Porterdale Mill on the Yellow River
NAMED for: Oliver S. Porter, Mill Owner

 

 

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.

Wilson Ollis

 This is when I was in the second grade in Porterdale.
 
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.
 
Wilson Ollis

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 killed.
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Wilson