Title: Oral History Interview with Oscar Dearmont Baker, June 1977. Interview H-0110.
Interviewer: Dilley, Patty
Interviewee: Baker, Oscar Dearmont
Abstract: Oscar Dearmont Baker grew up in Conover, North Carolina. He left home at the age of eighteen and spent several years traveling as a railroad worker and as a groom on the horseshow circuit. By the mid-1930s, Baker returned to Conover, where he followed the family tradition of working in the furniture industry. From the mid-1930s into the 1940s, Baker worked for Conover Furniture. He describes how that company changed when ownership transferred from Walter Baker to Jim Broyhill. According to Baker, the change in ownership was largely beneficial for the workers, as evidenced by higher wages and better benefits. During those years, Baker also worked briefly for several hosiery mills. In the 1940s, Baker left factory work for a time to run a café with his wife. When her health declined, however, they sold their café, and Baker returned to work in the furniture industry, this time as a worker at the Trendline factory. Baker witnessed several failed efforts to unionize workers during his tenure there. He explains that he voted against unionization because he believed that Trendline had sufficient wages and substantial benefits, such as the pension system introduced during the early 1960s. Baker also offers his assessment on community changes in Conover. He argues that the community has undergone much growth and has seen conditions improve for African Americans.