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'It’s home': 5 lifelong Forsyth County friends celebrate turning 90 together
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Lifetime Forsyth County residents and friends James Bagwell (from left), Edsel Orr, Brenton "Cotton" Bagley, Byron Bagley and Aubrey "Wiz" Tatum all turned 90 years old within the last calendar year. (For the Forsyth County News)

While much of the county was celebrating the opening of a new multi-use shopping center in south Forsyth, five friends were celebrating a time when things in Forsyth County looked a lot different.

Brenton “Cotton” Bagley, Byron Bagley, James Bagwell, Aubrey “Whiz” Tatum and Edsel Orr all turned 90 years old within the last calendar year. Their families held a celebration this month to honor the men, who spent the afternoon reminiscing about growing up in Forsyth County, back when cotton was king and the movie theater was a two-day bike ride to Buford.

“We went to school together, played together and swam together,” Cotton Bagley said.

90 years young

Five friends who grew up in Forsyth County all turned 90 years old within the last calendar year.

Name Birthday

Edsel Orr Dec. 17, 1928

Byron Bagley July 5, 1929

James Bagwell July 18, 1929

Aubrey “Whiz” Tatum Sept. 3, 1929

Brenton “Cotton” Bagley Sept. 26, 1929

Sitting around a porch on the Bagley property on Nichols Road, next to Lambert High School, the men shared stories about riding bikes all the way to Buford just to see a movie.

“I got as far back as grandpa’s, and said, ‘I’m slap wore out, I’ll come on home tomorrow,’” Cotton Bagley said.

This week, at his own birthday celebration, Cotton Bagley said the family regularly gets visits from developers wanting to buy the property, but it’s not for sale.

“They knock on the door and want to buy the place, but it’s home,” said Bagley, who can trace the family’s residence there back seven generations, all the way from Cotton’s great-grandfather to Cotton’s great-grandchildren, who were riding scooters around the driveway while Cotton reminisced.

“I remember daddy taking me to the sale barn at Lathemtown so I could pick out a new mule,” said Cotton. “Daddy paid about $200 for ol’ Sam, but that mule sure could work. He didn’t always mind though. We’d get to the end of the row, and he didn’t know what to do. I finally grabbed hold of the lead and said, ‘When I say whoa, I mean whoa,’ and we didn’t have any trouble after that.”

Cotton Bagley spent most of his teenage years working on the farm in the summer and taking jobs in Atlanta warehouses during the winter.

“I’d stay with my grandma, and pay her $5 a week for board, then come back in the summer and work cotton on the farm,” Cotton said.

Eventually, Cotton Bagley ended up at General Motors along with Byron Bagley, Bagwell and Tatum, where they worked for over 30 years.

The Bagley family says anyone who would like to send the men a birthday card is welcome to send them to Bagley, 601 Nichols Road, Suwanee GA 30024.