Chattahoochee Child – Bibb City


Bibb City – mid 1960’s

 Papa worked as a loom fitter at Bibb Mill. Wearing Bibb overalls and a denim shirt to work, rarely did he find the freedom or time to take a tobacco chew break. He knew the repercussions if Grammy caught him chewing tobacco; and he realized if he chewed tobacco at the mill someone would tell her. There were no secrets in Bibb City.

My grandparents lived from pay day, to pay day, thankful to have food on the table and a roof over their heads. Papa lived on a farm before meeting Grammy, planting corn, tobacco and cotton during the day. At night, he raised Hell, drinking moonshine and homemade wine. He had a reputation of trouble and fast times with the women. I’ve often wondered if his reputation was because he was considered a half-breed, because of his Indian heritage.

Perhaps that is why Papa and I never agreed on anything. He questioned every action taken by me. In retaliation, I rebelled from him and Grammy, asking questions, demanding answers. My philosophy in life was if someone asked a question, they deserved an answer. Papa said children don’t need answers; they need discipline, and a swift pat on the bottom. He had a pet name for me, calling me Little Miss Sassy Fras. I hated being called that and told him so. He simply cackled, mimicking the way I behaved.

At thirteen, I earned money by babysitting. I rushed to the drug store to buy makeup. Furious with me, Papa found the eye shadow, Maybelline mascara and eyeliner, tossing it in the trash. He said girls who wore makeup were whores. My new nickname was whore. When I told Papa a virgin could not be a whore, he slapped me hard on the face.

On weekends, Papa took Rusty fishing at the boat club. The boat club was a little fishing club, upstream from the mill, located about twenty miles from where the crow flies in Bibb City.

Although Papa could fish from the riverbanks by the mill, he chose not to. “The Chattahoochee waters are too muddy,” He said. “We think the mill dumps waste in the waters.”

The floating dead fish and garbage he saw floating along the crest of the dirty waters was a testament of the pollution.

Papa’s fishing boat was a small two-seater wooden boat structure, with a small Johnson motor. The boat was not fancy, compared to modern bass boats or ski boats. Papa’s fishing boat was painted a faded pea green color with the words ‘Gone Fishing’ painted in black.

 

 

Rainy Days…Rainy Nights…Will Charleston, SC EVER See Sunshine Again?


Dearest Readers:

As I glance outside at the window by my desk, I see gray skies…Raindrops are dripping slowly to the ground. Trees are covered with so much moisture, they almost lose their color. The mimosa trees drip with a grayish color as if to say they are sick and tired of this rain and don’t want to see or feel anymore! Pine trees are leaning over a bit. These pine trees are the seeds I planted after Hurricane Hugo, so the two that grew are just a bit special for me. My husband gripes about them always saying he plans to cut them down. Pine trees are reminiscent to me, reminding me of my childhood in Georgia. How frightened I would become while laying on the grass, noting their height and strength. I always feared those pine trees might pop and fall on top of me. Nevertheless, pine trees are prevalent in Georgia. I remind my grumpy husband that we lost five trees in our yard after Hurricane Hugo. Again, he grunts knowing that IF he cuts those trees down, he will have to deal with me – an unhappy woman sad that her little children of trees are gone due to his selfishness. We have three mimosa trees in the back yard now – planted from seeds from the hands of Mother Nature. How I love those mimosa trees, although today the branches are leaning down. Perhaps they weigh a bit too much now from all of this monsoon rain. Perhaps later, I will slide my rain boots on and walk outside, just to touch the tree branches I’ve watched growing from a tiny seedling to the height of 20′ – maybe a bit less. I’m much too short to measure them! I want those precious trees soaked and probably curious from the hands and moisture of Mother Sunshine to understand I still love them, and I want them to flourish. All in time. I am hopeful this monsoon rain will end soon…and just when I think I might see a bit of relief, I glance outside again to see sheets of rain. My yards are so wet I would not dare to walk outside in my stiletto or pump high heels. No doubt if I made the attempt, my feet would stick in the sandy moisture and pull me downwards. I don’t want to get soaked or dirty. I have a thing about dirt under my nails, but enough about that.

