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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 >>

Coworkers find entertainment around Charlotte to forget the trials of mill life

Hopkins worked in a mostly female environment at the mill, and they interacted over lunch or at parties, carnivals, and swimming pools around Charlotte. Her coworkers tended to complain about the work and the wages.

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:
Were most of the people you were working with women then?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes, all the spoolers and spinners were women. In the spinning room back then, they had what they called people that tied on bands. They had to put bands around the bottom of the spindle in the spinning room? Also on the spoolers, they had a band, leather band around. They had men that did that, and men that ran what they call run the section. They were kind of underneath the overseer. They had men doffers that took the bobbins off the spinning frames.
LU ANN JONES:
How did you have fun in the mill to sort of pass the time. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, you worked on the frame with somebody. You could talk through it, you could see through it. You worked in the alley-they call them alleys. There was a lady in this alley with you, and then there was one on the other side of you on the other side of the frame. Well, there was two that you could talk to. Then they'd have a lunch break. They had what we called a "dope box," a "dope wagon." It was a cart on wheels, and they had all kinds of things-sandwiches, and drinks, and cokes-it came through twice a day. You'd all go up there and get something, refreshments, or a sandwich, or whatever you wanted and sit down and eat. You could talk then.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you eat in the same room, or did they have a lunch room?
EVA HOPKINS:
Un-huh. No, no, they didn't have a lunch room. You had to sit out at the end of your frame-they had little benches you could sit on.
LU ANN JONES:
What did you all talk about?
EVA HOPKINS:
We talked about how bad we hated to work, and how tired we were, and how little bit we were getting paid, and we wished we were somewhere else, doing something else. There were a few younger girls that worked up there, and we would talk about our dates, and the parties we went to. Then, most of the time, the people would have parties on the village. If you had a birthday or anything, you would have a party at your home. Then for recreation-like I said, there weren't many cars-we had streetcars. You'd get on the streetcar out here-streetcar came right out here to the corner where we lived-you'd get on the streetcar and you could ride all the way across town and get a transfer, and ride all the way to the other end of Charlotte to Lakewood Park out there for seven cents. There was a park out there, and it had carnival things, a lot of things for entertainment. On Sundays, lots of girls and boys would get the streetcar and go out there. Then on Friday nights in the summer time, there would be a truck come to the corner around there, and all the boys and girls would get on that truck and take them to the summer pool. Just big groups of us go out toswimming pool and really have fun.
LU ANN JONES:
Who was driving the truck?
EVA HOPKINS:
They would have somebody to drive it.
LU ANN JONES:
Is that the mill would have somebody to drive it or who?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't really know. I never did go into that to find out who. I just know it was a man driving it, and it had a truckload of teenagers. So evidently, it was somebody that had gotten somebody maybe from the mill to drive it. I never did find out who the driver was. I think he was from Highland Park. We lived out on Mercury then. There was really lots of . . . we had good times, but it was nothing like it is now. There was no cars or anything. On Sunday afternoons, we'd take walks, we'd take Kodak pictures. We'd walk up to the school house where there was a pretty landscape, and we'd take pictures. You could see boys and girls out walking holding hands on Sunday afternoon with a camera. It was really lots of fun, much more I think than girls and boys have this day and time because there's so much going on now that's not good.