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´╗┐Kevin Combs: Today is Sunday November 26, 2022 and my name is Kevin Combs and I'm talking with Melva Anders. Melva can you just introduce yourself and tell me where you grew up and that kind of thing?

Melva Anders: I grew up in a place called Slabtown and I was the oldest--I have a brother older than--I have four younger sisters, and my dad got me this job in a mill. He worked in the card room for about nine years. A lot of people from where I come from worked in mill. After the Carbide closed, and I worked there several times.

Kevin: What was the first year you worked there?

Melva: I worked there in [19]66, that's where I met my husband. He read the pick 1:00clocks on the looms and I had never been in 'ere and you talkin' bout the lathe moves, and he was gonna get by me, and I believe he had done it intentionally. He pushed me over too far and it bumped me and knocked me into me. It didn't hurt me, but you know what I'm talking about, if you was ever in there you'd know what I meant, when that shuttle went across--the lathe went across like that. And when you got too close to it and there was a corner on it, and I started a back and I went backing up looking, and I always accused him of that's why he'd done that. Then I got to notice and he got to coming back, the evenings he worked second and I worked second. And he would come back and reread like he's reading pick clocks. And he introduced himself to me.

Kevin: So, you grew up in Slabtown, that's near Ivanhoe, just south of Ivanhoe 2:00on 94.

Melva: Yeah the Carbide plant down in Ivanhoe, my dad and all of them worked at that. It close when I was about twelve. And then there was a time you just couldn't find a job, he worked construction and worked on bridges and roads and away. It was too many of us kids and all, and he'd come back home, he couldn't move away from home. And he'd come to work at the mill and when I graduated he got me a job up there.

Kevin: And you graduated from Fort Chiswell--

Melva: Fort Chiswell, yeah it was the first class that ever went through Fort Chiswell.

Kevin: Oh really? So your dad, what room did he work in?

Melva: The card room.

Kevin: Yeah you mentioned it--

Melva: Yeah I went in 'ere and if you didn't know real good who anybody was, you wouldn't ever know cause it was covered with-- you know six two.

Kevin: Oh the cotton?

Melva: It stuck all over you, and I heard-- you look like big fuzzy white thing coming up through there walking in.

Kevin: So you worked in--tell me all of the rooms you worked in.


Melva: I worked in the spool room, I spooled. And I creeled after I went back to work, Mike was over the grain mill and of evenings after I got off from my inspecting job, I would go up and work from three to seven, split a shift with somebody. So I creeled, and I run unifills, and I weaved, and I done cloth inspection and after the mill started closing, they cut my job out, I went back to weaving and I hadn't weaved for twenty years I run production.

Kevin: Wow.

Melva: But I'd been, when I worked I carried a reader stuff in, I had to read the patterns anyway and actually, you kept up with it. I went back and I weaved and I have swept and I have done it all. Be what they call the spare hand. If it 4:00didn't have a job like--and fill batteries, I'd fill batteries. That wasn't one of my favorite things cause I'm not-- you had to carry all that around you. Take a piece of concrete and make ya bounce like a kangaroo, fill it up with filling and go around, but I never did care for that. I liked the unifills, they were fast. I liked to run the unifills.

Kevin: So you mentioned reading the patterns, what does that mean?

Melva: Well, they had different patterns. The cloth wasn't all weaved the same and when they'd done it, it had drop eyes and the shuttle'd come over and so many threads would drop and it'd go over them or in and out 'em. And then they made these work gloves and they had a herringbone, and it was weaved with a color in it and it had so many threads and a certain many colors and you'd look at it and you then you could count 'em and you counted the threads is what you done.

Kevin: So that's when you were inspecting cloth?

Melva: Uh huh. Okay and when you inspected it, you'd take a flashlight with a magnifying glass on it and go over it and then you had to go over the top and 5:00bottom and you initialed it. I only missed one defect in 'bout eleven, twelve years I worked, and they made me go stand and look at it and they all talked, and I had a nickname "Boll Weevil". Harold Funk and Tom Hill was the third shift supervisors and they used to tease me. I went to third cause my girls. If they didn't realize I ever went to work, I'd leave five ten eleven, and get up ready and come home after seven and got 'em up, and Mike would leave them, and they let me come home five minutes early. So when Mike left, I'd come and I could walk in five minutes home and that's what I'd done. But anyway they'd tease me 6:00cause they said I could see the yarn would come in and it would jerk a chunk of it in and it might run yards and yards and not do it, but they always said I could see one like I had eyes on the back of my head and in front of my head.

And we had tickets we'd put on those for different defects. And if you stopped it more than once you'd start with pink then green and it went on up and I could stop it and then they, whatever was wrong with it, and they fixed it. I had to go back if I had a red ticket, which was pinged, and if I put it on a three times, it was flagged three times, went back and checked it. But any of 'em you checked if it was a certain kind of defect, no matter what. Those you had to go back--actually with the job I got acquainted with everybody. And I got along real good with everybody, and I got sick and a lot of them was real concerned 7:00and wanted me to come back and stuff like that.

But I really liked working in there, and a lot of people I hear 'em say, oh that mill, but you take it and you just do it. And you make the best out of what you got. I don't know what people expect, you get a job you're supposed to do a job and if they tell you to go and do that job, go to it. Don't bother me, but a lot of people. And they said fill 8:00batteries and I thought like a car battery, and then I went in there and they showed me what you done. I never was put in a training room no matter wherever I went. Everything I've ever done I was put right to work almost after the first day. Right on the job. I said something about it and Mike said, they just look at you and you know you doing.

I thought it was very interesting work, of course Mike, he was a time study, I told you about somebody done time study and Harold Coleman, he's dead, he done it too, but he's passed--most people I know's passed away. And Joe Taylor, who I was telling you about, him and Mike did that. And once a year when Regiel [Textile Co.] took it over, they time-studied every job and when they were going to change the yarn on the looms and every place had to be time studied in order to set the job up and they stayed with you the whole 9:00way there. The jobs wasn't etch-a-sketch--just throw it in there anywhere--there was a reason for 'em and how they were done. And you were running thirty looms and you got this other stuff and it's much better yarn, it would run faster, and they would give you thirty-five, well if you got something didn't run and that's what you would set your production at. And they time-studied for days on stuff and they would come and either cut a job, add to it, leave it the same, or move it someway. But you don't just go in and put something down--that's like I was talking about--when you run those gloves with the herringbone pattern, you wouldn't run as many as them if you run a straight cloth. And then they had some that had some dobby heads on 'em which weave tablecloths and stuff.

Kevin: Dobby heads, is it?

Melva: Dobby heads, they call 'em dobby heads. And the cloth went under and there was a big thing on the side of it that had a pattern in it, and what it done it let the drop wires drop and it made a pattern. You didn't draw that pattern, it already looked like a piece of cardboard or something. And it was up in 'ere and it governed how them done it. See I had to know how the pattern had to run in order to know if it broke or not running right. I mean you could look and if it didn't look right, or if it had a streak in it, or if there was something wrong with it. As far as I know, and this is the way it goes, you didn't grade the cloth on the right side, you graded on the wrong side. If you buy a pair of denim blue jeans, always turn 'em on the wrong side, that's the best place to look for something in them. You can't tell on the front, and you can tell if the legs are straight and work your zipper, cause that's the main 10:00things about a pair of britches that don't work. And we made denim. But now both streaks in it, we put it in seconds. [Clock chiming] We had a bad place that's what, it's where what was bad start up calls it, but now they make the denim.

But now I look at the cloth it really, and I think, that's a second. And they made cloth at one time for girl scout and boy scout uniforms and they made camouflage for the service and it was down by itself and it had gone over with a black light and the weaver had to do it, and they had 'em on post and they would cut the lights off in that section, which went dark, and they would run it over and it would glow if it had any cotton in it. Because if you didn't, when they made the cloth uniform, they went towards radar it would pick 'em up and they brought back when we'd run seconds and they'd come in 'ere, and there's several in 'ere, and they'd hung it all around the wall and it'd look fine, but when 11:00they took and cut the lights off you could see these little dabs of cotton had got in it. And when I first went there too they made tent material for Vietnam, and it paid more cause it's a government job. But there was a lot of stuff that real interesting. And we made one kind of cloth that had stainless steel in it and they used it to do surgery with cancer patients and do the chemo and radiation. And they cut a hole in it and do the surgery under it. I didn't like it as much because in the summertime especially, the stainless steel was in the warp part, it could be in the part, and the little bits of that you couldn't see 'em and they'd get around your waistband especially or any clothes fit tight and you could get a little rash from it even. They've done all kinds of stuff and there's some interesting stuff in there.

