Labor Day, 2017… let’s talk about textiles
Another Labor Day weekend is upon us. Annually observed the first weekend in September, it marks the end of the social summer season. It is therefore called the “unofficial end of summer.”
Labor Day not only marks the end of summer, but the beginning of football season. Any bride in the South who plans her wedding during the fall will have groomsmen standing at the altar with an ear piece threaded through the sleeve of their tuxedo. Saturday in the South means college football. Nobody wants to miss a minute of the big game… even in the middle of a wedding!
The ideation behind Labor Day is to recognize the American worker. It represents an annual national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and wellbeing of our country. In the American south, for many years, the primary labor force was textiles. Mill workers. And so…
I think of textile workers
Like my maternal grandmother, Marie Griffin from Rocky Face, Whitfield County. During the depression she earned badly needed cash by working in the bedspread industry. Men, known as “haulers,” delivered stamped sheets and yarn to her house. She sewed in the patterns and the haulers subsequently picked up the “piece work” and paid her. Grandma said the completed work was weighed and the workers were paid by the pound.
The mill workers’ entire life revolved around the mill. Every day, the mill workers got up and went to work. There they worked hard to support their families. My uncle, H.G. Terrell, was an electrician at Celanese, and he, my Aunt Myra and my cousins — David, Eleanor, Judy, and Gwen, lived in the Celanese village. Before daddy finished school, he worked in the Lindale mill. Dan Reeves, former coach of the Atlanta Falcons, is a paternal cousin of ours. He worked at the mill with daddy. An entrepreneurial teenager, Dan also had a heavy equipment rental company at the time as well.
Recreation in the mill village
Celanese used to be called “Tubize” and they even had their own baseball team. Both villages
Education in mill villages
More than one generation of students was educated at Celanese School. It went from 1st grade through 6th grade, I believe. My cousins went to Celanese School… where my daddy was one of their teachers. In the Lindale community, McHenry School was a high school, which evolved into Pepperell High School, where more than one generation graduated from high school. Of course, the school’s name came from the company, West Point Pepperell. The dragon mascot came from the company logo for West Point Pepperell. PAM WALKER had a swimming pool. I remember taking swimming lessons at Celanese there. The Celanese Village and Lindale Village both had a pharmacy, a club house and a Scout Hut.
Churches in the mill villages
In the Lindale Mill Village there was Lindale Methodist Church, First Baptist Church of Lindale, and a Presbyterian church as well. There was a Methodist church, and a Baptist church in the Celanese Village. St. Luke’s Methodist Church, in the Celanese Village, sponsored Boy Scout Troop 11 and a Cub Scout pack for which Daddy was the Scout Master for many years. My brother, Steve Terrell, earned his God and Country Award there, as well as the rank of Eagle at 13 years of age.
The American labor force embodies several industries including, but not limited to, mechanics, plumbers, construction workers, food service workers, retail, coal miners, truck drivers, law enforcement, medical workers and farmers.
I don’t want to leave any industry unrecognized!
I am proud to be part of a city like Rome which honors the textile workers and their traditions.
I sincerely appreciate the working force in every industry of this great country of ours. It is fitting that we nationally recognize the American labor force every September.
Enjoy your Labor Day weekend one and all.