25 February 2014

First there is a mill, then there is no mill, then there is. {Starkville, MS}

A few years back, I got lost in the Cotton District {what?!?  How is that even possible?  Trust me, there are lots of lil dead~ends, one way streets, and cul~de~sacs just waiting for the unsuspecting driver to get stuck in the never ending loop of right of ways and do not enters}.  As I topped the hill on Maxwell Street, I was faced with the looming, mammoth brick building facing me across Russell.  Yes, I knew that it was the EE Cooley Building for MSU, housing the physical plant facilities.  But when I first faced that central tower, full on, a lil eerie voice popped up, “ooooo, spooooky” with glee and I immediately had visions of possibilities, involving movie sets and novel locations and Stephen King and John Saul and children’s orphanages {or boarding schools, same difference} and old abandoned mental asylums.  Obviously, horror fiction is fun for me; if I actually did encounter any horrific oddities in real life, I’d probably piss my pants and do other unspeakably disgusting things like squeal like the lil girl I used to be and attempt to stuff all ten of my fingers into my mouth to stifle the screams that were sure to follow.

It’s all fun and games til someone loses an eye.  Or a mean spirit rises up, drives you mad, causing you to run into oncoming traffic, impaling yourself on a car’s hood ornament, and you die with an appalling death rictus that never shows up on CSI.  But in the meanwhile, it’s cool to imagine what these older buildings housed and oh, if only walls could talk.

Around that same time, my childhood friend {from Pennsylvania} and her family were planning to come spend a week with me in Mississippi.  I wondered what each of the children found interesting, so that I might be able to find something in this area for them as well.  The teenage girl was into spooky things, ghost stories, and hauntings.

Perfect!  My inner eerie clapped with relish, squirming and wriggling.  Amongst the other places to show her, like Waverly, cemeteries, certain roads, and such; we drove into the paved parking area in front of the EE Cooley Building.  It was hotter and more humid than the Okefenokee Swamp in August 1995 {different story}, so none of the five of us wanted to muster the energy to get out of the lil yaris and then squeeze back in {a notion that is akin to putting toothpaste back in the tube}.  So I took a picture of the name plate by the entrance, which listed all the members and their positions on that very first board of the John M Stone Cotton Mill.  Then the teenage daughter and I talked about how that building just begs for a good story or two.

Sure you could make one up, but a good story based on even the barest smidgeon of truth deserves to be researched some.  Get the facts straight and then venture off into fiction.  Or perhaps, a good juicy urban legend already exists in connection with the old brick building.

So over the years, I've done a lil digging here, and a tad searching there.  What I've often read is the same sorts of facts, rearranged from one article to another.  Sometimes there are more data included, like the actual measurements of the behemoth.  But for the most part, accounts agree with each other and reflect a fairly comprehensive history of the building, from its conception at the turn of the last century, to the present, over 110 years later.

to be cont'd

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