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Title: Oral History Interview with Vickie Jacobs, December 11, 1993. Interview K-0100. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Jacobs, Vickie, interviewee
Interview conducted by Blackwell-Johnson, Joyce
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 132 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-06-22, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Vickie Jacobs, December 11, 1993. Interview K-0100. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0100)
Author: Joyce Blackwell-Johnson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Vickie Jacobs, December 11, 1993. Interview K-0100. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0100)
Author: Vickie Jacobs
Description: 106 Mb
Description: 29 p.
Note: Interview conducted on December 11, 1993, by Joyce Blackwell-Johnson; recorded in Mebane, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Jackie Gorman.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series K. Southern Communities, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with Vickie Jacobs, December 11, 1993.
Interview K-0100. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Jacobs, Vickie, interviewee


Interview Participants

    VICKIE JACOBS, interviewee
    JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
I'm interviewing Vickie Jacobs on December 11, 1993. She was employed at Hickory White Furniture Company. We are located at the Mebane Public Library in Mebane, North Carolina.
First of all, Vickie, I would like for you to tell me a little bit about yourself, where you are from, where you were born, where did you go to school? Those kinds of things first of all.
VICKIE JACOBS:
O.K. I'm originally from Hillsborough. I was born in Chapel Hill in a hospital. I went to school at Orange High School. I love sports—softball. I just like activity because I love outdoors—fishing.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. Did you play sports in high school?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, softball.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Oh, really? Okay. Who are your parents?
VICKIE JACOBS:
My parents [unknown] Watkins, and my father is deceased. He's been deceased now for it seems like twenty-seven years.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. Did anyone in your family work at White's Furniture Factory prior to you going in and prior to you being hired there?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Not really.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So you are the first family member?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
First of all, I think what I would like to do is just to focus on White's Furniture Factory before the take-over, before 1985. We're going to focus on that first of

Page 2
all and then move from there to 1985 and thereafter when it became White Hickory Furniture factory.
VICKIE JACOBS:
O.K.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So any questions I ask you they will pertain to the years that you spent at White's before the take-over.
Can you tell me when you were first hired at White's, and how you got your job and what position you were hired to do at that time?
VICKIE JACOBS:
O.K. Back in, I think, 1986—that's when I was first hired—I was working in a restaurant named William's Barbecue. The plant manager in Hillsborough named Glenn Farabee came there and we started talking so I asked him did he have any openings. He said yes and told me to come down and put in an application. I had done that. And when I put in the application I got hired the next week. So I started. When I got hired I started in what they called the rub room—rub and pack. I'd rub chairs or sand drawers. Then maybe a couple months later I got promoted to final inspections. I stayed there until about two years, maybe two years and a half.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Was there any particular reason why you wanted to go to White's as opposed to staying, let's say, where you were?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yes, the job I was doing at the restaurant, you know, they didn't have no promotion. That's the reason why I left. I had stayed with William's Barbecue for like two years. Same thing, no raise, no nothing so that's why I left.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Was William's Barbecue your first job?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No. I was with all different kinds of restaurants before. This is the first mill I worked in. I had worked in a fabric mill, but [unknown], but after that strictly restaurant work.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
All in Mebane?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No. Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, I have worked in Durham.

Page 3
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
You said when you were first hired at White's you were hired to work in the rubbing department. Did you work in any other departments while you were there?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yes, I have worked in the cabinet room, I have worked in the machine room, I have worked all over.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
When you go back and consider all the departments that you've worked in at White's which one did you like the most?
VICKIE JACOBS:
The rub and pack area.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Why is that? Any particular reason?
VICKIE JACOBS:
The money. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What was the salary like?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Their salary was pretty good. I made like $8, closer to $9.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Was that $8 an hour?
VICKIE JACOBS:
$8 or $9 an hour.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K., that's good. When you were first hired there, let's say, when you first approached Glenn Farabee about the job, did anyone tell you about the work there?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yes, and his name was Roy McAdoo, Jr. He was saying that they were hiring. And he said, too, that he was going to talk to the man for me. That was during the time, too, I had already met him and we had already talked. I don't know whether he had to put a little word in for me or not. After we had talked, like I said, that's when I first met him.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Was there any other place in Mebane that you were interested in working? The reason I'm asking is because as I told you before we started the interview I grew up in Roxboro. Roxboro is primarily a textile town. For a long time most people wanted to always work at [unknown]. That was one of our biggest textile mills. Since that, of course, we have had several others.
One reason a lot of people wanted to work there even when you were in high school was because of the pay because you had so many other people tell you about

