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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lacy Wright, March 10, 1975. Interview E-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Better wages and living conditions for Cone Mill workers

Wright offers his opinion on why the flying squadrons never did come to the Cone Mills in order to entice Cone workers to join the labor movement in 1934. Wright believes that Cone Mills tended to have higher wages and that living conditions in Cone Mills villages were better than in other mill villages in the area. In his explanation, he describes some of the things that Cone Mills did to keep workers content in their living situations.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lacy Wright, March 10, 1975. Interview E-0017. 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

LACY WRIGHT:
Well, I'm not sure; but, I mean, they never made no attempt anywhere.
WILLIAM FINGER:
That's real odd. That's what I've heard before, but I wondered why that was.
LACY WRIGHT:
Well, I don't know. I can't tell you that. The one thing that I think could have contributed to that: now Cone Mills was always a little bit better to their help, and paid a little better (higher) wages than numbers and numbers of other mill companies. Not a whole lot; there wasn't a great big difference there. But now, when we were living on the villages there was lots of things that they did for us that saved us money.
WILLIAM FINGER:
What kind of things?
LACY WRIGHT:
Well, there were numbers of things.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did they have a company store?
LACY WRIGHT:
They had company stores, and they sold a good quality of goods. Now that's one thing: they sold a good quality of goods. And they were in line with the prices. And if you got in bad circumstances they would see that you had something to eat.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Did they give you loans? Would they lend money?
LACY WRIGHT:
In other words, you run your grocery bill by the week. And if you got down sick they didn't cut you off the first week. They kept going. Now then, if you built up a record there, and after they'd done it to you and you'd gone back to work, if you didn't try to pay some of that money back, why then if you had a problem again it might be hard for you, see? Now one thing was they gave us all our electric current. You see, it was generated down at the plants, in the mill down at Indian River. And they sold us coal for six dollars a ton when it was eight and ten dollars if you didn't live on the village. They sold you stove wood for your stove for $3.50 a cord. They kept the streets up pretty well. Now, they even had horses and mules, used back in them days to deliver coal and wood with, and they put men out with ploughs and plowed your garden in the spring of the year. They were much better to us than they were in numbers and numbers of other cotton mills and numbers of other textile mills.