The Heart Of A Town

26 08 2011

Fellow gardeners two things I can promise you, one I ain’t going to ask you if it’s HOT enough for you, I been outside just checking on everything and it’s HOT enough for me and I bet it’s HOT enough for you too……:-) And two, I ain’t going to put together a hurricane emergency kit today or tomorrow or well anytime soon…..:-)

I been holed up today switching between the Weather Channel, CNN, FoxNews and MSNBC following every update, every gust of wind, every drop of rain, every change of storm track of Hurricane Irene…..I’ve been watching it so much and so closely that I’m starting to call my wife “Irene” instead of Linda…..:-) I keep hearing about a foot or more of rain falling, wind gusts of 110 mph and a storm surge that going to flood roads, beaches and everything else. Now I ain’t making light of what’s going on now with Hurricane Irene to my neighbors to the north cause it’s serious business for sure….

And I imagine it’s going to be about as bad as they’re saying though I hope they’re all wrong, all of them. Jim Cantore, Andrea Mitchell, Wolf Blitzer and Max Mayfield, the hurricane expert of all time and everyone else I’ve heard from today and yesterday and will hear from tonight and tomorrow and Sunday….But I’m afraid they’re not going to be too awful off target as to what them folks are in for up north….I reckon I’m hanging in there with all them folks in the path of Hurricane Irene and all them talking heads on TV talking about Hurricane Irene till she finally passes over Nova Scotia and is threatening Iceland and whatever is above Iceland…..:-)

But when I listen to the news on the TV all day about floods and rain and winds and storm surge and all I see when I went outside just now is my plants wilting in the sun, not a wisp of a wind and rain? Rain? Are you kidding me?…..I can’t hear the sound of the waves crashing against the shore and eroding the beaches cause when I walk on the grass in my backyard all I hear is crunching of the grass under my feet…..:-) It’s just weird fellow gardeners. Weird immersing myself in everything to do with Hurricane Irene when in reality the chances of Hurricane Irene impacting me over here on Second Avenue are pretty slim at best….

No matter though I’m going to keep watching Hurricane Irene updates and imagining rain and wind and storm surge even as I see the temperature gauge close in on a 100 degrees on the back porch and the wind gauge not even twitch a little bit and the rain gauge? I don’t even call it a “rain” gauge anymore, I just refer to it as “that thing over there”……:-)

But I’m thinking I’ll let the talking heads make it on their own for a few hours tomorrow. You see they’re having a reunion tomorrow at the “Y” and Linda and I were fortunate enough to be invited and we’re really looking forward to it. Folks getting together to celebrate everything to do with the Mill Village here in Piedmont.

We used to have a cotton mill here in Piedmont called Standard, Coosa, Thatcher and before that I think it was called Coosa Manufacturing and like a lot of mills in the south and elsewhere a community grew up around it, homes, stores and schools…..I reckon the Cotton Mill, the people who worked there and their families were as close as anything to being the “heart” of the town….I know I always thought of them as that….When I was a kid and worked in my families clothing store (I use the word “work” loosely though) I remember seeing lots of the folks who worked in the mill come in and trade with my folks….I got to know who was who, and what shift they worked.

I always thought of the Cotton Mill as this big humming machine inside a big brick building that covered several blocks of our small town….You see I had to use my imagination cause I never even walked inside the Mill, never even peaked in a door or a window, though I wish I had now…The main thing I remember about the Mill other than all the folks who worked ┬áin the there and their families who came in my folks store was when I started “going to town”. Circling the Dairy King and Coffee Cup in your car was “going to town”. And when you’d head to the Dairy King you’d ride by the Mill and when you did you might see the shift change and if you did you’d see all the folks crossing the street to get to their cars to go home after their shift was over or you’d see them crossing the street from the parking lot to the Mill to begin their shifts, either way you stopped your car and waited till all the folks had crossed the street….You stopped and waited out of respect….

I know lots of folks miss the Mill, the city administration does, I reckon they miss the taxes the Mill paid into the city, the Mill was a valuable economic part of our town… And the owners of the stores in town miss the Mill too, I reckon they miss all the folks who worked at the Mill who shopped at their stores.

But I miss the Mill cause I miss the beating “heart” of the town…..I miss the humming machines inside that big brick building I never even saw inside of….I miss the folks who I stopped for who were crossing the street to go to work to earn money to send their kids to college or buy them a car and just to buy the necessities of life. I surely do miss the people who lived in the Mill Village and worked in the Mill for so many years and I miss everything they were to this town….You see every town like every person has to have a “heart” and it’s a shame Piedmont lost its “heart” when the Mill closed and it’s never been the same since….

