When Camp Jacobs arrived last week, Nettie Campbell’s reason for retiring came with him.
So on Friday, 14 years to the day after she started work as clerk, Campbell will walk out of Elgin’s little Town Hall off U.S. 1 and say goodbye to her job.
Then she’ll start spending her days caring for Camp, the first child of Campbell’s only daughter, Soupy Jacobs.
“I won’t miss a thing but the people,” Campbell said last week as she went about her normal duties collecting water payments, answering the phone and keeping town records.
But Campbell admits her habits of coming to work are going to take some getting used to. “When I leave my home, my car automatically comes this way,” she said.
Born and raised in the community, Campbell’s first job was as secretary at Blaney school, where she had just graduated. The school used to have grades 1-12.
Then she got married to Algie Campbell. Another career started away from Elgin, when she worked for 13 years at the Shakespeare plant in Columbia. Her next job, a typesetter for The Camden Chronicle, lasted about a year.
Then she decided she wanted a mostly part-time and perhaps temporary job. Right. That’s when they hired her for the town job in Elgin.
Early on, Campbell’s work was typical of what town clerks did for much of this century. She used a desktop calculator to figure the water bill of every customer. Then she typed the bills out individually, licked labels and stamps and put them in the mail.
Now, of course, the bills are computerized. Campbell acts only as a collection point for Elgin-area bills paid to the Lugoff-Elgin Water Authority, created by merger of the water systems in 1993.
Elgin — named Blaney until 1963 when the now-departed Elgin watch company built a plant there — is still a rural-oriented community where most everybody knows each other. But growth from northeast Richland County and from the Lugoff area of Kershaw County is headed in Elgin’s direction.
If prospects for widening U.S. 1 to four lanes in town and running sewer lines from Lugoff materialize, Elgin could explode. While some don’t want that kind of growth, Campbell said she’s ready for it.
Until then, Elgin is likely to stay “one big, happy family,” as Campbell described it.
In a sense, the town is officially keeping things in the family. As Campbell retires from the job, she’ll hand off the Town Hall keys to the next clerk, already chosen by council. That would be Jeanette Anderson, who is Nettie Campbell’s sister.