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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Barbara Hanks, August 10, 1994. Interview K-0098. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

From rubbing and packing, on to inspection

Hanks's career at White Furniture Company began in "rub and packing," the final stage in the furniture production process. Older employees helped Hanks learn how to polish and pack assembled furniture, and before long, Hanks had risen to become an inspector.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Barbara Hanks, August 10, 1994. Interview K-0098. 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

PATRICK HUBER:
Do you remember what your first day was like at White's?
BARBARA HANKS:
Yeah, weird [Laughter] because I had never worked in furniture. I started out in rub and packinq. I had to rub the furniture and sand it and make sure it was smooth, you know, shine it up, gloss it up or whatever. Let's see. I can't remember how it was. We used--. It was kind of weird cause, you know, when you rubbed the furniture you used this, like steel wool, and I thought that was really weird because you wouldn't think you'd put nothing like that on a piece of furniture. I mean, it cleaned it up. It got all that oil and stuff off of it. I learned about the different types of polish--. I learned a lot really in the time I was there that I didn't know about furniture. This is a piece of White's furniture. [Barbara is showing Patrick a piece of her furniture.] We done messed it up. The people was real nice. They help you out a lot. Really, the older ones there, you wouldn't think it, but they would help you a lot.
PATRICK HUBER:
How would they help you out?
BARBARA HANKS:
Like some of the short cuts that, you know, after a while you'll learn them, you know, how to do it better, and they would just point out things like, when I was on rubbing and packing you'd have to pull the drawers out and clean it all up and make sure it was all sanded and stuff.
PATRICK HUBER:
What other kind of short cuts would the old timers there show you?
BARBARA HANKS:
I don't know. Well, not really, I can't say they'd short cuts, they just--. I reckon you have to be there to really understand [Laughter] what I'm talking about. I ain't really thought about it. I worked there a little over a year, and then I got the final inspecting job. That was really a shock to me because I didn't think I had been there long enough. But what they was really looking for was just a normal eye, you know, instead of looking into the wood just seeing, you know, what you could just see normally. After you've been working there a while you look more into the wood than the outer. Then you could see, you know, the little nicks and stuff that a lot of people really wouldn't notice, but when you work there you notice it cause you see it everyday and stuff. I really like that. I sure hated it when they shut down. I really liked working at White's.