Almeda Erickson, Opal McMichael, Frank Gosset, and Zelda Gosset Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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 JAMIE STONEY: Picture of George walking through someone’s flowers.

GEORGE STONEY: Yes, okay.

JAMIE STONEY: We’re rolling.

M1: We’re rolling.

JAMIE STONEY: Ron?

(Inaudible).

OPAL MCMICHAEL: I’m working these flowers. You want a job?

ALMEDA ERICKSON: No, I don’t think so.

MCMICHAEL: It’s very interesting.

ERICKSON: I don’t know nothing about flow –

MCMICHAEL: Do you do flowers? Well, you should get an interested in it. It’s a good pastime.

ERICKSON: I have enough pastimes as it is.

MCMICHAEL: No, no, this, this is a good one.

GEORGE STONEY: Just go around the corner.

ERICKSON: Huh?

GEORGE STONEY: Just go around the corner.

ERICKSON: Around this way?

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, let’s start a –

[break in video]

GEORGE STONEY: Okay.

JAMIE STONEY: Rolling.

(Inaudible).

1:00

JAMIE STONEY: Anytime.

(Inaudible).

MCMICHAEL: Good morning.

ERICKSON: How are you?

MCMICHAEL: Fine. How are you?

ERICKSON: All right.

MCMICHAEL: I’m just out working my flowers.

ERICKSON: Well, that’s good.

MCMICHAEL: You want a job?

ERICKSON: Nope, no.

MCMICHAEL: Well, you need to.

ERICKSON: No.

MCMICHAEL: You want to walk around?

ERICKSON: Yes.

MCMICHAEL: Well, all right.

(Pause).

GEORGE STONEY: That’s cut. That’s fine, yeah.

[break in video]

(Inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Just, wait a minute, but is Ron ready?

JAMIE STONEY: You ready, Ron?

GEORGE STONEY: Okay, go.

MCMICHAEL: I just wanted you to see my cotton, Almeda.

ERICKSON: Ooooh.

MCMICHAEL: And I’ve got some nice stalks of cotton, you know.

ERICKSON: You’ve got one coming open right down there now.

MCMICHAEL: I, I have a boll that’s gonna be open before long. And you know I was raised in the country, and I just, I haven’t got away from cotton yet. I got a small place for it, but my father used to raise fields of cotton, and I 2:00used to pick cotton.

ERICKSON: Oh, yeah.

MCMICHAEL: And since I can’t pick cotton, I’m gonna raise it –

ERICKSON: You raise it then.

MCMICHAEL: To go in flower arrangements. And I, when I get these bolls when they’re open, I will take this stalk of cotton, and I’ll mix it in with uh silk flowers, and I’ll make a beautiful table arrangement.

ERICKSON: Yeah, it sure will. Uh-huh.

MCMICHAEL: And the boll that’s opening that’s a --

ERICKSON: Yeah, Right down there. Uh-huh.

MCMICHAEL: Almost. It will be open in a few days.

ERICKSON: Yeah, it will. Mine’s open a lot more than that, and I got one on the other side, and it’s open more than that one.

GEORGE STONEY: You do?

ERICKSON: Uh-huh. It’s on the other side of the house.

JAMIE STONEY: About how long does it take when, from when you plant it to when it uh --

ERICKSON: Well, you see, I planted it in uh April, so it’s, this is August, and it’s supposed to open up in September.

JAMIE STONEY: Hmmm.

ERICKSON: But, I don’t know what happened to it, to it this time. I guess--

JAMIE STONEY: Could be the heat part of the growing season.

ERICKSON: Probably so, yeah, uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: Okay, Jamie, let’s just uh pick up, and we’ll go to, get a 3:00close-up on her boll around the corner.

MCMICHAEL: I’m glad you came over. I wanted you to see my cotton. I have a boll fixing to open as I, I told you a long time ago when we were talking about cotton – you know I was raised in the country. And my daddy raised a lot of cotton, and I used to pick a lot of cotton.

ERICKSON: Yeah.

MCMICHAEL: And so I’m real proud of my stalks. Once you get in the cotton business, you never get out.

ERICKSON: (Laughter).

MCMICHAEL: I’m raising it now to make arrange – a silk, I’m gonna add silk flowers --

ERICKSON: Yeah.

