2015-12-19 / The Bullhorn

Mill was like home for many

By Natalie Walters and Kassi Walker
Bullhorn Report ers

The average day of a 17-year-old now is nothing compared to one in 1953.

Annie Hodges, now 79, started working at the Roxboro Cotton Mill at that age, following in her family’s footsteps. Her mother, who started younger, at the age of 14, worked there until she was 80. Her father also worked in the mill when he moved to North Carolina before Hodges was born.

A few of her uncles had also worked there, and she described her family as “mill people.”

Hodges added, “It was a family thing.”

She worked as a doffer (taking the full bobbin off the spindle and putting empty ones on) in the basement of the mill and worked any of the three shifts that she needed to. She described her average day as hardworking with the usual eight-hour shift.

Holiday breaks were given to the workers as they are in the school today, but for different occasions. Employees were given one week each for Christmas and Independence Day. Hodges often spent this time with friends or family, and they would go to the beach or do other holiday activities while the brief week lasted.

She acquired multiple friends throughout her time at the mill, and continued to keep in touch once it closed because she and her friends lived so close to each other.

“This village was particular for the mill down there, [the building now housing RCS]. All the people that lived over here were employed with one of the three mills,” said Hodges.

Once the mill closed in 1999, it was as if a tradition died for many.

It employed and provided money for an abundance of families in the area, and once it closed, it had a large effect on the small community.

“I was very upset. It was like home for us,” Hodges explained.

Despite the sadness associated with the mill closing, she is glad that it was turned into a school. She has yet to fully visit the whole school, but said she saw how it started at the first open house. “When you walk in, you can feel all of the memories in that building,” Hodges said.

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