Baseball, religion, work, death, and the company store - these figured eminently in the lives of Southern cotton mill workers and their families during the early decades of the 20th century. In this firsthand account of his native Bladenboro, North Carolina, George G. Suggs, Jr., captures in rich detail the world of a thriving cotton mill town where the company was dominant but workers had forged a strong community. Here the focus is on the workers - their interests, personalities, and values - in their best and in their darker moments. Ultimately, we see the many dimensions of working-class culture and taste a way of life that has vanished.
Drawing upon childhood memories and his father's recollections, Suggs covers events in Bladenboro during the 1930s and 40s. He describes the nature of cotton mill work, the stresses and strains produced by undesirable working conditions, and the various ways in which workers and their families learned to cope. Many characters emerge from this story - from the kind woman who dispensed the company fiat money to the desperate men who would gamble it away. The book explores key topics such as social rankings, medical care, the company store, and workers' responses to death. Above all, we see how faith found expression on the job and in the surrounding evangelical churches. The workers of Bladenboro are gone, and little remains of the mills, but this work pays tribute to lives well lived under the most challenging circumstances.
The book is published by Wayne State University Press.
"...a moving tribute to [Sugg's] father and other relatives and acquaintances who were part of that past. (Bess Beatty, Oregon State University)
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