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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Gordon Berkstresser III, April 29, 1986. Interview H-0263. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Insularity of the textile world

In describing his family's involvement in the textile industry, Berkstresser remarks that textile workers and textile executives tend to live in insular worlds, associating with one another generation after generation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Gordon Berkstresser III, April 29, 1986. Interview H-0263. 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

I was interested if you don't mind starting with this, in—you were talking about your family being involved in the textile industry, from way back…
GORDON BERKSTRESSER, III:
Actually, the first member of my father's family who came here from Domshat () in Germany in 1731 was a weaver and dyer and my family has been involved in textiles and mill ownership and education and executive positions ever since. One of my children has decided to go into textiles as well. I grew up in Roanoke Rapids and I span the period starting in the 30s, since the war, and most of the people that I knew as a young child—because of the way these mill towns are situated where a large majority of them were in the textile business and because of the nature of the industry, the nature of the people in the industry, we have all these trade associations—North Carolina Textile Manufacturing Association, National Manufacturers of Hosery—etc., etc.,—and the conventions that these folks, including me, tend to go to—you keep meeting the same people. The sons and daughters go to school together—State, Clemson, etc.—even at Carolina—I went to Carolina as well as to State—another one of the executives of one of the mills up in Roanoke Rapids went to Carolina—those things keep repeating themselves. A good deal of intermarriage. Just as the textile workers tend to stay in a pretty tight location and work for a pretty tight group of mills, the textile executive "class"—if you like—they're more mobile in that they move around from mill town to mill town for jobs, but they tend to know same people, generations of people—of families—tend to communicate. Here I am now at State, and I'm teaching sons, daughters, nephews, nieces of former classmates. I've been involved with what we affectionately call the rag business, since I can remember. It's part of my life.