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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Thomas Burt, February 6, 1979. Interview H-0194-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Nostalgia for an era of low prices

Burt remembers hard work for little pay at a sawmill, but he also remembers that his money went a long way. "It was a better time then," he muses.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Thomas Burt, February 6, 1979. Interview H-0194-2. 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

I had a pretty rough time gettin' up about twenty-five, thirty years old. I done some hard, hard work. I tell the old lady lots of times, I'm lucky to walk. I walked four miles for about eighteen months; eight miles a day I walked and sawmilled, workin' then ten hours a day. Me and a second cousin of mine, we'd get up in the mornin' and walk some four miles, work all day, and walk 'em back at night. I bet you can't guess what we'd get in a day.
GLENN HINSON:
How much?
THOMAS BURT:
Started at 75¢. I worked at 75¢ a day, then they give us a raise to a dollar. I worked many a day at the sawmill for 75¢ a day, and board with myself. When he commenced givin' us a dollar, five days - five dollars—a dollar a day We thought we had somethin'. It look like I got along with that $5 as good as I do here now. What you got didn't cost you nothin' much. Pack of cigarettes didn't cost but 10¢; sugar 2¢ and 3¢ a pound. I bought many a pair of overhauls 75¢ a pair; now they're $11, $12, $15 a pair. When I sit down and study about it, it ain't too much difference. After they went on up to $1.50, $2.00 a day I believe you made more clear money than you make right now. The very best grade of every day shoes, $2.50; a nice shirt 75¢, about a dollar for Sunday shirts. You weren't spendin' that much. Now a shirt costs you $4 and $5 a piece, overhauls anywhere from $11, $12, $15 a piece, shoes $25 and $30 a pair. So if you turn around and look at it, I believe it was a better time then. You get a good suit now, it'll cost you $20, $25. I get to thinkin' about it sometime, I just naturally believe just to think about how it is now and how it was then, it was better times then.