It wasn't very sophisticated, really, not much different from a century before. When Jackson's Department Store scheduled a sale, they would print up about 500 handbills and hire a teenaged boy to walk the streets of Cliffside and deliver one to every single home. Mr. Ray Jackson, the store's owner, would rely on the honor of the boy not to stuff the handbills in a drain pipe somewhere and dishonestly pocket the dollar or whatever the meager payment was. Most often the boy was honest.
And just about every week the Cliffside Theater would print it's coming attractions on showcards. These were two-color creations, generally in some garish shade of red with black lettering, on stiff paper, about a foot high. They would be stapled to electric poles all over the southern end of the county.
Aside from the Courier, about the only other affordable advertising opportunity was to run primitive ads in school publications, like the year book or monthly “newspaper,” or on the mimeographed programs for civic presentations, such as a woman-less wedding or a minstrel show. These little ads would inevitably feature simple hand-drawn logos and graphics, and state the name of the business, its slogan and phone number.
Some of you older folks may not have believed
your eyes. There went an automobile buzzing down the railroad
tracks! Here it comes again, this time backwards! Myles
Haynes, Jr. tells the tale:
the war years beginning in 1941, automobile tires were hard
to get. We lived in Avondale at that time and the railroad
track for the Cliffside RR ran behind our
house on it's way from Cliffside junction (where the Seaboard
RR met the Cliffside RR in front of our house about
a block away) to the Avondale mill. My father, Myles
Haynes, Sr., bought a 1934 Chevrolet two-door sedan from
Tubby Hawkins in order to get four almost-new tires
off it. He then had four flanged wheels from an extra
railroad flat car put on the Chevrolet, had the front
steering locked, and put the car on the track.
“He parked the car on the track at night behind our
house and drove forward in the morning to work in Cliffside
at the office where he served as cashier for the Mill, parking
the car on a side track before the train made its daily run
to meet the Seaboard and to Avondale. After the train returned
each day and he finished work, he would back the car
to its position behind the house and park it for the
next days trip.
“Occasionally, he would let me drive it
and that was real fun. Since it did not have to be steered,
you could get it started, pull out the hand throttle and
it would go clickity-click down the track, at 15 to 20 miles an hour, gently
rolling from side to side. Naturally, I had a lot of friends
who wanted to go along. Gasoline soon became in short supply,
so my driving days ended.
“My father got the idea for the car from his uncle,
Raleigh Haynes, who had a four-flanged-wheel bicycle that
he would ride from Cliffside to Avondale, have it turned around,
and ride it back, about three and half miles each way. I have
no idea how often he rode it.”
You may have walked near it a thousand times, or saw it from a distance, and never gave it a second thought. It was a small building across the street from Miller Furniture Co., at the west end of the row of executive parking sheds. Actually it's still there, although everything that used to surround it has been razed: the store building, the office building, the general manager's house.
It was used for a number of things. Mack Hendrick says caskets were once stored there (presumably when Cliffside Furniture conducted funerals). R. G. Watkins remembers that it was used as a polling place on election days. Jim Ruppe helps out with this info: “It was also a
tax listing site, an immunization site and a
meeting site for some
ladies organization. The lower portion, as I remember, was a garage that
housed the Company's
pick-up trucks (1946-48 Fords). A green one was driven by Maurice Hendrick
and a black one was
driven by Ike Biggerstaff and later by Roy Hamrick. Apparently Mr. Hendrick
purchased the truck he
drove and after his death the truck, which was almost in pristine condition,
was eventually inherited
by his son Dr. Harry Hendrick, who continued his father's habit of keeping
the truck immaculate. I'm
not sure of its disposition after Dr. Hendrick's death, but I'm sure it is
probably in the caring hands of
the Hendrick family.”
Click here to see the black company pick-up parked on the square.
Update- From Zan Fisher: “The little house across from Miller Furniture was also used as a Personnel Office for the Cliffside Plant somewhere around 1970. I was Personnel Manager during that time and we renovated it for that purpose. John Scoville was the plant engineer."
Remember the wonderful grandstand shows at the Cleveland County
Fair? On various afternoons during Fair week you could
see auto races with little Indy-type cars; harness racing
(an activity about as familiar to us as ice hockey);
and auto thrill shows, where daring drivers in white, striped
coveralls would speed up wooden ramps and jump over a dozen
old cars, or through flaming hoops. In the late
'30s, it was Lucky Teeter's Hell Drivers. Lucky was
killed in 1942, and, after World War II, his place on the
state and county fair circuit was taken by Jack
Kochman's Hell Drivers.
Best of all were the night-time shows on the grandstand stage.
Maybe it was the lighting, but the dancing girls were absolutely
ahead of the bored, gum-chewing specimens of the girly
shows on the midway, shows with phony, over-reaching names
like “From Broadway
Those poor women were already as close to Broadway or Hollywood
as they'd ever get. (I doubt that we made these distinctions
at the time.)
