In an era when many across the country had no hope for a job, 53 citizens of Thomson pooled their resources and started what would become the Thomson Company. Started in 1936, the company soon provided employment for 54. At it's peak, there were more than 800 employees working at six sites.
Approximately 75 of those employees gathered at the Depot in downtown Thomson last Friday evening for their annual reunion.
"Tonight was just wonderful. We had more people that came tonight," said Carroll Burton, who worked at the Thomson Company for 35 years. "The entertainment was good, the presentation about the city was good. Everything turned out real well."
The Wesleyan Quartet from Thomson First United Methodist Church served as the entertainers who sang barber shop style old gospel songs. The Mayor of Thomson gave a presentation on projects underway in the city, including the plans for the old Thomson Company building, the new government complex and the upcoming Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax election.
"Thomson Company was a vital part of Thomson, Ga.," Mayor Ken Usry said as he promoted the SPLOST vote. "The company's not here anymore, but Thomson is."
After going through many changes with the times - the introduction of shift work, minimum wage and paid vacations, the transition from a line system to a bundle system, and the implementation of contractors - the Thomson Company clothing manufacturing plant closed it's doors in 1996.
"I actually cried when they started closing down," said Naomi Edmunds, who worked at the plant for 44 years. "It broke my heart because so many would be out of a job."
In spite of their large number, the workers at the old company were like a tight-knit family. And that bond is evident each year when they get together.
"I just wish we were all back down there," said Anna Lou Williford, who spent 44 years working at the old company.
Next year's reunion will be the third Friday night in August at the Depot. Kenneth Kyzer was nominated to be in charge of the 2009 reunion.
"I enjoy it because I get to see my old friends and they make me feel younger," said Lois Hatcher, a 27-year employee.