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Title: Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Hopkins, Eva, interviewee
Interview conducted by Jones, Lu Ann
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 148 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-07-21, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0167)
Author: Lu Ann Jones
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0167)
Author: Eva Hopkins
Description: 149 Mb
Description: 36 p.
Note: Interview conducted on March 5, 1980, by Lu Ann Jones; recorded in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Sharon King.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series H. Piedmont Industrialization, 1974-1980, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980.
Interview H-0167. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Hopkins, Eva, interviewee


Interview Participants

    EVA HOPKINS, interviewee
    KENNETH HOPKINS, interviewee
    LU ANN JONES, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
EVA HOPKINS:
The reason I went to work in the mills when I was fourteen, quit school, my daddy got sick, and he had to go to the sanitorium.
LU ANN JONES:
Did he have tuberculosis?
EVA HOPKINS:
Un-huh.
LU ANN JONES:
That was a pretty common disease back then, wasn't it?
EVA HOPKINS:
So then I went to work. I quit school—that was during the Depression.
LU ANN JONES:
What year was that?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't know. He went when I was seven years old to the sanitorium. Then I quit school when I was fourteen. I don't know what year that was.
LU ANN JONES:
So you were born in 1918. Nineteen-thirty-two then.
EVA HOPKINS:
My dad and mother, they lived in New York, they lived in Massachusetts. Back then, mills would hire people, they would send you money to move up to come. Work, it was hard to get people up north back then.
LU ANN JONES:
Where were your mother and father born?
EVA HOPKINS:
My mother was born in Asheville, up around Asheville, and my dad was born in Monck's Corner, South Carolina, near Charleston. My dad's daddy died before he was born, and he was a preacher and a farmer. My mother's people, her daddy and mother and all of them, they were originally, his dad and granddad and all of them were from Holland, I think. They would have been Dutch. [Interruption] My granddaddy was in the Civil War, my mother's daddy. I got his discharge papers. He was [unknown] during the war.
They came to the cotton mill in Asheville when my mother was about seven years old, and they went to work in the mill. It was bad back then because the children worked twelve hours a day.
LU ANN JONES:
She was seven?

Page 2
EVA HOPKINS:
She was seven years old. They worked twelve hours a day, then they would go home for lunch. Then they would go back to work [unknown] they would go back to work and work until six at night. Then when the children come home, they'd go out and play. They'd make play houses and things and play because they was just children. Then my dad got sick, it was during the Depression. That's the reason I went to work. I could have gone on to school. Mother tried to get me to go on to school, and I wouldn't do it. I wanted to quit and make money. I wanted to go to work.
So I worked until I met my husband, we married. He worked at another mill. I worked at the Mercury Mill, used to be the old Mecklenburg, but it was Mercury when I went to work in it.
LU ANN JONES:
How many brothers and sisters did you have?
EVA HOPKINS:
I had one brother and one sister. My brother was a merchant marine sailor. He went when he was seventeen years old to join the merchant marines. My sister worked in the mill too until she married, and she moved into South Carolina. She didn't work for a while. Then she came back, and she worked at the mill off and on. At different times, she worked at different jobs. She worked at stores, and she worked at Belk's, and she worked different places. But you make more money in the cotton mills. They can say what they want to about cotton mills, but you do really make more money there than you do in these stores, clerking in stores. She went where the money was. She quit Belk's and went back to the mill.
LU ANN JONES:
You seem to know how it was when she (your mother) was working in the mill. Did she talk about that?
Yes, she said the overseers and the section men—they had what they called section men—they could whip the children back then. If they didn't stay on the job and do the job, they could spank them or whip

Page 3
them, or send them for their parents to come get them. They never did whip any of my mother's. There's seven of them that worked, and they didn't whip any of them because my grandmother had too high a temper, and she would not stand for it. She didn't work at the mill. They would whip the children if they stayed off the job too long. They'd spank them, send them back on the job.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember what she did in the mill?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yeah, she was a spinner. She ran what they called sides—to sping the yarn on. After she got older, she grew up and married, she ran warpers, and she could spool. Usually, if you worked in the spinning department, you learned to do most anything in that department. In the spinning department where I worked, there was spooling, winding, and spinning, and twisters. I learned to run all of them except warpers, creel warpers. I didn't ever learn to spin. I would have liked to because I thought I would like that better. I didn't ever learn to, I learned to do a little bit, but I couldn't run a set. They called them sets of sides. You wound by the pound, production. You'd wind these threads on these cones, take them off, and put them up. Then you put new pasteboard covers over them and wind more yarn on them. Have you ever been in a mill?
LU ANN JONES:
Un-uh.
EVA HOPKINS:
Bobbins thread, and you put them down on the spindle, and you pull it up through there and you tie it with a knot. It runs on this cone. When it gets full, you take it off, and you finish putting your cones on there. That's what you creel in what they call a ball warper. Had ball warpers and beam warpers. I creeled both. I never did learn to run them; my mother ran them.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you say it was her father who had been a farmer?
EVA HOPKINS:
Un-huh.

Page 4
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of farm did he have?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't know. They were in the mountains. It was up above Asheville, up in there. I know I've heard her talk about my grandmother taking the baby out and putting it under the shade tree and having one of the bigger children to watch it while she worked in the field with him. So evidently, they had kind of a truck farm. I don't know. But he did own a lot of property up there at one time. Things got bad, times got hard, and he sold off a lot of it. Then that's when he came to the mill, when the children were bigger.
LU ANN JONES:
He went to work in the mill in Asheville.
EVA HOPKINS:
Asheville, North Carolina.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you know what he did in the mill?
EVA HOPKINS:
I think he—they had a elevator—he ran the elevator. You had to pull it up and down by ropes back then.
LU ANN JONES:
No buttons then?
EVA HOPKINS:
No buttons. You pulled it with ropes, and I think he took bobbins from one department to another on that elevator. He never did learn to run a machine. He didn't ever do that. He died in a soldiers' home in Columbia, South Carolina.
LU ANN JONES:
How long did your mother work in the mill?
EVA HOPKINS:
My mother worked till she retired, till she was sixty-five.
LU ANN JONES:
When did you all move to Charlotte?
EVA HOPKINS:
When I was nine years old.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did you decide to move?
EVA HOPKINS:
My daddy fell off and got sick. He was in the sanitorium in Columbia, South Carolina. We lived in Rock Hill at that time. My dad and mother both working at one of the mills in Rock Hill. I can't remember just which one because they worked in two. They worked in one called

