Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Geddes Elam Dodson, May 26, 1980. Interview H-0240. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Children learned mill work before their first job

In this excerpt, Dodson explains how children would work in the mills before becoming officially employed because their parents needed them to bring meals and watch machines during breaks. As a result, by the time a child became employed for the first time, he or she already had a good grasp on how the mill ran. Toward the end of the interview, he relates how he learned to be a loom fixer as a young man, training that facilitated his rise through the mill's hierarchy.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Geddes Elam Dodson, May 26, 1980. Interview H-0240. 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

And then after we moved from Appalache to Greenville, my daddy was a-working, and he worked in the Poinsett Mill some when I was a little feller. It belongs to Woodside now, but it was the same company, Woodside. I was a little feller, and they run ten hours a day then, and so I had to carry his lunch. He'd run the weavers' looms through dinner hour so they could go eat their dinner. We lived about a mile and a quarter from the Poinsett Mill, and I'd carry his lunch every day. And he'd tell me to come on in the mill, and he made me fill his batteries-and I was just a little feller-while he run the weavers' looms. See, I knew a whole lot about the mill before I even went in one.