Did this distinctive if humble item spring from Robin Hayes’s campaign for Concord City Council? For N.C. House? For Congress? For governor?
Regardless, the Cannon Mills scion’s hortatory washcloth bears a Cannon Mills label (84 percent cotton, 16 percent polyester) — and even found its way to a booth at the mammoth antique mall now occupying the former Cannon-owned Gibson Mill in Concord.
This glass mug reproduces a front-page story in the Daily Independent of Kannapolis, Feb. 4, 1982.
An odd keepsake – but local news didn’t get any bigger than the sale of privately owned Cannon Mills to serial entrepreneur David Murdoch. Three years later Murdoch sold the company to Fieldcrest, which unloaded it on Pillowtex in 1997. In 2003 Pillowtex filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and shut down 16 plants in North America. Some 4,800 Pillowtex workers were in North Carolina — the largest mass layoff in state history.
This beat-up, taped-up employee badge is a humble reminder of a once-thriving outpost of the Cannon textile empire.
Wiscassett Mills was founded in Albemarle in 1898. During World War II, its yarns were used for machine gun belts and parachute harnesses. In 1978 Wiscassett was purchased by Cannon Mills. By 2000 when the plant closed — “citing imports,” in the familiar explanation of a trade-press obit — its employees numbered only 81.
But the Wiscassett mill village, according to the Albemarle Downtown Development Corp., “remains virtually intact in its early 20th century appearance. See a classic example of the paternalistic social structure that was common to North Carolina textile communities in the early 1900s.”
h/t Stanly County Museum for these terrific panoramic (cirkut) images of mill life a century ago….
— Four of the eight Wiscassett mills at their height
— Workers at Plant No. 4, card room and spinning room
— “Ladies Serving Wiscassett Mills Barbeque,” 1916. (Don’t miss the watermelons.)
— An overview of the festivities, featuring a race of some sort.