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Title: Oral History Interview with Margaret Skinner Parker, March 7, 1976. Interview H-0278. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Parker, Margaret Skinner, interviewee
Interview conducted by Huske, W. Weldon
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 188 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-05-21, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Margaret Skinner Parker, March 7, 1976. Interview H-0278. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0278)
Author: W. Weldon Huske
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Margaret Skinner Parker, March 7, 1976. Interview H-0278. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0278)
Author: Margaret Skinner Parker
Description: 160 Mb
Description: 45 p.
Note: Interview conducted on March 7, 1976, by W. Weldon Huske; recorded in Cooleemee, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Patricia Crowley.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Margaret Skinner Parker, March 7, 1976.
Interview H-0278. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Parker, Margaret Skinner, interviewee


Interview Participants

    MARGARET SKINNER PARKER, interviewee
    MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE, interviewee
    W. WELDON HUSKE, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Peggy, give me a little bit of information about your family, like your parents' names and where they came from.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, my father's name was Hector Frasier Skinner, and my mother's name was Emma Jane—she was a Rickelton before she married my father.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Rickelton?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. And she was English and he was Scottish.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And how did they meet?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
That I don't know. You know, you're going back sixty, seventyfive years [laughter]
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did they meet in this country?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Oh no, no; they were married over there. We lived in Scotland—in fact, Mollie and I were both born up in the highlands of Scotland, in Inverness, Scotland.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And did you live there for a long time?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I was born in 1909 and lived there 'til 1918.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And then?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Came over here.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
To North Carolina?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No, to Alabama. You see, my father had pneumonia a number of times, and they turned him down for all of World War I work. So the doctor thought it was best that he get out of the country completely, so they broke up housekeeping and all the rest of it. During 1918 it was hard to travel. So his mother lived in Scotland, and we were in Liverpool, England waiting for passage. And he and my mother met Grandmother Skinner at a cousin of my mother's in England, Sunderland, England. And he took that 1918 flu.

Page 2
He took a cold going down, and it went into pneumonia from the flu, and then into meningitis. So he died in July.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Of 1918?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. We had passports, tickets and everything, and all we were waiting for was just available space—because the ships were used for other things. So then this cousin of mine now who's the retired Army nurse, she was eighteen; so she took my daddy's place. She came with us, because her father was already over here; he came over here in 1914. He was living in Alabama. And they wouldn't let her mother and her sister leave England because they were doing Red Cross work, so Marie came with us.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Marie was your cousin?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. That was why we went to Gadsden, Alabama, because that was where uncle lived. Mother kept house for all of us until my aunt and cousin came over in 1919, after the war.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And then what happened?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, then my mother came up to Winston-Salem. I had a god-mother, who was with the Jack Glenns in Winston-Salem, was a nurse for the children. And they wanted an English or Scotch nurse, so she got mother to come up here to Winston. So mother went to work for the Hanes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. And which Hanes family was it?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
That was the Robert M. Hanes family. She went there when Frank Gordon was eighteen months old; then they had a daughter after that. And Mother worked for them for twenty-seven years, until she died.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And she died in…
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
In '49. Well, then my aunt's health got bad, and so Mother wanted to stay nearer her. And since she lived with the Hanes family, see, we

Page 3
couldn't live there, so through Mr. Hanes we went to the Methodist Children's Home in Winston-Salem.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And you lived there. When did you go there?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I must have gone there about '21 or '22, because I graduated in '27. I went through the seventh grade and four years of high school there, and I graduated in '27.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And that's from high school?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
But the high school was there on the grounds. We all had jobs, you know, and it just so happened my class always went to school in the afternoon. We went to school at one o'clock, and I think we got out at four—but, see, we had one class right after another. Then we went into study hall about six thirty to eight-thirty or nine; and, I mean, we had to study!
W. WELDON HUSKE:
I'll bet you did [laughter] .
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
We weren't allowed to do anything else.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What kind of courses were you taking? Is that where you learned to be an accountant?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No. They put me in the office over there; that was what work I would do when I wasn't in school. But then when I graduated from high school I went to Draughn's Business College.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. Where was that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
In Winston-Salem.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. And how long was that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, just about a year. And Claytie Koontz from Cooleemee, whose father was head of the tenant farming and the cotton buying, she went to Draughn's Business College. And so I met her there, and we got to be friends.

Page 4
And I used to come down here and visit in '28, before I ever came to Cooleemee to live.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What do you mean he was head of the tenant farmers?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, see, the company had farms, and these colored people (like the Pruitts and the Watkins and different ones of these families, their children—of course they're all grown now), they had farms. They worked farms that belonged to the company, see. And Mr. Koontz was over them, and then after him it was Mr. Tatum, Carl Tatum. They raised mostly cotton, you see. And so when they sold the cotton, then from one season to another the company store, the J.N. Ledford Store, they carried their account, see. But the OKs came from whoever was the man in charge.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Exactly what was the arrangement between the company and the tenant farmers?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, we carried their accounts from one season to the next. And then when they sold their cotton (which they sold to the mill)…
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did they have to sell it to the mill?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I think that was the arrangement.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
It was mill cotton.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes, it was mill land, see. So then they paid up their bill. And I understand years ago when Mr. Ledford was there, when they would come in there was a long front desk there and there was a bell under there. And when they would come in Mr. Ledford would ring that bell, which told the clerk that these people, you know, had money—in other words, get busy and sell. Because back then you bought, I think, your children's clothes about maybe once or twice a year, see: you bought everything you needed while you had it.