MCMICHAEL: And make me a beautiful table arrangement.

ERICKSON: That’ll be pretty.

MCMICHAEL: Have you seen one?

ERICKSON: Yeah, I saw yours last year.

MCMICHAEL: We’ve, you’ve seen the cotton arrangement that was made last year?

ERICKSON: Yeah. Uh-huh.

MCMICHAEL: Well, that’s good. You see this boll right here?

ERICKSON: Yeah.

MCMICHAEL: Now this cotton was planted in March. But no, I’ll say, I thought it was March. Mine was planted in April.

ERICKSON: Mine was planted in April.

MCMICHAEL: And today, and now it’s September. I mean, it’s August. I’m getting ahead of myself. You know I’m talking, I talk too much anyway. But anyway, now it’s uh suppo--, I’ve never seen it open before September before.

ERICKSON: I hadn’t either.

4:00

MCMICHAEL: But, uh, I don’t know, I wonder if I could get a bale off of these two stalks.

ERICKSON: (Laughter).

MCMICHAEL: Wouldn’t it be nice? You know, we’d go to, if I could get a bale off these two stalks of cotton, I’ll take you to Europe.

ERICKSON: Oh, yeah, you do that, here.

MCMICHAEL: I’ll do that.

ERICKSON: Take me to Sweden, that’s where I want to go.

MCMICHAEL: I want to go to Europe, though. I’d like for them to see my cotton.

ERICKSON: Well, Sweden, they don’t know what cotton is over there, either. I’d like to go to Sweden.

MCMICHAEL: Well, I tell you, if I make enough off of these two stalks, we’ll go to both places.

ERICKSON: Okay.

MCMICHAEL: We’ll go to Sweden and Europe.

ERICKSON: All right.

MCMICHAEL: And I’m, I’m so glad you come over where I could show it to you because –

ERICKSON: Yeah.

MCMICHAEL: I’m real proud of it. I used to pick it as I said. And, uh, got too old to pick it, but I’m not too old to grow it.

ERICKSON: (Laughter).

GEORGE STONEY: Okay, cut.

[break in video]

JAMIE STONEY: Rolling. Ready Ron?

RON: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: Okay.

ERICKSON: I liked to fell. Sorry. Well, my boll of cotton’s open wider than yours. See it?

5:00

MCMICHAEL: I know it. I, I think you’ve beat me a little bit on the cotton, but at least my stalks are the largest.

ERICKSON: Oh, yeah, yours are bigger than mine by a lot.

MCMICHAEL: My stalk, my stalks will just put yours in the shade.

ERICKSON: They probably will.

MCMICHAEL: But anyway it’s cotton. What are you gonna do with yours when it opens?

ERICKSON: Oh, let you make me an arrangement. Uh-huh.

MCMICHAEL: Oh, it always falls back on me.

ERICKSON: Well, I don’t know how. And you do. You worked in a florist one time

MCMICHAEL: Well, that’s good. Well, I did work in the florist.

ERICKSON: I got, I got two bolls right there, and three or four here, and more on that one.

MCMICHAEL: Well, that’s nice. I, I think your cotton is real nice, and I enjoy looking at cotton. And I’m glad you invited me over to see it because I really like it.

ERICKSON: Yep. Uh-huh.

MCMICHAEL: I was raised in –

GEORGE STONEY: Cut. That’s fine. Okay.

ERICKSON: Okay?

GEORGE STONEY: Now uh I’d like –

[break in video]

(Inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Let’s go back and forth.

JAMIE STONEY: Should I do this?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Yeah, that’s nice.

JAMIE STONEY: Rolling whenever you’re ready

GEORGE STONEY: Okay, uh, so Ms. Erickson, I want you to tell your friend here about uh when you were in the, when you had the first radio. Just say, “Well, we had the first radio in the, in the mill village” and so forth. And you’re 6:00talking to her.

ERICKSON: Yeah. Probably my daddy bought the first radio, I reckon, in East Newnan when we lived down there. And uh everybody in the village would come on weekends and when the Grand Ole Opry was on. They, we had a big old horn that uh was connected to the radio, and uh we set it in the window. And they’d just come and sit out on the banks and on the yard, on the ground, and everywhere else and listen to the Grand Ole Opry 'til after midnight. And then when there’s ball, uh, boxing on, used to have boxing on, and uh they’d do the same thing then. And we just had company, company, company all the time way back. I don’t know what year it was, but we lived on a mill village at that time.