Last week, the rains began – at least I think it was last week. On Wednesday, Tammy, Sara, Chris and I walked the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge. It was a humid, gray morning with only a slight breath of wind. Walking up the first incline, I struggled with my breath, stopping several times to use my inhaler. I encouraged the girls to go ahead.
My asthma is leaving me a bit short-winded today. Go ahead, I’ll be fine.”

I stopped several times, just to catch my breath. I counted the lamp posts, telling myself that If I made it to the last lamppost at the first twin towers, I would rest, and I did. Still, I pushed myself, anticipating the approaching rains. I am proud to say, I accomplished my walk – but it appeared to take me forever. Thank you so much, silly asthma. How I wish I did not have asthma, although it is something I have battled all of my life.

For me, there is something magical I feel while walking the bridge. DSC_0033

While walking — sometimes it appears I am crawling, up the first incline, I feel as if God is pushing me, guiding me, telling me – take just one more step. You can do this! And so I do. I believe it doesn’t matter how long it takes. All that does matter is I am taking baby steps to my health. I am accomplishing something I’ve always said I would do “One Day,” after the bridge opened in 2005. I see walkers, runners, bikers, strollers, and I’ve seen a few walkers walking dogs (you do realize dogs are not permitted on the bridge – don’t you?) On one morning, a dog left a calling card. I missed stepping on it by just a few baby steps. Honestly, some people love to break the rules, don’t they!

I suppose you could say I believe in breaking rules – sometimes; however, I am considerate of others. I do not take my dogs on my walk. Accomplishing that bridge walk is something I take extremely seriously. I don’t want interruptions. Now that we have about three to five women walking with us, we all move at our pace. We don’t compete. We encourage, and If one of us gets behind like “slow poke Barbie” a nickname I’ve given myself — we text to make certain all is ok. These women are the greatest! Did I mention one of them is a high school friend from — let’s say — a few years ago in another town? Her name is Melanie. In high school, we were not close friends, and that is all my fault. When I was in high school, the only thing I wanted was to graduate and leave my childhood home. I failed to make close friends, only wanting to get out of Bibb City and the traumas of my youth.

Now, a different place. A different time. A different woman. I am proud of the woman I have grown into in my adult life. Gone is the wallflower. Gone is the child afraid to speak up. Replaced by someone who speaks her mind, believes in herself and is proud for the small accomplishments I have achieved. Finally, I can smile, look in the mirror and say, “Hey woman…You’ve got this! You is smart. You is determined, and you Is a better person for breaking that mold!” Thank you, God!

So today, I suppose is a day to reminisce…to ease the gloominess of all of this rain. A day to erase all of the past, or should I say — a day to WASH the past away!

Glancing out my window again, the rain has stopped. I am confident it will start again. I’ve lost count as to how much rain we’ve had, but I imagine it is close to 15 inches, possibly more.

I imagine the mosquitoes will be increasing now, along with the disgusting mold, mildew and ragweed. Wouldn’t it be nice IF the ragweed was washed away. I think I’m looking forward to a day where I awaken to the sunshine peeping thru the windows. I am so sick of all of this rain.

It is time for all of us to smell the flowers…inhale the scent of fresh rain…and to move on with our lives.

Friday Reflections…


Dearest Readers:

If you follow my blog on a regular basis, you will know I haven’t written much in this column in about two weeks. Last week was truly the week from Hell for me. Beginning with suspected car problems where the technicians replied, “The engine light wasn’t on when we checked it…” Of course, that is a typical response from men to a woman at a service department…now, isn’t it — WOMEN! They were slightly mistaken. The engine light icon returned, and on Wednesday, it took over three hours to get it repaired. Of course, the main reason it took so long is due to the fact my car warranty was purchased with the car ($1549.00) at Car Max. Still, I am furious with Car Max; however, I will go on record to say that the service tech at Dodge possessed an amazing amount of patience with them — JUST — to get the warranty approved. Thank you, Dodge…and NO THANK YOU…to Car Max!

