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The stockyard is now leased to Metter Chicken and Goat Sale, but Melvin McBride still works as a clerk at the auctions alongside auctioneer Chris Pinard. generation. “I took over as office manager,” said Betty, “but Mother continued to clerk the sale until she was 80-yearsold. Of course, Daddy was still out there, but they gave the responsibility to us.” “Billy took over the trucking and the buyer end of things,” said Melvin, “and I saw about receiving the livestock, getting them ready for the sale, and tagging them. We were all dedicated. We worked every day but Sunday, which is why it was the day I got married and the day both my children were born.” Even though his eyes were laughing, I was pretty sure he was telling the truth. “When you had 1,200 to 1,400 cows and that many or more hogs coming in and going out again, you had to work hard.” With that many livestock, there was always something getting loose that had to be caught again. One time in particular Billy said, “A cow got out, and I got in the back of a pickup truck that Chris McRae a longtime veterinarian in Lyons was driving. We went out across this field back of the stockyard, and I threw a rope on that cow. The cow was worth a lot of money. I grabbed the rope and just as I did, Chris stopped. That cow snatched me right out of the truck, but I wouldn’t turn the rope loose ’cause I didn’t want that $1,000 cow to get away. She ran into a fence and that rope just went right through my hands.” Billy’s hands took weeks to heal, but his pride took even longer. “This was a time when everyone farmed and had hogs and a number of cattle,” said Melvin. “Hogs kept the economy going, and cows were insurance. If someone got sick and had to go to the hospital, he could always pay the hospital bill by selling some cows. If there was a funeral, you could get up a load of cows to pay for it….In those days, everyone had Herford cows. Then it was Limousines. We had some purebred Limousine producers and a whole lot of crossbreed Limousine producers. Limousine has lost its glitter right now. It’s like everything else. Now it’s Angus.” In America’s Historic Stockyards: Livestock Hotels, Pate details the progression of government oversight with its rules and regulations that directly shaped the history of stockyards and subsequent meat processing industry in America. In 1921, the “Packers and Stockyards Act” was passed, which resulted in the creation of the Packers and Stockyards Administration. “Its representatives enforced fair practices at stockyards,” writes Pate, “and the agency approved any increase in service charges or tariffs. In 1958 country auctions came under the jurisdiction of the Packers and Stockyards Administration for the first time” (pg. 192). Melvin said, “A woman with the government came down once and asked Billy, ‘Where do you get your labor? He said, ‘We get most of them from under that tree over there back of the liquor store.’ She looked horrified. ‘They’re not intoxicated when they work, are they?’ she asked Billy. Then she asked me where they got their training, and I said, ‘If they get kicked or butted one time, that’s their training.’” When the Toombs County Stockyard closed in 2002, “It was the longest running family owned livestock auction in the state of Georgia,” said Melvin. Billy’s wife Jane and Betty’s husband Cal, a rural mail carrier, and other family members all worked at the stockyard whenever help was needed. “Everyone helped,” said Betty. Even now at 75-years-old, Melvin continues to work 120 Toombs County Magazine


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