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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nell Putnam Sigmon, December 13, 1979. Interview H-0143. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Pride in her work as a glove maker

Sigmon starts by explaining why she preferred to work in a locally-owned factory as opposed to one owned by a Northern corporation. When her husband fell ill, she told her boss that she would have to quit; however, she was a very good glove maker, so he sent her home with a sewing machine to do piecework. She felt great pride in the quality of her work.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nell Putnam Sigmon, December 13, 1979. Interview H-0143. 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:
Do you see any differences in the way different companies treat their hands?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes. It's a northern bunch that bought out this other place, and I'd a lot rather work for local people.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why is that?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
I don't know. Naturally, when you work for a bigger place, you've got to be more particular. They just like things different and everything. Up here, we're just one big family.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Which was run by northern …
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
They bought the Newton Glove. The bigger the place is, the more… I don't know whether it's all that different. There's still some of them works up there, a lot of them, that I did work with. Some's retired. But it's not many of them that's got machines at home. But after I got my machine at home, I just hung onto it; it's good.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So it was when your husband got sick that the company gave you a machine?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you ask them to do that?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
I told them I was going to have to quit, because my children were in school and I just couldn't get out and leave them and be there every day like maybe I would if he hadn't been sick. They asked me if I would consider taking a machine at home, and I told them I didn't know. So I talked it over with him, and he said, "Whatever you want to do." So I did; I took it. He left it up to me to do whatever I wanted to, so I took it, and I've had it ever since. I've got it in the back of the kitchen. I put it out on the back porch in the summertime.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why don't many people have machines at home?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
I don't know. I reckon they felt like I was a good hand. They'd let me make some of the samples, anyway. [laughter] They used to laugh, said, "Let Nell and Myrtle make the samples, and the rest of us fill the orders." [laughter] So I said, "Yeah, that's the way to do it." [laughter] So I have to laugh Myrtle and me did make pretty gloves, and we made all good gloves, and I reckon that's why they always said that. "Let Nell and Myrtle make the samples, and us fill the orders." [laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
The other girls said that?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were they teasing you? Were they kind of jealous?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
They was teasing. They knew it was the truth, though. [laughter] We always did make pretty gloves.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were the other girls a little bit jealous, do you think?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Well, they might have been. [laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Is Myrtle a friend of yours?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes. Myrtle Bolick. She was a friend of mine. She's retired. She's older than I am. Her husband's dead, too.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did it take to make a pretty glove? What did you have to do?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
It's just got to be neat, and the seams have got to be so neat and even. Naturally, you get up on it, you were naturally going to make a pretty glove. Of course, some of them would run off, then have to sew over it, and different.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were you very fast?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes, I was. But I've slowed down now. I guess I could make a hundred dollars a week, but I don't. I usually make about sixty. I don't want to make more than what I'm supposed to, because I'm on my husband's Social Security. And really, I worked hard all my life, and I think I deserve a break.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I should say.
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
And I said I had raised my children, and we give them both a good education. And I've waited on my husband and buried him. And I don't know, I think I've been a good wife and a good mother to my family, and I think I deserve a break.