My first job at Sylacauga cotton Mill – with [rare film footage of Avondale Mills in 50’s]

[Many people in the Sylacauga area around the time of WWII can probably relate to this story.]

As told to Donna R. Causey by  Pearl Mims February, 2014

The first job I every had was at the cotton mill in Sylacauga, Talladega County, Alabama when I was only seventeen. My sister Evelyn and I got jobs there through a neighbor. We were living in the small town of Weogufka, Alabama on a farm.

One day a man came by to visit Papa and told him that he could get jobs for us at the Mill  (Avondale Mills in Sylacauga) where he worked if he’d allow it. Evelyn and I were excited about the opportunity and of course jumped at the offer. Papa thought about it awhile since we were only teenagers, but he finally agreed.

Short film on Avondale Mills in the 50’s

Older employees left for better paying jobs during WWII

It was during war time (WWII)  and many people who had been working at the cotton mill, left for the better paying jobs at the new powder plant down the road in Childersburg. This left Sylacauga Cotton Mill short-handed so they started hiring teenagers to replace the workers, who’d left.

We found out later that the man only needed us to ride with him to share the gas expense of driving to the Mill. It worked out pretty well for all of us, though.

Buses sent to pick up young workers

Soon there were so many teenagers working at the mill and many did not have transportation so the Mill had a bus service pick us up. Buses went all the way to Chilton County, Alabama to pick up people. That is where my future husband, Norman Mims lived.

I met Norman at the Mill and we were soon dating. He told me that I’d never have to work another day if I’d marry him. “Course, I had no intention of stopping work. In fact, when I married him, I was planning to go work at another job.”

Shortage of housing

We looked for a place to live. There was a shortage of housing due to the powder plant employees moving in. We found a nice new duplex, with a big room that served as bedroom and living room. It had a two eye heater to cook on and the bathroom was off the screen porch in back. The rent was only $4.00 but Norman didn’t want it. He said he wanted to buy us a house.

Finally, we found a newly built house. The man said we could have it and would only have to take up the payments in exchange for Norman’s car. Norman was happy to find a house he could afford so he bought it. There was only one problem. There was no running water to the house so it didn’t work out well for me. I had to carry water for over a year. This was especially hard since we were now also expecting our first child.

Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) – A novel inspired by the experiences of the Cottingham family who immigrated from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Alabama

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  1. Yep I worked at Eva Jane at Avondale millls. Now it has burned down.

  2. I remember watching films like these in the 7th grade.

  3. I worked at the Avondale Mills in Pell City, AL. It also burned down!

  4. I remember my Grandmother’s stories from Avondale Mills From Ozark AL reminds me of a Jim and Jesse song “Cotton Mill Man”

  5. Thought u might enjoy Richard Barrett

  6. My mother, father, Sister, brother aunts and uncles all worked for Avondale in Sycamore. Also no longer there.

  7. Nobody that never worked for the Comer’s or avondale mills could ever imagine what it was like to work for a family and origination as good as avondale mills, the Comer’s were just like family to all of us.

  8. My great grandparents were David Lonnie Smith, Sr and Emiily July Teal of Weogufka, AL,, My grandparents were David Lonnie Smith, Jr and Missouri Iltiny “Sissy” Callaway of Weogufka. They ran a county store at Crossroads in Weogufka. My parents were Winston David (W.D. or “Wink”) Smith born in Weogufka and my mom Flora Brasher Smith, born in Vandiver, AL (Shelby County). My parents worked all their lives at Avondale Mills (Eva Jane Division) in Sylacauga, AL except for the time my dad worked for DuPont Chemical Powder Plant in Childersburg during WW II. My grandfather, William Earlie Brasher, of Vandiver worked at Avondale and played baseball on the mill teams in the area. Missouri Callaway’s father was Josiah Callaway of Weogufka, a brother to the Rev William Benjamin Callaway of Weogufka who organized the Old Weogufka First Baptist Church near the Weogufka Creek. Our Callaway lines come from Wilkes and Troupe Counties of Central GA and are directly related to the Callaway Gardens line. Presdident Franklin D. Roosevelt spent the summers with our Callaways of Stone Mountain, GA, Our Callaway Family Archives are located in the Troupe County Library in LeGrange, GA. Our common line is the owner of Callaway Mills in GA.

  9. My grandpa, Albert McDougal work there back in the 50’s.

  10. My mother-in-law Lucille Suwel Ray worked at Avondale Mills in Sylacauga AL

  11. […] My first job at Sylacauga cotton Mill – with [rare film footage of Avondale Mills in 50’s] […]

  12. My first job was at Avondale mills in Sylacauga. I worked on weekends cleaning lint tunnels and a/c units. I knew there had to be a better way to make a living!!

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