them bobbins runs on a spindle. They run through slats and steel things that makes that roping. That yarn is put on that frame and it runs and makes that there yarn on that bobbin. Then that there goes from the spinning room to the card room. Then it's made into yarn and they send it to the slasher. Then it goes to the slasher, puts on beams, and that's where the cloth comes in at. That's where you start weaving. Run it on big beams, then it goes on smaller beams, and put them on looms and runs, run to make cloth. They have a patent chain and a patent egg chain; it makes all them designs fixed on that loom. They call it a Crumpton loom. A Draper loom weaves a plain cloth, stripes going each way. It's plain filling, just like that shirt you got on there. That warp's got them stripes in it. That's the way that was, but that's white filling going backward and forward, that shuttle going through that warp. From each end is power pushes that shuttle from box to box of the

Page 36
loom. It's called a stick. It's got power thows that shuttle through there. It opens up, throws it through there. That was a white filling, but that striped warp, that's different colors in that warp. The yarn was dyed before it was wove, put on them beams. The yarn was dyed.
LU ANN JONES:
How did your job change over the years?
TESSIE DYER:
They got better equipment—got different machinery that would improve.
LU ANN JONES:
How did you learn how to use that? Did they come in and train you? Did they train you to use the new machinery, or were you just expected to. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
How long would it take you to learn how to use it?
TESSIE DYER:
Not too long. I know when I went in the draw-in room, we used to work with our hands on the table. When I had my children, during the time I was out with them, then when I went back to work, they had these machines that would count off how many sides. That's what had me confused because it was a new way from the way I had learnt. Didn't take long to learn those.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you ever remember people who came in and timed how fast you could work? They would come with stop clocks to see how fast you could work. Do you ever remember people like that coming into the mill?
GEORGE DYER:
She didn't have that on her job. I had it on my job.
LU ANN JONES:
What did you think of those people?
GEORGE DYER:
They were doing that to see how much the loom would produce—how many picks. That's the reason they did that.
TESSIE DYER:
I worked by the hour.
GEORGE DYER:
They'd see how many picks it would make. That was the stop clock; they do it to see how much it produce—whatever it was, make picks—how

Page 37
many a minute.
LU ANN JONES:
Did that make you nervous?
GEORGE DYER:
I run my job, and I knowed I'll always get another one. I never did fear about losing a job because it wasn't that important to me. The jobs I had wasn't that important. A job I had like that, I could always get another one if I go to the right place.
LU ANN JONES:
How long did you work. . . .
GEORGE DYER:
I think if you can run your job, ain't no use to be scared of it—ain't no use to be scared of the boss either. Now sometimes they don't like you like they do other people, but if you run your job, I don't think you going to be run off. That's the way I always been, and I been on different jobs, big shop mills and different other things in my life. Sometimes some boss don't like you, something like that—get it in for you. But it's the best then just to quit. Don't work under conditions like that. I didn't want to work under a man that didn't respect me. That's the way I've always been. The way it is, I think if you run your job, most of the boss men, they'll keep you. They won't push you too much if you run your job.
The last job I had was over here yonder where they made them golf carts.
LU ANN JONES:
Where was that?
GEORGE DYER:
That was off of Sugar Creek down there on Raleigh Street—back of that steel company. I don't know if you know where it is or not.
LU ANN JONES:
I think so.
GEORGE DYER:
It's back there where you get to that shopping center on Tryon.
TESSIE DYER:
Do you live here in Charlotte?
LU ANN JONES:
No, I lived in Chapel Hill.
GEORGE DYER:
Down there, I went to the hospital and had a operation on a

Page 38
hernia; my left groin pull loose. I was getting about ready to quit anyway. I had to stay there two months before I had to go back to work. They didn't want me to go back to work—the doctor told me not to go back. I was doing bench work, making all kinds of fliers go on that golf cars. You know what electric paneling is?
LU ANN JONES:
Un-huh.
GEORGE DYER:
I was making them and all kinds of stripping down wires and use the blow torch to solder them phlanges, different things like that—making brake lanterns to go on them golf cars and things like that. Me and another fellow was furnishing them cars in all these golf places like California, Arizona and Texas. They give us so much work, we couldn't keep up. Meantime, they wanted the cars over there serviced first. So he come to me one day, and he says, "You all have to work a little faster." I was doing good work. I had everything there; I was not losing a minute. Course now, they give us a fifteen minute break every morning and afternoon too. But I'd be a-back on the job working; I never did go off nowhere. He said, "You all'll have to do more work," he told me. I said, "I'm working past some of the work. I'm ready to quit now." He said, "No, I don't want you to do that." I says, "Well, I just got two more weeks to work. I done put in for my social security." He said, "Don't do that." I said, "I done done it." He said, "You can go over there and tell them." He come back and talked nice to me—little old straw boss. He was pushing the help. It wasn't necessary for him to do it because everybody was doing a good job, like I was saying. They had a card. You had to fill in on this card how much work you done on this job, and you had to put how many hours you worked on it. All that there was turned in end of the day; end of the day you dropped it in a little box. So they took care of that card know how much work you was doing. That was