Page 4
working there and all of that. So I was just wondering if that was the same kind of thing that was going on in Mebane at the time that you were interested in working at White's?
VICKIE JACOBS:
During that time White's had two plants. One was in Hillsborough and one was in Mebane. During that time I was in Hillsborough and that's before they had turned into Hickory White. I stayed there maybe three months before they had the changeover. I stayed there for like 2 1/2 years before they closed down then I got transferred to Mebane. To tell you the truth I didn't honestly know that much about Mebane plant.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So you worked at White's in Hillsborough first?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What years are we talking about?
VICKIE JACOBS:
It seems like '86.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
For a couple of years, '86 to '88?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So you were in Hillsborough at the time of the takeover in Mebane?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So you were not working at the one in Mebane.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So the one in Hillsborough closed down first?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
That was in 1988?
VICKIE JACOBS:
'88. '89-'90 in Mebane.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Then you transferred here?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yes.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
When you talk about working, let's say, in the rubbing department, can you tell me more specifically what you did on that job? Can you kind of describe that?
VICKIE JACOBS:
O.K. like rubbing. We had to sand drawers to get it smooth and wrap some. I'd have to steel wool like the tables or chairs. Then you'd have to buff them up to get

Page 5
them shined. Touch them up or if they need to be wrapped wrap them and send it to the people that fix them and [unknown] during that time it came to final inspection. A special person would have to inspect it and make sure it is good enough to go to wrap, and then it was sent to the warehouse.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Were you on some kind of production quota at that time?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, we weren't getting no type of production pay but the company was on production.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Oh, I see.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yes, so we had to get so much out a day.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So indirectly you were on production? You say the company was.
VICKIE JACOBS:
The company.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Get so much out of the day. Did you see where that had some kind of impact on your work? Did you feel kind of pressured to meet the particular quota?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So in terms of pay, no, you were not on production.
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Okay, but you did have some kind of quota there?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Do you know why the company had to meet a certain quota?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No, I don't.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
When you first went to White's in Hillsborough did you have someone to teach you your job or was it on the job training?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, when I would say teach, they'd say, "Take a piece of steel wool and just steel wool this chair all over." That was mostly it. Then, as it went on, I'm a fast learner and I'd just watch how things going and so I would say I helped boost myself to moving on up, too, because I would try anything. That's how I learned. Mostly I learned on my own.

Page 6
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you think the quality of your work had a lot to do with your being moved from one department to the other?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Were those moves considered as promotions?
VICKIE JACOBS:
I think so.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Can you describe in any more detail some of the other kinds of work that you did at White's?
VICKIE JACOBS:
O.K., let's start in the cabinet room. That's just the white wood before any type of finish goes on it. You'd have to sand it smooth, putty up any holes or anything that needed to be puttied up. Sometimes we spray like a yellow stain on it to help the finishing stuff stay on there.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you all have supervisors?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, we sure did.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you ever serve in that particular position as supervisor? Did you have to train someone?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No, well, yes, they had me at the [unknown]. That's the very final inspection. [unknown]. Yeah, I trained.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you like that?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
A lot of jobs that we have after we really learn the job we have a tendency to take shortcuts. We say, "I know how to do this." And say, "I'm going to take a shortcut here. Maybe instead of doing this I can maybe go and maybe do this instead." Did you find yourself taking shortcuts?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Oh, yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
More specifically, what kinds of shortcuts did you have a tendency to take?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, I wouldn't say much as shortcut because after I got used to the job I done it faster.