Page 5
Blue Buckle and Highland Park.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did they move from Asheville down to South Carolina?
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, after the children all got grown, they moved first from Asheville. I think they moved to Charleston, South Carolina. That's where my mother was married, in Charleston, South Carolina. Then, they just scattered, how people will do. They would get offers from another mill. They would see advertisements in the paper about it. They would want the help at another mill. They would send a fare and even pay for the freight on the furniture to have it moved. I know my mother and daddy, when I was a baby, they lived in North Adams, Massachusetts, they lived in Utica, New York. Every place they would offer more money, and they would go.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember how much they were making?
EVA HOPKINS:
No I don't, but they paid more up there than they did in the south, and that's why they went. One time, daddy and mama lived in Ontario, Canada. They worked over there in [unknown] I think it is.
LU ANN JONES:
Was that pretty usual that people would travel that way?
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh yes, they moved from place to place. Every pasture was greener. They'd go there because they'd make more money. They always came back down south. They wound up back down here. They came back home. I was born in Columbia, South Carolina, and my husband was born in Greenville, South Carolina, so we're South Carolinians.
But mother came to Charlotte when my dad was still in the sanitorium at Columbia. She came to Charlotte, and then she got him in Mecklenburg sanitorium which was closer because we didn't have any way to visit him down there. We didn't have a car. Back then, it was very few cars. Mother had some relatives here, and my cousin's husband was overseer at the Mercury in the spinning room, and he gave her a job. He would take us to see my dad at the sanitorium to visit him. That way we were closer.

Page 6
LU ANN JONES:
That's a roundabout way of getting to Charlotte. When you were growing up, did anyone come in to take care of you and your brothers and sisters while. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
Like I said, my brother was seventeen years old. He joined the merchant marine. He was twelve years older than I am. My sister's six years older than I am, so when I was six years old, my sister was twelve. I had some aunts and things, different relatives around that would look in on us and everything, but we pretty much took care of ourselves. When I went to work out here at the Mercury Mill, I worked twelve hours a day, and then the NRA came in, and they wouldn't let me work anymore until I was sixteen. I was off work a year, then when I was sixteen, I went back to work. Then I got married when I was seventeen.
LU ANN JONES:
When you were a child, what kind of games that you all play to amuse yourselves? Did you have to help around the house too?
EVA HOPKINS:
My dad stayed in the sanitorium so many years, he was [unknown] Back then they didn't have that pill that you chew it right now. All they did was put him on that screened porch and feed him milk and eggs and fresh air. I went to school, of course. Afternoons, I'd come home from school, I'd get my skates and off I'd go, skate. We did the things that children do nowadays except we didn't do the meanness that they do now. We'd play ball, we'd skate and things like that.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you enjoy school, or was it a frightening experience?
EVA HOPKINS:
I didn't care too much for school, that's why I quit. I did fine in school in everything except math, arithmetic. I hated that with a passion, and I never did very well in it.
LU ANN JONES:
I sympathize with you.
EVA HOPKINS:
Otherwise, I got good grades in school. I could have gone on to school. My mother wanted me to go on, but I wanted to quit and go to work. We moved right out here on the corner next to the mill. At that

Page 7
time, that mill, it was a beautiful lot out there. It had lillies all out in that, it was real pretty. The mill village looked so much better than it does now. It really wasn't a bad place. Down here in North Charlotte, behind Park Mill there, it was running, and the Johnson Mill was running, and the Mercury Mill. There was stores, there was a dry goods store, there was a beauty shop, there was a watch fixing shop, two shoe shops, two drug stores, two doctors—it was a little town down there. Now everything's dead and gone. It just looks like a ghost town down there now because these mills have all closed down.
LU ANN JONES:
Did each mill have its own village [unknown] workers?
EVA HOPKINS:
Where I live is the Mercury. These are Mercury houses, and from here on down that way, they're Johnson mill houses. Down farther on the other side of North Charlotte where those store buildings are, that's the Highland Park village. Each mill had its own village.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you visit in each other's villages, or was a village off limits?
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh no, no, everybody knew everybody. We'd know people from the Highland Park, but mostly, the Highland Park, I didn't know too many people down there because North Charlotte kind of divided. We call it North Charlotte. All of those stores and drug stores and everything right in the center between the two villages.
LU ANN JONES:
When your father was in the sanitorium, did you go visit him?
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh yes. They didn't let me go in where he was until I was about twelve years old. He got better and was up. He never was so bad until he couldn't get up. He was up. They collapsed one of his lungs after I was married, and he got better. He came out of the sanitorium. He wasn't able to work again in the mill because on account of that cotton lint dust. He worked as a watchman for a while at different places. Then he worked at Ivey's. They called them floorwalkers. He just never did go back to the

Page 8
mill. But my mother did. She worked until she retired, it was sixty-five, she worked in the mill.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you think she enjoyed her work?
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, she must have. She worked always; she didn't know anything else because she went to work when she was a child and she didn't know how to do anything else. Back then, children didn't get to go to school too much. They put them to work in the mills when they were so young. But my mother could read and write, and my dad had a good education. He was really much more educated than mama because he went to school, went to night school and paid for it after he got old enough to go to work.
LU ANN JONES:
He was working in the mills and going to night school?
EVA HOPKINS:
Un-huh.
LU ANN JONES:
Did he pay for that himself or did the mill?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, he paid for it himself.
LU ANN JONES:
That's real interesting to be able to work all day and. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
My grandmother, my mother's mother, she went to singing school when she was a girl. I heard mama talk about that. They had to pay for that back then. I never heard mama talk too much about her mother's people. She talked more about her daddy's family because some of them lived up there in the mountains near them. She said back when they had slaves, back there in slavery times, my granddaddy's cousin—his uncle—he had so many slaves, he couldn't count them. He didn't know how many he did have. Of course, the war came along and all that was lost. They're still some of them up there, round the mountains, up around [unknown] They still own some land up. . . .
LU ANN JONES:
Did you have any younger brothers and sisters, or were you the baby?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, I'm the baby.
LU ANN JONES:
So there were three children?