MCMICHAEL: I can imagine it was about nineteen and uh thirty-one or two.

ERICKSON: No, it was later than then. And in-between is, I don’t know exactly what year because, uh oh, it’s before Wayne and then Ray and all them got married. My sister and brothers and all them got married, and they married in 7:001927. And it was just before they got all, they all got married.

MCMICHAEL: Well, that was nice that you had the first one.

ERICKSON: Anyway, they said we had the first one then when my daddy bought it.

MCMICHAEL: Did you enjoy all that company that was being at your house?

ERICKSON: Yeah, well yeah, except I didn’t like them to stay 'til after midnight because I’d get sleepy and couldn’t go to bed.

MCMICHAEL: I know what it was, you – I know what it was, you was afraid you’d have to fix lunch for them.

ERICKSON: I might had to fix breakfast for them.

MCMICHAEL: Well, that would have been good. You can give them, give them some East Newnan water, and they’d never would have left. They’d always come back.

ERICKSON: Well, they, they all lived at East Newnan, so they had plenty of water.

MCMICHAEL: Well, that’s why they were there. You know the people

that lived in East Newnan never stayed anywhere else because the saying was, “If you ever drink some of East Newnan water, you’d never leave.”

ERICKSON: Yeah.

MCMICHAEL: So how did you get away?

ERICKSON: Well, I married.

MCMICHAEL: You waited a long time.

ERICKSON: I know it. I wait, I was working in East Newnan Cotton Mill when I got married in 1953, and then I went up North.

MCMICHAEL: Well, that was a nice place to go. You married a Swede, didn’t you?

8:00

ERICKSON: Yeah. That’s the reason I said I’d like to go to Sweden.

MCMICHAEL: Well, I’ll take you to Sweden when I go.

ERICKSON: Okay.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you tell about uh what you did in the mills together?

ERICKSON: Oh, I ran wine – universal winders, that’s what mine

was called. And hers was called foster winders. But we was all in the same department, you know. And uh she, she run combs mostly, and I run what they call tube, tubes, you know, on mine. And um we had a knot in it. We wore it on our hands and tied the knots, you know, and we’d mashed it down with that hand like that. With our thumb, rather. It was, it was fun, cause that’s the only way we had to making a living around then.

GEORGE STONEY: Tell us uh, uh, about some of the things you did in the mills to have fun.

ERICKSON: Well, I know one time, I’ll, I’ll say this that, um. Oh, you know people used to waste toilet paper, you know. The company used to furnish all that, you know, and uh they’d go in and have to clean it up because somebody would. And they’d report it to the boss man, you know, about how the, we all 9:00wasted paper and stuff like that. So uh they uh, the boss had a daughter that worked there in the mill, and she run winders, too. So she came in one morning. She’s says, “We’re gonna fix this. And don’t you all tell on me.” And uh so nobody told –

(Train horn)

GEORGE STONEY: Just a moment. I’m afraid we’re gonna have to start that story again. Cut. Okay.

ERICKSON: Well, the uh, the girl, the bosses’ daughter –

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

ERICKSON: Come in one morning, and she had a corn cob just about that long, and she had a note wrote on it that says, “Use this cob and save your job.” And she tied string on it and put it in our restroom, you know, where we went, on a thing like that. And uh the boss, somebody went in and told the boss about it. And uh and nobody would tell who did it or nothing. We all just had fun about it, you know. We laughed and cut up about it. I don’t know whether he ever did find it out or not. But we had f--, a lot of fun about that cob, that corn cob.

GEORGE STONEY: You were working in the mills when the, when this big strike happened.

10:00

ERICKSON: Yes, sir, and I went into work one morning and had to come back home cuz they, they uh all the people from Newnan and Iron Cone and I don’t know where, all them come down that way, and they shut down the mill cuz they didn’t want no disturbance, no fuss, or nothing like that. And –

(Train horn).

GEORGE STONEY: Cut, cut, cut. We better stop. I’m sorry.

JAMIE STONEY: Okay, we’re ready.

