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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George and Tessie Dyer, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0161. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Some mill workers try to start their own businesses

Some mill workers started their own businesses by purchasing looms and weaving cloth for larger companies. A few of these entrepreneurs succeeded, but it was difficult to find companies that would buy their cloth. Running the looms also took skill and a tolerance for noise.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George and Tessie Dyer, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0161. 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

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 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.