Textile Mills

During the war factories on the home front manufactured goods for military use. The mills of South Carolina’s textile industry kept the military well supplied with cloth used for uniforms and heavy canvas for Army tents and weapons covers. Juanita Kyzer Thomason, a wartime worker at Columbia’s “Duck Mill”, recalled working seven days a week with only a week off at the fourth of July for a holiday. Thomason said she worked mostly with women or men past draft age at the mill. Her husband, Huey Lee Thomason, kept his position at the mill throughout the war, as he was exempt from service for being deaf in one ear and holding a job considered vital to the war effort.

Mount Vernon Mill, commonly called the “Duck Mill”, issued factory ID badges to employees. The nation feared enemy saboteurs might infiltrate American industries to disable them. Therefore, during the war all workers at the Duck Mill had to wear id badges to get to their workstations. If the badges were forgotten workers had to find them before they could enter the facility. Duck mill issued id badges to Hildred Q. Altman and his mother just prior to the United States entering the war.

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Textile production was a great source of pride to mill workers fighting the war from home. Ceremonies were common as mills vied for the coveted Army-Navy “E” award. On 27 October 1943 Duck Mill received the “E” for achieving excellence in production during the war effort. The Army and Navy awarded the pennant to industrial enterprises that produced large amounts of war material without reducing the quality of the products they turned out. Until the end of the war, the large blue streamer was proudly flown in front of Duck Mill, near Gervais Street.

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