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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Burlington in Alamance County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

After the Whistle Blows

 
 
After the Whistle Blows Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
1. After the Whistle Blows Marker
Inscription. Mill employees worked at tedious jobs for long hours, usually having only Sundays to rest. With responsibilities at home as well as in the mill, free time was limited. Still, mill workers found ways to socialize, relax, and have fun in a world governed by the screech of the steam whistle.

Though workdays could stretch twelve hours with no scheduled breaks, many workers found a way to rest. Men often met outdoors to smoke, while women gathered in washrooms to gossip, joke, or sing. Edna Hargett remembers how women would “stay in there for an hour at a time, and us younger ones would get in there too to hear those jokes.”

Mill workers also took advantage of free time for relaxing and having fun. Sundays were visiting days, and entire families gathered on neighbors’ porches to talk and gossip. Such visiting allowed romances to develop, and adolescents courted under their parents’ close supervision. Children created their own fun. Without store-bought toys and planned activities, they invented games and entertained themselves by swimming or fishing. They also fashioned their own toys out of any items they had available.

The people on Saturday nights would gather in different homes. At that time, most of the instruments were the old pump organs. And they would gather for singings; you could
After the Whistle Blows Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
2. After the Whistle Blows Marker
sit out on your front porch and listen to the songs coming over the night air…
Mabel Bridges Cargill, born in Cliffside, North Carolina in 1908.


Mill towns formed baseball leagues, women’s clubs, and brass bands. Owners found that providing such activities created a happier, more stable workforce. According to the Southern Textile Bulletin, organized recreation helped workers “look on the bright side of things and withstand the physical discomforts of standing for long hours by one machine and doing the same thing over and over.” Whether boosting morale or encouraging mill-town pride, owners found benefits in structuring their employees’ free time.

By the late 1920s, new technologies and rising wages allowed some mill workers to pursue new forms of recreation. The radio proved especially popular in mill villages. Even those families that could not afford a radio often had access to music and programs through neighbors and friends. Mill workers’ tastes in music began to influence radio programming, and many stations broadcasted “hillbilly” music. Long the preferred live entertainment in mill villages, the radio made this genre available to much larger audiences. Automobiles also changed recreation. Those employees with access to cars could now leave the mill towns for Sunday picnics and out-of-town visits. Courting
After the Whistle Blows Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
3. After the Whistle Blows Marker
changed as well. Cars allowed couples to meet privately, far from the watchful eyes of parents and neighbors. The availability of these new technologies opened the mill villages to outside influences while it also spread mill-town culture into the wider community.
 
Location. 36° 8.298′ N, 79° 25.661′ W. Marker is near Burlington, North Carolina, in Alamance County. Marker is on Glencoe Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Glencoe Village is 3 miles north of Burlington, NC from NC Highway 62. Marker is in this post office area: Burlington NC 27215, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Legacy of Community (here, next to this marker); Cotton Dust and Poverty (here, next to this marker); Neighbors Divided (a few steps from this marker); Working the Shift (a few steps from this marker); Calling the Mill Village 'Home' (a few steps from this marker); Living in a Mill-Centered World (a few steps from this marker); The Rise of the Textile Mill Communities (a few steps from this marker); Women in the Mill Village (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Burlington.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the
Lunch Time, Kesler Manufacturing Company image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
4. Lunch Time, Kesler Manufacturing Company
December, 1908. Salisbury, North Carolina
order shown.
 
Additional keywords. Alamance Cotton Mill, Glencoe, Fabric, Textiles, Company Shops, Holt
 
Categories. EntertainmentIndustry & Commerce
 
Cotton mill boys playing a game of marbles image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
5. Cotton mill boys playing a game of marbles
December, 1908. Salisbury, North Carolina
Rhythm of the Factory Series of Markers - on Glencoe Mill image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
6. Rhythm of the Factory Series of Markers - on Glencoe Mill
Rhythm of the Factory Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
7. Rhythm of the Factory Marker
Glencoe Mill image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
8. Glencoe Mill
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 13, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina. This page has been viewed 746 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on July 13, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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