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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Oscar Dearmont Baker, June 1977. Interview H-0110. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Working for Conover Furniture during the Great Depression

Baker discusses working for Conover Furniture during the Great Depression. Baker worked for Conover during its transition of ownership from Walter Baker to Jim Broyhill. Regardless of the company's financial troubles, Baker argues that the company stayed in business throughout the Depression. Hours were reduced, but most were able to keep their jobs. For Baker, this ensured that he was able to keep working and avoided going on relief during the economic crisis.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Oscar Dearmont Baker, June 1977. Interview H-0110. 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

PATTY DILLEY:
Where were you working when the big Depression came, back in the late twenties and the early thirties?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Down here at the Bradys'.
PATTY DILLEY:
What happened to the plant during the Depression? Did the people keep working there?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Some, yes. And some would maneuver around this place trying to find something else.
PATTY DILLEY:
So the plant wasn't in full production during that time.
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
It was running.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did the wages go down any?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
They never was up.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were you working there at the plant?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Some off and on.
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Do you remember any time when the plant there ever closed down? Did they ever close down while you were working there?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Just altogether?
PATTY DILLEY:
Yes.
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
No, it would run, but what they did, they wouldn't work on Saturdays a lot of times. A lot of times you had to work on Saturdays. In other words, they tried to fix it so they could lap it out so that they could work a week. But they cut out the Saturday work and all that.
PATTY DILLEY:
So there was always some kind of work during the Depression that you all …
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
You all never had to go on any kind of relief or anything.
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
No.
PATTY DILLEY:
Did a lot of people around here have to?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Yes, there was.
PATTY DILLEY:
During the Depression, what kind of places were the ones that went out of business?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
I just can't remember the places, but there was a lot of it wasn't working. And in that ration business you couldn't get but just so much stuff out of the store at a time.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were there a lot of the cotton mills closed down?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
I don't recall whether they all closed down, but I think they cut down on their hours and tried to spread it out.
PATTY DILLEY:
So people weren't able to work as much.
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
Were you working at Conover Furniture when the Broyhills took over?
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Yes.
PATTY DILLEY:
So the plant kept on in production the whole time.
OSCAR DEARMONT BAKER:
Broyhill is the one that's bought it out. In other words, to where I'd say it was safe. It's grown.