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Interviews - Beeman, Crimmins

Catherine Beeman, Juanita Crimmins Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


Interviews from former Silk Mill Employees

Catherine Beeman
Interviewed by Erin Degyansky

Mrs. Beeman moved to Lonaconing when she was twelve years old. She was one of six children raised by her mother in Lonaconing after her father died. She started working at the silk mill when she was fourteen or fifteen. The shifts were nine hours long at the time that she started working at the mill. Since she was not sixteen, Mrs. Beeman was only allowed to work eight-hour shifts five days a week. Mrs. Beeman was a member of the winding department. The winders worked what was called a swift. The skein was placed on the swift. The skein would then run off onto the bobbin, which was above the swift. The bobbins were then taken to the department on the second floor. Mrs. Beeman recalled that each girl was in charge of 120 "ends". The winding department was made entirely of women. According to Mrs. Beeman, the only men on the third floor were the bobbin boy and the machinist. She felt that the mill closed due to the "loss of contract with people and nylon came along and took the place of silk". Mrs. Beeman was not working at the mill when it closed; she had been furloughed. She recalled that the workers were often furloughed; however, she could not recall any labor unrest.

Mrs. Beeman enjoyed working at the silk mill. "I liked the work and we had a lot of nice people there ... Our bosses were pretty good with us; of course they had to put us in our place sometimes." In addition, Mrs. Beeman enjoyed making a living and earning money. The one thing that Mrs. Beeman did not like about her job was that she had to leave her children.

Juanita Crimmins
Interviewed by Erin Degyansky

Mrs. Crimmins worked at the silk mill from 1943-1950. She worked the daylight shift five days a week. "When I started I worked in what they called the 'reels'; that's where they ran the silk on what looked like ice cream paddles that had silk on either side. The thread would run off bobbins onto the paddles. Then you had to thread it so the silk would not get twisted." When the reeling department did not have any work, Mrs. Crimmins also worked in the coning department. Occasionally she would also work in the redraw department. However, the main departments in which she was employed were the reels and the cones. "I guess I was a good worker because sometimes they would run out of silk in some areas and the women would have to go home, but they always put me somewhere else. I always got transferred somewhere." Mrs. Crimmins worked at the mill mostly during World War II. "Lonaconing was busy; a lot of people were working at the Celanese, and I was working at the mill. I was thinking I'd like to go to the Celanese because they made more money. The supervisor, Charlie Walters, wouldn't release me to go. You had to get a release. So I stayed at the silk mill until I married and went to Michigan."

For the most part Mrs. Crimmins enjoyed working at the silk mill. The best part about the job was the "money".


Page #:

Allegany High School, Oral history project

Allegany High School, Cumberland


Collection Location:
Cumberland, Maryland

Original Size:
28 cms x 22 cms

Anne Failing, Erin Degyansky, Chris Jewell, Amber Sallerson, Dan Whetzel and Mike Lewis

Allegany County (Md.), History; Lonaconing, Allegany County (Md.), History; Lonaconing Silk Mill; Silk mills, History.

Allegany County (Md.), 1907-1957

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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