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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 >>

Boarding houses for textile workers

Betty and Lloyd Davidson briefly describe their experiences living in a boarding house in Burlington, North Carolina, when they first lived there during the early 1930s. The boarding house, operated by a widow, provided lodging and meals for workers in the textile mills. The Davidsons note that most of the boarders were single people, although they lived there briefly after they were married in 1933.

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:
Let me go back to when you all first came here and you were living in the boarding house——Miss Denny's boarding house. Would she cook the food there or had somebody that worked there?
LLOYD DAVIDSON:
She had maids, colored maids. Course she helped. She more or less supervised and kept things in order. She was a very strict woman.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did people eat there who didn't live in the boarding house?
LLOYD DAVIDSON:
No, it was just people who was there, but she usually had about, I'd say, from twelve to fourteen, fifteen, about.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Do you remember what some of the food that you all had at the boarding house?
BETTY DAVIDSON:
It was all good. I don't remember just what.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What time to day would your meals be? Was it the same time every day?
BETTY DAVIDSON:
Yes, same time.
LLOYD DAVIDSON:
She had a set time. Course, sometimes you had to stagger that, because back then they were starting to work then around the clock, all three shifts. And they used to have just two shifts, day and night. Then you start going to eight-hour shifts and you had to arrange your meals to take care of all shifts.
ALLEN TULLOS:
There seem to be a lot of boarding houses in Burlington.
LLOYD DAVIDSON:
Well, a lot of people lived at boarding houses, and there was a lot of single people that would stay at boarding houses. They didn't have motels, and about all the single people had to stay at a boarding house.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Was Miss Denny married?
LLOYD DAVIDSON:
She was a widow. Her son and daughter lived with her. They wasn't married. Well, I said they wasn't married. Her son and I roomed together. Betty and the girl he married, they roomed together. So when we got married, Betty came in the room I was in, and he went in the room she was in. So we was just in the next rooms. So we got married at the same time. But we didn't live there very long after we was married. We got us an apartment and started keeping house.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did she start that boarding house after her husband had died?
LLOYD DAVIDSON:
She was running it when we came to Burlington. Her husband got killed a long time before that, I think. Got killed on a construction work, I think. She'd been a widow a good while then, I think.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Could it have been that she began this after he died?
LLOYD DAVIDSON:
Probably so.