Page 7
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Oh, O.K. Speed up the process.
Can you describe for me the working conditions at White's in Hillsborough and then compare that to the working conditions at Hickory White in Mebane in terms of like the environment, the noise?
VICKIE JACOBS:
The worst part where we was working was I was right there with the lady where she sprayed lacquer. This was probably the worst part because you could smell it. Plus to the fixers that fix on the furniture they was right there. They was right there and I was there just like we are talking now. They would spray lacquer and no air vents behind. That was about the worst part of it all is smelling that junk.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did they give you some kind of mask?
VICKIE JACOBS:
You could get a mask if you wanted.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did most people chose to wear those?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No, but during the times when I got pregnant I had to wear one [unknown]. I had to be transferred out of there.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
But you remained there through your entire pregnancy or did you leave, take maternity leave?
VICKIE JACOBS:
I had to take maternity leave.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
But, they were willing to move you to another department?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Oh, yeah, they did move me, but I was having complications so I had to leave.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What did you have?
VICKIE JACOBS:
A girl.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
How old is she?
VICKIE JACOBS:
She's five now.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Was the work kind of dangerous? Was there any particular department that seemed to be more dangerous to work in than others?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah. In our area it wasn't too bad. They had to work with some type of oil. When you're using oil with a machine they splattered it all on the floor. As a matter of

Page 8
fact, I had slipped and fell myself. I happen to know where another girl slipped and fell. In my area, the rub and pack, that's the most dangerous spot in the mill I'm telling you. Finishing, you just have to look and watch where you step. Sanding room, just have to watch the machines you have to run, but the most dangerous part to me in the furniture factory is really dangerous is the machine room with the saws. If you're not paying attention a girl can get her clothes snagged in this machine and just pull her and lacquer her.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
When they are injured on the job I would assume they would receive from the company some kind of compensation?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yes, if they out for a while, let's say a week or two, they will get compensation.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
How often did you all take breaks?
VICKIE JACOBS:
In there we took breaks twice, I think. First in the morning and lunch. We took a break maybe about 9:00 and it would be like ten minutes or for me it would be like fifteen because I had to walk so far to the break room. Then probably break like quarter to twelve or twelve o'clock and come back thirty minutes after they left.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What about lunch?
VICKIE JACOBS:
There was lunch about 12:00. Mostly about thirty minutes.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you have an afternoon break?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What were your work hours?
VICKIE JACOBS:
7:00 to 3:25.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
When you did take your time off for breaks and for lunch how did you usually spend your time? When I say that it's not well, I guess the first thing that would come to your mind would be lunch I spent my time eating, but I guess what I'm talking about here is with whom did you socialize at that time or did you feel that you have time to socialize or talk to someone else?

Page 9
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, me, I would talk to anybody. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
[Laughter]
VICKIE JACOBS:
I would socialize with anybody that comes around. Sometimes if it's pretty outside we'd go outside to the picnic table and set around there and jive and wait for the bell to go off. Same thing about first break or if it's, let's say, Friday, payday, we'd all run to the bank. By the time we'd get back it would be time to go back to work anyway.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Seems like fun.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, it's O.K., it just wasn't long enough.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
We always complained about that. I've even had jobs where the breaks are thirty minutes, and I had jobs where we've had an hour. So regardless of the length of time it's always like that, "It's time to go back now, already." It's just that way, I guess.
What kind of rules did the company have for the employees?
VICKIE JACOBS:
First, no smoking and especially in the bathrooms. Smoking only in the smoking area. They had a rule that if you are not there—. They have a point system and if you're not there, let's say, five minutes after, well, maybe one minute after seven you're going to get like a quarter of a point. Or if you didn't call in at all you'd get two points. They were, to me, they weren't that strict. They were strict but not that strict. Most of White's—I'm talking about Hillsborough now—there is no smoking especially in the bathrooms especially [unknown]. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
[Laughter]
VICKIE JACOBS:
Absenteeism.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Talk to me a little bit more about this point system. How did that work?
VICKIE JACOBS:
If you get eight points. O.K. if you get five or six points you get written up. If you get seven or eight points you'd be terminated. You have twenty days to work off your points. ([unknown]).

