Betty Hinson and Yvonnie Hill Interview 2

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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JAMIE STONEY: She just wants, uh, one minute of parse.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, sure, OK. Yeah.

HINSON: Faithful Ladies?

YVONNIE HILL: Fateful Aides.

GEORGE STONEY: Faithful Aides. Yeah, uh-huh.

HILL: No, Faithful Aides Club.

HINSON: Mm-hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: When you’re ready.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Tell us about the club.

HILL: Well, we organized a Faithful Aides, uh, Club, up there at the Eagle. And, and, uh, Mrs. Stowe, Mrs. -- well, the owner’s wife, up at the Eagle Mill, uh, um, sponsored us. And the company give us a room -- uh, little house -- clubhouse -- in the middle of the village, where we met. I’m not sure whether we met weekly, or, or monthly, or bi-monthly. I’m not sure about that. But we met regularly and took care of the needs of anybody in the community that needed help while we did it. We, uh, would pound somebody, and, uh, and I might need to 1:00explain that word “pound.”


HILL: And that means everybody took a pound of something, or more or less, uh, to this person -- these people that maybe needed food, or clothing, or something else, and we would see to the needs -- any needs that they needed, we’d see to them. And, uh, it was a very active club, and we had very active members. And Mrs. Stowe was very, uh, good to us, and, and helped us in any way she could. We even had them down for dinner one night at the clubhouse. Had the Stowes down for -- to eat with us one night.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, what about the, uh, the churches, uh, in the village?

HILL: Well, we didn’t have a church in the village. Uh, I guess the closest church was First Baptist Church up here in Belmont.

GEORGE STONEY: And so the -- the owners didn’t necess -- didn’t support a church for the -- for the village?


HILL: No. Uh-uh.

GEORGE STONEY: In many villages, as you know, the, the owners actually built churches.

HILL: I don’t know of any in Belmont that did.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: Well we know over at Smyre, uh, Dillinger? is the gentleman’s name.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, that’s right.

JAMIE STONEY: He had -- he had a Methodist church -- a brick church built within the village, and -- and a number of other people had --

HILL: Well, if there’s one in Belmont, I don’t know it.


HINSON: We never did have one.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

HILL: No, but they encouraged -- you know, people were encouraged to go to church by --


HILL: -- different people, and different members. We had a lot of good Christian people.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. What about your own education?

HILL: Well, I started school, of course, when I was six, seven years old. And um, I got to the eighth grade, and that was at the time I had to go to the hospital. And, uh, when I got out, uh, let me see now, how did that go? I got so 3:00far behind in my studies until I quit. And then when I, uh, I went on back to work, and got married as I said, and I took a notion that I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to, to, to be -- to better myself if I could. And so I started taking correspondence courses, with the support of my husband. At, uh, how -- the first time -- the first one I took, the reason I took it, I, I had to be out of work and out of commission for about six months. I had to have both feet operated on. And so I got me a course, and I, I just, uh, finished a nine months course in about three months. In, uh, in, uh, standard bookkeeping. And then later on, I took one in typing. And I, I had a time getting a typewriter, because money was so scarce back then. But somebody was good enough -- I can’t remember who it was -- was good enough to, uh, provide me with a typewriter for me to, to do my 4:00practicing on, and to get to where I could. And, uh, of course that’s all the, the education I got until I got a job, and, and, and went to college, and took courses in the work that I went into.

GEORGE STONEY: What did you go into?

HILL: I went into the -- the first thing was the Merchants Association. And, uh, worked myself up to the secretary of the Merchants Association. And I, um, went to um, Chapel Hill, uh, for a two weeks, uh, course every summer. And, uh, then when the Merchants Association dissolved and became the Chamber of Commerce, while I remained as the executive secretary, and I went back to college and took courses in that. And uh, and I stayed with Chamber of Commerce until 1978 -- uh, 5:00’68, I guess, and then I went to -- went into business for myself.

GEORGE STONEY: Doing what?

HILL: My brother and I owned a fuel oil company, and co-owned fuel oil company. And, uh, that’s what I retired from.

GEORGE STONEY: But, uh, I gather you, you’ve still got your hand in. You --

HILL: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- make people’s taxes?

HILL: Well, I started doing taxes in 1957, I believe. And I, I was just looking, the other day, at the list of how many customers I had. And I, I did them until 1987, and my health got to where -- and I really didn’t need the money -- so I just, uh, I just quit. And so, um, I miss all my customers. I still think of them every March and April, but uh, I loved to do taxes. I loved that. But I 6:00haven’t done any since 1987, except my own.

JAMIE STONEY: Did you ever have any of the returns you did called into question?

HILL: Uh, no. Not really.

JAMIE STONEY: Most accountants I know get real incensed when you ask that, because, it, you know, they’re just like, no.

HILL: They -- sometimes there’d be an error that they’d correct and notify them that they were correcting it, but as far as, um, being called up for an audit, none of mine, that I know -- and I did businesses as well as individuals.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, I’m interested in this connection between the Merchants Association and the Chamber of Commerce. Um, during your time there, they, they must have, uh, done a lot of work to try to get new industry in.

HILL: Yeah. The Chamber of Commerce, especially. That’s the reason they, they converted over to a Chamber of Commerce, was because of the -- and, and, and, uh, the Merchants Association was doing more Credit Bureau credit reporting 7:00than, than, than other, so they just moved the Credit Bureau into the Chamber of Commerce and, and called it the Chamber of Commerce. And, and I managed the Credit Bureau, and was executive secretary of the Chamber of Commerce.

GEORGE STONEY: What were some of the inducements the Chamber of Commerce offered to businesses moving in this area?

