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´╗┐Kevin Combs: Okay today is Wednesday August 3, 2022, my name is Kevin Combs and I'm talking with Roger Hines. Roger, would you introduce yourself? Tell your name, where you were born, that kinda thing.

Roger Hines: Okay, name's Roger Hines, I was born right up here on Main Street, here in the big town of Fries in May the 4th, 1946. My mom and dad both worked in the cotton mill.

Kevin: And so you were born here in the house?

Roger: Yup just up the street here just a little ways.

Kevin: Wow, you know which house?

Roger: No I don't, I don't remember which house. But it's on the left, one of them, but I do not remember that.

Kevin: What did your parents do in the cotton mill?

Roger: Mama was a spinner and daddy worked in the card room. He'd run the interdraft.

1:00

Kevin: So what is that? The interdraft.

Roger: It's make your ropin' for your spinning frames, it comes in the raw cotton in the bales, then it goes through the opening room, then it comes up to the cards. And the cards, they run into a big can I like to call it drawing, but it ain't. And then it goes over to the drawn, and it run the rope--the drawn for the interdraft frames. You ain't never seen the interdraft, it's a little hard to explain it to you. The interdraft frames had ninety-six spindles on it. Set in ninety-six cans, but we always liked saying, ten cans at a doff, but that got hard to do because some of 'em would short can you, and you'd have to go through 2:00and it'd finally just got so--you set in and would run 'em out. But once you run your rope and packed it off in a box it went down to the spinning room and on the spinning frames.

Kevin: So, your mom was a spinner?

Roger: Yes sir.

Kevin: What shift did she work on?

Roger: Third shift.

Kevin: And when did she retire?

Roger: Lord it was in the-- I'm saying the [19]60s, early [19]60s. It might've been in the [19]50s, I don't know. But she hurt her back, there was a car hit her down here in Blairtown, knocked her over into the--

Kevin: Oh no.

Roger: [Pause] Graveyard.

Kevin: Oh wow. Ugh.

Roger: It got so she couldn't work, and she stayed home, took care of three 3:00kids. Daddy, he worked third in the card room up until-- mmm well he was retired at sixty-two.

Kevin: And what year was that? Do you remember?

Roger: No I don't, I don't know what year it was. I was young and I didn't keep up with dates.

Kevin: And so, you worked in the mill too, didn't you?

Roger: Yeah.

Kevin: And where did you work?

Roger: Well I started out in the card room, but you know how a young person is. They think grass is greener on the other side of the fence and I tried different things, but I'd go back to the card room and work. I helped daddy on the interdraft frames, I be rolling boxes or sweeping, I'd get called up, I go down help daddy on the interdraft. They finally trained me up on the interdraft, gave 4:00me a set and I ran them, they gave me some people to train up, but they were like I were, they's young, they didn't care nothing 'bout it. I quit, come back, card room, they used me as a spare hand.

Kevin: Spider hand?

Roger: A spare.

Kevin: Spare hand. That's it.

Roger: Yeah and they got to use me up in what they call the winding department where the unit combers was at. And then they need me in the slash room some, I didn't know nothing about it, but I worked with John Jennings and he was an excellent hand.

Kevin: He was deaf right?

Roger: Yeah. Yeah, he was just about deaf, but we were on what was called the double headed slashers, had two beams that let you run two warps at the same time. Once you filled 'em up, take 'em off and they would take 'em down to the 5:00weaving room and weave the cloth over that. You would run anywhere from six to seven big warps that'd come out of the winding and run them all into that them beams that was going downstairs. And I don't remember how many hundreds of 'ems you had going in there. But it was an experience that I got along with good, but they finally decided they wanted me to stay up in slash room. Me and John got along good, they had the three slashers, the other two were single heads, there was two persons per slash, and then you had the boss. I run into all kinds of 6:00people, good people, I mean some of the finest people you ever meet. And if you got in trouble, there's always large help. It's one thing about the cotton mill: if you needed help, somebody was there to help you.

Kevin: So what years were you there?

