Shinin’ The Rails: The Story of Cliffside
As part of his graduate work at Appalachian State, Matt Ingram, son of James Ingram, researched and wrote a thesis on the history and culture of Cliffside as a mill town.
The point of his research was to find out why former Cliffside residents have such fond memories of the town. What made Cliffside such a special town to live and work in?
He finds it fascinating that, in spite of the hardships of the Great Depression, the generally difficult task of working in a mill, the simple housing conditions, the lack of many of the conveniences we have today, and the very few possessions owned at the time, people of that generation look back with such nostalgia and pride.
He interviewed many members of his family and natives of Cliffside.
In 1932 at the height of the Depression, Harry was out of work; Meredith had just given birth to their second child, Harry Jr. (Laverne was born in 1929) and did not have enough milk for the baby until the doctor brought them some cans of milk. Since the mill was not running, Harry Sr. went to work for the Works Progress Administration for a while and would hunt for animals to eat, including chickens, rabbits and birds. As many people in town had similar struggles for survival, the mill relaxed the rent requirements on the housing.
Matt goes to school at night while teaching full-time at South Caldwell High School in Hudson, NC.
For your information the paper made an “A.” Here it is in PDF format.