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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 >>

An employee loses her health working in Parks Underdown's cigar factory

Parks Underdown owned a cigar company while also manufacturing furniture pads in a different factory. Pete Underdown helped roll the cigar wrappers, and he remembered a coworker who gained a great deal of weight because her job involved tasting a sugar coating for the cigar tips.

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

Parks was also in the tobacco business. He and Grandpa owned-Parks mostly, and he sold these too while he sold pads-M.L.C. Cigar Company. And the manufacturing plant was located where Lenoir Pad and Paper Company's office is today, on the side of that building. That was something else. And that was before they bricked it too. It was a wooden building then.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
Back where you used to make cardboard boxes?
PETE UNDERDOWN:
Yes. Right on the same site, but a different building. The original store was built on the side of it, and that's where M.L.C. Cigar store was.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
They rolled cigars?
PETE UNDERDOWN:
Oh, yes. They never did grow the tobacco, but I can remember helping trying to roll them and making the fillers on them. And you had a machine, you made up this filler, and then you put leaves on the outside. A wrapper, they called them, wrapper leaves. You put it on the outside. I don't think the way they was making them back in those days would pass health inspection today [Laughter] . Because they made a sweet tip, M.L.C. sweet tip, and an M.L.C. that wasn't a sweet tip, but the sweet tipping, always the girl that rolled those and made them, she'd always put this mixture that we got from the drug store-the drug store had to mix it up-put that on there with her finger and then lick her finger. [laughs.] Because that was sweet, she gained a lot of weight. She was a carful, died as a carful. She was one of the superintendent of Lenoir Pad and Paper's daughters, a Farley. And she got kind of fat licking her finger. She was eating a lot of sugar.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
So what period was that?
PETE UNDERDOWN:
That was after he became a salesman for Lenoir Pad and Paper.