Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Naomi Sizemore Trammel, March 25, 1980. Interview H-0258. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Mill owners pushed their employees to ramp up production

Trammel remembers "stretching out," when mill owners pushed their employees to ramp up production. But it seems like Trammel and her foreman were not on board: he gave her the order to speed up, but she continued working at a comfortable pace, secure in the knowledge that her working children would support her if she lost her job.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Naomi Sizemore Trammel, March 25, 1980. Interview H-0258. 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:
Some people have told us that in the 'Twenties and 'Thirties, the work pace got faster. Things speeded up in the different parts of the mill. Did you notice that at all?
NAOMI SIZEMORE TRAMMEL:
Oh, well, they call that "stretching out." They're bad that Judson, 'bout stretching out. You just have to carry all they can put on you. But they never did do that at Poe Mill.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Not at Poe Mill.
NAOMI SIZEMORE TRAMMEL:
No, they never did.
ALLEN TULLOS:
But it happened when you-all came over to Judson.
NAOMI SIZEMORE TRAMMEL:
Judson. They really would stretch you out. I remember Cal Cordell, he was my second hand, he said, "Now, Mrs. Trammel," said "They want me to stretch out." And he said, "You're the best battery hand I've got." (I was filling batter at that time.) And he said, "I want put you on extra batteries." And said, "Now, you don't have to work a bit harder than you're working right now." Said, "Just take your time." But I took my time. The thing just spin, you know, and I just poke along. [laughter] And he wouldn't fuss on me. He'd come over there and help me, but he wouldn't fuss. He knew I couldn't run all them batteries. They'd want to stretch out, and he didn't want to. I just mean as they was.
ALLEN TULLOS:
How long did that go on?
NAOMI SIZEMORE TRAMMEL:
It didn't go on too long. But they did stretch out. 'Cause seed I wouldn't keep it up. They thought I couldn't, but I could have. Just a-running myself to death, no, I wouldn't do it. And Cal really didn't want me to.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What about the others that were in there?
NAOMI SIZEMORE TRAMMEL:
Well, they didn't do nothing to them. They just want to try me out, you know, see if I could run 'em. But I wasn't about to stand there and run 'em, cause I didn't have to work anyway. So just me and Percy—no, I didn't have to. All my children's all married and gone.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did they try to give him more looms to run?
NAOMI SIZEMORE TRAMMEL:
Well, I don't know about that, but they trying to stretch out their battery hands at that time. They knew he could run 'em. I doubt if he would have if they'd have tried, but they didn't try about the loom. I enjoyed working at Judson. Poe Mill, too, for that matter.