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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Carrie Lee Gerringer, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0077. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Lung problems associated with work in the textile mills

Gerringer describes how after the textile mills installed air conditioning, they closed up the windows that had previously been used to help with air circulation. According to Gerringer, the work rooms were filled with dust and many workers had lung problems as a result. Gerringer never experienced any health problems resulting from her fifty years of working in the mill, but she describes the problems of a neighbor who had also worked in the mills. Moreover, all of her children, who began working in the mills as teenagers, were beginning to experience health problems, such as emphysema. Her comments here are indicative of some serious health implications of work in the textile industry.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Carrie Lee Gerringer, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0077. 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

DOUGLAS DENATALE:
If it was like now, it must have been awfully hot in the mill then, too.
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Well, it was cooler than it is now when they got air conditioning down there. They'd open all them windows back yonder in that new part. It was all windows, which they closed them up now, just stopped them up with brick and this here panelling or something or other. And there ain't no way to see out down there, and no air.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
It was actually cooler back then?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Oh, yes. If you opened them windows, that air would come through there, mmm-mm. Law, when a good breeze would come through, you'd feel it. [Laughter] We enjoyed it; I did. I liked it. I don't care anything about air conditioning. It's always got a heavy feeling to me. Which I ain't got no lung trouble. I know that, because I've been checked enough that. . . .There's a lot of them down there. . . . My oldest daughter there, she smokes like a stovepipe, and she can't hardly get her breath down there. So I don't know what it is in there. If you stand up here against the wall and look back. . . . You know, they burn their lights all day. And you can just see the dust in the air part.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Is it dusty?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Oh, it's dusty down there. I reckon it still is; it was when I was down there. You'd just get up against the wall and look back through there, and you could just see the dust.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Did that ever give people problems?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Oh, yes. This lady that lived down here-she was one of my good neighbors-died. And she never smoked nor used tobacco in her life, and her lungs was just beat up.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Who was that?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Ethel Hearne.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Did that happen to a lot of people?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Yes. My daughter's got it bad. She did work out there, but they put her in the card room. It's just as bad. But she says the job's easier on her than the winding. But she said you could see that dust in the card room up there; when she gets home, she can't hardly breathe. She's going to have to do something, I don't know what. All of them smoke but one, our youngest one; she don't smoke. And they've all got a touch of emphysema or something.