But I liked that thoroughly like that--I thought that was real interesting. Now the dobby--or dobby heads or 12:00whatever, Mike could tell you the technical everything I just use the names we did in there, but we sold those tablecloths in Roanoke, the big tablecloths in Roanoke that's where that materials comes from. My daughters went in there telling me when they come back about the tablecloths and Mike said, that cloth was made at the mill, and the cloth at the mill went all around the world. But one of the most interesting was the camouflage. Now I've got a piece of camouflage, I got the last piece of cloth that ever came out of there cause Mike got in there the last time he walked through there 'fore they cut the lights off and it was on the folder thing. I don't know, I don't remember what it is, but 13:00it's in a plastic bag and he brought it home and he said, if it ever had some place he would give it to him, because they kept talking about building a depot back.

But yeah, I liked it and I thought it was one of the best places I work--and I liked the people. There's no better people than the older. And I worked on third and I worked with people my age, but when I went to daytime all the older people, during daytime most of them were old enough to be my mama and daddy. But I got along real good with 'em. You have to take people as they are and everybody that meets me says that I'm-- my doctor told my daughter I was the 14:00most unique patient he'd ever had. She said, won't you just tell her she's weird like everybody else. But I've never made no friends with a certain type of person and I'm not, no matter what, my personal reaction was when I'm on a job I treated you just like everybody else. I inspected, I didn't pick on someone. I won't try to people like me, I want them to do their job, I'd do my own, they'd mind their business, you know? Not cause no friction. And that's the way I've always been. I like for people to like me, but it don't bother me. And you've never met a stranger, talked to anybody because either probably become a friend and you'll never see them again if not, you're the one that loses out. And that's the way we were raised. And every place I ever went, I interviewed, I always just about got a job.


And I was that way always, be respectful of people and when people take and ask me real personal questions, I say, that's none of your business. And that's at work or where I worked before, I was telling somebody, none of ya business. If they start talking about something personal, that's what I tell ya to say. And I never had no trouble with anybody and I could work with anybody. Well you gotta give people the right to be, and if somebody said something that I didn't want to talk about I'd say, I don't think that has a thing to do with the job, and kinda laugh it off and go on. But I've always been like that. But the mill was really interesting place to work. My dad, he always told us, no matter what we done to give it six weeks. He said, stick with it six weeks, your first impressions will change completely. And I know you walk in a place, like the first day I walked in and I saw Betty--oh let's see--Widner and I didn't know who she was then, it was Bill Widner, he passed away, his twin sister. And she was working there that summer and I seen 16:00all them people and I saw them girls and all that cotton and all that, and I stand there, they took me and stood me in the middle of the floor, you know. Everybody kinda look at you, and I stood there and I just waited and they took me where they wanted me and I talked to everybody and went along with them. And I didn't have no trouble. I come back the next day and I wasn't too enthused, but that was with all of it. But I never did think I was ever beyond, no better nobody. I'm not. I mean, no. I think that's the thing, attitude has a lot to do with it.

Kevin: Yeah, I think so.

Melva: But the mill was real interesting, I worked more in the weaving room but the spool room all you done was throwing dropped bobbins in and knotter come by and done it. And they went down to where they made the warps, I can tell you a little about all the mill. Cause every place I've ever worked I find out everything I find out about it. Of course being married to Mike, he'd come in and he'd tell me about something and of course I'm nosy enough to ask more questions and I thought it was interesting. They started out with a bell cotton, which is a piece of fuzz, and they wound it and twisted it and took it through this and that and it'd come out in the weaving room as yarn and it'd make cloth, period. And that's the way it done it. And they had a knitting, but I never did get into the knitting. Jackie Stewart worked it and Joe-Bob was over that when I 17:00first went up 'ere, and Wayne Martin was over the cloth room, and Reese Cornet and 'em and different ones but anyway. They retired and then they took the knitting out that didn't work, but the last looms they brought in 'ere, were those they didn't have the wooden lathes on them, they didn't have the wooden shuttles, they had a little--they were modern and they were huge, they run like a thousand yards on them the warps were huge. I think they put two or three or four of them in, to where they tore our old looms.

But the mill, it would have 18:00never worked in 'ere because the mill, they couldn't modernize it cause it cost so much cause of the floors and what it was made out of too. You can imagine those pillars in there, they were trees that never grow no more and there was planks in 'ere and in this old house when we tried to put paneling we had to get a drill to drill a hole in cause there's a wooden wall under there, but that's the way the mill was. It was huge, and they had a unit combers that made packages, now that is something like they do over at Park Hill, they make the packages. The mill bought, when it closed the yarn mill out, the mill bought from them, bought the yarn, we called them packages and we got big ol' chains of cheese with a cone in the middle and yarn was around 'em and you hooked on back the unifill and it'd come on around. And the unifill had bobbins, it filled the bobbins, when you run the batteries it was spun on 'em up in the spinning, and then you carried it around and put it in the, and it held--I don't know--two or three doz--I guess maybe two dozen bobbins--and once you done put it in and pulled the string over 'em and wrap it around the end and when that shuttle come across, it would grab that thread and take it across. Like that. And then when they got the packages, you could run a dozen more, two dozen more, cause all you've done was walk around and tie the bobbins package together if they didn't and it stopped you redone it and your bobbins would go empty, but you didn't--the weaver come along and started the loom.

But they had some I liked where you didn't run the unifill, that was my ideal. All you had was a fixer and I liked that cause you didn't have to depend on nobody but one more person. But I done that, I'd run unifills on weaved and course you run a smaller amount but it took less people and more efficient, but course I had advantage because I'm tall--I'm not really that tall--but I got long arms and legs and I could reach from the front and do a lot and if you were short you had to go all the way 19:00around and walk. But another thing about working production, you start it when you're young and you have a skill and you build skill, when you get old, you have a skill to do it, it don't take the physical effort. Cause I went back and tried some stuff, I know when I went back after twenty years I could do it, but of course I was in 'ere and walked constantly so that wasn't my problem, and I still could take advantage of my height. But the biggest thing was I didn't have the momentum I once had. It took me more effort, but I had a skill, so it took it up. And that's what I can't get people to understand, it's real hard to teach an old person, I know cause I had jobs. It took me, it seemed like anybody young would walk up and just [tutting sound]--it took me twice as long. When I took a 20:00job test when I first started out in high school they give me, oh I could put everything. And when I went back after the mill closed, and I couldn't even get on my internet a lot of the times. I wasn't the only one, you know, everybody around there. But I thought, say what they want to, you lose something with age.

But the thing of having a job or anything, it's a skill and there's certain techniques and everybody has their own, the other work I done, I tell people there's a guideline for it, I'll show you my way, but if you know a better way than it says in the guideline, do it. I could do something somebody else couldn't do. The biggest thing about the other looms they brought in, they were huge. On the back of them, you couldn't stand on the floor, you had to climb up on--I guess it was eight inches--it was metal and you had to stand on that and try to reach over. They were huge and they never did get it off of the floor, but you know the mill you could tell. We made cloth and made baby blankets. There was baby blankets. I've got a box, what it was is they brought back rags and I got aprons I made, and I made them out of that khaki and I got some green and I made a mill apron, they give it to you, seconds you could wipe your hands and wash it and not throw it in the thing. And they come back printed and they sent them through a thing and it reminds you of a dog brushing you, you seen 'em? It has the little bristles in it, all over it.

Kevin: Mm-hmm.

Melva: Well it went through two them there and they would do it and that's what made it fuzzy. And we made denim, we made the lightweight denim and we made one kind and the filling had elastic in it, you couldn't put it in the warp and it would come loose and it would pop and if you cut into it, it would ravel back. That's like knits, like we'd make our jeans out of. We made some of that too. [Dog whines] It was like anything else you had some good some bad so what you 21:00gonna feeling, the twist was put on it. But a lot of that special cloth they made, the people didn't realize they just run the job a lot of people don't know what they've done with it. But I was always curious of course they sent seconds back, but I know about the camouflage. They had two kinds, the kind you bind uniforms out of or whatever and then they had that that would go through radar. And no seconds ever coming back at you, you weren't allowed to take a piece of it out of 'ere. But that piece they brought back that so much of that mixture had got in, they had it all over the office wall, they cut off and put a black light it glowed. People didn't realize, that mill was really good.

