Interviews - Staup, Williamson
Thomas Staup continued from page 19
When he returned in 1947, he stepped right back into the spinning department as if he had never left. He worked at the mill for approximately three months before he entered college. The employees at the mill were like a family to Reverend Staup. They would go bowling together and do many other things together during the off hours.
The mill was liked by the people of Lonaconing. It provided a steady job that the workers could rely on in times of turmoil. Reverend Staup remembers one time when the management proved to the community how important the mill was to its survival. Occasionally, wages for each worker were paid in silver dollars. The workers then proceeded to use the silver in business transactions in town. Every business had a large number of silver dollars in the registers. The community of Lonaconing realized how great of an impact the silk mill had on its economy and survival.
Interviewed by Anne Failing
Mrs. Williamson began working at the silk mill when she was twenty- one. The day after she applied for the job at the mill she was hired. Mrs. Williamson began working at the mill as a winder. Shipments of skeins would come in the mill in big boxes. After the skeins were dyed, the winders had to put them on bobbins. Mrs. Williamson remembers that the skeins were "ugly and you had to beat them out so that you could run them on small bobbins". Working in the winding department was Mrs. Williamson's least favorite job. She was then moved to 5B s. In that department the workers ran bobbins of thread onto other bobbins. Mrs. Williamson also worked in the redraw department. The yarn was brought on small bobbins down to what the workers called the wet room. Water was constantly spraying in that room. If the threads were not stored in this room, it would not "run". As a member of the redraw department, Mrs. Williamson was in charge of running the silk onto large bobbins. These bobbins were then shipped out of Lonaconing. Mrs. Williamson enjoyed her job in the redraw department the most, because heavy lifting was not required. Mrs. Williamson received an average pay of $35 per two weeks for her services. This amount of pay was constant throughout her time at the mill. Mrs. Williamson continued to work at the mill up to the close.
While working at the mill, Mrs. Williamson was very active with the union. The union in Lonaconing was a subdivision of the textile union at the Celanese. Once a month she would take an hour of her time and collect the union dues from all of the workers. Several workers did not pay the $1.50 dues. The management in Lonaconing was very friendly to the union. In fact, they allowed the workers to collect dues during work hours, so that they would not have to do it after hours. Several work stoppages occurred at the silk mill while Mrs. Williamson worked there. Whenever the union at the Celanese went on strike, the workers at the Lonaconing mill were forced to strike. The members of the Lonaconing mill never reaped the benefits of a pay raise from any strike. Union meetings occurred once a month, Mrs. Williamson remembers that a worker could voice his opinion, but nothing would be done about the complaint. The management at the mill "had rules and if you did not like them you quit". Most of all Mrs. Williamson remembers that the mill was like a big family.
Photographs: Above: Anne Failing and Margaret Williamson
Inset: United Textile Workers of America union dues book.
Allegany High School, Oral history project
Allegany High School, Cumberland
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