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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 >>

Various accidents that happened in textile mills

Accidents happened in the mills with some regularity. Dodson saw shuttles fly out of the looms with some regularity, sometimes hitting employees in the head and other times destroying cloth or machines. At the end of the clip, he describes the damage that a broken belt could do.

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

ALLEN TULLOS:
Did you see any accidents in the mill back in the 1920's or '30's?
GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
Well, a few. Sometime they'd throw that shuttle out. It ain't been too many years ago a shuttle flew out down there in that little weave room and knocked a woman's eye out. One flew out and hit me under my glasses and knocked them off. They was a-hanging down like that on my ear. It just happened right to hit me. And I remember when I was a-weaving over in the back alley, I was a-working on a loom one day on the other side of the mill, and something [claps hand] hit me on the back of the head right back there. I turned around, and I was fixing to slap the hell out of. . . . [unclear] [Laughter] And I looked down, and the shuttle had hit me in the back of the head. The point didn't hit me. It just hit me like you'd take a stick and hit me. I shook my head, and I thought somebody. . . . [Laughter] I thought, "Well, I don't know nobody that's mad at me," and I looked around. [Laughter] And that shuttle was laying there on the floor. And I remember one day down there I was down there in the alley, and the shuttle flew out of a loom down here, and there was one of them posts in the weaver alley, and it hit that post and glanced and went on down the alley and knocked a hole in the cloth down there below the [unclear] . You could stick that can through that hole where the shuttle went through there. [Laughter]
ALLEN TULLOS:
Were you working in the mills when they had the big belts on the . . .
GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
Oh, yes.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Do you remember any accidents with people getting caught in the belts?
GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
They have hit a few people. That brought back something else to me about Woodside. When I was at Woodside, they had the motors up over on a spare floor. And they had great big motors, and one motor would pull maybe half of a weave room. And the shaft was overhead, and the belts run up from the looms up to them overhead pulleys on them shafts. The motor was on the spare floor, and the water house was right over there. And then you'd go in and go around them steel hickey, you know, where people can't see in there. Go around one and then go around on the other side and go in the water house. I went in there one day at Woodside and just got around that thing, and something hit that thing behind me, go "Wham!" And I went and peeked back around; that big old wide belt that wide had broke, and the end of it flew over there and hit. If I'd have been a second or two later, it was liable to kill me. But it hit that thing. It sounded like it had knocked it down.
ALLEN TULLOS:
When a big belt like that broke, it would shut down the whole row of looms.
GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
Yes, it just quit. It'd shut down several weaver alleys of looms. And I remember there at Woodside they had that great big old steam engine that pulled that whole mill. And it had a wheel on it, back in the middle of the mill on the back side. Oh, that wheel was huge. It was big around and went up high as about the second floor. It had big old rope belts on it. You could stand up there in the window-like opening and look down in there, and that big old wheel pulled that whole mill. It run by steam, a steam engine.