Tobacco Bag Stringing
Lura Wiles

WILES, MRS. LURA; aged 36 years; married; eight children; resides in Wilkes County, N.C. Children: Stacy, aged 16. Reba, aged 15. Velno, aged 12. E.R., aged 11. L.D., aged 9. Josie, aged 5. Bryce, aged 2. Billie, aged 5 days.

INCOME: Husband works PWA relief road work. This pays $12.80 every two weeks, only working two weeks out of the month. This is full time pay, but it is seldom that he is able to work full time because of bad weather.

HOME CONDITIONS: They rent two-room house and land by tending the land and giving one third of the crops to the owner. The house is just a shack and is devoid of any furniture except two beds and a couple of chairs. There was no sign of a stove for heating in the bedroom or means of lighting at night. The room was very cold and airy, newspapers being used to close up the cracks in the walls. Mrs. Wiles was sick in bed, having given birth to a baby five days ago. She said that she kept the children clothed with the bag money, her husband's income being all spent on food. Even then, the food was insufficient for the family's needs. They owe the doctor around $80.00 for medical services. Apparently there were no cups or drinking glasses because she and the children were drinking from tin cans during the interview. "The bags mean everything to us, and I don't know what we'll do if they are taken away" she said. She has been doing them for years and enjoys the work, and says they don't interfere with her household duties.

[Source: "Tobacco Bag Stringing Operations in North Carolina and Virginia." Richmond, Va.: 1939. North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.]