Memories of Wilson Ollis born 1921, and lived at 25
Hazel Street, Porterdale, with his parents Philo and Emma Ollis.
|Philo and Emma tried farming, but about the time they got started, insects and
especially the boll weevils got real bad. In addition there was a real need for fertilizer
if you wanted to make two bales per acre. The poor folks only got 1/2 to 1 bale per acre.
There was no way that one could live and support a family with such small production.
Philo gave up farming and became a mason. He soon learned how to lay a straight wall.
He heard that the Bibb Manufacturing Company (cotton mills) was opening a plant in
Porterdale, Georgia. The Company had placed an ad for a brick mason in the paper. Bibb
would be building many houses to house their employees. So Philo heads towards Porterdale,
and took a room in a boarding house in Covington, a nearby town.
Philo went to apply for the brick mason job. The first question was if he could build a
fireplace for a four-room house, where each of the four rooms would have a fireplace, yet
use only one flue? He was not concerned about laying the brick, he badly wanted the job
and said that he could do it. Philo stayed up all night drawing up plans how he would
build the fireplace and flue. He took the plans in the next day. He got the job. He became
an overall maintenance man for Bibb. He built several structures in Porterdale, including
wading pools for the youngsters. One of the wading pools was
located on the playground at the elementary school.
The family moved from Porterdale, Georgia to Cedartown, Georgia. The Goodyear Tire and
Rubber Company was building a plant in Cedartown, and needed some "spinners".
Goodyear did not really have a job for Philo at this time, but Philo had three daughters
that were good spinners (learned at the Porterdale Mills). So they found a job for Philo if he would move to Cedartown and
bring his daughters. Good spinners were what made a lot of money for the Company. Wilson
recalls the trip to Cedartown, a distance of a little over 100 miles. The roads were
gravel and dirt, mostly dirt. There were big ruts and it had rained, the roads were in a
mess. Frequently they had to back the car up the hills, rather than go forward.
This is when I was in the second grade in
It all begins with my memory going back to my
grammar school days. I loved going to school until one day at
lunch period (I would normally spend my nickel for lunch and get a
bottle of milk (three cents) and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (two
cents)) I was confined to my classroom for something that slips my
memory after three score and ten plus years. My class room was on the
first floor, as were most class rooms in 1926. That day I got out on
the window ledge, and I began to walk back and forth until my teacher
saw me and yelled "get off that window ledge." She yelled, "I'll take
care of you later." That was the beginning of my dislike for school.
Little did I realize that the fear that was put in my heart that day
would cost me a high school education. As the years went by I realized
that I needed to have such an education just to compete in the world.
Needless to say in every job I held it was hard to get by without a high
school diploma. I tried by being good hard worker.
Note: Wilson later eared a PhD in Theology.
I lived in Porterdale on Hazel Street, when
I was about 12 years old.
Farmers came around in the village with their
produce. One day one came and stopped in front of our house with his
two horse wagon. He asked me to watch his load of watermelons while he
went door to door to see if he could sell some. I agreed to watch
it. I climbed into the wagon and picked up the reins. A playmate of
mine picked up a board and smacked the horse in the rear end. I was off
for the ride of my life. From where I lived on Hazel it was downhill
all the way to the river. The horses were just flying. The wagon fell
apart plank by plank and the watermelons were just flying, bursting all
over the road. By the time I got to the bridge I tried to steer the
horses to the center of the bridge. The wheels hit the steel on the
bridge and that finished the wagon. I was riding the tongue which was
all that was left. The owner of the wagon never questioned what
happened. He surveyed the damage. He was glad that I was not hurt or