Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Edna Y. Hargett, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0163. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Various community activities in mill villages

In this excerpt, Hargett continues to discuss various rituals of working people. First, Hargett describes how cornshuckings were popular community gatherings, although she recalls only getting to attend two while she was growing up. In addition, she again emphasizes the importance of visiting family and relatives. Finally, she describes how the mills would hold different kinds of courses, such as homemaking courses, for the workers to attend.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Edna Y. Hargett, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0163. 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

Jim Leloudis: What other type things did people do? Did the women or men have any clubs?
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
No, they had quilting bees. Women would meet at one another's house and help quilt out a quilt. Now I couldn't quilt. My stepmother could. I never did learn to do that. I went to a farm gathering. When they'd gather the crops, they had a. . . . I don't know just what the name of it is, but anyway, the farmers all gathered there when their crops was gathered, and they had these big, black wash pots, and they cooked chicken in there. A cornhusking is what it was. You'd go there to husk the corn. Every time you'd find a red ear, you'd get to kiss a girl. Jim Leloudis: [Laughter]
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
Most of them was white ears or yellow ears, but when you found a red ear, you'd get to kiss a girl. So after we got most of the corn shucked and it got late as we was wanting to stay, we'd go in and eat and then we'd go on home. But I never did get to go to but two of the cornshuckings. Jim Leloudis: Was that when you were a child or after you had married?
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
That was when I was a child. Jim Leloudis: People in the mill village would go to somebody's farm for some of those things?
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
Yes. Jim Leloudis: Did people travel back and forth between the village and the farm pretty frequently?
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
Yes, and we had trolley cars then. It wasn't streetcars; it was trolley cars then. And you could ride for seven cents and go from town over to Louise and back over here. We've still got the track down here yet where we came back and forth here. People travelled. On Sunday evening is mostly when we did our visiting with people. When you'd go spend a day with people, they'd fix you up a nice meal. You don't hear of people spending a day with people any more like they used to then. I know when I moved from Louise over here, several of my neighbors from over there wanted me to come and spend a day with them, and sometime on Sundays the whole family would go and spend a day, and maybe two or three Sundays later they'd come and spend a day with us. Jim Leloudis: Was that relatives whose farm you would visit?
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
No, it wasn't relatives. It was just in the community where they would invite us to come down to it, because they wanted to get their corn shucked. And there'd be some dancing around then; there'd be fiddle picking and all. But I never got to go to but just two of those, but that's what the farm girls looked forward to. Jim Leloudis: Did the mill ever have homemaking classes for you to teach you to cook or to can?
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
Yes, the Chadwick-Hoskins did. I never did find one of those at Highland Park, but Chadwick-Hoskins did at Calvine when I worked there. They had one of the little three-room houses left for our clubhouse, and they had a home economy woman come down and teach us how to do these things, and we really enjoyed that. She'd teach us how to cook and to make clothing and little crafts that she knew back then. Jim Leloudis: Did you go to many of those?
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
Yes, I went to those regular. Jim Leloudis: Did they have anybody doing any other type of. . . . I've read a lot of accounts of welfare workers in the mill village.
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
I never heard of a welfare worker when I worked in the mill. Jim Leloudis: Did they have people that did other things besides run the homemaking classes, people who would maybe visit your home and help you take care of the child?
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
No, I never heard of that. Jim Leloudis: Did they ever run any night schools?
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
Not that I recall then, they didn't. Jim Leloudis: Why do you think they held those homemaking classes? What were they trying to teach you, do you think?
EDNA YANDELL HARGETT:
They was trying to teach us women, I think, to be more self-sufficient, because we had to work in the mill and then do our home work, too. And we couldn't take courses to learn these different things, and they came in there. And whenever a woman got pregnant, we'd always shower her, and that was a big occasion; you'd get to go to a shower. And anybody married, we'd give them a shower, you see, and that was another big occasion to go and carry a gift. But that's just about all the activities we had.