Joyce Millsaps Bryson 5-20-2005
My future husband’s family moved to Atco a couple of years before we did. At a very young age his Dad had chosen to work in a cotton mill in Trion, Ga. rather than be a sharecropper like his Father. He had worked in several mills in North Georgia towns, but as fate would have it he came to Atco at the appropriate time for us to meet. Jack began working in the mill when he was 16 years old. He went to Cass High School and worked evenings until he quit school. While he lived in the Village he became a Christian, joined the Army, and got engaged. While he was in the Army we got married in Atco. After spending some time at Camp Picket, Va., Korea Combat, Ft. Belvoir, Va. And Camp Rucker, Al. he came back to Atco to work in the mill. After being shot at for a year by the North Korean and Chinese Armies, and witnessing the desperation of South Korea people, he never again took his life in Atco, Georgia, U.S.A. for granted. In fact after watching his buddies die in battle he didn’t again take his own life for granted.
January, 1954, we moved into a 3 room apartment on Puritan Street with our 6 month old son, David Lee. The apartment we moved in did not have a bathroom or water in the house. I connected a water hose to the hydrant in the back yard to put water in the washing machine on the back porch. Everyone had a clothes line in the back yard to dry the clothes. This wasn’t a bad thing unless the sun didn’t shine for a few days. In the winter the clothes sometimes froze stiff on the line waiting for the sunshine. People forget to say, “occasionally” the clothes smelled sunshine fresh, when discussing the good old days. We shared the hall with Harvey and Barbara Shinall who lived across the hall and were kind enough to let us put up a clothes line down the hall when we didn’t have enough sunshine to dry diapers. I got David out of diapers just in time to have a baby girl that we named Denise Yvonne that called for diapers. My memories of living in Atco always include diapers. David learned to walk on the sloping sidewalk in front of our house. He still has scars on his chin to prove it.
The houses on our street had tongue and groove wood ceilings that had been there for decades. We used a coal heater for heat. We did not associate that with David having bronical asthma that acted up quite often. When we moved from that apartment to a 3 room house that had plaster ceilings & walls he had far fewer attacks. About the time we moved to Ohio Street the City of Cartersville made a deal with Atlanta Gas Light to install natural gas throughout the county. When we moved we bought a large vented heater. An outside salesman for Montgomery-Ward in Rome came around to every house to sell us heaters. Since he was a very good salesman we also bought our 1st T.V. which we didn’t have the money to pay for. According to him it was no problem because Jack had a job at the mill so we innocently opened our 1st charge account.
Jack worked in the mill at night and went to VA school during the day for awhile and then he went to work during the day and to VA school evenings. At the VA school he got his high school diploma (Cass High) and took some business courses. He then learned cabinet making. The houses where we lived on Puritan Street and Ohio Street had no cabinets or closets. He made a pretty pine coffee table and end tables. With another veteran, J. C. Jackson’s help he made beautiful base cabinets for our house on Puritan St. When they finally brought them home there was a problem. The corner cabinet would not go through the door. They had to remove the door facing to get them inside. I sometimes wonder if they have lasted these fifty years and are still there.
When he came out of the mill he was always soaking wet with sweat. The work was very hard and never showed any signs of getting better. The friends who worked with him bonded for life. They shared experiences day after day along with their hopes for their families. They wanted their children to have the best in life without the hard physical labor in a cotton mill.
As the years went by Jack worked for other companies and we moved from the Village. We still attended the Atco Baptist Church for many years. Jack was ordained as a deacon there. Our two older children were saved and baptized in the same pool under the choir where their dad was baptized. I loved the WMU work there. When the Southern Baptist WMU first set up mission standards to strive toward I was serving as President of our group. We spent many happy hours, learning, doing, and praying for Missions in Atco and around the world. We took several groups of our GA girls to Camp Pinnacle every summer. The YWA’s under the leadership of Alvie Mulkey went to Ridgecrest N.C. and Glorietta N.M. Jack enjoyed being in the Brotherhood and working with the RA’s. The RA’s had a baseball team and many other activities.