Page 10
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. for that twenty days you have to work off the points what are some of the things you have to do in that twenty day period?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, you got to make sure you don't be out anymore or be late. You just have to work a whole month without being late or not coming in at all or anything. You have to be there to work off that one point or either a half a point or whatever to keep from getting written up or either terminated.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So regardless of how many points you've gotten—. Let's say, you've gotten two points as oppose to eight points, you would still have a twenty day period, would still apply regardless?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Regardless. If you only have like a half a point in the whole time you've still got that twenty days to work off that half a point. You know, they won't go against you like if you were closer to eight points, but you still have twenty days to work off that half.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
How did you feel about that system?
VICKIE JACOBS:
It was O.K. I guess [unknown].
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
When I first asked you about the two points I was thinking in the back of my own mind that it wasn't really fair. But then again, it gives you the opportunity not to accumulate enough points to be terminated.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So in many ways they were really helping you out.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Now I understand—interesting. Any rules on talking while doing your work or dressing or anything kind of other [unknown]?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Dressing, no hot pants, you'd have to have shorts down to your knees. Talking, they should never say that because we like talking. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
[Laughter]
VICKIE JACOBS:
Dressing in shorts—. Some departments now it depends what kind of tops you wear (ladies). If they are showing your belly they don't let you do that. You've got

Page 11
to have on your underclothes especially your brassiere. [unknown]. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
That's funny.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, that's funny.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So in some ways dress codes didn't always apply to men. You're saying there was a different dress code for women than men?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, mostly.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Any complainants about that from women?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Really?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No complainants.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
With you in particular, did you ever accumulate points for any particular reason? Or were you one of those—.
VICKIE JACOBS:
The most points I probably accumulated—I did good if I did three. I worked hard.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
[unknown]. You didn't get into trouble.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Let me tell you another thing about this point system. Let's say, if I had to go to the doctor today you only get one point for that. But if I had to go back like that following week for the same thing they won't give you a point. Let me think. If you stay out for every time you would get a point. You know, if I had to go back to the doctor everyday I would accumulate just that one point. If you stay out for like unnecessary stuff then you'll get a point for each day. Like when you have jury duty you'll get one point for that and to me that's the part I think you shouldn't get no point because you have to go.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
I would have a problem with that one because that's something that's really out of your control.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.

Page 12
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
And even if you have to go back to the doctor for some reason or a follow check up or whatever, that seems to me unfair. I don't know how others may feel about that. Seems like you are penalized for something that is beyond your control.
Did you have people complain about that the point system?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Some.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. What was usually the response?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No more than maybe just like what you said that some things are unfair when, let's say, you've already seven points and you get called for jury duty. [unknown] then you've got to go jury duty. If you don't go to jury duty they would probably come and fine you, but then you also lose your job. [unknown]?
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What about the people in management, what was their response?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Some [unknown] and they just don't come out straight forward and just tell you what the deal is. I guess if you are a good worker that they probably figure [unknown] if you've got seven points already. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
[Laughter]
VICKIE JACOBS:
You know, some of them they let them go.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
The same system applied, they had the same system in Mebane as in Hillsborough?
VICKIE JACOBS:
It seemed like.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you decide on your particular job—I understand that you worked in so many different departments, actually you say every department there—did you decide how the work was going to be done, when it was going to be done, or how much you would be expected to complete on that job each day or did the company decide?
VICKIE JACOBS:
A little bit of both because some things… If I didn't feel like working much I ain't going to do it. Little bit of both. [unknown].

Page 13
Sometimes they'll say this. Mostly we all know what needs to be done and when it needs to be out. But sometimes we don't always [unknown]. Sometimes the finishing material might be messed up or sometimes the furniture itself might be messed up.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. If one department is behind in doing its work then it could hold another department up?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So they are very, very connected.
VICKIE JACOBS:
The first part of the [unknown] then they are rushed from the sanding room, then they are rushed from [unknown] room, then they are rushed to the finish, and then to the rub and pack. We were the last ones to be finished completely and all they do really is just look at it and be ready to be put in a box. All that coming from one department to another it would get banged up and beat and stuff like that.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
That's interesting looking at that process of how it evolves over time with the furniture from one step to another and moving from one department to another. If I was a person who, let's say, went to White's Furniture Factory and went on a tour there, and I went through each of these departments beginning with the first department and then moving on up to rubbing, would that give me any idea of, let's say, the kind of pay that these people are receiving, how dangerous the job is, the working conditions and all of that?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Uh, huh.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Does that kind of determine, let's say, promotions? Would someone who's starting out, let's say, in the first department with the furniture just being made?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No. Are you saying that like if you work down into another department that means a demotion. No, no, no.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K.

