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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eunice Austin, July 2, 1980. Interview H-0107. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

World War II brings change to the textiles industry

Austin worked making full-fashioned hose at Ridgeview Hosiery Mill in Newton, North Carolina. She recalls that World War II brought changes to the industry, including initiating women into traditionally male jobs and eliminating full-fashioned hose altogether.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eunice Austin, July 2, 1980. Interview H-0107. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
Were there mostly women working on your shift, or were there some men?
EUNICE AUSTIN:
Both.
JACQUELYN HALL:
About what proportion?
EUNICE AUSTIN:
I imagine it was about as many men as it was women, because the men had to run the machines. They didn't have any women on those machines at that time. I imagine it was about equal.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What do you mean, the men ran the machines?
EUNICE AUSTIN:
A full-fashioned machine is as long as from that door over to that door, or maybe a little longer. There was different steps they had to take in running those machines, and it was kind of heavy work. They had to lift these gears. It's been so long I can't remember too much just exactly how it was, but it was a hard job for a woman. But during the War they did teach women to do it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
During World War II.
EUNICE AUSTIN:
Yes. Because there was so many of the men had to go into service that they taught some women to do that. Right after the War all that was discontinued. They didn't even make full-fashioned hose like that. They started making everything the circular hose. Those full-fashioneds, you know, had a seam right down the back, and they quit making them after the War.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you make more money running machines?
EUNICE AUSTIN:
Oh, yes, they made more. They really didn't have to work as hard as we did; it was just a little more heavier work than the topping of the full-fashioned hose.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So the toppers didn't make as much as the …
EUNICE AUSTIN:
No, they didn't make as much as the men that ran the machines.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you think that was fair?
EUNICE AUSTIN:
I was happy to have a job. I couldn't have done that job. I don't think I could have done that. I was satisfied with what I was getting.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you like doing that a lot better than doing housework?
EUNICE AUSTIN:
Oh, yes, much better.