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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Geddes Elam Dodson, May 26, 1980. Interview H-0240. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

First jobs in a textile mill

Earlier in the interview, Dodson had described how he assisted his father in the mill before becoming an official employee. In this segment, he describes his first job in the sweeping room and then outlines his ascent through the mill's job structure.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Geddes Elam Dodson, May 26, 1980. Interview H-0240. 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

And then I remember when I went to work in the mill at Woodside. I was a little boy, although I went in there and went to work a-sweeping and hauling filling from the spinning room down to the weave room so they could put it on the looms. That's all I done, just rode the elevator up and down, bring that filling down when the doffers would fill up them big boxes, and then I . . .
ALLEN TULLOS:
That was the first job you had?
GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
That was the first job I had in the mill at Woodside. And then I got sweeping and one thing and another, and I run a band machine down under the mill. They had an automatic band machine. I kept the yarn on that automatic machine, and it twisted like a rope only it's little. We were using them for belts on the spinning frames. And I run that hand machine and watched that other one, kept it a-going. And then I went up in the weave room and started sweeping up there. And my daddy made me a reed hook out of a spoon you stir coffee with. I got one in there laying on the chest of drawers now I made myself. I don't know what went with the one he made me. But them little old two-harness weave, you just need a little old short reed hook, and the spoon was the handle. You put your thumb in the spoon and draw in them ends.
ALLEN TULLOS:
How old were you then?
GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
I wasn't quite fourteen. I've been in the mill over sixty years. And then I learned to weave. I learned to tie a weaver's knot. And nobody didn't teach me how to weave. I just watched the weavers after I learned how to tie that knot. Back then you had to get a permit to go to work when you was just fourteen, and they wouldn't let you work but eight hours a day if you wasn't old enough.