Page 14
VICKIE JACOBS:
You can get a promotion in the machine room or a promotion in the sanding room or you can just get a promotion. If I've been in the rub and pack, let's say, that was my main area, you can get a promotion from like rubbing drawers to buffing on the buffer, you know it pays a little bit more or maybe washing the furniture down. Listen, you are on a job where you can be paid a little bit more.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So there are promotions within each department?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
That's just one question that I hadn't thought about so thanks for answering that. But is there a promotion from one department to another? When you move from one department to another is that usually considered a promotion or a demotion depending upon which department you're moving into?
VICKIE JACOBS:
It depends. It can go either way.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K.
VICKIE JACOBS:
We can get a promotion or you can get a demotion.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Now what's the first department there when the furniture first starts out? What's the name of that department?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Machine room.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. so that's the machine room. And you are in rubbing and that's the last department?
VICKIE JACOBS:
That's the last department.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So, let's say, if I worked in the machine room when I was first hired and then eventually they said, "O.K. Joyce, we're going to send you over to the rubbing room," and this is after a period of time, would that be considered as a promotion for me or just a move into another department?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Sometimes maybe the moving into another department or it depends on what they want you to do.

Page 15
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. So there are some positions, let's say, in the machine room that actually pay more and are considered more prestigious than some positions in the rubbing room?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. That's what I was getting out, and I apologize for that. I'm still trying to understand the system and drawing really from my own experiences at home in textiles, but I don't that much about furniture.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
I want to go back for a minute about these benefits. When you talk about the point system, you talked about being out and had to go back for a check-up and all of that. You would get a point if you were going to be out. But what kind of benefits did White's offer its employees?
VICKIE JACOBS:
They offered your life insurance. They had no health. Like, if you get hurt on the job they would cover it. I'm trying to think. [pauses] It wasn't that good. I mean it was good, but it wasn't that good. [unknown].
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you get vacations?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, paid vacations.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did everyone take their vacations at about the same time?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, everybody took their same time. Of course, you'd have to be there a year before you get one week. I think after you'd been there [unknown] you'd get two weeks. They'd be good. [unknown]. Number one they like to sell you a little life insurance to have. [unknown].
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So you did get sick leave?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
And health insurance is not part of the benefit package?
VICKIE JACOBS:
If it was I can't remember right now.

Page 16
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
You would probably know especially with a child.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, when I had my baby my husband insures me for that. They just paid for me just by being out of work. During that time I still paid for my life insurance.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Oh, really?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Uh, huh.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So that applied at not only Hillsborough but Mebane as well. [unknown].
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, the same.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Let's talk about races. You know the different races [unknown]. How did the different races at White's get along?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, to be honest they did fine, but to me they had the blacks doing the most dirtiest work than whites. They had a few blacks in the machine room. Very few blacks in the cabinet room. Most of the blacks were in the finishing. [unknown] they were the fanciest jobs.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What about pay? Was there a difference in pay?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No. Each individual maybe sometimes had different pay. Like I said, they paid pretty good.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. So there was not really a difference in pay based on color or race?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Not that much.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Although some maybe, let's say some did get paid just a little bit more than the other. [unknown].
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
But in terms of the kinds of jobs that blacks had they were usually not considered "as good" as those given to whites?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
You had also whites and blacks, any other ethnic groups working at White's?
VICKIE JACOBS:
In Hillsborough maybe one or two Mexicans. [unknown].

Page 17
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Mebane.
VICKIE JACOBS:
[unknown].
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What jobs did Mexicans usually have?
VICKIE JACOBS:
They usually put them—. The only one around us was—. She was [unknown]. [Laughter] When she spoke she spoke Spanish. She worked in finishing, too. In Hillsborough they mostly worked in the finishing.[unknown].
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What about between men and women, any difference in treatment or where they were hired or pay or anything like that?
VICKIE JACOBS:
I have heard that it was. Some would say [unknown]. I had done it myself. I proved to them that a woman can. But that didn't make any difference. [unknown]. We didn't make no big deal out of that. Some of our work was just a little bit heavy. But I proved to them that a woman could do it.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. When you say you proved to men you could do it were you hired in a particular department?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
You just went there and did the work without being assigned to that department to make a point.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
How did you feel afterwards?
VICKIE JACOBS:
I just done it and this was better than [unknown]. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Some feminist in you. Were you ever laid off while working at White's?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Before it closed down?
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Yes, before it closed down.
VICKIE JACOBS:
No. I mean if it was something like a lay off maybe something was messed up. No more than that.