HILL: Well, Belmont Abbey was a big inducement. That, that was -- that was, uh -- and then the location here. It’s, it’s located centrally between Charlotte and Gastonia. And the rivers here, and, and it was just a, a lot of -- and we got -- uh, we had big, fine churches of all denominations. We’ve always had real active churches in our Belmont area. But I guess the Abbey’s one of the biggest. They worked with us, to, to help us to get industry. And we got several things to come through the Chamber.


JAMIE STONEY: Would they ever offer like a discount electric through Duke Power --


JAMIE STONEY: -- or tax abatements, etc.?

HILL: No. They didn’t do that back then.

GEORGE STONEY: We were just reading in the paper yesterday -- in the Gaston paper -- about the new BMW plant in Greenville that’s getting a lot of, uh, special favors like that. And I just wondered if that’s happened here.

HILL: Not to my knowledge. And I feel sure I would have known about it.

JAMIE STONEY: You know, it’s sort of like when, uh, Saturn came into Spring Hill, Tennessee. The town actually located the land, and when the gentlemen came in, they had -- they ga-- showed them like seven different sites, and had everything all laid out for them. It seems to be the standard among companies now -- towns nowadays -- let’s see how much we can get out of it. But it wasn’t -- that wasn’t done at the time? It was just let us -- we’ll show 9:00you the natural inducements we have. Good education system.

HILL: Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: Churches, etc.?

HILL: We had an excellent education system here in Belmont. We always had that.


HILL: Excellent education system. Been recognized for it.

GEORGE STONEY: Did you talk to some of those people who, uh, who wanted to locate here?

HILL: Once in a while I talked to them over the telephone, and set it up with Mr. Stowe, or, or um, um, some of the other -- [Clyde Dietz?] or somebody like that. I’d set them up with them, make an appointment with them, to where they would meet them. But I never sat in on the meetings.

GEORGE STONEY: I just wondered, uh, what -- uh, what part do you think that the labor conditions here made? Was that, uh, a consideration, you think?

HILL: I think it was a big consideration, because there was plenty of labor here. And, and uh, I think the fact that we didn’t have a union was, was to 10:00our advantage. And uh, I may be sticking my neck out to talk as much against the union, but, but that’s just my feelings. Personal feelings. I couldn’t talk like that when I was in the Chamber of Commerce. I kind of had to toe the line, but that’s my personal feelings.

GEORGE STONEY: Well it’s interesting. In this thing -- this story yesterday from, uh, Greenville. Uh, there was, uh, the Chamber of Commerce was quite open about the fact that they had -- that, that they had encouraged them to come because there was no union. And --

HILL: I had the union try to coerce me, as secretary, to, to uh, uh, ram it down, you know, the throats -- or more or less, push it. And, and I, I asked them out of my office.

GEORGE STONEY: They wanted you to join?


HILL: They wanted me to, to, uh, to try to get my members -- the members of the association -- to, uh, be, uh, favorable to the union. Wanted me to influence them. Of course, I didn’t have that much influence, but I did get out a little monthly booklet that they usually read.

JAMIE STONEY: Was it sweet talk, or anything else involved?

HILL: Just sweet talk. Mm-hmm.


JAMIE STONEY: So a good supply of labor, and good education, and a favorable business climate. Anything else you can think of that induced them to come down here?

HILL: No, not right off.

JAMIE STONEY: Were the people in this area known for doing quality work?

HILL: Oh yes, yes.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you talk about that?

HILL: Well, uh, we, we just, uh, all the stuff that was shipped out from the mills, and from the hosiery mills and all of that was just tops. It was recognized as being top. First class. We didn’t -- we didn’t have any 12:00problem with that.

GEORGE STONEY: Di-- what was the reason why at one time 85% of the fine-combed yarn was coming from this one county? Was there a -- a technical reason for that, or?

HILL: I don’t know. I wasn’t aware of that.

GEORGE STONEY: It’s a question I should have asked, uh, Mr. Ragan, when he was --

HILL: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- on camera, and I forgot to.

JAMIE STONEY: Because we’ve been told that this was the mill capital. This was where if you wanted something made out of cotton -- if it didn’t come out of Gastonia, than it wasn’t worth a D.

HILL: Well, uh, for one thing, we had 14 mills right here in Belmont.


HILL: Fourteen textile plans in Belmont. Outside of the others in Gastonia and around in the county. And um, they were -- they were determined to put out number one grade stuff. And, and the hands was just as determined as the, uh, owners were.


GEORGE STONEY: Have you seen any change in that over the years?

HILL: Well, I haven’t been involved in it in so long, so, uh, I don’t think anything is, is upgraded and, and done A-1 like we did back then. I don’t think anything is now. I don’t think people are that, uh, concerned, or. I may be wrong, because I’ve not been in a plant in I don’t know when.

GEORGE STONEY: Have y-- we were filming in, uh, in a plant in South Carolina last year. A modern plant. It was just mind-boggling what those machines can do. Just amazing.

JAMIE STONEY: They’ve got an automatic doffer.

GEORGE STONEY: You know, just --

JAMIE STONEY: It ties the knot. It re-- if it breaks, it recognizes it --

HILL: Golly.

JAMIE STONEY: -- and ties the knot.

HILL: I’d like to see this.

JAMIE STONEY: Self-doffs. Puts a new spindle on.


JAMIE STONEY: But was there a -- was this area known for having a tradition of craftsmen within a family? You know, if you get grandfather, father, son, or 14:00mother, daughter all being good weavers, or good spinners, or...?

HILL: Not especially, no. But we -- you know, we, we come down and went to the mill. All of us went into the mill to work. But it wasn’t necessarily -- we wouldn’t take the same, same job. I mean, we wouldn’t follow in that close in the footsteps.

JAMIE STONEY: No, but it’s -- it’s sort of --

GEORGE STONEY: What was the role of the textile high school here?

