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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 >>

Mill owner delivers supplies for his mill town employees

Carter offers a brief glimpse of mill house life, and the small way in which mill owner paternalism may have eased the bite of poverty. Carter's father rented a home from the mill, which sold and delivered coal in the winter. Carter remembers this act of beneficence, but remembers also storing food to make it through the winter and going without coffee, sugar, and flour.

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 they live in one of the mill houses? Did some of their children live with them?
JESSIE LEE CARTER:
Oh, yes, they lived in the mill houses. All their children lived with them. All except the ones that was married. We had a four-room house and Papa paid twenty-five cents a week for a four-room house. That was a dollar a week. Brandon Mill furnished your coal in the wintertime. And they'd haul your coal to you. It was two dollars a load, for a two-horse wagon load of coal. You can't make your children now understand it. Lord, I've told my grandchildren about working. ‘Lord, never would I work all day, ten hours, for twenty-five cents.’ But I said, back then you would've, because people didn't make any more. My daddy worked down there and made eleven dollars-and-a-half a week, and we lived on that. 'Course with our garden and my mother would put up stuff in the summer enough to do us through the winter. Then we had our own corn and our own cornmeal. We didn't have nothing to buy but sugar and flour and coffee and something like that. We had plenty other stuff. Plenty canned stuff, plenty milk and butter.