K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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About this recording

Carl and Mary Thompson interviewed by James Leloudis, Charlotte, NC, July 9, 1979. Interview #H-182 in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Southern Oral History Program
Date created
This recording copyright ©2004. All Rights Reserved
Original audio housed by UNC Libraries / Documenting the American South

See this recording in context

  • North Carolina in the New South: Primary sources and readings explore North Carolina in the decades after the Civil War (1870–1900). Topics include changes in agriculture, the growth of cities and industry, the experiences of farmers and mill workers, education, cultural changes, politics and political activism, and the Wilmington Race Riot. (Page 3.5)
  • North Carolina History: A Sampler: A sample of the more than 800 pages of our digital textbook for North Carolina history, including background readings, various kinds of primary sources, and multimedia. Also includes an overview of the textbook and how to use it. (Page 5.2)

In the classroom

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Mary Thompson talks about workers singing on the job.


Jim Leloudis
Did people ever sing in the mill?
Mary Thompson
Oh, yes. People used to sing all the time. I was thinking about that here the other week. I used to sing all the time. When I was working, I’d just sit there and just sing, sing. And now they don’t sing. I don’t hear people singing now. I used to get in my car, me and my little girl, and we’d just sing. [Laughter] We’d come to Greenville, from up there at Slater, to visit Mama and Daddy, and we’d sing all the way down and all the way back. Nobody sings much no more.
Jim Leloudis
When you would sing at work, would you sing by yourself, or would all the women kind of begin to sing together?
Mary Thompson
We’d sing by ourself, because we couldn’t hardly sing together, not in my job. But just sit there and sing and work. And then in spooling out here, I’ve been through the spool room lots of times, and people used to be singing, just putting them ends up there everywhere. [unclear] But you don’t hear people singing much now. I don’t know why people don’t sing. They must not be as happy as they used to be; I don’t sing, either. But they don’t really sing out in church like they used to. But back then they didn’t think about notes, either. Everybody sang out, and it was pretty. But now everybody’s scared they’ll miss a note, so if they ain’t a good singer, they won’t sing like me.