Kevin: So, you live now in Riverview Avenue.

Melva: I've always.


Kevin: Oh, so you've lived here since you've moved to Fries?

Melva: We lived in house 21 on the other end right behind that farmers market for two years and we bought this house, and I've been here ever since. I've been fifty-four years, fifty-five years in this house.

Kevin: And this was not really considered a great street at the time, was it?

Melva: No the dump was gone when I come here, but the trains switch tracks here in front of the house, it was called Railroad Street. And they has some cotton bales caught on fire and they brought them down here on a train and let them sit 'til they burned out. [Clock chiming] That smoked and when I moved here there'd 23:00been a fire, there ain't been one since, but Mike said that was the second one. Up on that ridge 'ere, all that lot from the lower end all the way back around the mill and all burned off, there was no trees over there, you could see where they burned off, it was getting green. But I watched them, every bit of that grow back. Yeah I've been here forever.

Kevin: Do you ever see eagles from your porch?

Melva: Oh yeah, I can see everything. That's a big thing, the eagles are. You can see anything, actually I think I got the best view. I can sit in my rocking chair, and look right in. There was a tree that had come up there and I didn't kill it, where you come right on the trail and it was getting to where it was 24:00kinda and something got in this summer and killed those trees and they cut it down, so I got. If you go out there when you get there, you can look when you go out, I do I have. It looks right into the dam, I got some pictures someplace I took of it and they're on a thing. I used to go out. When I'd come home from work and I got up in the morning, even if I work third or second, I'd always walked all over town and carried a camera. I did it until my---I ain't never done it since my husband died. I got real sick and I quit doing it, but before that, he'd get up and a lotta ones he'd go to the bathroom and just wait on me to come back. I'd walk, I used to walk thirteen, fourteen miles a day but see, when I got sick I had to--I couldn't walk for more than the street lights then I got there and I'd walk on his street before I got tired and Mike would sit on the porch and watch me. But I have a heart condition and my heart was stopping and we kept going to the doctor telling him, and they said it couldn't be. It 25:00took years for 'em to ever get anybody, and nobody believed it, so they put a monitor in and they called me in about--I guess it was about a week---woman called me and told me she said, sit down, she said, whatchu doing? And I said, drinking a cup of coffee. She said, sit down, don't get up. I said, what? And she said, can you come to Radford to see me, and I said, ain't no way, cause I got ready and I don't drive and by the time I get there, it'd be too late. And she said, well you sit down and don't you get up and be doing nothing. Do you realize that your hearts stopping eight seconds at a time? I said, oh really?

Kevin: Oh my gosh, eight seconds?

Melva: Yeah it done it over and over and over. Two or three times a day or night or anything I do it. But anyway, they said that they never seen that happen and there was something to it. They tried to say I was having seizures, but I worked around seizures and I know I had no seizures. But the thing of it was, when I come to it I'd know exactly what happened to me at the time when I woke up I'd know. And it didn't confuse me at all or anything.

Kevin: So Mike Anders was your husband and Charlie Anders was his dad, right?


Melva: Mm-hmm.

Kevin: Was Charlie born in Fries?

Melva: Yeah he was born in Fries and he lived on Top Street. His dad was Rush Anders, uhh let's see. Did you ever know of Paul Anders?

Kevin: No.

Melva: Well that was Mike's cousin. Mike's only got two first cousins living. Mary Lawson across the street married Barry Lawson, she's his first cousin and her sister, that's all that's left of that whole family on the Anders' side. They're all gone. That's what I said, but the people, most people I could tell you about that could really tell you something no more than I did is gone. But I think Joe Taylor, if you could get him to talk. You know Gene Taylor and Joe Taylor? He lives out on what's called Scratch Gravel, Nancy's his wife and she's from Ivanhoe. She's more my sister's age and they live down in town and I know her mom and Bonnie was her name. She was a hostess on daytime at Cracker Barrel and she retired. And Joe worked in the mill, and he works--I don't know if still works for Consolidated or not, but he works in an office over there with James Jones that lives up Swinney Hollow. Now James worked in 'ere and he knows right much about it, he was the safety thing. Joe's brothers, they were bosses up in the spinning room and stuff. I know Gene was on third shift, and he's married to Vina Davis, now Gene is.

Kevin: Oh yeah, I know about 'em.

Melva: Okay you know 'em, I'm getting more into somebody you know. But that whole family there at one time worked in the mill. Joe would be your best person, and Joe he's a little bit younger than me. He's kind of--he ain't real talkative, but he could tell ya. But they do live out on Scratch Gravel and somebody could tell you, well even Vina could tell you, or somebody could cause she could, somebody like that or anybody. My daughter had a boy by Randy Wampler 27:00and his mama was a sister to Gene and all of them, Juanita. That's how I know so much about them.

Kevin: So Charlie, let's go back to Charlie. Charlie was the barber in town.

Melva: Yeah, he was for forty years.

Kevin: For forty years, wow. He was born on Top Street, but I'm remembering living on Main Street.


Melva: Yeah he lived on Main Street, but they lived back up 'ere on the other street. Back up 'ere where Larry Williams and them lived, they lived in the five room house there where Ralph Hagee owned up 'ere. You know when you go up the street and it's down over the bank, they're that way. They lived there before that and they lived in, when Mike's mom and dad lived, they lived in the basements of houses and his grandma and grandpas and them lived there. Mike's grandfather, Rush, died when he was pretty young, in his fifties or some. [Engine rumbling in background] There's a story to that, he married first cousin. And she died and he married her sister. And Mike looked up the family tree and he come home one day and he said, that tree didn't fork twice. He said, that ain't no family tree. And everybody was kinned, that's what Mike was 29:00talking about. If you trace it back, cousins. But that's same place like where I come from, I was a King. Our King, his grandaddy--or his great grandaddy--his grandaddy was my grandaddy, they were brothers and they sprung off. And when you go back to where I was born and raised, everybody, I know everybody because one of the offsprings is living in the house, my sister lives in my dad's house and that's what my brother said, there's really no new people in there, just the new generation. The ones growed up and bought and lives in the house, and the girl lives over here's named Gwinn and this is Gwinn and one of them's daddy was a King and the other's mama was a King. And I was a King. But we come out and my dad said there was five of them King men and they live some of them down in Austinville.

Kevin: So, Rush Anders, do you know if he was born in Fries? Or did he move into Fries?

Melva: As much as I know about him, he lived here in Fries and he worked in the mill, that's all I know. But I assume he probably was born in Fries, or was young when he come here. Cause Mike's dad, he was eighty-seven when he died. But Mike's dad didn't talk that much about him. Of course he died at early age and 30:00his mother was Alice Carico, Mary Lawson's mom. That was Charlie's sister.

Kevin: Alice was custodian at the school.

Melva: Uh-huh, she was Mike's aunt.

Kevin: Okay, I didn't know that--

Melva: Her husband had been married before and he had a daughter older than her. Oldest girl almost, she just died. And he was from Piney. And that woman was married to Akers and she died after Alice did. Well not long before Barry did, and she was a preacher. See, I'm kin to a lot of people in Piney, and I'm kin to all people in Raketown because my mama was a Burchett and that's where she was born and raised, but she wasn't raised 'ere, they moved to Austinville. And Mike's kin to everyone is Grayson and I'm kin to everyone in Carroll County and Wythe County [laughs]. And if you mention it, Terry Stoneman, Terry Stoneman's daddy was first cousins to my mama.

Kevin: Really?

Melva: On the Burchett's side [dog barks].

Kevin: So you're Stoneman football player, right?

Melva: Mm-hmm, so I can trace--if anything my kids say we're kin to 'em, or they're married to you. That's what we always used to say. You're either kin to 'em or married to 'em. And some people were double kin. These people next door. [Dog barking loudly] Stop. Them people next door, I don't know who they are, they rent that house right now, [dog barks louder] stop. Own dad and they bought it and they turned it into a rental, and they live up there and then Dickey Hawks--

Kevin: Yeah I know Dickey.