HILL: Oh, the textile school down here? I’m not -- I don’t have too much knowledge of that. Um, I know the -- it’s, it’s -- it was a grand thing. I don’t know what it’s doing now. But I’m not too familiar with what they did.

GEORGE STONEY: Was the Chamber behind that?

HILL: The Chamber was behind getting it, I think -- in helping to get it. But, 15:00uh, I’m not -- I’m -- I wasn’t involved in that.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, back to the life in the mill village, which we’ve, we’ve heard a lot about. Um, but in some places, people are a little bit defensive about it. And it all kind of centers around uh, a phrase called “linthead.” Have you heard of that?

HILL: Oh, yes. I’ve got some clippings [found in?] the paper about that. Um, that was just -- just a way that they had of describing us, because, uh, back then, you had a lot of cotton dust in the mill. And as you went out, your head would be covered with it, and, and you’d -- of course, that’s where the expression came from. But I don’t think it was meant derogatorily in every instance. It was in some, but not in every instance. I don’t think we were looked down on as much as some people did, because we were -- we were accepted 16:00and real active in the church -- in the churches. And, uh, and wasn’t no -- wasn’t no stigma or separation of us. We, we just was one of the, the members.

GEORGE STONEY: It never affected you, then?

HILL: No, no. Not a bit. That I was raised on Mill Hill.

GEORGE STONEY: Was there any kind of division in, in the village itself?

HILL: Um -- well, not really. But some of -- some of them, uh, lived on a little higher plane than others. They had more income, and, and was a little bit, um, uppity, would you say? But not, not but a few. Very, very rare. It wasn’t -- it wasn’t something obvious.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you miss the -- the time back then, other than just because you were young?


HILL: Um, I miss a lot of it. I miss, uh, the friends that I had there. And the camaraderie we had, and our club especially -- the Faithful Aides Club. And uh, the Eagle Mill was just good. It was just good all the way around. I, I, I don’t know much about the other mills. Now, I worked in some of the other mills here. My husband and I both -- when the Eagle went on some short time, and we were trying to pay for this house, I did -- we did go to another mill to get more time -- but we’d always go back to the Eagle when they -- when they got a place open for us. But uh, it’s just, uh -- it was just different from the other mills, to me. Just wasn’t that fellowship, and uh, goodness there. I’m sold on the Eagle Mill. (laughter)

JAMIE STONEY: Do you have any souvenirs or mementos of your time there? Some 18:00people we’ve had, have had a spool that they took, or a brick, or something like that.

HILL: No, I don’t have anything like that. I got a lot of clippings and things, but I don’t have any.

GEORGE STONEY: Well we hope to see you in the next reunion.

HILL: I hope to be there. I didn’t think I’d make it this time. I wasn’t really able to go, but after I got there, I really did enjoy it.

GEORGE STONEY: Hasn’t, uh, Betty done a good job on that?

HILL: She -- Betty has done an excellent job. She’s just -- she’s just a person -- she’s done so much for people. Her mother, and her aunt, and then -- now she’s taking care of Mr. Ward. She’s just done -- all of her life, she’s done for other people. It’s just wonderful what she’s done, and, and in her work, she’s done for -- a lot of good for a lot of people. She’s very conscientious. Very good person.

GEORGE STONEY: Now back in, in, uh, the, in the ’20s and ’30s, uh, could you 19:00talk a little bit about the, the medical care? How was that handled?

HILL: Well, uh, we didn’t have medical insurance through the company. Uh, we, uh, we had a doctor here in town. Two or three. And as, as I was reading in my diary, you go the -- his office -- a dollar for an office call. And uh, and uh, sometimes he’d send you to Charlotte, to a doctor over there. It’d be three dollars and a half or four dollars for an office call. But the medical atten-- it was good. The doctor would come from Belmont to the Eagle Mill to -- to anybody that was sick. Any of the doctors in Belmont would. It was -- it was -- we was never lacking for medical attention.

GEORGE STONEY: And you went to Charlotte on -- on the streetcar, didn’t you?

HILL: Or the bus. A little train went over there, too. The streetcars, you’d 20:00call it.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Several people have just --

HILL: I never -- I never did ride it. I always rode the bus over there.

GEORGE STONEY: Several people have described the streetcar, and I was just wondering. Anything else special that you can think of?

HILL: No, I’m just thinking -- I can sit down and sometimes and night, when I can’t sleep, I’ll, I’ll go through and start at the top of the mill of the village, and I’ll go down, and see how many names I can get of the people that lived in the houses when we lived over there. And sometimes it amazes me. I just about get them all. But of course, in the later years, I didn’t know them. They come and went, after we left. I moved over here. I didn’t know that much about them.

GEORGE STONEY: Have you been to the Gaston Museum?


HILL: Not recently. The Schieles.

GEORGE STONEY: Well you know, they are trying to make a good textile collection there. Up to now, it’s been mostly just the owners, and their houses, and their possessions and so forth, but they’re trying to make a change to do something about the people who worked in the mills. And I would think that, uh, at the proper time, you should think about leaving your diaries to them.

HILL: I hadn’t thought about that. I was thinking about destroying them.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, I’m not -- I don’t know the nature of the diaries, but --

HILL: Well, there’s nothing real personal in there, except it’s repetitious, of course. “Got up so-and-so, and went to work at so-and-so, and came home at so-and-so. Got so many boxes so-and-so. Made so much today.” It’s repetitious to that extent, you know. Uh, but there are some things in there 22:00that might be of some -- some interest.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you show them to us -- I don’t mean to open them up -- just to show us what they look like? Would you do that?

JAMIE STONEY: Let me unplug her if she’s going to walk.

GEORGE STONEY: Can she walk with that cha-- or not?

JAMIE STONEY: Uh, with the cord?


