My Story: By Grover Haynes, Jr.
For some time, my wife June has urged me to write up my experiences in WWII. Having put it off all these years, I have decided to give it a try and to do the whole life thing while I’m at it – thus making it really boring.
So I begin.
I was born Grover Cleveland Haynes, Jr. to Ina Inez Fortune Haynes and Grover Cleveland Haynes, Sr. on May 13, 1924 in a house on the west side of North Main street, just south of Barney Davidson’s grocery store and south of the Cliffside School, in Cliffside North Carolina. This house was about where the McKinney-Landreth-Carroll Funeral Home now sits, so I plan to go out where I came in.
Cliffside was a cotton mill town, built at the turn of the 20th Century by my Grandfather, Raleigh Rutherford Haynes (1851-1917), who died seven years before I was born. My Father, Grover C. Haynes, Sr. (1884-1950) was the youngest of my Grandfathers four sons, was born and grew to his teens in the Ferry section of Rutherford County, NC where his father was born, moved to Cliffside with his family when he was about 16, graduated from Guilford College, graduated as a Dentist from the Atlanta Dental College on September 20, 1917, about seven months after his father’s death on February 6, 1917, practiced Dentistry in Cliffside for a short period, became Treasurer of the Cliffside Mills until moving to Florida in 1924.
As I was apparently very frail, Mother and Daddy took me to Dr. Smith’s Baby Hospital in Saluda, North Carolina for treatment and advice. I understand that Dr. Smith told them that I would not survive unless that took me to a warmer climate area than North Carolina.
So Daddy moved our family, Mother, my 13 year old sister Hazel Inez and I to Winter Haven, Florida in the fall of 1924 where he went into the Orange Grove and Real Estate business with funds that he had inherited from his father (my grandfather) who had died in 1917, seven years earlier.
My first recollection of life was living in a fairly small brick house near a school and near downtown Winter Haven, Florida. I recall having a large white collie dog around who died of distemper, I was told. I recall having a playmate that lived next door, but I don’t remember his name. I assume I was about three or four at the time.
By 1930, when I would have been about six, with the Great Depression getting heated up, apparently Daddy got into financial difficulties and we moved into an apartment near a lake. On one occasion I recall wading out into the lake by myself and miring up in mud, like quicksand, miring up to my knees but somehow being able to get out. After Mother saw me covered in mud, I don’t think I ever got to go out again by myself.
We then moved into a small white frame house, also near town, where I recall being able to climb up in a large tree in the back yard and dig holes, tunnels I thought, in the sandy yard. I recall on one occasion walking about two blocks to a car dealership and confiscating some expensive brochures for which I got a good spanking when I got home. I attended the 1st grade, so I guess I was about seven.
Back To Cliffside
In about 1932, when I was about eight, we moved back to North Carolina. First to a small log cabin in the mountains at Chestnut Hill, west of Lake Lure, which Daddy owned, I think, and hadn’t lost in the depression. I recall having two chickens as pets. I went to the 2nd grade at a school house at Bat Cave, between Lake Lure and Chestnut Hill. The Chestnut Hill community had a small mini golf course next to the main highway, about two blocks from our house that I could play around in, but was told never to cross the highway. However, a creek ran through the golf course and then under the highway through a culvert about four feet square. To get on the other side of the highway to play, I would crawl through the culvert, yet still be obeying my parents. One day Daddy caught me on the other side of the highway, and before I could explain, I got a good whipping, then explained, and was allowed to continue going under the road.
Then we moved to a farm near Cliffside called Hazelhurst, named after my sister Hazel, which Daddy still owned, I think. The farm house had no inside plumbing, with only a ‘bucket’ type well and a wooden ‘two holer’ outhouse. Bathing was done from a pan of water heated on the wood stove. I had a collie dog pet there as well as a pony that liked to rear up, slide me off the back, and head for the barn. We had a cow that we milked, some hogs that we rendered into food and made lye soap from the fat. We grew cotton and other marketable crops. I learned to pick cotton. Daddy taught me to hunt rabbits with a single barrel, 20-guage shotgun. Eventually he let me go hunting by myself. However, one time I recall running through the field getting ready to shoot a rabbit when I tripped and fell face down, the gun going off with the barrel right at my face. I wasn’t hurt, and I never told Daddy about it.
We moved to Cliffside in about 1934 when I was 10, and I entered the 3rd grade at Cliffside School from which I would eventually graduate from in 1942. The school had grades one through 11 in those times, the 12th grade being added the year after I graduated.
At Cliffside, we lived in a two story house on 5th Avenue (sometimes referred to as ‘Mud Cut’) that was, at one time, the Cliffside ‘Teacherage’ house. After suffering a complete financial loss in Florida from the Depression’s aftermath, Daddy set up a fertilizer and agricultural dealership in an office next to Tubby Hawkins hardware downtown, which he operated until his death in 1950 at age 62.
My fond and happy memories of living in Cliffside from age 10 to age 22 (1934-1946) are too many to enumerate. The caring and loving families of the community of maybe 1,500 souls, the many friends and early playmates, the great teachers and mentors, in my opinion, have never been nor will ever be duplicated anywhere else on this earth. Forgive me for not naming names, but it’s for fear of leaving someone out, as I loved them all. My patient, loving parents were the best anyone could ever hope for. Cliffside was a place where you never had to lock your door.