Roger: I started in the [19]70s, worked up through about [19]82 or so. It was off and on, it wasn't continuous. In the meantime when I wasn't working cotton mill I was either doing carpenter work or cement work. It's just something--a person can't believe until they go in there and look at it and try. It's really 7:00an experience.

Kevin: Were you on third shift when you worked there?

Roger: Yeah, mm-hmm.

Kevin: Yeah I was too. So, you left before the mill closed.

Roger: Oh yeah, the mill closed in [19]89. That's the reason the school closed, because the mill closed, they didn't have the income that the mill used to put forth on the school here.

Kevin: How do you think that affected the town when the mill and the school closed?

Roger: I think it hurt 'em a lot. Cause the cotton mill, it carried this town. Everybody years ago that lived in Fries worked at the cotton mill. I mean you see houses all over the hillside up here. From up Top Street and everybody 8:00worked there. Then young people, they come and tried, they go to furniture factories, whole lot of them would come back cause the furniture factory wasn't what they'd thought it'd be. But yeah, it really hurt cause the school couldn't go on without the cotton mill, it just was that simple. But I didn't care too much the way they done the deciding. They went behind closed doors and decided that they shutting the school down. What I think they should've done was laid the books out on the table and said, people y'all live here in Fries and all sit up, you need to look at the books and tell us a feasible way of keeping the school open with the mill closed. But they say it's there in writing, we just 9:00can't go on with it.

Kevin: What do you think closing the school, how it affected the town?

Roger: Well with the mill closing a whole lotta people moved away and you lost the students, and they said that the school was 'bout to call in, well they put a D8 dozer out on the second floor up there and tore it up, try and push 'em walls down. So that part was really built, but they lost the students, well they lost people with the students. But they kept good teachers, I can stay that. I graduated in [19]65 and there was some good teachers. You know that cause you 10:00went to school down here.

Kevin: Oh yeah, yeah definitely. So y'all moved out of Fries, why did you do that?

Roger: Well daddy bought the house up by where we live at now. And well, I'll just go ahead and tell you, daddy used to like to drink awful well and you couldn't live in Fries and drink [laughs].

Kevin: [Laughs].

Roger: So we moved out. Well, truth's the truth.

Kevin: Sure.

Roger: They had some pretty strict rules, the cotton mill did.

Kevin: Like what?

Roger: Huh?

Kevin: Like what?

Roger: Well that no drinking and [pause] no wall women, stuff like that.

Kevin: So the town, the mill kinda governed the town pretty strict.

11:00

Roger: Yup. Yessiree.

Kevin: So when y'all moved up there, did the house just come up for sale or did y'all build it or what?

Roger: No, Warren Trigger, he build it. And daddy bought it off of him. That was in 19-and-47. Late 1947 when we moved up 'ere.

Kevin: So you were a year old right?

Roger: Yeah, and as far as we stayed until just here recently, the house was sold.

Kevin: Oh okay, how did that affect you?

Roger: Well it bothered me some but I knew, ya know, it's hard to keep a house up. My niece owned it, Kim. And she lives up next to DC and she said, I just 12:00can't get down here often enough to keep it up. Well, she offered to let me go up 'ere and live in it. I said, no, I said, I got good memories where I'm living at I'm just gonna stay up 'ere. Cause I've been up there forty something years. They ain't no use me coming down the road.

Kevin: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

Roger: I had one brother and one sister.

Kevin: And they both passed, haven't they. Have they both passed?

Roger: Yeah, yeah. They both passed when they was, I think about seventy-seven years old, each of 'em. Both of them died from cancer.

Kevin: Now, one time you mentioned to me about a cheese factory being across the street from your house up in Spring Valley, tell me about that.

Roger: No it--well there was one up 'ere, but the one I was mentioning to you about was across the road from where we lived.

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Kevin: Here in town?

Roger: No up 'ere on Providence. Up there on Providence-

Kevin: Oh yeah Providence. Yeah, okay.

