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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with J. D. Thomas and Lela Rigsby Thomas, November 14, 2000. Interview K-0507. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Cameraderie at a textile mill

Lela remembers her job at a textile mill. She loved her work, largely because of the cameraderie at the mill, a sense of family that extended out into the wider community as well.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with J. D. Thomas and Lela Rigsby Thomas, November 14, 2000. Interview K-0507. 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

ROB AMBERG:
Did you do a bunch of different jobs in the mill?
LELA RIGSBY THOMAS:
I was mostly chief inspector on all the patches that were made. They more or less came by me, and I would okay them and send them out to the customer. That's what I did.
ROB AMBERG:
Did you like that?
LELA RIGSBY THOMAS:
I loved it; I really did.
ROB AMBERG:
Did you work with some good people?
LELA RIGSBY THOMAS:
Oh yes. It was like one big happy family up in this little plant on Rim's Creek.
J. D. THOMAS:
Every morning she went in, she'd take them a paper, Rob. "Well, here comes gramma with a paper!" They knew that. And she also made the coffee for them.
LELA RIGSBY THOMAS:
I was the first one there, and I'd make a big ole' urn of coffee for everybody that came in.
ROB AMBERG:
You talked about it being like a family. Did you all do things together also? Were there company parties?
LELA RIGSBY THOMAS:
Oh yeah, we had dinners and parties and all that. We enjoyed that. We knew each other just like one big family.
ROB AMBERG:
Are you in contact with any of those people still?
LELA RIGSBY THOMAS:
Yeah, I have spent a little—we'd call each other and meet each other at Rose's.
J. D. THOMAS:
Most of the time we go to Rose's on a Wednesday afternoon, and we'd see anywhere from four, five, six or to dozen people. That is senior citizen's day at Roses. [Laughter] Or Hardy's, or what have you.
ROB AMBERG:
So there's places that you go? And you'll hook up with folks, just knowing that they're going to be there?
J. D. THOMAS:
You was talking about people getting along with people. You did not have to lock doors back in those days when we were growing up. Everybody knew everybody. If Rob Amberg broke a leg and could not work, all the neighbors would gather around and do all of his work for him until he recuperated. That's the same way, when you go to all these plants and all like that. People sharing and being each other's brother's keeper.
LELA RIGSBY THOMAS:
As a matter of fact, this plant that I retired from, I was always going in and making everybody laugh. When I left they said, "Oh, this is like a morgue. Why don't you come back? This is like a morgue since you left!" I even gave the manager a fit doing things to make him laugh. [Laughter] We had a real good time.