Though my Uncle Charlie was president of the Cliffside Mills, having taken over after my Grandfather died in 1917, I never felt more privileged than any of my friends whose parents worked for the mill in less than management jobs. As far as I knew then, and now, we were all equal citizens of this GREAT community.
When I was around maybe 11 years old, in about 1935, since no dogs were allowed in Cliffside, Daddy got me a goat which we kept on a rope tied to a stake in the back yard. I had been told not to take the goat out of the yard. However, one day I decided to take the goat downtown on the rope. Everything was fine until we got almost to the Memorial Building when the goat jerked the rope out of my hand and ran in front of a car and was killed. The goat weighed too much for me to lift, so I drug him back home by the rope. I don’t remember where Daddy buried him, but I remember the whipping that I got.
My very best friend, and neighbor, growing up was Boyce Bridges, Jr. We did everything together, playing Tarzan in the large mulberry tree behind his house, making things, etc. On one occasion, when we were about 13, we decided to build a go-cart from four cogwheels (old gears from the mill), two steel rods, some lumber and a rope for steering. We had the thing almost finished when we got into an argument about something, had a falling out, and dismantled the go-cart, taking our own parts home. We got over our mad spell, but never finished the go-cart.
Boyce, Jr., Marvin, Charlie, Price, Guy, Mal, Mack, Carl, Herman, Wilson, Bud, Miles B., Von, Jack, Henry, Jimmy, Richard and others were my best friends, sharing great times together. Most of us were in the Boy Scouts under Scoutmaster Gerard “Fesser” Davidson who deserves great credit for his role in leading us all from immature children to ‘young adults’ as the Boy Scout Oath requires. We had great times camping out, usually along the 2nd Broad River, more or less across from where the Duke Power plant now stands, fishing and setting ‘trot’ lines overnight and gathering several catfish from them the next morning and having them for breakfast.
I became an Eagle Scout at about age 16, as did many of my friends. I still have my “sash,” hanging on my office wall, with 27 merit badge emblems sewn on it by my mother.
At ages 15, 16 and 17 I worked at various summer jobs in the mill, from coal handler (moving coal from the rail car to the boiler hopper via a small rail dumpster) to sweeper in the weave room, to oilier, and other jobs and eventually learning to operate a loom. Having started to smoke at age 14, the first thing I learned in working in the mill was that you can’t smoke. So I was told by co-workers, that I had to learn to chew tobacco. On the first or second day in the weave room I was given a ‘chew’ and was told that to learn fast, I should swallow the spit, not spit it out. Needless to say, I learned fast after emptying my stomach. I never ‘chewed’ again, though I smoked heavily for the next 27 years, quitting in 1969.
In Cliffside School, especially High School, I was not a good student – making mostly C’s and D’s with a few F’s thrown in. I majored mostly in ‘Fun’ and ‘Cut Up’ with my friends, except when the Principal, Mr. Beatty, was around. It didn’t take many trips to his office to learn to behave when he was around. I learned, several times, to have great respect for his belt. However, in my opinion, the discipline that he taught, and required, served us all well for the remainder of our lives. He was a great leader and teacher. Sadly though, under today’s standards, were he alive and working today, he would probably have several charges brought against him for ‘harsh’ treatment of his students, and would probably be fired or jailed.
Fast forward a bit, about my poor grades in High School. I cannot over emphasize my conviction that the discipline, and goal setting, taught in military life (in my case the Navy) ultimately contributes to further achievements in life. After entering Clemson after WWII, and finishing in 3 1/2 years, regardless of my poor grades in High School, I finished Clemson in Civil Engineering with High Honors, 5th in my class of about 250. Not bragging, but I finally grew up after 3 years, one month and 11 days in the Navy.
In 1938-1940 the Duke Plant was built and Cliffside School received a good many ‘outsiders’, referred to as the ‘Dam People’. All were good additions to Cliffside, especially one named June White who, at this writing, has put up with me for our 66 years of marriage. June and I first met when she entered the 10th grade at Cliffside in the fall of 1940, and we gradually got to know each other. We didn’t date a lot until toward the end of our senior year. I took her to the Junior-Senior Ball. (She just now advised me that she still has the yellow rose that I gave her). She then went to Winthrop and I went into WWII. We corresponded a little during the war, but not a lot. During the war, June got a Christmas time job in the Cliffside post office working for my Mother, the temporary Postmistress. In almost every letter that I got from Mother she would mention June. I imagine she did the same with June, so after the war we each knew a lot about each other, began dating again, the rest came naturally, and is history. What a GREAT Mother I had.
In 1939 Daddy bought me a used 1930 ‘A Model’ Ford, four-door sedan so he wouldn’t have to ‘cart’ me everywhere I had to go, and which he sold when I went into the Navy in 1942. Luckily I never had a wreck in it, but navigated the County with my friends for a couple of years, carrying girl friends when they would ride with us. One interesting thing about the back seat of this car, and I don’t recall how I learned to do it, but I installed, under the rear sear cover, a thin wire connected to a ‘T Model’ magneto and a foot switch near the brake pedal, that would electrify, with 12 volts, the wire under the back seat cover when I mashed the switch, giving a light shock to whoever was in the back seat, only when the engine was running and charging the ‘magneto’. This worked fine, for a few laughs, until the girls we carted around got wise, and when they would get in the car, one would grab my ears from behind, thus keeping me from mashing the switch. FUN!
When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941 everyone’s life in Cliffside was affected. I graduated from High School, and turned 18, in May of 1942. In a separate write up I have written of my experiences in WWII and the Korean war.