JAMIE STONEY: One second, ma’am.

GEORGE STONEY: No don’t -- got to film her as if --

HILL: (inaudible) I get up?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. OK. Go ahead.

HILL: Well that’s not kosher. But I’m not like Roosevelt. I’m not that (inaudible). Uh, this one here is a little one. Let me get the one in ’33 and ’34.


HILL: And ’35. I think I’ve -- know right what the spot -- where it is.

JAMIE STONEY: (whispering) I’m going to take off the mic, so she -- when she brings it back it’ll be --



(pause in recording)

JAMIE STONEY: Thanks, OK. This means she’s coming back.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, OK. I don’t think it’s going to show when she comes back.

JAMIE STONEY: Yeah, when she comes back, I can just put her (inaudible). Don’t worry.

GEORGE STONEY: Would you, would take my hand? Yeah, so it won’t --

JAMIE STONEY: That’s all right, we got it.


HILL: Could have turned that heat -- air conditioner a little. Little -- I use an electric wheelchair if I go out of the house. This one here is --

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Hook her back up.

JAMIE STONEY: Let me just hook the mic back up, and you’ll be all set.


HILL: That was ’39. I thought I had... I’ve just got different ones, you now.

GEORGE STONEY: But this would be absolutely fascinating for them.

HILL: This is ’39.


HILL: Um. But it’s -- it’s a lot of personal stuff in it too, about what I did, and what I didn’t do. As I look back, I wonder how in the world I’d done it, in the condition I was in, but I had a wonderful husband. Just a wonderful husband. And he, uh, cooperated with -- supported me, in everything, or I’d have never gotten my education or anything else. That one, you see, is a little bit -- doctor bill, $6.50. He must have had his -- he had sinus trouble. But, uh, I still don’t see the one where I show how -- I got the wrong book -- to show how much I made. I thought it was in this one, but it was in the one before this one.


GEORGE STONEY: Maybe you could read out for me a, uh, typical entry.

HILL: Uh, I wish I had the ’33 one to do that. OK. This was on a Thursday, January 2nd. “Slept until 10 again. Warm and raining. Went to work. Spooled, and I’m a sure tired. Jay and I went read until real late.” And it’s tonight. “Cloudy. And this ended our road today.”

GEORGE STONEY: This ended your road today.

HILL: Yeah. That’s when we lived, uh, that was that road right I after I had a time getting him to do anything for us out there. [I got to see where?] -- “Went to work. Drawed $9.65 for the weeks before. Car wouldn’t start and we 26:00had to walk home.” That’s in there several times.

GEORGE STONEY: What year was that?

HILL: That was in 1930-- that was 1940. Thirty-three is more interesting. I wish I -- I thought I had it.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you know where it is?

HILL: It’s in that, um, is on my bed, there’s a box. About that big. Like a shirt box.

GEORGE STONEY: Jaime, bring it out here and we’ll put it down here.

JAMIE STONEY: Be right back. Ma’am, I’ll get it.

HILL: Just lift the lid off of it and you --

GEORGE STONEY: While, while he’s gone, let me explain to you something. In the early 1900s, a midwife in New England kept a journal very much like this. And there’s a whole big book that’s now just been brought out, using that as the guide, and then getting all kinds of other facts. But you see, that’s the central core. Well your diary might serve the same purpose, you see.

JAMIE STONEY: I just brought both of them here.

HILL: That’s my husband’s [can?].

JAMIE STONEY: These are this --


GEORGE STONEY: I’ll see if I can find that book and send it to you.

HILL: Let’s see if this is... No, this is ’51. See what that blue one over there is.

JAMIE STONEY: It says “Five Year.”

HILL: Here it is. This is ’33 and ’34.

JAMIE STONEY: OK, we’re rolling. I never turned it off.

HILL: “Started the new year off by going to the midnight show with Johnny. Started back to work, eight hours today, after working six since two weeks before Christmas.”

GEORGE STONEY: That’s the ’33.

HILL: Yeah, that’s in, uh, that’s in ’34.

GEORGE STONEY: See if you can find when --

HILL: Look at that little, that little book right there. That right over there.


HILL: No, that’s not it. I don’t see ’33, ’33’s kind of by itself.


GEORGE STONEY: This is ’33.

HILL: Um, that’s not-- that’s my, uh. That’s my personal medical thing.

GEORGE STONEY: Ah, uh-huh.

HILL: Well, for goodness sakes. If I hadn’t just read it, I’d of -- I wouldn’t be saying I had it. There wasn’t nothing laying -- another one laying on the bed?

JAMIE STONEY: I’ll take another look, ma’am.

HILL: Look in under the TV, right at the very -- see if there’s one laying there.

GEORGE STONEY: Well this woman’s -- this woman’s diary was so important, you see, to the historian, because she did just exactly what you did. She told --

HILL: Day by day.

GEORGE STONEY: The day by day.


HILL: Yeah. It might be that one there, right over there under that pillow.



GEORGE STONEY: I can’t get up, but there’s one she’s --

HILL: Right in under that pillow there, beside my chair, it may be that one. I believe I left it out in case --


HILL: -- y’all would be interested in it. Now, that’s not it, is it? No, it’s ’46.

GEORGE STONEY: But it’s the same size, huh?

HILL: Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: Here, take another look.

HILL: I might have swore it was that one. Thirty-three, thirty-four, and 30:00thirty-five was on the first page. There’s ’34 and ’35.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh-huh, well.

HILL: Now, ’33 is in a book by itself.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, let’s see --

HILL: Fits in a little book --


HILL: -- like that one right there.

GEORGE STONEY: But let’s go to ’34. Let’s see if we can find, uh, that time when you went up the mountains when they were on strike. Maybe you’ve got that.