But — that chapter is closed and I am pleased to share that the repair that I had to pay for in the amount of $477.21 has been compensated to me – minus the $100 deductible since I DID NOT USE CAR MAX FOR THE REPAIR… Heck, I could not get Car Max to return a phone call, or the Mouse Lady to acknowledge me! Can you detect my frustration with Car Max???

Enough about Car Max! I suppose this post should actually be Friday frustrations, instead of Friday Reflections; however, since I am a person who looks for the positive in life and not the negative, I will do my best to reflect with a positive attitude.

While I am reflecting on Friday and this week, I would like to share that I was finally able to attend my weekly Weight Watchers meeting yesterday — the first meeting I’ve attended in four weeks. I confess, I anticipated a weight gain of 3 or 4 pounds and was a bit happy when I had only gained .06! It was wonderful to get back to my REAL life again. This reflection proves to me that I cannot complete my Weight Watchers journey alone. Like someone with an addiction, I must attend weekly meetings to share my ups and downs with all. I confess, I think the only reason I did not show a weight gain of four pounds or more was due to the fact that I have worked out on the treadmill every day since last Saturday. It was suggested at the meeting for me to ‘shake up’ my exercise routine a bit, so this week I will go for an extended walk — on the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, and I will return to walking my dogs again. I’ve been slack about walking my dogs ever since we lost my precious Shamey-Pooh. The last time I walked the dogs on our three-mile journey someone actually stopped me to inquire where the ‘beautiful silver dog was,’… when I replied that he died, they apologized and I burst into tears.

Undoubtedly, there has been a black cloud over me for a few weeks, or maybe it is the full moon returning; nevertheless, this week started off — shall I say unpredictable. Monday afternoon, Phil and I left the house a few minutes after 5pm, headed to the Coastal Carolina Fair. What would normally take about 30 minutes was at least 1.5 hours. We arrived at the fair at about 7pm. Never did Phil get annoyed about the traffic and we had a great time at the fair. Little did I know how things would change within 24 hours!

For those of you who do not know – My husband has PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If you do not know what it is like to live with someone with PTSD — count your blessings! Tuesday afternoon when Phil returned home from work, he had a strange look in his eyes. I know that look well — PTSD! Within 30 minutes, we were fighting. I cannot recall what set him off, or me off – but our fight continued. I decided to shut myself away in the bedroom. That night, I broke our rule – a rule made when we were newlyweds…the rule of “never going to bed angry, or without a good night kiss!”

Wednesday – we had the same scenario. No matter what I said, we could not stop the fight. Listening to someone is difficult with him. I approached him carefully, telling him ‘we need to talk.’ When someone has PTSD communication does not exist. Every time I said I needed to talk to him, we fought. The real kicker was when Phil shouted to me that I was exactly like my mother. Yes, he does know the right buttons to push! I exploded although with a calm, diplomatic voice letting him know that I was ‘nothing like my mother!’ Never did I behave, or deceive him in the manner my mother deceived my father.

I gathered my dogs and off we went to the bedroom. I pretended to be asleep! No kiss. Nothing! Breaking the rules continued. I should add, Wednesday, Phil called me several times. No doubt, he wanted to end this scenario on the phone. I stood firm.

Thursday morning, after Weight Watchers, I had lunch with a close friend from Weight Watchers. As I was leaving the car to meet her, my cell phone beeped with an e-mail. From Phil. Subject – Peace! He said he was tired of fighting…recognized that at times he could be difficult, only that is not the word he used! And he was sorry. I phoned him. Fight over.

No, I was not refusing to take the first step to end this emotional battle, but when you live with someone with PTSD there does come a time when you must be firm so they can see the issues related to PTSD. I’ve had several friends ask why I tolerate his behaviors and mental treatments. My reply – simple –he is the only person who has ever loved me. He rescued me when I needed rescuing. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, reading my issues with my mother and the domestic abuse of my family, then you must understand. When someone grows up in such an environment, never do you anticipate a life of love and peacefulness. Never did I EVER see my parents hug or kiss, so — due to LOVE(??) that is why I tolerate such behaviors. I do recall my parents shouting and I shall quote:
Mother – expressed to my father: “I hate you…You no good Son of a B—-!”

