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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Church was the only social activity for many mill workers

Hopkins and her mother had no time for any social activities besides church. Almost everyone in the community attended the Methodist church together, and many of them grew up working in a mill. Those who had learned to read and write became church teachers.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. 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

LU ANN JONES:
Did your mother belong to any organizations like women's clubs, or was she able to get outside the home and outside of working?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, because when I was little, until I was sixteen years old, you worked twelve hours a day. You worked from six in the morning till six at night, then the third shift-we call it now; they didn't call it third shift then, they just called it the night shift-they would work at six at night and work till six in the morning.
LU ANN JONES:
So just two shifts where today you'd have three shifts?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yeah, un-huh. At different times, she has worked both of them. At different times, she has worked both of them. For a while, she worked first shift, then after I got older, she-she did work at the Highland Park up here near Sixteenth Street, that park-she worked at night. I stayed with the ladies downstairs at night. We lived upstairs in an apartment. Ladies downstairs let me stay down there and sleep at night with them because mama didn't want to leave me at night by myself. I was only about ten years old. So I slept down there at night. She really had a hard life because she had nobody to help her. My dad's sick all those years. She didn't have a chance to go anywhere and join any kind of clubs because you worked six days a week. The only thing she belonged to was church, and she did go to church every Sunday and took me too. She didn't send me, she took me. We went to church and Sunday School every Sunday, but that's about the only recreation or outlet that she had was church because she had to work.
LU ANN JONES:
Apparently she enjoyed church.
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh yes.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you enjoy church, or were you sometimes frightened by the sermons?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, I was never frightened by the sermons. We belonged to the Methodist Church. They didn't get up and beat their breast and pull their hair, and preach this hell fire and damnation stuff as bad as some of these churches. So, no, I was never frightened in church. I loved Sunday School.
LU ANN JONES:
Was your church near your home? Was it in the village itself?
EVA HOPKINS:
We walked. Nobody had cars back then when I was a little girl. You went to the church that was closest to you. I think that's the Methodist Church when we moved to Charlotte. I went to Ebenezer Methodist Church in Rock Hill when I was a little girl. After we moved to Charlotte, we went to Duncan Memorial up on Brevard Street. Then we came back here and moved back here to what we call North Charlotte, we went to Spencer Memorial. I don't go there now, I go to Whiting Avenue Baptist. I've changed denominations.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did you do that?
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, I don't know, I went down there to visit, and I liked the preacher. I liked the sermons he preached better, and I enjoyed the Sunday School class and the teachers, the way they taught and all, more. I just really enjoyed it more, so that's where I went.
LU ANN JONES:
Did a lot of people who you worked with also go to your church?
EVA HOPKINS:
We lived on Sixteenth Street, and my mother worked in Highland Park. That was #1, Highland Park #1. It was near town. Just about everybody that we knew went to the Methodist Church, everybody that we knew around there where we lived went to the Methodist Church. Some of my little friends that I went to school with went to the Episcopal Church, Chapel of Hope, and I did go up there and visit sometime with them. Just about everybody went to Duncan Memorial. A lot of the women that my mother went with, back then, all of them just about had to go to work when they were small children. A lot of them didn't get to go to school, and didn't have an education. My mother was secretary-treasurer of Sunday School class because she could read and write. A lot of the women in there couldn't, other than the teacher; the Sunday School teacher could.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember who the Sunday School teacher was? What kind of people would be the Sunday School teacher?
EVA HOPKINS:
People that worked out there where she did. See, they would have a teacher, someone that could read and write, and they had an education enough to read and write, had to study the Bible and understand it, could teach it.