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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Barbara Hanks, August 10, 1994. Interview K-0098. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Anxiety on the first day of work

Hanks was nervous on her first day at the furniture factory, but soon became comfortable among the twenty-odd workers in the rub and pack department, including black and Mexican workers. She describes, too, some of the workers' slang, including "orange peel" and "goat's milk."

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Barbara Hanks, August 10, 1994. Interview K-0098. 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

PATRICK HUBER:
Were you nervous your first day?
BARBARA HANKS:
Oh, yeah, yeah. And not knowing that big old plant I didn't know which way to go. Here I was--. Cause I worked upstairs and so I just had to follow them to find out where break room and stuff was. So usually, I would just take the easiest way and just go down the back steps and just go out the side and be out there and just sit on a little bench. Then it didn't take long till I found my way around. Then it was just like home, I reckon. Well, I really spent more time there than I did at home most of the time. [Laughter]
PATRICK HUBER:
How big was the rub and pack department? How many people worked there?
BARBARA HANKS:
Oh, Lord--. Cause that's where we rubbed it, and then we put the hardware on it there in that department. Then we inspected it and plus packed it. So it was all, I'll say, a good twenty people in there.
PATRICK HUBER:
Where there women and men who worked there?
BARBARA HANKS:
Right.
PATRICK HUBER:
Black and white?
BARBARA HANKS:
Uh, huh. Mexicans. There was a Mexican guy named William. He was a repairman. He was good, too, and he could do the tops to gloss them. He was real good at that. Machine them. Cut them down. And that was something weird, too. You know when you go in a store and you see the tops how so pretty and shiny they are? The steps you have to go to get that--. I learned all about that, the machines, cutting it down and getting the orange peel out of the tops and stuff.
PATRICK HUBER:
What's the orange peel?
BARBARA HANKS:
Okay, orange peel--. It looks like little holes maybe in it. It looks brushed, like, see you want that out to make it smooth looking.
PATRICK HUBER:
And they call it the orange peel?
BARBARA HANKS:
Uh, huh, that's what they call it cause maybe if it come down to me and I look at it, I'd have to tag it out and send it back cause it's got orange--. You know how orange peeling looks?
PATRICK HUBER:
Yeah.
BARBARA HANKS:
And that's what it looked like. We used to call the polish--I really don't know the name of it--but it was white, milky looking, so we called it goat's milk. The reason why, a long time ago in the fields White's has goats. So I'm assuming they just--. Cause I was running around like, goat's milk? Why anyone would call it that, but that's what we used to call it. It did good, too. I'd like to have some of that at home.