Page 5
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, did the tenant farmers ever have much money left over? Or what was their income?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well now, I don't know what arrangements they had. Of course, they finally did away with the farms. You know, I think they made Durham the central cotton buying place. And then these farmers, of course a lot of them had gotten older by then.
You take this Housch family… Now, they came from Georgia (I think a lot of them did). And they said when they had to change trains in Atlanta (they had [laughter] about eighteen children) that they missed one of them. Now I don't know whether that eighteen is correct or not really, but they did have a lot of children. Now the mother, Maud Housch, is still living, and she's in that Nurse Care home in Salisbury now.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. Was she the mother of the family that came?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
That was one of the families.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. Do you have an idea of when they did come?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No. Now Mr. Jarvis or Mr. Safley might be able to fill you in on that.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, so when you came in 1928, the company…
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I visited from then until '34. And then Claytie Koontz (well, she was Claytie Marley then), her husband was being transferred to Durham, so she called and wanted to know if I would come down.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And take her job?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. And that's when I came down and got off of the train at the Junction.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. Now describe that trip to me, your entry into Cooleemee. What

Page 6
was it like?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
The day I came down here? Well, I came on the train from Winston-Salem. And then when I got to the junction the conductor told me this is where I got off; and that was just like being dumped in the Sahara Desert. [laughter] And then he says, "You see that man down there with that truck (which was the mail car)." He says, "You go down there; he'll take you into Cooleemee." And it was Mr. Mat Webb. So I came in on the truck to the store, and I talked to Mr. Smith. So he said, "Well, you come down and work for a month." And he said, "If I'm not satisfied I'll say so, and if you're not satisfied you say so." And he said, "When can you come to work?" Well, this was on a Wednesday, and I said, "Monday." He said, "Can't you come tomorrow?" So I had to go back home on the train, pack some things and come back.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Now who was Mr. Smith?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
He was the manager of the store: J.E. Smith.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. And that was during the summer of '34?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
That was the twenty-second of March, after that awful ice storm they had in Winston-Salem. And then when I got here, you know at that time the hotel was used for teachers and clerical help and any of the young men graduating from State that came here to learn the cotton, the textile business. And there wasn't no room down there.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
There wasn't? What did you do?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
So Mr. and Mrs. Tiller (Mabel Alexander was in charge of the hotel at the time) lived in the house next to the Methodist church there, and that was her parents. So I had to go up there and stay, in a room that didn't have any heat in it.

Page 7
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And that was in March [laughter].
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
That was in March, after we'd had this awful sleet and ice storm. And it was cold and rainy!
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, what was your reaction to Cooleemee after [laughter] ending up in that situation?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I look back now and I wonder why I ever stayed. I think one thing that kept me in Cooleemee, to start with: my uncle said (see, I had never lived in a place this small), my uncle said (I was living with them at the time) "I'll give you one month down there." Well, at that time, you know, the houses here had the big heaters in the middle of the room.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Kerosene heaters, or coal?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Or coal, one or the other. And they had one in the living room, and this bedroom was right off the living room. And one night I went to bed and I heard all this noise, and I thought it was that heater. I just knew something was happening. Come to find out it was the water going over the dam.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Oh really?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Was it a high flood?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, on account of that weather, I guess, the water was up (you know, all the rain that they had had).
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And you could really hear it clearly? It was like a flood?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
But the girls down at the hotel felt sorry for me, so [laughter] when somebody'd go home on the weekend I'd go down there and stay, if I didn't go home. So I lived up there until, I guess, when the teachers went home for summer (which at that time, I guess, was May). But anyway, the month

Page 8
came by. In the meantime the Methodist minister had sent for my letter (which I didn't know anything about), and before my month was out he reads it in church that I was a member of the Methodist church—my letter, you know. And that embarrassed me. So Mr. Smith, he never said, "Well, we want you to stay;" and I never said, "Well, I'm not going to stay, you know." So I just stayed.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, what was your adjustment like to the town? You hadn't lived in a place this small. And had you had any association, really, with textiles?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, what was your impression of the town like? What did you see when you came in?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I'm going to tell you what Mr. Smith told me when he talked to me. He said, "Now, of course all these people work in the mill. But the people in Cooleemee are above the average mill people. They're very nice people," and he says, "and they're, I think, sensitive to the fact that a lot of the mill communities, you know, didn't have the best reputations." So he said, "You want to be careful."
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Careful, about what?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Of anything that, you know, you might say, or any reaction I might have to something. So I was so afraid that I'd hurt somebody's feelings. And I met so many people; and I couldn't remember everybody at first, you know, until whoever I saw I spoke to them. Oh, you know, sometimes through the years, just like everything else, I'd say, "Well, I'm going to leave Cooleemee." And my mother'd say, "You'll never have the friends anywhere else that you have in Cooleemee." So I stayed.

Page 9
W. WELDON HUSKE:
[laughter] You sure did! [laughter]
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I did, from '34 on.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, what was the store like, and what was your job like? What did you do?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I was in the office, with Miss Minnie Dula.
And then she had a sister that they always called Miss Gertie; that was Mrs. Swicegood.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Gertie Swicegood?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes; well, she was Mrs. Tom Swicegood. But some of those Dulas had been in that store, I guess from the beginning of the store in a way. But Minnie and I worked in the office together. And at that time people got paid on Tuesdays. And we always had to have the accounts all ready for the two o'clock shift coming in, because they'd come in and pay on their bill.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did most everybody in town have a line of credit?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, any credit was governed by the manager, really. And, see, it was referred to as the company store; so, you know, in a sense they felt like that the store owed them a living, see.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Who did? The workers did?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. Now, the company had nothing to do with the accounts, other than that they were the controlling stockholder. But, I mean, they didn't interfere with who could and who couldn't buy; they stayed out of it. And at that time it really wasn't the company store, in the sense of the word, because they had stockholders. Now, later on, Erwin did buy out all the

Page 10
stockholders, but at that time Erwin had like about fifty-one percent, you see.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, who were the other stockholders? Were they local people?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, there were the Terrells; Mr. Terrell, I've forgotten what he did here, but anyway he had died.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And how do you spell his name?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
T-e-r-r-e-l-l. You know that Terrell Machine Company in Charlotte? Well, that's one of the sons, a Terrell.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Do you know his first name?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Mr. Terrell in Charlotte? It was Ed.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Ed Terrell in Charlotte, OK.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
And then Mrs. Graham, "Capt'n" Graham's wife (he used to be in the office here), she was a Terrell. Then there was another one, a man: I've forgotten his name. He's in Charlotte too. When Mr. Terrell died, you see, his stock was divided between those three. But anyway, there was the Terrells. And Mrs. Ledford was still living. And Mrs. Ledford was a sister to J.B. Ivey, of Ivey's.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Ivey's Store.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. Let's see: There was the company, and the Terrells, and Mrs. Ledford, and then Mr. Smith, the manager—the manager for the store always had some stock.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And so when you got here, then, there were stockholders in the company1 —I mean, just part of the stock.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. So really, even though it got that name… The people, I think, thought that the company owned the store completely, but at that time they really didn't. Later on they did. I don't remember now when that was;

