Daisy Wilson Reminisces
My parents were Charles and Bessie Whisnant Keeter. They came to Cliffside soon after the mill was started. My mother came from the Hollis section and my father from Gilkey. They both were hired at the mill – and moved to River Street. Their house was on the east side of the street near the top of the hill and opposite the point at which a road branches off to the right leading to the Ferry Community. We called this road Bunker Hill and today it is Island Ford Road. (According to the 1910 census the Keeters were then living at #21 Riverview Street; later the “view” was dropped and the street became known as River Street.)
I was born October 3, 1916 – the first of three girls. Dr. Shull was our doctor then and the town nurse was Miss Hattie Padgett. Hattie’s family lived a few houses from us; my mother and her mother, Mrs. Padgett, were good friends. Mrs. Padgett wanted to name me for one of her girls, Daisy, and that is how I was named.
I remember there was a store across the street from our house just south of the point where Bunker Hill branched off of River Street. (This was a branch of the Cliffside Mills Store, called the Riverview Store.) It was operated by a Mr. Splawn. We had a car (I think it was a Chevrolet) that had side curtains you could snap in place when it was cold or raining. I loved to go to my grandparents who lived in Hollis because it was a long ride and I loved the country. Also Grady Withrow had a store in Bostic where we could take peach seeds and trade them for candy. Someone bought them for making medicine. (A member of the Withrow family recently told me that she believed loads of these peach seeds were still at the store.)
Early Cliffside was a small quiet town with very little for children to do when not in school. We would join neighbor children and play games, whatever we could think of. We had no TV, no radio, and no movies at that time. (The movie theater which many of us recall opened in 1922 in the Haynes Memorial Building.)
When I was six years old I started school, and believe me it was a long walk for a six year old from River Street to the school. I remember that one time there was some problem with the water in the school and for a while we had to take our drinking water to school with us in a bottle.
My sister Ethylyn started school three years after me. She didn’t have to make the long walk to school very long because we soon moved to Oakland Street, a short street that went from East 3rd Avenue to the Methodist Church. Of course we still walked to school but now it was not so far, most time in sunshine but also in rain, snow and cold wind. We carried our lunch with us to school. Later another sister, Mary Sue, was born and we moved into a larger house on Reservoir Street. From here we could walk to school, walk back home for lunch and back to school for the afternoon session. (The school lunch room began operation in 1934.) On Reservoir Street I also recall a Mr. Mayse who had the only radio around and sometimes we would go to the Mayse house to listen.
I always liked my teachers and I remember them well – Miss Marjorie Hord, Miss Ada Bridges, Miss Ruby Wilson, Miss Johnnie Player, Miss Letha Bame and Miss Bookout. (Johnnie Player married a Mr. Denison.) In High School my home room teachers were Mr. John Tinkler, Miss Sara Rickard, Miss Margaret Grey and Miss Ethel Fagan. The principals I remember are Mr. Erwin, Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Beatty.
My church was always my first love. I vaguely remember going to the (Baptist) church near the school house, and I remember playing basketball there when it was converted to a gym. We went to the new brick church when it was finished in 1924. I grew up with the WMU organizations – Sunbeams, GA’s, BYPU, WMS – and Sunday School. The preachers I remember were Roscoe Smith, J.A. Hunnicutt, O.D. Moore, T.S. Lawrence, John Lucas and W.A. Stroud.
I married Gene Wilson in 1933. Gene was a son of Zebulon Vance and Clara Lovelace Wilson. Zebulon came from Madison County, as did his father before him; his grandmother came from Ireland. Zebulon was a veteran of the Spanish American War and he died the last day of 1924. Clara was from near Boiling Springs and died in 1942. Our first daughter, Carolyn Jean, was born September 12, 1934 and Martha Joan on October 26, 1938. Gene and I, and both daughters were born in Cliffside. (The 1910 census finds the Zebulon Wilson family living at #18 Cliffside Street.)
When the furniture from the old church was sold I was fortunate to get the chair I might have used in the Junior Department and two chairs from the Beginners Department for Joan and Sue.
I lived in several houses in Cliffside in my years there, but the one I enjoyed most was the one next to the new post office. In fact the post office was built while we lived in that house. The house that was once a boarding house was torn down and the post office built on that site. From this (favorite) house we could walk in just a few minutes to anything in town – the church, the doctor and dentist offices, the grocery store, theater, drug store, bank, mill, hardware, laundry, cannery, shoe shop or department store. We had no need for a car except maybe to go to Shelby or Forest City shopping on Saturday or to go for a Sunday afternoon ride.
I am so thankful I grew up in Cliffside and could raise my girls there. We never appreciated that so much at the time, and we were always wanting to move. But now as I grow older I am so grateful Mr. Haynes had plans for the town. He knew what we would need and he provided it for us so that we might have a happy and contented life. Also, the people who lived there were always the best and helped to make the town what it was, and what it remains in our memory.
Thank you, Mr. Haynes, and all the wonderful people who lived in Cliffside.
Annotations to Daisy’s article, in italics, by Don Bailey.
This article first appeared in the Winter 2009 edition of The Cliffside Chimes, newsletter of the Cliffside Historical Society.