Garan employees reminisce on garment factory work
Twenty five former Garan employees gathered at the Hickman County Historical Society to reminisce about the old days.
Janice Dean brought the longevity pins she earned over the years working at the garment factory. Dean earned 85 cents an hour when she started. Other workers also commented on their paychecks. Stella Johnson remembered making a $1 an hour.
Plant manager Nicky McClanahan marveled at the women's work ethic. "I would try to get them to take a break" he recalled. "I don't know how they sat at those machines pushing that peddle down (on the sewing machines) over and over for hours."
Pay was based on piece work, not hourly wages. Breaks taken meant smaller pay packets. At least one former worker attributed her physical problems today with arthritis to long hours on a sewing machine.
The idea for a reunion came about when an old floor plan of the Garan plant was discovered by the historians at the Historical & Genealogical Society. A sign that hung over the door of Garan has been on display for years at the Historical Society. "Through these doors pass the greatest operators in Ky" was created by a Garan worker. The sign was donated to the Historical Society at its old location on West Clay Street. It was rescued when the building collapsed. Story Historical Society Building Collapses
The Historical Society provided the floor plan of the factory located on Webb Drive in Clinton Kentucky for worker autographs. Pens were provided for workers to sign their work stations. Some said they worked all over the plant. "Sign the place you liked the best" they were told by their hosts. That brought incredulous looks and mutters of "I didn't like any of them." But they signed anyway while they shared memories of many years of setting sleeves, cutting collars and closing the sides of shirts.