by Frances Stanton
A Sawmill Scrapbook, Volume 1

As a child growing up in Century, I have many fond memories. My dad, Joel Harrison, worked for The Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company. First, he worked in the planer mill tallying lumber that was being loaded into box cars. Since we lived across the Street from the planer mill, I remember hearing the loading crew singing a sort of chant as they loaded the lumber.

Later, Dad went to work in the commissary where he worked for many years with Mr. Radney, Edgar and Ruth Archer, Curtis Hammond, Wilburn Smith, Eddie McNiel, and Maleaze Wester. My mother, Mazie, worked in the payroll department in the Alger office with Docia Bowman and Helen Atkins.

Our back gate opened on to the grounds of the high school.
There was an alley that went from the school grounds down
to the hotel. The new high school was being built at the time.
The elementary school stood where the hospital is now.
When the new high school opened, the old building was
used for the elementary school. My third grade class began
in this building with Miss Willie Lee Hall as my teacher. Mrs.
Julia McDonald was the principal and also the sixth grade
teacher. Since this was before the time of electric bells, at
least for us, she had a hand bell that she rang to call the
students to classes.

Since many of the teachers boarded at the hotel, every day at noon, two students walked down the alley to the hotel to pick up a dinner tray for their teacher. Every day after school, kids from all over town gathered out behind our house on the playground to play softball. Among those were T. A. Shell, who lived in the house where Dr. Jack Pruett's office now stands. Also, Buddy Williams, Don Burkett, Jean Gorum, Coy Barnes, Margaret Ann Mayo, Myra Jean and Kayo Stanton, Floyd Kelly -- goodness, this list could go on and on -- reported for ball practice.

Anyway, no matter how exciting our game may have been, when the afternoon mill whistle blew, kids scattered in every direction. You could hear some of them say, "Oh, Mama's calling. I gotta go home."

Then came Saturday. We always went to the Jackson Theater
in Flomaton for the weekly western movie. You could always
see Edward Kennedy leaning out the window of the projection
room. Sometimes we walked to the depot and rode the train
to Flomaton. Some of the kids would go to the movie right
after noon and spend the whole afternoon watching the movie
over and over.

Sundays were always special. Back then, the Baptist and Methodist churches alternated Sundays for church services. Both had Sunday school every week but after Sunday school we would go to the church that was having worship service. The story is told about the two churches during the summer when all the windows were open. As it goes, one church was singing, "Will There Be any Stars in My Crown" while the other was singing, "No, Not One".

Few people owned a car, so every Sunday night after church, ten or twelve of us would walk home with Betty Gay, who lived near Highway 4, just off of Jefferson. At the time, that section of the road was called, "Lovers' Lane."

Our family usually ate Sunday dinner at the hotel. I'll never forget Annie Feigan's delicious food. Aunt Sue Mason always had such a variety of food on the table!

Some people probably remember my grandfather, J. P. Harrison. He was a Justice of the Peace for many years. He was also the mail carrier. At the depot, the mail bags were hung on a pole by the railroad. When the train passed, a hook on the mail car snatched the bag from the pole into the car. At the same time, the incoming mail bag was thrown from the mail car to be picked up by my grandfather and carried to the post office. Now, he was certainly not known for his driving expertise. In fact, just the opposite. Since there were only a few cars in town, everyone recognized his car (and driving) a long way off and got out of his way. When he drove up to the back of the post office, at the fence by "Miss Irene" Whigham's house, he would sit there and blow the horn until Miss Eva Vaughn, the postmaster, came out.

The mill whistle blowing at night always brought chills to everyone since that was the fire whistle. Instead of a long blast as usual, the fire signal was a series of short blasts. I will never forget the night the mill burned. We didn't know whether we would have a house or not, but luckily, none of the houses burned.

This is a "Life in a Nutshell" record of the Century where I grew up. Many changes have taken place since then but s-h-h-h, listen, I can hear my dad whistling for me to come inside before it gets dark.

Century Elementary class c. 1922
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L&N Depot c.1960s
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Aftermath of fire 1939
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Frances Harrison Stanton Lee's grandparents' home
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Next page

Ferry across Escambia River
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Hall's Gen'l Merchandise store
near where Masonic Lodge is now
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Hall's store advertisement from 1904 newspaper
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This page last modified on Saturday, February 25, 2012