Page 18
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Any seasons or any times during the year where you would have what we call the "peak season" or "low season"—. I'm thinking now like at home a certain time a year the plants will usually place people on fewer hours. I'm thinking about [unknown] worked twenty-four hours because if they worked twenty-four hours they can't get unemployment compensation, but then there are times when they have to work seven days a week for a stretch of time. Did that happen at White's?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, we were on thirty-two hours for a couple of months. I think that was during the time that they were slowly beginning to close before anybody knew it anything about it. We stayed on that, I think, about a couple of months.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
How many days per week did you all work?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Four days with thirty-two hours but mostly five.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Monday through Friday and sometimes on Saturday?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Do you remember any unions organizing at White's?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Do you know anyone else who's talked about unions?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
[unknown]. Did you have workers to complain in large numbers and actually go beyond complaining to go on strike or anything like that?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
The products that you were making, how did you feel about those?
VICKIE JACOBS:
O.K.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you purchase any of them?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No, it was too expensive.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
You all didn't get a discount?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, we had a discount. But after the little bit of a discount to me it was still expensive. [Laughter]

Page 19
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you see a difference in the quality of the furniture in Hillsborough as opposed to Mebane?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Hillsborough ran a little bit slower than Mebane. Mebane ran, to me, too fast. They wanted to get the work out. I believe right to the day that if they had slowed down the pace and get the quality better, I think they'd still be working.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So the demand for the furniture dropped. You think the demand dropped because the furniture was not of good quality?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Too bad. You know, they didn't give you time enough really to work on the furniture like it should be.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
[unknown]. What about the factory in Hillsborough? Is that one as large as the one in Mebane?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Do you know why that particular plant closed?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did they give you any kind of notice?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, they gave us some notice. [unknown] which we already had heard rumors. [unknown], but they gave us—I can't think of it right now—just to save their check, where you can stay until—.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Called severance pay—.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Severance pay, right. White's pretty good. [unknown]Make you feel like they appreciated you. They gave us dinner. Sometimes they even give us like free breaks. Sometimes they give you [unknown]. They was pretty good like that.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Any special things during holiday seasons?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, they always gave us a dinner. They usually, before I had came, had a dance. But they quit all that. They always have gave us a dinner.

Page 20
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did they have the dances prior to Hickory White's take over or prior to the company becoming Hickory White or did those dances continue even after the takeover at any time?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No, they didn't.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Those were some of the changes going on?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
How about socializing with people? Did you socialize with any of the people you worked with after work or did you kind of after meetings go home?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Some of them. I didn't socialize that much. The first thing I usually do if I don't have to go and pay no bill I always go home first and check, and then I [unknown], I guess, because I had kids. I go home first. That used to be number one on my list unless I have to pay a bill or something. I would go straight home. [unknown]. Socializing like after work, very seldom.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So you all didn't visit with one another after work hours?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Let's move on to your experiences in Mebane. Let's talk about that just a little bit. I guess I was under the impression that you worked at White's in Mebane. You had been employed there but had been working at the factory here a while before it was taken over, a while before White's was takenover and then worked some time after that. What I'm getting from you now is that you never really worked here before the takeover rather you were in Hillsborough after the takeover.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Then after Hillsborough closed you moved here when you were transferred here to Mebane. When you transferred, let's say, from Hillsborough to Mebane, what did you think of the new company that you were moving to? In many ways it was still Hickory, I mean, still White's furniture, but in what ways did it differ from the one in Hillsborough?

