Letter to the Editor

First Posted: 2/12/2009

To the Editor,

I would like to thank the Surry Arts council for sponsoring the viewing of Rob Connolys film In Your Neck of the Woods this past Saturday night at the downtown Mt Airy theater.
For myself and all the other extras in the film it brought a little taste of Hollywood to us and we were more than thrilled with the results. At six thirty we arrived at the cinema and already there was a buzz of people milling around outside on the street. We knew this was going to be something big. I was so happy when I was excepted to be an extra in the film. I met some old friends, some relatives and even another extra who was in some big budget films.
As we watched the story unfold, we wer surprised at how so many of our own thoughts and dreams were parlayed into the film. Having worked myself at a mill in Mt Airy along with many of my friends we experienced Bob Underwoods { the main character in the film} frustrations at wanting more out of life than mill work. Don’t get me wrong… I appreciated having a job but those years had their share of dissapointments.
Not everyone had a good job. How much money you made depended on how good your machine was and how good your fixer was. Sometimes the thread was inferior, sometimes things didn’t work and you never knew why. Being on production was okay unless they noticed your paychecks were getting too much and they called in an engineer to “re-evaluate” your job which almost always meant less money. Lay-offs seem to always be near christmas. Overtime on holidays, family birthdays and special events were common. I saw women and men come in at dark and leave at dark covered in lint. A lot of the work called for no special degrees or even a high school education . So if you lasted for a couple of years there it was hard to leave because these people became your extended family. Leaving meant you lost your vacation time and had to start all over somewhere else at a lower wage so you felt you could not leave.
So I guess there was a little of Bob Underwood in all of us. I remember telling my oldest child “I worked in a mill so you wouldn’t have to.
Last of all, what an experience to work in the Spencer building.You could feel the spirit of all the peope who worked there and gave their lives to the company to make it successful.Walking the corriders, working in the break area and the line assembly you could still see them all in your mind.Thank you Rob Connoly for giving a grandmother like me my five minutes of fame.
Debra Blackwell

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