Ware and several other seniors spent the day preparing ornaments for the town’s tree-decorating ceremony and Christmas bazaar, to take place Saturday. As they worked, they reminisced about Christmases past, and about the history of the place many of them call home.
Ware, who lives in Anniston, said she first visited Hobson City at 12, and recalled her amazement at the popularity of the oldest black town in the state. Hobson City was incorporated in 1899.
“It looked like they were having so much fun. They’d swim and they’d skate. It was a booming little city,” Ware said, smiling as she recalled her earliest memories of the place.
Ware, 81, explained that Christmas isn’t the same as it was when her seven children were young. Her children will visit her later on Christmas Day, but they’ve got their own children to celebrate with now, she said.
“I’ll be looking for them, but I don’t want to be selfish,” Ware said. “They said they’ll have Christmas with me anyway.”
Hobson City is a historic town, but it has changed over the years, Ware explained.
“Everything’s gone down,” she said.
There are fewer business there today than 40 years ago, and a drive through town shows only a small scattering of homes decorated with Christmas lights, but the seniors spoke fondly about living and raising their families in the town, once a popular destination.
Rosa Morris, 73, sat at a table with a group of seniors playing dominoes. Morris has worked at the center for 37 years, and has lived in Hobson City since 1963. She’s witnessed just about everyone she knows grow older and eventually walk through the center’s doors, she said.
“I was a young woman when I started and now I’m a senior citizen,” Morris said with a laugh.
It’s good for the seniors to get out of their homes, she said, so she tries to get as many as she can to visit the center, where they’re fed meals and can socialize with one another. About 12 or so seniors visit the center nearly every day, Morris said.
Morris also recalled the years when Hobson City was a tourist attraction, and spoke of seeing tour busses in the summer that brought hundreds to town to swim in the public pool and skate in the skating rink.
“The swimming pool was right over there,” said Mary Smith, pointing behind the senior center where a basketball court now stands.
Smith has lived in her home on Martin Luther King Drive since 1960, and said last Christmas was the first time her large family came together for Christmas at a home other than hers. They’ve outgrown her older home, she said, and now meet at a relative’s new, larger house.
“It was near about the same. It was still family,” Smith said.
Schenika Smith, Mary Smith’s granddaughter, drives the center’s van, and spent time this month helping organize the tree ceremony and Christmas bazaar.
Born and raised in Hobson City, Smith said Christmas has always been a time for her large, extended family to come together.
“We sing Christmas carols. My uncle will remix ‘The Night Before Christmas’ and make it about the kids and the family,” Smith said. “We still do it every year.”
Hobson City Library director Nikki Gaskins said Saturday’s Christmas bazaar will be free to attend and will take place in the senior center hallway. Vendors will sell holiday dresses, and the library will have Christmas books and children’s books for sale.
Proceeds from the event will go into the town’s general fund, Gaskins said.
“This is our way of coming together, since we do get so much support from the city, to try to give back,” Gaskins said.
The tree ceremony is scheduled for noon Saturday at Hobson City Centennial Park, 610 Martin Luther King Drive. The Christmas bazaar is scheduled to take place at the park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.