The Community of Saints – Part of the Rocky Mount Mills History Sweep

Women always wore housedresses in the morning and ‘nice’ day dresses in the afternoon.

Women dressed as you would have found them in the 1940’s – A Pinterest Image

Episcopalians, which I am one of, set great store by the community of saints. It may startle you that I would reference them when writing about the Mill history sweep on February 25th at the Braswell Library. It makes perfect sense to me, but then I sat and watched several times a digitalized black and white movie where Mill families and friends, toddler children, and pals with an arm slung around a shoulder, stood for the camera, with a wave, a grin. The mill women on the film were wearing their better afternoon dresses and clunky shoes. One of them could have been my mother, or yours, dressed as they were. You know me well enough by now to guess that I wiped a tear away while no one was paying any attention because I was moved by this gathering of saints that were being remembered.

img_5247I looked over the shoulder of a woman who brought a cardboard box filled with photographs, clippings, even love letters. Wandering around, I meet new people and greeted friends. It was one of the moments in life when I felt surrounded by this particular Community of Saints that are the Rocky Mount Mills family.  There were the Mill parents and grandparents, childhood friends, co-workers, all gathered together, remembered by their names, their stories told. If that wasn’t enough, this amazing thing happened to convince me that this special opportunity, hosted by The UNC Community Histories Workshop and Braswell Library, was something special.

“Stepheny, aren’t you making too much of things?” I suppose I am, BUT…  did you see the movie, Field of Dreams?  Do you remember the scene when out of the cornfield Shoeless Joe Jackson and the seven players banned as a result of the 1919 White Sox baseball scandal, return to the field to play ball? I want you to imagine those attending the history sweep scattered around the room, heads down, busy looking at film, digitized photographs and talking with each other, when out of the blue, Milton Bullock from The Platters, is introduced. Everyone stops what they’re doing and begin to listen as Milton sings acapella not one, but two love songs the Mill Grandparents were singing when they fell in love. At the last line of Only You, Mr.Bullock invited everyone to sing along; you can hear my voice and others because those of a certain age all knew the words. For a few minutes from off stage somewhere, out of the corn field, if you will, the community of saints showed up. You could hear them singing too, these love songs about them and to them. There is no doubt in my mind that it was a wonderful afternoon for ‘a game of baseball’ or more to the point, a history sweep.

Take a moment: Listen to Milton Bullock Sing  – To Each His Own and Only You

A typical gather of children during the 1940's - A Pinterest Image

A typical gathering of children during the 1940’s – A Pinterest Image





About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
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5 Responses to The Community of Saints – Part of the Rocky Mount Mills History Sweep

  1. Millie says:

    Beautiful story today, Stepheny. I’ve heard from others about yesterday’s experience. Sounds very moving for all.


  2. Janet Williams says:

    Enjoyed meeting you yesterday, looking forward to more discussions.


  3. Donna Padgett says:

    There may be mill former workers or their family at Marvin United Methodist Church on Falls Road and at Calvary Missionary Babptist Church, now on Beal Street. I recall parishioners at one church mentioning the mill, and some mill workers attended the other one when my grandfather was pastor there.


  4. Jane Walker says:

    Would you be interested in doing a story on the new store I’ve opened? The Marketplace of Rocky Mount. Its located at 1000 N. Winstead Ave. We have a salon, Angela’s Haven in the store as well. The Marketplace offers commissioned based sales space to small shop owners who otherwise would not have a storefront to sell their products. They setup their shop and then all sales run through our front counter. We have a great variety of quality products to offer including store bought as well as hand crafted. We also have a giving box at our front door that indicates we take donations for many local charities such as shoebox program, food bank, Friends of RM Animals, Toys for Tots, etc. We want to give back to our community and encourage our customers and shop owners to do the same. And this building had previously housed Crystal’s Dance and Gracie’s Interiors but had set empty for years. We’ve revived it and brought it back to life.

    Please let me know if this is anything of interest to you.

    Jane Walker (252) 985-8152


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