GEORGE STONEY: Okay, I think we can go.

JAMIE STONEY: Tell me when you’re ready, Ron.

ERICKSON: Now where was I at, and what was I telling?

GEORGE STONEY: Just start, uh –

JAMIE STONEY: You were talking about –

GEORGE STONEY: “I was working in the mill uh when the strike….”

ERICKSON: Yeah. Yeah, I went into work one morning. I think we had to go about six, seven o’clock. I don’t know what time it was now; it’s been such a long time. But, uh, whenever all these people come from other mills and other places, you know, and they was gonna shut them all down. So they, they turned us loose before they all got there cuz they was afraid there might be trouble. And uh, so uh, we had to come out, and we all went home, got home. And they travelled up and down the road, the streets and everything else all, near all 11:00day long. And uh, then um, I was out, so I don’t know, two or three weeks, I believe it was, before I could go back to work.

GEORGE STONEY: Did you ever join the union?

ERICKSON: No, oh no, I didn’t.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you tell us why?

ERICKSON: Well, my daddy didn’t want me to.

GEORGE STONEY: Just say, “My daddy didn’t want me to join the union.”

ERICKSON: Yeah, my daddy didn’t want me to join the union.

GEORGE STONEY: Did he explain why?

ERICKSON: If he did, I don’t remember what he said; it’s been such a long time.

GEORGE STONEY: Was there ever any attempt to, to organize after that?

ERICKSON: Well, I can’t remember of any place, any time that they did after then. They finally got it settled. I don’t know how, but they got it all settled. And then uh they called us all back to work, and uh and we all went back to work.

GEORGE STONEY: Did you know any of the people who were, had been members of the union?

ERICKSON: No, I – no, uh, I can’t, I can’t recall their names now. Because uh, you know, like I said, it’s a long time ago, and people’s names don’t 12:00register with me now like they used to.

GEORGE STONEY: But uh you knew some people in the, in the village, uh –

ERICKSON: There’s a lot of them that went and signed up, but some – I don’t say a lot. I mean a few of them did, but, now what, uh which ones signed up, I don’t know cause I wasn’t with them. They had schoolhouse over there, and they all, all met at the schoolhouse, the ones that would sign them up, and um. I went up there to see what they were doing, but I wouldn’t sign up. Cause my daddy told me not to, and I didn’t do it. My daddy was living at that time.

GEORGE STONEY: And what, who was your daddy?

ERICKSON: Oh, he, his name was William Hinesly. William Hinesly.

GEORGE STONEY: What did he do in the mill?

ERICKSON: Well, he, uh, he worked in the cardroom, and he laid up laps, if you know what that is. I don’t know whether that, whether you know – But he, uh, they had cards, you know, and they run laps, and he laid up the laps for them. And he worked many years there, in the cardroom. Sometime he’d have to run [inaudible], you know, or whatever you know at some, at different times, but he 13:00worked for many years there hisself.

GEORGE STONEY: Okay. One other thing. Uh, Judy told me on the phone the other morning, “Be sure to get some story that you told.” You two were talking about something that happened in the mill that was, that she thought was very funny. It wasn’t the cob story. It was something else. Do you remember what she told us?

RON: George, wait a minute.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: Ron’s about to sneeze.

RON: Bug flew up my nose.

MCMICHAEL: (Laughter).

GEORGE STONEY: That’s it.

RON: I got it.

ERICKSON: Well, she was, she wasn’t um married, and he wasn’t either. They was both young, you know, just before they got married. But then anyway, I used to go home. We used to have a lunch hour, 45 minutes, and I’d go home to dinner. And I guess they did; I don’t know. But anyway, they – when I’d come back and open the door to come into the laundry room where I worked at, they would be standing at the door courting. And the boss man, uh Mr. Wood was the boss man, I mean the superintendent, and he was the only one, they was the only ones that he would let do anything like that in the mill, court up there, 14:00while they’d – And they’d just talk and talk and talk. That’s before they got married. She was, I guess, about 16, 17 years old, I don’t know, somewhere along there. And uh we’d uh laugh about that a lot of times, me and her have.

GEORGE STONEY: Why’d you think Mr. Woods let you do that?