Page 21
VICKIE JACOBS:
The only difference to me it was a longer drive, and they cut my pay. I had heard that Mebane worked faster. I said, "Well, maybe I can do it. Well, let me work around it."
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K.
VICKIE JACOBS:
It's something when you get old you need people. Sometimes you meet nice people. That's the most important. Well, when that we know we're going to be transferred we came up here, and they gave us a tour to see what we're going to be doing from now on and see what type of people we're going to be working around. They helped out a lot. But mostly my concern was with the people. I can work around anybody, but sometimes [unknown].
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
There is always, I think in many ways, the fear of going into a new place and having to meet people. So at that time you were living in Hillsborough and you just commuted back and forth?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So you didn't really know that many people in Mebane?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
It does make a difference.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Was there any particular reason to be cut in pay? Did you get another job? Was the job—?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No, it was mostly… Well, I went to final inspect there. I was inspector, but I wasn't the final inspector. (gap reason="unknown"/> I worked on the line called the assembly line. I worked on that more, but the final inspection person was out and that's when I came in. I gradually, you know, got regular and they gave me raises. [unknown].
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you all get a raise every so often?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Every six months.

Page 22
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Well, that's better than most people.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Some people have to wait for years. [Laughter] When the factory closed in Hillsborough did they give everybody the opportunity to come to Mebane?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
How did they go about deciding that?
VICKIE JACOBS:
They weigh, I guess, your record. To me the ones they call in the office, especially the ones that they let go to Mebane. If you didn't go to Mebane, you know, they would kind of like mess up your employment, but get unemployment. I would say out of that whole plant, I guess, maybe if they had a hundred fifty people, maybe fifty, maybe seventy-five went to Mebane.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So if you didn't go then they would not—. They would make sure that you didn't get unemployment?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No, what I'm saying is like, let's say, if I came to your office asking if you want to go to Mebane, and you turn it down they could mess you up for your unemployment, but they didn't. That's what I was saying.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Because I could see where that would happen because in some ways you are really turning down a job.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Right.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
It's not that I'm laying you off or terminating you because I don't have anything, I do have something for you. Well, what happened to the other people who didn't come to Mebane?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Some of them was mad. Some of them just said, "Well, I don't want to go back into furniture no way." So find another job. Here today I know a girl that never found a job. That's frightening! Some have been down there ever since they was eighteen years old. Some have been down there for years. That hurt them. Like we was talking to [unknown] today, that people have been around most of their lives. They

Page 23
don't have no other type skill to go and look for another job. That hurts them. They hurt them even worst when they didn't get transferred.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Now White Furniture just closed this year, the beginning of this year, were there any rumors prior to its closing that the plant could possibly close for good?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you think there was anything to those rumors?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, because sometime I'd go ask the main man. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What was his response?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, he didn't really come out and say it was going to close down. He'd just say, "Well, for right now things just don't look good." So when he said that then I said it was going to close.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Who was considered the main man?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, I'm not going to say that. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Okay. That's fine. When you heard that when you went and asked him—the main man—and you asked him about that and he said, "Well, things don't look too good," that was his response. Did you begin preparing yourself for what was to come?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No:
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
There was a letter that appeared in the local paper here from Steve White to the employees, and it more of a letter in many ways and an apology of the plant closing. Do you remember reading that letter?
VICKIE JACOBS:
I was trying to think if I read that letter or not. I think we had a meeting about that for the employees, and I think [unknown].
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
When it was time for the—. When the final decision was made to go ahead and close the factory did they call all the people together and say, "Okay, we're going to be closing eventually?" Just how was that done.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, Yeah. They went in and said that it was going to close down. They called everybody together, you know, different departments because that place was not that big to hold all those people. So they just came in saying when it was going to close a certain date and I forget what date that was. Then the last day and you know people are going to mess around so we told them to [unknown]. [Laughter]
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
[Laughter] O.K.
VICKIE JACOBS:
[unknown]. Some cried.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
I was wondering about the mood.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, some cried. Some were happy that it was being closed because some didn't want to be there no ways.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
But some had been terminated before the last day?. I'm assuming you were one of the last people to leave?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, besides the shipping.