Melva: Rachel, he married Rachel, and she bought this house, and they have renters from all over the country. And they rented and there have been one car over there and I can get up and there would be four, and they rented it to a bunch of motorcycle people and I'd come home one day and having supper with my brother and 'em and there was eight big motorcycles sitting here. And the next morning, seven o'clock, they fired 'em up and they let them sit down there and run till nine o'clock.

Kevin: Oh you're kidding.

Melva: And it vibrated the house. And I said something to Dickey about it and he 31:00said, all them's good ol' boys. And another thing they say that my sister stays at some of those houses, Air--whatever it is, and she says they go through a check you out, and I said, that ain't neces--one person can rent a house and somebody else live in it. I don't know, some of them, but there have been several of them at night about one or two o'clock--I don't go to bed anyway--but as I turn the road just talking, laughing. Of course they're on vacation and most of the time it's quiet, but-

Kevin: Yeah this is a quiet street.

Melva: I'll tell you what, there are three people that lives on it.

Kevin: Oh really?


Melva: The woman on the end of Burr, she got divorced, they bought that house and when she got divorced it was part of divorce. So she's from down in Carolinas, Payon or something. That preacher we used to have Johnny Williams, it was our preacher. His wife and her growed up together and she was her bridesmaid in the wedding, or maid of honor whatever. And she come up here and they bought that house, and he just [popping noise] up and told her he didn't need her and had already gotten somebody and moved her out as she's in the big house, and she ended up up here. She's into dancing, she goes off times and then Johnny and them went to the beach and she went someplace and they wasn't anybody on the street but me.


Kevin: Wow, oh my.

Melva: It's quiet, but a man. One evening I was walking the dog and he was cross the road. He was over here and I was over here and he asked me about the cats, wanted to know if they were stray cats. And I said, not really, they feed 'em. Well he kept coming on and I stayed over and he told me I had a fine looking dog, I didn't say nothing. He asked, can I give him a treat? I said, absolutely not, so he kindly speed up went on. Well it went a couple weeks and I come up the street and got on that corner and all of a sudden I heard a truck coming and all of a sudden it stopped and it was in front of me and he throwed the door open and was sliding out reaching for the dog and I turned around, I was gonna 34:00[chuckles] do some stuff. But there was enough opening between that wall I drug the dog around and went down back and I looked for him and I described him and the truck and everything, but I couldn't get his tag number in time, it had V-E-T on it. And Gail said she'd seen him on a trip and what's so unusual about him he's got a beard that hangs--I don't know if it's real--it almost looks like silver and his hair is the same way. And when he talked to me, he kept rubbing it and he was wearing the same toboggan hat on that day, it was three shades of gray and the truck's three shades of gray. And he had Carhartt coat on that day and I saw him real good, he slipped out and his shirt come up and he looked like, his skin looked like a red headed person. He had freckles all over 'im because I could see 'em. And he had boots on, not jogging shoes, and they were 35:00leather and he had on a green t-shirt, but I couldn't see what was on the front of it.

And we never did find out who he was. But I put that fence up and somebody on a Saturday and two weeks before that and now I can see that gate and it locks on the inside, and Dickey hid it and he swapped it so I put a brick and a rock up there and pushed it so it'd go back together and won't bow. And I got up and it was open, and I thought it couldn't have been who read the water meter, cause you pull it and shake it and it'll lock behind you. So I thought maybe I really didn't get it shut that Friday, but that had been odd, and after last Saturday it was all the way back against there and the rock was down there 36:00and the brick was way back here. There ain't no way the wind done that. So I went up there and re-locked it and went and got a piece of wood and another rock and pushed it up under it and put it on back. But that was my daughter's had a fence and it was chain link that had been here, and I was gonna have to replace it. So I tried before the flu thing and of course somebody promised and didn't get it, then they couldn't get it. Then I finally got it over and they put it up [clock chiming] one reason I put it up, when people move in they move in, and all of them tell me to tear the fence down and Dickey come over ask me whose fence it was and I told him it's his, this has been his and he's going to tear it down. [Clock chiming] They tore the other fence that was around the other yard down, and I told 'em, I wasn't gonna tear my fence down cause I was always told fences make good neighbors.

I went back and put it back up like that, and I'm here by myself too and certain times, like the week of the fourth and all, the town is full and they do the fireworks and people go through the yards and everything. And if somebody is in your yard, you can't do nothing about it if you don't got a fence. It's a close too, and I'm by myself. But my kids now say--a woman on the end's got cameras and several of 'ems got cameras, so it looks like I'll have to get a camera. That's next thing. And it's so strange because we never even locked the doors for years, and now it's something, but I don't really know the people this year. I'm not a person who goes to somebody house, and they do. They want to come in and look at everything, and I don't care what they got. If they're happy, I'm happy. I tell 'em, I have a reason for all of my junk, I tell my daughter I put some of it up. I taught Sunday school and Bible school, I guess Sunday school for about thirty years, and people buy you stuff, and they used to come and it just has sentimental value, a lot of stuff does.

Kevin: So, tell me before we started recording the conversation, you were telling me about how the mill you could tell that it shut down on vacation weeks.

Melva: Well the town you could hear the river run, everything was real quiet, it was just this. It's like you go from a town traffic into a city and then you go out on the outskirts, that's where it was. It was as quiet as it could be. Another thing was they cut the mud in the dam and they drained the river back too that week and you talk about how quiet it was, because there was no sound of the river it was just plain. It was just--it made you feel funny because you was used to it. You could hear the weave room even with the doors closed, but in the summer a lot of times they'd open them and you could hear it, the roar.

Kevin: Were you working at the mill when they bricked the windows up?


Melva: I come when they were bricking 'em up. Junior Anderson and Early Doss and P.P. Rosenbaum. P.P. he asked me for a date and Doss did, and I didn't have any of them. But Junior didn't, Junior just drug a shovel, Junior was real bashful.

Kevin: The banker, you're talking about.

Melva: Yeah he's real, he and Mike was closer, close as brothers, or closer. He's still ain't over Mike passing away. They had a thing, Mike stayed on the computer all the time and Mike got calls all the time about the town, somebody 38:00thinks about somebody's name or something. That's what they said when he died down at the school, he was one of the ones that helped start that sports thing.

Kevin: Oh the sports convention.

Melva: Yeah he had done all of the announcing, Mike went to school to be an announcer. He went down in Charlotte. Mike had the most unusual voice, that's what I can't understand about it. People think the job you do defines the person you are, but it's not. You just do that to make end's meet and make a life, so you can do things. But that's what I never understood. People look at you because you work in a place and judge you. Or judge what you're wearing. You can't do that. I have met a lot of people as Mike says, if there's anyone kinda odd or different they're attracted to me [laughs]. And I'll talk to 'em and a lot of other people ignore 'em. But I've never seen nobody that I've ignored unless there was real abuse and it might hurt you, but I worked in that. It's like I said, somebody asked me what I thought about buying a resident home with me and I tell him nope, I come home, kick the door shut and left it right over 39:00there. I wanted to leave. But no and it's the same thing with all of it. But the mill, the whole town, I worked down the store and we were the first two years I worked on Christmas was a turn. The year Marcie was a baby we were living here and I worked at the store.

Kevin: So what store did you work in?

Melva: I worked at the company store.

Kevin: I mean--


Melva: I worked in--well. They had it at Christmas, they had toys and stuff and brought it between the men's and women's department, you know sometimes they had furniture in there. They put it upstairs and then you'd come through the side and go down into the hardware stuff. And they would open it up and they had a place back there with the offices were up on the top and down the bottom and Mr. Crosswide's office was at the top and it was glass. And then Betty Jackson and Margie Lawson, they worked in the bottom part of it and they had a setup back counter and they wrapped presents and waited on people. I was all over the place, a lot of times Virginia Vaughan, Charlie Vaughan's wife, worked in there, and Waverly--oh gosh I can't think of his last name--but he was the one who had the oil thing down here. I can't think of his name, I got one back. And that was another thing, they had oil down here. You remember they come down here, you don't know it, but they come down here later on and tore it all out and the government I guess had it cleaned up. Because of all of that went in the ground. But they would sit and sell something to a man and they'd get me to come over and put it on like a coat or something to show them. I got along with everybody. But you're right the next one is called the Mickermack it opens into that, right between. A lot of times, in regular times, they had furniture but they had a display thing and put glassware and jewelry and stuff in there. It's Christmassy stuff and I wrapped presents and you waited on people and you talked to 'em because that's how you sell something. Willard Anders, he was in the men's shop and he was some way kin to my kin, but I'm not sure how much.

