Title: Oral History Interview with Betty and Lloyd Davidson, February 2 and 15, 1979. Interview H-0019.
Interviewer: Tullos, Allen
Interviewee: Davidson, Lloyd
Abstract: Lloyd and Betty Parker Davidson both grew up in Danville, Virginia, during the 1910s and 1920s before settling in Burlington, North Carolina, in 1932. The interview begins with a focus on Betty's family experiences while growing up. She describes how her parents shared a loom at the Dan River Cotton Mill, which her mother operated during the summer months while her father farmed. Like many other young people of her generation, Betty left school at the age of sixteen out of economic necessity in order to go work in the mills. While working as a weaver at the Dan City Silk Mill, Betty met Lloyd Davidson. In 1932, they moved to Burlington, North Carolina, to seek employment at the Plaid Mill. By that time, Jim Copland had moved from Danville to become superintendent of the Plaid Mill, and the Davidsons were able to get a job because of Betty's father's friendship with Copland. Betty and Lloyd were married shortly thereafter. They describe some of the leisure activities they enjoyed as a young married couple of limited economic means. Both worked as weavers at the Plaid Mill throughout the Depression years. At the time of the interview in 1979, Betty had worked as a weaver for nearly five decades; Lloyd, meanwhile, left the profession in 1956 to work for Melville Dairy. The Davidsons devote considerable attention to discussing their work as weavers, focusing primarily on the 1930s and 1940s, when technological advances drastically increased the number of looms individual weavers operated. In addition, they describe their day-to-day workplace experiences, explaining how working "on production" differed from working for hourly wages; the difficulty of working long hours with few breaks; their interactions with other workers and with their employers; the role of the Copland family in the Burlington textile industry; and their perception of labor unrest in the North Carolina Piedmont during the Depression years.