Days Gone By - stories from the past

This Alabama town set an example for the nation in this 1943 film and glimpse of the past

During World War II, many people moved to nearby Sylacauga to work in the defense plant. They came from all over the nation and the area was hard-pressed to deal with the massive influx of people to their small rural towns. The film below presents Sylacauga as the shining example of how to best handle the large population.

Childersburg 1942

New Cottages at nearby Childersburg Munitions plant

Coosa cottages childersburg

 Over 25,000 workers flocked into the Coosa Valley to build and work at a gunpowder plant in Childersburg which encompassed 13, 500 acres and a munitions bagging plant also located in nearby, Talladega, Alabama. Heavy water for use in the atomic bomb was also made at the Childersburg plant.

Childersburg in 1942

Artillery Powder bagging plant was located in Brecon

The film includes footage of nearby, Sylacauga, approximately ten miles south of Childersburg.  According to the film, Sylacauga did a better job of planning and handling the overwhelming population growth. The artillery powder bagging plant in Talladega was located in the Brecon area of nearby Talladega, Alabama.2  Talladega is in the northeast central part of Alabama around 50 miles east of Birmingham. All three towns, Sylacauga, Childersburg and Talladega are located in Talladega County, Alabama.

Childersburg only had 515 residents

Can you imagine the difficulties these towns experienced by this sudden population explosion? Prior to the WWII, the town of Childersburg only had 515 residents and no paved streets when Du Pont decided to locate an ordnance plant there to produce TNT and gunpowder. Women as well as men worked in the plants at Childersburg and Talladega and this was a time when child care was virtually non-existent.

The move was especially hard on women

The move was especially hard on all women, even if they had children to care for and didn’t work because there was little public transportation. They frequently “lived a bored existence in dormitories or rented rooms, rarely getting a chance to go anywhere.” On a Saturday night, a young single woman working in the big munitions plant would face a long string of dateless weekends, and sometimes hostility from local women who resented competition from these outsiders for the few available men.1

Some trailers where Childersburg defense plant workers families lived

Some trailers were Childersburg defense plant workers lived

Some of our contributing authors have written about living in this time. Be sure to read Jean Butterworth’s story with the headline, Were the German’s attacking us? For a seven-year-old this was scary! Her family moved to Childersburg, where her father worked in the defense plant and she describes her life there as a seven-year-old.

If you can identify people in the film or photographs, email me at [email protected] or write your answer in the Reply section at the bottom of this article. I’d love to know who they are and what became of them.


1American Women During World War II: An Encyclopedia by Doris Weatherford

2Encyclopedia of Alabama 

Related Stories

Life during WWII was very different from today – [vintage film & pictures]

RIBBON OF LOVE: 2nd edition – A Novel of Colonial America  – the true story of religion in America = by Alabama author Donna R. Causey Inspired by true historical events, Mary and Henry Pattenden flee to America to escape persecution –  It is almost impossible to put the book down until completion. – Dr. Don P. Brandon, Retired Professor, Anderson University 

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Donna — The “I’ve Got Six Pence” song dates to World War I. My Dad said he learned in England while serving in the Navy, 1917=19.
    Joe McKnight

  2. Love this! My grandfather is in this film!

    1. Awesome – quite a family keepsake ! My grandfather worked as a carpenter at the plant — likely when it was first being built around 1940 or so. He lived in Sylacauga and commuted. My father (then about 15) lived with him and worked in an ice cream plant in Sylacauga – both sending money back to the family in Memphis.

  3. I lived there for several years. A beautiful a d very friendly town!

    1. lived there for a year myself. loved it there.

  4. Jerry Walker know any of these people?

  5. Shelby Boddie thought you might like this

  6. Talladega needs this kind of activities. Too bad the civic leaders don’t know about good leadership. ..

  7. Mobile was filled to the brim with people! People rented their extra rooms out because there were no places to stay. This was considered a Patriotic act to help the War effort.

  8. Lived there for three years. Loved every minute and was treated great.

  9. Megan Campbell Carpenter, have you seen this?

    1. No. Thank you for sharing it with me!

  10. In reply to the article of the Alabama town sets an example, it truly does. I can say that due to living there until I finished high school. Wish more towns were like that today where everyone gets along.

  11. […] This Alabama town set an example for the nation in this 1943 film and glimpse of the past […]

  12. Very interesting. Thanks Nicole!

  13. I recognize Thurston Stewart sitting on the stage waving his hat. If anyone knows where Jerry Stewart is let him know his Dad is in this Video.

  14. Enjoyed watching this very much.

  15. Darby Wesson Baird-when study mobilization-what a powerful video.

    1. Right next to my hometown (I’m from Childersburg)! Thanks for sharing!

    2. Thought would appreciate-amazing video!

    3. I’ve also been down many of those streets!

  16. Recognized Beth Yates.

  17. The was and still the Whit and Black South I was razed in

  18. […] This Alabama town set an example for the nation in this 1943 film and glimpse of the past […]

  19. My mother, Jane Bland Craddock (Mrs. French H. Craddock Jr) was one of the two women gathering information about where people might find some place to live. She was the shorter one, in the dark suit.

    1. Hey Patricia, Buddy Hammett here (Annie French Hammett, your Grandfather French’s first cousin, was my grandmother). Your mom was such a sweet person, and I was always in awe of you and Peggy. My mother, who took a job with the DuPont Munitions Plant (she ran a book-keeping machine that looked like those big Sperry Univacs Walker worked with) may well have been introduced to Oaklawn Inn by your mother.

  20. I really enjoyed every moment of this film. I never new what a beautiful place Sylacauga was in those times.

  21. I’ve been telling folks that Alabama invented the tiny house concept that’s sweeping the country!

    1. I’ve watched it before! Isn’t it so cool!! I wish I could spend a day back in this time!

    2. that looks much better than the place my family lived when i was a child

  22. Interesting! My paternal grandmother and great grand parents were from Sylacauga.

  23. Hey, Judy Vaughn, You notice NO RIOTS?!

  24. I was born in Sylaguaga

    1. Timothy Thomas Thank you. Enjoyed watching a part of my heritage. I had seen one similar to this off You Tube.

  25. my grandad owned the trailor park shown in pix and film right where grove park is now. got pix of those years grandmother took with a brownie box

  26. I get a spam link every time I try to read or watch anything on this site lately.

    1. Tiffany Stanton so do I. I love to read these articles but lately it’s spam when I try to see them

    2. Tiffany Stanton copy the link and paste it into a browser.

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