HILL: No, I don’t have that in here, I don’t think. Yeah, I have got it in here, but I don’t know where it would be. What -- what time of the month did they have the strike?

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, that was in September. September the, the 2nd to the 21st.

HILL: In th-- in ’34?

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. We’ve got it, Jamie.


HILL: September the 20th.

GEORGE STONEY: It started September the 2nd.


HILL: The strike started September the 2nd?


HILL: There I was still working on the 4th. “Struck today. I went over home and ironed and helped mama.”

GEORGE STONEY: Little louder.

HILL: In ’34. “I went over home. Struck today.” Well why didn’t we quit work if we struck? Yeah. On the 5th. “We got up early, and left for the mountains at one. Got to Mandy’s at eight, and had a little trouble. Stayed 32:00all night.” Got up real early and went to, uh, my brother's. And left for Mount Sterling -- that’s where our home place was. And, uh, got a room. We, in Asheville before we got there. “Got up and cooked breakfast.” And, “Killed a snake in the yard.” (laughter) “Got up early, Ruth, and Jay, and I.” My brothers trimmed the trees while we had a big orchard, and they did that while we were there. And us two -- we just found anything we could find to do. Uh. “Went to bed. Pretty cool. Sore from walking the mountains. Went off for the night. Jay and I had the room to ourselves.” Us six stayed in one room. And, 33:00um, we, um, there was an old rickety bed in that room. And the rest of us had -- pal -- pallets, as we called it then, on the floor. And so, we’d, we’d switch. This couple could have the bed tonight. And them. So Johnny and I were the last ones to get the bed, and when we got it, we wished we hadn’t got it, because it was so lumpy that the floor felt good. (laughter) But we cooked, all of us together. “Clyde, Ernest, and Jay went to work in the fields.” They’re working for potatoes. And we would eat the potatoes. “We went to the creek.” We did our washing in the creek. We, we really ran rough, them three weeks. And I said here, “Stayed home all day today. May -- May fell through the floor. Hurt her leg.” We had a time. Nobody’s interested in this, surely.


HILL: And we went to see some people up there. Visited with them. See, we were 34:00born and raised in that house that we were staying in, but we had left, and this woman moved in it. And, um, um, momma just let her move in it, uh, to keep it from just going down, you know. My brother Clyde went to Sunday school. And, uh, we stayed home. “Snow some -- sung some tonight.” I thought it was snow. “Got up early and played the piano. No, [that’s after we?] come back home.” No, we were visiting in the -- in the Sutton’s home. And they had a piano, and my sister-in-law Ruth could really make a piano talk when she was singing. She was playing the piano for them down there. “The boys went squirrel hunting today. And they pruned the apple trees.” “I picked brush 35:00all evening. Played --” something or other tonight, I don’t know what. Some kind of game, I don’t know what it is. “Washed and ironed this morning. Went chestnut hunting this evening.” So we lived off of the -- off of the land. And so we didn’t know too much about w hat was going on at home. We -- it was a mile to the post office, and um, my sister-in-law Ruth had to go to the post office every day to, to hear from home, you know. And so we’d walk down there, and, and, um, and I -- and -- it was a pretty long walk, there and back, because it was right straight up the mountain. We was on the very top of the mountain, almost. “Me and Johnny left and then come for home on the 19th.” On the tw-- yeah, the 19th. We got to Asheville, and spent the night, and then come on home.


GEORGE STONEY: How were you traveling?

HILL: We -- in a car. Was, uh -- but, um, we left the car with them. It was my brother’s car. And we, uh, caught the bus, and come home on the bus. And I never will forget. When we, uh, left Asheville, my brother said, uh, my husband said, “Well, how much money you got?” I said, “I don’t have any at all.” And I said, “How much you got?” He says, “A dime.” I said, “Well, we’ll get a bag of peanuts and, and have it until we get home. And hope and pay there’s some groceries at the house when we get there.” So, uh, we got home. Went Stowe Mercantile and replenished our -- Stowe Mercantile was a company store. And, uh, it was a lifesaver when -- in a situation like the strike. We didn’t have any problem at all getting food or clothing, either one.


GEORGE STONEY: Well let’s see if the entry after that -- the -- for the 20th, 21st, has any mention of, of opening back up.

HILL: Did we open on the 20?

GEORGE STONEY: Opened on the 21st.

HILL: September, you said.


HILL: I was in July. Now, we were coming home on the 21st. I don’t have anything about us going to work to the 25th.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, what did you say the 25th?

HILL: “Went over home to wash, and had to go to work.” Yeah, “Went to work at two. Worked eight hours. Rode home with Ed, and sure was tired. No sign of 38:00Ernest and, and the rest of them from the mountains yet.” Next day, “We worked all day. Got a job now.” My sister worked. “Nineteen boxes.” And Ernest and them, they hadn’t come home yet. So we were working, and, and working full-time, then. Now see, this is Friday. So, “We got up at eight and cleaned up the house.” We didn’t go to work on Friday, so we must have been on a four-day period. No. Yeah, we didn’t work on Friday or Saturday. So, we were back in the groove, back working again. That’s about it.


GEORGE STONEY: Now, you didn’t have to face this problem, but a lot of women did that you observed. That is, they had to work and look after children. Could you talk about that?

HILL: Well, I didn’t -- I didn’t have to do that, but I, I had, um, my mother-in-law was an invalid for several years, and, uh, I had to, um, to take care of her and work. And, uh, of course, my husband worked one shift and I worked another shift in order to do that. But I never did see how women with children hardly made it, but they did. But I never had that problem.

GEORGE STONEY: Did they have babysitters, or servants, or anything like that?

HILL: Not to my knowledge. Usually the husband worked one shift, and they’d work the other shift, or there’d be a child old enough to stay with them -- with the little ones.