The men in the Village had a variety of interest. In their spare time some grew a garden in the area that Goodyear had plotted for gardens. Some had a cow in the pasture across Highway 41 that Goodyear had fenced for them. Some of the men loved to hunt, and to fish Altoona Lake. The ones who did not have a large family could afford a fishing boat. Grover and Elsie Knight, John and Violet Knight, Donald and Doris Martin, C.W. and Ola Ayers, and Jack & I often took a picnic lunch and fished from the bank. I have happy memories of catching crappie when they were biting until we ran out of bait. Other times the fish weren’t hungry but we were, so we had a good time roasting and eating hotdogs and hamburgers. We never threw a fish back in the water. They were a source of meat for fish fry’s.
Some of the men preferred to drink alcohol in their spare time. Week-ends were spent at illegal bootleg places, beer Joints, honkytonks or the VFW club. Others drank and gambled at home or some secluded spot such as Trash Hill adjoining the Village. This is the same Trash Hill where my best Easter Memories occurred at sunrise services as the sun came over the hill on Easter Sunday Morning. After the Church renovation included a kitchen we went back there for breakfast.
One of my saddest memories was when the father of twelve children was killed over a card game in the kitchen of his friend. All of these men never missed working a shift in the mill to provide for their families. They didn’t realize that they were cheating themselves and their families of precious time together when they spent it with drinking buddies. We all celebrated when someone such as a 50 year old man we knew, who had got drunk every week-end that his children could remember, went to the Atco Baptist Church on Easter Sunday Morning, 1951 and rededicated his life to Christ. He lived to be 83 years old and never drank alcohol again. There was rejoicing at the church and in the mill where word got to his co-workers before he did. We all mourned when tragedy happened and shared the happiness when a 50 year old man began a totally new relationship with God and his wife and children.
People who did not work in the mill or live in the Village had a variety of opinions about the “lint heads” whose livelihood depended on the Goodyear Cotton Mill. Many people who lived outside the Village came to the Atco churches because they loved the people there. I have a friend whose marriage could not survive his wife’s mother’s biased opinion that anyone who grew up in a cotton mill village couldn’t be a good prospect for a husband. She wasn’t happy until her daughter divorced the guy. It was her loss, because he retired as a U.S. Naval Officer. For the past 40 years he has had a very happy marriage with someone who did not have this preconceived notion. On the other hand, I was told by a teacher at Cass High School that the Atco students were among the best provided for and best prepared for high school. Some were her best students. Cass or Cartersville High School athletic departments would not have been as successful without the students from Atco.
Other Atco Baptist memories include;
Vacation bible school in the school auditorium and later the church which always lasted the full two weeks with real lemonade, made in a wash tub, with a chunk of ice in the middle
Singing with the Girls Chorus with Euell Bagwell playing the piano and Lois Bagwell leading us
The chorus parties at the Bagwell home when Beverly Farmer put a sign on her gravy explaining what it was.
Choirs from the Ga.Baptist Children’s home coming there to sing,
Church members stopping one by one to help the Preacher when he started gluing a stained glass design to the clear glass windows,
Singing “oh the rains came down and the floods came up” with a group of Sunbeams in the basement of the church while a tornado came through the area (before T.V. weather reports),
Our three year old daughter peeing on the solid wooden bench (and us) so we couldn’t stand for the invitation, (she warned me, but I explained to her how she could wait)
One of the deacons pacing in the front when he was worried about what the young Pastor thought was progress and saying “it has always been a custom in this church…..”,
Leonard Ray leading “He Lives” on Easter Sunday,
Leading the Juniors (ages 9-12) doing “The Scrooge” at Christmas,
Our son David’s R.A team winning the Middle Cherokee Baseball tournament at Kingston,
Leading G.A.s who excelled as Queens in their steps,
Always sitting in the right wing behind the Guytons and Rays while looking across at the Sweats, Knights, Teagues, Staffords, and others in the left wing,
The night my future husband was saved at a prayer meeting in the school auditorium,
The night our eight year old daughter and nine year old son were saved and the Sunday Morning they were baptized by my Dad who pastored Holly Springs Baptist Church at the time.