Dad’s reply: “I wish I never married you!”

Mom’s reply: “I hope you die soon…”

Those cruel expressions echoed in my ears as a child, and they still echo in my ears. Once you live in an abusive family situation, you never forget it!

Maybe that is why I strive so hard to be positive. When I hear others gossiping, ridiculing others, I say something positive about the person. Maybe that is why I’ve lost “friendships” because I do not wish to gossip about others. I do not function well with gossip or negativity. As a child, I recall my mother dragging me to the beauty shop in Bibb City, GA where she would sit for hours gossiping about women, men and the couples within the village of Bibb City. I hated these moments and would rush outside, or sit with my head covered with one of the bubble hair dryers so I would not hear their shrewd gossip. Women can be so dangerous and cruel. I suppose those ‘toxic stories’ made my mother feel better about herself, and I do recall saying to my mother, “God don’t love ugly.” My grandmother’s favorite expression! My mother’s response, “You shush your mouth, you stupid girl!”

Later in my life, I focused on a new definition of STUPID!
S – Sensitive
T – Tenacious
U – Unique
P – Passionate
I – Imaginative; Independent; Intimate
D – Dignified; Dependable; Desirable

Perhaps for today, these are my Friday reflections. I am hopeful next week will be a positive, happy week for me, and for you. What are your Friday Reflections?

Life in a Mill Village During the Hay Days of Textile Mills…


LIVING IN BIBB CITY

The waters of the Chattahoochee River flow along the riverbanks of Bibb City, a small mill town located on the red clay banks of Columbus, Georgia. The harmonious water trickles in creeks, and rocks; gleaming through thick pine forests, poison ivy and vines.

Sometimes the river is rustic, a reddish-brown terracotta mixture of soil, earth and clay formations. When wet, the Georgia red clay becomes a cluster of mud, forming into shapes human hands can mold into almost anything, drying days later into hardened bricks of earth.

Sitting along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, Bibb City is the kind of old-fashioned town where neighbors speak to each other, knowing more about the walls next door than they know about themselves.
The Village my grandparents called Bibb City is framed by the setting of The Bibb Manufacturing Company, a tall brick building with a clock edged into the masonry work.

Serving as the focal point of Bibb City, the Bill Mill dates back to 1920. The Bibb, as elders called the mill, is located on 38th Street and First Avenue. Houses across the road from the mill are uniform, framed with exterior wood, painted white, sheltering the families of textile mill workers.

The tranquil, close-knit mill community called Bibb City encompasses north from 35th Street to 44th Street, and west from Second Avenue to the Chattahoochee River. The streets are narrow and winding. Mill houses consist of approximately two hundred forty-seven dwellings, located within walking distance of the mill. Most are constructed of wood, painted white, landscaped with magnolia trees, sweet gum trees and other varieties, some laced with Spanish moss.

Bibb City includes the mill acreage along with a smaller area called Anderson Village. The houses in Anderson Village are brick with interior walls of stucco. According to elders who still live in the Village, Bibb City is one of the best planned mill villages ever built, because of the quality of the residential developments and how they were maintained for mill workers.

Mill workers were recruited from blue-collar, unskilled white men and women, and young children. They were treated with respect as long as they followed the rules established by the patriarch Bibb Manufacturing Company while teaching their children to be ‘seen but not heard.’ No one employed by the Bibb questioned the mill’s authority. The domineering practices had the workers moving as if they were under textile mill hypnosis. No one was allowed to speak up, and if they attempted to voice an opinion, they were released. No questions asked. Rarely were blacks hired, and if they were, they were placed in maintenance and not allowed to live in mill housing.