Page 25
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So you remained there a couple of months after the announcement was made?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Were there any workers who quit before the plant closed down?
VICKIE JACOBS:
If it was I didn't know about it.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. So on your last day you said that you all had a party, do you remember anything else particular about that day?
VICKIE JACOBS:
I know I didn't work none. I was all over. We just had this like a little moonlight sale where [unknown]. We all sat around and said, "Well, we're all [unknown] with each other. Said, enjoyed working with you and stuff like that. It was very emotional. I hated White's had to be closed down. We had all gotten used to working with each other. We all would just kid around, you know, just like a big family. Some get along and some didn't.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
That's normal.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Uh, huh.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
After you left—your last day there at White's—did the company provide in any way for what you were going to do? Did they prepare you in any way? Provide you with anything, any funds or anything, that would help you until, let's say, you got a new job?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah. I think there were some people that if you wanted to go back to school they'd do that. They even had employment people to come down and talk. Talk to the ones that had openings if you wanted a job. They had something like—. I was trying to think did they give out the chits like they did in Hillsborough, if they did I don't remember them doing it. That's mostly, I think, what they done. They would pay your way through school, I think, for a whole quarter. Your morning cab fare [unknown]. [unknown]. Some of them even helped you

Page 26
find a job. The personnel manager named—. I can't think of him right now, but he helped a lot of people. I'll think of him in a little bit.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Did you use their services or did you go out on your own?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No, I went on my own.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
How has the closing of White's affected your own life?
VICKIE JACOBS:
A whole lot because during that time, like I said, we would get paid every week. The money was good. Now, you have to go out and try to find a job. I hate finding a job. The job I did have before you'd get paid every two weeks. I have to get used to being paid every two weeks. That's the lesson I have to learn, and I would say I would have to start back over managing how to get my bills and stuff like that squared away.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Sometimes you get paid once a month.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Oh, girl, I'm going to be grabbing up a tree!
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
[Laughter] That sounds difficult.
VICKIE JACOBS:
I don't think I can handle that. The only way I could handle that, you have to be good at handling money if you get paid once a month for me to survive.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K. That's very difficult. I moved from once a week to once a month. I will never forget—this has been years ago—my first check. I just assumed, I guess, that I was going to have money coming in the next week or whatever, and I remember spending all of that in the first week.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Oh, my goodness.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Like three weeks to go in the month, and it was the longest three weeks of my life.
So, have you found work now?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, in another furniture company around Pittsboro. I make Craftique.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Still here in Mebane?
VICKIE JACOBS:
UH, huh.

Page 27
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Oh, O.K. What's the name of it?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Craftique.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Oh, Craftique. Do you like that better?
VICKIE JACOBS:
They're slower. They work very slower than White's. They hired like thirty to forty pieces of furniture a day compared to White's and they do like two hundred to fifty a day, yes. That's the difference. The pay is bad, the pay is not good.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
It is not as large of a plant?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Does it have any other branches somewhere else?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, they got one or two more branches. I know of one in Virginia.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
It seems to me like Craftique… That sounds so familiar even in Roxboro.
VICKIE JACOBS:
They changed the name to Gillisbee or something like that now. They're from Virginia.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
That sounds so familiar because even most of my brothers and sisters are still at home. They have about six plants so they are in one or the other.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
What do you miss most about your other job at White's?
VICKIE JACOBS:
People.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
You had to make friends all over again.
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
New friends. So now you are working at this factory. How long did it take you to find work after leaving White's?
VICKIE JACOBS:
I stayed out one week.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Really?
VICKIE JACOBS:
And got hired. That was my intention. I got hired at PHE which is Adam and Eve. They made me temporary at first before you get hired full-time. [unknown]. After I heard that Glenn Farabee was that Craftique, well, he called me

Page 28
to see if I wanted to come work for him, which I had already worked with him so I know how he was, and I did. I worked for PHE for a couple of months before I even known that he was in Mebane because at one time he was in [unknown]. So I have been up there ever since. I've been up there now around five or six months.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
So things are not as bad as you thought they would be?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No, it's not bad at all. I'm just the only lady in my department.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Oh, really?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah, I work around all men.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Do you still get together with some of your old friends from the plant?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No, not—. Everybody's done scattered. If they hadn't scattered they're on different shifts now if they working. Sometimes I call some of my friends that was already there. Some I don't even bother.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
You eventually moved here from [unknown] Fall?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Yeah.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
O.K., but that was while you were working at White's?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Well, I was—.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Here in Mebane?
VICKIE JACOBS:
Uh, huh.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
Okay. Great. Well, do you have anything else you would like to add here, Vickie?
VICKIE JACOBS:
No.
JOYCE BLACKWELL-JOHNSON:
If not, it has been pleasant. It's really been nice meeting you and interviewing you. It's been very helpful. I do thank you.

Page 29
END OF INTERVIEW