Movie about town taken off the map to premiere in Aiken

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock; March 19, 2009

AIKEN CTY, S.C. --- The town of Ellenton was literally taken off of the map more than 50 years ago. Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes. Now, the movie Displaced: An Unexpected Fallout from the Cold War is about to premiere. But first, a man who lived through it all talks to 12 about putting country before home.

It's Steve Harley's story. He loved Ellenton, his hometown so much, that even named his daughter after the town.

"I lived in these woods (pointing to a picture of his) right there, but you can't see my house," Steve showed News 12.

It's page after page, history after history of what was Ellenton. "Gene, it was the greatest place on earth, no question about it," adds Steve.

"The Blue Goose, the good hang out, is right there," Steve points out in another picture. It's a hang out and an entire town that Steve, who was only a 10th grader at the time, found out was going to be no more.

"I thought it was a mistake," Steve says. "I said, there is no way in the world that the Federal Government can do this to us."

But, they did and Ellenton was taken right off the map after the news came out on November 28th, 1952. His home would become what is now the Savannah River Site.

"Everybody was crying, tears down everybody's eyes," Steve recalls about being in school the day the news came down.

Steve and his family stayed in Ellenton til March 1952. He says, they were the third to last family to leave the doomed town.

"You can not believe seeing your town, your friends, all of your dreams just vanish," says Steve. All of that happening, right before his eyes.

Now, for the first time in 57 years, he is about to watch it all over again with the new documentary.

"Gene, all I can say is it brings back memories that are gone and it's real depressing to me," Steve says as he watched the opening clip of the movie for the first time.

I asked Mark Albertin, the Documentary Producer, what it was like going through all of those pictures after working on this project for 4 years?"

He said, "It was a roller coaster ride. There were wonderful happy memories in a different era and there were - of course - moments of extreme sadness."

It'll be that roller coaster of emotions Steve will have, when he soon goes back in time. "I'm going to see friends I haven't seen," he says. "I'll get chocked up, I just love it that much."

Of course, New Ellenton replaced Ellenton. The entire movie will premier tomorrow (Friday) March 20th at USC Aiken Ethridge Center at 7:30PM. It's free for the public to come see.

The movie and all clips seen in this story and on the website are courtesy from Scrapbook Productions, which is a company Mark owns. He provided us with the video for this story. All the pictures seen were from Steve Harley, who brought the scrap book with him for our multiple interviews.

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  • by Anonymous on Mar 20, 2009 at 03:52 PM
    Will there be other showing of the film or another way to see it if we cannot make the presentation Friday night?
  • by Mike Location: Aiken on Mar 20, 2009 at 09:11 AM
    Some people may not realize that there were other communities, such as "Dunbarton" which were removed as well.
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