April 19, 2006 - Mamie Marlin - Part of Blairsville, Georgia history
In 1939, Homer Marlin, a TVA crew chief from Tupelo Mississippi, was assigned to survey the area surrounding Blairsville, Georgia. He told his wife, Mamie, "You don't want to go there. It's just a wide spot in the road. There probably aren't any doctors and there's no electricity or running water." Mamie went along anyway and the rest is part of Blairsville's history.
Mamie Marlin recently visited Blairsville again as a distinguished guest of the Union County Historical Society. She told about living in Blairsville, Georgia during 1939. Six men and their wives arrived to stay for almost a year. Mamie and her husband, Homer, with their two small children lived with Widow Ida Dixon, a few miles out of town. The other five couples stayed at Blairsville's Akin's Hotel on the square.
Mamie says, "We were treated like royalty. Mrs. Dixon opened her home to us. I remember Mrs. Dixon telling about one of her relatives. He was politician, maybe even a senator, but he went barefooted, even in the winter. We laughed and laughed over that story."
Mamie and her children visited with the other wives at the hotel every day. She remembers a handsome team of oxen that pulled a wagon around the square. She says, "We listened to soap operas on a battery operated radio at the hotel and there were generators that ran a few lights. There weren't any real restaurants but you could get something to eat at the hotel. Seems like there was a little drug store on the square but not much else. We went to Murphy to get groceries and do a little shopping. One Sunday we visited Gainesville. We went all over the place on weekends even though I was pregnant with Sandra at the time. Back in 1939, pregnant women didn't go out in public very much."
Mamie and Homer had a little Brownie camera. They took many photographs of Blairsville and the surrounding area. Some of these rare glimpses into the past are on exhibit in the Union County Historical Society Museum. One photo of Homer Marlin leaning on the crew's work vehicle with his co-workers beside him, is hanging in the main hallway. This photo was enlarged and donated by Katheryn Litton who has known Mamie for over 50 years.
Mamie says, "People were divided on the issue of getting electricity. Some people didn't want it because they thought the cows would quit giving milk and the weather would change. Some worried that the hens wouldn't lay eggs and that electricity would cause sickness. A man tried to run Homer off of his farm with an ax." She continues, "That wasn't the only danger. Homer and the other men had to wear high boots as protection from snakebites. They said they had never seen so many snake beds."
Mamie said the children spent a lot of time coloring and drawing at Mrs. Dixon's. "They would lie on straw rugs and scrape their toes on the floor until their shoes wore out. I sent the shoes back to Sears and Roebuck's in Atlanta. They came back with a letter that said the damage appeared to be the fault of the wearers. I kept that letter and had those shoes bronzed and made into book-ends."
Over the years, Mamie has formed many ties with people in Blairsville, Georgia. She is a good friend with Katheryn Litton and Jane Thompson. She has contributed many interesting photos to the Union County Historical Society and was one of the first to buy a memorial brick for the Historic Brick Walk. Mamie remembers her time in Blairsville fondly, "Everywhere the men worked people invited them to lunch. People were so friendly and generous. After my visit today I can say they still are."