MCMICHAEL: Well, uh, I don’t know. I, I worked, my job was kind of out in the open. I worked on the front winder. And uh he had noticed a lot of times when he’d come by, and he was, he was v--, he was interested in his employees. And it seemed that when he’d come by, if I was the, sometimes I would be kindly stooped over tying an end up. And he’d say, he’d hit me on the shoulder, and he’d say, “Now stand up straight. You gonna grow up to be a fine young lady sometime.” And uh he would talk to me like that. And two, we uh ran a little store. My, after then, my husband rented uh our first store that we had; he rented from them. And his wife and me were good friends. So he just uh, I 15:00don’t know, he just always seemed to take an interest in me. I remember one time, uh, uh – You know he would, he would, he watched the young people. He was very careful about the young people. And we had a habit, most of us, of gathering down on the bridge, as we called it, on the main road. And uh, so he came to me one day, and he said, “I don’t want you to be down on the bridge.” He didn’t only tell me that. He told all of them, you know. And so one day, my, the man that I married and me were going, uh, we went riding around; we went over to Macintosh Mill Village. We just rode that far. That was a long ride back then because you’d get, you know, if you went two miles, you had been to Florida. But anyway, while we, when we, we didn’t know if he was watching us when I got in the car. You see, when, my husband was in this car, and I was walking up the road, so he stopped, and I got in. And when I got home, I told my parents that, I said that I went over to Macintosh. I had an uncle and 16:00aunt that lived over there. So I didn’t know nothing had come of that. But I didn’t know Mr. Wood had seen me; that was the superintendent’s name. And so uh when I got home, my daddy said, “Where did you go today?” And I said I went to Macintosh. And so Mr. Wood’s already told him. He knew it before I told him. He was very careful to watch us. He was uh, he was very strict in a way, but yet it was a kind of strictness as I think that was good for the young people and the elderly people. And I think I told you about the man that uh had to move and moved in the house across the street. And he, he wanted everybody to go to Sunday School and church. He was a, he was a fine, decent man, but he was strict. But, but he had to be. The village was, if you was to went down there then, you wouldn’t have seen any weeds, anything, any kind of trash, anything. Everything was clean as a pin. It had to be that way, or you moved.

GEORGE STONEY: What’s now, wasn’t he superintendent of the Sunday School, too?

MCMICHAEL: Yes.

GEORGE STONEY: Tell, tell us about that.

MCMICHAEL: Well, he was Superintendent of the Sunday School for a long time and 17:00went to church there. And he liked for everybody to go to church, and most of them did, you know. And then usually after he uh died – well, he, uh, after he gave up that job. I think, he was a diabetic; I think that was the reason why –

ERICKSON: He lost his legs.

MCMICHAEL: He gave up that job. And so then when uh he gave up the job, and they had another superintendent, well he was our, our teacher. And uh so, but they were always – they were nice to us. We had a lot of fun. You know people think that it was hard. It was in a way. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had things that was worth more than money. We had a lot of fun, and we had a lot of uh friends, and we had a lot of enjoyment just doing the simple things, you know. I think really that life was more enjoyable back then than it is now for the younger people because we didn’t have too much to have fun with, you know. But as I’ve told my kids a lot of times, what you’ve never had, you don’t ever miss.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you happen to have a picture of Mr. Woods?

MCMICHAEL: No, I don’t. I sure don’t.

18:00

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, what was his full name?

MCMICHAEL: Monroe.

ERICKSON: D. M. Wood.

MCMICHAEL: It was D.M, but is all I know is….

GEORGE STONEY: I’ll make a note of this because we’ll want to get a picture of him.

ERICKSON: I don’t know who’s got a picture of him, do you?

GEORGE STONEY: That was Mr. –

ERICKSON: D. M. Wood was his initials.

GEORGE STONEY: D. M. Woods

MCMICHAEL: And he was a fine feller.

ERICKSON: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: And whose, the mill was called at that time?

MCMICHAEL: East Newnan Cotton Mill.

GEORGE STONEY: And this was in the 1920s.

MCMICHAEL: Uh-hum.

ERICKSON: Somewhere along there, yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Okay, I’m sure the librarian, whose been very helpful to us – you know, the library –

MCMICHAEL: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: The local library here can probably find that for us.

