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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Betty and Lloyd Davidson, February 2 and 15, 1979. Interview H-0019. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Impact of modernization in weaving

Betty and Lloyd Davidson describes some of the changes they witnessed as a weaver over the course of nearly five decades. Noting that she when she first began weaving she operated two looms, Davidson explains that by the time she started to work at the Plaid Mill in Burlington, North Carolina, she was responsible for six looms. In addition, Lloyd Davidson describes how the type of fabric being woven impacted the type of weaving done and he explains how modernization and new technology increased the number of looms operated by weaver. When he left the mill in 1956, he was responsible for thirty-five looms. In addition, Betty Davidson, who was still working as a weaver at the time of the interview in 1979, notes that she was presently working for the third generation of the Copland family.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Betty and Lloyd Davidson, February 2 and 15, 1979. Interview H-0019. 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

ALLEN TULLOS:
You've seen a lot of different changes?
BETTY DAVIDSON:
Oh, so many.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Is there any way you can think back on some of those changes, maybe in your work, the pace, how things used to be compared to what they became?
BETTY DAVIDSON:
Well, when I went to work I was only running two looms and then I went to four loom and then I went to six looms. Then we went to eight, and then on it was according to whatever styles was on.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Do you remember when it was you went from two to four or eight?
LLOYD DAVIDSON:
You went to about six when you came to Burlington.
BETTY DAVIDSON:
Yes.
LLOYD DAVIDSON:
From pure silk to rayon you went from four looms to six. Then gradually climbing ever since. As you modernize, you know, back then you would fill your own shuttles, you know, put in a lot of your break outs, and all those things. But eventually went to magazines, you know, and shuttle-change looms. Then they got battery fillers, shuttle fillers. So that just give you more and more looms to look after, but you had battery fillers to fill the batteries, you didn't have to do that. Then you went to cloth doffers. You had to take off all the cloth, you know, as you got a roll finished, someone taken that off. So you went more to just weaving. Before, at the first, you did it all. You did your battery filling, you did your taking off cloth, you did your smashing, and all these things. But as you modernize, you just take more looms and taken off a lot of the other work you had to do. When I left the mill in '56, I was running, I think, thirty-five looms. I went from two to thirty-five over that period of time. And now I think she'll run anywhere from seventy-five to a hundred. So it's through modernization, and she's running looms now that I've never even seen, such as push-button looms. And some of the modern looms I've never even seen. I mean, it was still shuttle-change when I came out in '56, but now it's bobbin-change or, I think they have looms that don't even have shuttles now; they call them shuttleless looms. I've never seen them, but that's how it's changed over the years.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What about your parents? Did they like their work?
BETTY DAVIDSON:
Yeah, my father and mother both loved weaving, and the ones that fixed looms loved fixing looms.
ALLEN TULLOS:
And did they ever say anything about their work that you remember?
BETTY DAVIDSON:
No, they just liked it, and my father liked farming. And I think it's real interesting fact, now my father worked for Mr. Jim Copland in Danville, and then I came to Burlington and hunted him up, and told him I was John Parker's daughter, and he gave me a job. And I worked for him a Plaid Mill all those years. And then retired. And now I'm working for his great-grandson——four generations.
LLOYD DAVIDSON:
Grandson.
BETTY DAVIDSON:
Three generations. And I'm still working for a
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did you ever thing about going into any other kind of work?
BETTY DAVIDSON:
Hm-mmm. I never did want to do anything else. I just love weaving. It's real interesting. You learn so many different things.