Page 39
enough without him telling you what to do. I done put in for my social security and after two weeks, I quit. But the big boss come around and told me they'd like for me to withdraw my social security. I wouldn't; [unknown] I hadn't drawed a check. I told him, he said, "Well, I owe you two weeks vacation pay." I said, "I'll tell you, I'll come back and work maybe some extra." I did the next year. They wanted to keep coming back by then. They push you too much, want you to do too much work. You was working, doing all you could, but they want you to do more—you can't do it. I was working just as fast as I could use my hands and fingers, and getting around on my feet too. I told him, I said, "No, I don't need the money that bad." There's another man there, he was from Cuba—he's a old man. He was about seventy some then. That's a good while—he probably died. He got sick, they called me to come over there to run his job. They offered to pay me big money. I said, "Well, I'm drawing my social security. I couldn't do that." This young man says—he's one of the big bosses, wasn't the biggest but next to it—"I'll tell you what I'll do. They not going to check. I'll just pay you cash, and they won't know nothing about it."
LU ANN JONES:
Is that what you did?
GEORGE DYER:
No, I didn't take the job.
TESSIE DYER:
No, sir.
GEORGE DYER:
I didn't want to do nothing against the social security board. I didn't want to violate the law. That might have messed me up drawing my money. I didn't accept. He just kept begging.
TESSIE DYER:
That was dirty of him asking him. He knew it was wrong.
GEORGE DYER:
I done forgot his name. It's just not important to me. I wouldn't be that dishonest. He said, "I'll pay you good. You don't have to mention it." I said, "The men over here knew me knows I quit and

Page 40
put in for my social security. Another thing, if they didn't know it, I wouldn't come back no way because it would be violating the law. I believe in doing the right thing. You come out better. You will, you'll come out the best. Anyway, you come out with a clear conscience. That means everything.
LU ANN JONES:
How old were you when you all got married?
TESSIE DYER:
We's getting old, wasn't we.
GEORGE DYER:
I don't know how old . . . tell her, Tess.
TESSIE DYER:
I was thirty-four, wasn't I?
GEORGE DYER:
You wasn't thirty-four. I'm two years older than . . . you's about thirty-three.
TESSIE DYER:
Maybe I was then; you's thirty-four.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
TESSIE DYER:
My pastor asked me one time, said, "Tess, why don't you get married?" I said, "Well, the right one ain't never come along yet." Said, "Well, now just what kind of one do you want?" I said, "Well, I don't care about him being so good-looking, just so he's a good man, and he don't drink, and he goes to church, and he works." He said, "Well, you couldn't ask for no better one." I figure that's what I got!
GEORGE DYER:
Well, I try to be.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you have to ask your parents' permission to get married?
TESSIE DYER:
We did. We told them we was going to get married.
LU ANN JONES:
How did you all go about courting? What kinds of things did you do for dates?
GEORGE DYER:
Saturday and Sunday, and maybe on Wednesday night.
TESSIE DYER:
He stayed over here at this rooming house.
GEORGE DYER:
I was close by. I was going to see another girl in Gastonia when I met her. She'd come and meet me over there in the car. I drove her home.