Kevin: Yeah I remember Willard.

Melva: Yeah he was a real nice guy.

Kevin: So when you worked at Christmas, was that in addition to working in the mill?

Melva: No, I didn't work in the mill then. I worked from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve in that, and the last time I worked I worked with Barbara Sasser, me and her worked together. I mean you stayed busy, cause people working in the mill had credit there.


Kevin: So you said that was fifty some, it was in the late [19]60s?

Melva: It was in [19]60s [quietly counts] [19]67, [19]68, [19]69, Marcie was born in [19]69, so it was [19]68-- [19]67, [19]68, [19]69 sometime in there.

Kevin: You said you worked in the office at one point too, right?

Melva: Uh-huh.

Kevin: And what did you do there?


Melva: What I done the job that I had was a part of work in the office you put all of the defects you found, you put them in the computer and send them down to far shows. Don't tell me nothing, all I know was I type something in and it had blanks and I fill them in. I had that job and then they offered me an office job and I wouldn't take it--a regular one--I wouldn't take it because I don't like to sit still. Mike had a fit. Somebody asked me why I didn't take it and of course I'm always saying something so I said, because Mike had an office and he'd come through where I had to work, and I said, I'd see him all the time at home I don't want to see him twenty-four hours a day. I work for Mike in the mill, when I worked up in creeled and all, he was over that and I worked for him when he was at Sara Lee and he didn't even pay me. Mike liked to never go out of a job because he had been to college and everybody was afraid he'd take a third job because a guy told him that. He told Mike he said, Mike asked him why he hire me, and he said, because you might have had my job. You know how that is. Somebody comes in 'ere and Mike had a way with people. Mike knowed everybody and Mike talked to anybody and say anything, it was just good. That's what my daughter said, she said she met somebody in Walmart said he had bad for nicknames and some was names and some wasn't. And Marla said, I didn't know his real name and I was afraid to speak to him because I was afraid I'd say something, daddy could've gotten away with it but I couldn't have. She said I'm afraid he didn't recognize me. But Mike really liked the mill, he never did want to do nothing. He took up wastes in the spinning room and that opening in Charles, Tony Alleysburg, the Charles had that job. When he quit, Mike got that job and he worked for Bob Woods. Bob was over the upstairs and Earl was over the downstairs and Bud Nichols was over the store at one time, Mr. Woods was over the store and Earn was a boss at the mill and they couldn't hire kids, so that's why that worked out. The job thing.

Kevin: So Bud managed the company store?

Melva: I don't know what he'd done, he was hired and his daddy was managing the store. I think he was still over it when I first come up. Or he'd just retired. He was still alive and I don't know, but I know that you couldn't hire your kid in a job so the Woods boys went to the mill and Bud went that way. That's what I was always told, so I'm not a local so there might've been another tale. But I'd been here a long time, but I'll tell you somebody else. You ever talk to Martha Nichols about the town?

Kevin: No I haven't.

Melva: Her and--

Kevin: Ms. Bond.

Melva: Bond wrote that book, I got that book and Charlie give it to me and--oh, I'll fix that door for you.

Kevin: Oh it's okay.

Melva: Now sunlight, I have to wear sunglasses because the treatments I take. The light hurts my eyes.

Kevin: Well if you need to shut it for yourself it's not a problem--

Melva: No it's okay it doesn't bother me now, but I don't like it shining on you. Now she knows a lot about the town and she knows why these houses are screwed up, numbered. This house is 125, the one behind me is 126. It goes up and down, it's on the same grid as Philadelphia. We're not in Philadelphia. And people have time with it, they ask me, they say-- one of them is like 103 out there and you get all the way down the fifty or sixty down that way. They go four back, all the way back.

Kevin: Up to Grayson Street?

Melva: Grayson Street back, uh-huh, see this house and that behind me and that-and-that-and-that and see. It's a grid and there's a place in Philadelphia, the old section, that's done that way. I asked Martha if she knows why it was done that way, and she thinks it's grand, but she lives on the other side. This house was number 70 and that number house we lived in was 21 and that makes sense. This one went from 70 to 125, but that over there would be 124, 125, 126. But they're not, and people try and find houses that are not familiar. I know I've had people stop here looking for the Lawsons over one [gestures]. So it makes sense that this numbers that or there's. I told them it's over on Main Street and they say, what? Yeah somebody numbered them that way.

Kevin: That's amazing, so Barry Lawson lived at 120-something. Didn't he?

Melva: Yeah, yeah over there.

Kevin: So 125--

Melva: 125, 126, 127, 128.

Kevin: Oh 123, I guess.

Melva: No this is 25, it goes up 26. It went back up, it goes up and down. It's 43:00real confusing, let me fix that door.

Kevin: It really doesn't bother me--

Melva: It bothers me cause it glares off from bright light [door closes and dog moves around]. It don't help you none does it?

Kevin: That's okay.

Melva: Slide over.

Kevin: Yeah, I'm fine.


Melva: The dog, I cover that couch up because he had allergies real bad and I got him on special dog food and he's doing real good, but he licks so I cover it up, I don't want him to do that. No that's another thing about town too.

Kevin: Yeah I didn't realize that. So okay, alright. Tell me about when the Washington Weaving sold out to Riegel. Was that the way it was?

Melva: Mmm, I don't know, it was sold. Sara--the man that owned the ice cream place owned it, [clock chiming] it's not Sara Lee ice-- I can't think. It was the guy that owned the ice cream, they sell it at food cities because when they owned they'd give my cooler full of ice cream. The original sold out and they took and gave Mike and them, Mike got ninety dollars in a couple shares of stock. At one time that stock was twenty-six dollars or something, when things were going good. Mike didn't own much and he sold it, but that's what happened to Bud Nichols and all them Woods' and Tom Hill and all them. They bought in that stock and when the mill closed, Tom said unless you wanted to make wallpaper out of it, it wasn't worth nothing. A lot of old people invested their savings into it and they lost, that's like Bud and them, they lost everything. The Woods' they never did anything, the lived on what they made. And after the mill and all closed they never did nothing outstanding, mostly stayed home and that's what happened. Older people had invested in it and lost it.

Kevin: So it was Washington Mills originally?

Melva: Yeah

Kevin: And then it became Washington Weaving, was that when they bought into the stock, do you think?


Melva: Uhh, when Washington Mills was sold out, that's when they invested in and where we worked, they give them back stock and then they give 'em, I think Mike got like ninety dollars. But it was sold again, but it was sold to a person that they make ice cream and I can't think of it.

Kevin: Wasn't Mayfield, was it?

Melva: Yeah I believe it was Mayfield. Mayfield owned it. They were a branch, like Sara Lee owned--They owned it at one time and then they sold it, and that's 46:00when the change went to Reigel. But they got it and there was one place that owned a baby, where you made baby diapers. Cause when Allen was a baby, he was a baby when the mill closed, he was a couple years old. Reigel I guess owned it and we got baby diapers, we could get 'em in a case they'd bring them to the mill for us, and that's what I'm saying. Everything else had a verse thing, all of the things they owned. I know Sara owned it because we got a styrofoam coolers at Christmas in place of a ham that the mill used to give us. They'd give us a big old thing of ice cream and it had eggnog ice cream and all kinds of stuff in it. I believe it was that one and they owned it whatever they went 47:00by, the whole thing owned it. The son, I think the son, was the one that was over this, the people that own it. I know the ice cream place still runs. This is like Sara Lee was, Sara Lee Ball Haynes and everyone thinks of cake and stuff like that.

