In NC’s Calcium Light – 4
Part 4 of 5
Type of Operative
The Cliffside people are God-fearing, law abiding, industrious, and ambitious. Cliffside has averaged yearly thirty-five boys and girls from the ranks of the operatives who went away to schools and colleges.
The following report of Charles F. Moore, for November, formerly a mill operative but who is now at school in Reliance, Va., speaks for itself:
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Mr. Packard’s little daughter is again at Fassifern, where she is making splendid progress in her studies. This child is as finely developed physically and mentally as one need wish to see, and it must be borne in mind that she is the daughter of a man who has worked in the mills twenty-three years.
Cliffside has given to the world four ministers, one physician, and two dentists. Willie Tate, a ministerial student of unusual promise, is making a fine record at Wake Forest this year. He was formerly a weaver. Zeno Wall, now in charge of a church, is one of the successful preachers who came from the ranks of the Cliffside operatives.
Burrell Bridges, Grover Hawkins, Jim Price, Robert Daggert, are operatives who came to Cliffside, at different periods, practically penniless. They have judiciously saved their mill earnings, have bought valuable farms, teams, etc., and are now prosperous citizens. The cases cited represent at least fifty mill operatives, who have bought homes and farms with the earnings accumulated since coming to Cliffside. One man who came to Cliffside without a dollar a few years ago saved up and bought a farm which he recently sold for $2,500.00.
Willis Lovelace, a hopeless cripple, and afflicted with some nervous trouble which rendered him practically unfit for almost any line of work, came to Cliffside a few years ago and begged for work. He had asked at other places and been refused. What could a helpless cripple do? Mr. Haynes is a big-hearted man, and is not deaf to the cry of the needy. To encourage the unfortunate man, he gave him the job of feeding the suction that conveys the cotton to the mill.
Willis is still feeding the suction. He lives comfortably from his wages, and at the end of each month deposits ten dollars in the savings bank. With a part of his savings he recently bought a farm, of which he is justly proud. A former outcast in the ranks of the breadwinners, Willis blesses the day that brought him to Cliffside.
It is a record worthy of note that the office books show deposits of $50,000 to the credit of the Cliffside mill people.
Human Interest Stories
One bright little woman, who formerly worked in the cotton mills at Nashville, Tenn., and eventually drifted to Cliffside, tells a pathetic story. At an early age she was left motherless, and the support of the family devolved upon her. She was neither educated nor equipped to fight life’s battles. The mill was the door of opportunity to the untrained hand. She seized the opportunity, and it afforded a living for herself and those dependent upon her. Her schooling terminated with her twelfth year, and what little learning she had acquired was bounded by the Blue Back Speller, Holmes’ Arithmetic, and Webster’s Dictionary. While working in the mill she studied one term in night school. She was ambitious, and craved greater opportunities for mind culture. At an early age the writing germ got into her blood. “I feel that my brain will burst for want of the power to express my feelings,” she confided; “but I am uneducated, and realize my limitations-what must I do?” This little woman corresponds for the local papers, and would no doubt make a success with her pen were she only educated. Here are three or four excerpts from a column she wrote for the papers:
The sons and daughters of today will live in a still greater commonwealth, and the close of the next decade will record a wonderful story of development. Master minds and determined wills following the eye of vision are planning and bringing to pass great and noble-things.
We are a contented people, because we work for men who are kind. A religion of kindness is practical in the everyday life, which at times make the people seem handsome, and the very work seems a field of fairyland. Kindness clears the mind for action, and sometimes we become so pleased with ourselves that a kind of sanguine confidence gets in the blood, which gives us a zest for work.
We are planning our future at Cliffside, and our thoughts will become acts. We are trying to make an honorable name, keeping our aim higher than that of a miser and never lower than the altar of truth.
What we want to be in Cliffside is to be earnest, steadfast, secure, in plain faith and clear hopes, using golden rule, not afraid of any man, and resolved to conquer. There are many creeds in the world, but only one star to guide us through the narrow way. That’s God’s word–the Bible. Read it; take it as your guide.
The foregoing are from the pen of one who toiled in the mills from childhood, and who possesses hardly the rudiments of an education, but who reads and improves her mind in every way at her command, and whose longing for education and larger culture amounts almost to a passion.
Miss Susan Padgett, whose picture is given at right, is another noble-hearted young woman, who has toiled sixteen years in the weaving-room for the support of herself and mother. Miss Padgett is a specimen of fine physical development, her health is unimpaired; nor has her vision of life become distorted from her long service. Possessing fine ideals and a well-poised character, Miss Padgett stands foremost among the women of the mill.
They take much pride in their homes. The homes of the majority of the operatives at Cliffside are nicely furnished. In some are pianos. About a dozen of the operatives own autos.
Excellent Sanitary Conditions at Cliffside—No Dogs or Hogs Allowed
For the exemplary sanitary conditions and unusual neatness of the premises at Cliffside two reasons may be assigned: the self-respecting type of operative (not a mill town in the State can boast a better class of mill people, and the fact that Mr. Haynes gives away yearly severaI hundred dollars in cash prizes, ranging in denomination from one to fifteen dollars, to those operatives who bestow the most careful attention upon their premises during the year. A committee of competent and impartial judges examines the premises and passes upon them. The day the prizes are awarded resolves itself into somewhat of a gala occasion. The mill operatives turn out en masse. Dr. Shull and Dr. Allhands, the mill physicians, both of whom are greatly beloved, deliver illustrated lectures on such important subjects as the housefly, the mosquito, etc., and their relation to infectious diseases, and instill into the minds of the listeners the importance of proper hygiene. The ministers assist on these occasions with short talks embracing practical and helpful suggestions. The mill physicians also deliver periodical addresses to the school children on subjects pertaining to health, the proper care of the person, the right mode of living, etc.
Each home at Cliffside may have its poultry, but hogs and dogs are not permitted in the village. The former would act as a bar to perfect sanitation. The latter would prove a nuisance in more respects than one. If one family were permitted to keep dogs, the rest of the population should in justice be accorded the same privilege. Imagine the conditions if several hundred families congregated together in one small village were permitted to keep dogs. In the first place, should a dog become rabid, it would mean that a number of others would become thus afflicted, which would in turn be a menace to the public safety. Again the egg-sucking propensities of the canine would constantly cause friction between families, as no self-respecting house wife would permit her chickens to be interfered with. Moreover, the barking, whining, and howling of several hundred dogs would make night hideous and prove a nuisance during the day. It is a peculiar characteristic of the average man that he is more sensitive about his dog than his child even. And in order to prevent family quarrels, by doing away with a nuisance to mill society at large, Mr. Haynes wisely passed and rigidly enforces the rule that no dog be allowed inside the town. As, an example of Mr. Haynes’ fairness with his operatives, he insisted that his son’s dog be the first to go, and it is hardly necessary to add that he went.