Celebrating our history

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, April 17, 2018

History is a subject that means many things to many people. Some value history and the lessons it has to teach, while others approach history with indifference, not convinced that the lessons and lives from those who came before us remain relevant in the ever-changing world we now live in.

Whatever your views on history may be, the recent inspection of the Margaret Bourke-White murals at the Cobb Memorial Archives is worth taking note of, with something to offer the residents of the Greater Valley Area.

These six extremely large photographs were taken by the esteemed photographer during a tour of Chattahoochee Valley textile plants in 1937 and despite their age are in very good condition.

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Bourke-White’s visit to the Valley was arranged by Carlton Richmond of the Wellington Sears Company in Boston. She took photos in the Lanett, Shawmut, Langdale and Fairfax mills. Carl Gaither of the WPMC Research Department was her guide. He showed her all the local mills before she decided which scenes to shoot.

At the time, they were only around two feet by three feet, but with some rubbing and stretching done by the messenger, they were extended to their full size of four-and-a-half by eight feet, with breathtaking detail.

Anyone that has not seen the murals should make an effort to lay eyes on them at least once. As a whole, they give viewers invaluable insight into the workings of the mills in their heyday.

The times we live in now are almost alien when compared to the days captured in these pictures. The mills are closed. The towns have fallen on hard times and are still in the process of rebuilding.

But looking at these pictures, we see the spirit of the area that helped build it up. This spirit is still here and these photos should serve as inspiration to all of us.