Page 9
EVA HOPKINS:
Un-huh.
LU ANN JONES:
Did your mother belong to any organizations like women's clubs, or was she able to get outside the home and outside of working?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, because when I was little, until I was sixteen years old, you worked twelve hours a day. You worked from six in the morning till six at night, then the third shift—we call it now; they didn't call it third shift then, they just called it the night shift—they would work at six at night and work till six in the morning.
LU ANN JONES:
So just two shifts where today you'd have three shifts?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yeah, un-huh. At different times, she has worked both of them. At different times, she has worked both of them. For a while, she worked first shift, then after I got older, she—she did work at the Highland Park up here near Sixteenth Street, that park—she worked at night. I stayed with the ladies downstairs at night. We lived upstairs in an apartment. Ladies downstairs let me stay down there and sleep at night with them because mama didn't want to leave me at night by myself. I was only about ten years old. So I slept down there at night. She really had a hard life because she had nobody to help her. My dad's sick all those years. She didn't have a chance to go anywhere and join any kind of clubs because you worked six days a week. The only thing she belonged to was church, and she did go to church every Sunday and took me too. She didn't send me, she took me. We went to church and Sunday School every Sunday, but that's about the only recreation or outlet that she had was church because she had to work.
LU ANN JONES:
Apparently she enjoyed church.
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh yes.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you enjoy church, or were you sometimes frightened by the sermons?

Page 10
EVA HOPKINS:
No, I was never frightened by the sermons. We belonged to the Methodist Church. They didn't get up and beat their breast and pull their hair, and preach this hell fire and damnation stuff as bad as some of these churches. So, no, I was never frightened in church. I loved Sunday School.
LU ANN JONES:
Was your church near your home? Was it in the village itself?
EVA HOPKINS:
We walked. Nobody had cars back then when I was a little girl. You went to the church that was closest to you. I think that's the Methodist Church when we moved to Charlotte. I went to Ebenezer Methodist Church in Rock Hill when I was a little girl. After we moved to Charlotte, we went to Duncan Memorial up on Brevard Street. Then we came back here and moved back here to what we call North Charlotte, we went to Spencer Memorial. I don't go there now, I go to Whiting Avenue Baptist. I've changed denominations.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did you do that?
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, I don't know, I went down there to visit, and I liked the preacher. I liked the sermons he preached better, and I enjoyed the Sunday School class and the teachers, the way they taught and all, more. I just really enjoyed it more, so that's where I went.
LU ANN JONES:
Did a lot of people who you worked with also go to your church?
EVA HOPKINS:
We lived on Sixteenth Street, and my mother worked in Highland Park. That was #1, Highland Park #1. It was near town. Just about everybody that we knew went to the Methodist Church, everybody that we knew around there where we lived went to the Methodist Church. Some of my little friends that I went to school with went to the Episcopal Church, Chapel of Hope, and I did go up there and visit sometime with them. Just about everybody went to Duncan Memorial. A lot of the women that my mother went with, back then, all of them just about had to go to work when they were small children. A lot of them didn't get to go to school, and didn't have an education. My mother was secretary-treasurer of Sunday School class

Page 11
because she could read and write. A lot of the women in there couldn't, other than the teacher; the Sunday School teacher could.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember who the Sunday School teacher was? What kind of people would be the Sunday School teacher?
EVA HOPKINS:
People that worked out there where she did. See, they would have a teacher, someone that could read and write, and they had an education enough to read and write, had to study the Bible and understand it, could teach it. There were some of them.
Everybody that worked in the mills wasn't illiterate. I think you just more or less get trapped, a lot of people do in these things. When my husband and I got married, it was right after the Depression. The NRA had just come in, hadn't been in long. It was 1935, we got married. He was working in the Johnson Mill, I was working in the Mercury. There was no place else to work. You couldn't get a job. We lived out there on the corner. There was a railroad track went down near our house, and it would just be covered with hobos, we called them—when we first moved out there, back during the Depression—going from place to place looking for work. You were lucky if you had a job in the mill, you were lucky to get a job in the mill making money, enough to buy bread. My husband and I got married, and we started having children, and you just have to go on from there. You're just more or less trapped in the job you're in because when you have children, you can't quit and go look for something else. He was offered a better job, but he'd a been traveling, and he didn't want to leave home with the children. I was working at the time, and when I worked, I had a colored maid that came in and took care of my children when they were small. I haven't worked any in thirty-two years in the mill.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did you decide to quit?
EVA HOPKINS:
I had two babies at once. They were thirteen months apart, the two first ones. Then I went to work when the youngest one was five months old. Then I worked until I had the next one which was eight years.

Page 12
It was eight years between the next two. I went back to work then when he was two years old, and I worked down here in the Johnson Mill. I wound down there and creeled a warper for about a year. Then I quit and went to the hosiery mill. I went to work in the hosiery mill then. I worked there for a while. My husband wanted me to quit because the children, they were in school. The children would want me to be here when they came home from school in the afternoon. At that time, my husband was making pretty good money, he was overseer then. He wanted me to quit. Since he was working on the second shift, I felt like I needed to be here with them, so I quit. Then six years later, we had that boy there, Kenneth. So I never did go back to work after the third boy which was born. After he was two years old, [unknown] I didn't have to go back to work anymore. But my husband's still working.
LU ANN JONES:
Where does he work now?
EVA HOPKINS:
He works at Mineral Springs. He works in the carding department. He's overseer in the carding department at Mineral Springs. They ran cotton; when I was working it was all cotton. Then this synthetic came in after I quit, and he had to work with that. He knows all about that synthetic stuff.
Then they made so many improvements in the mills after I quit. They put blowers in there to come along and blow to suck up the cotton stuff, and things that would clean the cotton off of the machines and suck it up. It really made a lot of improvements and cleaned up the mills a lot. They were kind of dirty when I worked in them. They really cleaned them up a lot. They even put finish on the floors, scrubbed the floors, put finish and things on the floors and everything down here in this mill.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember your first day at work?
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh my goodness, do I! I got so sick smelling that oil and that cotton and stuff. I just got nauseated. I remember my first day

Page 13
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
EVA HOPKINS:
I had been in to see my mother; they'd let you go in then. They wouldn't let no children go in, but if you were twelve or older, they would let you go in. I had been in to see her, but the cotton bothered me so much around my nose, it would bother me. Then the oil, you could smell the motors. Ran belts and things that pull the motors, naturally, you had to oil them. That oil would get hot, and I could smell it, and it made me nauseated. In fact, one day I fainted. I got so nauseated at my stomach, I fainted. Everybody didn't do that, that was just me. I just couldn't stand that scent till I got used to it. After I got accustomed to it, it didn't bother me.
LU ANN JONES:
Had your mother taught how to do things that she let you help her do her work in the mill?
EVA HOPKINS:
No.
LU ANN JONES:
So how did you learn your job?
EVA HOPKINS:
They let me go in and stay with a lady that knew. I learned to spool which I think was the easiest thing to learn back then. They let me go in and stay with her until I learned how. They didn't pay me to learn, they just let me go in and stay with her.
LU ANN JONES:
How long did it take you to learn?
EVA HOPKINS:
About a week. I was a fast learner. They spooled by the box. They called them a box, they were bobbins that came off of the spinning frame. They put them in a box, measured them up in a box which was a big box. They put that in a—you had metal troughs that ran along underneath the spindles—they put the bobbins in that, and you had to pick that up, then put it on the spindle, tie it up with a knot to the spool. Then when spools got full, you took them off, put them up on the top of the shelf—had a shelf up, you put up over there—they paid nine cents a box when I went to work.

