MILL VILLAGE REMEMBRANCES
By Mary Lynn Kinley
On Saturday, April 21, there will be a Winnsboro Mills Village Reunion. A committee has worked on this project for over a year and are very excited this date is drawing near! Invitations were sent to folk who lived, worked or had family on the Mill Village during the 1930s through the 1970s.
Relative to this Reunion, some interviews and articles will be shared with the public in The Herald Independent. The first interview is with Ms. Emily Rabon, who worked in the lunch room at Everett School from 1963-1987, and she still resides on the Mill Village.
Ms. Emily, as she is affectionately known by many of her “children,” shared some fond memories with me about her job at Everett and also some interesting tidbits I did not know! In 1963, she worked under Ms. Hazel Durden for one year; then she worked with Ms. Marie Burley for the next 10 years. It was when Ms. Burley retired that Ms. Emily became Lunch Room Supervisor. One of the things that changed that year was breakfast began to be served to the students. There were free lunch opportunities and also partial payment for meals.
Ms. Emily remembered several students who were especially close to her….Patty Weed and Lynn Rabon. She said, “I loved children and loved to please them!”
I asked her if she could recall any particular humorous incidents and she quickly told the story of how one day they made rolls and somehow no salt was added. She said the kids said the rolls looked like biscuits….and the kitchen staff called them “Daisy’s Special” after one of the staff members Daisy Broome!
Teachers ate their meals with their classes. The students were allowed to go back for seconds if there were leftovers. She said, “The kids really loved the homemade soups and cinnamon rolls.” She said some adults in the community who were students at Everett still comment on how good the cinnamon rolls were! Ms. Emily said that all the breads that were served at Everett were homemade up until the last few years Everett School was open.
The equipment was pretty good in the kitchen with their first ice maker coming along the last several years (1985-1987). Seems that the first deep fryer came along just a few months before Everett closed! She recalled that Everett had the largest dining room of any school in the county back then. It also had beautiful hardwood floors as did the whole school!
When asked about the number of employees in the kitchen, Ms. Emily said there were only four others, plus her, to cook and serve around 600 students in the first through the seventh grades. The last several years of Everett’s existence, there were only about 400-450 students; Everett then only housed the fourth and fifth grades.
Ms. Emily fondly remembered some of her principals; these were Mr. Hiott, Mr. Penrod, Col. Razor, Ms. Carlson, Mr. Drew and Mr. Carl Jackson. She commented that Col. Razor always gave her good advice….work and personal! Everett closed in 1987 and Ms. Emily retired then also.
Everett School days were very special to Ms. Emily. She had so many comments to share about the students, teachers and principals. They were like one big family in those days.
I was curious about some of the foods she prepared for her family years ago. She said she loved cooking for her family and some of their favorites were tomatoes and rice, spaghetti, and hotdogs and hamburgers with French fries. Some of her favorite desserts to cook were Irish Potato Cake, Caramel Pecan Cake, Orange Cake and Jelly Cake. My mouth started watering to remember some of these wonderful cakes we had on the Mill Village! You don’t hear about Irish Potato Cakes and Jelly Cakes that much these days!
Ms. Emily’s sister, Ms. Gladys Davis, came to Winnsboro from Sumter to work at the Mill (U.S. Rubber Company) and brought her along with her. In 1938, Ms. Emily started going to Stephen Greene Baptist Church and is still a member of this church; the Rev. Padgett was the minister when she first started going. She recalled that Ms. Sallie Richardson was one of her Sunday School teachers.
I asked Ms. Emily about local stores and grocery stores back in the ‘30s and ‘40s. She remembered a Ms. Sims who had a store on Golf Course Road. She said that this store sold homemade jellies also. She also shopped at the A & P Store where Mr. Heigler worked; she said he was very helpful to his customers at the A & P.
Ms. Emily’s husband, Lonnie Rabon, came to Winnsboro from the Lugoff area (Rabon’s Cross Roads) and worked as a spinning doffer in the spinning room at U.S. Rubber Company. He left the Mill and went into the service and that is where he got his training with auto repairs. When he left the military, he went to work as a mechanic for Mr. Tom Ruff, who owned the Ford dealership here in Winnsboro. Then he worked for the Bus Shop as a mechanic. Mr. Lonnie died in 1991.
Mr. Lonnie and Ms. Emily had three children; they had one son, Glenn, who is now retired. They also had twin daughters, Dale and Gale; both of these ladies are Registered Nurses and they are still actively nursing.
Ms. Emily did a lot of baby sitting for her family members and close friends. However, she said her sister was quite particular who she would allow Ms. Emily to work for.
I asked Ms. Emily what was one thing that stood out in her mind about life on the Mill Village and she replied, “You grew up understanding good work ethics.” I would agree whole heartedly with Ms. Emily….that was one thing that I have appreciated having through the years also.
Ms. Emily is still quite active in her community. She enjoys her children and grandchildren so much and still does a lot of cooking for them! I am sure Ms. Emily made a lot of memories for many children through her job at Everett School. For those of you who were some of these children, count yourself very fortunate that Ms. Emily Rabon touched your life. She was and is certainly one of our blessings on the Mill Village. Thank you, Ms. Emily for sharing your cooking and your friendship with us!