1922: A Closer Look
An excerpt from
Cliffside, North Carolina: The First Half Century
By Donald F. Bailey
The year 1922, generally, saw the boom times of the war years continue to fade. A dramatic indication of this fact is recorded by Joseph Beason. On May 19, 1922 Beason sold three bales of cotton at 10¢ per pound. On July 31, 1919 he had sold six bales at 35¢ per pound. But again stockholders in Cliffside Mills received a dividend of 10%. And again there were bonuses, $8,000 to Charles Haynes and $5,000 to Z. O. Jenkins.
For the village of Cliffside 1922 was a high water mark in many ways. Ambitious, aggressive, and expensive expansion was greatly in evidence. And, while this involved mainly bricks and mortar growth, it is equally true that the cultural, social, and recreational life of the community was involved in the expansion.
Cliffside’s expansion began with the basics. At some point between the time it was begun, in 1904, and 1922 the Cotton Ginnery had grown from two 70-saw gins to three 80-saw gins. And in mid-June the capacity of the Ginnery was doubled. It is no wonder then that by fall the gin was doing a booming business. It is reported that six bales of cotton were ginned in one hour in early September and one week later sixty-eight bales were ginned in a single day. In fact, by late October the gin at Cliffside had processed twice as many bales of cotton as any other plant in the county.
As the year began the Cliffside Railroad Co installed a new six drive engine. In April there were forty-three looms added to the weaving department of the mill, bringing the total to one thousand five hundred and forty-three looms. And Cliffside was still able to boast of the largest gingham mill, under one roof, in the entire South.1 In May the boiler plant was remodeled, under the direction of one O. L. Ballard, and in October a new slasher machine was installed.
But the two most significant building projects this year, as in the past few years, were the new school building and the R. R. Haynes Memorial Building. Each of these projects was completed and dedicated in 1922. They represented what was at that time a mammoth expense. The school cost $250,000 and the Memorial Building is reported to have cost $125,000. But it is hard to see how the expense for the latter building could have been so much less than for the former. The author is convinced that the cost for the two buildings was closer to half a million dollars than to $400,000, but he has no proof.
The school building was for all purposes completed in 1921 and was already being used in the 1921-22 school year. When school opened after Christmas break on Monday, January 2, the railings on the stairways had recently been replaced by “nice metal banisters.” The auditorium of the new school building was used for the first time on January 21 when Miss Della Garden’s music class gave a recital. By April all work was completed, and on April 22 the formal opening of the “Cliffside magnificent school building”took place. The opening was grand indeed, even though Joseph Beason noted simply “Went to Cliffside to cornerstone laying.”
The celebration was in two parts. There was a cornerstone laying in the afternoon and a formal opening ceremony in the evening. Fortunately, there exist detailed descriptions of the entire proceedings. At 1:00 o’clock the Grand Masonic Lodge of the State of North Carolina convened in the local Masonic Hall and preparations for the march to the school building were made. At 2:30 the procession formed. The local school children, all dressed in white, led the parade along with the principal and faculty. After them came the Masons with their ritual objects.
Upon arriving at the school Mr. Charles H. Haynes stated the purpose for which the building was had been erected and asked that the cornerstone be laid according to the rites of Masonry. There followed the impressive ceremony, after which the Masons, led by the Haynes Band, marched back to the local lodge room. The Band then assembled on the porch of the (not quite completed) Memorial Building and played a concert.
The cornerstone was of Indiana limestone and was engraved with the names of the building committee: Chas. H. Haynes, Z. O. Jenkins, W. H. Haynes, G. K. Moore, R. B. Watkins, Maurice Hendrick, Clyde Erwin and Barron P. Caldwell; the engineers, G. C. Haynes and G. K. Moore; and the architect, Louis H. Asbury. In the cornerstone there were: a Bible, school history, Masonic Record, Forest City Courier, Rutherfordton Sun, Charlotte Observer, a program of the celebration, 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, and 25¢ coins, list of grand officers participating, a list of officers and members of the Cliffside Lodge, a copy of the Charlotte Observer of March 11, 1917 containing a biography of R. R. Haynes, articles of agreement and by-laws of Cliffside Mills, a history of Cliffside and a picture of the band.