Page 14
LU ANN JONES:
Were you doing piece work then?
EVA HOPKINS:
Um-hum. Nine cents a box. You had to spool nine boxes a day.
LU ANN JONES:
So that means you were making less than a dollar a day.
EVA HOPKINS:
Un-huh. When I went to work, I was making less than a dollar a day. I worked lots of days when they would be short of yarn, didn't get as much off the spinning frame? I'd work lots of days for eighty cents. Now that was back in 1933, probably, wasn't it?
LU ANN JONES:
Um-hum. Did that upset you that because the yarn wasn't coming in that you weren't able to get your. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
No, not really because I was young and I was glad to get through and get out. When I'd get through—they call it catching up with your yarn, spool all that you had there—and you weren't going to get anymore the rest of the day, you could go home. I was young enough that I wanted to get out and have a good time with the girls and boys.
LU ANN JONES:
Was there a lot of line floating around then?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes, and they didn't have air conditioning in the mills. They had windows, and if you'd raise the window very high, air would come in, it would make the ends come down. It was terribly hot. They wouldn't let you raise the windows very high. Sometimes they'd let you raise them and prop a bobbin under them. I'd put the window up at the end of my frame, then here'd come the section man along and take it down. When he'd leave and go on off, I'd raise it again [laughter]. I couldn't stand the heat.
LU ANN JONES:
Would he get angry at you if the window was up?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, they'd just come by. If he'd gotten angry at me, I'd of gotten angry back at him.
LU ANN JONES:
Were most of the people you were working with women then?

Page 15
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes, all the spoolers and spinners were women. In the spinning room back then, they had what they called people that tied on bands. They had to put bands around the bottom of the spindle in the spinning room? Also on the spoolers, they had a band, leather band around. They had men that did that, and men that ran what they call run the section. They were kind of underneath the overseer. They had men doffers that took the bobbins off the spinning frames.
LU ANN JONES:
How did you have fun in the mill to sort of pass the time. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, you worked on the frame with somebody. You could talk through it, you could see through it. You worked in the alley—they call them alleys. There was a lady in this alley with you, and then there was one on the other side of you on the other side of the frame. Well, there was two that you could talk to. Then they'd have a lunch break. They had what we called a "dope box," a "dope wagon." It was a cart on wheels, and they had all kinds of things—sandwiches, and drinks, and cokes—it came through twice a day. You'd all go up there and get something, refreshments, or a sandwich, or whatever you wanted and sit down and eat. You could talk then.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you eat in the same room, or did they have a lunch room?
EVA HOPKINS:
Un-huh. No, no, they didn't have a lunch room. You had to sit out at the end of your frame—they had little benches you could sit on.
LU ANN JONES:
What did you all talk about?
EVA HOPKINS:
We talked about how bad we hated to work, and how tired we were, and how little bit we were getting paid, and we wished we were somewhere else, doing something else. There were a few younger girls that worked up there, and we would talk about our dates, and the parties we went to. Then, most of the time, the people would have parties on

Page 16
the village. If you had a birthday or anything, you would have a party at your home. Then for recreation—like I said, there weren't many cars—we had streetcars. You'd get on the streetcar out here—streetcar came right out here to the corner where we lived—you'd get on the streetcar and you could ride all the way across town and get a transfer, and ride all the way to the other end of Charlotte to Lakewood Park out there for seven cents. There was a park out there, and it had carnival things, a lot of things for entertainment. On Sundays, lots of girls and boys would get the streetcar and go out there. Then on Friday nights in the summer time, there would be a truck come to the corner around there, and all the boys and girls would get on that truck and take them to the summer pool. Just big groups of us go out to [unknown] swimming pool and really have fun.
LU ANN JONES:
Who was driving the truck?
EVA HOPKINS:
They would have somebody to drive it.
LU ANN JONES:
Is that the mill would have somebody to drive it or who?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't really know. I never did go into that to find out who. I just know it was a man driving it, and it had a truckload of teenagers. So evidently, it was somebody that had gotten somebody maybe from the mill to drive it. I never did find out who the driver was. I think he was from Highland Park. We lived out on Mercury then. There was really lots of . . . we had good times, but it was nothing like it is now. There was no cars or anything. On Sunday afternoons, we'd take walks, we'd take Kodak pictures. We'd walk up to the school house where there was a pretty landscape, and we'd take pictures. You could see boys and girls out walking holding hands on Sunday afternoon with a camera. It was really lots of fun, much more I think than girls and boys have this day and time because there's so much going on now that's

Page 17
not good.
LU ANN JONES:
How much of your pay did you contribute to home. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
None of it. I kept it all.
LU ANN JONES:
Did that mean that you had to buy your own clothes then?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yeah, I would buy my clothes. That was one reason I wanted to go to work, to have my own money because my mother—like I said it was during the Depression—she had to keep up the house. Nobody working but her, she had to keep up the house. I never knew my mother not to have some money, she was never broke. She always had a little bit of money.
LU ANN JONES:
She must have been a good budgeter.
EVA HOPKINS:
Since it was only just the two of us—my older sister was married. She was married, she was gone for years, then she was divorced—she came back home and worked a while, stayed with us until she married again. But I had my own money that I made which wasn't much, but you could get a pair of nice shoes back then for a dollar, $1.98. You had a real good pair of shoes for that. You could get a decent looking dress for three or four dollars. So I had some nice clothes. I saved my money, bought my own clothes. No, my mother didn't take my money, and she didn't charge me any board like I charge mine [laughter]. Mine stayed at home, went to work, I charged them board.
But none of my children worked in the mill. My oldest son, he doesn't live in Charlotte. This younger son, he's the only one that stays home. He works at the Charlotte Memorial Hospital; he's data processing technician. Then my other son, he's a policeman, and my daughter's a supervisor at were Studios. So none of them [unknown] in the mill. Not too many of the people that I knew, that I grew up with, the younger people that was my age back then that I know, that I still remember, I don't