All of them like it now, somebody owns 'em. It ain't as diverse anymore. Diverse stock market, let's put it like that, that's a fancy word for taking over companies. They're more diverse that way you don't lose your money. I took some business classes, I guess it didn't do me too much good. But Mike was offered opportunity, well me too. We were offered opportunity, I don't know, 48:00several times to move away to another town and get jobs, but we never did because Marla, she had diabetes and my family lived there and Mike's lived there and we decided that money wasn't the most important thing and we liked where everything was at. We owned three cars one time and I walked home everyday. I rode up with Mike and walked home, unless he was gone and I'd walk cause the girls. But I could walk home five minutes. Anything that could happen you was there. And school, when I worked third and my youngest daughter, put her in school, if anything happened I was right here. And I went with her to school. I like it here. I'm not a person--what do you want a super house for when you get old? This house is too much for me, but it's fixed for handicapped, we fixed it. I can get a lot out of it, they'll buy them even if they have the floors out for eighty thousand dollars. The last one sold for 176,000, this lot went from when it first started from three thousand dollars, it went to six thousand dollars 49:00and now it went up from twenty-three to twenty-five. The same thing happened with the house, so my tax ticket said to place is worth 120. We give six thousand nine hundred dollars for it and I've lived here fifty-four years. We put some money it but nothing no, we had it paid for in fifteen years.

Forty years old, it was paid off. That's work always closing it, and then they were talking about closing when I retired all them women were talking about house payments. Somebody said, you didn't say nothing. I said, I ain't had a house payment since I was thirty something years old. They said, well don't you think you're smart. I said, no. Mike sold his daddy's house for fourteen thousand dollars over on Main Street when he went to nursing home. And his mom died so we just sold it and didn't make nothing off of it. On the ride after that he always said he wished he kept it, at that time it wasn't that important. Nobody thought that much about it. But no, and people say, you lived there?

Melva: That long yeah, we were there that long. And my dad and them lived down there in Slabtown. His mama lived way down at the end of the road and dad moved up the road and my uncle went up the hill from us. So I've never really wanted 50:00to go no place. Why would I want to go any place cause I'm right here? And everything, unless you want to go to the big city and around a lot of people, but I'm gonna sit on the porch and rock all day and some days I see somebodies and in the winter time nobody. I can go any place I want and not worry about nobody. But in the summer--you know it's changed. Like with the dog and stuff, we didn't never had that trouble before it. It don't matter where you're at anymore. I know we had a poodle and we never did turn it out in the yard with the fence and all because there was--and a girl at work told me and I never realized it, but you see Walmart bags hanging in trees and bushes?

Kevin: Sure, yeah.

Melva: People--I don't know if they're still doing it but it could happen 51:00anytime--they take, they see somebody who walks a dog and they go find the house, they don't do nothing. They hang a Walmart bag or hook it in your fence and later on you turn that dog out in the morning or something and you come back and your dog is gone. You can't seen or heard nothing. And that's another thing they'ves done. And in big cities they put-- little things you put on stuff, different color ones. And they showed it on TV and I had never seen that, but round here it was a Walmart bag, but they showed on that one fence it had three or four color ones on it. They would tie things you can't get em loose. And somebody was going around cutting them off and showing it on one of the shows, and I had never thought about that. But with the way it is with interstate and internet. Internet when people start putting pictures on the internet that opened this place up. That's like the houses selling for three hundred something thousand dollars, they're site unseen. I have some friends and they lived, one of them lived in Marion and the other lived at Whitetop. They got married and they moved to Maryland, well they come down here to see family and they went over Taylorwood down through the hill, and they bought a house for sixty thousand dollars. Well they lived up 'ere in a little house next to the graveyard and then they sold it when they come back. And they have about forty, fifty thousand dollars left. And that's what they were talking about and they got a live over there. But that's what people are doing and the people that leave here and come back, they don't bother me, cause I've enjoyed my whole life here and they coming back here and they telling me all this, well why would I want to spend thirty or forty years of my life in misery of always wanting to come home, and then you come back and you don't live no time. And I lived, and I had a good time with my kids and friends and I had the church and everything. I could do anything I wanted and I could go anywhere I wanted to cause it was always somebody you need and people around you were nice. And when we moved here everybody on this street was old enough to be your mom and daddy. And the people next door, kids called them grandma and grandpa and they went to school and they went to put down who their grandma and grandpa and they'd put three down there, and they said, you can't have three. And they said, yeah they had three. And it was real cute but they called 'em that.

Kevin: So you mentioned something about a dump across the street, what was-

Melva: The dump, the town dump was down here.

Kevin: Oh right across from your house.


Melva: Yeah when Mike was a boy and these houses went underpin, and there's a big rock under this house and Mike's dad done that told me talking about it and there was a place out there we dug it up and put the sidewalk into the house because of Mike. But when you come over there's some kind of incline and you fall, a lot of times you slip your feet and Mike's dad said he had fell many a time. When he was a boy he trapped muskrats and stuff on the river, and they's a old old picture of kids at school, it's been on the website, and they's a guy all got caps on, it's all black and white, and they's one standing out in the front with a crutch and that's Mike's dad Charlie.

Kevin: Now did he have polio? Or was that--


Melva: Mm-hmm.

Kevin: I can remember driving down Main Street and their porch was high up off the ground and seeing him--

Melva: Oh he could swing--

Kevin: Walking down the stairs.

Melva: Yeah he walked to work everyday and come back and he'd carry two buckets of coal in big ol' buckets. He had one arm that he couldn't--he played the guitar and he could sing. He was real talented and he was real smart too, he done a lot of stuff. He would've been somebody that could've told you everything about Fries. What little bit I know I told you, but I can't remember all the stuff he told me. When I find out something I just go ask Tim, and if it's anything to do with Cripple Creek, I go ask Miss. Goad. She was a Jonas, she was first cousins to Horace Hill's wife, Bertha. And Jackie Stewart was a Jonas and Stewart's come from--Miss. Goad had a sister married to a Stewart and just the opposite. And then Miss Goad lived there and Stewie and George both lived there, they were brothers. When I said after you got to know people, and then when I was growing up there was a Marl Stewart and he was at home with his church at Ivanhoe and that's where my mother went. And he was their brother, it just keeps going. As I said, it's like a snowball. You don't know what kind of something is gonna pop out. But that's just how it is round here it is. If you really talk to people, you'll end up being kin to everybody or married to 'em.

Kevin: [Laughs] That's right. So let's go back to when Riegel sold out, Mount Vernon was the name of the company that bought the mill. Was that who was giving the baby blankets away, Mount Vernon? You said something about baby blankets.

Melva: Oh, they made baby blanket material and I got some scraps.

Kevin: Oh Mount Vernon did.

Melva: They made that and that's when the mill closed, that's what they were making and they had those dobby heads, they made table cloths, they were white. I give my granddaughter one, I hemmed it. I had to have surgery and I was out of work ten weeks. And I couldn't do anything, I bled real bad and I couldn't. So I embroidered it and several people wanted it and then somebody tried to buy it and so my daughters, neither one was interested in it, so I went ahead and give it to my granddaughter, and I give her the napkins that went with it, I still got a little bit I gotta give her. And they made dish towel material too with herringbone thingy, the white ones with the red thing in it. They made those

Kevin: Oh so was that who was making the gloves with the herringbone?

Melva: Mm-hmm, now all of I told you about the cloth was Riegel's. They made the modern mill, but the other one made the cloth for Vietnam. Mike said that one kind--it was real heavy--and he said they made tents out of it. It was down on the lower end of the weaving room, it was government order and they made more money on that.


Kevin: That was Washington Mill, I guess the one that did that.

Melva: But Riegels made the camouflage and it could go through radar.

Kevin: Yeah I remember, I told you I was in the spinning room, so we--

Melva: Did you ever go in the slash room or anything?

Kevin: I'm sorry?

Melva: Slash room.

Kevin: No.

Melva: That was where after they come off the warper there where you creeled it and you took the starch and it run through the starch and you cut it down and put it on and rolled it on for the weave room, for the warps. The ones that went horizontal, then went vertical. If you get thinking about it. The filling went vertical, the spools. Then the long yarn was horizontal. Lacy Sawyers--they're all dead--he was over that and up 'ere where they let the and they let the fire starch, and put down in the water and there's carps Mike's and them swore they were as big as me and people went there fishing and it was nothing about the 55:00mill. I didn't go on there because I'm afraid of closed places, but Mike would go fishing and people would and they'd go up under the mill and move the dust and stuff back and there was worms in there, they called them red wigglers, and you couldn't hold those things, you know you've seen them, but they'd go under there and it wouldn't take a minute to get a can full of them. But there was a lot of interesting tidbits like that that people done. Betcha wouldn't think about that.