The evening program was held in the school auditorium at 7:30. The Haynes Band provided music. Reverends Collins and Keever, respectively, gave the opening invocation and the closing benediction. Clyde Erwin gave a short welcome and introduced County Superintendent of Schools W. R. Hill who reviewed the progress of education in Rutherford County since 1917. Dr. W. D Daniel, Chair of English at Clemson University (then College), gave the major address. Not one word of the content of his speech is recorded but “in his inimitable way (he) captured his audience with his first words and held his hearers spellbound to the last word.” This must have been an event the like of which Cliffside had never seen. Indeed, so many people came from out of town for the dedication that a temporary café was operated in the basement of the Memorial Building especially to feed the visitors.
Now, just as the new school building at Cliffside was the finest in Rutherford County, under Clyde Erwin the program of the school was—or was becoming—the best in the county. In April Miss Frances Harris of Cliffside High School won a gold medal for the best essay in a county wide contest. When the 1921-22 term closed there were 660 students with 75 in the High School, and 16 faculty. Rev. A. C. Swofford commented that when he was principal of the school—between 1910 and 1915—there were 425 pupils enrolled and there were 7 teachers.
When the school opened for the 1922-23 term on Monday, September 4, an English-Latin course was offered along with an English-scientific course. The high school offered 4 courses in science, 4 in mathematics, 4 in English, 4 in Latin, 4 in history, 2 in French, 2 in Home Economics, and courses in voice, piano, and “physical culture.” The Department of Home Economics was newly instituted in 1922 with Miss Muriel Barnes as head.
Chas. C. Erwin, brother of Clyde Erwin, was principal of the fledgling high school. Muriel Barnes, mentioned above, Edna Dixon of Peabody College and Bryte Aderholt of Lenoir College were the other high school teachers. Elementary teachers were:
|Mrs. Clyde Erwin, Marjorie Hord, Lillian Kendrick||1st Grade|
|Mary Garrison, Ada Bridges||2nd Grade|
|Marian Clayton||3rd Grade|
|Anna-Belle Logan, Minnie Carpenter||4th Grade|
|Eva Bame, Florence Edwards||5th Grade|
|Merle Wimberly||6th Grade|
|Laura Freeman||7th Grade|
In November however Miss Cordelia McDowell replaced Mrs. Clyde Erwin.
Work on the R. R. Haynes Memorial Building, begun in 1919, was nearing completion. The building, like the school, was in use even as it was being completed, and by the start of 1922 it must have been very nearly finished. That a barber shop operated by M. O. (Mal) and Lytton Proctor had been operating in the basement for several months in 1921 is evidence of this. In January the management entertained the employees of the different stores at a banquet given at the Memorial Building.
In March the equipment for the gymnasium in the Memorial Building arrived and the floors of the building were being finished. In early April G. C. Haynes and B. E. Roach went to High Point to purchase furniture and fixtures for the Memorial Building. In late April the ladies’ and men’s bath rooms were opened to the public. In May the pavement in front of the Memorial Building was being covered with two colors of tile and Mr. B. E. Roach took charge of the Memorial building while C. B. Martin replaced Roach in the Cliffside Mills office. Also in May Broadus Biggerstaff opened a second barber shop in the basement next door to the shop of the Proctors.
In late May a Mr. Willis, commercial photographer of Spartanburg, came to town to make pictures of the interior of the Memorial Building and other views of the town. On Saturday June 24 the formal opening of the R. R. Haynes Memorial Building was held. While it seems not to have measured up to the dedication of the school building—in which the ceremony was held—this opening was quite an affair.
Of course the Haynes Band provided music. Charles H. Haynes formally presented the building to the town, and P. C. Hawkins and Maurice Hendrick responded on the townís behalf. Two former Cliffside pastors, Rev. D. J. Hunt and Rev. A. C. Swofford, spoke along with three local dignitaries, Judge J. L. Webb, Dr. T. B. Lovelace, and R. L. Ryburn. Then Clyde Erwin introduced the principal speaker of the evening, the Hon. Clyde R. Hoey, who held the audience spellbound. After the program the crowd “repaired to the memorial building for an inspection.”
