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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Thomas Burt, February 6, 1979. Interview H-0194-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Singing to pass the time at a tobacco factory

Burt remembers that women at the tobacco factory used to sing at such a volume that the place sounded like a church. Their singing helped pass the time.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Thomas Burt, February 6, 1979. Interview H-0194-2. 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

GLENN HINSON:
One thing someone mentioned to me—a woman; she used to work in one of the factories—she said that sometimes the women used to get to singing while they were working.
THOMAS BURT:
Oh yeah, you could hear that all over the factory.
GLENN HINSON:
Could you?
THOMAS BURT:
Man, them women get to workin' up there sometimes, it sound like a church. They'd sing, Lord knows! I worked about two weeks down there at night. I worked up until 6:00, go home eat supper, come back and work till 10:00, 11:00 at night. We got some rushin' orders in, and a whole lot of us made a lot of extra time workin' at night. Them women get up there on that second floor, and it sound like a big meetin' revival goin' on! That made the time didn't seem too long at night, all that good singin'. Lord have mercy, yeah, they used to sing.
GLENN HINSON:
Did they sing during the day? Would they sing all the time?
THOMAS BURT:
No, they didn't sing all the time. Sometimes you couldn't hear nobody singin' at all, and then again, it looked like to be everybody singin'. Somebody'd start a song the rest of them knowed, and they singin' all over the factory.
GLENN HINSON:
Was somebody singing some every day?
THOMAS BURT:
Everyday, near about every day, mostly in the evenin'. After 1:00, they'd go back to work. Long over in the evenin' they'd start singin', and they'd sing from then to near about quittin' time, one song after another. The time looked like we just slipped away. It didn't look like it was long, and we makin' ten hours too. It didn't seem long—all that good singin', all that machines goin', different things goin' there. Looked like to me the time just eased right on away, 12:00 come before you know it. Sometimes that bull would open his mouth and bellow—it would scare you! You didn't even know it was 12:00! That big rascal could open his mouth. That was the whistle; looked just like a bull sittin' on top of the factory.