Page 41
She's staying with her brother. She told me, said, "You can't come to see me on Saturday night, you can't come see me on Sunday." I'd go to see that one in Gastonia on Saturday, then go to see her on Sunday. [laughter]
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of people lived at the boarding house? Were there young women over there as well as young men?
GEORGE DYER:
Old lady, not too old. She was a Mrs. Shue. She run the boarding house—real fine lady.
TESSIE DYER:
She kept boarders, mostly men. She had some ladies.
GEORGE DYER:
Some of her family stayed there. People worked at the mill come there, and she asked about them to come over there—what kind of person they was. The mill boss would send them over there to see if they get a place, see a place was open. When I came here, I went up there and knocked on the door and talked to her. She said, "Well, I got a room open." She asked me where I was from, and I told her Virginia. She asked me how I come to come down here. I told her I was looking for a job. She said, "Where you going to work at over here?" I told her in the weaving department. She said, "All right." She told me how much I'd have to pay a week; I forget now.
LU ANN JONES:
How long did you all court before you got married? How long did you know each other?
TESSIE DYER:
We started going together in September, wasn't it?
GEORGE DYER:
No, it was earlier than that wasn't it? When was it I went over yonder? She had a picnic and they had horses. I thought she was going to be over there. I was riding them horses a lot over there that Sunday. You know, picnic had all kind of recreation, horses you could ride, boat ride and different things. You'd went to Florida or somewhere. No, you was going to a funeral when I first met you. You come over there to go with the ladies to a funeral—Concord—I seen you, but I didn't know who

Page 42
you was. I never had met you; I'd see you going and coming.
TESSIE DYER:
This lady that run the boarding house over here, she told me she had a boy that wanted to meet me.
GEORGE DYER:
Boy?
TESSIE DYER:
I told her, I said, "Who is he?" She told me. So she made it up with him, and she said, "I'm going to ask her to go to Concord to attend a funeral with me." The rooming house, the boarding house, they had bought a big wreath of flowers, and she was going to take them in her car. So when I went out to get in the car, he brings them out, and that's how I met him.
GEORGE DYER:
I was being courteous and helpful too, the lady I boarded with.
TESSIE DYER:
He was helping her too.
GEORGE DYER:
Nobody else didn't volunteer to help, and I did.
TESSIE DYER:
That's how we met.
LU ANN JONES:
How long after you all were married did you have your—you had two sons—when was your first son born?
TESSIE DYER:
It was about two years.
GEORGE DYER:
1944.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you stop work while you were pregnant?
TESSIE DYER:
Yeah, I worked till I was about four or five months. See he was in the service then.
GEORGE DYER:
I was in the service. I was in Hawaii when you was pregnant.
TESSIE DYER:
When my oldest son was born. . . .
GEORGE DYER:
I was stationed at Fort Bragg a long time. I was inducted there. But we went to Oklahoma for basic training—Fort Sill and was transferred back to Fort Bragg. We come back there for more training be in the regular training. I'd come home, I got a weekend pass—I was a cook. I went to cook school, and I took cooking. They told half a dozen of us, "We need

Page 43
cooks and we need radio men." So I told them I like radio all right, but . . . He said, "You don't radio, what about going to cook school?" I told him I'd take cooking, I believe. When you in army, you got to have every word just right on the radio. You make one mis-quote, one word, you mess up the whole detail. Say like you in combat or something. I was afraid of that, course, I was going to be careful. But they teach you all that stuff—radio school. I kind of wished now I'd a took it because I'd learn a lot and I might a been in the radio business, but I took that cooking.
I transferred back to my outfit. Then I left my outfit there in Fort Bragg, I had to turn all my equipment in, had to get cook school stuff closed. My uniforms and all that stuff—I had one uniform I'd go out like on a weekend, go on a pass or something. Three months we's gone. Three of us went to my battery. I cooked in the kitchen till I was discharged. Course I had to still go out and soldier. I had to go out on the firing range and all that stuff. We fired the big guns, shot shells—two-hundred-eighty pound shells. They had to put them guns, had to weight them down. They had to dig a big entrenchment in the ground with a crane, put the gun down in there, so they could fire those big shells. That was some experience I had.
We were transferred into California. I come back to see her alot. Every two weeks I'd come home. It wasn't two weeks I'd come home, it was about three weeks. One day, they told me not to leave, and I left. I disobeyed the order. They going to have a showdown inspection. You maybe know what that is.
LU ANN JONES:
Un-uh.
GEORGE DYER:
A showdown inspection, you put out all your equipment. You had to put it out right in a rotation. You have to put it out so officers come by, they can look at it and don't have to . . . They go down one side of the bunks and down the other. You had to stand at the end of your bunk at attention. See if you got all your stuff and in good shape. I went

