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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Letha Ann Sloan Osteen, June 8, 1979. Interview H-0254. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Hard work for little money at the textile mill

Osteen remembers twelve hour work days and paltry wages from her years in mill work.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Letha Ann Sloan Osteen, June 8, 1979. Interview H-0254. 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:
So can you tell me any more about what it was like when you first started work. Just describe how you felt every day.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Oh yeah, I had a dime the first pay day I had.
ALLEN TULLOS:
A dime.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
A dime in a little envelope. And that was my week's work.
GEORGIA:
That's all anybody made. (chuckle)
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Everybody that went in when we did, they had their dime. (chuckle) Now my daddy took these dimes that we all had and I guess he bought what we had to have at the store. But back when they bought what they'd have to buy for groceries, you know you could take a dollar and go away yonder and buy . . .
ALLEN TULLOS:
You got a dime for working a week?
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Uh-huh. (chuckle)
ALLEN TULLOS:
Is that right.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Well, that's one side, that's ten cents a side. Well when I got up to running four and five sides, you know, I'd make forty and fifty cents a day.
ALLEN TULLOS:
This was when you were like eleven or twelve years old when you first went to work.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Yeah, yeah.
ALLEN TULLOS:
And how many hours would you be working?
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
I would work twelve hours.
GEORGIA:
Twelve hours a day.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
We'd go over to work at six and we'd quit at six.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did you work on Saturdays too?
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Yeah, 'till dinnertime.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did you have to stay real busy when you were working?
GEORGIA:
Oh yeah.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Yes, you couldn't leave it, because you had to stay right there to keep that work a going.