Most of the homes located in the heart of Bibb City had large front porches, built high off the ground, with easy access to the crawl space underneath. When I was a little girl, Grammy and Papa lived in one of the big white houses. I found this convenient for me, choosing to build a cardboard playhouse under Grammy’s house, using large cardboard boxes I found behind Flossie’s Dress Shop as foundations and walls.

My grandparents lived in another white house in the village of Bibb City, until we moved back to live with them temporarily during one hot summer. Papa said Daddy wasn’t a good provider for us. Papa only knew Mama’s side of the story, not the real story.

By that time, the mill wanted to improve working conditions for the workers, so they offered to sell some of the homes.

The dwelling my grandparents bought was located in the middle of Walnut Street, a solid brick structure, containing two small bedrooms, a living room, one miniature bathroom, and a kitchen. The house was less than 1,000 square feet, total living space. Mill workers were accustomed to living in small settlements. We made do with what the Good Lord provided us, according to Papa and Grammy.

Papa bought a metal shed from Sears Roebuck to store fishing equipment, tools and some of Grammy’s sewing supplies that would not fit inside the house. Grammy filled the house with what-knots, lace crocheted doilies, a vinyl couch that made into a bed, crocheted rag rugs, Priscilla curtains, and simplistic pieces of thrift shop furniture. A framed picture of the Lord’s Last Supper hung on the wall over the couch. Family pictures sat on a small, vintage tea cart.

The kitchen contained a small wooden cabinet for Grammy’s mixing bowls, a metal table with four vinyl covered metal chairs, and a gas stove. When our family ate dinner at Grammy’s house, we extended the table with a leaf, so the table could accommodate all of us. I remember crawling underneath the table to get into my seat because the extended table and extra chairs filled the room, since the kitchen was so small. Although simply decorated, the little house on Walnut Street was the only dwelling where I felt completely safe. Little did I know about the City of Columbus, Georgia since we were not permitted to wander away from the boundaries within Bibb City. Papa wanted us to only date mill kids and to never want to do anything else other than church and school. When I ‘painted my face with makeup’ Papa disowned me, telling me I was a ‘painted woman and would die within the gates of Hell.’ I smirked at him. “Papa I already live there…here in Bibb City where I’m not allowed to do anything!”

Yes, I questioned the authority of my Papa and life in Bibb City. I did not wish to be a child that was ‘seen but not heard.’

When I Think About Christmas…I Think of Traditions…


Dearest Readers:

Today is Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013. A day for the world to come together, to celebrate and give thanks. When I think about Christmas, I think about years past. The many, many Christmases celebrated at my maternal grandparents tiny home in the mill village of Bibb City, Georgia. I remember my grandmother’s hands, her washing them every few minutes as she prepared the traditional foods for our Christmas Day. I remember the apron she wore, and I recall the delicious, tempting aromas of pies baking in the oven. The country ham, covered with cloves, pineapples and cherries.

Although our family was not rich, we lived in a community where people looked out for one another. At Christmas time we had foods delivered to us from our neighbors. One little lady within in the community was famous for her pound cakes. Every year, she delivered a freshly made pound cake to our door. Another lady made pies, especially homemade apple pies. Grandma baked custard pies and sometimes, she made homemade lemon meringue pies. She always made her delicious, soft as a cloud and flaky homemade biscuits. Ham sandwiches tasted so much better when we used a cold biscuit.  Christmas time was truly a time to eat…and eat…and eat. Never did we worry about calories.

In later years, Grandma was too weak to bake. Breast cancer had taken its toll on her. I took over as the official Christmas cook. Never did I master Grandma’s biscuits, but I could bake fabulous pound cakes.

Our traditions as a family were simple. We exchanged gifts, most of them purchased at the family owned stores within the Bibb City community. We decorated a Christmas tree, usually just a few days before Christmas. We went to church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Early in the morning of Christmas Day, we opened our gifts, rushed to church and arrived back home to finish cooking the Christmas meal. As a family, we held hands before eating, saying the family prayer of thanks.

At seventeen, our Christmas traditions changed, at least for me. I was a ‘grown, married woman,’ but my husband was away fighting a war. My mother and dad had divorced when I was fifteen. Christmas became a sad time for me. A husband away at war, my father visiting ‘just for the day.’