MCMICHAEL: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: Cause we would like to cut to a picture of him at this time. Good.

MCMICHAEL: Uh-huh, yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Okay, that’s it.

[break in video]

JAMIE STONEY: Rolling.

(Inaudible).

ERICKSON: We and everybody, Methodist and Baptist regardless, went to the same Sunday School. And uh well –

GEORGE STONEY: Start again. You say, “Mr. Wood had a Sunday School.”

19:00

ERICKSON: No, uh, no, we had one.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh-huh.

ERICKSON: And we had a woman teacher. And Miss Tommie Reid was her name. And uh and she’s dead though, been dead for a long time. And there was 90 young girls in that class. Ninety pupils in that class.

GEORGE STONEY: They were all out of the mill.

ERICKSON: Uh-huh, we all lived there on the mill village. Some was Methodist, some was Baptist cause we all went together. Didn’t, it didn’t matter, we just went to church and didn’t even think about what denominations it was.

MCMICHAEL: I was the best looking one there.

ERICKSON: (Laughter).

GEORGE STONEY: Okay, good, that’s it, then. Thank you.

[break in video]

ZELDA GOSSET: There comes a story, and we don’t have a whole lot of cars, but –

JAMIE STONEY: We’re getting you mic-ed up.

RON: They like me to try to hide these things, so they don’t see them.

ZELDA GOSSET: Yeah.

RON: Okay, that should be okay.

RON: Are they comfortable? Are you comfortable?

ZELDA GOSSET: I don’t even know I’ve got it on.

20:00

RON: Okay, could you, could you just say “hello” and – ?

ZELDA GOSSET: Hello. How are you?

FRANK GOSSET: Hi.

RON: Thank you. Okay, I’m all set, uh George.

(Inaudible).

JAMIE STONEY: Yep.

GEORGE STONEY: Okay, Mrs. Gosset, I want you to tell the story about Mr. Nixon. When you were eight or nine years old, you helped your mother in the mill, and all of that.

ZELDA GOSSET: No, I didn’t help my mother in the mill. Uh, she helped her mother when she –

GEORGE STONEY: Ah, that’s right. Tell that story.

ZELDA GOSSET: My mother went to work when she’s 12 years old in the mill helping her mother. And um Mr. Nixon, the owner of the mill, had a school for the children to go to at night, and Mother went and got a fair, not a whole lot, of education, but did. But she worked for little or nothing. I think she started 21:00for a quarter a week. And then she worked up to where she could do more and all. She was the oldest of four children.

GEORGE STONEY: And how did she learn her job?

ZELDA GOSSET: By helping her mother.

FRANK GOSSET: See, back then, the children, as soon as they got able to help – The people was on production, you might say. And the child got old enough, they’d go in and do just a little bit to help the parent. The parent got a few cents more an hour by producing a little bit more. And they’d learned the trade that way. They wasn’t hired in for training; they, they’d learn it through their parents. And then when they got enough, edu--, training enough, they’d give them little jobs. Now, I heard her mother say that at first when 22:00they took her in, and she got to where she run part of a job, they paid her 25 cents a week.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, there was something about your, your mother nursing.

ZELDA GOSSET: Oh, my mother, when she had a baby, she would nurse. She’d either come out and go home and nurse the child, or –

FRANK GOSSET: You’d take it –

ZELDA GOSSET: We’d take it over to mill, and she’d come outside and nurse her and go back to work. And we did have a grandparent that would take, kind of looked after us some, and neighbors all helped with the children. And then we did, Mr. Nixon had the nursery; we could stay in it some. And it was quite – He was one of the better owners of a mill that – He took, tried to take care of us, family, and we did live in a country, a –

FRANK GOSSET: Company house.

23:00

ZELDA GOSSET: Company house. But uh we were fortunate than most of them. We didn’t owe quite as much as most of them did to the uh company where they took, they didn’t take all mother and daddy’s pay. But –

FRANK GOSSET: Most of, most of them owed so much money to the company, and the company stores was so high, that they couldn’t get out of debt. So they never drawed a paycheck. There was, they’d get an envelope stating, “So much paid to the company store” and the balance of what you still owed.

ZELDA GOSSET: And the rent, blankets, coal, or oil for kerosene lamps for awhile and –

FRANK GOSSET: All that come from the company store.

