Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George R. Elmore, March 11, 1976. Interview H-0266. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Hard work on the farm and in the mill

Elmore reveals some of the less desirable routines of farm and mill work, including cotton picking and hoeing on the farm, both of which were hard on the back, and piecework without breaks at the textile mill.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George R. Elmore, March 11, 1976. Interview H-0266. 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

BRENT GLASS:
Let me ask you just a couple of other things about working the farm and working in the mill. How about the work itself? Which is more difficult, the kind of work? Which did you prefer?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Well, picking cotton is bad on your back, in a way; and hoeing is something you've got to get done, and you don't have all week to get it done with the weather. Well, of course I enjoyed plowing with the soil and any kind of plowing or turning the plow with two horses. But the stuff in the mill there; some of those jobs would be a drudge, I mean they could be a drudge.
BRENT GLASS:
Repetitive?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Some of them were piecework. Now I worked a winder one time; they paid you so much for the stuff that you produced. They wouldn't put me on piecework, and they were paying the girl running the next line. And I was keeping up as many ends and turning off the same work. They were paying me fourteen dollars and they were paying her eighteen dollars. That was 1921—'22 it was—they gave me a job winding, and you didn't have time to spit hardly.
BRENT GLASS:
No time to take breaks or eat lunch?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Oh no.
BRENT GLASS:
What did you do for a meal?
GEORGE R. ELMORE:
Well we could always sit out. If you were working daylight, the hour from twelve to one the mill would shut down then. You worked eleven hours on day shift, and from six to six with no break at the night shift. And I ran warp machines some when I went back in '21 and '22. Well, I ran warp machines some in 1918 when I first went to Cramerton. I doffed twisters at Groves; then I went into Cramerton and doffed twisters. And they took me away from that and took me upstairs linking warps. Then I went to working Friday nights, and they finally put me on running the warp machine.