Page 18
think many of their children ever worked in the mill. Of course, nobody want their children to go to work in the mill, I don't think.
LU ANN JONES:
[unknown]
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, it was hard work. After a while, they brought the pay up until they made fairly good wages, but still it was hard work, it was hot—even with air conditioning it was still hot—it was still that cotton. You've heard about brown lung. My husband works in the carding department, has since he was a boy. He has emphysema. He doesn't have it real bad, but he has it. We just didn't want them to go in that. I thought they could find something better to do. You always want better for your children than you had yourself. It was hard. It was a hard life. A good life in some ways, but hard work.
LU ANN JONES:
Were there other entertainments that you had when you were a child in the village? Was there a recreation center or anything like that?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes, they had a park. They had a ball park where they played ball. Our Sunday School class, every once in a while in the summer time, they'd take the children swimming, take them out to the swimming pool. We didn't have a "Y." They built this Johnson "Y" down here. When my children were small, they went to the "Y" all the time. They had Johnson "Y" which was real good.
LU ANN JONES:
I came by that, and I was wondering how old that was.
EVA HOPKINS:
My oldest son and my oldest daughter, they went down there. They was down there when they were growing up. My next son, the baby one, they wanted him to join the swimming team. He could dive so good. He would dive down so deep, then his nose would go to bleeding, so he couldn't do that. But it was really a wonderful thing, that "Y" that they built out here, for the children around here. They didn't have things like

Page 19
that when I was growing up, not in my neighborhood. We found amusement. We found things to amuse ourselves.
LU ANN JONES:
Didn't you tell me before that you met your husband at a ball game?
EVA HOPKINS:
At a ball game. It was right up here at Spencer and Herring Avenue. The ball field's still up there.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember what position he played?
EVA HOPKINS:
He wasn't playing ball. He was a spectator, and I was a spectator. I was watching him more than I was watching the ball game, and I think he was watching me more than he was watching the ball game. So that's how we met, and we started dating.
LU ANN JONES:
What would you all do for dates? Did you go with other kids?
EVA HOPKINS:
We would go to parties. They ran on the village, they would have parties. Different people would have parties on Saturday nights. Through the week, you didn't go much of anywhere because you were too tired because you worked. Mill work is hard work. We would go to parties. We would get the streetcar and go to town to a movie. Then on Sunday afternoons, you'd get out when the weather permitted. Other times, you stayed home and listened to the radio, sat in the parlor and listened to the radio [laughter].
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember what you listend to? Was it music, or. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
On Staurday nights, we would listen to the Grand Old Opry. That's when it first started playing, got realy popular back then. Through the week, we would listen to the programs, "Mert and Marge," and "Amos and Andy," and all those things.
LU ANN JONES:
My mother talks about listening to the radio when she was growing up.
EVA HOPKINS:
We had a Victrola, the kind you wind. When I was small, we had a Victrola that you wind with your hand and records. We got along

Page 20
pretty good. During the Depression, times were real hard, and lot of people didn't have jobs and everything, but mama always worked, and she always had a little bit of money. We weren't poverty stricken, but we weren't wealthy by any means or well off, but we got along. We had plenty to eat.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you all have your own garden by any chance?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes, after we moved out here where we had a plot, but when we lived up on Sixteenth Street, we lived in an apartment, and we didn't have a place to have a garden.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you also have chickens or animals?
EVA HOPKINS:
No.
LU ANN JONES:
Did anybody in . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't know. There's some had a few chickens, I think. The mill village wouldn't allow it, smell to bad. Not at Mercury. They had men from the health department that came out. He brought [unknown] over the village, and if you didn't keep the place clean, he'd report to the mill company. They'd make you move. The Mercury Mill village that we lived on, then, was much cleaner than it is out here now since they've sold these houses to the rental agencies. So many people
LU ANN JONES:
Did people from the mill come through too to look at the houses or was it just somebody from the health department?
EVA HOPKINS:
He worked with the mill, but he was from the health department, but he would come out and go over the village, then he would report back to the mill office anything he found that wasn't up to snuff. They'd make them clean it up—shape up or ship out—they'd fire them. They had to move. Now you can't get the real estate company to make them clean up around their house. We have so many around here, it's just terrible. We have a North Charlotte Action Committee. We have meetings every so

Page 21
often. We had tried to get the City Council and people like that to do something about this out here. So far, we haven't had too much luck, They have cleaned up some in some of the places, but there's still a lot that needs to be done.
LU ANN JONES:
Is that like a neighborhood community. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
It's out in here, where they sold these houses.
LU ANN JONES:
How old. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
This house that we live in, it's almost one hundred years old.
LU ANN JONES:
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, it didn't look like this when we bought it. We've done so much work to it. These other houses around here don't look like this, because they haven't done anything to them. A lot of them did inside, but this was huge back room back here. My husband, he knocked this wall out here in that living room. He re-finished all the floors, lowered all the ceilings, put in new windows, just really underpinned it. We just really did a lot of work.
This is the church that I go to down here. That's Whiting Avenue Baptist. It started in a one room cottage down at Highland Park Mill. I was going to show you. There used to be a mill pond, Mercury Mill Pond out here, right around the corner from Davidson. This is the first church they built. It's been bricked up now on Thirty-sixth Street.
LU ANN JONES:
That's still standing. It's a really elaborate and beautiful looking church.
EVA HOPKINS:
There was a Mercury mill tank. You saw that big tank out there. Then they had a big pond out there; it was a muddy pond—huge thing. Two little boys got drowned in it. They didn't have a fence around it. They tried to get them to drain it then, and they wouldn't do it. So across the street from me over here, this lady had a little boy, two years

Page 22
old. He got drowned in it. So they sued the mill company, and made them drain the pond.
LU ANN JONES:
Were these people who worked in the mill, and they sued the company?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yeah, um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
That must have taken some guts to sue one of your employers.
EVA HOPKINS:
They sued them and they made them drain that pond. They told them to put a fence around or drain it. They told them they wanted to drain it.
Those houses that are over there on the other side of where the pond is now weren't there in 1908. Here in this book—the Baptist Church which is Whiting Avenue Baptist now, was North Charlotte Baptist on Thirty Sixth Street that moved out on Whiting Avenue now and built a new church—that's the first baptism in 1908 in that Mercury Mill pond. You can see the trees here that were over back up behind these houses where we live now. There were a lot of trees down there on the other side of the pond. On the other side of the pond, there weren't any houses at all. Those had been built after 1908. These had been here, I don't know how many years before that, and that was made in 1908. They started the church in 1904 down on Highland Park. [shows picture] You can see they're fixing to baptize them down there in that . . . you know the Baptists believe in baptizing. I don't know what denomination you belong to.
LU ANN JONES:
I'm Methodist.
EVA HOPKINS:
I was sprinkled in the Methodist Church [laughter]. This was the way that it looked, and you can see the houses if you look where we live now, and that was in 1908. See the houses back up behind the trees. Over here on the other side of this pond, the houses hadn't been built yet. I don't know how long these houses been here when that picture was made. So they are definitely near a hundred years old.