Roger: And I call it the home place, it wasn't making cheese when-- that I can remember. But that what they called it, the old cheese factory. And there was a Mr. J. J. Dills, he was living in it, he was an evangelist, and he'd travel holding tent revivals. And then as--let's see--he had three kids, two girls and a boy. Mr. Tommy worked in the cotton mill too. I'm sure you remember Mr. Tommy.

Kevin: He lived right below us, next door.

Roger: He was a real Christian. And now up by where I live at now, there was a cheese factory just across the road from me, but it was tore down 'fore I moved 14:00up 'ere. I think it was in operation back in the [19]40s.

Kevin: Okay. So I wonder why there was so many cheese factories around [laughs].

Roger: Ah, well [laughs] I don't know, but you know there's a whole lotta people had cattle back 'en. There's several dairy farms around, not like up where I live now, Ms. Jennie June Vaughan, her husband and them, they had cattle, they had a dairy farm, and they milked there. And well, they's several others around.

Kevin: So Ms. Jennie June Vaughan was a teacher here at Fries?

Roger: Yeah.

Kevin: She's an elementary school teacher, wasn't she?

Roger: Yeah, elementary, yeah. If I ain't mistaken, I believe her husband was a teacher.

Kevin: Oh really?

Roger: Mr. Jeff Vaughan was his name, and he died in [19]50s.

15:00

Kevin: Jennie June lived in the 1990s, when she died, wasn't it? Was it 1990 something or was it [19]80s?

Roger: I believe it was after that.

Kevin: Was it?

Roger: I believe so!

Kevin: I wonder how old she was when she--

Roger: I can't remember-- well time gets by so quick.

Kevin: Yeah I know, I know.

Roger: Yeah it's after that, cause me and Joyce got married in 2001, and it wasn't long before we got married that she passed away. No, she was still living, cause we went to Wytheville and seen her, over on the Birdmont.

Kevin: Wow, huh. Birdmont Nursing Home?

Roger: Mm-hmm, and she had two kids, and both them passed away before Ms. 16:00Vaughan did.

Kevin: Oh really? Charlotte, I knew one. Charlotte.

Roger: Yeah, Tommy, he was a doctor.

Kevin: Okay. So, what was it like for the dairy cattle operation, how did they get the milk?

Roger: Well the old way you bring 'em in, you clean 'em up, and you milked 'em by hand back years ago. And then it'd come up to where they had the milkers, and they was automatic, put 'em on 'ere and as it milked it'd send it into the storage tank. And then the truck come by and pump it out into his container. But back when first doing that a whole lotta times they had a truck that would come by and take it to up Independence Craft Plant. That was the big cheese factory, 17:00that's the one put these others out. Glees Black and Leon Black was the one that run it around the Spring Valley, Providence area.

Kevin: You mean they were the drivers, the truck drivers that picked up the milk?

Roger: Yep.

Kevin: So what if you didn't have a holding tank, what happened?

Roger: Well you'd put 'em in cans, you strain it. You had a big strainer sitting on the top of that can, eight gallon can. And you strained your milk down through 'ere and you keep it in a cool place till the next morning. And that truck would come by and they'd pick up the cans. But when you had the holder tank, that's getting on up sorta modern.

Kevin: I'll just interject a memory I have of Mr. Vic Delp and Lois, they lived 18:00right next to our road there. I don't know how many cattle they had but it wasn't many, two or three. And they milked and they would put the cans out at the road in the morning and the truck would come by and pick it up and leave 'em an empty can or however many they needed.

Roger: And now when they was to get paid, they bring cans back and your check, the lid would be holding a check.

Kevin: Oh really? Wow. Different times.

Roger: And they paid you by the weight and what kinda butter fat was in 'ere.

Kevin: So where did you go to elementary school?

Roger: Up Providence.

Kevin: So it was open when you first started--

Roger: Yeah it opened [19]53 if I ain't mistaken. Now Jimmy and Sue, they went to the Old New Ricker Schoolhouse, Mrs. Rose Bedwell is a teacher up 'ere.

19:00

Kevin: Oh really?

