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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Edna Y. Hargett, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0163. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Love offerings and visiting in working communities

Here, Hargett talks about the centrality of "visiting" within working communities. Hargett explains that because everybody both worked together and lived together in the mill villages, that they functioned "like one big family." She describes how this entailed bringing "love offerings" to families in need and celebrating things like marriages and births with one another.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Edna Y. Hargett, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0163. 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

They did a lot of visiting back then, if it was at night. And if anybody was sick in the community, over a week they'd make up money out there for him, a love offering, like, and help him out. Because none of us made much money, just $16.40 a week for a week's work, forty-eight hours. Everybody heated with coal, and we'd get our coal from the mill company. And they'd take it out on us, a quarter ton a week. That would take four weeks to pay for it. Jim Leloudis: That took a good little bit of your money then, didn't it?
Yes, it did, but things were cheap back then. You could go to the store with five dollars and come back with a little wagonload of it, and now you go to the store with five dollars, you come back with it in one bag. Jim Leloudis: I'm interested in this visiting. You said people visited a lot. Was the mill community real close?
Yes, we were. The mill community was a close bunch of people. Now neighbors around, you go to the hospital and stay in there three and four weeks and come home, and they don't know you've been gone. Jim Leloudis: Why would people visit? What different things would they do when they visited?
We always went to see every little new baby. And then when anybody was sick, we'd go and bake a pie or something and go down and see them and take it to them. And all of us understood we couldn't stay long because we had to get up and all. We'd go and stay a while with them. If we got a new recipe or made a cake or something and it was good, we'd divide that with the others. And we were just like one big family; we just all loved one another. Jim Leloudis: This love offering is really interesting, too. Everybody would chip in and make up this person's day's wages?
Yes. Make up a purse and give to him. Just like they do now when anybody dies. They go around and make up the flowers from the neighbors. We'd make it up in the mill up there then. And when they got paid, why, they'd come and pay them. I was usually the one that had that to do in the weave room. And they'd come and pay us, and we'd take their money and give it to them, and they'd be so proud of it, because they didn't have any wage coming in then. Jim Leloudis: So that would kind of help them make it through that period of sickness.
Yes. And back then you didn't hear of people borrowing this, that, and the other. They had their gardens and all, and they raised stuff, and we were self-supporting. We didn't have time to get out for foolishness. Everybody around then planted gardens.