Page 23
We've been living here in this one house for thirty-five years.
LU ANN JONES:
When did you buy it?
EVA HOPKINS:
In 1952 they sold them, didn't they? Because he was born in 1954.
LU ANN JONES:
When you were working, do you remember people getting hurt on the job?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes, there was a boy got his finger cut off in a machine out there at the Mercury Mill. They brought him out. I saw him when they brought him out with his hand wrapped up. They put him in a car and took him to the hospital. He seemed to be all right. They put him on the operating table to operate on that finger, to sew it up, and he died from shock. Then I saw a belt broke out there one time and hit a man in the head. His head was real bloody. He lived; he had some scars.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you ever get hurt?
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh no, I was always careful. I never got hurt. The only thing that hurt me was hurt my feelings had to go to work. [Laughter]
LU ANN JONES:
Did you have to wear a knotter on your hands?
EVA HOPKINS:
Un-huh. I wore a knotter. The faster you could put that bobbin on there, and get that thread over that knotter and get it tied onto that cone on the winder, or either on the spool on the spooler. When you creeled twisters, you had to tie the string from the bobbin up over the thing. So I used a knotter, and when I creeled warpers, I had to use a knotter. I used a knotter for just about everything I did but spin. You don't use a knotter for that.
LU ANN JONES:
Were there certain jobs in the mill that were more desirable than others, or did everybody think their job was the best job? Did you try to move around?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't know. I always wanted to learn to spin, but when I went to work, the spinners had so much to do, so much detail to it, so many

Page 24
different things to do. Spooling, you only had to—I could learn that so much quicker—you only had to put that bobbin on there and pull it up and tie it to the spool, the spool got pulled till you take it off. Spinning, you had to pick slatch, you had to write back guides, and you had to set in roing, and you had to write roing, clean out in there where it was at, so many things you had to do. You take so long to learn that. Now, it's so much more modern now. They don't have all that to do. They have machines to do it. They have a thing comes by, blower comes by sucks all lint out of that creel where you had to wipe that roing. They don't have that lap stick in there. You had to take that thing out with a long stick and clean the cotton off of it. You don't have to do that anymore. They've eliminated so much stuff now that they had to do back then.
LU ANN JONES:
Did things change a lot while you worked? How many years total did you work?
EVA HOPKINS:
I went to work when I was fourteen, I worked until I was fifteen, which was a year. Then NRA came in, and I had to quit for a year. I went back to work when I was sixteen, and I worked till I was about nineteen because that was when my first baby was born in the spring. I quit then. I didn't work anymore till the next one was . . . I went back to work then in 1940. I worked from then on until 1948. Then I went back to work in 1950. I worked about two years, and then I haven't worked any since.
LU ANN JONES:
Did things change a lot from the first time you went into the mill?
EVA HOPKINS:
The wages did. When I went back to work when the children were small, they had these blowers. They had gotten these to suck some of that lint up. So much of it would get in your nose and your throat.

Page 25
LU ANN JONES:
When you were married, did you have to get your mother's permission to be married?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, I just told a lie about my age. I just said I was eighteen [laughter]
LU ANN JONES:
You were really seventeen.
EVA HOPKINS:
I was really seventeen. My husband was almost twenty-two. He's six years older than I am.
LU ANN JONES:
Where did you go get married?
EVA HOPKINS:
We went to York, South Carolina.
LU ANN JONES:
Did a lot of people go down there? I talked to somebody else who had gone down there.
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes, um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
So they believed that you were eighteen?
EVA HOPKINS:
Un-huh. Yeah, I told them I was eighteen.
LU ANN JONES:
Were you able to go on a honeymoon, or did you have to come back?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, had to come back. We got married on Saturday night, and we came back, and we went to work Monday morning. We didn't have a honeymoon.
LU ANN JONES:
Where did you live?
EVA HOPKINS:
We lived out here on Mercury Street on the corner, right across from the Mercury Mill.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you come back and live with your parents?
EVA HOPKINS:
My mother. Yeah, we lived with my mother for a year, then we got an apartment. She was all alone, and I didn't want to leave her. She went to live with my sister in South Carolina after we got married, after we got an apartment. She stayed down there for about a year, then she came back to factory work. She got her own apartment then.

Page 26
LU ANN JONES:
At that time were you all working in the same mill or two different mills?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, I was working in the Mercury Mill, and he was working in the Johnson Mill when we got married. After they closed the Mercury Mill, I went to work when my son was five months old in 1940, I went to work at the Johnson Mill because the Mercury Mill was closed.
LU ANN JONES:
What was your husband doing at that time?
EVA HOPKINS:
When we got married? He was a comber tender. Then later on, he got promoted up to section man, and then later on, he got to be an overseer.
LU ANN JONES:
Was that a real desirable thing to do?
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh yes, very. And the salary was desirable too.
LU ANN JONES:
Were there often conflicts between overseers and the people they were overseeing?
EVA HOPKINS:
Not him, no, because he's very easy to work for. Everybody that's ever worked for him—he's been overseer for thirty-two, thirty-three years or more—no one that I've ever talked to that has ever worked for him said they had never worked for anybody they'd rather work for. He's real easy going, he's real fair to the help. He could see their point of view as well as his. He worked with the help. He didn't work against them. He didn't work just for the company, he worked with the people.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
LU ANN JONES:
The mill village was isolated. You hear that people called cotton mill workers lintheads and that type of thing. What was your response to something like that
EVA HOPKINS:
Nobody ever called me that. Nobody ever called me a linthead. My response would have been . . . I don't think I'd want to put it on tape because I had been told, some of the people, some of them