Roger: Yeah, and then when they opened up the school, she moved up 'ere and she went to the second grade teacher. There was Ms. Donna Shupe, Ms. Rose Bedwell, Ms. Attie Miller, Ms. Porter--Ina Mae Porter but Boyd was her name--Mae Troy, and Ms. Della Boyer in there, I think she handled the maybe the fifth and sixth grade. And then-- she's fifths. Then Mr. Hackler, he was principal but he had a home class--

Kevin: Seventh grade.

Roger: Yeah.

Kevin: So, Donna Shupe first grade, Rose Bedwell second, Ms. Miller third, Ms. Porter fourth--

Roger: Ina Mae, with the Ms. Boyer, Della Boyer. They put her in class, and she 20:00helped with the fourth grade.

Kevin: And Ms. Troy fifth, Ms. Boyer sixth, and Mr. Hackler seventh.

Roger: Yep.

Kevin: Well that's interesting. So it was pretty new school when you went there.

Roger: Yeah, well matter of fact they didn't really have it really completely done, but it was far enough along where they could go ahead and have classes. But now they some classrooms that was downstairs back next to the boiler room, they filled in with dirt. They decided they didn't need them, so they filled them in with dirt.

Kevin: Oh okay, well that explains how it's laid out down there, then.

Roger: And it was heated with coal. Mr. Gus Hill, not Gus--

21:00

Kevin: Liam?

Roger: Horace.

Kevin: Oh Horace.

Roger: Horace would bring coal up 'ere and then they finally upped it on up and they'd bring it in in a tractor trailer.

Kevin: Wow.

Roger: Stokers coal.

Kevin: Did you ever go in Eureka School?

Roger: Yeah I've been in it, like last day of school or something. They let me go with Jimmy and Sue up 'ere, carry you had to go out and get the water out of the spring out there and carry it in. Outside bathroom.

Kevin: So, it was a one room school, Eureka. And Ms. Bedwell taught all the grades, was it all seven grades?

Roger: Yeah.

Kevin: Wow. [Pause] What grade were Jimmy and Sue in when they went to Providence?

22:00

Roger: Well now let's see, now Sue, Sue was old enough to come down here, but Jimmy went to the seventh grade up 'ere. He was getting on up 'ere when I was starting in.

Kevin: There's a big difference between you and Jimmy, I didn't realize it. So where did you live when you were working in the mill?

Roger: Well, when then Rita got married we stayed with her mother across town. And then we moved on up where we live at now.

Kevin: How did you get to work, did you drive--

Roger: Drive. Well Rita, we had her sister would keep the kids at night and Rita worked in the mill too, she run one of the warpers.

Kevin: Okay, on third shift.

Roger: Yeah on third.

23:00

Kevin: So y'all rode to work together. Then when you moved up in the country, Spring Valley, you were still working in the mill at that time?

Roger: Yeah some.

Kevin: Off and on. So after you quit the mill for good, what did you do?

Roger: Uh I quit the mill and went to work for Tom and Joe Carico doing carpenter work. Got slow, so I went to the furniture factory and tried it again. Still didn't like it no better than I did, I went back with them and that's where I stayed at. Joe and Tom, they busted up, I stayed with Tom up until-- I don't know-- we were working on a house in Wytheville and Tom said, he'd need the draw, and he had done drawed out on that house, so he went to Pulaski and 24:00started working. And then another boy we finished that house up, the one said, I don't know how y'all are just slamming this, he was working with Tom. He said, I will pay you the same, and as nice people you have to work, we work for. And that played out, I went to work-- at the chip core factory, and I worked there for a while. They had me on third shift. I told them I said, I been here long enough cause I'm top sander man, I said, I want daytime. Plant supervisor said, I can't give it to you, you're the only one I trust on third shift with the sander. I said, well I ain't gonna work it no more. He said, you can't quit, I 25:00said, yes I can, I said, I done done it. I went to Vaughan Furniture, I went to T.G., I went to work in the roughing and then it shut down, I went over to E.C. Dodson, I think it was--worked over there two maybe three weeks, it shut down. Then went to B.C. Vaughan and stayed there until it shut down. And when it shut down, it shut down on the 20th of May and I turned sixty-two on May the 4th. So that was it.