The most fantastic stage act was The Banana Man. He's best
described on Rhett
Bryson's web site: “Dressed
in clown attire and pushing his trunk on wheels, [he] enters
singing his shrill, absurd melody. He then proceeds to
produce from his pockets whole bunches of bananas, pineapples,
watermelons, banjos, violins, about everything under the
sun—he changes wardrobe and character three times,
right before your eyes—he fills three trunks with
his hundreds of props, converts the trunks into a train,
and as the engineer, drives the whole string of cars offstage.”
The finale was a stunning fireworks display, so close and
loud you were sure your ears would bleed. And on the long,
dark, sleepy ride home, as you scroonched up in the
back seat of the family car, those magical sights and sounds
would whirl around in your head like a kalaidoscope.
Whatever happened to squirrel tails on radio “aerials?” When
is the last time you saw a spotlight mounted by the driver's
window, and what exactly did we use them for? Don't you miss
those fancy steering knobs? They
were so essential before power steering.
Where can I buy a new pair of mud flaps? (My old ones are wearing out, as are
my zebra seat covers.) The most useful thing of all,
of course, were fender skirts. They always came in handy, almost
as handy as a set of Venetian blinds mounted in the rear window.
And don't forget those high-tech curb feelers, spring-like
devices mounted on your fenders that warned you away from the
scar up your fat whitewalls and fail to impress the girls.
I often vowed that I'd never live anywhere I couldn't buy Duke's Mayonnaise
and Bost Bread. Well, I guess my end has come, because now, although Duke's
is still on the shelves, I can't buy
|Bost's patch courtesy
Bost Bread anywhere. It was simply
the best loaf bread you could find. (Not white, not light, but loaf bread!)
It was baked in Shelby, and the familiar red and yellow Bost trucks would
make their deliveries to our stores and markets like gentle bumblebees
nosing around a flowering shrub.
Unfortunately, some years back, Continental Baking, a division
of the huge world-wide conglomerate called ITT, decided it
couldn't exist another day without owning the Bost brand. Naturally,
the first thing Continental did was change the recipe—from
the one that made Bost such an outstanding product, to one
that turned out something bland and tasteless, decidedly inferior
to the original. Corporations always know best, you see. After
a time, Continental sold the brand to Waldensian (in Valdese,
NC), who moved it out of Shelby and eventually discontinued
it. In turn, Waldensian was soon bought out by Interstate Bakeries,
another big corporation.
Sadly, if you search for “Bost Bread” on the internet,
about all you'll find are Star obituaries of people
who once worked at Bost, who helped make it the pride of the
region. Eh law.
At our house, on the wall near the water bucket, or, after we
had running water, near the kitchen sink, there hung a shallow
metal cup with a long handle. It was called “the dipper,”
for there was only one. Everyone drank from it. It never occurred
to us to use a glass; glasses had to be washed and dippers didn't.
Occasionally, if we saw a fly or a bug light on the dipper,
we'd “rinch” it out, but rarely did it get immersed
in a sink full of dishwater.
Remember Kits, the little candy squares? For about 3 cents you
could buy a block of ten squares wrapped in cellophane. Each
square was individually wrapped in waxy paper. There were chocolate,
strawberry and banana flavors. We'd buy them at Barney's store
and eat them at recess (or before recess, if we could get away
Tempting the wrath of Mrs. Mills, we'd stand around the magazine
rack at the drug store thumbing through all the latest “detective”
magazines, True Detective, Official Detective,
Inside Detective, etc. The photos, having little or nothing
to do with the stories, were invariably of women bound to a
chair or a bed, and were always “posed by professional
It came in dark brown bottles, which were kept in a store's
old fashioned ice-filled drink box. Orange Crush was one of
the most delicious and refreshing of all the soft drinks. But
eventually they began putting it in clear bottles, and the taste
was never quite the same.
Let's see, there was Charles Starrett (the 'Durango Kid'); Johnny
Mack Brown and his sidekick 'Sandy Hopkins' (played by Raymond
Hatton); Tim Holt; Buster Crabbe and his comic foil, bicycle
riding Al 'Fuzzy' St. John (did you know he was one of the Keystone
Kops in the silent era?); Sunset Carson; Bob Steele; Buck Jones,
Bill Elliott as Red Ryder (with Robert Blake—yes, THAT
Robert Blake—as 'Little Beaver'); Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson,
Tex Ritter, The Three Mesquiteers (one of whom was a ventriloquist!),
and on and on. Of course there was Gene and Roy, but they had
CARS in their movies, which was totally out of context (although
Gene and Roy themselves never rode in the cars, always staying
50 years behind the bad guy, who did). And they sang! Yuck!