Page 11
it was probably in the fifties when they took over.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, tell me some more about Tuesdays.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Oh, on Tuesdays when they got their checks, then they would come in, see, and either pay their bill or pay on their bill.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And most everybody kept a bill most of the time?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. You see, the men that were in the grocery department, L. D. Driver and Mr. Jarvis up here, and Monroe Ridenhour (I don't think Mr. Everhart took orders, but anyway), Mr. Safley was in there, they went around and took orders. And we delivered. Now, back then people were allowed to keep cows and chickens in Cooleemee, see.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Where did they keep them?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
In their backyards. And then out like where Ruffin Street is now, I think, out in there there were areas where they kept their hogs.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Slaughter Pen Woods, is it?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I guess. And we sold feed in these big bags—you know, like hundred pound bags.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And people just bought this?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
They bought, and the stuff was delivered to them.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
So, well, your line of merchandise was virtually anything anybody would need, right?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Clothes and food.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. They had a men's department, and then they had one for the women; and then what they referred to as dry goods, you know (piece goods and all of that), and then the grocery department. Now, at that time, of course they always had a hardware department. They had very little furniture

Page 12
(and, of course, no TVs then), and some radios. And at that time we never had a day off.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
You never had a day off? What was your schedule?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
We worked six days a week. I worked from eight to five.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Six days a week. You just had Sunday off? And what about vacations?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I don't remember vacations back then, to tell you the truth.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, do you think you had them? [laughter]
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No, I don't think so; not as scheduled—like you say today a week's vacation goes with the job, or something like that. It seems like, if I remember right, that you could ask for some time off; whether you got it or not, that was another thing.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, do you mind telling me what your salary was when you started?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Eighty dollars a month [in 1934].
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did that pretty much take care of your needs?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
And out of that I paid twenty-two fifty a month for room and board.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Was that at the hotel?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. And then later I had a room to myself, and I think I paid twenty-five then. And when I left the hotel in '59 we were paying seventy-five dollars a month. Now, of course that hotel wasn't, you know, like people think of a hotel.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What was the hotel like? It was owned by the company, wasn't it?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
It was owned by the company, and they always had a manager. When I first came here all the women stayed upstairs and all the men stayed downstairs.

Page 13
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Really? Was it like a boarding house more?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. You went in and you ate whatever was there; you didn't sit down and order anything.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
It was family style.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
They had some long tables, it seems like, that there were, say, six or eight at a table. Later on they had tables for four people, after Mrs. Moore came.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Who was the manager of the hotel when you went there?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Mabel Alexander.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And she was paid by the company and managed all the budgets?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes, she just had control of the hotel. She was a Tiller.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Mabel Tiller Alexander.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
That's the reason I stayed up at her daddy's house.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. So your average day would have been to get up in the morning and be at work at eight.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
And walk.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And walk from the hotel down to the square, the company store.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And what was in the store? What was your day like?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, you kept busy all day long. Of course both of us would wait on the people. My work was a little different from Minnie's, because Minnie did more of the posting the books and that kind of thing, where I had to, you know, handle the regular bookkeeping for the store. And Mr. Smith at that time didn't account to anybody but to Mr. Lewis; Mr. Lewis was working.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And who was Mr. Lewis?

Page 14
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Mr. Lewis was president of the company at that time: K.P. Lewis.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And that's L-e-w-i-s?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. I never will forget: I didn't know Mr. Lewis, and it was during the world series. You know, we had that barber shop under the store—we didn't, I mean there was one: Mr. Morton ran it. And this man came in the store, and he wanted to see Mr. Smith. So I told him he wasn't here. And he said, "Well, where do you think I could find him?" And I said, "He's probably down in the barber shop listening to the series." And he thanked me and went out. When he was out of hearing reach Miss Minnie looked at me, and she said, "Do you know who you were talking to?" And I said, "I have no idea; a salesman, I suppose." She said, "That was Mr. K.P. Lewis, president of Erwin Mills. And you told him Mr. Smith was down in the barber shop!" [laughter]
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did that cause you any trouble?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No. I imagine Mr. Lewis thought that was just par for the course.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
When it was cold outside, you know, did people stand around in the store and talk a lot? Or was there a potbellied stove?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
They would, just like when that first shift came off at, I think it was two o'clock then.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Two o'clock in the afternoon?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. They'd come in. We had a great big icebox (bigger than that), [wardrobe] and they'd come in—that's where the drinks were—and get a drink. Some of them'd stand there, and they'd open their drink; and they'd just stand there and let every bit of it go down well [laughter] . See, they didn't have concessions in the mill then. And a lot of the people, the

Page 15
children would take their parents' dinner or supper down to the mill gate. Now Jimmy Webb, for one, he always took his daddy's supper down there.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And so there was kind of an atmosphere around the store; you know, everybody just would mix it up.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, you know, as far as the store was concerned, if anything happened in the store, they… Just like, the first time they ever had auditors in there was in 1938 or '39. And when the people found out that auditors were in there, oh, they just thought that was terrible.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Why?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, [laughter] they stayed up at the hotel, for one thing. And, see, I'd go to work with them and I'd go back with them. And then we would be down there working at night. And Mr. Safley or Mr. Jarvis (one or the other) always went back and stayed down there while I was down there— I guess [laughter] to protect me. I wasn't afraid of the auditors.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Were you ever afraid to walk around here at night?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No. I'm not now. I just thought the other night: where in the world could you walk a dog at ten or eleven o'clock at night, or tie the dog out in a backyard and go back in the house, knowing that she was going to be there when you go back out? But I have never … and I lived alone, too, but I have never been afraid in Cooleemee. And, like I say, I'm still not, 'cause we just don't have those kind of things happening around here.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Go ahead and tell me about the auditors; I'm curious.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Oh, the auditors? Well, the people'd see me, you know, going to work with them and going back home with them. I don't know what they thought; I think they thought they had me just like a deputy, you know, for the prisoners.

