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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Dock E. Hall, January 7, 1976. Interview H-0271. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Sawmill work

Hall recalls working at his father's sawmill. He describes some of the jobs he performed and offers a few details about the mill operation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Dock E. Hall, January 7, 1976. Interview H-0271. 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:
Did you do any work for your dad in the sawmill?
DOCK E. HALL:
Oh yes.
BRENT GLASS:
What kind of work did you do?
DOCK E. HALL:
Well, we was talking about firing and burning the slabs and all: I fired a lot of the time. Then I'd off that lumber from the saw. They had long roller banks, and then we'd roll the lumber out to the end of it and throw it, or put it on the truck. Or if the truck was standing over there, we'd pull it off and decide where it would be sat. What slabs we didn't use for boilers or burning, we had a skid fixed out at the end of the roller banks. We'd put them on that skid and man, take a whole lot of them and throw them in a big fire out there and burn them.
BRENT GLASS:
I see. And was that hard work?
DOCK E. HALL:
Well some of it was pretty hard work, yes sir.
BRENT GLASS:
Why?
DOCK E. HALL:
Well, it was heavy, heavy wood: green, all of it green, you know. Mostly a lot of pine, but it was green—heavy. Back then they'd saw big timbers for you any time; these timbers were long, twelves by twelves maybe. Now you can't hardly find a piece you'd make a out of like that.
BRENT GLASS:
That's true.
DOCK E. HALL:
It's all cut out.
BRENT GLASS:
Did your Dad pay you for the work?
DOCK E. HALL:
Well, yes, he paid me. You know, he'd pay off his men that worked his mill for him. He'd be cutting this lumber, and they'd put it all up on what we called skids: the slack end of it, put it on skids. And the man that was cutting for him would come in and check that lumber all out; then he'd pay him what he had on his skids. Then he'd pay his help—what we called the laborers, see—then.
BRENT GLASS:
How many people did he have working?
DOCK E. HALL:
Well, around the mill sometimes he'd have anywhere from six to eight around the mill, and maybe four to six in the woods cutting timber, and about three or four teams that would haul the logs into the mill.
BRENT GLASS:
That was a big operation.
DOCK E. HALL:
Oh yes, it was back in them days.
BRENT GLASS:
And what was the timber used for? Building houses?
DOCK E. HALL:
All that, yes. And all that to different towns. Didn't have no trucks or anything like that, just wagons. They'd haul it to town, and then load it on cars where the trains were. They'd haul it up to the train station, and they'd load it on the car and ship it to people. It sold all over the country, everywhere.
BRENT GLASS:
He collected his own timber, then? The farmers didn't bring timber to him, did them?
DOCK E. HALL:
No. They have done that, but in later years. Back then somebody'd go by this big pack of timber, and then he'd go in with the sawmill and he'd cut it and put it on skids. And then the man that he was cutting timber for would come and take up how much he'd sawed, and pay him so many feet of lumber that he had. Then he'd pay off his men, see.