Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bob Recallled the Cobb County Prisoners

A couple of days ago my lifelong friend Bobby McEntyre sent me the below email:

Hi Eddie,

I Still really enjoy your blog.

Your blog jogged my memory of the "Convict Camp" or called the Cobb County Farm. It was located where the Boys and Girls Club is now plus most of the block of Manget Street to Glover Street and running east to Fairground Street.

The Convict Camp held prisoners convicted of minor offenses. The inmates raised sugar cain and the work was hard. Large wire fences ran the length of the camp. My family lived on East Dixie Avenue only two houses from Manget. We were close to the camp. Inmates would call to us as kids and try to get us to buy them cigarettes and chewing tobacco as we walked along Manget Street. Escapes were frequent and we would hear sirens and hounds at night trying to find the escapees. We would have to keep all our entrances locked up to keep any escapees out. The living conditions were horrible for the inmates so Cobb County decided to close the facility and move to County Farm Road sometime in the 1940's.

After the closing, the buildings were set on fire to clear the area. This created a real problem because the fire caused the huge rat population to vacate the camp in a hurry. I looked out in street and literally hundreds of big warf rats were running up East Dixie Avenue. Rats got in the homes all over my street, Manget, Glover and all the way to Atlanta Street. It gtook months to gert rid of them.

Just another Marietta story long forgotten except by the old residends that lived it.


and my reply:

Bobby, As you know my family lived around the corner from you, about three houses away.   In fact, we lived in the house on Manget Street that was closest to where the James T. Anderson Boy's Club you mentioned would be years later.

We moved to that old house in about 1947.  I pinpoint the year because the county work farm was cleared before we moved there.  The first year we were there they graded level three plateaus that would be two tennis courts on each level.  I don't think the courts got enough noticed.  I only saw them  used once. 

Prisoners graded the land and a guard with a shotgun stood a distance away as to keep his eye on every one.  When I saw the movie COOL HAND LUKE it reminded me of that.  I would get close enough to them to talk to them and the guard told me several times to get away from them.  All the convicts were black and were friendly, except one.  I could tell he resented me and had a few smart aleck remarks to me.  I think, if I remember right, before it was all over, he was friendly too.

The above picture is of the granite stone building that was there when we moved across from the park in 1947 and is still there.  I was told by one of Groover Hardware's grandsons that the county kept dynamite in it, and Groover Hardware kept them supplied.  I bet it was country-work-farm related.

I remember the warf-rats you mentioned.  One of the rats ate my pidgeon that my 5th grade teacher, Miss Shouse (soon to be Mrs Bill Kenny) had given me.  I didn't want to tell Miss Shouse the pidgeon was eaten by large rat, she might think we were bad off living in a rat infested area.  Everytime she asked me about the pidgeon I would tell of a new trick I taught it or something funny it did.  She probably got a chuckle out that, because she probably knew the fate of that pidgeon, because Daddy and her fiance' were friends.

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