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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sidney Leneer Pete Underdown, June 18, 2000. Interview I-0091. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Working for family paper company as a young teenager

As a preteen, Underdown helped make boxes for Lenoir Pad and Paper. He could run the machinery to crease the cardboard boxes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sidney Leneer Pete Underdown, June 18, 2000. Interview I-0091. 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

Say this is Lenoir Pad and Paper on the opposite side of the road, over here. The old office had a door right here, and it was about that big.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
So really very small.
PETE UNDERDOWN:
Uh huh, in the old plant. And Aunt Johnsie, she kept the books in there all the time. In fact, until World War II, she or one of her family, one of her daughters, was the office. I'd call it the office manager, but was the office, period. [laughs.] And she did all the bookkeeping and everything. They had one little typewriter and all that. It wasn't hard to clean out. Had a filing cabinet that they're still using today over there. It's one of those little drawer things. And a big old safe. And we cleaned that thing out of there that night. But this building completely burned, the whole works. And then they built a new one back on that that burned years later. And that whole building across there was just gradually added on to. But after this burned out here, they built this thing back and then built her an office over there. They came over on this side of the grocery store and they built this in the back of this thing. This is something that I doubt even Neil ever heard, but Parks and our cousin, Parks's [] uncle, back where the big offices are now for Lenoir Pad and Paper, we had a box shop, cardboard cartons, manufactured cardboard cartons. The first ones for the furniture industry to ship stuff in. And we used to run that at night, and I was about maybe ten, twelve years old, something like that. No, maybe a little older than that. I was old enough that I could crease the- run the cardboard through the-. And I could set it up too and run the whole thing, run it through there and make the creases in it. Then all we'd do is fold it. It had the creases in it. It's real simple to make a box. And we ran that thing-or they ran it-for a number of years till the fact that Jamestown and a couple others that made corrugated boxes for furniture got so big that we couldn't compete with them.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
So about what years did you do that? If you were ten or so, late 20s?
PETE UNDERDOWN:
I was somewhere around between ten and fifteen, in there. So that made it, well, the early 1930s.