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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Hopkins quit mill work during the Depression to care for her children

During the Depression, people had to keep their jobs in the cotton mills for lack of other options. Hopkins eventually left her own job to care for her babies.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. 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

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.
Why did you decide to quit?
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. 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, I didn't have to go back to work anymore. But my husband's still working.