The talents of two gifted local women bring an important part of Cherokee County’s history to life in an engaging new children’s book sure to delight readers of all ages. Award-winning Canton screenwriter Jennifer Dunn wrote Salty Dog Goes to Denim Day, and it features captivating illustrations by watercolor artist Elly Hobgood, known for her beautiful paintings of Cherokee County.

Published by History Cherokee to benefit the Cherokee County History Center and museum in downtown Canton, the book tells the story of the droopy-eared mascot of Canton Cotton Mills named for the scrubbed denim product it marketed in the 1960s under the name Salty Dog.

Both Jennifer and Elly have a personal history with Canton Cotton Mills, which was the economic lifeblood of the county from the time it opened in the early 1900s until 1981 when the mills closed. The original Mill #1 was built in 1900 and Mill #2 in North Canton opened in 1923.

Salty Dog Goes to Denim Day weaves in historic facts and visits to local Canton landmarks as it takes readers on a delightful journey through the heart of 1960s downtown Canton and into the daily bustle of the Canton Cotton Mills and the mill village where many of the workers lived.

In the book, Salty Dog’s mother works at the Canton Cotton Mills. One day she accidentally leaves her lunchbox at home when she leaves for work. Salty Dog spots the forgotten lunchbox and heads out on a mission to bring Mama her lunch.

History Cherokee Executive Director Stefanie Joyner says, “We were fortunate to have the talented team of Elly and Jennifer working on the project. They appreciated the history of the mill and animated the story with beautiful drawings and a creative storyline.”

Facts and Memories

As the author of the book, Jennifer drew on family memories. “My whole family has worked at the cotton mill. My grandmother has worked at the mill. Just having a chance to be a part of something about the mills was a nice continuity for my family and me,” Jennifer offers. “We wanted to introduce children to what a mill village was like, so we focused on the different way of life that kids these days don’t know.”

Elly consulted friends and family, including her husband, former Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood, who also worked in the mills, while she researched the project. She also drew on her own memories of the mills. “I worked at the mill as the last nurse before it closed down. I had personal contact. Gene worked at the mill, Gene’s parents worked at the mill, and his grandparents worked at the mill.” About the production, Elly recalls, “When I started my drawings I worked from pictures from inside the mill. I went to a friend who used to work at the mill. I asked him to double-check some of my work.”

Elly continues, “Knowing the book would help raise funds for the History Center was my motivation for undertaking the project. I spent the entire summer on that project. Each day I would tweak it some more. It was a lot of work, but it was a pleasant project.”

Salty Dog Goes to Denim Day / History Cherokee / Harvee White (Photo Credit: Jaye Grimes/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine)

History Cherokee Education & Programs Manager Harvee White reads Salty Dog Goes to Denim Day to little listeners at R.T. Jones Memorial Library.

Working on the book for children also brought back memories of Elly’s own childhood. “Once I got into it I remembered that I had a dog when I was a child, a basset hound that would wait for me to come home from school. He would watch the clock and go to meet the bus when it was time. Here I am seventy-five years old and still remember him.” For the book Elly says, “I channeled that dog.”

The book appeals to children with its universal meaning and the adorable central character of Salty Dog, who is proving a hit. “I have this theory that everyone wants to be asked to help. Salty Dog just saw a way to help his mom, and that resonates with kids. They want to be helpful. I think that is what is universal about this book,” Jennifer explains.

R.T. Jones Memorial Library / Salty Dog Goes to Denim Day / History Cherokee (Photo Credit: Jaye Grimes/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine)

Faith Dubow and her daughter, Beverly, enjoy Salty Dog storytime at R.T. Jones Memorial Library.

A Cherokee County native, Jennifer has written screenplays for several successful projects, is a genealogist, and has a passion for storytelling.

Since retiring from a career in nursing in 2003, Elly has pursued her passion as a watercolor artist, exhibiting her work throughout the Southeast and garnering many awards. She has achieved Lifetime Signature status with the Georgia Watercolor Society and Signature Status with the Southern Watercolor Society. Her work has earned a place in many homes and collections across the country and Canada.

Salty Dog Goes to Denim Day is available at the Cherokee County History Center and the Cotton Mill Exchange at The Mill on Etowah. Visit HistoryCherokee.org or call 770-345-3288 for more information or to plan your visit to the Cherokee County History Center.

 

 

 

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