At 16 years old Maybelle Addington, soon to be Carter, quit school and went to work. She joined a steady flow of girls who left the rural communities of their upbringing and went to the city in the 1920s. In her case, it was Bristol, where she started work at a hosiery mill, one among many factories opening in the foothills of Virginia and Tennessee. Mill girls, as they were called, bridged the agricultural past and the industrial present as they sought out wage work and made new technologies run. But they also carried an independent streak.