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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Bobby Wesley Bush, Sr., June 19, 2000. Interview I-0086. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Balancing work and agricultural obligations in one working community

Bush describes the workforce for Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company during its initial years in the mid- to late 1940s. According to Bush, there was an especially good rapport between managers and workers. Moreover, Bush asserts that most of the workers, in addition to laboring in the manufacturing plants, were also farmers. As a result, the plants would often close down for harvesting and as Bush recalls temporary layoffs did not incite labor agitation because workers always had plenty of work to occupy themselves with at home.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Bobby Wesley Bush, Sr., June 19, 2000. Interview I-0086. 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

On the number of employees, do you know how many in Hickory Springs itself, not the other businesses? When it got started, do you know how many employees there were?
Oh, when it started I'm sure there were only twenty of twenty-five, something like that. I can say in '47 I think there were around seventy. In those days, you worked with your employees and they worked with you. If you needed to close down, you closed down. If they needed to bring in their crops, you closed down. In other words, you cooperated with each other. And most of these folks who worked there were from down around Casar and Vale and places like that, and they were farmers. This was their good income, their money income, was Hickory Springs, but they were basically farmers. And they had to take care of their product.
So would plants just close completely during those periods, for harvest time?
Sometimes, sometimes, if it was necessary. They used to close the schools, let them pick cotton. But sometimes it was necessary to almost close the plant down and so forth, but usually you could stagger it and it would work out all right.
So you'd be off for a week?
So when you laid folks off, they weren't all that upset. In other words, they could use the time usually there at home to do something on their farm. So very few people, if we had unemployment compensation in those days, and I guess we did, but very few people ever even thought about it because we didn't have television to tell everybody that all these goodies were out there. People worked in those days. They were good people.