GEORGE STONEY: Well we’ve heard that, uh, some people actually were able to 40:00hire some black people to come in and work with them -- for them. Did that happen at the Eagle at all?

HILL: Not to my knowledge. Others might know, know of it, but not to my knowledge.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember a -- a black fellow called Bruce Graham?

HILL: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Tell us about him.

HILL: Uh, Bruce worked down at the mill. He done the mopping and the cleaning up of the restrooms, and, and other things. How come I remember him so vividly is was when we started to -- when we got -- first got married, it was almost impossible (inaudible) -- you didn’t have washing machines. And uh, Bruce’s wife did our clothes for us, and, uh, he would take them home with him, and then bring them back all prettied up and everything, and, and he also worked, uh, some night when I’d work with my brothers I was telling you about, he would 41:00work that night too. And I never was scared to be in the mill with Bruce, because he was just a nice -- just a real nice man.

JAMIE STONEY: Do you remember him, uh, selling vegetables off the back of his truck?

HILL: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, he’d go around selling vegetables.

GEORGE STONEY: We’ve been out -- we filmed with him out in -- at his gar-- he’s got a gar-- a good garden.

HILL: Has he?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. And we talked with her.

HILL: Did you? I hadn’t seen him in years. I wouldn’t know him now, I don’t guess.

GEORGE STONEY: She was rather timid, and I think a little bit -- she’s going a bit. But he was as keen as ever.

HILL: Sharp as ever.


HILL: He’s a nice guy.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Seemed to be a nice guy. She has just pulled out -- do you know she kept a diary all this time?

HINSON: No, I didn’t.

GEORGE STONEY: It’s got to be one of those things that the Gaston Museum is -- should -- should -- I’m sure going to be interested in. Because it’s -- the diary is the daily routine, you see.

HINSON: Uh-huh.


GEORGE STONEY: It’s not looking back. It’s what happened every day.

HILL: It’s so repetitious, though.

GEORGE STONEY: Isn’t life?

HILL: Yeah, I guess so.

GEORGE STONEY: I notice that, so far, the ones you’ve read, you didn’t say anything about going to movies or anything like that.

HILL: Oh, we went to the movies once or twice every week. That’s about the only pleasure we had, except later on, we -- the skating rink opened and my husband was a avid skater, and he had to go to the skating ever-- every week. But we -- I -- as I read my diary, I said, “Lord, we stayed in the movie house, just about.” But we so just had to have the name of the pictures we saw and whether it was good or something, you know. And uh, that was -- that was way back in ’33 and ’34.

JAMIE STONEY: Who was your favorite st-- movie star?


HILL: I don’t remember. I guess James Stewart. Don -- Dan John-- Dan Johnson or Don John-- Dan Johnson, I guess.


HILL: Van Johnson.

GEORGE STONEY: Van Johnson, yeah, yeah. What about, uh, the, uh, music around the village?

HILL: Well, uh, uh, they had, uh, several impromptu groups that would sing -- that would get together and play their fiddles and their guitars, and things like that, and get groups together and sing every once in a while. Me not being a musician -- I certainly can’t carry a tune -- I, I never did participate much, but I was always there to listen to the others.

GEORGE STONEY: Was this a, uh, just a few people, or everybody?

HILL: Just a few people. Those that was interested.

GEORGE STONEY: What about, uh, do you remember your first radio?

HILL: I remember the first radio I ever heard. I’ll never forget it. A man lived next door to us. A Mr. Alex Bergen. And he was, uh, a radio -- music 44:00crazy. And it -- on Saturday night, when the Grand Ole Oper-- not Gr-- yeah, I guess it was the Grand -- Nashville. Nashville. Nashville (inaudible) come on. He would co-- put the radio out on the front porch and turn it wide open. And if you didn’t like it, that was just your problem. You -- it wasn’t his problem, it was your problem. But everybody enjoyed it. They’d sit out on their front porches, because he’s the only one in the village that I know that had a radio. And, uh, he was just -- he was just that type, and we’d all enjoy it. And then they’d dance a little bit. He had a, a daughter that could really dance. She could do the Charleston, and won prizes doing the Charleston. And um, later on, um, when I got to working good, I went to Stowe Mercantile and bought me a, an old Atwater Kent radio. And uh, my daddy never did care for nothing like that, but he was crazy about that when I got it. And we enjoyed that for 45:00years, and when I got married I left it with my dad and bought me another one. But uh, that was the first radio we ever owned in our home.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember Roosevelt on the radio?

HILL: Oh yeah, yeah. He was a favorite of all -- about everybody. I wish he’s back and could take over right now. And I’m a Republican.

GEORGE STONEY: What’s the difference?

HILL: In a Republican and Democrat?

GEORGE STONEY: Well if you can answer that, you’re really smart.

HILL: The way you spell them. (laughter) So, the only difference I know in them.

GEORGE STONEY: No, I mean, what’s the difference between, uh, Roosevelt and, and what we have now? That’s the thing I’ve been trying to figure out.

HILL: Well, he done something. The ve-- the very day he went into the office he 46:00did something. And he kept doing something. And, and these seem like they just lagging, lagging, lagging. Put off and put off. And if you get something started, it’s two years before it culminates into anything. And so, I just don’t -- I just admired him.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. That voice. Something --

HILL: Yeah, he was --

GEORGE STONEY: -- special about it, wasn’t it?

HILL: Sure was.

GEORGE STONEY: Jamie, I think we’ve done it.

JAMIE STONEY: Yeah, let’s just --

GEORGE STONEY: It’s beautiful stuff.

