Dam not an ugly word

Published 5:02 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I don’t remember not having electricity, but I do remember it consisting of the old green twisted wire coming out of the ceiling with a naked light bulb on it.

My parents didn’t complain because they could remember not having it. I tell folks that I am so lucky to have been born in the times I was because I was born during the Great Depression to good hard working honest people that didn’t ask for anything, just the opportunity to work, never complaining about the things they did not have.

I am reminded a lot about the time Lay Dam was built—that it said a lot about where this country was going with hard work and determination. The Dam was built before World War I, and then they built three more before the depression—all right here in central Alabama!

Do you realize what an impact it made in those days? I realize that a lot of their labor force came from other parts of our country, people who wanted to work. That was one of the main things that made this country great.

People ask about the racial issue. It’s a fact the biggest issue had to do with separation of class during these times of workers throughout the country all being thrown together, but the recently formed power company dealt with it and got the job done.

I can remember Mrs. Belle Hendrix telling the stories about Captain Lay coming to Clanton, trying to buy up some property to build Lay Dam. Folks thought he was crazy, I guess, but he let it be known that he had a sack of 50 dollar gold pieces—you could have one for each 40 acres that you would sell him!

Belle’s dad was skeptical, also, but Captain Lay sold him on the fact that he could bring electricity to Chilton County so he sold him a part of his 1,500 acres. “Build a dam across the Coosa River—he ought to know better, and even if he could it would cost him $10,000 dollars,” one man said.

When Captain Lay met Mr. Martin and Mr. Mitchell, they formed the Alabama Power Company, and the rest is history. Can you imagine the jobs they created? What was the difference in those days and now?

Folks wanted to work to make a wage because there wasn’t anyone who was going to give them anything. Can you imagine someone whining about the work being too hard, etc? They were bringing home a pay day, the Power Company was making electricity, and folks had money to pay for the electricity. Sounds like the way to “run a train” to me.

Then these same men went off to fight and win a war against all odds—to make this country free.

Little wonder that President Roosevelt would call them “the greatest generation ever.” I’m so proud to be a product of that era and to be an American!