I would have ruled this world too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
The Dye Ditch


Since I started on my area's history yesterday, something else has come to mind since then that I feel compelled to blog about.

Good ol' Erwin Mills, Durham NC
It opened in the late 1800's and I have no idea when this picture was taken....but believe me, it looked just the same in the 1970's. Both of my grandfathers worked there. I think most everybody from the old crowd worked there at some point or other....either there or at Liggett and Myers Tobacco Co. But anyway....this mill was like, the center of town. My grandparents lived within walking distance....both sets of grandparents.

I spent a lot of time at my grandmother's house growing up because my parents were *lowers voice to whisper* divorced.

Ha ha, back then it was a big deal! I could stand on my grandparent's property and see the mill....and on the back side of my grandparent's property was a ditch.

You really couldn't call it a creek. Sometimes it was almost dried up. Other times the ditch runneth over. But you would find the damndest things in that ditch. Bottles and glass items, car parts, discarded toys, dead animals. And the water was so pretty - it was thick and it would reflect every color of the rainbow when you stirred it around. Sometimes it was just black. Sometimes it was soapy and foamy. Sometimes it was all three in one day. This ditch was landscaped perfectly for war games and we played a lot of war games. You'd hide in the grass next to the ditch until the enemy (usually a cousin) went past, then you'd jump out of hiding, cross the ditch and shoot the enemy down with your stick gun. Later on, as teenagers, we discovered a wooden bench and took into the drain tunnel under the street, below the grate, and sat there and smoked cigarettes. I often wondered if anyone driving down the road noticed mounds of smoke coming out of the grate.
-This isn't my ditch but its somewhat similar. Except mine was a lot dirtier.

My whole point of telling you this....I spent countless hours in that ditch. My hands touched that water many times. My feet got wet many times. I fell in totally at least once. Submerged.

So imagine my surprise many years later when we finally realized this man-made ditch was connected directly to Erwin Mills (later Burlington Industries). It was called the "dye ditch" and that was where they dumped the used dyes to color fabrics and GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT ELSE. The pretty colors we saw was the dye, I guess. Who knows what the black was? The soapy crap? Who knows? Who knows what the hell all was in that ditch! There is absolutely no telling what chemicals or concoctions I (and my sister and cousins) have been exposed to.

So naturally I blame every little ache and pain I have on my exposure to the dye ditch. I do have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is manageable, but I blame the dye ditch whenever I tire out quicker than I wanted to. I don't know why I felt the dire need to tell you all about this but I feel much better now. Also, everyone will be much more understanding when the day comes and I arise from the swamps looking like this:

Bloggers, don't you hate it when you compose a post, hit the "Save As Draft" button and it stalls out? You wait awhile and it still won't go through. So you decide you better copy and paste it all onto a Word document for safekeeping. But before you can the screen goes blank like its going to finally go through...then it never does. But now you can't copy and paste either. Finally you give up. Good-bye little post. It double sucks for me because I use a lot of pictures and it takes time to get all that set up. I guess I shouldn't complain. It's free, right?