Churches and Train Tracks
Downtown Carrington, very much like most of rural America, consisted of a town square built around an ornate, domed courthouse. A pretty Victorian neighborhood surrounded the square for several blocks. These homes were grand and owned by the elite of Carrington. Anyone with any means owned one of the brick or colorful wood frame mansions, decorated fancifully with wooden gingerbread and Corinthian columns. There were two large plantation homes that survived Sherman’s March to the Sea but they were farther out of town. Homes from the 1930's and 40's, far more subdued but still very beautiful, surrounded the Victorian neighborhood. Subdivisions from the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s could be found outside of town on one of the two state roads that went through Carrington. South on Highway 41, one could find most of the “newer” stores like the Dollar General, the Piggly Wiggly, and two strip malls built in the 1950’s. The schools, chock full of asbestos tile and lead based paint, were west of town on Highway 86 along with the town’s two trailer parks. The wealthy met for tee times, tennis, and toddies north on Highway 41 at the prestigious Carrington Golf and Country Club. The town’s movie theatre was still located on the square and had been renovated to accommodate Dolby Digital Surround Sound. But Carrington’s population of 5,689, for the most part, did not like change. “Change” happened somewhere else in some faraway town north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The people of Carrington felt they had been through enough “change” when those rapin’ and pillagin’ Yankees came through town during the War of Northern Aggression! A grudge is a grudge, no matter how many generations have passed.
Near the edge of the old section of town was a tiny congregation of clapboard shot gun houses and an old textile mill. This area was known collectively as “The Mill” and those who lived near and worked at the mill were known as “mill people.” Even though the mill had been closed for nearly 30 years, those poorer people who rented the mill homes were still called mill people, the term now lending itself more to a description of social status rather than location.
And no self-respecting southern town is complete without a railroad track. The track that crossed through town one block north of the square used to run cars carrying commuters, cotton, and coal. Men and women dressed in their Sunday best would line up at the old Carrington train station for a day trip of shopping in the big city of Atlanta. During the world wars, townsfolk would congregate on the wooden platform to welcome home fathers, brothers, and sons with red, white and blue patriotic swags and miniature American flags. The train, timed almost as precisely as the clock on the courthouse, would chug through town at 5 o’clock in the morning and again at 8 o’clock in the evening. Now, however, the Norfolk Southern train cars carried freight to larger cities. As if the town were invisible, the train would pass through flashing railway crossings as it sailed through the community. It no longer had reason to stop in tiny, rural Carrington, Georgia.
The First Baptist Church of Carrington was an enormous brick structure one block west of the courthouse on Main Street. The current building, built circa 1875, replaced the wooden structure burned by those “damn Yankees” during that “damn war.” As a testament to the faith of the community, or a perhaps to protest the overbearing regime of the new “Federal” government, the congregation of The First Baptist Church of Carrington saw to it that the steeple on the new church rose higher than the dome on the courthouse. It is also rumored that the steeple of The First Baptist Church of Carrington measures exactly twice that (to the inch) of the black First Baptist Church of Carrington. Everyone knows that the higher the steeple, the higher the hallelujahs! On Sundays preacher Benjamin "Boo" Boatwright could be heard for blocks hollerin' about heaven and hell, sinners and saints, and tithing... and tithing. And no one dared not respond to his calls of affirmation when he yelled, "Can I have an A-mayann?!?"