Page 16
W. WELDON HUSKE:
[laughter] Well, who were they? Who were the auditors—not necessarily names, but who were they there for? For the company?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
The company.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
[Excerpt deleted] OK. Now that we're back on the record, can you tell me: the auditors were brought in by Mr. Lewis?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
The auditors were brought in, well, by the directors really, because I think Ed Terrell had something to do with it. And they had these auditors come out of Asheville; I don't remember their names (the name of the company) now. But anyway, the thirty-first of January of that year, [1938?] here they walk in, about five or six o'clock—because I don't think I was in the store when they came in. And they got experienced help (like from Ivey's and places like that), like an experienced man in hardware and different departments. They got them to come in, and they worked all night and took inventory—I didn't, but they did.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
That was 1939 or '38?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
It was, I guess, about '38.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. And so they took inventory, and that was to find out what the store had?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
That's right.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
The store didn't know what it had in stock?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, they took inventory; they always took inventory, but not like the auditors wanted them to. So those auditors were here, it seems like a month or more. So people saw me, you see, all the time with the auditors.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did they distrust you because of that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No. But I think it raised a little suspicion, maybe, in their minds, that they didn't know what was going on.

Page 17
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Were you able to tell them?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I didn't bother.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
In other words, nobody asked you. It was just kind of a sense of unease.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No, it didn't bother me a bit. But see, back then they really didn't understand what auditors were, I don't think. But anyhow we would work; we'd go to work anywhere from eight to nine in the morning, and some nights we were working 'til ten or eleven o'clock there in that store.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, what was the upshot of bringing in the auditors? What happened?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, as a result Mr. Smith retired. That's when Baxter Young was brought in as manager. He's the one that ran the cafè down there. And then that's when they remodeled the store and put in the self-service grocery, and did away with charging where groceries were concerned.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
You couldn't charge groceries any more?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No. And that was an uproar too.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What was the reaction to that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
To the people?
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Yes.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, they didn't like it. See, they had never had anything like that around here. These supermarkets were just more or less starting.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
So the people really just expected the store to take care of them, fulfill all their needs?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Truly, they did to a big extent.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And most of the people in Cooleemee would have bought virtually everything they needed right there at the store?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, you see, at that time they didn't have the opportunity

Page 18
(like going to Salisbury and that kind of thing) to buy. Then later, you know, when they were making better money and all and they could have cars and that kind of thing, well, you see, then that took a lot away from the store. But at one time the store was what they had to depend on, outside of calling [Mocksville?].
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, did the store buy vegetables and things like that from local people to resell?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. Sometimes people would bring in eggs and that kind of thing and trade it, see.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
So you could barter with the store?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
That's right. And, like, J.C. Sell, we always had a big ad in the Cooleemee Journal. But Mr. Sell really, in turn, spent that money in the store.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
I see, OK. Did a lot of people barter?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, it would be people who had farms, I guess, mostly. But I don't guess it was anything for the people to come in with eggs and things like that. Then they'd give them a slip of paper, you know, and then they'd turn that in, and of course in turn that paper came back to our office—just like buying anything else.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did the store sell company cloth?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Later it did; not then, but later.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Getting back to the tenant farmers, did the company sell them the cotton seed through the store? Do you remember that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No, I don't think they did do it then. At that time it was probably handled, a lot of that stuff may have been handled through Durham, you see.

Page 19
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Then the tenant farmers were expected to sell their cotton back to the store. And most of the tenant farmers were blacks?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes, they are.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And they worked on company land?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. Well, what was the square like when you came? What was down there?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, the store, you know, took up most of the … I don't know whether north, south, east or west—at any rate, that side.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
West, due west.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
And then below it was the bank and then the picture show (the movie theater).
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What did it cost to see a movie?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I don't even know; I don't remember. And then the post office. Then on the other side was the drug store, and above it was Dr. Byerly's office.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And what Byerly was that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Dr. A.B., wasn't it? Baxter?
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK, and what else?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
And "Miss Vic." [laughter]
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And a cafè?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, it was a cafè and meat market combined. One part of it was meat and one part of it was the cafè.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Who ran that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Mr. Cope did at one time, and Baxter Young. And then after that Mr. Forrest.

Page 20
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And what Forrest was that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Mr. Grimes did it one time; did it…
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK, Noah Grimes?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. He was postmaster at one time too, but he ran that.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK, I've got Mr. Cope, Baxter Young, Noah Grimes and then somebody else.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Mr. Forrest.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And which Forrest was he?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I've forgotten his name. He wasn't local; he had lived in, I don't know whether it was Statesville or somewhere. Then under the store was the barber shop.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And the barber was Mr. Morton?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Do you know his first name?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Cul, Culvin.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
How do you spell that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
C-u-l-v-i-n. C.P.: that's what his initials were. And then later it was Grimes Davis.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Tell me something about "Miss Vic." What was she like? She was Dr. Byerly's assistant or his sister?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Sister. They were a pair!
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And what do you mean by that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, of course most of the children were born at home, and Dr. Byerly and "Miss Vic" delivered them. You take Ruby Webb: had five children, and all four of hers were born at home except Jim.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

Page 21
W. WELDON HUSKE:
You were talking about "Miss Vic." And all the children were born at home.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes, at that time. But Dr. Byerly, it was either a son or a nephew that was up at Johns Hopkins, wasn't it? And, you know, they would keep him posted on the latest drugs. Now I had pneumonia…
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Who do you mean "they would keep him… ?" The people at Johns Hopkins?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I don't know whether it was a nephew or a son; anyway, it was somebody close to him. But I had pneumonia at the hotel; I think it was in '45. And Dr. Byerly and "Miss Vic" took care of me. It wasn't exactly '45, because Dr. Kavanagh … We didn't have a doctor, anyway, for some reason; it was during that change, maybe, when Dr. Kavanagh had been in the service, you know, and all. But he gave me a prescription, and Jack Owen Moody went down to the drugstore and got it filled for me. I know, it seems to me like I gave him three dollars or something, which would have covered it, and he came back—he didn't have enough money. So I had this bottle of medicine; it looked like chocolate. And somebody was there at the hotel who was a nurse. And I said, "I wonder what this is." She said, "It's quinadine." I said, "What in the world is he giving me quinadine for?" But anyway, when he came that night I asked him what he was giving me. He said, "That is cocodiazine." That's when the sulpha drugs first came out; that's what he was giving me. But the reason he knew about that was on account of whoever that was; he'd keep him posted on that stuff.
But the ground was slick with ice, you know, and I just worried to death about him falling, because he was getting age on him then.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
In '45?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
And Ms. Moore told him about it, and he said, "Tell her not to

