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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jessie Lee Carter, May 5, 1980. Interview H-0237. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Working with family in a textile mill

Carter worked with a number of relatives in the textile mill. The resulting familial atmosphere may have contributed to what she remembers as a fun work environment. While she liked to work, she did not need to work very hard at her job in the card room, she recalls. She favored work over school, and never learned to read or write.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jessie Lee Carter, May 5, 1980. Interview H-0237. 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

ALLEN TULLOS:
Did you have any of your family work in the weaving department?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
No. I had two brothers worked in the card room. My daddy worked in the card room. And I had one sister to work in the card room. And I had three sisters worked in the spinning room. Four with me, when I went to work. Four of us girls worked in the spinning room. Didn't have any that worked in the weave room.
ALLEN TULLOS:
What was it like running your job? Could you run and get caught up a while and rest?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
Oh, we didn't have to work hard then. I have set down and had little boxes this square and about that high, you put your cotton in. And I've set there half-an-hour at the time before I'd go up and down my alley, and then maybe wouldn't find just two or three threads down. It run so good then. I have left the mill—they had a Brandon Company Store up here then; 'course now, I forget what they got in there, but after this other Company bought it and everything went to them. I have left my sides and went up there to that store and played all the way up there and all the way back, for people that wanted coca colas. They's just five cents a bottle then. And I'd bring back ten, five in each arm like this, in a paper sack. The help in the mill'd send me after it. I have went down my alley when I come back and I wouldn't have a thread down.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did you get to go to school any more?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
No, I never did get to go to school no more.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did you want to school?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
Oh, no. I'd rather work than go to school. I never did learn to read and write. But I loved to work. Yes, I did. I really enjoyed it. I had an aunt that was young like I was and me and her, we chummed together. And so we worked close together. Her sister had married my Uncle Bob, the section hand, and he never said anything to us. He let us play all we want to. It was all right. He didn't bother us. He was a mighty good section hand.
ALLEN TULLOS:
It must have been an advantage to have your kin-folk in the section.
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
Yeah, he'd get out and brag about it. He'd run his work where all his people was kin-people. He could boss if he wanted to, but he didn't want to because he was a good man. He'd tell you—of course everybody then, they did their work. They didn't have to be told to do it. They enjoyed doing it. They kept their sides cleaned up. If you kept your work clean, it run good. But if you let it get dirty, it didn't run good. So, he was a good man.