JAMIE STONEY: I just want to get 30 seconds of --

GEORGE STONEY: OK, we want to -- we -- now, if you’ll indulge us, we’d like to -- we’re going to get a lot of detail shots. Over your shoulder. Looking at the diaries, all this kind of thing. But I think the bulk of the talk is just about done. But this is wonderful. I’m not kidding about the, the, the diaries. I think that some time you ought to consider that. And we’re going to be seeing the people at the museum, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to 47:00mention it. Would you mind?

HILL: No, I don’t mind.

GEORGE STONEY: I’ll just tell them there’s --

HILL: Well, I was fixing to destroy them.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, no. I’ll just tell them they’re there. I won't tell them --

HILL: I had them in a box, and I got it mentioned on there that my people’s welcome to read them, and then destroy them, that’s what I’ve got instructed.

HINSON: Yvonnie did mention to me that, uh, that she had kept some di-- a diary. About things. But I had forgotten --

GEORGE STONEY: I can assure you they’d be very important.

JAMIE STONEY: I mean, what it does is it --

GEORGE STONEY: Either that or Chapel Hill. The North Carolina collection.

JAMIE STONEY: It lets people like me know what day-to-day life was like when we didn’t have television, radio, --

HILL: We had, uh, radio. Every night we listened to the radio.

JAMIE STONEY: But I’m saying is, today when people talk about “life is tough,” they have no idea what the word “tough” means.

HILL: I know, that’s right.

GEORGE STONEY: Well just that routine of you going up to the mountains, you see, it -- that’s, that’s a great story that’s all there.


HILL: Well, to, to, to, uh, have been -- had the handicap that I had, physically, and then being brought up on Mill Hill, I think I’ve done pretty well for myself. The Lord’s been with me. Did you get a copy of that, um, of my background?

GEORGE STONEY: Oh yes, I did. Yes. Uh, Betty gave it to me. On, on the, uh, news -- on the, uh --

HINSON: No, uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: No? Then I didn’t, I’m sorry.

HINSON: No, I didn’t have it.

HILL: It’s on top of that telephone book, there. I go-- I found it. It’s not a good -- it’s not a good copy. But just leave the telephone -- yeah, just leave the telephone book. But, uh, it just gives you an idea of how -- how I was raised in the mountains and how, um --



HILL: -- really went through so much.

GEORGE STONEY: What we’ll do is get this Xeroxed, if we may.

HILL: You may have it.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, thank you very much.

HILL: I don’t need it back. I’ve got another copy of it.


HILL: I typed all of those.


HILL: I don’t know -- have I got my name on it anywhere?

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

HILL: A teacher one time did research on that, and she come up with eight different ways of pronouncing it.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. “Why-vonnie.”

HILL: But I liked “Why-vonnie.” Mama didn’t know how to pronounce it. She just saw it in a magazine. She named all of us kids crazy names.

GEORGE STONEY: Well that’s why -- I would always pronounce it as “Yvonne,” you see.

JAMIE STONEY: What were the other kids’ names?

HILL: Eubulus was one of the daughters. Of course, that comes from Romans V. And, um, uh, I had another sister that’s [Eyevilla?]. And I had a brother Arsemus. And when his daughter started to school, he told her, she told his middle name, he’d kill her. (laughter) Ernest Arsemus. Rest of them was pretty 50:00decent names.

JAMIE STONEY: I have a friend whose name is Romulus.

HILL: Romulus.

JAMIE STONEY: And he has -- he’s had a problem every -- because everybody -- first, it’s, “Well, where’s Remus?”

HILL: Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: And then -- and then it’s he’s constantly having it misspelled. And they con-- and his -- he, he finally flipped it around because he kept saying -- his last name is very short. His first name is very long. So they would say, “Do you have a Romulus Ray?” He said, “No, but we have a Ray Romulus.”

GEORGE STONEY: May I look at these?

HILL: Yeah, I don’t know what it is.

GEORGE STONEY: It’s photographs, I imagine. Oh no, clippings. Clippings, no.

HILL: Well there’s some photographs there from the mill in that other one, I believe.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh good, thank you.

HILL: Does it say it on the outside of it?



HILL: No, that’s -- that’s not it.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh these -- it’s money.

HILL: Oh, I forgot about that.

JAMIE STONEY: Money is money.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, Jamie? You want to set up for those reverse shots?

JAMIE STONEY: I’m just, um, on your hands at the moment.



HILL: Oh, I found that other picture of all them mill hands. But I forgot where -- I don’t see where I put it.

GEORGE STONEY: Let’s see [if I find it for the?] --

JAMIE STONEY: OK, so I’ll just -- (break in audio)

GEORGE STONEY: You can authenticate it. And so a whole chapter comes out of those -- those remarks, you see?

JAMIE STONEY: OK, (inaudible), I need to ask you a couple of the questions again. When you’re ready.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, I’m just going to ask you some questions you’ve already answered, because he’s just picking me up. Uh, tell me about life in -- in the Eagle Village.

HILL: You want me to go over that again?

GEORGE STONEY: How old were you?

JAMIE STONEY: Can you tilt your face up just a --

GEORGE STONEY: OK. What did -- what did you do when the mill went on strike? Did they ever ask you to join?

JAMIE STONEY: Now, your reaction to explaining pounding.


GEORGE STONEY: Oh yes. Um, what do you mean by pounding? Actually, to be honest with you, I knew, because I grew up in a -- I spent two years of my life in, uh, Yadkin County. In East Bend.

HILL: Well, you don’t hear it now.

GEORGE STONEY: I know. But that was, uh, when I was, uh, seven and eight, they did that. They -- in the, in the church there.

JAMIE STONEY: Lean forward like you’re going to look for one of the diaries.


JAMIE STONEY: No, they were more to -- in between the two of you.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, well, just. Uh, reach over.


GEORGE STONEY: Let me get. OK.

HILL: Oh, I didn’t know you wanted me to do it.

