Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mareda Sigmon Cobb and Carrie Sigmon Yelton, June 16 and 18, 1979. Interview H-0115. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Learning new jobs, finding friends, and feeling proud of one's work

Yelton relates how new employees learned their jobs which leads her to describe the community the employees formed. In the process, she expresses great pride in her ability to quickly produce high quality work.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mareda Sigmon Cobb and Carrie Sigmon Yelton, June 16 and 18, 1979. Interview H-0115. 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:
How did you learn these different jobs?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
People taught us.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did the supervisors, or the other ...
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Oh, no, they'd have learners to teach you.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did your relatives teach you your jobs?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
No. My brother was bossman on the second shift.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So he was your boss?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes. I had to work harder than the rest of them, because if I wouldn't work hard they'd say, "Oh, she's your sister. That's the reason she don't work hard." But I've always worked hard, wherever I've done. I've never laid down on the job, if I got paid by the hour or if I'd get paid production.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were you getting paid production?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
No, that was by the hour. The only getting paid by production is in hosiery work.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Since you were being paid by the hour anyway, weren't you tempted to just kind of take it easy?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
No, I did my job up. I've always worked, regardless if it was by the hour or if it...
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was there a real difference, some people who really worked hard and some who didn't?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes, now there is some people like that, yes. But I never did. I always wanted to give a good day's work, regardless. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
... have some time left. But winding was a steady job. You just had to go around. I had winders on one side, and go around the end and come back. That's a steady work. You had to keep them up. You had to be fast. Then after you made the big cones, sometimes that big, you had to take them off and put another cone on and start it. I liked that pretty good.
JACQUELYN HALL:
If some people were real fast workers, would that then set a faster pace for other people?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
If you was fast, you didn't get any more, if you was paid by the hour. But they wanted you to get off as much as you could. No, when you was paid by the hour, you didn't get any more; you just got more work off for the company. But now when you're on piecework, you get what you can make.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you have some supervisors that you liked and others that you didn't like?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Oh, yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was the difference in them?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Lots of them would let you get by with more than the rest would. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Like what?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Like on the third shift, this woman and I could do the same thing. I creeled and she run the warp, but she could also creel and run the warp. I worked on the third shift for four years. I never did get used to it. We had a wonderful bossman. Since both of us could do the same thing, we'd lay down and sleep maybe two or three hours during that night. I would creel it and run it while she slept; while I slept, she would do it. And he'd come around about five o'clock. He said, "All right, girls, get up there and get them eyes open. Charl Jones"--that was the superintendent on the first shift--"will be in here in a little bit." [Laughter] And he was just wonderful.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did you work the third shift if you didn't like it? Did you have to work that shift?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You didn't have a choice of which shift you would work?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
You had to work the shift that they needed you on. And then I got on the second shift. I never did work the first shift in textiles; I just worked the second.
JACQUELYN HALL:
They were mostly women that you were working with?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
No, not in textiles. There were doffers, fixers. Too, there for a while they didn't have anyone on the quill machine. They called it the quill machine, that you take off of the spinning frames. You had to clean the yarn off of them. There for a while, when I was on the second shift, and we'd catch up. I took that job on, too, to help them out. Then I have swept. [Laughter] I'd take the brooms and go down the alleys and sweep.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You and this woman helping each other out, did that happen a lot? A woman who worked in hosiery was telling us the other day about the person who worked next to her putting her work onto her pile--she was an inspector--putting her dozens onto her work so she would have to do more work without realizing.
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
Oh, yes, that used to be bad in hosiery miils. And they'd also come in early in the morning--used to, could come in any time--and pick out all the good work and leave all the bad for the rest. Oh, that was common, but you don't do that anymore now, or they didn't where I worked. They've really got strict rules and things to go by now.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But things like that didn't happen in textiles?
CARRIE SIGMON YELTON:
No.