“Dinner to Whole Village,” from the Monroe Journal, August 15, 1916, Monroe, N.C. The Icemorlee Cotton Mill, which employed 400 people, sponsored a free picnic for its employees and their families who lived in the cotton mill's village.
Annual Picnic at Icemorelee Was an Event of This Kind…Management Set Up the Town in Royal Style—Big Dinner, Ice Cream and Lemonade on Tap All Day—Fine Speech by Mr. Abernethy and Contests in the Afternoon—The Icemorelee Band
Any onlooker at the community day at Icemorelee last Saturday must have felt a pride in such a community, a community where working conditions are the best, where a highly energetic mill management takes a broad view of industry, the interrelation of labor and capital, where mutual interests and respect find their finest exemplification, in short, a community where the industrial life in the South is at its very best. The occasion was the annual picnic with the mill gives the village. The picnic was held in the mill park which is always open for the recreation of the people.
It was some dinner! Two thousand rolls, 144 spring chickens, 14 boiled hams, and a dessert served in the shape of 2,000 ice cream cones, and two big lemonade fountains flowing freely all day long. And to keep things lively, a crack-a-jack brass band, the peculiar pride of the village, giving rattling good music all day. That Icemorelee band is a wonder, anyway. There are 30 pieces and every one of them is the hands of a neat and handsomely uniformed young man who holds a good job in the mill. And their leader, Mr. D.W. Green, knows his business and does it. The band boys are a natty young set who are acquiring their musical skill in the way that all the best things of life are secured—by constant practice and hard work. They practice and keep on practicing in their well-fitted hall over the mill company’s offices. So when they are called upon to play on public occasions they can deliver the goods.
Along with the workers and their families a number of the officers and stockholders of the company were guests at the dinner. President W.S. Lee and General Manager Chas. Iceman were everywhere on the grounds seeing that everything went right and that all were looked after. They were as happy as any of the children gathered there. The only missing figure was Mr. Bob Iceman, who was sick that day. Had he been there he would have been frisking about with the energy of a dynamo and making folks eat long after they had had enough. The mill company appropriated $500 for the dinner, and it was served on two long tables presided over by pretty young ladies arrayed in spotless white with the neatest little linen caps adorning their pretty heads after the style of the trained nurse. Mrs. Charles Iceman and a number of her friends graced the occasion also and partook of the dinner. Among those present from Monroe were Messrs. R.A. Morrow, J.H. Lee, Dr. J.M. Belk and Mr. T.P. Dillon.
A big cool pavilion had been erected for the band and for the speaker of the day. After several selections by the band, Rev. J.E. Abernethy delivered a fine address on how to get the best out of life. He showed that work was the prime essential, but work performed under good conditions. It helps, he said, to keep the character clean if the body is clean, and clean and wholesome conditions under which to work contribute to clean living and good workmanship like clean clothes on the body. He complimented the people and the management of the mill on having such comfortable working conditions, such clean and wholesome living conditions, not only in the mill, but in the village.
After the speech, dinner was announced and the crowd was not slow in partaking thereof. After the tables had been reduced, Mr. C.C. Earnhart and his assistants served the cream from the huge freezers of coolness. The heat of the day made this part of the program especially inviting.
The afternoon was devoted to games, contests and social enjoyment. The machinery of the mill rested that day and the people enjoyed themselves. It was a happy occasion, and nothing whatever was left undone to make the day’s cup of happiness over in old-fashioned Methodist full measure.
In the contests of the afternoon the following young men won the prizes, $3 each: John Davis, E.T. Brewer and Carl Helms.
For information on Icemorlee Cotton Mills, see http://monroenc.blogspot.com/2012/08/mills.html