One of the true joys of covering the textile industry is hearing the old stories of some of the long-timers or retirees – especially those who worked “in the trenches,” i.e. the card room, the blow room, the drawing area, the sizing area, etc. (neither of which involves Poker, bubbles, sketching or trying on shirts). You know, where the magic happens in the industry.
The best interview I ever conducted was with then-101-year-old Lacey Bobbin Peak a few years ago, who I met on April 1 in 19 … um, I can’t remember the exact year, but it was sometime before the turn of the century. Despite her advanced age, Miss Peak was sharp as a tack and quick witted … and, boy, could she spin a yarn. In great detail, she shared her unbelievable life story that was cut out of whole cloth. And, after a record-breaking, 92-year career working at the “cotton mill” – as many people called textile production facilities back then – in the rural South, she was more than happy to dispense drawn-out chestnuts of some of the fun, frivolity and often foolishness that occurred at the mill.
Especially in her area, the fabrication department.
It didn’t take long for Miss Peak to get wound up, and hours to wind up. I would ask her one question, and her eyes would start roving, and you could tell she was combing the scene to see who might be listening. Then, with much experience from which to draw, she would begin to tell stories at warp speed, weaving back and forth through her history, and, before you know it, you realize her bio will be a nice package – with some sliver of truth – to document for posterity.
Among a number of engaging anecdotes she told me was one about Smiley Peak, a beamer who took a shine to her in the 1930s. (Yes, they ended up tying the knot.) And one about Lance Shank, a slasher who every day left work wearing starched shirts. Oh, and she unrolled reams of adventures from the stripping department. After about 12 hours, she had told a thick tapestry of true tall tales.
To read all of Miss Peak’s stories, visit www.foolmeonce.gotcha. :)
(Oh, and have a blessed Easter and Passover.)