Saturday, April 24, 2010

An Unusual Tool

Hey, Y'all,
I would be willing to bet that most of you readers out in Blogland would not know what the object is in the picture . It involves the occupation that my mama had her whole life until retirement. She was a knitter in a hosiery mill. They manufactured socks that one wears on the feet. Her job was to knit the major portion of a stocking after someone else had knit the first part of it. She would take the stocking and put each stitch in the edge of the sock over a tooth on the transfer (name of the object in the picture), and then pulling the sock through the transfer, she would turn the transfer upside down and transfer the stitches onto the machine. She would then pull the sock down underneath and hold onto the sock with the left hand and remove the transfer with the right hand. She would then move on to the next machine, repeating the transfer action. The machines would then knit the rest of the sock up to where the elastic band was supposed to be knit. By the time that she finished transfer of a sock on the third machine, she would be ready to go back to the first machine. By the way, the teeth on the transfer are very sharp. The base of the transfer measures 4 and 1/2 inches in diameter.

The top of the sock left to be knit was the ribbing. As soon as she finished her part of a sock, it was added to a group of socks until she had a dozen pair. The dozen pair was bundled and sent to the "ribber room" where the socks were finished up. She was paid by the dozens or partial dozens that her machines knit during the day. She kept three (3) machines running each day. She moved back and forth, back and forth, day in and day out. She would usually work right through lunch, eating as she worked. She worked from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The only time she was out of work was during the worst of the depression years and nobody was working then.

When a machine would go down (something be wrong with it) she would send for a "fixer", a machinist, to work on the machine. She was losing money, of course, when the machine would be down.

My mama quit school when she had finished the fifth grade so that she could go to work in the hosiery mill in Loudon, Tennessee, where she was born. Her dad died when she was only nine years old and they were living in Texas at the time. She had an older sister and two older brothers, who had also quit school upon completion of the fifth grade. There were younger brothers and sisters. They had gone to work at the hosiery mill, too. As you can probably guess, the hosiery mill was the big employer in the county. The youngest sister, Edith, did not quit school but finished high school. I believe, though, that even she worked at the mill in the summertime.

Their mother, Granny Black, was half Cherokee, and unfortunately could not read or write, and left with seven children to raise by herself. It was necessary for her children to work as soon as they could. Granny worked, too, by doing laundry for people that paid her almost nothing. (But that is another story).

The transfer in the picture belonged to my mama. She and dad moved to Knoxville soon after they were married. In Knoxville, she worked at the Holston Manufacturing Company Mill. She bought it after she was married to my dad, and it must have been in the 1940's that she bought it. She carried it home every day, and back to work the next day, and kept it wrapped in a stocking to protect its teeth. It has one hundred and eight teeth in a brass ring. It is quite heavy and was in my sister's possession until she passed away in 2007 right after Christmas. It then came into my hands, and it is quite dear to me because of what it represents.

My mama worked off and on for fifty years, from the age of eleven until she was sixty-one and was a primary supporter of our family. My dad worked at the hosiery mill in the ribber room for quite a few years until he got a job at Fulton-Sylphon during the World War II. Then in 1947, we moved to the farm in New Market where he became a farmer.

My mama had told us about how she had to be hidden in the lint barrels at the mill when she was just a child of eleven. The government had just passed the child labor laws, and if a factory was found with children working there when the inspectors came through, it would have to pay a fine. So when they knew the inspectors were coming through, the children were put into the lint barrels until the inspectors had finished their walk through the factory. She started working at he mill in 1912.

My mama could read and write exceptionally well, because back then, if a person was smart and had learned well, their fifth grade education could rival a tenth grade education now. She always kept her production in a small notebook and was scrupulously honest. If she was paid too much, she let the bookkeeper at work know, and if she was not paid enough, she let him know too.

She passed away in 1973 at the age of 72, her health broken by the years of standing on her feet, working for her family, but I know she never regretted a day of it. My dad lived on for another six years and missed her every day of it. From 1947 till 1961 she lived in a room in a house belonging to one of my aunts during the week and then came home on the Greyhound and spent the weekend on the farm. That, my friends, is true dedication to family and responsibility.

I know this posting is probably about my mama as much as it is about the transfer that she used in her work, but I can't tell about one without telling about the other.

Well, this is Saturday and it looks a little like rain today, at least the sky is cloudy and the weathermen say it is supposed to, so I reckon maybe it will. I think I will probably make a good breakfast for Gramps and me this morning. It is nigh on to nine a.m. so I gotta get shakin' and move my bones. Ha.

This is Blabbin' Grammy signing off for today. Much love to each of you, my friends and family, out there in Blogland. Bye for now. More later. I'm looking forward to reading a lot of blogs this evening. In case you are wondering why I put comment moderation on my blog, I had been getting some comments in Chinese that would lead to a porn site, and I don't want any of that stuff. Bye for now.


Ocean Girl said...

I am intrigued by life stories. Thank you for sharing Grammy. The story of your Dad missing your Mama will remain with me.

Hope you have a nice weekend.


Hi Ruby very interesting, I have never seen one of those before.
It never crossed my mind one of those existed, A lovely detailed blog whish as always is a pleasure to read.

Enjoy the week-end.

SonshineMusic i.e. Rebecca T. said...

What a fascinating post. I always learn something new and find something interesting over here :)

Not enough hours! said...

That is an unusual tool all right. Have seen those mechanical knitting machines, but never anything like this!!!

I got some chinese characters too, but just deleted the comments. Now I know what they were.

~ Rayna

Karen Walker said...

Hi Ruby,
Thanks for your birthday song on my blog. It's so nice to "meet" you. Looking forward to getting to know you better.

Barbara said...

Hi Ruby,I loved the story about you Mother.Yes she was a hard worker,and dedicated to her family.Have a good day.

Grammy said...

Hi, Y'all,
Thanks so very much for your kind remarks. It is very heartwarming to receive such sweet comments.

Raquel Byrnes said...

That was so interesting to learn about. How wonderful. Your mother sounds like she was great woman.

Grammy said...

Yes, my mama was a wonderful woman. It was from her that we children learned to shoulder responsibility without complaints.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks for another glimpse into the past - your stories are fascinating.

Ellie said...

What a dedicated, wonderful soul your Mama was! The transfer with the teeth represents so much; it is touching that you now, have it your
Thanks for sharing your heartfelt history!

Nf1andprek-whisper said...

i hope this does not come out the wrong way but I love to read your blog because of the age difference you have things to add that I don't even know about and I like learning your way,thanks for answering the 5 questions. I like your thinking.wasabi mommy (Lisa)

Grammy said...

Hi, Lisa,
It does not come out the wrong way at all. I am so pleased to have you interested in reading my blog. You're welcome. Thank you so very much for reading my stuff.

Grammy said...

To someone...I lost your comment. Sorry, please write again if it was you.
Thanks. I am new at this okaying comments.

arlee bird said...

I wonder if any of those clothing companies that used to be so common in Tn, Ky, VA, and NC are still around. I recall Levi's in Maryville and Knoxville, but I believe they both closed down--I know Maryville did. Most of our clothes are made in other countries now and that's pretty darn sad I think.

May 3rd A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post

Grammy said...

Julie, it was your comment that I lost in the ethernet somewhere out there. Sorry. You were asking me about Chapter Two of Taking A Chance, and I'm thinking about it.

There is a sock factory down in Monroe county where Imazo's sister sends us socks from. They make the same kind of socks my mom did.

Hey, y'all, thanks for all the neat comments you make and for stopping by to see me.