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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Christine and Dave Galliher, August 8, 1979. Interview H-0314. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Going to work in the textile mills at the age of fifteen

Christine Galliher talks about her first job at the textile mills in Elizabethton, Tennessee, in 1927. At the time, Christine was only fifteen years old—a year younger than restrictions required. Nevertheless, she explains that it was still easy to get a job because employers were willing to look the other way with matters such as age. Although later Christine indicates that she went to work at such a young age out of economic necessity, here she suggests that working in the mills was "the only thing there was around here to do at that time."

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Christine and Dave Galliher, August 8, 1979. Interview H-0314. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
You were supposed to be sixteen before you could start, weren't you?
CHRISTINE GALLIHER:
Yes. The fence is still around it, I suppose. Everybody just at the gates standing there, and the foremen would come out and hired the ones they wanted to work. But then later on they had the personnel office, so everything went through personnel. But at that time, at the very beginning, they didn't have it. You just went down to the gate, and the foremen would come out to the gate and look over the crowd and say, "I'll take you, and I'll take you," like that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you make them think you were older than you were?
CHRISTINE GALLIHER:
I just told them I was a year older than I was. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
You were fifteen at the time?
CHRISTINE GALLIHER:
Yes. But they didn't care. They could have looked at me and told that. If they had wanted to really know, they would have known better.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I guess you don't know Effie Parson, but she went to work down there one summer when she was fourteen, and she was telling us that she took high heels with her down there and put on high heels.
CHRISTINE GALLIHER:
Looked a little older?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes. [Laughter]
CHRISTINE GALLIHER:
I was a little old runt, and I didn't weigh more than a hundred pounds, and anybody could have looked at me and told that I really didn't look as old as whatever I was. You know, if you're built robust and big and tall, you just sort of fudge a little better on your age when you're young. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Where did you say you were born?
CHRISTINE GALLIHER:
Here in Elizabethton.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What year were you born?
CHRISTINE GALLIHER:
1912.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How come you went down there to get a job?
CHRISTINE GALLIHER:
It was about the only thing there was around here to do at that time. And I just wanted to go and get a job; I don't know.