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work the auctions. Not long after the Toombs County Stockyard closed, he got a call from the stockyard in Swainsboro where he’s clerked ever since. Of course, things continue to change. “Today, everything is more specialized,” said Melvin. “Packing companies own the hogs all the way through. There are not many local farmers with hogs anymore. We never thought we’d live to see that.” But that’s the strange thing about change. All we have is the present—until it’s the past, and we’re looking back wondering how in the world things changed so much so fast. When my grandparents talked about life without electricity and indoor plumbing, it was like listening to tales from the dark ages. Today, our grandchildren can’t even imagine life without cell phones and personal computers. I know the “familiar” will one day close its doors, and our memories will seem ancient and outdated to the young. But while the ghosts linger, I hope there will be those who want to hear the stories we lived, who will value the past and the community that created a place for their future. ��TCM ABOVE LEFT Clerk and owner Hortense Benton with auctioneer Willard Yeomans. ABOVE RIGHT The stockyard was often used for “showing livestock” in events as well as for buying and selling. Young farmers would bring their best cattle to show. RIGHT Getting a good price for hogs and cows was every farmer’s goal. Melvin McBride with Toombs County Stockyard owners Betty Martin and Billy Benton. “ G O I N ’ T O T H E S A L E ” Hometown Living At Its Best 121


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