October 6, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 59

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
The cotton gin and rail cars...
My memories drift back to the cotton gin, the railroad and the great big platforms where they used to place the bales of cotton after they were ginned.  As I mentioned before, one of those platforms would hold two or three hundred bales of cotton. 
There was a railroad spur that ran off the main track and up beside the platforms.  Empty rail cars were left for the gin workers to load the cotton onto them from the platforms.  The loaded cars were then picked back up by the railroad and taken to either Ferriday or Winnsboro to one of the compressing plants where the bales of cotton would be compressed to about 1/3 of their original size. 
As kids we played on the platforms and in the cars.  I remember on several occasions where we almost got locked inside one of the cars with the cotton.  One time in particular stands out in my mind.  John Fairbanks and I were playing on one of the platforms when we saw Mr. Fred Chambless coming.  He was the depot agent and he had warned us not to play there.  Part of the game was to dodge Mr. Chambless. 
Sicily Island Railroad Depot
Well, to dodge him this time, we ran up into one of those cars that was loaded with cotton.  At the last minute, we decided to get out of the rail car and back onto the platform to hide between the bales of cotton.  Mr. Chambless walked right up and grabbed the lock and pulled it across the very car we had just run out of.  This was in about 1937.  After that, John and I were leery about ever running into one of those cars again.  
Evelyn Ogden Rife
The last time I ever remember playing on the platforms was with two of my cousins, Evelyn Ogden and Dorothy "Bit" McNair.  Bit jumped off one of the bales of cotton sitting on the platform.  It was about a five or six foot jump. 
When she jumped off and landed on the platform, her foot went through a rotten board.  Her leg became wedged in between two boards all the way up to her knee.  Oh, she screamed and hollered!  Hell, I took off!  Evelyn was trying to help her but I left!  
I remember running by Cousin Jessie’s house.  Cousin Jessie was Bit’s mother.  She and some of her family and friends were sitting out on the front porch. 
Dorothy "Bit" McNair Reed Smith
I didn’t stop to tell them.  I just hollered as I ran by, “Bit’s leg is hung in the platform!”  I know it must of have scared Cousin Jessie half to death.  I do know it scared the hell out me!
In the meantime, Marvin Nolen had come by on his bicycle and heard all the commotion.  He stopped and helped get Bit’s leg out from between the boards. 
Marvin was just a young teenage boy at the time.  He later married one of Bit’s older sisters, Kitty McNair.  Kitty died about two years ago.  Marvin is getting remarried today, November 3, 1991.  Bit is going to the wedding with Marvin’s son, Brother and his family. 
My mother told the story about an old empty box car that stayed up by the depot for months.  During this time, the Iron Mountain Railroad ran through Sicily Island.  The Missouri Pacific Railraod took over in about 1911.  
Mary Allye Steele Edmonds
As little girls back in 1907 or 1908, she and Mildred Harris had used that old box car as their playhouse.  They had it all fixed up with shelves that held different colored little bottles they had picked up.  They even had their dolls and doll clothes in there. 
One day my mother and Mildred were here in the Village on the main drag up town and they looked up as the train came through.  The railroad had picked up their car!  There went their playhouse going through town.  My mother told how they cried and carried on so over the railroad taking their playhouse.
I guess somewhere, wherever that car ended up, someone opened it up and saw where some children had all their dolls and their doll clothes and everything in there. 
Mildred Harris was the daughter of Mr. Richard and Mrs. Laura Harris.  Mac Harris was the oldest of the Harris children.  Mildred was the second child.  She later married William Edward "Buck" Smith and had two sons, Sonny and Richard, and two girls, Gerrie and Kay.

Note:  Parts 1-58 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

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