Kevin: I remember seeing moths around the mill, big ol--

Melva: Yeah at the front as you come out at night especially they'd be out there.


Kevin: Different colors.

Melva: And them mayflies, is that them little things that come out in the spring?

Kevin: Yeah.

Melva: I went in the morning in the weaving room on the side they call the elevator shaft that was open and it was open and it was built on the main part, the new part. I would weighed those things up to my knees and they stunk and I'd come out and they'd be cleaned up and the next morning it'd be the same thing. They'd open them doors and they'd come in, the little white things they only live one day. I mean you could stay right there shoveling them with a scoop and taking them out and bagging 'em up. But they did it as long as that went on they had an awful smell to 'em. There wasn't no choice, you was just wading through them just like wading through sand. Them moths, a lot of them was real pretty especially at night you'd come out or going on third, there'd be great old big ones. They was wolf rats in there bigs as cats. Because I worked in the weave 57:00room and my first job I had was run so many batteries and then part of the job was to take the filling that didn't come off those bobbins, they had a knock-off machine and them quills that had the filling left, they take em out of the waste can and throw 'em in another thing and take the waste and sell it, and they sell that too. But the machine that you stuck that under would jerk and knock it off and pull it, they call it the knock off machine. One time I had a job and I had so many looms in one weaving room would have so many I'd have to climb all them steps and they paid me a penny for the part where I climb up and down steps all night.

Kevin: A penny an hour?

Melva: No, they paid a penny to make up where I had to go up from one floor to another one. So the weaving room was here and the steps was right on this end 58:00and the looms were here and they didn't have enough for a full job, so I had to climb two full flights of steps, go across the end and run so many there, and then go back down and run the rest.

Kevin: So it was a penny a loom?

Melva: No I made a penny to differentiate where I walked. And it cut back on the amount you've done and it amounted to a penny, cause I asked Mike. Mike worked on payroll, I used to go up there and he showed me how to do it when he worked second. He worked on the payroll, that's what he'd done and he read pick clocks and they done the payroll. He done that for a long time, and then he went into that industrial near--Mike's got a thing in there he went to school. He liked 59:00one more thing getting something and that's what he was gonna do, they had a job at Ware Shoals and he wanted to go back to school, so he told 'em that he'd go for a year. That he would go down there and come home on weekends and he wanted to get that, whatever, rest of that. And they said no, I had to go and they done got me a job. They had a job and I had to go, and Mike said, no he didn't want to do that, because we didn't want to uproot the kids and we didn't know with Marla what we'd run into. And another thing was if I worked, we didn't have nobody that was really familiar with her and Miss. Goad retired and she kept 'em and he was gone maybe one day a week or a week or so, all the time and you never did know what day he might have to go off or when he was coming back. And what I'd do I'd take him over and put 'em in the bed and come back the next morning get 'em out of the bed and bring 'em home. It was just a lot on quality of life and what you wanted to get out of life. That what I said about moving and doing stuff, and it really don't bother me what anybody's got and what they do, just 60:00as long as they don't mess with mine and if you're happy with it, I'm happy for you. I know my brother, he went away and he worked in Chicago and all over the place and he ended up in Indiana, and then that place downsized and he was big CEO thing and they had a place in Texas and he went and stayed down Dallas six months, he stayed in Tennessee about a year and he decided he didn't want none of it so he took and throws everything and then went out and got a job someplace else when he was old enough to retire. After that he went sixty-two he just come on back here and he bought land back before Hugo, a big bunch of land, and it blow his trees down in Austinville, he lives on Burr Ridge. Not long ago he went out and bought another bunch of land cause the man behind him was supposed to build a house but he didn't and there's a restriction on what kind of house you build in 'ere, so he went and talks to the man and he was going to sell the land and he bought it from--now he's got another big bunch of land. But he don't want 61:00nobody to build. And another thing there ain't no limit on how much acres you could build a house on he was afraid that man he was gonna sell it two was gonna build two or three houses and he'd have to give him a write-away. He lives right in the woods, they can't go out for the bears. A bear come up on the porch, rubbed on the swing and they come and call each other.

Kevin: So when Mount Vernon decided to close the mill, how did Mike feel about it and how did you feel about it?

Melva: I thought we'd come up with a dumb deal. They had no intention of keeping it actually, when Pickerton give the power away, that was when death fell to the mill. For the town. He give it to Virginia Tech and they built him a building and his brother-in-law got up up 'ere and said, give us a talk and we'll close 62:00it, act like he was sympathizing with us. He was going to draw two hundred thousand dollars back in a lot of money a year. 'Til he could retire, he said he's in the same boat we's in, and I said, no we wasn't. I don't care if he heard me, I said, no you ain't in the same boat I'm in, I'm in a canoe and don't even have a paddle, and I'm going the wrong way and you're in a yacht. And I went to Independence and the same thing happened up 'ere, I worked and made the bells for refrigerators which makes your refrigerator go on and off.

Kevin: Yeah, Robertshaw, that's what you're talking about, Robertshaw.

Melva: I worked up there, I told ya I worked at a sewing factory up 'ere, every place I went I got a job. I went to Robertshaw's and they had a job, but no--I went to a sewing factory first because they offered me a job, I had to take it. Well I went under Robertshaws and they gave me a but it wasn't set up, and that woman met her, she said, Linda was her name, she came up behind my desk and we talked and talked. She said, quick as we get that job set up I'll call you, so it went on and I worked somewhere else a couple months at the sewing place and she called me one day, call me and I went, floorly, I gotta go to the doctor tomorrow, I got a physical and I passed it, so I called and told them that. They had a fit cause I was quitting and sent me letters and everything. And I went up there and I stayed two years, over two years. I was there long enough to draw a vacation, but the man got up and done the same thing when we started making them parts for that refrigerator, and he said and it was the same thing I heard--it was different. And I told that girl, might as well get our pocketbooks and go home. Somebody asked me, did it upset me? I said, no, I just got my pocketbook and come home, that's all I had. I just went up and got another job. I worked at Consolidated about six months. I worked at Christmas and they give me a bonus and then I went the same day and got a job at Wearies and got quit. Wearies they run out of work and I drawed unemployment and I went into nursing as quick as I 63:00got into a class, I went to work 'ere. I took a class and the second day in 'ere they let me go to work on the floor. And then I quit over there at 10:30 at night and went to work at the training center at eight o'clock the next morning. I never quit a job, unless I had one. Mike said, Lord have mercy I wish you'd hurry up and find something. What was I needed the benefits and the insurance is what I was after.

Kevin: So when Mount Vernon closed, they gave away--he donated the dam to Virginia Tech, is that what happened?

Melva: Yes they sold it to West Co. whatever it's called.

Kevin: Yeah some power company

Melva: Yeah he's got a building that's got his name on it. Another thing about him was he'd been up there twenty five years and he got a watch with his name in it. That never did make no sense, and everything had that name on it. I got a bunch of-- I was up there a pretty good while, I had ruby, Mike had a bunch of 64:00stuff he got. But most of it, like his watch, had his name on it. But Mike liked from October was when it closed to June, as quick as he was out of school, the first week he went to work up there. He liked that long, worked there for twenty-five years. We went to all of those banquets because Mike was in management, they give him big ol' safety banquets. I got all kinds of cups and stuff, there's a ashtray. I didn't get this somebody brought it here and give it to Mike, someone in the family had it and they brought it.

Kevin: So Mike was in his forties when the mill closed?

Melva: Yeah I was too. I'm but a year younger than Mike, I'm seventy-six years 65:00old. Ohh lordy, as Marla says, my daughter, one of them called me a bag lady.

Kevin: [Laughs]

Melva: The other one called me a homeless person.

Kevin: Oh! Why?