Quickly, the years faded away. My husband and I made our own traditions. Going to church. Attending Christmas plays and musical festivals. Sending Christmas cards to friends and family who lived away from us. We drove around, looking for Christmas lights in the more upscale communities. In 1973, we moved to Charleston. Every Christmas my dad would visit with us and together we built new traditions. Christmas dinner at our house, using the best china and lace tablecloths I owned. We opened presents, watched football, and enjoyed the company of each other.

In July, 1999, I lost my dad. Suddenly Christmas was quiet. Although we have a son, he shares his holidays with the family of his wife. Rarely do we get to see them, or our grandchild who is now 13-years-old.

Phil and I are making new traditions now. We drive to see the Christmas Festival of Lights in Charleston, along with other locations within our community. Tonight, we are going to church, to hear Christmas music. This year, Phil played DJ for me and two of my friends at the Red Hatters Christmas Luncheon. We’ve attended Christmas parties and I have noticed more people are saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”

After this discovery, I contemplated in hopes that people are drifting back to the true meaning of Christmas, along with Christmas traditions. So many people are in the belief that Christmas is a time to over indulge. A time to overspend and max our credit cards. A time to over do things. For example, many people must have the most Christmas lights on their home, to show how much Christmas spirit they have. Forgive me, but placing lights on a home does nothing to indicate how much Christmas spirit one has. According to a news report this morning, Christmas was not celebrated in the USA until 1871. I was shocked to hear that statement. No, I haven’t the time today to research it, but I have always been under the impression that Christmas was ALWAYS celebrated. My grandparents shared stories of old when I was a child, how they used candles on the tree, and in the house. I suppose in my childish mind I could not understand why electricity wasn’t used. Silly me.

I lost my grandparents many years ago, but the memories I have are to be cherished.

What are your traditions at Christmas?

This year, we will celebrate Christmas Day at a friend’s home. Perhaps after dinner we will sing a bit of karaoke, and drink a bit of wine. Meanwhile, I will reminisce about my Christmas Days as a child. There were four children inside the house, all tucked in, nice and warm. We would rush to see what was under the tree. Did Santa Claus bring me that special doll? Did I get a guitar? Just what would Santa Claus bring us? As stated, our family was not rich, but Santa Claus never forgot us. Now that I am older and wiser, I realize Christmas is really not about gifts. Christmas Day is a day to reflect and give thanks that we have family and friends who will care for us and spend time with us, during the good times and the sad times. Christmas Day is the day to celebrate Christ and to share that celebration with the world.

Last year at Christmas I was sick. So sick, I didn’t have the energy to cook a Christmas meal. Phil ordered a Christmas meal from Publix. When he delivered it, I realized it needed to be heated again because it was so cold. The meal was dreadful. I told Phil never to order a Christmas meal from any grocery store again. I was so disappointed. Now that I’m well, I wonder, was the meal so bad because I didn’t prepare it, and I STILL had to cook it? Later that afternoon, we drove to some friends’ home to have Christmas dinner. Honestly, I was so ill, I don’t remember much about Christmas 2012. Illness, and a constant cough that refused to go away. May I never celebrate another Christmas Day that ill!

My wish and prayers for you, my readers, is a day of Christmas Thanks and Traditions. May you enjoy the love and caring of your family and friends while taking the time to continue with your Christmas traditions. This evening, Phil and I will be at church. Later, we will exchange gifts, in hopes that we will see our grandchild.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

 

Welcome to Bibb City / Columbus, Georgia


Chattahoochee Child
Barbie Perkins-Cooper
Copyright April, 2013

Arriving in Columbus, Georgia on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, I struggled not to allow depression to overtake my mood. Exhausted from an eight hour drive, I plopped on to the tiny sofa, attempting to relax. “How can I relax,’ I whispered to myself. ‘This is the city that struggled to destroy me.’