The Sunday Funnies
Usually we'd read the funnies in the Charlotte Observer or the
Spartanburg Herald, but sometimes we'd get, of all things, the
Baltimore American. How that paper found it's way to
Cliffside is one of life's big mysteries. Some of my favorite
strips were: The Teenie Weenies, tiny people (policemen, cowboys,
ballerinas, etc.) who lived inside the walls of human's houses;
Dick Tracy and his amazing 2-way wrist radio (Remember Gravel
Gertie and B. O. Plenty?); Smilin' Jack, the flying ace; Smokey
Stover, the nutty fireman; Bringing Up Father (Jiggs & Maggie);
Major Hoople; Ally Oop; and Prince Valient. On weekdays, in
the Shelby Star, we'd laugh at Dagwood and Blondie's misadventures,
and follow the exciting adventures of Mandrake the Magician
and Secret Agent X-9.
Can you imagine spending hours in your car, in weather either
too hot or too cold, watching a cheesy third- or fourth-run
movie through a dirty windshield, hearing the sound through
a single squawky speaker? Well, we did it on a regular basis,
and loved it. There were several drive-in theaters that Cliffside
people usually attended: the Sunset at Swainsville, the Midway
at Sandy Mush, the Tri-City in Forest City, and the Sky View
in Shelby. If the theater charged by the person, you could count
on some cars having several boys hiding in the trunk until they'd
passed through the entrance. On our way to the concession stand,
to get a foot-long hotdog or a large popcorn with extra butter,
we'd often notice the windows of one or more cars would be completely
fogged up. Why they'd pay good money to watch a movie, then
not watch it, we never figured out.
The dairy truck would come by before dawn. It's driver, sometimes
dressed in white, with a white uniform cap, would carry your
order to the doorstep. The milk came in quart bottles, each
capped with a circle of pasteboard, which, in freezing weather,
would be pushed up off the top of the bottle by the frozen cream.
The milkman would pick up the empty bottles your mom had carefully
washed and placed on the porch.
In case the neighborhood boys needed to form a posse, all us
little cowpokes would fashion “horses” out of tree
limbs. Taking a sturdy but limber 4- to 5-foot limb, we'd cut
off the branches, attach “reins” of rawhide or cord
to the fat end, and, for that impressive “pinto”
effect, would strip the bark off several places along the length
of the limb. (If a solid white horse—like Silver —
was desired, we'd strip off ALL the bark.) When the time came
for action, as it often did, we'd straddle our cayuses and tear
out at full speed down the cinder-strewn streets of Cliffside.
On the Radio
Saturday mornings at 11, we'd be enthralled by Let's Pretend,
followed by those giant locomotives roaring into Grand Central
Station. And we wouldn't miss The Lone Ranger every
weekday at 5:00. When we were a little older, we'd grow to love
these nighttime dramas, comedies and mysteries: Mr. Keene,
Tracer of Lost Persons (theme song: “Some Day I'll
Find You”); Lux Radio Theater, Dr. Christian,
Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Edgar Bergen & Charley
McCarthy, Fibber McGee & Molly, Burns
& Allen, The Great Gildersleeve, Baby Snooks, Henry Aldrich,
Inner Sanctum, Suspense, The Lucky Strike Hit Parade,
My Friend Erma, Gangbusters!, The FBI in Peace
and War, Easy Aces, The Adventures of Sam
Spade, and many more. Our parents and grandparents tuned
in every night to hear the news from Edward R. Murrow, Gabriel
Heatter, Elmer Davis and William L. Shirer. How the world has
There used to be only a few brands of cars on our roads, all
made in the U.S.A. There were Ford products (Ford, Lincoln,
Mercury), GM products (Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, Olds, Pontiac,
LaSalle), Chrysler products (Chrysler, Plymouth, DeSoto), plus
Willys, Packard, Hudson, Kaiser-Fraser, Studebaker, Nash, and
one or two others. We had no Volkswagens, Saabs, Porsches, Land
Rovers, Humm-Vees, Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, Acuras, Infinitis,
Lexus', Saturns, BMWs, Mitsubishis, Daiwoos, Mazdas, Hyundais,
Volvos, Diahatsus, Suzukis, Kias, etc. Back then, some people
could identify the make of any car that came along, by sight
or even by sound. Now you can't easily identify the continent
a car was made on, much less its manufacturer.
A long time ago, along about Thanksgiving of every year, Mr.
Ray Jackson would open up the basement of his department store
for the Christmas season. Our parents would hold our hands as
we slowly descended the creaking stairs. What appeared below
was a wonder to behold. The dank, musty room was stocked with
row after row of tables holding bright, shiny toys of every
kind. There were pedal cars, wagons, tricycles, dolls, doll
houses, tea sets, pop guns, cowboy suits, Erector sets...everything
a boy or girl could imagine. Our little hearts would pound and
our eyes would nearly pop out. Amazingly, one or more things
we'd see in that room would be under our tree on Christmas morning.
Funny how things work out.
Copyright © 2010 The Cliffside Historical Society