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Former Thomson Co. workers share memories at 30th reunion

Dozens of former Thomson Co. workers and family members gathered at The Thomson Depot on Friday for the 30th annual reunion.

They agreed that the clothing manufacturer on East Railroad Street operated from about 1936 to about 1996. They agreed there were some good times, some unhappy times, and some tearful farewells. Beyond that, the views varied widely among the individuals.

"We had some wonderful years down there," said Plamon Hobbs, who said he worked at the company for 40-some years in several stints. "Some were good and some were bad. But we made it through."

"Good times, bad times," agreed DeLois Hatcher as she and Hobbs took registration. She said she started working at Thomson Co. for 9-cents and hour and worked there for 27 years. But the good times ended when the factory closed. "Overseas got it," she said.

Dot Milford said she worked at Thomson Co. for 43 years, until 1995. "I loved it. That was my life," she said.

Hatcher said there was a strong sense of community within the community's dominant employer, at its several locations. "Everybody knew everybody, because that's all there was," she said.

Vernon Johnson said he was caught off-guard when the factory closed. "I thought it was the end of the world, but it was the best break I ever got," Johnson said. From the factory, he went to work for Raymond Swann. Johnson said the carpet shop was awarded trips from the manufacturers, and Swann let Johnson take those trips. "I traveled all over the world," he said.

Thelma Brassell of Boneville said she worked at the factory for 42 years, until January 1997. "I was one of the very last," she said. "It was sad."

Margaret Thompson said the factory brought new options to town. "There was nowhere here for ladies to work," she said. "It just kept growing and growing until they sold us out."

She said she earned 9 cents an hour during part of her 43 years at The Thomson Co. "But we were glad to get it," she said.

Donald Usry said he worked in the samples pressing area. "They called it the Hot House, and it was hot, too," he said. He left the factory to join Knox & Rivers in building I-20.

Sybil Usry said she worked at The Thomson Co. until the last day. "I stayed there until sample department until everything was said and done," she said.

Web posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011

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