Phil watched a CSI marathon. I chose to bathe. Remembering those troubled years of my youth, when sadness captivated me, I practiced the art of positive thinking. ‘So much of Columbus has changed. This is a different time, a different setting, and now, my mother is gone. She can’t hurt me now…’

Exhausted, I went to bed, praying silently that this week all will be fine. ‘It’s a new day,’ I said. ‘A new journey. A new chapter.’

The next morning, Phil and I drove to Bibb City. Phil touched my hand and face and kissed me on the cheek. “It’ll be OK,” he said. “Today is a new day.”

I smiled. “Those are the exact words I told myself last night.”

Driving on the roads leading to Bibb City, I exhaled deeply. Wanting only silence, I turned the radio down. My mind drifted back to my childhood in Bibb City.

The Village my grandparents called Bibb City is framed by the setting of The Bibb Manufacturing Company, a tall brick building with a clock edged into the masonry work. The tiny brick houses in Anderson Village looked the same, with exception of the clutter on many of the porches and around the small lots. The white houses in Bibb City were now painted a variety of colors. Some of the houses were attractive and well cared for; other homes still looked the same, with exception of junk in the yards and the porches cluttered with boxes and other essentials the residents could not store or put away.

Serving as the focal point of Bibb City during the textile era in America, the Bill Mill dates back to 1920. The Bibb, as elders called the mill, is located on 38th Street and First Avenue.

The tranquil, close knit mill community called Bibb City encompasses north from 35th Street to 44th Street, and west from Second Avenue to the Chattahoochee River. The streets are narrow and winding. Mill houses consist of approximately 247 dwellings, located within walking distance of the mill. Most are constructed of wood, painted white, landscaped with magnolia trees, sweet gum trees and other varieties, some laced with Spanish moss.

Bibb City includes the mill acreage along with a smaller area called Anderson Village. The houses in Anderson Village are brick with interior walls of stucco. According to elders who still live in the Village, Bibb City is one of the best planned mill villages ever built, because of the quality of the residential developments and how they were maintained for mill workers. In the 1960’s the mill chose to sell the homes to mill workers. My grandparents jumped at the chance to own a home.

The dwelling my grandparents bought was located in the middle of Walnut Street, a solid brick structure, containing two small bedrooms, a living room, one miniature bathroom, and a kitchen. The house was less than 1,000 square feet, total living space. Mill workers were accustomed to living in small settlements. ‘We made do with what the Good Lord provided us,’ according to Papa and Grammy.

The car approached the monstrous skeleton of the remains of Bibb Manufacturing Company. Staring at the entrance, the mill was vacant of mill workers. What remained now was the front entrance standing alone. The mill closed its doors in 1998, leaving fingerprints and footprints of mill workers. In October 2008, the mill burned to the ground.

I replayed my grandfather’s words when I was a rebellious teenager desperate to break away from Bibb City.

Papa said, “You stay here. Marry a mill kid and if you want to work, go to work at the mill. Bibb Mill takes care of its workers. All you have to do in life is marry and have babies.”

My reply, “Bibb Mill makes you a slave…and I don’t want to live my life here. I don’t want to be a baby machine. I want to sing…”

Papa laughed, placing a piece of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum in his mouth.

As a child, I was already a feminist!

I parked the car, grabbed my Nikon digital camera, inhaled…exhaled… My fingers were shaking. Phil remained in the car, downloading software on to his Ipad.

Clicking my camera, I took several images, recognizing some parts of Bibb City while realizing I had blocked most of the memories away. Gone was the white house where I spent the hot summers with my grandparents. At the site, was an abandoned parking lot. I did not see anyone walking along the sidewalks. Images of mill workers, dressed in Bibb overalls, danced in my mind.

‘Bibb City is a ghost town now,’ I whispered. ‘Like the mill, gone are the memories of my youth. I glanced up, wiped a tear while glancing at the Bibb water tower. ‘All that is left are the charred remains of a building where workers strove to make a better life, only to discover the mill controlled and dictated their lives and future. Now, the mill is a ghostly, charred remnant of their hard work. Gone are their footprints and fingerprints.