Page 44
down, they told me not to go, but I went on anyway.
LU ANN JONES:
You came here?
GEORGE DYER:
I had a regular pass, yes. He said, "George, you better not go, that's disobeying order." I said, "Yeah, I know it is." After I got down to Fayetteville catch a bus, I knowed then I ought to go back, but it was too late. The inspection was over. I got to thinking about it. I talked to the MP.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you get in trouble for that?
GEORGE DYER:
I talked to the MP there at Fort Bragg. I was in Fayetteville. He said, "I'll tell you, soldier. They won't do much with you, but you disobeyed a order." I said, "I knowed that. Since I got down here, I'm thinking about it what they'll do. I don't want that mark to be on my record." Said, "Well, there won't be no mark on your record because you hadn't violated nothing bad. You just disobeyed a order." Course I knew that. They read the general orders to you every three months—what you can do and what you can't do against the military. I went back on Monday morning. I left here Sunday night, I got there about I reckon 1:00. I went on to my bunk and changed clothes and went to bed. I had to get up 4:30 in the morning go to the kitchen. So they come after me and told me to dress in full dress, have to go up and see the major. Said gonna take you up there in the jeep. I had to go about five, ten miles over to head-quarters. Great big barracks fixed up nice and everything. I went in, there's a guard standing on each side salute you, standing with a rifle. They do that all the time, round the clock. I told them I wanted to see Major so-and-so. Each of them in his office. I went in and salute him and told him my rank. He said, "Well, sit down, I want to talk to you. How come you do that?" I said, "I wanted to go home, see my wife." He said, "I want to go too, but I can't. I got a wife and three children." He's about a middle-aged man, about forty. I said, "I'm sorry now." He

Page 45
said, "You look it. You worried, ain't you?" I said, "Sir, I am." I told him a second time I was sorry. He said, "You been a good soldier. Ain't a mark on your record. I'll have to fine you thirteen dollars." That's all he fined me. He told me go on back on my job—detail—and I did. That was all there was to it.
LU ANN JONES:
That must have been kind of hard on you, your husband was away when you had your first son, but you had been living with your parents, weren't you.
TESSIE DYER:
Yeah, I was living here with my parents then.
GEORGE DYER:
I kind of told why don't we wait when I get out of the service to get married because I didn't want her to be no burden on them. You know how people are, they want to get married anyway. I imagine that's about the way everybody is.
TESSIE DYER:
My oldest son was eleven months old when he came home.
LU ANN JONES:
Had your mother helped you a lot when you were pregnant and after the baby was born? Did your mother help you out a lot, take care of the baby?
TESSIE DYER:
Oh, yes, I stayed in the hospital nine days.
LU ANN JONES:
Was that usually how long people stayed in the hospital?
TESSIE DYER:
Then it was.
GEORGE DYER:
They don't stay a week now. They get you up second or third day.
TESSIE DYER:
I went to the hospital on Saturday night, and he was born 11:59 on Sunday morning. And my sister sent him a telegram. He was going overseas then. Then the next morning, she sent him another one that we were doing fine, both. He got the last telegram before he got the first one.
GEORGE DYER:
That's how slow they are now getting messages.
LU ANN JONES:
When was your second son born?
TESSIE DYER:
January 20, 1946.
GEORGE DYER:
Two years difference in their age.

Page 46
TESSIE DYER:
Two years difference in their age. That's them back there [pointing] to picture] about . . . school. They got another hairdo now.
LU ANN JONES:
I think they're the same age as my brothers. They're thirty-four and thirty-six.
GEORGE DYER:
Thirty-three and thirty-five.
LU ANN JONES:
I have two brothers who are about that age.
GEORGE DYER:
Got any sisters?
LU ANN JONES:
Un-uh.
GEORGE DYER:
You the only girl.
LU ANN JONES:
Un-huh.
GEORGE DYER:
I bet they really crazy about you.
LU ANN JONES:
I guess they are.
GEORGE DYER:
They're bound to be. I wish we'd had a girl or two. I've told her a lot of times. People I meet, they ask me, "Ain't you got no girls?" I said, "No."
LU ANN JONES:
Did you want to have more children or did you think two was enough?
TESSIE DYER:
I thought two was enough.
GEORGE DYER:
She didn't want to have no more. There's a lot to figure on raising children. Finance, that means a lot. You got good income and all that, it means. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
I just never did believe in people having children they couldn't provide for them like they should. I'm not bragging, but I do think that we did a good job on that. I really do. They tell me now that wasn't nothing that they didn't want they didn't get. That makes me feel good now.
GEORGE DYER:
We bought them good clothes and everything, had plenty good food to eat. We didn't go without a meal, had good medical attention.

