By Errol Castens
NETTLETON – When a train’s horn drowned out all other sound at Nettleton’s 125th anniversary celebration, Mayor Jimmy Taylor took it in stride.
“Poetically enough, we were founded by the railroad,” he said. “It’s still a part of our town.”
Saturday’s celebration downtown had live entertainment and a variety of food vendors and served as a fundraiser for the planned Veterans Memorial Park with a walking track, picnic area and a monument to the area’s fallen servicemen since World War I.
A giant birthday cake was the celebration’s centerpiece, with the first slice going to 91-year-old “Rabbit” Kennedy. He recalled coming to Nettleton in 1932, when he and his father celebrated their cotton crop’s $100 price by buying cheese and crackers for the long wagon trip back to Smithville.
The Friends of Nettleton group offered a book of photos from the town’s history. “A Great Little Town” features photos of an early steam locomotive, the Joy Theatre, a 1955 Trade Day, Sims High School, a sawmill, a diner and the groundbreaking for the Presbyterian Church, among many others.
“A lot of these pictures were held in private hands, and we were concerned if we didn’t do something with them, they might never be enjoyed by the people of Nettleton,” said Public Service Commissioner and former Nettleton Mayor Brandon Presley.
The celebration culminated with a documentary film made of Nettleton in the 1950s. “This film was found when they were getting ready to tear down the old Joy Theater,” Presley said. “Just by the grace of God did it not end up going into the trash.”
DVDs of the film and copies of the commemorative book can be ordered through City Hall.
Taylor said Nettleton had four business ribbon-cuttings just last week.
“It’s starting to grow, and we’ve got plans to acquire some of these empty buildings and get them refurbished,” he said.
Kenyatta Ruff is happy to be a 19-year resident. She was about to tell her impression of the town when she interrupted herself to greet and hug a friend passing by.
Having already proven her point, she said, “It’s a nice, friendly town.”