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Becky Paredes
Western Alamance High School

Interview about the Great Depression

My name is Alice Turner

Q: How old were you when the stock market crashed?

A: I was 15 at that time.

Q: Where did you live at the time?

A: We were living in Virginia and we moved to North Carolina at that time.

Q: Who did you live with?

A: I lived with my parents and I had eight brothers and sisters and my mother's sister lived with us.

Q: How did you find out about the crash?

A: We read the newspapers. Nobody had televisions or radios at that time.

Q: What was your reaction or your family's reaction?

A: Shock I guess. But it did not affect us too much because we owned no stocks and bonds anyway.
We had always been poor and we worked and we lived from one payday to the next.

Q: What kind of job did you have?

A: Well my parents had textiles jobs and I got a job in a textile mill and I went to work before i was 16
years old. But other young people also went to work if they could get a job to help their families
out. And I had one brother who joined the army during the depression and he sent money home
but he only lived for three months after he joined the army. They sent him to South America and it
was so hot down there and he died before he was 19 years old.

Q: Did the depression affect your wages?

A: Yes it did. Wages went down until people was working for less that twenty cents an hour. In fact my job went down from twenty-two cents an hour down to eighteen and a half cents an hour. And I had only been working for a short while.

Q: You said your parents worked in textile, did it affect their wages?

A: Yes it affected their wages but not like it did somebody who was inexperienced because my daddy was a good weaver and he had a pretty good job and his wages didn't go down that much. But then my mother didn't work. She had too many children and she had to stay at home to look after the children. My older sister got a job and went to work also.

Q: What was the hardest or most prevalent thing change to get used to?

A: There was so many people that was out of work. And any time of day you could see men out hunting for jobs and they were riding trains. I reckon you would have called them hobos at the time. But they had no other way to get from one place to the other and they were riding trains or hitch-hiking. And then people with a car if they saw somebody hitch-hiking they would stop and pick them up-- it'd be too dangerous to do that today but back then you trusted people.

Q: Did you know anyone who was greatly affected by the depression?

A: No personal friends that was affected by it anymore than my family was because most everybody was poor and the only people who really had stocks and bonds is what we always called big shots and we were not personal friends with what we called big shots in those days and we weren't too affected by the depression. We just done the best we could and if we could help anybody out... and after we moved from Virginia to North Carolina there were people that we hardly knew in Virginia but they would come to North Carolina looking for jobs and would come to our house and I don't know if my parents ever turned anybody away that come and wanted to spend the night. Although we were crowded into a small house that really wasn't big enough for the family. But we had some men that came and stayed and hunted for work and then we had some women who I don't remember them even visiting us but they lived on the same street that we did in Danville but they come and stayed with us for a week or more and then at different times we had people that came and got jobs in North Carolina and boarded with my family.

Q: Did they tell you how the depression affected their life in Danville?

A: Well I suppose it affected the life of people in Danville the same way it did everywhere else only I think maybe Danville was harder hit because the mills in Danville went on strike during the depression and people were really out of work there and they were desperate to find jobs. I don't know why the jobs seemed to be more plentiful in North Carolina then in Virginia. Later on it seemed like everybody you knew had either lived in Danville or had come from Virginia from other places. A lot of people came from Alta Vista, Virgina to Burlington, North Carolina looking for work.

Q: What other types of jobs were there besides textile mills?

A: Hosery Mills. Burlington was known as the hosery mill center of the south at that time. There was a hosery mill on just about every corner. J. Spencer Love had just started up the first plant of Burlington Industries and I suppose that's the reason so many people were coming over here from Virgina to get jobs.

Q: What were the long term effects of the depression?

A: I think the long tern effects...I think really the depression lasted more than one or two years because young people getting married and both of them having to work and then the children come along and they hardly had money. But one thing that helped us out when we moved to Burlington was that my mother's sister that lived with us, she did have some money from selling a home in Virgina and she bought one of the first radios that was on our street in Burlington. And I know that she helped the family out some because so many people their homes were wired for electricity but they could not afford to pay the bills and so they were still using oil lamps and cooking on oil stoves and using wood stoves to cook with and that was back in the early 1930's by that time. I guess my family was a little bit luckier than most because my parents did have some money from an insurance policy that they had on my brother when he died and it seems to me that the depression lasted so long because young people that had small children and you'd see the children, they would have shoes but they wouldn't have socks. And we didn't have new clothes every season either we made do with what we had.

Q: What do you think was the major causes of the depression?

A: I have no idea what caused the depression. I really don't know but I know that times have changed since then and sometimes like right now people are being put out of work, plants are closing and they're moving away. But that wasn't the case back then I don't know what caused the stock market to crash but I think the depression started before the stock market crashed because people were already losing their jobs.

Q: Do you think something like the Great Depression could ever happen again today?

A: I dont' know whether it could ever happen again or not. But now you have so much help from the government. You know back in the depression I don't know if there was anything such thing as welfare or not because I know my family never had any help from anywhere except within our own family. But families helped each other and during the depression young people that was married would have to move back in with their parents and sometimes it was the parents who had move in with the young people. But I think the stock market crash or the Great Depression I think it affected everybody who was living in the United States at that time.