This memorial building, magnificent in its day, immediately anchored much of the social and cultural life of the village. It held a large lodge room in which met the Masons and Knights of Pythias. Soon evening classes in Home Economics (or “Domestic Science”) were offered in the building for the women of the community. The Girls Auxiliary of the Baptist Church held a fund raiser in the basement of the building selling ice cream, hot chocolate, cake, sandwiches and candy. The Home Economics class of the 10th and 11th grades entertained their mothers there with a tea, and the ladies of the Methodist Church held a bazaar in one of the large rooms on the top floor of the building.
Of course there was great excitement about the new movie theater which was located in the Memorial Building. In February a Mr. Beam, of Shelby’s leading theatre, came to town to adjust the “new Simplex machine” for the new theatre. And on March 7 the new theatre opened for the first time, with a seating capacity of 417. The theater was managed by Chas. Swofford, while Robert James and J. L. Cooper operated the projectors.
We know but little of the fare offered by the theater. But three offerings that have been thought worthy of note are a personal appearance by Buster Brown and Tige in April, “Turn To The Right,” a drama that was enjoyed by a capacity crowd, and a free show for farmers concerning the boll weevil and how arsenic will kill them and increase yield. This last program, we are told, finished up with a good comedy.
By year’s end a line of confections had been installed in the lobby of the Memorial Building, and Charles H. Haynes had donated 6 volumes of N.C. history, 6 additional papers, and 21 books for the Memorial Building Library. And, it is significant to note, both a Men’s and a Ladies’ Board of Directors for the Memorial Building had been established.
1922 also saw smaller construction projects. At the Lakeview Dairy, which employed five men, a new barn was completed, along with a garage. A screened porch was added to one of the buildings where milk was handled. The dairy herd grew quite a bit as well. In January, W. H. Haynes purchased some fine Holstein cattle for the dairy from Mr. Victor Montgomery of Spartanburg. In March he bought 44 more Holsteins in Asheville. So, it is not surprising that when County Agent L. D. Thrash organized a July tour of some of the county’s best farms the Lakeview Dairy was on the tour. In October Mr. Robert Quisenberry, who had been with the Lakeview Dairy for several months, left for Hendersonville to engage in the dairy business for himself.
Another small 1922 construction was a new ball park. On Monday April 3 construction began on the new park which was to have a large grandstand and “everything complete.” The park was completed by early August and was named the Haynes Athletic Park. The park was declared one of the finest baseball parks in this part of the country. The cost of the new park was over $3,500 and all paid by the Cliffside Mills Company.
The town team seems to have done fairly well in its new park. On Thursday August 3 they lost to Henrietta 5 to 4, on Friday August 4 they lost to Ranlo 9 to 5, but on Saturday they defeated Landrum 7 to 3. On Saturday August 29 Cliffside beat Pacolet 6 to 2; on September 2 Cliffside defeated Chesnee. And on September 9 they romped, besting Tryon by 14 to 5.
A major project just begun in 1922 was the building of a new Baptist Church. On May 24 the Baptist Church appointed a second building committee composed of W. K. Collins, J. H. Hill, J. P. Carpenter and Charles H. Haynes. The committee adopted a plan to erect a new building at a cost of approximately $100,000. Through the interest and generosity of the Haynes family, Cliffside Mills agreed to match each dollar the church raised toward the construction. Almost immediately a committee began canvassing for funds for the new church.
By early June an architect arrived to submit plans for the new church, as well as plans for the new Baptist Church to be built at Avondale. By mid-July a house, indeed the first house built in Cliffside, was moved from Main Street to a site on Park Avenue to make room for the new Baptist Church, and work was predicted to begin immediately. Soon brick were being placed on the site for the new church, ground was cleared, and work began in earnest. In mid-September most of the grading had been done for the foundation and the new building was under construction. The building planned was an ambitious one, and the work begun in 1922 would not be completed until the latter half of 1924.
But aside from beginning the construction of the new church, the Baptist Church in Cliffside was flourishing in 1922. In mid-April a number of the Baptist men met on the site of the prospective new Baptist Church and erected a large tent for a revival meeting. The tent was on Main Street, one block from the square. The next week the piano and organ were moved from the Baptist Church into the tent. Soon the revival meeting began and ran for three weeks. It must have been a great success. At its end a baptismal service was conducted at the swimming pool on Church Street. We do not have the number of persons baptized, but it was apparently large. Of course Jim Crow was alive and well, so a service was held, in the revival tent, near the end of the revival for “colored only.”