Page 22
worry about me." But now, if they had a patient that was sick (I mean really sick), why, they'd sit with them all night. "Miss Vic'd" go in and give them baths and all that kind of thing.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
They were employed by the company?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
He was on his own?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
He was on his own, yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And was he the only doctor here for a long time?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. Now, Dr. Kavanagh came here in '38. Dr. Drewery was here before Dr. Kavanagh, I believe.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. And so what was the quality of medical care? Dr. Byerly and "Miss Vic" were pretty much all the town had.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes, but you got good medical care, because you got all that personal attention that you don't get today.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, were they local people? How did they come to be here? Do you know?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well now, the Byerlys lived over here in Davidson County.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And so they were here when…
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
They were here when I got here.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Do you think they were here when the mill first opened, around there?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I don't know. You'll have to ask somebody older than me.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, do you remember when the Episcopal church started the clinic?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No, but it was started when I came here.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
It was already operating? Do you know anything about how that came to get started?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No. But, you know, Ike Huske was the clerk over at

Page 23
the church for years, and there ought to be some minutes somewhere that's got a lot of that information in it.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. We'll have to try and find that.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Now Wilson Wagner's the clerk now; whether he's got any of it or now I don't know, or whether those books are stored away over at the church, I don't know. But a lot of that stuff should be in the minutes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. Well, was Mrs. Walter T. Green the nurse when you got here?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And what was her work like? What did the clinic do?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, didn't she sort of come under the county health department too?
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Later she did, yes.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
What did she do? Well, you know, back then you used to have to take malaria shots—I remember that. You could go up there and get your malaria shots and it didn't cost you anything. And the schoolchildren, they got their shots. But that was open to anybody and everybody.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
She used to check all the household help to see if they were in good enough health to serve food in the homes. And some of them had to go and take treatments there for venereal disease.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
So it was open to anybody.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And any emergencies that arose, like broken arms, they'd bring it to her. And then if she had to get them somewhere else she'd see that they got to a hospital or somewhere.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, did she really compete with Dr. Byerly?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
No, they worked together.

Page 24
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did he go to the clinic, or offer time to it? Do you know if there was that kind of arrangement?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
You see, we don't really know.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Mrs. Green was Episcopalian, and so was Dr. Byerly.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And the church actually supported that clinic for a while, didn't it?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, the mill contributed.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
The church and the mill together, I think. There's something in one of those copies you have that tells about it.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. Well, until the clinic was opened, then, you had to pay Dr. Byerly for your medical needs?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I know Baxter Young fell down the basement steps over there and broke his shoulder. And he went to Dr. Byerly and he set that collarbnne, or whatever it was. Anyway, it cost him thirty-five dollars. And then when Dr. Kavanagh came back from being in the service, I remember Cain Brodgen had to take one of the children down there for a broken arm, and it cost seventy-five dollars; and he about to have a heart attack. But, of course nothing was really high, you know, in the sense of today's living then, but I guess in comparison it was just about as bad. But when you look back and think what you got your medical care for, it's nothing.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
I know something else interesting about Dr. Byerly. He liked to give Christmas presents to all his friends. And he'd give us a pair of pillow cases or something like that every Christmas, something that came from Dr. Byerly. And "Miss Vic" always gave presents on her birthday.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
On her birthday? To whom?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
I guess to friends.

Page 25
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, do you know if he bartered any for his services? Do you think?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I don't know. I would think that there were probably at the time some people that didn't have the money and paid him that way. I don't know that for sure. But when you read back in those times and all, especially like during the Depression, there's a possibility that he did.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Now Dr. Byerly had three wives. And when I came here as a bride…
W. WELDON HUSKE:
In 19…
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
'34 … his second wife and "Miss Vic" came over to welcome me to Cooleemee. And I just loved that afternoon; they were so warm and welcoming. And one brought me a little jar of jelly, and the other one brought me a little bouquet of flowers. And I just loved that; I remember writing home about it. That was typical of the town then, too.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
They say that Dr. Byerly said that the first time he married he married for love; and the second time he married he married to feather his nest. And the third time he married he married for companionship. But all of his wives were related some way: in-law or something.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
[laughter] Oh really?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Everything was within the family.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did they keep dying? Is that why he remarried so many times?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Oh yes, they all died.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well then, "Miss Vic" never did marry?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No, no, she never married.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What was it like to be a young woman coming to a mill town? Did you find companionship?

Page 26
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, see, staying down at the hotel I really had a good time.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What did you do on a date? I mean, what was social life like?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, that's a good question. Well now, really young people today don't know how to have a good time like we did. There weren't anything for maybe six of us (three couples) to get in a car and maybe go over there and sit on the rocks, you know, at the dam, and sit there and sing and all like that.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And was the park up on the hill ever used?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
That was there. And Mr. C.E.B., in the summertime they had what they called a vesper services up on Park Hill. You know they had a bandstand up there.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What was it like?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, just like any that you've seen in parks.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
It was like a little round pavillion-type thing on top of the hill.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Then the mill owned it, then?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Oh yes, they owned that land. And they used to have services up there, all the churches together.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And then on Sunday afternoon they'd have band concerts, and the people would gather around and listen.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, who made up the band?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
We had a band made up of local people.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Local people?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And Mr. C.E.B. Robinson directed it some, and Mr. Nail did.

Page 27
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes, Floyd Nail. They used to practice up above the store: see, what later was the furniture department, it was the recreation center. And the library was up there above the store too.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And so the mill ran the recreation program and the library?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And Mrs. Heathman and Mrs. Isley, who also worked as recreation directors, looked after that library. And when Mary Mayne came here to follow (who did she follow?)…
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Now wait, let me get this: Ms. Heath…
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Heathman.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Mary Bell Heathman.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
H-e-a-t-h-m-a-n. She was a Bost; she was Sydney Bost's sister.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Well, she was a sister of the famous Bost in Raleigh who was a newspaper man, known all over the state, and also of Sydney Bost.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Sydney Bost.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And Ed Bost, the son, lives between here and Salisbury.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
She was a librarian?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, she was like a social worker.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Well, they had a small collection of books which were there for the use of the people, but it was not really an organized library then. But I started to tell you that after they'd looked after that and the recreation…
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What was the recreation like?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Well, let me finish one thing… Mary Mayne came.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Mary Mayne who?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Mary Mayne came and followed them as recreation director and librarian. And she wanted to really organize the library. And I gave her my