ZELDA GOSSET: Company store.

GEORGE STONEY: Now where was all this happening?

ZELDA GOSSET: On Wells Street in Atlanta, Georgia, just off of Stewart Avenue.

GEORGE STONEY: What was the mill?

FRANK GOSSET: Atlanta –

24:00

ZELDA GOSSET: Atlanta Woolen Mill.

GEORGE STONEY: Now talk about the woolen mill and the cotton mill. I believe you said they were, they were different.

FRANK GOSSET: Oh yes, well, you see you only had two woolen mills in the South at that time. All the rest of the woolen mills was in the North. And, uh, I think the pay rate was just a little bit higher. Although the pay rate was awful low before the Wage and Hour Bill went in because 55 hours a week, 10 hours a day. They run two shifts, two 10-hour shifts. And on Saturday, they ran one, uh two five-hour shifts. And the pay rate, I forget what it was, was $4.60 or $4.80 a week. Not a day, now that was a week. And September of ‘33, the NRA come in, Wage and Hour Bill. And they had to raise the people pay 33 point something 25:00cents an hour, made 13-something a week for 40 hours. So that’s when they went on 24-hour shifts, had to go to three shifts, to keep from paying overtime and quit out the Saturday work. And the first two weeks, on Friday, they paid on Thursday, and the first two weeks’ payday that they got after the Wage and Hour Bill, nobody hardly showed up to work because they had so much money they didn’ t know what to do with it. They got 13 dollars and something. They had been getting four dollars and something. You can see them out on the railroad track, big railroad track, these fellas sitting out there playing cards and shooting dice. The boss opened a window hollering out there, begging them to come into work. He needed some of them to start up the machinery. They wasn’t about to come in there; they had so much money, they, they just had a – After 26:00a few weeks, they began to realize they could use the money going to other stores and buying clothes and things like that. But at the first two weeks, they just had so much, they didn’t know what to do. You just imagine three times the pay you been getting, overnight you might say.

GEORGE STONEY: Well now when did this start to stretch out? Talk about that.

FRANK GOSSET: Huh?

GEORGE STONEY: The stretch out.

FRANK GOSSET: The what?

ZELDA GOSSET: Stretch out. I don’t know just exactly which one you is –

FRANK GOSSET: I don’t mean what you mean by the stretch out.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, when they started speeding up the machinery and giving you higher uh minimums.

FRANK GOSSET: Well, I don’t remember that we had anything like that there in Atlanta Woolen Mills, uh. The job stayed the same. Your requirements was the 27:00same. Uh, what the production was before, it was, well most people – Production was set so high, just a few of them could make any premium, what we call a premium. A few of them would make it. A lot of them would go under, but the Wage and Hour made them bring it up to that scale, see. But, uh –

GEORGE STONEY: Did that cut out people who couldn’t keep up? Older people?

FRANK GOSSET: No, uh, it didn’t. As far as I know, it didn’t affect anybody any way except they started getting more money than they ever heard of.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, you told us something about uh the kids being able to come in and help the parents before, but afterwards they weren’t allowed to get, to come in the mill. Could you talk to us about that?

FRANK GOSSET: No, that’s right. In other words – she (indicating

Mrs. Gossett), she had the experience. See I, I didn’t grow up in a mill town.

ZELDA GOSSET: But I did.

FRANK GOSSET: She did. But I’ve heard so many stories about it from the people working there. When I went to work there, the children wasn’t going into the mills.

28:00

ZELDA GOSSET: I didn’t. I worked, I didn’t work in the mill before I was married. But very few of them went in fairly young, but you still had to go to school some.

FRANK GOSSET: You got, they passed the law that you had to be so old before they could keep you out of school, and I think that’s when they quit having the children in the mill.

ZELDA GOSSET: In the mill. When the laws and –

FRANK GOSSET: Uh, but back then, even the farmers in the fall, their children wouldn’t go to school. They worked harvesting, picking crops and stuff. And they passed the law that you had to go to school until a certain age. And that’s when I think that they quit having the children in the mill.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, could you talk about – ?

RON: George, let me change tape.

29:00

GEORGE STONEY: Okay. Okay just a moment, let’s add another tape.