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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Dock E. Hall, January 7, 1976. Interview H-0271. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Choosing mine work over textile work

Hall reveals some of the choices North Carolinians faced in an industrializing region. Textile mills employed mostly children and did not pay very well, Hall explains in this excerpt, which is why he and others chose mine work. But mine work could be unpleasant, Hall remembers.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Dock E. Hall, January 7, 1976. Interview H-0271. 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 thought of one thing I wanted to ask. Why did people go to work at the mines rather than go over to some of the textile mills? You could get work there.
Well, when that mine was there like it was and running like it was, Albemarle was about the closest place you could go to. And then they just worked children mostly in them, you know. Cotton mills usually didn't pay no money to amount to anything. They paid more money at the Coggins than they would there; that's the reason they would come to the Coggins mine. And a lot of people did move from there and come over to Albemarle and put their children in—you know children used to work in cotton mills. A lot of them didn't get to go to school on account of the people keeping them in the mill. But now you can't do that, you know.
No. So did you go into town? What did people think about gold miners? Did they think it was a good job, or did they think not?
Well, there ain't many people that knows much about it. It was a pretty tough job. Now, you go down there in this kind of weather, and you go down there and work your eight hours, and you come out at what we called (up at the top) the poppy-head. You come up and stick your head out there in the changing room (where they had to change clothes and all like that—it'd be maybe as far as from here out to that tree outside from the shaft), do you know part of them had on oilclothes, kind of. It was like a shower of rain down there, a whole lot of it, especially in that shaft. And do you know that the darned clothes would freeze on them before they could get out there? Back then we had cold weather.
Yes. It's not as cold now, is it?
We don't have nothing now like we did then. I just told you, where I was born at there was thirteen inches of snow. And that was down at And God, it's warm down in this country now: the climate changed. You know, I was reading something in the papers, that it's been cool down in Florida in some places. They used to didn't have no heat up there in northern Florida; now they've got either electric heat or, you know, some kind of heat.