yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

Depression and Economic Recovery

excerpted from Decatur County, by Lillye Younger
1979, Memphis State University Press

Salant & Salant Items Needed!

Please visit our new Salant & Salant section.  Wouldn't it be great to preserve more of the history of the local Salant & Salant operations?  We need your newspaper clippings, photographs and just good stories about the Salant and Salant factories that were formerly located in Lexington and Parsons.  We need much more material for this section of this web site.

If you can contribute to this effort in any way, please contact me.

With the successful policies of President Roosevelt's "New Deal," the national economy began a slow recuperation and the hardships of the Great Depression eased gradually.  In Decatur County, a welcome sign of economic recovery occurred on April 11, 1938, when Salant & Salant, Incorporated, opened its plant in Parsons to manufacture men's work shirts.

The plant started the first day with five machine operators:  Lima Houston, Dorothy Keeton, Jettie Murphy Tillman, Rada Thomas, and Mary Joe Stone.  By the end of 1938 the work force had increased to about 50, and the payroll for the first year was $28,000.  Despite low wages, partially due to the workers' unfamiliarity with the new machines and to being paid by the piece-work, the plant was a healthy addition to the county, and has grown healthier.

Located at 706 Tennessee Avenue South - the name now changed to Salant, Incorporated - the plant employs about 650 people and has operated continuously since its inception except for a three-month period in 1940.  Harold White came to Parsons as superintendent of the plant when it opened and served continuously until January 30, 1970.  He was succeeded by Gerald Hughs who is presently serving in this capacity.  The first mechanic was Jimmy Burns and the first office employee was Eulene Latta.  Marjorie Barnette Brasher was the first floor lady and had charge of the sewing room.  Bert Baker was the driver of the first transfer truck.  When the plant first started, Joe Lipshie, now chairman of the board of directors in the New York office, did all the cutting.  In 1942 Francis Holman and Donald Bangs served in this capacity.  W. T. Veasey headed the Atlas department with Gene Shaw as the first shipping foreman and Wynema Myracle as the first personnel director.

The success of Salant, Incorporated, helped to bring other industry to Decatur County.

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