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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Millie Tripp, August 12, 1994. Interview K-0112. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Weathering a plant closing through friendships with coworkers

Tripp remembers the closing of the White Furniture Company in Mebane, a stressful, protracted process that took four years. She relied on friendships with coworkers to reduce the impact.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Millie Tripp, August 12, 1994. Interview K-0112. 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

VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
How long was it from the time you heard about the sale until the factory closed?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Well, the factory actually didn't close until this June and that was at the end of '89. No, well, that was in '85, excuse me.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
Right. '85 was the sale?
MILLIE TRIPP:
That was the time, uh, huh. Then we stayed there until December of '89, and right after the Christmas holidays we started going to High Point.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
That was in '89. So you never saw the last day of the factory?
MILLIE TRIPP:
No. We, of course, leave from Mebane everyday and a couple of us went by after the sale to see the people.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
What was it like your last day at White's?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Well, it almost wasn't--. The last day we were packing up our things and getting them ready to be sent over. That packing that wasn't--. I can't remember who was working during the holidays at that point. It was sort of distressful, and, of course, not knowing what to expect other than my superior came down and talked with us some days before we left.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
To talk about the transition, your new responsibilities?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Yes, and they even sort of seeing what we knew and what we did and then he planned, more or less. I was going to be his assistant. What we were going to do was we went over it and so forth.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
Did you get the same pay when you made the move?
MILLIE TRIPP:
I'm thinking we got a little more pay, I can't remember, to be honest with you, but I don't feel that I was hurt financially.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
[pause] It's been different for you than for some other people that I've met who didn't live in Mebane and had to leave White's. They lost the connection to the town and some of the people there. Do you think that since you still lived here and had a business were able to keep in contact with people in the factory? Did you find that to be true?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Yes, that helped in my situation. Helped my situation with having four or five of the people I had worked with go with me, you know, together. We were coming back to Mebane all the time, and we were talking to the plant all the time even in our jobs, so we kept that connection as much as we could and enjoyed that. [Clearing her throat] In fact, Fletcher Holmes, I talked with him this week. . I see Margaret at church and Mr. White. So we see--. We miss a lot of people, of course, but yet we still have more connections, there's another two that just went out. I'm sure by us continuing to be working all the time in the same--. in the same catalogues. I felt more for those people who didn't have that continuity.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
Going to different jobs?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Well, all of us kept our same situations. We might be doing a little differently, yet it's the same. You knew you job. You didn't really have to learn. All of us had been in the job for a long time so we knew well enough that we could adjust to what changes they decided to make on us.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
So what was the hardest change that you had to make?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Well, I suppose, the traveling situation, and it takes all your time.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
Had that discouraged anyone of the women that moved with you to maybe stop working?
MILLIE TRIPP:
No.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
No! You all continued?
MILLIE TRIPP:
Uh, huh.
VALERIE PAWLEWICZ:
That's a great commitment for a long commute.
MILLIE TRIPP:
It is, but I think people like it. I like it. It's sort of a hassle, I mean, you get tired and just like any other job. It isn't, say, boring, you know what I mean? And, of course, with the commute we have, right now, we have six in the van and there's talk going on. So it isn't anything like having to drive by yourself.