I don’t mean it’s “dead” cause it lost it’s “heart”e cause it isn’t…And I don’t mean that Piedmont isn’t a good town now or that it won’t be even better in future, but it’ll never be the same for sure…..I reckon I just mean fellow gardeners that I miss the Mill, the Mill Village and the folks who worked in the Mill and their families and who were the lifeblood of this town for a long, long time…..They were the “heart” of this town….

Paul From Alabama

Addendum:

Now I re-read my little story just now I got the feeling that you might get the feeling I was saying that everyone that worked in the Mill or that lived in the Mill Village on the day the Mill closed just disappeared like a magician makes a shapely, scantily clad woman disappear out of a box she just stepped into on stage, not hardly that fellow gardeners….:-) You see they’ll be all kinds of folks that still live in the Mill Village or used to live there coming to the reunion tomorrow at the “Y”. The children or grandchildren or even great grandchildren of folks who either worked in the Mill or lived in the Mill Village will be there…..And they’ll all be getting together tomorrow to share a good meal and reminisce about when the Mill and the Mill Village were the “heart” of this town…..I can’t wait till tomorrow to hear all the stories ….And on the way to the “Y” tomorrow to go to the Mill Village reunion, when I get to the cross walk in front of the old Mill I’m going to stop for a moment…Stop out of RESPECT….

Paul From Alabama


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8 responses

26 08 2011
Diane

Paul, besides the one about me (lol) this is the best story you have written. My dad started working in the mill when he was very young. He started out sweeping floors and retired at 65 as GM. He loved that place and the people who worked there. We lived in mill village until I was about 15 and those days on Hill Ave. were the best memories of my life. My dad would have loved your story. Thanks.

27 08 2011

I’m glad my story brought back some good memories for you….I remember your father walking around the outside the Mill, going here or going there. I’m looking forward to the reunion this afternoon, I wish you could be there too. And when I sold synthetic lubricants for high speed machines, mostly carpet mills, I used to do business with one plant, a thread miill, in Aragon, Georgia over near Rockmart. It was housed in what was Aragon’s “cotton mill” at one time. It was while surveying the machinery for them during my lubrication survey that I saw first hand what folks did in those big old humming brick buildings. As I checked the inventories of the products I sold them I’d walk around the machine areas sometimes and see the men and women keeping those machines running making thread to make carpets with…..I had even more respect for them folks who worked in those mills after I saw first hand what they did for 8 hours than I did when all I knew about it was what I saw riding by in my car on the way to the Dairy King, I can tell you that…..Anyways really looking forward to the reunion today

27 08 2011
Nell Jean

Si Kahn wrote a song about Aragon Mill after it closed.

I went to school in the Aragon Mill Village for 9 years back when the Mill was viable. A friend has written a book of fiction about life in the village. It is not yet published but I’ve had the privilege of reading the manuscript. I recognized every character or the composites from which they were devised.

You can read a little excerpt from Barbara’s book here and hear Si Kahn’s song.

There’s a group on Facebook called ‘You know you are from Aragon if’ where much reminiscing about the Village goes on. The Mill is long closed but the 3 churches are still active and the Village full of people.

27 08 2011
Diane Formby Brewster

Enjoy your day and post some stories about it tonight. It would have been fun to come but I didn’t know anything about it until I read your blog. Long time ago they had a picnic every summer. The part I remember the most was the money toss. When your 7-8 you remember things like that and smile when you do. The picnics were a big thing back then.

28 08 2011

Hey Diane, I wrote a little story about the reunion when I got home yesterday and it was just like I thought’d it be, lots of fun. Like I said I wish you’d been there you’d have enjoyed it. Several folks were telling me about the picnics they used to have years ago…There was no “money toss” but my wife did give me $5 for my allowance for the week……:-)

27 08 2011

Just when I think you have written your best story, you write one even better. Thank you for giving us a peak into “the heart of a town”. I’m sure it could be told many times over across this nation about all the various factories that have been closed down. Have a good time today and I can’t wait for the follow-up.

28 08 2011

Christi I wish you’d have been there, if you like fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, okra, beans, every kind of cake you ever heard of, sweet tea, well you’d have been in the right place yesterday at the reunion. The stories told yesterday could have been told like you said all across this nation due to closures for one reason or another of some of our manufacturing plants. It was nice to hear the stories and to imagine things as they were all them years ago…unfortunately in some places the stories and memories are all we have now, all the more reason it’s necessary to remember and cherish them…..

28 08 2011

Sounds just like a “Texas” get-together. I’m glad you had a good time.

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