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They didn't do without a doctor when they was sick.
LU ANN JONES:
How long would you stay out of work after you had your children?
TESSIE DYER:
I guess it was two years, something like that.
LU ANN JONES:
So you would stay with them while they were growing. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
I'd stay here with my mother.
LU ANN JONES:
She must have really had a lot on her hands when you went back to work with two little boys running around.
TESSIE DYER:
She did.
GEORGE DYER:
They mind, though.
TESSIE DYER:
My father thought there wasn't nobody like my two boys.
GEORGE DYER:
They mind, they told them anything, they done it.
LU ANN JONES:
So when was it that you retired? What year was it that you finally retired?
TESSIE DYER:
Retired in 1969, June 8.
LU ANN JONES:
Were you glad to retire, or. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
I was going to work just as long as I could. I felt good then, and I really enjoyed my work. I enjoyed my job. I worked ten hours one week, and the next week, I worked, on Monday, I believe I worked one day. I said, "Well, are we going to work tomorrow?" He said, "No, I'm going to lay you off today." See that's the way they went through the mill. They started in the card room laying them off, then they came through the spinning room, got all the spinning room. Then they came back and got the quill room hands. Then they went back to the slashers where they made the beams to draw-in.
GEORGE DYER:
They did that to run up all the yarn they had
TESSIE DYER:
Then to the weave room
LU ANN JONES:
That was when the mill closed down?
TESSIE DYER:
When the mill closed down.

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LU ANN JONES:
They just told you the day before it closed down that it was going to close down.
GEORGE DYER:
They put up a notice in all departments three months before they close. They notified everybody. Some of them cried. I told two or three ladies, "What you crying for, you can get a better job than what you got." They said, "Don't say that."
TESSIE DYER:
I went in one morning, my best girlfriend, she was just crying. I said, "Oh, Mamie, what's wrong?" She said, "Go down yonder read that." I said, "What is it?" She said, "Go down there and read it." I went back up there, I said, "Well, I'm not going cry about it."
GEORGE DYER:
You kind of didn't like it though, did you?
TESSIE DYER:
No, I didn't like it.
LU ANN JONES:
You were sixty-one then. Did you plan to work till sixty-five?
TESSIE DYER:
Yeah, I had planned. I bought a lot of clothes and things that I could keep and everything.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you think about getting another job once the mill closed down?
TESSIE DYER:
No, after they closed down, I decided that I would wait till I was sixty-two.
LU ANN JONES:
Did the mill offer to help people find jobs?
TESSIE DYER:
Yes, some of them did.
LU ANN JONES:
Did a lot of people continue to work?
TESSIE DYER:
They signed them up to get their unemployment money. I drew that. After you get so old, if you call around different places, they don't. . . . I guess I could have got a job in a hospital, but I didn't want no job like that. So really, I didn't try.
GEORGE DYER:
Cleaning up or something like that.
TESSIE DYER:
It's like Mildred, she worked herself up and went to school.

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Now she's a regular nurse.
GEORGE DYER:
Yeah, but that's too old to go out. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
I know.
GEORGE DYER:
Now fifty, that's bad enough, but sixty, that's too old.
TESSIE DYER:
So I really have enjoyed my retirement.
GEORGE DYER:
When you go one job to another one, learning it up, you have a fear.
TESSIE DYER:
He retired then, I enjoy it more. Now we really do enjoy it.
LU ANN JONES:
What do you do that you enjoy it?
GEORGE DYER:
Got plenty of time.
TESSIE DYER:
We get up every morning, we dress, get ready, go to a hot lunch program.
GEORGE DYER:
We eat a little breakfast.
TESSIE DYER:
We eat breakfast, then we go to a hot lunch program. I know you've heard of those, haven't you? We have devotional sing.
GEORGE DYER:
We have fun too, fun programs.
TESSIE DYER:
We have fun. We have anywhere from eighty to over a hundred at Plaza Methodist Church.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you all take trips now?
TESSIE DYER:
They taken us on a trip last year to the mountains to Asheville.
GEORGE DYER:
Every two years we went.
TESSIE DYER:
Last two years they have.
LU ANN JONES:
When you were a child, did you take vacations? Did you have vacations?
TESSIE DYER:
Um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
Where would you go?
TESSIE DYER:
We'd go to the beach.
GEORGE DYER:
We went to Gatlinbrug too lots—Tennessee—I like it up in there.

