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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Julius Fry, August 19, 1974. Interview E-0004. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Social divisions within a working community

Fry describes the stigma of being a "lint-dodger" in Lumberton, North Carolina. Although the two mills in the town provided work for most of the residents, Fry explains that those who did not work in the mill acted as though they were superior and that mill workers were seen as second class citizens. For Fry, the impact of this social hierarchy was another catalyst for his advocacy of workers' rights.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Julius Fry, August 19, 1974. Interview E-0004. 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

BILL FINGER:
During those ten years, you've mentioned some things, NRA and. . . what struck you the most about this mill time. Was it the company store, was it your co-workers, what was it?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, the thing that struck me the most was the stigma that we had because we were lint dodgers. The people that didn't work in the plant and who didn't live exactly on the village thought that they were better than we were. And some of them probably weren't making as much money as we were, even during that time. But they weren't cotton mill workers, they weren't lint dodgers.
BILL FINGER:
What did they do?
JULIUS FRY:
Well, a barber for instance, or maybe a clerk in a store, something in that nature.
BILL FINGER:
But there was no other industry, I mean, there was the mill and that was all that was there.
JULIUS FRY:
Well, it was a farming town and there had to be some little industry there, you know, regular construction work and stuff like that. But not anything of any large consequence. Those two mills, those were the payroll for the town. And there's just such a feeling of second class citizenship, because the people uptown were "better" than we were. That was the main thing. And I guess the basic difference.
BILL FINGER:
Did you all ever talk about that at the time?
JULIUS FRY:
Oh, we resented it. And there have been writings about this, one expression of it would be that sometimes the uptown people like the barbers or somebody, would come down to court one of the girls in the mill village, there was a mill village there. And some of the guys would lay around and rock their automobile, that sort of stuff. It was just an outlet for the resentment that they had for the difference they had in status.