Kevin: So you retired?

Roger: Well I helped Dave shoot some off and on. But-- that's about it.

Kevin: So you didn't like third shift.

Roger: No third shift for sleeping, daytime for working.

Kevin: How did you manage your day when you were on third shift?

26:00

Roger: Well, at first I'd sleep all day, but hour the latest I'd sleep till maybe two o'clock and go get the kids or they got out of school, they wake us up when come in. Most time I laid back down and get a hour of rest before I went in. And I'd always on third shift, there at the latest, I'd go in early and try and get my job ahead, setting it up.

Kevin: Did you sleep good during the day?

Roger: Some days, some days not. Most of the time I slept good if nobody was there bothering me. Back before I got married, workin' in the cotton mill, I'd 27:00sleep all day and mama holler at me 'bout 9:30 to tell me get up and get ready for work.

Kevin: So you'd sleep from the time you got home at 7:30?

Roger: Yessir I'd go in and eat a little bite and I'd go to bed. Yessir.

Kevin: Sleep till 9:30, wow good grief. So when I worked on third shift, I'd get home about 7:15, 7:20 something like that, a.m.. I'd take a shower cause you were always sticky, so I'd take a shower, go to bed at about 8 a.m., I'd get up about 4 p.m., and then I'd get out and do something, and then go in at 10:30 or so. 10:30 or 11.

Roger: Well I tried to watch myself in evening cause if you don't act smart before you went to work you just give out.

Kevin: Yeah you had to be careful about how much you did. I rode to work with 28:00Wanda Bonham, Ms. Pollard--Gladys, was that her name?

Roger: Yeah Gladys Pollard, yep.

Kevin: And Gloria Bonham, and they would go home and cook breakfast for their family, clean the house, go to bed about ten o'clock a.m., get up about 2 p.m., and go and get supper ready for their family, you know, be around family till around nine or so, and then they'd take a nap, a half hour or so, get up and go back to work. They didn't get much sleep.

Roger: Now daddy, I seen daddy several times work third shift, he come in milk and feed the hogs, and eat, then if there was somebody dead in the community he'd go help diggin' the grave, stay up all day, come in maybe around five 29:00o'clock, milk feed again, go to bed till about ten o'clock, get up, go to work. And he has come back and next morning, they didn't get the grave done, he'd go back and help dig it again till they got it finished.

Kevin: Wow, so they dug it by hand.

Roger: Dug it by hand years ago. But, I seen them just about fight to get in the grave to dig, the cold weather, yessir. Seemed like you always had enough help, we have had to demolish some of the graves.

Kevin: Really?

Roger: We get Mr. Earl Shaffner or my uncle Stewart Carico out of Pine Mountain to shoot the dynamite.

Kevin: Cause there was rock underground.

Roger: Yep.

30:00

Kevin: Was this at Providence or where was it?

Roger: Providence.

Kevin: Providence Church, the cemetery.

Roger: Yep down in Providence a road bed comes down through the lower end of the cemetery and they hit with something else

Kevin: Why is that?

Roger: Well there's rock, you just beat in there and you couldn't dig it hardly

Kevin: So the road did changed a lot from when they built the new one, is what you're saying.

Roger: Oh yeah

Kevin: The new highway.

Roger: That road up there it came in up 'ere where Early Doss, right where Cy Vaughan lived, it went around that ridge up 'ere and coming down through it by the church. And went over the bank there where the airplane crashed.

31:00

Kevin: Do you remember when MyCons owned that store down there?

Roger: No, no I don't remember, you're talking about the one there--

Kevin: Where F&F used to be.

Roger: No, I remember when Charlie Vaughan used to run it.

Kevin: Oh okay. So, Charlie, he owned and ran that store before he moved out to--

Roger: Yeah I remember they built his new store.

Kevin: I guess he did that because they moved the highway over, right?