Page 50
My son and my daughter-in-law and little kid took us. Her sister then was single. She was a widow, but she married here before Christmas. She'd always go along with us. She lived by herself. Her husband passed away years ago. I just think sometimes she's my daughter. [laughter] When we went out to eat supper, I told the waitress—I made her acquainted with all of us and told her, "This is my oldest daughter."—she looked, she laughed. She says, "You all got young kids, you all got young grandchildren." I said, "We didn't get married till we elderly, had some age. She says, "That was a good idea."
TESSIE DYER:
We met so many people, though, going to the lunch program. They're all alone.
GEORGE DYER:
We go to the beach every summer—sometimes twice. We've had a better time since we retired then we did when we was working.
TESSIE DYER:
We really have.
GEORGE DYER:
You can't save nothing retired. We don't have to pay no rent. I keep the house up. I do all my painting and all that work. Sometimes, some plumbing I can't fix, I have to hire a plumber. But I can fix it, I do it myself.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you have a pension from the mill?
GEORGE DYER:
No, they didn't give us nothing. That's the one mistake they made. They should of give us a pension. That wasn't right fair. See many people work down there a lifetime, didn't get no pension—no fringe benefit.
TESSIE DYER:
At Christmas, and in July, they used to give us some bonds—&18.75, something like that.
GEORGE DYER:
That wasn't a drop in the bucket what we made for them. That's where it comes in at, they wasn't fair. Working class never has been treated fair up till here the last years, they've been treated fair. You know what brought it along?
LU ANN JONES:
What?

Page 51
GEORGE DYER:
The unions. The unions is one's organized, the others have to come up almost to the union wages to make the people satisfied. That's the reason the unions done good. You take for instance R. J. Reynolds, and the Dukes—they come from England years ago—they in Durham. They made a fortune off of the people who were raising tobacco—the farmers. They bought tobacco cheap, and then they hired their labor cheap. So that away, they made double. They sold the stuff they manufactured for good money. The farmer didn't get his share, and the employee didn't get his, but they doing better now since the last World War. People's been better since the second war. People's made pretty good wages since then. They live better, they have more money to spend to get what they want. See, years ago, people in the kitchen didn't have the appliances they got now. Now they got them, and I'm glad of it. People where they able, they had the money to get them, but the other people couldn't. But they are now, they doing good.
LU ANN JONES:
If you had been here at the time that there were strikes, if you had been here before . . . would you have struck? Would you have joined the union at that time?
GEORGE DYER:
The way I feel about it now, believe I would have. I'll tell you you the reason why, they wasn't paying them enough, wasn't giving them enough money. They wasn't paying them enough wages. I think that a man owns a corporation ought to make a good profit. If they ain't going to give him a raise, at the end of the year, give him a bonus—give him a good bonus. If you make a good profit during that year, if they sell the stuff and make good profit, let the employee know he made a good profit. He should provide—give him a share of what they made. That's the way I believe . . . I don't believe in wasting [unknown] I don't believe being in the left, the right, and being in the middle. I believe in being conservative about everything. I think it would be

Page 52
better for everybody. That's taking advantage of people. They can do it because they can. That's the reason they do it, they can and they get by with it.
LU ANN JONES:
Who is they that takes advantage of people?
GEORGE DYER:
The rich man. That's what they're doing today. We can't live like the rich. We got to have the rich to live. If it wasn't for the rich people, the poor people would suffer, working class. Yet, that's the ones. What I mean by that is some corporation looks after the employees. They get a good wage benefit and all that. But, actually some don't care. You've seen that in your lifetime, haven't you? That's true. It say, "Justice for All," and it ain't justice for all. It's justice for some, but it ain't for all. You say you're all equal—you ain't. We divided. Our country right now is divided.
LU ANN JONES:
Between who? Rich and poor? What's the division?
GEORGE DYER:
We're divided just about everything. The man's got the money, he can get what he wants, the man ain't got it can't do nothing. The man's got money, got power. I mean plenty of money. Everybody can't be like that, you know. People ain't that smart. Like I was speaking, a man's working a lot of people, they ought to give him a just wage so he can give the family a better living—the little children coming up. So the kids will have a chance for an education. That's about all I got to say.
END OF INTERVIEW