Page 28
library textbooks to use.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And so in '34-35 the company was running a library.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
A small collection, yes. It was pretty good, though, for the people, and they enjoyed it.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
You see, the mill hired Mrs. Heathman and Mary and Mrs. Isley. And Maude Graham was in there too.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Which Mrs. Isley is that?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Charles Isley.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And who was the other one?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Maude Bost.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
And there was a Mrs. Bessent in there.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
She was Maude Graham, and married Mr. Bost.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Ed Bost. But the band used to practice up in the other area, which was the recreation part.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
When did they practice? At night?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes, or…
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Late in the afternoons.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes, late in the afternoons. And you'd be out on the square and this noise would be sailing out the window. It was about to… [laughter]
W. WELDON HUSKE:
[laughter] Well, when they came to perform on Sunday afternoon was it noise or was it good?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
It was pretty good.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
They were pretty good. They have pictures around here of the

Page 29
band and all.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
I'd like to get copies of that.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And Mr. Riddle used to play at church; along with the organ they had him to play. He was a member of the band.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Which Mr. Riddle? Matt Riddle?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No, Lacy, Annie's daddy.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. And what did he play?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Was it a trombone?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I don't know; I'm not sure.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. So for social life you'd go down to the river and sit around the dam, or go up to the park.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Or go to the movie. But the movie closed after a while; I was so disappointed when it did. I was thrilled when I came to Cooleemee and found that it had a movie.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, you know, Eaton's had it there for a while, and then somebody else—I've forgotten. But he was the owner, wasn't he?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Fred Owen. And he was also an expert craftsman with wood. He liked to build beautiful things. And he saved us when the secretary door was broken; he fixed it for us. But you were asking about the prices of the movies. As I recall it, when I came here it was ten cents for children and twenty-five for adults.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Yes. And that was independent of the mill? Somebody was running that like a company?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. But, you know, really Cooleemee to me, I mean it was a nice place to live. There were nice people here. And, like I say, you made your own entertainment and all, but we had bridge clubs.

Page 30
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
The Cotton Club.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
The Cotton Club for the young
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Now what was the Cotton Club?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, Mr. and Mrs. C.E.B. started that. And my understanding is it was started for these teenage girls (when they came out of high school, wasn't it, rather than when they were in high school), really to help them.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Many of those girls never went off to school, and so they were trying to give them something in the way of recreation: just a way to get together and have some good wholesome recreation.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, and not only that, etiquette and all that kind of thing was brought in too.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes, that's true.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
See, with that kind of a life, probably a lot of them wouldn't have gotten it otherwise. And then, like I say, he formed that choral group.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And then we had a Federated Music Club in the town for some years.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. And the Home Extension Club, homemakers—what did they call it?
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. The Federated Music Club: what did that do?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
The North Carolina Federated Music Club, we met regularly and went to the annual meetings in other places, and had guest speakers and guest musicians in here. And the members practiced and performed [laughter] . It was quite active.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
It really was.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And we had studies of different things, or different people in the club would give programs.

Page 31
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Oh, we always had a study course.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And was that independent of the mill, or did the mill concern itself with it?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
No, this was just a group of people who were interested. And the Robinsons really were leaders in all of these cultural things; they contributed greatly to this town.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
You know I was president of that music club more years than I should have been.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
If there hadn't been the Robinsons, were most of the managers or managers' wives the people that were interested in these things?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes, and some other people too.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, was it done to try and broaden the horizons of the community?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Well, people who had an interest in music, of course, were included, and then, as you said, some of the managers and those people. And we had Louise Stroud from Mocksville, didn't we?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I don't remember.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
I think so, and Helen Patner.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, she taught school out here.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
But why did you do it? They were open to…
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
For interest, yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And they were open to the public, and you would announce it in the newspapers?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
No, it was an organization; you belonged to it, a membership.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
You were asked to join, really.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And what was the choral group you were talking about?

Page 32
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, that was the Cotton Club girls, really.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And they would sing and give performances?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. And then I guess they and the Music Club together, you know we did some good things: like at Easter, put on things at the school for the public.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Gave an Easter cantata every year too.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
At the public school?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
In a church.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
In a church.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. And didn't we do some things up in the auditorium?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes, I believe we did. And this is going back a little bit, but you asked what they did in the way of recreation. One thing they did was have a regular storyhour for the small children. And they would celebrate different holidays, and they'd have a parade or do something like that. I remember dressing Manning up as a pilot when he was about four years old, or five, and he marched in the parade.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
[laughter] Where would the parade have gone?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
It went from the square up to Park Hill, up that way and then back down.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
[laughter] And then back down? [laughter]
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
[laughter]
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
But, now, people just didn't work in the mill and come home and go to bed—that kind of thing.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Oh, I'll tell you one thing that happened that's interesting. Mr. C.E.B. Robinson held missions about once every year or so, and he'd invite ministers. And he had two men from Canada here. And they went down

Page 33
on the square with their musical instruments. It was like a Salvation Army [laughter] ; and they had tambourines and horns and everything going. And they just whopped it up for everybody to come to church that night. And the people would gather around to see what was happening, and then they'd come up to the mission that night.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. And then Mr. Robinson had the service?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes, and the men who were visiting.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, what were you going to say, Peggy? You said people didn't just come home at night and go to sleep.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I think from all of this, you see, they just didn't work and come home. There were things for those that wanted to take advantage, which really, I think, made Cooleemee what it was.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
You don't think most mill towns had things like this?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, back then I don't think they did.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
They might have had something, but I think this was really unusual.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I don't know, Cooleemee really wasn't like the average mill town. And another thing Mr. C.E.B. did: on Good Friday he had a service. Sometimes it was in the church, and then later it was in the school auditorium. You were in there three hours, see. And you could go in whenever you could and sit for as long as you could; but it was open so you could go in at any time and leave at any time.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
The people were on shifts. Some could go one time, some another.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, what was church life like? Did everybody belong to a church,