Roger: Yeah, his old building was right there on the creek, and there was post holding it up. Yeah it's getting in pretty rough shape. Then he moved on up there and Pat Atkins worked for him. Him and Clem Taylor, and I reckon Pat decided he build him a store, so he built that up 'ere. And they all done good. 32:00Everything done good. Did we talk about that little store on the road that goes round down there in Green Valley?

Kevin: Umm--

Roger: You know you cut off down by the dentist signs, cut off to the right and go down there, there was a little log building there.

Kevin: Down there next to where Bob Wilson's store was?

Roger: No, no that's on the other side. It's here back here back upside of where Arnold Phillips lives.

Kevin: No, what are you talking about?

Roger: There was a little building there and if I ain't mistaken, it was sold. It was just a real small one.

Kevin: They sell gas?

Roger: Uh-uh.

Kevin: Okay. This really doesn't need to go in the interview, but that project I'm working on with the gas stations, I'm thinking about doing one on 33:00restaurants around because there are a bunch of restaurants around here. And then I'm thinking about doing one on just stores like what you're talking about there. But anyway, so back to the interview, okay so, let me see where we are. What was your impression of working in the mill? Did you like it, did you not?

Roger: Well, some job I liked, some jobs I didn't. Cause a whole lotta jobs were dangerous. You take the cards, you could lose a hand in the cards in a heartbeat. And you'd get a hand broke on the interdraft frame. But overall I liked it. As long as you got good people to work around, you had a few that was 34:00kind of rough which you got that everywhere. But I liked it. I just wish they hadn't tore the mill down and left some of the machinery in there so that people could go through there and really see what it's like.

Kevin: Yeah that would have been really good. And there are not many pictures of the inside of the mill either, you know. You got a few, in fact that paper you brought had one from back in the 1910s or whatever, had those children in the picture. But there weren't many pictures of the inside of the mill. So you were working there when Riegel Textiles bought it.

Roger: Yep.

35:00

Kevin: Did that change the way things--

Roger: It changed some, but not a whole lot. They kept most of the bosses and all. When they got rid of it, they got rid of it in a hurry.

Kevin: Did the pay change when Riegel came in?

Roger: Nah.

Kevin: So, what are some of your favorite memories of living around here?

Roger: Of living 'round here?

Kevin: Or of working in the mill. Anything like that.

Roger: Well, I had awful good memories of the school down here. Seem like the kids got along good, the teachers got along good and everything. It was a close knit seem like school, even though you bring in kids from Brush Creek, Spring Valley, uhh Lime Kiln Hill out in 'ere, Hilltown and all, seem like they just 36:00come together, or that's in my head. Of course I always like to play baseball. I played many a games down here on this field. But the cotton mill, it was just about like a family, really. Because most families worked there.

Kevin: I remember you working--I mean playing ball--part down here in the adult league, did you play in high school?

Roger: Yeah I played two years in high school.

Kevin: What position did you play?

Roger: Second base or third base, I played with Eddy Goodson.

Kevin: Oh did you?

Roger: Yep, smoothest player I've ever been beside of.

37:00

Kevin: So just for purposes of people who might be reading the interview, Eddy Goodson was a professional baseball player.

Roger: Yeah he won a--he played for the Dodgers and he played for the Giants.

Kevin: I remember one of, there was a game that was being televised and they said, this is Eddy Getsen from Fries, Virginia, and Bud Nichols rode in and told them they mispronounced it so they corrected it for the next Saturday.

Roger: People ask you where you're from you say Fries, Virginia. Where's that at? You freeze in the winter time and you fry in the summer!

Kevin: That's right [laughs]. Well is there anything else you'd like to--

Roger: I don't reckon, Kevin.

Kevin: Okay

Roger: I enjoy you, thank you for asking me.

Kevin: Oh yeah, well I appreciate you for sitting.

38:00

Roger: Rambled around, I know.

Kevin: That's what I wanted them, hear what you have to say. Thank you Roger.

Roger: You're quite welcome.

[End of Interview]