Page 27
were just "crummy," to put it, I don't know no other way to put it. But most of the people were real nice people. They were honest, hard-working people, working for a living. During the Depression when I came up—I don't know too much about it except what my mother said back when she was a girl growing up in the mills—when I came along, most of them were all trying to better themselves, the people that I worked with. You find a few, just a few that they just didn't care how they looked, or how they carried themselves, or what they did, or what people thought of them. They were just kind of trashy, some families were. That's what gave the cotton mills, a lot of people thought of them as all being that way, which they weren't. There were a lot of fine people that worked in those mills that I worked in. A lot of good Christian people, fine honest hard working people that tried to better themselves and have something where the children would be better, have better jobs and things.
LU ANN JONES:
Why do you think that happened, that sort of flip-flop, that now looking back, you have this image of a cotton mill worker that wasn't there then?
KENNETH HOPKINS:
[comments that cotton mill work did not have the stigma now attached to it when his parents were working in the thirties] I'm not sure, really. I think it is just like most people tend to think of working class southern people anyway like something out of Tenessee Williams. They're greasy-headed, they wear white socks, they're rednecks, and all like that. A lot of people don't realize that when the mills first came to Charlotte, in particular, a lot of these people in 1900 or so, a generation or two back, had been very wealthy landowners, and had lost just about everything they owned in the Civil War.
EVA HOPKINS:
That's just like my grandfather.
KENNETH HOPKINS:
So there were a lot of rural folk that came in to work in the

Page 28
mills that were reduced to dirt farmers. But you had the "crummy" if you want to call it even in factories, or even at the hospital. There are people who are very well dressed, and there's people who look tacky. I know from talking to older relatives, especially on my daddy's side, that his mother worked in the mill and supported all of them because his father was in the First World War. From what I understand, she was a very fancy dresser. She liked nice clothes, and she could sing very well. They would go around singing for people. They had a lot of interests. She could read and write very well.
EVA HOPKINS:
All of his family, all of Paul's family, his daddy's family, they were all well to do.
KENNETH HOPKINS:
His mother, and one or two other relatives are the only ones in his immediate family, other than another brother, who worked in the mill. They were cotton planters. They were very wealthy. In fact, some of his family built three large mills in Greenville at one time.
LU ANN JONES:
Greenville, South Carolina?
KENNETH HOPKINS:
Un-huh. They were very well to do on his side of the family way back. But through the years, by today's standards, they wouldn't have been that well off. They were mostly farmers. A lot of my mother's people were farmers too. When the mills come to town, they thought they could better themselves by getting a job in the city. Then they got trapped in the mills. I don't know why the image has got off. When I come along, it was a social stigma. Like Tom, my older brother, he and I neither one would ever have dreamed of going in that mill to work because people would point and say, "You work in the cotton mill." It's just got a bad taste to it now, but then, even up to the 40's or so, I don't really think it did. It was just an everyday, lower middle class or low class living because of the wages. Now, it does have a social

Page 29
stigma, even though the wages are higher. I wouldn't go to work in a cotton mill because [unknown] not associated with it.
EVA HOPKINS:
Even though my husband made fifteen hundred dollars last month with his salary was over, and he [unknown] makes nothing like that much. It's still the thought, and the way they talk about mill people. They call them factory. They don't call that where my husband works, they call them "plant" because it's real modern.
LU ANN JONES:
They don't call it mill anymore.
EVA HOPKINS:
It's real modern where he works now. It's a beautiful plant, it really is. Doesn't look anything like these down here.
LU ANN JONES:
You talked about your husband was a real fair-minded overseer. What's an example? Would workers come and complain to him. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes, they would come to say, "This hand over here is not doing his job. He's not working as hard as I am. He's getting paid the same amount of money an hour, and he's not doing nearly as much work as I am." That type of thing. He would go and try to straighten this out and find out why he wasn't doing it. Why the other one had to do so much more than the other one.
LU ANN JONES:
When you were going into the mill, do you ever remember speedups or stretch outs or. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh my goodness yes! They could speed those machines up, and they did.
LU ANN JONES:
What would happen when they did that? Would you all protest?
EVA HOPKINS:
You had to work harder. That's what would happen. You had to work so much harder to keep up the machine.
LU ANN JONES:
Did workers ever complain or. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
Sure they complained.
LU ANN JONES:
How would they complain?
EVA HOPKINS:
They would go to the superintendent of the plant. They

Page 30
would go to their boss, if he couldn't do anything about it, then they would maybe go to the superintendent. But nothing ever came of it.
LU ANN JONES:
Why not?
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, that's why so many plants got unions. These plants that we worked in never had unions.
LU ANN JONES:
Was there ever an attempt to ever. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh yes, they tried to get a union at all of them, but people wouldn't vote for it.
LU ANN JONES:
Why not?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't know.
LU ANN JONES:
Would you have been in favor of a union?
EVA HOPKINS:
If it would have bettered working conditions I would have, and raised wages.
LU ANN JONES:
When a union attempt was going on, what would it be like in the mill? Would one of the union people be coming in to. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes, and they would be at the gate handing out flyers.
LU ANN JONES:
Was this in the thirties?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes, this has been ever since I've been working off and on. They had a big strike right after I went to work at Mercury Mill, a six week strike. All the mills struck. They had picket lines, and nobody crossed the picket line to go into work. They were striking for higher wages.
LU ANN JONES:
Was that in '34? I've heard about the general strike. What was it like then?
EVA HOPKINS:
[unknown] work six weeks, and people that belonged to the union, they had a community house up here. They would take the union dues that you'd pay, and buy food like beans, and meat, flour, and meal—staples. The people that didn't have it, people with huge families—lot of them had

Page 31
big families—they would go up there, and they would allot them out so much. They would give it to them so they could have food to eat while they were on strike. My mother and I, we never did have to go up there because she bought our food.
LU ANN JONES:
So did you cooperate with the strike?
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh yes, we didn't go across the picket line. We didn't go in. In fact, my mother joined the union. Everybody just about joined it. But we didn't never go up there, we didn't participate in it. She just joined it. We just stayed at home.
LU ANN JONES:
Why do you think she joined?
EVA HOPKINS:
She's like everybody else. She thought that they weren't fair, they didn't pay enough. Just like raising those windows, that sort of thing. They wouldn't let you raise the window, and it was so hot. That's why we call them sweat factories, sweat shops. They wouldn't let you raise the windows, it was so hot, they didn't pay you enough. They'd make you what they call stretch out, put you on more work to do for the same amount of money, and that sort of thing.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember when she joined the union?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, it was during that strike though. But then, she didn't keep up her dues after the strike was over and we all went back to work. She never did go back to any of the union meetings or anything.
LU ANN JONES:
Did some people cross the picket line?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yes.
LU ANN JONES:
What did you think of those people?
EVA HOPKINS:
I thought they were taking their life in their hands for one thing. I thought some of them just wanted to show people that they would do it if they could do it. But they couldn't get enough in there to run any machines, so they had to come back out.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you ever walk the picket line? Did your mother?

