It started with just a few personal decorations from home. Faye Franklin Westphal carried Christmas decorations to the Cypress Lake Road Recycling Center four years ago to spruce up the area where she works for the holidays.
The decorations brightened her little corner of the county, where she spends many hours on the days she works.
“Six-thirty in the morning until six o’clock in the evening,” said Franklin, who goes by Faye Franklin on her business cards. “But usually I get here earlier to make sure the grounds are clean before I start the day.”
“The first time I decorated, it was all my stuff,” she said. “So many people loved it that I decided to decorate for Valentines and then Easter and then the Fourth of July and then fall. The decorations were such a big hit that it just got bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Regular patrons of the recycling center, which is located behind the Walmart Distribution Center off Highway 301 South, soon began to offer items to Franklin before discarding them.
“Can you use this for your decorations,” she said they’d announce when circling through the center.
Franklin’s stunning display of seasonal creativity – and she’s quick to give fellow employee Joey Collins who lives in Metter, credit for helping her set up, haul and take down the decorations – comes naturally. Franklin is an artist and traveled the country for 38 years doing art show circuits. Wood working is her specialty, though she was quite the culinary artist before that.
Franklin’s roots go deep in Statesboro.
“My family owned Franklin’s Restaurant. I was serving coffee before I could get my nose over the counter,” said Franklin.
When her mother died in 2002, Franklin moved back to Statesboro from Hiawassee and has made this home again since then.
“My mother was big into holidays. I can remember, as a little girl, we drove my grandmother around at Christmas-time to see the decorations. “
Those fond memories serve as part of the catalyst for bringing joy to others with her decorations.
“Last year, a bus loaded with senior citizens came by the center to see the decorations, and they had me in tears,” she said. “It made me think about driving my mother around to see the lights and decorations.
“Those people were so thrilled. I love doing it for the people. The reward of a smile on the face is priceless. They love it. They absolutely love it. It just tickles me to death.
“It feels like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. As long as they are happy and tickled, that’s all that matters to me.”
Decorating for fall, Halloween
Franklin said her fall and Halloween decorations that currently adorn the recycling center took more than five hours to set up. And that’s not counting the time it took to load them at her house to haul to the center.
“I had to buy a building just to store all of the decorations,” she said. “We call it the reindeer building, because we’ve collected over seventy reindeer that people have given us to use for decorations.”
The majority of items on display are recycled ones that patrons have given her, but she also adds items she purchases. Franklin starts in September with yellow mums, pumpkins and straw that she buys, and lots of recycled scarecrows. Scarecrows crown every piece of shrubbery in the front and fall-colored leaves drape the chain-link fence.
Six smiling skeletons sit amongst the decorations, welcoming customers with an arm raised in “hello.” A large rat skeleton, some metal jack-o-lanterns, an unidentified skull – “ I think it’s a horse,” said Franklin, of the recycled piece, spiders and six-foot-tall metal sculptures complete the display.
“My artist friend in Alabama cuts out these metal sculptures, and I had them at my house. I don’t use them there now, so I brought them to decorate.”
A metal jack-o-lantern face on a rod is decked out in blue overalls and a plaid shirt.
“One of the scarecrows brought to me was broken, so I used the clothes from it, before discarding it, to put on the metal sculpture.”
Where decorations come from
Franklin is proud of her decorations because she remembers, quite impressively, where almost every piece came from. “See that witch’s hat on the skeleton? A girl brought it to me and shyly asked, ‘Can you use something little like this?’ And she came back later to see if I used it.”
Two of the skeletons wait patiently for patrons while lounging at a glass tabletop with a red border and red, wrought-iron chairs.
“That table and chairs were gonna be thrown away,” she said. “I took it home, sanded it, painted it, brought it back and used it. When she and her daddy came back, I said to her, ‘There’s your table.’”
Franklin said the girl was aghast at the change, and said, “I shouldn’t have gotten rid of it!” To that, Franklin told her to come back and get it later.
“It’s just fun. The smiles are so worth it. People just love it.”
When the season is over, Franklin said it’ll take less time to pack up than set-up did. “I take the pumpkins home to my chickens. Pumpkins are a natural de-wormer. And Joey takes the straw bales home to use on his farm.”
The yellow mums won’t last much longer, but Franklin chuckled when she said, “I got those for a discount in the first place, because I trade out fishing in my pond for a huge discount on the flowers.”
The Cypress Lake Recycling Center is truly a recycling center in every sense of the word. Saved from a dumpster and used as décor, seasonal items adorning the property recycle smiles from yesteryear to share grins and giggles in a new day.
“You should see this place at Christmas!” Franklin exclaimed, ere she walked out of sight.