Hopedale History
    November 15, 2016
    No. 312
    The Work of a Weaver

    Hopedale in November   

    History of Hopedale by Rev. Adin Ballou, published in History of Worcester County in 1889. Thanks to Don
    Howes for it.

    Marcelle Stoltz - Marcelle lives on Northrop Street in Hopedale now, but she grew up in France and Germany
    during World War II. Her memories are of her life in those years, and also of her time in this country.

    Mendon Cemeteries - A large amount of information (about 10,000 words, including many names) about
    Mendon and Blackstone cemeteries.

    Additions to existing pages on hope1842.com during the past two weeks include Unitarian Church Stained
    Glass Windows (St. Cecilia and St. Paul windows added.)     G&U Bridge over Hopedale Street (Newspaper
    photos showing work being done on the bridge in 1959.)     Fanny Osgood (More on the Tiffany stained glass
    window at Arlington Street Church, Boston, dedicated in memory of Fanny and her mother, Hannah Draper
    Osgood.)     Deaths   

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    The fire engineers demonstrated their new Knox fire fighting apparatus Saturday afternoon, the engineers
    from Milford and several of the surrounding towns being guests at the tests, which were followed by a
    collation. Eight distinct tests were held by the outfit, which is a combination of chemical wagon, hose wagon,
    and a pump with a capacity of 808 gallons of water a minute. Milford Gazette, November 22, 1912

    The Memorial Library has received two interesting donations to its local history collection: the desk of the late
    Rev. Adin Ballou, given by Mrs. G. H. Davis, and the hand wrought door latch of his study, presented by J. E.
    Barnes. Milford Gazette, May 24, 1918

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    A few weeks ago while looking for yet another scrap of information on the Drapers, I ran across the interview
    below, which comes from the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I
    thought it would make an interesting change from the more directly Hopedale-connected stories to send this
    one about a woman who worked with Draper looms in a southern mill.

                                                          The Work of a Weaver

    Interviewer - Jim Leloudis
    Interviewee - Edna Y. Hargett

    Jim Leloudis: Tell me how you got that first job and how you learned to weave.

    EDNA YANDELL HARGETT: They didn't pay you to learn how to weave then. They didn't pay a learner at all.
    You had to go in with your parents, so I went in with my daddy. He'd show me how to do it, and I learned how
    to weave and learned how to pick out and how to smash. Whenever I got good enough where I could do it
    and could be trusted on my own with a set of looms-at Highland Park they'd first give you eight looms for a
    set-they'd try me on that. And they put me on a set beside of my daddy, where if I got in a hole he could help
    me out a little bit. But I never did like weaving as much as I did smashing. I always loved to smash and pick
    out. And I got to be a real fast operator on it so they'd keep me on that job.

    Jim Leloudis: What was the difference in those jobs?

    EDNA:  Pick out's where there was a bad place in the cloth, and you picked out the thread in there up to
    where the bad place started, then started up over. You had to know how to match your picks and all and start
    the loom up there and perfect get your selvage and all up together and have it perfect there. Then when we
    had a breakout, so many things could cause a breakout. It could be a screw loose in the picker stick; there
    could be a screw loose in the shuttle; there could be a harness strap broken. And you had to know how to
    shake the loom at the back and pull all your warp to where you get your threads lined up or your ends lined
    up to draw in again. And then you had to know to draw them in, and if the loom wasn't broken I'd start it up,
    and if it was broken I had to flag the loom fixer and let him start it up.

    Jim: What was the weaver's job?

    EDNA: The weavers had to run the looms. They had to draw in the ends, and if they had as many as a dozen
    ends out they could put it on my board as a smash-hand job. And they had to match the picks, and they had
    battery hands that filled the battery that belonged on box work, beam work where you had to fill your own
    shuttles then. But now they have magazines on the Crompton and Knowles looms. And when they stopped
    this mill down up here, we was running forty looms then. I mean it was half an acre of looms, too.

    Jim: [Laughter] Was there a particular loom that you liked working on better than another?
    EDNA:  Yes, I believe I liked the Draper work better than I did the Crompton and Knowles.

    Jim: Why was that?
    EDNA:  On account of the shuttles and how they matched the picks and all.

    Jim: What do you mean when you say matching picks?
    EDNA: That's the threads that goes across the cloth. Well, you have to know how to match that so the
    harness, when it goes the next time, the harness will be just right. If you haven't got the picks just right, the
    harness will drop down and it'll be weaving a cord, like, and you have to know how to do that. And then they
    had drop harness on some of it, and in smashing I had to know how to set that so whenever a loom fixer
    could fix the loom, why, it'd start up right.

    Jim: Why did you like the Draper looms better than the others?

    EDNA: There wasn't as much trouble to them, if we could have got them fixed. But after Chadwick and
    Hoskins sold it to Southern, they stopped repairing them much, getting the material for the loom fixers to
    repair them. So we had it real tough then, so whenever the Southern sold it to the Spatex, we did have it
    tough then. They didn't get no parts at all to repair them with, and we had to just run the looms on a
    shoestring, as the old saying did, because they was broken and out of fix and wouldn't half run.

    Jim: You said that you didn't have to match the picks up on the Draper looms?

    EDNA: Yes, you had to match them up on the Draper loom, but it was harder on the Crompton and Knowles,
    because they had so many more harness, and they had drop harness, too. But on the Draper they never had
    but over three harnesses on it. When they were weaving broadcloth over here, it was three-harness. If you
    didn't get the harness up right, why, it would throw the shuttle out and hit you.

    Jim: Did you ever get hurt on any of those machines?

    EDNA:  I got that finger hurt there when I worked at Highland Park. I went to push a shuttle back in there and
    the screw was loose and cut that, and the doctor never did put a splint on it, so that's always been like that.

    Jim: So it's been a little crooked, huh?

    EDNA:  Yes. The leaders is drawed in it.

    Jim: Did other people get hurt very often? Do you remember any other injuries?

    EDNA: Yes, people would get hurt in there. I fell up here one time when the mill was leaking and broke my
    arm. And people would get hurt with sometime a shuttle flying out on them and hitting them, especially if it
    hits you in your head. One woman got her eye put out. But that didn't happen in these mills; that happened in
    Bessemer City that I know of. It was a friend of mine got her eye put out where a shuttle hit her.

    Jim: Did you feel like it was kind of dangerous work?

    EDNA:  In a way it was dangerous, but it was work that I enjoyed. We all fussed about it quite a bit and
    grumbled, but we'd love to do it over again, because the community hasn't been the same since it's not been
    a mill village. There's just a different atmosphere about it altogether. When it was a mill village, why, we
    didn't think a thing about going in and helping a neighbor do her work if there was sickness or something
    like that, and sitting up when there was a death in the family. But they don't do that anymore now.

    Jim: Why do you think that's so?

    EDNA:  They just got interested in something else, and I think they're distant from what they were. They don't
    have the love and cooperation they did have from each then.

    Jim: Do you think that's because they don't work together any more, maybe?

    EDNA:  I believe maybe that's it.

    Jim: Did people carry that same type of cooperation into the mill with them? Did people help each other in
    there?

    EDNA:  Yes, we helped one another in the mill. We each had our own job to do. And we knew to do our job; if
    we didn't, they'd replace us. But we had a loving feeling for one another, just like we was one big family.

    Oral History Interview with Edna Y. Hargett, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0163. Southern Oral History
    Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina
    at Chapel Hill.

    Used with permission from the Southern Oral History Program.

    There was much more of Edna's life covered in the interview, as you can see below. Click here if you'd like to
    go to it.

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