JAMIE STONEY: No, we’re just -- I’m going to be over your shoulder as you flip it open.

GEORGE STONEY: Now look. Oh, Jamie?


GEORGE STONEY: I want to go back. I’m going to have to go back. I missed -- I messed up on something. I hope you don’t mind. I failed to ask you about clothing in the mill.


HILL: Clothing?

GEORGE STONEY: Yes. What women wore, and when they changed, and so forth. Remember the stuff we’ve got, Jamie?

JAMIE STONEY: Oh with the, uh --

GEORGE STONEY: Yes. We’ve got a number of women telling about what they had to wear at the beginning, and then how when pants came in, and so forth. Do you remember that?

HILL: I never did wear pants in the mill. I’m old. I quit the mill before -- before pants come in.


HILL: I always wore dre-- (break in audio)

GEORGE STONEY: -- made her a little apron with pockets, and she was so proud of those things.

HILL: My husband’s sister went to work in the mill when she was nine.

JAMIE STONEY: Did she tell you anything about what it was like?

HILL: She said she couldn’t reach the, um, the creels, up you know, on the spinning frame. She couldn’t reach them. Somebody would have to creel for her. She could have learned to put up the ends and all, but she couldn’t reach up there to creel them.

GEORGE STONEY: But when you first started working in the mills, uh, what did you wear?


HILL: Just an ordinary homemade dress. Mama made all of our clothes. We didn’t go buy store-bought clothes. And uh, we just wore an ordinary dress. As we say, some of them wore aprons because their job required them to have pockets. And occasionally I’d wear an apron when I was spinning.

GEORGE STONEY: Well now, a lot of the women in the -- in the mills used snuff.

HILL: I never did try that. I never had any desire to try that. But most of them did. They kept great old big things for spit in.

GEORGE STONEY: In fact, we -- just the other day we got a -- from the National Archives -- we got a resolution -- one of the, uh, union groups. And one of the demands was that they have more spittoons in the mill. (laughter)

JAMIE STONEY: And that they be cleaned frequently.


GEORGE STONEY: That’s right. And, uh, Bruce Graham was complaining about how dirty people were.

HILL: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Now I realize why. Because had to -- he had to clean it up.

HILL: Everybody had to go outside and smoke, and of course all the men smoked just about then. And they’d go outside and smoke, then come back in. But uh, women -- they didn’t even [let?] women smoke back then. To my knowledge they didn’t. But they dipped that snuff.

JAMIE STONEY: What was the temperature like? Uh, that’s what -- OK. What was the temperature like --

HILL: Um. I’d say it stayed around 90. Ninety, ninety-five in there.

JAMIE STONEY: So hot and sticky?

HILL: Yeah. But later on, they put humidity system in. And it -- it improved it quite a bit. But then when they closed the windows it, it, it made it back worse again. But you couldn’t have the windows open because it made the air --the 56:00air would, uh, come in and, and make the ends break. So they had to close the windows.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, tell us about the dope wagons.

HILL: Oh, I used to run one.

GEORGE STONEY: Just say “I used to run a dope wagon,” and tell us about it.

HILL: Well, I, I didn’t do it very long, but I was out of anything to do, and I was always hunting something to do to make some money. Um, we had breaks, and uh, and this, uh, the dope wagon would come around. It had on it cakes, and sandwiches, and uh, uh, drinks of all kinds. And you got your drink and a sandwich, and went down to your bench. It had benches. And, and sit down and eat -- took your break. Sit down and eat. I don’t know whether they had designated breaks or not, or whether we just -- we just took it. Later on, I know -- I know they designated certain times for it, but I’m not sure to begin with they had 57:00that. But um, and, and some people would buy on credit, and pay it once a week.

JAMIE STONEY: What would a typical lunch cost of the dope wagon?

HILL: I want to say 10 -- 20 -- 15, 20 cents. Would you say so, Betty? You could get a three cent Coca-Cola back then.

JAMIE STONEY: Three? I thought it was a nickel.

HILL: No, we had three cent Coca-Colas. You never seen a three cent Coca-Cola? I started to say I had a bottle up there, but I don’t. Yeah, we bought -- we could take it -- we could take a dime and get a piece of candy and a Coca-Cola. I always got a Big Grape and a Baby Ruth. That’s what I always eat.

GEORGE STONEY: Did you leave -- were you allowed to leave the mill for that?

HILL: No. No, you stayed in the mill.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, we’ve heard some people, uh, complaining about the stretch out. What did they mean?


HILL: I don’t know what they meant. Stretch out -- how did they mean it?

GEORGE STONEY: They seemed to mean that they were -- that they had -- they were required to do more work. Of course, if you’re on production, then it probably wouldn’t apply to you. They were given --

HILL: Oh, uh, the, like the spinner would be given more sides than, uh, the normal thing. Well, at, at rush times, when they needed them, I suspect they did do that some, but I wasn’t aware of it. I never did spin very much. I always wound or spooled, and of course I got paid by the box, we called it then.

GEORGE STONEY: And, of course, you, you were never a book-- a bookkeeper or accountant inside the mill, were you?

HILL: Oh, no. No, no.

GEORGE STONEY: So you wouldn’t know anything about the [beedow?] system or anything like that?

HILL: No, uh-huh.


GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, yeah. OK, Jamie, anything else?

JAMIE STONEY: Nope, I just need 30 seconds of silence.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. What about you?

HINSON: I think Yvonnie had left when they began to add more sides because that was -- that was the latter part of 1950.

HILL: Well I had already left then.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, yeah. OK.

HINSON: But [she and mother?] had more sides to do. And she couldn’t do it. And she just had a nervous breakdown.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, if we just be very quiet for about half a minute.

JAMIE STONEY: We just need some quiet for editing.