Melva: Just for aggravation. We took a dog to the vet and I had a big old pair of sunglasses on and it was cool and I put a turtleneck on and I put a flannel shirt over. Well I wasn't warm so I put another coat over it and I have pretty good size pocketbook and had those sunglasses on and Marla said that I look like a bag lady. Told them they was laughing at me. Then Marcie, she said that I look like a homeless person one day. They just do it, they don't mean it but I say stuff too, I don't take nothing personal. But anyway, I told them I said, that's not any way to treat your mama, and Marla, she inherited Mike's teeth and she's got soft spots on them. Well I had real good teeth and that's what she said everything bad that she got, and then she told me one day something about my old teeth. And I told her, oh yeah she offered me something peanuts, and I said, I better not be eating that because of my teeth. My teeth ain't got nothing wrong with them, but at my age I don't want to take no chance at hurting them. That's where that comes from, I got old teeth. Really I told her I said, I'm not really old.


Kevin: So, I lost my train of thought-- Do you have a memory about the mill that really sticks out in your mind? Favorite memory about it?

Melva: [Pause] Uh, I liked all the people in it--

Kevin: Okay, alright.

Melva: I guess some of them, when they had open house one time, Bill Barker was up they had a band and that was all nice.

Kevin: Was that Riegel? When Riegel owned all of that?

Melva: Uh-huh, that was nice. That's a stand out thing. They had music and 67:00everything, that was nice. One thing I remember about them was the safety dinners. Christie's always catered the meals, they was a good company to work for. Don't ask nobody that worked with me on third about this, they give out safety prizes at Christmas and I won every one of them.

Kevin: Oh really, you're kidding.

Melva: They drawed your name out and I won every year I worked on third. Joe Bob--I worked in the weave room--he'd come get me because he'd come in on third and we'd have dinner. He said, come on, I said something, and he said, you won again. I said, oh gosh. What I never kept none of it, I gave it away to somebody that needed it. I never kept a bit of the stuff I won. I won a watch, I gave it 68:00to Dennis cause he was my sister's and his watch broke, I gave him the watch and my sister got married I gave her the set of cookware I got. I would have given it to somebody there if they had wanted it. If they were upset I would've handed it to them.

Kevin: I wonder why Riegel sold the mill, do you know?

Melva: This is the reason, it comes right down to it. Then they sold out and the people that got it, Riegel's, well one thing is that it's the black sheep of the 69:00bunch. It's too far off, you couldn't bring trucks in but a certain way. They couldn't come gotta wait or they couldn't get in. That was one of the biggest things: too far off. And the way the mill was made all the factories now, all the others were flat and you'd go and the OSHA, that was another thing with OSHA. The way it was set up, you'd have to take it and cut holes in all of the floors. And that was one of the biggest things, and another thing is they didn't want it to start with. They had a low opinion people, people come up here like I said, they stock people up here, with the glove material, that woman from where, they send fixers up here, different people to do stuff. And they come in and they saw us and they go [gasp] and they were surprised, and that one woman I said, I guess you thought we looked like backwood hillbillies, and she said, really they didn't expect--they didn't think all were teeth out and stuff like 70:00that. They had a low opinion of [clock chiming] what type of people, you know how it was back in it. It ain't like internet now, and we was hillbillies and to us, they're flatlanders. Mike used to call all those people come in here "tar heels" and "dirt cloggers", and they have the same names for you, and everybody had the same names for people and they did. They didn't really, I don't know, they didn't have much expectation of you, and they didn't realize that we just about lived as good as they did and like they did.

But the biggest thing about that was OSHA. But Canada bought a lot of the stuff, they put it on trucks and hauled it off and sold most of it. Course the looms wasn't that good, but what I 71:00seen, but it was more or less a red headed step-child. Just nobody--we wasn't that important. It's like you have somebody that lives way off and all and everybody else lives over here, and everybody works together now that's open and then they had connections to all these people did now, and if they had anything they put it in something you know that benefitted them, they wasn't gonna send it off. But mostly it was where we were at, and the way the building was, that's the biggest drawback of it all. Like I said, they didn't need a four or five story building. What they needed was all of them were built over yonder, flat, and they could take the raw material and run it and not put it on elevators. That's another thing, you had to take everything up on the elevator. Just the 72:00upkeep on a place like that. But one thing is isolation, it's why nothing don't come. You can hear all the rumors you want but the biggest thing we're too far off the interstate. The interstate went to Rock--I mean, we're close enough to get all the riff raff and the bad stuff, but we ain't close enough to get the good stuff. But you take in the winners, you're not two and o. But the biggest thing if I had said was when the last ones bought it from Riegel, they had no intentions of running it. It was a write off.

Another thing happened, I don't know if you remember it, when all of this started about textiles. There was an article in the Roanoke Times they called J.P. Stevens, Riegel's, Burlington, and somebody else, they were importing cloth and putting their name on it and they 73:00fined them a big thing. And from then on textiles went all up--J.P. Stevens--and you know all of thems outta business. That happened at that time and you look into it it was in the Roanoke Times I can't remember, but I remember when we talked about it and it seemed like no time to look of course they had all the lawsuits, that's another thing with that. But they took Riegel's zero defect and we had them, at least several of them little stick pins around here and stuff with that aura on it, and there's a thermometer out there and you tilt it we got up 'ere, a whole bunch of that stuff they give away, but I did have a box of shuttles that I think is, everybody I know got 'em, the wood ones. And I'll tell you somebody else if you want to see shuttles and stuff, Early--Harry Boyles, he 74:00got 'em and put a candle in 'em and made a wall hanging out of them. Lotta people done stuff like that, but Harry and them, Harry, he worked for the town and Early, he drove trucks, and Elsie at one time worked in the upstairs weaving room when I worked--their mama.

Lotta people worked in the mill, but a lot of 'em, like I told you, like Harold Coleman, he's dead. His daddy was Charlie and he was one of my bosses at one time in the mill. And Lola Coleman, Harold's wife a Mitchell, her daddy greased in the weave room on daytime he was on a little block of wood with wheels on it and sit straight up and went and greased the bottom looms. And then one day him and Harold, on Friday's they got--Thursday or Friday--got paid. A bunch would go to the store and then a bunch would go to the bank and Harold and him was in the bank in line and he had a massive heart attack and died. Lola and Ellen or whatever, daddy and their mama was a nurse over at the hospital. Like I said, most of what I've learned has just been around and been around people and listening and watching. I know, somebody said I talk, they said I know the most anybody that needn't talk much and I said my mouth don't cover my ears and I can do two or three things at once too. That was like when I worked at Robertshaws, I found out about a lot of the jobs I wanted to know where it went and what they done with it. When I first went there I calibrated switches for heating elements and cooling, we made a lot for a funeral homes and stuff like that. We made some and they got 'em and we had to hurry up over north over in Dunham and on Friday that guy had to go to Bristol and they put him on a plane and flew him some place. It's all kinda real interesting stuff goes on, ain't nothing simple few. You can sit and look at nature, but that's what happens to people. Their minds and all, they get to thinking how bad off they are or get in a rut and they don't look at nothing around them. That's the main thing in moving. I'll have a doctor that say, they say, they couldn't believe it, but I think, and I don't know what the people tell me, you'll sick, I'll get sick. I don't ever stay in bed, I get up and dress and make a bed and I might have to hold on, but I'll do it. And sometimes I can't walk a dog, let him out in the yard. But I don't just sit down and call somebody--I don't call anybody. And if I ever die, I hope I'm by myself and I just die. I don't want nobody messing with me.

Kevin: Well, I'll go ahead and conclude the interview.

Melva: Oh that was an interview we talked about everything but the mill!

Kevin: We talked about the mill a lot too.

Melva: Did you learn anything?

Kevin: Oh yes, I did.

Melva: But there's some people that-- but Joe Taylor, I have an idea, somebody like that. He time stood the job, I mean, from the top to the bottom and he could probably--he don't talk like I do, he don't ramble on. I ain't saw him for a long time, him and Mike and James Jones and Junior and some of them all of 'em watch ball, watch football game or something. Junior watched football games, Mike too. And I still make Junior pie for Superbowl Sunday.

Kevin: Oh really?

Melva: Yeah I make him a chocolate pie every year cause he'd come and when Mike got to where he couldn't do, I'd fix stuff and he'd fix it for him. So every year I make a pie for Superbowl for him. The first year I give it to him and he said, I didn't know if you was gonna do it or not. But I started that, we'd just move here in this house when he had been in service.

[End of interview]