Page 34
pretty much?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
A good many.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Many more so than now, maybe. Because, I tell you, back then we had a different class of people than we've got now.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, did the mill help the church? I mean, it gave the land to the Episcopal church, didn't it?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, it gave all churches the land. And then if the time ever came that the church had no further use for that land, then of course it reverted back to the mill—because no church has a deed to their land. And, see, that house on eight Marginal that used to be the Baptist parsonage, well, then when they decided to build that new parsonage and had no further use for that one, then the mill paid them for that house. And then they spent about ten thousand dollars remodeling it. But that's the way it worked.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did the mill give other assistance to churches? Did it help fund the Episcopal clinic?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
They were generous to all the churches, I think, when they had a chance to be.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
But see, now the Episcopal church gets money quarterly from what they call the Erwin Trust Fund; Mr. Erwin was an Episcopalian. But other churches don't get that; I think we're the only ones.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And he built an Episcopal church wherever he built a mill?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I don't know.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
I think that's what I heard.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
I heard that.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Erwin has one.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, what did the churches do in terms of social events? Did

Page 35
every little church have its own groups? Did the churches cooperate, or what?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
The Methodist church used to have chicken pie suppers. And Mrs. Click and Mrs. Moody and some of those people that are gone now… Mrs. Click had a wood cook stove in her kitchen, and they used to make those individual chicken pies, and they served it up in the Sunday school area of the church. And they'd have chicken pie, and they'd have slaw; sometimes they had oysters. But I've often said … Dr. Kavanagh used to have some pictures hanging on his walls, and they were faces. And one of them would be, like chocolate bars (do you remember that?); the other one would be cigarettes, and things like that. Well, I've often thought about the Methodist church: if that Methodist church was fixed like that you'd see chicken pies, chess pies, ice cream [laughter] —because really, that's where they got their money.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Well, our church used to have (the Episcopal church) used to have bazaars—big ones. And they'd prepare all year, and they'd have all kinds of handiwork, and then they'd have food like candies and things and cake. And then during the day they'd have that. And I think for lunch (the middle of the day meal) they'd serve a meal, but it was a lighter one. But then in the evening the people could come off work and all; they'd serve a regular big turkey dinner. And I never will forget one year (I hadn't been here many years) I made all the cranberry sauce (homemade cranberry sauce jelly made in star-shaped molds to put on the table). They were beautiful.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, was that, like, in the 1930's?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes. And then another thing that we used to do was have fairs. And who sponsored those fairs? That was the recreation department,

Page 36
I guess.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And what were the fairs like?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
They had all kinds of beautiful things like crocheted bedspreads and all kinds of handwork.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
That local people did?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And they gave prizes. I got a few prizes when I was a brand new little bride, and I just swelled with pride.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did a lot of the women in town knit and crochet and quilt, and things like that?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
They did beautiful work.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Tat, did tatting.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Would they sell things like that at the fairs? Or pay money?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
I don't remember selling; I know they had them on display and they gave prizes.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
They used to sell them, because I know one year I had knitted a bedjacket and they wanted to know how much they should ask for it. And I told them, according to the wool and stuff. And I said, "And if you don't sell it I'll take it back." So I know from that that they evidently sold some things.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Who ran them? The company, essentially, sponsored the fairs?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, whoever was the social worker or whatever you want to call it for the company.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And these bazaars and fairs were held in the great big room up above the company store.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. And was that room also used as a meeting room for workers?

Page 37
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes, because I used to have the junior music club; that's where we'd meet, up there.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
The beauty shop was up there too. You'd have to climb those outside stairs to get up there for all those things.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes, the beauty parlor was there when I came to Cooleemee. Mae Caudle had that.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
She's Mrs. Howard now; lives in Mocksville.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
And then at one time you had a dentist up there. [above drug store]
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Dr. Pearman.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
How do you spell Pearman?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
P-e-a-r-m-a-n. And then Dr. Mason later came down. And Mr. Bost had his office up there.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And what did Mr. Bost do?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
He sold bonds. But then during the war when they needed nightwatchmen (you know, so many of them were gone and all) they asked Mr. Bost if he would take a job. But he took that job, and he was a nightwatchman. And he was just real proud, you know, making some money.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Do you want to take a little break? Stretch your legs and everything? [Interruption]
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What's this about the POSA?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Over the meat market and the restaurant that was all combined there was a meeting room for the Patriotic Order of the Sons of America; they called it POS of A.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Now Mr. Jarvis could tell you more about that.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Howard Caudle belonged to that, I know.

Page 38
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Was that during the war?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
No, it wasn't a wartime thing. It's a national organization.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
I think it is.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Most people (of course it was men) had insurance with it, and also the—what is it?—Woodmen of the World. And later the union, that's where they always held their meetings.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, tell me. When you got here the mill was not organized; there was no union.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Wasn't organized. And another thing: they were in the process of putting in that big dynamo—you know, whereby they could operate on their own power if they had to.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, tell me what you know about the union, and how it came to be here.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well now, in '34, that's when the National Guard was here. But that's because of these outsiders (and I'm almost positive they came from Gastonia) who came up here to try to organize this mill and to put up a picket line to keep the people from going in. And that's why they had the National Guard here.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
How did that come to be? Were there local people working with them?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I don't know.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, what was it like? You worked here during the strike; weren't you working in the store?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well now, that wasn't a strike in '34.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, there was…
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Oh, the strike during the war; I was here then, yes. I think that was the biggest strike that they had: if I'm not sure, that lasted from

Page 39
about November to March.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Of what year?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I don't know. It had to be in there between '42 and '45, because I know it was during the war when the boys were in the service.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What was that strike like? Was the mill organized at that time?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
The mill was organized then, yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And what was the union, do you remember?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
What is it, A.F. of L.-C.I.O., but I don't think the both of those were together at that time—maybe they were.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
OK. Well, what happened to cause that strike during the war?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I imagine it may have been on account of contracts; maybe they couldn't get together on their contract.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did almost all the workers go out on strike?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well see, all workers weren't union members; some weren't. And then, see, we had instances where women worked in the mill whose husbands were overseers. Well, of course those women didn't belong to the union. But they tried to keep the mill open.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Who did? The managers?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well yes, as long as they could; but I think they finally had to close the mill altogether. And then of course picket lines were up. But the office people, you see, management had to get in there.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Was there a lot of tension in the town?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Not that I remember.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
What year are we talking about?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
That one we had in the forties, you know, that lasted from November to March. I may be wrong; somebody else may give you a better date on that.