Page 32
EVA HOPKINS:
No, never!
LU ANN JONES:
In the late 20's and early 30's, there were strikes going on not only here, but all over in this area and Gastonia and up towards the mountains. Did you hear about these things or talk about them at work?
EVA HOPKINS:
We heard about them. We took newspapers, and we read about them. But it didn't concern me too much at that time because I was young, and I had my mind on parties, and pretty clothes and having a good time.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you ever join once you were older and working or try to help on the picket lines?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, they never got a union out there. After that strike was over, nobody ever fooled with it anymore. They didn't get enough people out there to get a union in that mill. They couldn't get enough people to sign up for it to get it.
LU ANN JONES:
What were the results of that strike?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't tink that it helped any. I don't remember that it did. I had my mind too much on other things. I don't know. Paul might could told you what it did. I don't remember.
LU ANN JONES:
The people who did join the union, did they lose their jobs, or did the company ever harass them or anything?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, they didn't. I don't know of any. The ones that instigated, the instigators of it, they might have worked them out some other reason, but not for because of the union. See, they couldn't do that. They could fire them for some other reason. They would find something to fire them for other than that. I know one girl that worked where I did, she spooled. She went across and went in to work and all. They didn't fire her, but they kind of gave her a rough time for a while,

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but then nothing came of that. Some of them that were the leaders of it, they would find ways to work them out. They would find something to get rid of them for. Any kind of work that you do, any job anywhere, they can always find a way to get rid of you. They can find something wrong with your work, or some excuse to get rid of you, if they want to get rid of you bad enough.
LU ANN JONES:
So you didn't see that conditions improved any?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't remember. It's been so many years, and at the time, it might have. But when you get so many years ago, I just don't remember that well about it.
LU ANN JONES:
Would your husband as an overseer, would he have been in an awkward position?
EVA HOPKINS:
He wasn't an overseer then. He was young then too, and we hadn't married then. I was single.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you know whether or not he joined the union or went out on strike?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't think he did.
LU ANN JONES:
Later on when he was an overseer. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
He lived on a farm, and he worked on a farm until he came to town and went to work at the Johnson Mill.
LU ANN JONES:
How old was he . . . fifteen?
EVA HOPKINS:
He was about fifteen when he came to town from the farm.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did he come here?
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, that was during the Depression, and even farmers had it hard then. He was "country comes to town." He wanted to come to town and make some money. He got tired of walking behind a plow, I suspect. He wanted to make some money that he could jingle in his pockets. Farmers, they didn't have much money back then. He came and

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went to work in the mill down there and learned to work.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you think coming to Charlotte seemed very exciting to somebody off the farm?
EVA HOPKINS:
He wasn't raised on a farm. He just stayed out there for a few years after his grandmother died.
LU ANN JONES:
Where was this?
EVA HOPKINS:
It was out near the Catawba River. He stayed with his grandmother. They came here from Greenville, South Carolina. He lived with his grandmother until she died. His mother died when he was only four or five years old. He knows all about that. He goes to the library and looks up on the census. He's tracing our family tree back, and he's got a book. He can tell you more about our ancestors than I can.
LU ANN JONES:
I just wanted to ask you a couple more questions like when you were having your children. Did you go to the hospital to have your children?
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh yes, they were all born in the hospital except one—I didn't make it. He came too fast, didn't get there. That was the second one. But all the rest of them were born in the hospital.
LU ANN JONES:
When your mother was having her children, did she have a midwife?
EVA HOPKINS:
No, I was born in the hospital. I was the last one. I was born in a hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. My brother and my sister were both born at home. She had a doctor and a midwife with my sister. They sent for the doctor and he didn't get there in time, so they sent for the midwife. She got there first, then the doctor came. So they both got there. They were born at home, but I was born in the hospital. You know they can't find a record of my birth certificate, and I have tried and tried to get a birth certificate. I was born in a hospital, I know when I was born, I know where I was born, I know who the doctor was and everything, but they can't seem to find my birth certificate.

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LU ANN JONES:
I hope that doesn't cause any problems for you.
EVA HOPKINS:
That social security?
LU ANN JONES:
Yeah, something like that.
EVA HOPKINS:
I intend to draw social security off my husband because it's been so many years since I worked, I'd draw more if I draw off him. I wrote to the Census Bureau. I was seventeen or eighteen months old when they took the census. It coincides with my age now, so they'll take that. Then I have all my children's birth certificates, and they all have my age on that when they were born, and that makes the age right. I had my marriage license, but I told a lie about that. I said I was a year older on them than I am really, so I couldn't take that.
LU ANN JONES:
When you were young, were most women happy to know that they were going to have children? Was it something that you sort of feared?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't know, I was happy. I was happy when I had my little girl, the first one. Wasn't too happy when I had the next one because there's only thirteen months between them, and I really would have like to waited a little longer between. Right here on the village and everything, they seemed happy with their children and to have their children. They married, the girls did, they all seem to want to get married and have a family, all the ones that I knew.
LU ANN JONES:
Are you much of a daydreamer? Did you ever daydream about what you would have liked to have done?
EVA HOPKINS:
Surely you jest! [laughter] You know, everybody, all girls I think, women daydream, most of them.
LU ANN JONES:
What did you daydream about?
EVA HOPKINS:
I daydreamed when I was young. Before I was married, I would daydream about who I was going to marry.
LU ANN JONES:
Who were you going to marry in your daydreams?

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EVA HOPKINS:
I was going to marry somebody that was rich that I wouldn't have to work, I could have a nice home, and beautiful clothes. Things that most girls dream about. Then after I married, I still had daydreams, and then after I had my children, I still had daydreams. I dreamed of wanting a better life for them than we had. It's been a good life, but I'd like for them not to have to went to work, which they didn't, in the mills. And had lived in better sections of town, had nicer homes, more conveniences, nicer cars and everything than we had. Dreams like that.
END OF INTERVIEW