A Natural-Born Linthead

JL Strickland's mother at the Fairfax Mill, c. 1940, courtesy of the author.

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A Natural-Born Linthead

by JL Strickland
Southern Cultures, Vol. 18, No. 4: Winter 2012

"I would stand outside the mill fence mesmerized by the shadows of pumping Jacquard loom arms on the opaque windowpanes. I had found where I wanted to go. It looked like fun to me. It looked like magic. It didn't take long for that silly notion to be knocked out of my head. But, I persevered, and, as the years passed, lint became my life."

In my mother’s picture box was an old black and white photograph of her and my daddy as a smiling, young Alabama working-class couple, wearing their Sunday best. They were standing across from the village kindergarten, at the south end of Fairfax Mill where they both worked, along with thousands of other employees. The cotton mill, a blue-paned, three-story, red-brick monolith, rose grand and mighty in the background, and they seemed small and shy before it; and incredibly young and happy.