More About Cliffside
The Chronicle has carried several stories about Cliffside, the model mill village in Rutherford county. This week’s issue of Charity and Children gives the personal observations of Editor Archibald Johnson, which we are going to reproduce in full, for it is literature of that character that The Chronicle loves to pass along. As to the location of Cliffside, Editor Johnson says it covers two or three handsome hills, and the drainage is excellent, which is no small factor in the health and happiness of a congested community. It looks like a settlement of prosperous farmers. The dead-levelism so painful in ordinary mill villages is not there. The houses are different, both in plan and paint. Shrubbery and flowers grow in profusion in the front yards. The company encourages the embellishment of the houses in every possible way. The type of operatives struck us as being uncommonly high. Nearly all of them belong to the same church and the fearful gulf that separates between employer and employed in the average mill neighborhood, does not obtain at Cliffside. In the midst of the village on a beautiful hill, stands the residence of the head and front of the whole business—Mr. R. R Haynes. He sympathizes with his people and does not hold himself aloft from them. Perhaps the success of the community lies in this fact. The proprietor who holds himself on a level with and not above those in his employment, is sure to get a grip on them. The people of the town—and there are 1,800 of them—do not own a house or a foot of land. It is all the property of the company and is not for sale for love or money. The people are thrifty and many of them have bank accounts, but they can never hope to own a house in Cliffside, The reason is obvious. The company would soon lose its grip on the town if the residents owned their own houses, and that would destroy the policy that has made this an ideal mill village. The government is purely paternal. It is a limited monarchy—Mr. R. R. Haynes being the monarch. His word is law. He kills and he makes alive. The school, the sanitary arrangements, the lights, the streets are all provided by the company. Taxation, therefore, is no burden to Cliffside. Houses rent at a low price—from $3 to $5 a month, and they are commodious, convenient, well lighted and ventilated. The moral status of the community is remarkable. If a drunkard, a profane swearer, a gambler, a lewd woman or any objectionable character appears, the usual process of law is not invoked; the owner of the property appears on the scene and lifts such a character out of the neighbor-hood on the toe of his boot. He has a perfect right to protect his own premises. This may seem to abridge personal liberty, but thank the Lord, Cliffside is one place where personal liberty can be abridged when it becomes license. The company has the interests of the people at heart, and the company is a better governing force than the people. The doctrine may not be in line with our American institutions but it does the business for Cliffside, and all one has to do to be convinced is to pay a visit to that delightful town and he can see for himself. We believe this to be the solution of the mill problem. It is a good deal like the government of the orphanage. The company stands in loco parentis to the people. It is to the company’s interest to see that every moral, social and religious influence is thrown around the community, and the company, having all necessary power, is abundantly able to enforce the laws it promulgates. Fifty per cent of the children attend school. The company is anxious to increase the attendance, and encourage parents to educate their children. So long as the company absolutely controls all the property of the town, so long can it control the situation. It is for this reason that nobody can buy a lot in Cliffside at any price.
We are hoping, but we must confess not very courageously, that this description of one of the South’s many model cotton mill villages will catch the attention of some of the Northern newspapers and magazines that have been so fond of exaggerating and misrepresenting mill conditions in the South.—Charlotte Chronicle.