From the very first
memories until today, Shannon has always been very
special and personal place to me. In 1927 my
granddad, Timothy Joseph Kelly, came from Passiac,
to become Vice President and Manager
of the new Southern Brighton Mill. He had worked as
an errand boy from a teenager progressing one step
at a time through on the job training and some
While waiting for a home to be built, now belonging
to Khonnie and Steve Sluder, they resided at the
Forrest Hotel. They enrolled three sons in
Darlington and begin to settle in to a new life.
One son had died of complications of a burst
appendix just two weeks before the move. One son had
finished school and one had taken what became a
lifelong job with Chase Manhattan Bank NYC.
Of course my life was centered around their son,
Edward G. Kelly meeting and marrying a Floyd County
farmer's daughter named Grace Whatley. A lot of
people have said their marriage was one made in
heaven. I never doubted it. I was blessed to
become their daughter in 1932. By then Daddy had
begun on the bottom rung of the job ladder at the
My granddad passed away in 1935. My Mother told me
at the end of each shift people came to the house to
pay their respects. This was a blessed and humble
memory for all of my entire family.
Our first home in the village was a half of a duplex
at the north end of 3rd Street. Most of my friends
and playmates were boys except for Claire Houser.
There just were not any girls around then who were
either much older or younger than me. My closest
buddies were Julius and Pat Locklear and Denison
Hull. In those days we used card board boxes to
slide down reservoir hill. We built houses and
forts from pine straw and in summer played in
sprinklers to keep cool.
Then came school. When I was in the second grade,
while I was in the hospital having my tonsils out,
Model School burned. All hands were on deck and
places were found for school to go right on. Our
class met on the top floor of what is now McGowan
Jones Pharmacy. We had our recesses across the
street from the store. It was surely different but
so much fun. In that same second grade year we
moved into our second home. It is on 2nd Street
where Eddie and Joan McEarchern now live. By then I
had old friends joined
by new ones. June Tolbert, Buddy and Martha
Watkins, Charles and George Williams, Harry Dawson,
the three Rich brothers, Marian Ford, Sandra Austin,
and Jean Murdoch. These are just some. I do
remember how much fun we managed to have without
being electronically connected to any gadgets. We
were outside and playing from daylight to dark.
Anyone I have left out just call me and fuss at me
so we can get reacquainted! Eighty year old minds
are known to slip now and then. In 1941, My sister
Rose was born. She shares and cherishes these same
So many articles have been written about the Youth
Club and those wonderful people that made it
possible and successful for all those years. All I
can really add is to say how fortunate we all are to
have that environment to experience during those
teen years. We had it all and didn't know it.
Another highlight of my growing up years in Shannon
is my absolute obsession with The Northwest Georgia
Textile League. I thought to ever miss one game was
catastrophic. I love the Braves but those games back
then were some of the best of baseball as far as I
am concerned. This subject has been covered well
through the years too.
So many friends over the years have talked about how
we were everybody's kids. Wherever we happened to
congregate the resident parents were in control and
it was understood we would show respect or expect
discipline just as we would at home. I don't ever
remember any parents ever getting offended by this
arrangement. It worked well.
All through these years the mill was furnishing all
these wonderful opportunities for the employees and
families. Who can't remember the Christmas Parties
where every kid got toys and a bag of goodies?
Remember the Brighton Choral Club lead by Miss Helen
Dean Rhodes. We were accompanied by Dale Stone.
This group performed many times at all sorts of
programs and on the radio. It was a fun group too.
Dale Stone later played at my wedding and threatened
to play Glory, Glory To Old Georgia as I came down
aisle. He did it at the rehearsal and I was
relieved when he stuck to the program at the
ceremony. We will never forget the wonderful 4th of
July celebrations with all the many activities.
Most of all the delicious bar-be-que with all the
trimmings. We had the informative Warp & Weft
Magazine with all the community news and items from
all the departments in the mill. Our Girl and Boy
Scout programs were among the best. We had one of
the best swimming pools around which my children
enjoyed years later.
Shannon had its own policeman. He was fully
equipped with police car and was deputized by Floyd
County. He kept us and our businesses safe and
probably saved property and lives by allowing no
speeding or malicious mischief in the village.
Other of the many great things I recall was the mill
bringing Dr. Harry Dawson and equipping a clinic and
furnishing a nurse. All those many years he gave
such good care to all of us. When my Daddy had a
heart attack in 1965, Dr. Dawson sat by his bed and
ministered to him for 18 hours. We always felt he
gave him a gift of 21 more years of life.
The first store I remember where McGowans is was
Britton Brothers. They sent someone to take orders
in the morning and delivered them in the afternoon.
At one time or another came Kessler's and Franklin's
and maybe some I don't recall. In the space where
the present Post Office was A&W Superette owned by
Annie Lou and Wilson Sherman. Another store was
Harvey's which was at the corner of Minshew Road and
Pierce Hill Rd.
We made our third move to the house where I
presently reside. I left to become a freshman at
UGA in the fall of 1949. The first time I came home
for a weekend we had moved just across the lot from
2nd to 1st Street. One of the summers while I was
at UGA I was asked to fill in for the switchboard
at the mill. I loved it. During that summer people
started coming and going to and from Greensboro NC.
Burlington Mills was buying Brighton. Once I got to
Athens it was hard to leave. My Mother felt sorry
for me because I cried all the way home from
The next fall became the start of one of the really
fun years of my life. I had planned to go to a
small town in GA to teach school. Dr. Randall Minor
called me to come by and talk to him. My Daddy told
me that unless I was ready for a change in plans I
had better skip that visit. I now know what Daddy
knew then that Dr. Minor could talk anyone into
anything and make them think it had been their own
idea all along. I became a teacher at Model High
School for the 1953-54 year. There were some really
times that year. The best thing was Model football
team were state champions. The Boosters Club was
established that fall.
This is pretty much the way I recall the terrific
times of being a part of being a Village Kid. I
doubt if any group of children ever were a part of
being brought up by a whole family of fine and
caring people as we were.
As the years went by with me so they did with the
mill and my Daddy's life there. He started at the
bottom of the ladder and worked his way up. He
worked in a lot of jobs. I don't remember him
talking a lot about them. I do remember his working
in the payroll department. When he retired he was
Personnel Director. He loved whatever he was doing
and he loved the people in Shannon. Through the
years and name changes he just hung in doing all
kinds of things for people. I remember one year he
decided to give his Christmas Bonus to a young
couple who couldn't make the down payment for a
house. So many people came by our house at night
and weekends to ask for advice and talk through
He had numerous offers over the years for other jobs
making much more materially. He was asked to
transfer within the company to other locations. His
answer always was the same "I have it all. My
family and friends are here, I can walk to work, I
love Shannon and its people and hope to live the
rest of my life here." He got his wish. To me he
was the very best Christian, Husband, Daddy, Pop and
I hope to spend the rest of my later years in
Shannon. I'm still very much "a village kid" in my
heart and in priceless memories.