The People of America



Opelika, Al – Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Phyllis McCarty moved to her husband’s home town of Opelika. Alabama 24 years ago after he left the Air Force where he had been stationed at a base near Vegas.

Their Opelika home was built in 1903 and is located in a section of well cared for grand old homes that are the pride of the city.

Both of her sons attended Auburn University. One has a master’s degree, the other is still in school. Her husband works for the city of Auburn.

Kia has opened a plant in Opelika, so as with the university Kia is a major employer. Phyllis works for Pharmavite, considered to be one of the largest

manufacturers of vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements in the United States. She was at home the day I dropped by Opelika because she works a
rotating shift. Wondering why a stranger parked his motorhome near her house and began taking pictures she stepped outside to inquire.

When Phyllis’ grandmother, who was 103, died four days before her 104 birthday in 2001, Phyllis mother moved to Opelika to be closer to her daughter and  two grandsons.

Does Phyllis miss Las Vegas? She puts it another way.
She very much enjoys the small town feeling and the life she leads in Opelika. With the university so near there is almost everything a person could want. She considers Opelika home.

It may have been different when the cotton mills were the major employer, as depicted in the 1979 movie Norma Rae, which was filmed on site in Opelika.

The movie was about a southern textile worker at a Carolina factory with intolerable working conditions who joined forces with a union organizer in an effort to change things. Sally Fields won an Oscar for her role in the film.

The worst day Phyllis remembers was the day her father died when she was just six. She and her mother and brother moved in with her grandmother, who worked in the first veteran’s hospital in the nation. While she says she “never wanted for anything” when she was young, it wasn’t easy growing up without a father.

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