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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Geddes Elam Dodson, May 26, 1980. Interview H-0240. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Violence among textile workers

Violence had appeared earlier in Dodson's account as a means for men to protect their authority over other men. This time, however, Dodson's father needed violence to protect the honor of his wife, providing an example of how conflict helped form gendered identities and relations in the mill villages.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Geddes Elam Dodson, May 26, 1980. Interview H-0240. 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

Was your mother working in the mill then?
She was drawing in over there at Woodside when we lived over there. She was drawing in up in the second floor; the slasher room was up there. The draw-in frames was long, with the backs to the window. And there was an old man named League who worked there, and he was bad to run after women. He run a slasher. And there was an old woman come in there one day to see her up in the slash room. And whenever she went out, some of them young women, girls, got up and went to hollering out the window, making light of her. And he come over there and balled my mother out about it, and she hadn't got up out of her seat. We lived right out the end of the mill, this upper end, on Vance Street, and went home for dinner. And we set down to the table to eat dinner, and my mother began to tell [my father] about how this fellow had talked to her. And so he shoved back from the table, and his chair hit the wall ka-bam. Didn't have no rugs on [the floor]. Just hit the wall behind him. This big old table, as long as from there over yonder, the old homemade table. And he hit the wall with his chair sliding on the floor. He says, "Where's my whet rock?" And he got that whet rock, an oilstone, and sharpened his knife just like a razor. And he went back up behind that fellow that was up there. And the boss weaver was a great big old tall fellow. He weighed over 350 pounds, a big old giant. And he went back up there and asked that fellow, "What did you talk to my wife like you did for?" And the boss weaver happened to be standing there. So he said, "I didn't . . . [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
He said, "You're a d- lying s.b." And when he said that, why, he took his knife and made a whack at him. And the boss weaver was standing there, and he hit my daddy's arm and knocked the pressure off, but he still cut his neck open all the way around and missed his windpipe about a half an inch. Old man Wofford, the boss weaver, fired [my daddy]. He didn'tchange clothes to go out at noontime for lunch, so he went and changed clothes and put his work clothes under his arms and started out the middle door down there. (Big old mill; the main doors were right in the middle of the mill.) He met old man Alexander; he was the superintendent of the whole plant. He said to my daddy, "What's the matter?" He told him, "Mr. Wofford fired me." He said, "Well, you're not fired. I'm tired of that fellow's way of doing anyway. You go on back on your job. If old man Wofford comes around and says anything to you, you tell him I said to come to my office." So he just went back and put his work clothes on and went on his job and went to work. Old man Wofford, after a while, come down the alley. He said, "Huh: I thought I run you out of here." He said, "Mr. Alexander said for you to come to his office." [chuckle] He went down there, and so my daddy just went on his job and went to work. And they fired that fellow my daddy cut and let my daddy work on. [chuckle]