In the summer of 1969, one week after we put our first man on the moon, I was born to a single mother in a trailer located where the Helena Post Office is now. I can remember Helena being nothing more than a “drive-through” town; The only reason why you came to Helena back then was to go to Bessemer or Cherokee Beach. Back then, Helena School was 1st through 9th grade, and each grade had only one teacher. We’ve come a long way since then.
Thanks to great leadership, our city has grown from 1,100 residents in 1969 to over 17,500 in 2014. Homes are now filled with families on land once owned by coal mining companies. We have improved and expanded our schools to include an Intermediate, Middle, and most recently, a New Helena High School. These are truly great times for our city.
As a Helena native, I am fascinated by the population growth, but specifically, the number of families that have moved to Helena from Northern and Mid-Western states. What brought them to Helena, Alabama from states like New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania? How did these families hear about our little secret?
Well, I have personal experience with one of these so called “Yankees”, my wife. I always kid her that she had to move south to find a good man, and she very wisely always agrees with that statement. But this got me thinking: What other families do we have in Helena that moved from far away? Well, over the next few days I plan on introducing a few families to you and sharing their stories, starting with my wife, J.J.
Interview with J. J Farmer
What is your name? J.J. Farmer
Where did you move from? Michigan
When did you move to Helena? 2003
Why did you move? I was in the fashion industry as a buyer and I accepted a corporate position with Parisian.
Why did you choose Helena? For the schools, and I loved the small town feel that Helena offered, yet it is still close to the city.
What do you like most about Helena? The small town feel with all of the great people and the tight knit community.
What was your biggest surprise after you moved here? I realized college football is so much bigger in the SEC than in the Big 10.
How has your perception of the south changed since you moved here? Since moving to Alabama, I have realized that people in the south are more genuine, and treat others so much better. They are more willing to help other people and the hospitality is the best I have ever experienced.
If you had to move tomorrow, what would you miss the most? The Depot