As Mary tells her story, she reveals both the isolation and entrapment of Alabama cotton mill workers. Recently widowed, Mary doesn’t want to go back to work in the mill, but she has no option. “She’s bound by those cotton threads she’s weaving into cloth,” said Whetstone.”
Set in the final five decades of textile manufacturing in East Alabama, Mary’s story is typical of the love/hate relationship between the mill and poorly educated women who left tenant farms to seek full-time employment in towns and mill villages. Her marriage to Cliff Stone, also poorly educated, sets the stage for another conflict for Mary when children appear on the scene. While the cotton mill provides low cost housing, a school for her children and recreation for Cliff, Mary finds the work physically taxing and village life too confining. Her efforts to escape from the mill and village life push her husband into a perpetual cycle of upward mobility and the accompanying pressures.
FIRST EDITION COPIES OF COTTON MARY IN HARDCOVER ARE SIGNED AND NUMBERED. REVENUES ARE DESIGNATED FOR LIBRARIES IN FORMER TEXTILE MILL VILLAGES, ALABAMA HUMANITIES FOUNDATION AND SHELBY COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL.