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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Letha Ann Sloan Osteen, June 8, 1979. Interview H-0254. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A supervisor replaced Osteen to make room for a personal friend

A supervisor moved Mrs. Osteen from her job to make room for his friend, but she refused to accept the "pick out hand" job he offered in replacement.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Letha Ann Sloan Osteen, June 8, 1979. Interview H-0254. 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:
And what was your job, what did you start out doing?
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Spinning. And I wound up weaving. But they let me learn to spool after I worked in the spinning room awhile-I asked the overseer, Tripp, his name was Tripp-could I learn how to spool. He said, "Why yes, we need spoolers." And he give me a half a side of spooling there and so much yarn. Well I got good on it I reckon. Just that one day on that half a side and then he put me on the whole thing. And I don't remember just how long I spooled but then I wanted to go to the weave room. My brothers was making so much more money than I was, so I told 'em I wanted to learn to weave. He said, "Well we'll let you learn to weave. You're a cracking good spinner and you're a good spooler and now we're going to put you in the weave room." So I wove the rest of my time in the mill. I think I was fifty-one down here when I quit. Wasn't no why I quit. I ought to a worked on.
ALLEN TULLOS:
There wasn't a reason why you quit.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
From weaving?
ALLEN TULLOS:
Yes'm.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
No-yes there was a reason I reckon. More or less, Georgia was after me all the time to quit. I run the looms in daytime, she run 'em at night. And I had a little jack leg I worked for-we didn't agree too much, we never had a falling out. But I didn't like him. He was trying to get that set of looms I was on for another man. And they took me off of 'em and give 'em to somebody else. And then told me I could have a job picking out and I told 'em I wasn't no picker-out hand. So I just quit.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Why did he do that way?
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Why did I do?
ALLEN TULLOS:
Why did he do that?
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Well he wanted my looms for one of his friends . . .
GEORGIA:
Then when people got fifty years old, they figured that it was time they were retiring and getting out of the mill
ALLEN TULLOS:
Out of the weave room or just out of the mill?
GEORGIA:
Just out of the mill at fifty years old-you was considered old. Mrs. Osteen stopped working at the mill after she turned fifty, partly to appease her daughter and partly because her supervisor gave her position to someone else. Industr: Work: Employer-Employee Relations Industr: Work: Other: Age discrimin Women and Work: Discrimination and Bias
3. ALLEN TULLOS:
Would they sometimes move people who were older to another job, an easier job, instead of trying to get 'em out?
GEORGIA:
Yeah, they'd put 'em over to something easier and Mama could a had a pick-out job or a battery filling job but she didn't want either one. And as good as her health was she would a held on out to work maybe ten or twelve years longer.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Could you run the loom as well then as you . . .
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
I got production every week off of my pound. Weaving by the pound. No it wasn't nothing that I'd done . . .
GEORGIA:
She worked regular, I mean she wasn't out or anything.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
I didn't do nothing to make 'em want to fire me.
GEORGIA:
No, you sure didn't. He just wanted that job, that set of looms, for one of his friends.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
For a friend of his.
GEORGIA:
From Greer, he came here from Greer.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
And this boy, he thought enought of me to tell me the evening before that they was giving my looms to him the next morning. I said, "Why no." He said, "Yes they are." So I went in on 'em, and he come in on 'em. And I worked over there 'till the boss weaver come and told me he was going to give me a pick-out job. I said, "Well you ain't going to do no such a thing because I'm no pick-out hand." But I did do a little spare work.
GEORGIA:
Very little.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Very little, because he just meant for me to get out of there. I was too smart for him I reckon, or lazy or something.
ALLEN TULLOS:
So you spent most of your working time as a weaver.
LETHA ANN SLOAN OSTEEN:
Yeah.