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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Caesar Cone, January 7, 1983. Interview C-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Paper poses a grave threat to the textile industry

Cone offers some dark predictions for the textile industry. The paper industry is poised to continue taking textiles' business.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Caesar Cone, January 7, 1983. Interview C-0003. 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.

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Were there other problems in the twenties and thirties? Some of the business histories refer to a situation of over-capacity in the nineteen-twenties. Your uncle, I believe, Bernard Cone, gave an address in 1930 to the Business School at Chapel Hill about problems of excess production.
The problem was this, what I just talked about. When a plant that was making diaper cloth had its market going away, it got onto something that was still going, percales or whatever which were going into dresses or garments or sheets or pillow cases. It hasn't happened yet, but I predict that one of these days the textile industry is going to lose one hell of a lot of product from the institutional sheet and pillow case business. They've already lost a lot of it from these gowns. In the operating room now they have a lot of these paper gowns that are disposable, instead of the cloth gowns in the hospitals. I don't think lying on a paper sheet will be as nice as a textile sheet, but in a hotel where you've got to wash them every day… The deterioration comes from the washing, not from the use. I can see where one of these days the paper industry's going to come along with a poured-out, soft piece of paper that might tear, by gosh, if you're rough with it, but they'll throw it away. As the looms and the spinning frames that are devoted to making fabric that goes into sheets and pillow cases, especially for institutions… Not for your home, where you maybe sleep on a sheet for a week before you send it to the laundry. And you only wash it once a week, so it doesn't deteriorate. It'll last a lot longer. But these institutional uses, where they have to wash it after every use, every day… They don't know whether the fellow's going to stay there overnight or not. So I can see, when that time comes, little by little, the textile industry's going to be overproduced. The guy making the sheets is going to go to maybe the denims, or whatever. Constantly, as I see it during my experience, we've been shot at because we've got an expensive way of making a flat surface, taking those individual little fibers, elongating them, twisting them, then weaving them. It's much more expensive than a poured product, plastic or paper, and everybody's going to shoot at us. There's only one area, in my opinion, that we've got a bisque, and that is this breathing business for clothing. You cannot have clothing that doesn't breathe. You'll suffocate, perspiration, etcetera. So that's the one area that's going to be the last to be penetrated by other industries, if ever. But in the processes, the thing is they kill our other markets. It's tough on us.