J. E. "Paw Paw" Tumlin is an ATCO Kid.
He has begun writing his story for his children and grandchildren, because he, like the rest of us, wants them to know who he is and all about his life. He, like many other ATCO Kids, is talented. He has been gifted with a beautiful writing ability. With permission we are so happy to highlight his writings from time to time on our blog.
As a boy, one of the most important days of the year was "Field Day". This was an all day affair sponsored by Goodyear for their employees and families. The excitement would start about two weeks earlier. It was then that they began construction of the temporary stage and concession stand on the ball field. You could see parade floats being built in the mill yard. Kids, who were fortunate enough to own a bicycle, began to experiment with crepe paper decorations.
To a little boy whose total wardrobe consists of two pairs of overalls, two shirts, two pairs of long handles, two pairs of socks, one coat and one pair of shoes, this was an exciting time.
The day begins with a parade through the village. First, we have the company sponsored band in their sparkling, blue uniforms. Out front is Band Master, Bill Johnson. His strutting makes you think he's a robot. Next, we have troop 15 Boy Scouts followed by the girl scout troop. Then we see the various floats.
I remember one year they had simulated a giant calliope and had my dad, dressed as Uncle Sam, playing it. "BigBoy" Sutton always scares the little ones. He's dressed like an African native, in a real animal skin. He is carrying what appears to be an authentic spear and the scowl on his face should win him an "Oscar". As I remember, he was kinda ugly to start with. Then we have the civic organizations followed by the brightly decorated bicycles. There was always a prize for the best crepe paper decorated bike. The parade ends at the ball field.
The company has issued coupons, the number depending upon the family size, that will buy cokes, hamburgers, hotdogs, etc., at the concession stand. Believe you me, in those days, this was a real treat. The festivities begin at the ball field with the flag raising ceremony. There is a welcoming speech by one of the company officials. We have all kinds of games: sack races, catch the greasy pig, climb the greasy pole, hog calling, etc. We have a beauty contest. Aunt Collene won one year. We have live entertainment following the drawing. There is a drawing for adults and a drawing for kids.
When it is time for the kid's drawing, we all crowd around the stage to make sure every thing is on the up and up. I have a position next to the stage and I remark to my buddies that I had never won anything and if I won the wrist watch, I would stand on my head. Low and behold, I win the watch. My buddies inform the emcee about what I said and he insists that I keep my promise. I didn't have to go on stage but I did stand on my head.
After the live entertainment we have a ball game. The only entertainer that I remember was Graham Jackson, the black, nationally known accordion player. He was part of the entertainment for several years. He was President Roosevelt's favorite entertainer and was invited to the "Little White House" in Warm Springs Georgia often, when the President was there. The company sponsors a team in the semipro textile league. Baseball is serious business. This is a regularly scheduled league game. In my minds eye, I can see manager George Johnson arguing with the umpire. I see "Bunk" Morris throwing his famous curve ball. Henry Ray is at bat and I hear his daughter Zelma hollering "come on daddy". "Moose" Guyton goes 3 for 4. We win the game. These are "Perfect Days".
It’s about 1 week before field day. My cousin Harold Day and I are playing on the swings at the company playground. Harold walks over to the flagpole and unhooks the cable that is used to hoist and support the flag. It’s attached to a pulley at the very top of the pole. Harold lifts himself off the ground with the cable. It will support him. This is a tall flagpole. There is no flag. He then swings himself in a small circle around the pole. He increases the size of the circle. This looks like fun. He lets me try it. It is fun. He grabs my leg and swings me way out. Man I am swinging in a big circle. I’m several feet off the ground when the flagpole bends and I fall to the ground.
We both run home. We don’t want anyone to know that we did this. The next day they are trying to find out who did this. Field day is Saturday and this is the flagpole used in the flag raising ceremony. Nobody asked me about it, so at least I didn’t have to lie. Harold and I didn’t even talk to each other about it. It was never mentioned again. I believe this is the first time I have ever talked about it. They straighten it in time for field day. We had only one police man in the village and, I avoided him for months.
In the evening, there is a street dance in front of the mill. There are temporary lights. They block the street and cover the asphalt with corn meal to reduce friction. There is a live band. Because I am from a Baptist family, and you know how we Baptist feel about dancing, I am not allowed to attend this event. Since mother and dad are no longer alive, I confess that on several different occasions I went by there and watched for a little while.
© Copyright Yvonne Mashburn Schmidt and ATCO Kids, Individually