Honorable Mention - Student Fire Witch Story by Carrie Price
The Glendale Fire Witch
I don’t remember much of how I got here. But I do remember what happened before I died. Like any other morning I got up, helped Ma with breakfast and left for the mill. It wasn’t long after I got back from dinner break that it happened. A shuttle for a bobbin came off the machine. I don’t remember it hitting me - I just remember the pain. And then, the darkness. Next thing I remember was waking up here in the Glendale Mill. People were working but no one could see me. I felt this was strange but it didn’t take me long to find out. I had been killed by that stray shuttle.
Oh my poor Ma and Pa. I was the oldest, you see. As the oldest I took care of the four younger ones as well as house work. I also had to work in the mill to support the family as Ma stayed home and Pa worked running the trolley. That was in 1917.
Now in 2004, there isn’t much left for me to see on this old rundown mill. After eighty-seven years, I sure am lonely. I watched my brothers and sisters come through here working their poor fingers to the bones. The period of World War II was the busiest I ever saw the place. Looms ran all day, women and men working. I’ll never forget the girls gossiping about those boys over at Croft. Goodness, they were fine young men. In ‘46 when Converse Co. sold the mill, the place starting running on electricity. Houses were also sold. My youngest sister bought the family house from the mill after they fixed it up. I think its still in the family. In ‘57 the mill changed ownership again and I saw the decline to the closing in 1961. It got awful quiet in this place after that. Oh once in a while someone would show up to check the place out. But it wasn’t the same without the ring of the machines and the talk of the workers. I miss those days.
I remember some of the reunions held down here. Some family names I knew and some faces held the features of my old friends while others had changed. I was never able to wander far from the mill. I suppose I was drawn to it because it was where I died. I was alone here for forty-three years. I wandered about my ghostly shadow sweeping over the old cotton dust on the floors. The machines are gone, taken when the mill closed. Sometimes I imagined what it was like when the place was still running.
Staring out the dingy windows as they grew dingier each year, sometimes I imagined I could see my old house… what it was like... what my family had done to improve the place. The village has changed so much over the years since my death. The old shoe shop and company store are now a post office. The trolley is now replaced by cars. The school house is gone and now a fire station stands there. The houses have even changed. Parties aren’t held in the super’s house anymore. It is locked up and rundown.
I lost everything in 2004, the night the mill burned. I don’t know how the fire started or where it started. But it spread quickly over the old cotton dust. Once the fire was seen, several fire departments responded. It took almost two days to put it all out. I remember lots of photographs being taken. I watched all this happen while standing in a window that had blown out due to the heat of the flames. I was helpless. The smoke was thick and if I could breathe would have been choking. Almost all of the mill was destroyed. And what was left standing was a shell of the beauty it had once been. They tore it down save a few less damaged parts of the structure. Only the foundation is left.
I miss the cotton dust-coated floors as I miss the sound of those loud machines. I see people from time to time. The village has become very popular with the repairs being done to it. Yet, they can never bring my Glendale back. It is locked away in my memories and the memories of those still alive. But they are trying to revive the area and I like that. Lots of kids doing studies come here now from Converse College. I feel less alone that way. I have a name now, the Glendale Witch. That’s what the boys called me in school the time I defended my brother when they bullied him. Chased them clear to the mill I did. They don’t know my true name or where I come from. But at least I have more of an identity than I had as just a name on a list of people killed in machine-related accidents.
I don’t know why I remained here after my death. I may never know nor may I ever move on. But at least now someone knows my story. Where I come from and what I did. At least that much has been told.
Carrie Price is 16 years old and attends Broome High School. She lives in Glendale and her family has lived there several generations.
This web site has been started as a public service to share the story of Glendale. The web master and person to contact about putting information on the web site is Mary McKinney Teaster. Contact her at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (843) 873-8117. See more information about Mary and her Glendale connection at Mary McKinney Teaster.