Page 40
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
That's when your father had… Well, he was an office worker, and they had a door from the office that went down through a sort of courtyard toward the mill. They'd send him down from the office with messages into the mill. And some of the people would stand out there where he had to come out and just taunt him, you know. Oh, I could have
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
But then, on the other hand, the store was on the fence.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
How do you mean that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, you're working for management and dependent on the labor part of it for the benefit of the store, see. So you had to stay on neutral ground.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did people continue to buy at the store?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Well, they couldn't go anywhere else; most people then didn't have cars.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
And then the union had this place set up at North Cooleemee, in that brick building (I don't know whether they called it the Wall Building or what). But anyway, that's where they had to go every week to get whatever they were entitled to.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And then they'd come spend union money in your store?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
They didn't get money.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
They didn't?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
They got food; they got the staples, the basic things like flour and cornmeal and, I guess, sugar, no doubt pinto beans—you know, that kind of thing. But we lost a lot of good people then.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
How so?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, see, there was no work here, so they went north. Like some

Page 41
of them went to Akron, Ohio and different places and got jobs; and some of them didn't come back. But I do think we lost some good people during that as far as Cooleemee was concerned.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, when it was over how did it come to be over? Was the contract dispute settled?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, they evidently came to an agreement.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
And did life just kind of resume as normal?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Any time they had a strike, the people never made up that money that they lost, really.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
So it really put hardship on most.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. They had to gain something by the new contract, but even that never offset. Just like that big strike there—to be out of work all those months.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Didn't you tell me one time you thought it seemed so funny to think about the boys being abroad fighting a war, and everybody sitting around in Cooleeme?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, it wasn't just Cooleemee, it was everyplace in the country. I mean, that's just a personal opinion. But, of course the store kept right on.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did the war hurt Cooleemee in any way? What was life like during World War II?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, the main thing was the boys that had to go—I mean, it took the men out of the country.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did it take a lot of people out of the mill itself?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes. Some people, of course, were kept on account of essential jobs.

Page 42
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Your father was one of those.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
The draft board just let him stay because of his position?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Mr. Holt requested it. He was about ready to be called up.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
But then on the other hand, you see, these mills were essential to the war.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did the mill actually turn out material for the Army?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
At one time we made some khaki material—government contracts.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes, I think we did. They also made some of that black cloth for—who was the cowboy in a town that wore black all the time? They made some of his cloth. [laughter].
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Gene Autrey?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
No. Can't remember his name now, but anyway…
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, what about rations? How did the war affect daily life? Weren't there fire drills—I mean air raid drills?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Oh yes.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
We had something.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
It was at that time that they were having to do some work on the little house that we had on Center Street, and they moved us into this house at 7 Church Street where Mrs. Rice was living (and she was alone). So they told us to come over and live here while they worked on our house. And they were having air raid drills then, and Mr. Jarvis, who lived up the street, was the air raid warden on this block. And we had a grate (and all of us were sleeping in that room across the hall, in the one bedroom) and it had a fire in it. And your father was working late at the mill office, and

Page 43
somebody tapped on the door. And Mr. Jarvis said, "I'm sorry, but there's light showing, and you'll have to do something about it." And I said, "Well, we have the shades down as much as we can get them, and all we have for light in here is this grate, you know, [unknown]." He said, "Well, we'll just have to do something about it, because we can't have a little ray of light." So he came in and put ashes all over the fire and put it out.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
What about rations? Were you working at the store during the war?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Sugar was rationed.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes, and coffee, and gas.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
But you know, frankly there at the hotel I can't say that we really suffered for anything.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
We didn't suffer for anything, except we had two casualties in the kitchen. We burned out a percolator and couldn't get another one. We used an old tin coffee pot for the rest of the war. And my eggbeater stopped working, and I couldn't find one high or low, in spite of the fact that my father had a hardware store. We just couldn't get an eggbeater. And Bright Carpenter's father had a little country store way up there somewhere near Cherryville, and when she came back she brought me a small, short, inexpensive eggbeater, which was probably the last one in North Carolina! [laughter] And I still have it [laughter] ; I've never prized anything so much in my life.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Of course, the gasoline shortage, I guess, affected…
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
We had to really plan our trips to go shopping in Salisbury or anywhere, and we could hardly get home. That was one of the things that bothered me. My brothers were both overseas, and I could hardly get home to see my parents. And they were there alone and, you know, suffering it out

Page 44
with their boys overseas. And that was during that bad winter of '44.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Why was it bad?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
That was when the fighting was so intense, and so many casualties overseas. You'd listen to the news every morning at breakfast and wondered if you'd hear anything about where your family was.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I never will forget, talking about the war, VJ Day. We were eating supper (we always ate at six o'clock), and I went upstairs. I was standing there at the lavatory and I had my radio on. And it said that the war in the Pacific was over. And I don't know, you just stood there and the tears just started rolling.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
And the neighbors all gathered out in the front yard in the neighborhood on Center Street, and just stood there and looked at each other; we couldn't believe it was over. I remember that we said, "Isn't it wonderful that it's over." And then we started saying, "But it's too late for so-and-so, and too late for so-and-so." And it sort of took all the joy of the occasion out, you know.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Did a lot of women go to work in the mill since the boys were over-seas? How did they deal with the labor shortage?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, I guess that was it.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Can you think of anybody who would have done that?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Mabel can probably tell you about that.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Were there a lot of children working in the mill during the time you…?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well now, you see, you've got your labor law.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Around '34 you did, yes.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
And World War II was in the forties. So that protected that.

Page 45
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
There's one thing that didn't get in talking about in '34 when the National Guards were here. Now, that's when all the churches had prayer services.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
To pray for what?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
The situation here, because people were really afraid.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Yes.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Afraid of what?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
Violence.
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
Well, violence, yes, and this crowd that was coming in that were trying to organize (because as well as I remember it was sort of a rough crowd).
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
I remember the morning those people, the National Guard, came in. About six o'clock in the morning we heard all this noise coming down the road, the little road there in front of our house. And they were coming in, just a convoy of National Guard.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
They were coming from Salisbury?
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
From that direction; I guess they were coming from there. It was the Pine Ridge Road, you know.
W. WELDON HUSKE:
Well, did the mill request that National Guard come in?
MARGARET SKINNER PARKER:
I would think so.
MRS. ISAAC HALL HUSKE:
That was my understanding.
END OF INTERVIEW
1. The company owned some stock.