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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Carl and Mary Thompson, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0182. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Roosevelt administration policies helped textile workers

The Thompsons reflect on how the policies of the Roosevelt administration changed life in the textile mills.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Carl and Mary Thompson, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0182. 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

That was way before Roosevelt come in, because about the time Roosevelt come in, that's when they started that forty hours and started making them pay. They put a minimum wage on.
CARL THOMPSON:
That was back in the twenties.
JIM LELOUDIS:
Back in the twenties that they stopped that no-pay training period?
MARY THOMPSON:
I imagine so.
JIM LELOUDIS:
I think we missed it on the first tape. That's why I wanted to get that on here.
MARY THOMPSON:
I don't remember just what year it was. No, Nola was born in 1929, so it was in the early thirties.
CARL THOMPSON:
According to that, then, it wasn't long before Roosevelt came in.
MARY THOMPSON:
It wasn't. It was after I went up there to work, but it was in the early thirties. It was before Roosevelt come in. But when he come in, he changed lots of laws. He was the best President we ever had. [Laughter] But we didn't realize it then, because he was going to do so much, and we never had done nothing, so we just wondered, is this lots of baloney and all. But he sure did help the working person a whole lot.
JIM LELOUDIS:
How so, besides changing the minimum wage and the hours?
MARY THOMPSON:
The minimum wage, and cut it down to forty hours, and that was a big help. And then they'd keep raising the minimum wage, and naturally we'd make more money. And from then on, things has been building up. Now it's gotten to where inflation's about to take over, but he's the one that started the country building up to where it is now. And people working eight hours that had been working ten, that's a big difference.
CARL THOMPSON:
Well, I've worked eleven hours.
MARY THOMPSON:
We worked ten hours, and then worked five on Saturday, too, you see. We worked fifty-five hours a week till he put that forty hours on. And they wouldn't pay that time-and-a-half unless it was an emergency, so we didn't have to work overtime, just forty hours. Now that was a big cut.
JIM LELOUDIS:
It gave you a lot more time off to spend with your daughter.
MARY THOMPSON:
That's right. But we never had had it, so we didn't know what to do with it for a while. [Laughter] But it was wonderful. And then, you see, we got the same pay. They raised the minimum wage till we got the same pay. He was a wonderful President, the best one we've ever had. I wish we had another one that had the brains that he had. I think they do the best they can—I'm not downing no President—but I just think that everybody ain't got that gift, to have the brains he had to straighten it out. Because the country was in a pretty bad fix, you know, during the Depression, but he straightened it out, and that was good.