Leonard Ray, Will Hart, Grady Looney, Virginia Guyton, Jack Bryson, and others singing at funerals
Danny Guyton leading the Youth Training Union Class outside at the school house on the merry-go-round
Someone calling my husband’s name in prayer at every service while he was in combat during the Korean War,
“Shorty” Naomi Henderson’s youth Sunday School Class while we had Methodist/Baptist combined
My best friend Marjorie Culberson’s wedding to J.V. Simpson,
J.C. Jackson helping the VBS kids make wooden projects,
The burning of the note when the building and first addition was debt free,
Uncle George Cowart in his golden years going to sleep during services,
Going to Rock Eagle with the WMU ladies which included my Mother,
Coloring, then ironing crayon designs on muslin for curtains in the first nursery (1954),
My parents, along with the whole congregation, celebrating their son’s first trip to church, (after raising 4 daughters) All the “old” ladies (I was 18 at the time) quizzing my Dad, “Preacher, what
do you want that boy to be when he grows up?”. His unexpected reply, not a famous preacher or president, but “A Christian Gentleman”.
Jess Cornett, Henry Berrong and Warren Collier funerals.
LeRoy Davis funeral where Dad explained how “mercy and justice” met at the cross, and mercy won, so we don’t need an intercessor, to the congregation which included two Catholic Priest,
Lee Roy Davis’ daughter Joyce, telling me that her Dad made wine in the tall space under the back of their house. Final sentence…Don’t you tell the Preacher! Naturally I couldn’t wait to get home to tell it. It wasn’t the surprise to my Dad that I thought it would me.
Jack singing at Lowell “Big Boy” Sutton’s daughter’s wedding (The same “Big Boy” who had at one time chased him all over the village, and told his future in-laws that he was the meanest boy in Atco)
Denise (5) and David (6) singing “How Great Thou Art” with David being shoved off the stage by Denise who didn’t want to sing the 2nd verse,
Bob Bagley’s first Sunday as Music Director,
Rev. Emmet Smith’s explaining his big nose to us while eating lunch with us after the “trial” sermon “he kept it out of other people’s business”.
Rev. Howard Holcomb tales about being a city bus driver in Rome,
Rev. Buddy York’s preaching and his daughters’ beautiful singing during revival,
Julian Pipkins from the Ga. Baptist Training Union Department telling us about “the wedding” and other entertaining readings during a week long study he lead
Rev. Org Foster telling us about his experiences in “no man’s land” during WW1
Rev. Julian Pipkin, Rev. Paul Culpepper, Rev. John Ayers, Rev. Org Foster, Rev. Goaly Davidson Rev. Harold Long and others, spending the week in our home when they led revivals
Loving to sing with girl’s chorus, days when we knew we were an important part of the church worship service.
The WMU ladies who did not work (at a “paying” job) selling flavoring to earn mission money.
Jack’s 1st solo at Church
Betty Bell and Linda Knight’s 1st time to play the piano at Church
All of us youth giggling when a young man and his wife, who worked 2nd shift and came to the Wednesday morning prayer service, said in his testimony “I don’t believe in women wearing britches and my wife don’t either.” Obviously a lot of people didn’t, because in all the pictures of the people working in the mill at the time the women had on dresses.
Don Brendise, converted Jew, who spent the week with us during revival where he told us lots of experiences he had when he went back to his home in the Bronx. The one I remember best was his reply when his aunt asked him if he really believed you could eat pork and go to heaven. “Yes, and the more you eat, the sooner you will get there.”
The night my Dad preached his last sermon as Pastor there. I never, ever, heard him complain about his salary, but at the end of the service that night he explained to us about the price of gas, tires, dry cleaning, shirt laundry, and other expense a pastor has, and told us we needed to put more in the budget for the next Pastor. As the Shepherd of our flock he felt a responsibility to help take care of us, even after he was gone. Then we sang, “Blest Be The Tie That Binds” and for the 1st time in my 25 years, my Dad was no longer my Pastor.
This is the way I remember a lot of things that happened during this time when I was a lot younger, and if you remember it differently I have no problem with that, your mind is as old as mine. At this ripe old age of 72, don’t ask me anything that happened last week…I don’t remember it as well as I do this…………Joyce Millsaps Bryson