State College School of Textiles

William Friday describes the School of Textiles in the 1940s and recalls what it was like to operate textile machines.

Interview on 2011-09-13


00:00:00.000 My dad wanted me to take over the business that he had.
00:00:03.716 I had worked in cotton mills as a kid, making a little money in the summertime,
00:00:08.662 and I worked in a machine shop.
00:00:12.429 You won't believe it but in those days you worked for eighteen and a half cents an hour
00:00:19.752 and I made I think seventeen dollars a week
00:00:24.144 and worked fifty-six hours to make that.
00:00:27.679 Mr. Roosevelt became President; my pay went to thirty-seven and a half cents and hour, and I've been a Democrat ever since. [Laughs]
00:00:35.434 Well in those days it was very simple.
00:00:40.916 We had the standard mill equipment: We had spinning machines, carding machines,
00:00:47.354 weaving machines, dying machines, all were necessary,
00:00:52.315 and you had to take your turn learning how to operate all of them.
00:00:56.878 My father's business was that he built these gigantic machines called slashers,
00:01:03.236 which put the starch into the fabric that you buy.
00:01:07.239 But it was all sort of what you'd learn today in a community college,
00:01:14.098 it was that far back,
00:01:17.304 and keep in mind now we're talking seventy years ago
00:01:21.980 and more than that. It was just a little cotton mill really is what it was
00:01:26.766 and you took your turn. I learned how to run all those machines
00:01:33.282 and the more I worked at it the more I knew I was never going to do it.
00:01:37.936 But then graduation came, and senior year was such a wonderful time at State
00:01:45.201 because there were four of us that stuck together.
00:01:47.845 Henry Rowe was editor of the Technician, Doug Kaley was editor of the Agromeck,
00:01:52.071 I was president of the senior class, and Paul Lehman was president of the student body,
00:01:57.668 and we four stuck together.
00:02:01.832 They were all in one fraternity. I never joined a fraternity. It was money problems to start with.
00:02:08.368 The night we graduated
00:02:15.367 we sat together for awhile and we dispersed
00:02:20.134 and the shock came that it was all over, and those glorious days at NC State are now history.
00:02:27.409 We didn't have a big student union so the YMCA had a wonderful man named Ed King,
00:02:34.497 and all of us became very much attached to an assistant dean of students named Romeo Lefort.
00:02:41.914 He was a great, wonderful man, championship swimmer when he was a student at State.
00:02:48.596 But it was a very small kind of package. There were less than three hundred people in our graduating class.