BIBB CITY, Ga. — Sometimes the movers and shakers in a community are not those with the highest profile.
“Well, she’s the Queen of Bibb City…that’s for dern sure!” says Rick McKnight.
That’s how Rick McKnight affectionately refers to his neighbor, Bessie Bacon. He’s lived in Bibb City ten years. She’s been here since FDR was president. Bessie moved from the Dothan area to Columbus with her sister in 1941.
“I moved into Bibb City after I came to Columbus and I found out right away we had very nice neighbors all around. And I could name every neighbor up and down the street here before the mill closed,” says Bessie.
Bessie started working at the Bibb Mill at the age of 21.
“I first went to work in the spinning room on the second shift. And then I was transferred to the office. I worked in the payroll department,” says Bessie.
She worked at the Bibb 43 years. It was there she met her husband Roy.
“Roy worked at night and I was lonely. We lived on Hemlock Drive and I remember sitting on the porch one night before sundown. I just looked out into space and I said, Lord, please send me a baby. And it was not long before He answered that prayer,” says Bessie.
Their only child Bruce was born December 22, 1956. He spends a lot of time with his mom at her home on First Avenue, where she’s lived since 1964. Her backyard neighbor is Steve Gray. They used to serve on the Bibb City Council together.
“She knew everything about Bibb City…and so smart,” says Steve Gray.
Rick McKnight is the President of the Bibb Village Association. He places great value on Ms. Bessie’s input.
“When Ms. Bessie calls…I hop (laugh),” says McKnight. “She is a font of information about what Bill Mill was like…what these mill communities were in the fabric of the South. Just to sit at her feet and listen is miraculous.”
At age 97, Ms. Bessie has made significant contributions to Bibb City’s past. But she doesn’t see age as any reason not to continue to contribute to the plans for the future.
“It’s destined to rise again and Bessie helps us remember from whence we came,” says McKnight.