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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Vesta and Sam Finley, July 22, 1975. Interview H-0267. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Health problems among the mill workers

The conditions in the mill and the long hours that many employees worked meant that many of the textile workers had serious health problems.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Vesta and Sam Finley, July 22, 1975. Interview H-0267. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON:
I wanted to ask you about the health of the people who worked in the mills. Were people generally in pretty good health; or what did it do to your health to work in the mill?
VESTA FINLEY:
I don't know. We used to have some real pale looking people that worked in that mill [laughter] . It was hard on them, but I guess it was just the mercy of the Lord that they was able to work. They had to work! But there was a lot of sick people. You know, we used to have a lot of people that had-what is it, this sore mouth. You get sore, that you don't have a balanced meal. Marion Roydhouse: Scurvy?
VESTA FINLEY:
No, you don't call it scurvy.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Pellagra?
VESTA FINLEY:
Yes. A lot of people used to have that. And then we had people that used to have TB; and it might not have been TB, it could have been what they call lung trouble now, from inhaling that cotton and stuff, you know. They called it TB or tuberculosis. But I've often thought now that they found this other disease that's caused from inhaling, I think that's probably what it was, but doctors didn't know at that time.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
If you were ill, was it easy to get to a doctor? Did the company have doctors?
VESTA FINLEY:
No, the company didn't have doctors back then.
SAM FINLEY:
The doctors, you could call them and they'd come to the house. But now they don't do that no more; you've got to go see them.
VESTA FINLEY:
Oh, back in those days most doctors were dope
SAM FINLEY:
Alcoholics.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
People in the mill village didn't have trouble getting physicians to come out to their houses?
SAM FINLEY:
No, no more than anybody else.
VESTA FINLEY:
No, they'd come.