Violence among textile workers
Violence had appeared earlier in Dodson's account as a means for men to protect their authority over other men. This time, however, Dodson's father needed violence to protect the honor of his wife, providing an example of how conflict helped form gendered identities and relations in the mill villages.
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
- ALLEN TULLOS:
Was your mother working in the mill then?
- GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
She was drawing in over there at Woodside when we lived over there. She
was drawing in up in the second floor; the slasher room was up there.
The draw-in frames was long, with the backs to the window. And there was
an old man named League who worked there, and he was
bad to run after women. He run a slasher. And there was an old woman
come in there one day to see her up in the slash room. And whenever she
went out, some of them young women, girls, got up and went to hollering
out the window, making light of her. And he come over there and balled
my mother out about it, and she hadn't got up out of her seat. We lived
right out the end of the mill, this upper end, on Vance Street, and went
home for dinner. And we set down to the table to eat dinner, and my
mother began to tell [my father] about how this fellow had talked to
her. And so he shoved back from the table, and his chair hit the wall
ka-bam. Didn't have no rugs on [the floor]. Just hit the wall behind
him. This big old table, as long as from there over yonder, the old
homemade table. And he hit the wall with his chair sliding on the floor.
He says, "Where's my whet rock?" And he got that whet
rock, an oilstone, and sharpened his knife just like a razor. And he
went back up behind that fellow that was up there. And the boss weaver
was a great big old tall fellow. He weighed over 350 pounds, a big old
giant. And he went back up there and asked that fellow, "What
did you talk to my wife like you did for?" And the boss weaver
happened to be standing there. So he said, "I didn't . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
[TAPE 1, SIDE B]
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
- GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
He said, "You're a d- lying s.b." And when he
said that, why, he took his knife and made a whack at him. And the boss
weaver was standing there, and he hit my daddy's arm and knocked the
pressure off, but he still cut his neck open all the way around and
missed his windpipe about a half an inch. Old man Wofford, the boss
weaver, fired [my daddy]. He didn'tchange
clothes to go out at noontime for lunch, so he went and changed
clothes and put his work clothes under his arms
and started out the middle door down there. (Big old mill; the main
doors were right in the middle of the mill.) He met old man Alexander;
he was the superintendent of the whole plant. He said to my daddy,
"What's the matter?" He told him, "Mr.
Wofford fired me." He said, "Well, you're not fired.
I'm tired of that fellow's way of doing anyway. You go on back on your
job. If old man Wofford comes around and says anything to you, you tell
him I said to come to my office." So he just went back and put
his work clothes on and went on his job and went to work. Old man
Wofford, after a while, come down the alley. He said, "Huh: I
thought I run you out of here." He said, "Mr.
Alexander said for you to come to his office."
He went down there, and so my daddy just went on his job and
went to work. And they fired that fellow my daddy cut and let my daddy