June 5, 2005
Compiled by Joyce Millsaps Bryson
I remember going to the Atco Elementary School. I remember getting in a “straight” line and marching into the building and down the hall to our classroom. We did our pledge to the flag and had devotion every morning with the teacher leading and all of us taking part. I sang “That Lucky Old Sun” one day for the hymn. We moved to Cleveland, Ohio, shortly after I graduated from the 8th grade. I really missed my Atco Classmates when I enrolled in high school in Ohio.
I will always remember our kind neighbors, especially Lillie Noland. My Mother was never healthy after suffering a stroke when I was born. Mrs. Noland shared many hours with her.
Euell Bagwell, who played the piano at Atco Church, encouraged me to learn to play the piano. My brother, Roland, and I used to sit on the front porch in the swing and sing. We didn’t know we were practicing harmonizing for another time and place when we would both sing in gospel quartets.
Preacher Millsaps taught us Junior boys Missions, by example. We went with him on Sunday afternoons to Shoal Creek Baptist Church, a small country church that could only afford a part-time pastor. The few active members called to see if he would come preach on Sunday Afternoons at 2 o’clock if they had their Sunday School at 1 o’clock.
He had done this previously at the Lebanon Baptist Church in Fannin County while he pastored Kingtown Baptist Church full time, and it worked. He later resigned Kingtown to become full time pastor at Lebanon. On one of these trips W. J. Butterworth and I ate a whole jar of dill pickles and drank the juice while bouncing over the dirt roads of Bartow and Cherokee County. It was fun riding with the Preacher and hearing his stories.
After a year or so the Shoal Creek Church had grown in attendance and finances enough to be able to call a pastor that could preach on Sunday Mornings. Preacher Millsaps then preached at the Euharlee Baptist Church on Sunday afternoons until they could afford to switch to Sunday Mornings. W.J. and I went along with him to Euharlee which was a shorter ride, but had the excitement of going through a covered bridge. When Euharlee Church got on their feet, Preacher preached at Dewey Baptist Church out in the country on Sunday afternoons until they grew to Sunday Mornings. W.J. and I got to hear three sermons each Sunday for several years.
My best friends Steve Bruce, Donald Bell, Freddie Buchanan, W.J. and I had a wonderful childhood in Atco. We went to church and school together. W.J. had a paper route and I got fifty cents for helping him collect on Saturday Mornings. We went to Cartersville after lunch to go to the movie. I spent forty cents on the movie and popcorn, then went to the W.W. Mac Dime store where my sister Vennie Mae worked and spent the dime.
I graduated from High School in Cleveland, Ohio, when my other friends graduated at Cass High. After High School I worked at the same bank in Cleveland until I retired. W. J. Butterworth made the Air Force his career. After retirement he ran a home for retirees. He passed away last year. I never knew him as an adult, but his cousin told me that he was a fine man. That seems to be the story of most of the kids who grew up in the Atco Village.
I was baptized in Wingfoot Park in the creek on a warm Sunday afternoon. Later in life I joined an Assembly of God Church in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I served as organist/pianist for 23 happy years, however, nothing will ever replace the experiences I had in the fellowship of the Atco Baptist Church. I sang my first solo in church when the services were being held in the Atco School Auditorium. Betty Jo Gray, the visiting Vacation Bible School Director, convinced me that I could sing “Why Should He Love Me So?” She played the piano for me to practice and then sing it during the worship service.
Growing up in the Atco Village in the South is definitely etched in my memory.
Roland “Curley” Bryson:
I remember a night when the village kids and some adults were skating in the area where the streets were roped off. “Red” Herbert Smith and I decided to practice pitching a baseball. Everything went well until “Red” decided he could throw a curve ball around a lamp post on Goodyear Ave. I stood in disbelief as he threw the ball as hard as he could toward the lamp post. It hit the light and shattered the globe and all. I waited speechless to see what he was going to do. He said, “Come on, let’s go tell “Big Boy” Sutton before he comes up here.” He explained to the policeman that it was an accident. “Big Boy” seemed to enjoy his pain and then said. “O.K. The price of a new one will be taken out of your pay check next week.” I breathed a sign of relief that I wasn’t taken home to explain it to my Dad.