The following was submitted by an anonymous cousin, revealing more than you’d ever want to know about your Webmaster.
Alfred Reno Bailey was born October 04, 1935, a son of Byron Bailey and Ruby Fraser. This birth took place in “a four-room unpainted tenant house on Trinity Church Road” in Cleveland County. The tenant house was pretty nearly two miles due west of Boiling Springs and two miles due south of Mooresboro. “The little house no longer exists.” Thank God Reno does!
Without Reno there would be no RememberCliffside.com, the website that has made Cliffside the most thoroughly documented textile village anywhere. There would also be no Cliffside Historical Society. He drew up the original documents, and paid the necessary fees to found the society. He has been its backbone since the beginning.
But you know all that. So we’ll get back to Reno’s story. Reno’s dad began work at Cliffside Mills in 1936 and as he rose from weaver to loom fixer to second hand the family moved from the little house on Trinity Church Road to a house on Valley Street in Cliffside, then to a farm between Boiling Springs and Shelby near the (now) Shelby Airport, and finally to a house on Cliffside’s Main Street across from the Boy Scout Hut, and beside what was then the McKinney Funeral Home. At one point Reno helped out in the funeral home. It’s not clear what his duties were but he once remarked he could finally eat lunch without washing his hands.
While in high school Reno demonstrated his interest in the media arts. He was a member of the yearbook and newspaper staffs, and he performed in the junior play. And, as you may also have read in RememberCliffside.com, when the Cole Brothers’ Circus came to Shelby Reno told Mr. Beatty, the school principal, his attending the circus would benefit him more than a day in classes. The shocking thing is Beatty agreed!
Reno, along with Earl Owensby, also entered the movie business during his high school years. Reno and Earl converted, well at least partially converted, a chicken coop behind the Bailey house into a movie theater. It’s not clear how many films Earl and Reno actually had, but they borrowed a couple from Reno’s young cousin.
In 1953 Reno graduated from Cliffside High, and that fall he entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But UNC was not ready for Reno—or something like that. So, in 1954 Reno joined the US Coast Guard and spent the summer “marching, rowing and learning to tie knots.” Then he went off to guard our coast—in the South Pacific. Well, where else?
Since he had always been interested in radio and TV it is not surprising that during his service Reno became a radioman. Following his years in the Coast Guard Reno reentered Chapel Hill, and in 1962 graduated with a degree in Radio, TV and Movies. And did he ever put that degree to use!
Reno is one of those lucky people who manage to earn a living by doing what they love. Fresh out of UNC he joined the Jefferson Standard Broadcasting Company, the parent company of WBT and WBTV in Charlotte, and Jefferson Productions. Jefferson Productions produced TV commercials. In the first few years one of the outlets for his creativity was on the Saturday night shift at WBTV where he picked up extra money by intoning between shows “Channel 3, WBTV, Charlotte.” And from time to time he would sneak in an ad lib like “It’s eight o’clock.”
By 1964 Reno’s creative juices really began to flow. That year he was playing the role of Irving Glick on WBT radio. Glick was a character in the drive time mini-drama The Belmont Tunnel. He was “an entrepreneur always seeking the advantage, he was uncannily quick to show up wherever there was money to be made, involving himself in deals both shady and shaky.” Glick, as the story went, found an abandoned tunnel in Colorado and moved it to the Charlotte area, where he placed it under the Catawba River. In 1967 Reno became Kelton B. Goodfellow “the hand-cupped-behind-the ear baritone” announcer on The Yellowjacket, a drive time spoof of TV’s Batman. At some point he appeared on WBTV’s Morning Show as a “yo-yoing tap dancer!” No doubt other characters he played have been sadly lost to history.
After five years at WBT-FM, Reno joined the WBTV promotion department as “Publicity Supervisor,” later Publicity Director, the manager of WBTV’s Creative Services. Other positions he held were Film Production Supervisor for Jefferson Films, an adjunct of Jefferson Productions, and JP’s Operations Manager.
But, in the early ’80s, along came the personal computer. And Reno began a second career as a computer consultant and software developer. After retirement in 2001, Reno used his wide knowledge of virtually every type of media to create Remember Cliffside, the website you all know. You may not know that he also created the website BT Memories, which everyone should visit. There you can read about the promo piece that Reno calls his most satisfying creative effort. Moreover you can even hear episodes of the Yellowjacket.
Finally, in 2005 Reno moved from the newest media to one of the oldest—and released, through Arcadia Publishing, Cliffside: Portrait of a Carolina Mill Town. And now, hot off the presses (virtual presses I’d bet) he has brought us Faces & Places of Old Cliffside. All in all, he has given us an act that will doubtless be impossible to follow.
Ed. Note: Your Webmaster has embellished this story with several compelling photographs, to enhance its excitement, if any.