Perhaps this revival was in answer to, or spurred on by, the Spartanburg visit of Billy Sunday earlier in the year. In February near 500 people went to Spartanburg to hear Billy Sunday. The large delegation was made up of people from Cliffside, Avondale and vicinity, and four hundred seats had been reserved for the evening service at the Billy Sunday tabernacle. The Cliffside folk wore ribbons stamped “Cliffside, N.C.” And the Haynes Band went along and played an arrangement of sacred hymns at the tabernacle. Rev. Collins must have been very proud when several people who had earlier attended the Billy Sunday meetings stated they would rather hear Rev. Collins.
The Haynes Band, which has been mentioned several times above, seems to have had a banner year in 1922. On Saturday night, March 11, the Haynes Band and the Avondale Band gave a public concert at the school auditorium, followed by a debate. The debate topic was:
RESOLVED: That Bill S506, now pending before congress, providing for three fold compensation for ex-service men, should be passed.
Cliffside debated the affirmative, and we are not told who won. The debate was, however, declared a great success.
In what was no doubt merely one of many local concerts, the Band gave a concert in front of the Memorial Building Sunday afternoon, March 16. The Band played at Shelby in late October for the laying of the corner stone for the new hospital. They then returned to Shelby a few days later to play for a political speech by Max Gardner. In November the Haynes Band played for the Armistice Day celebration at Forest City.
In addition to the movie theater and the village band, there was other musical and theatrical fare in Cliffside. First there were the offerings of the Redpath Lyceum Bureau. In January there were the “Geneva Players,” then came the “Winters Company” in February, followed by the “Artist Trio” on March 13. The “Dunbar Quartet and Bell Ringers” performed in the school auditorium in April. And it seems that a Lyceum season ended at this point.“Friendly Enemies” was the first of the Lyceum attraction of the 1922-23 season. This play was presented at the school auditorium on Saturday night, October 14. The service at the Baptist Church began at six-thirty and was over in time for the program at the school which started about 8:15. It is not clear if Saturday night church services were the norm, of if some special program was taking place there. And the ìLaura Werno Ladies Quartetî sang at the Cliffside Hall on November 7.
Music was just beginning to come to Cliffside by radio in 1922. Charles Haynes bought a radio in late March or early April, and according to some reports installed it in the Memorial Building. Immediately people began to gather and listen to concerts broadcast from Pittsburg ñ and other places.
Of course the people of the village produced their own entertainment—no doubt more so then than in more recent times. Saturday evening May 20 Miss Eloise M. Tanner, Miss Minnie Jane Campbell, and Mr. D. C. Cole gave a program of reading and music. There was sufficient local interest to support a singing school in March conducted by a Prof. Jordan, and a second in August by one Prof. W. E. Owens [a son of Amos Owens] of Caroleen.
It is necessary to report that some of the local entertainment would not be well received today and some was outright racist. For example, a “Womanless Wedding” on November 25 drew over 1000 people and was a great success. And in February a “Negro” debate was given by the Twentieth Century Club on the subject “Resolved: Dat Dey Am Ghosts,” while the Cliffside Legion Post gave a Minstrel in December.
The civic clubs were strong and active in 1922. The Legion Post was mentioned above, and this year there were 20 members enrolled. The Post Commander was Charles F. Moore, Vice Post Commander was B. B. Goode, Adjutant C. M. Collins, Chaplain Palmer Harrill and Flay Simmons was Sergeant at Arms. The local IOOF lodge, ìthe strongest and most active lodge in the district,î hosted a meeting of the 18th District of IOOF in their lodge in late March and later went to Forest City to reorganize the lodge there and confer the degrees on a number of new members. On Friday night, April 21st the Kings Mountain Lodge Knights of Pythias “Rank Team” visited the Cliffside Lodge and the local lodge entertained the many visitors at the new cafè. In October a district meeting of the Improved Order of Red Men was held in the Hall. Of course the local Masonic lodge was active, at the laying of the cornerstone for the school and in other areas.
On December 15 a group of county leaders met at the Spindale House and organized a county wide civic club, the Rutherford County Club. Dr. Scruggs and Messrs. Z. O. Jenkins, Charles H. Haynes, G. C. Haynes and B. D. Wilson all were present at the luncheon where the club was organized, and the first meeting of the club was held in Cliffside on Tuesday, January 3, 1923. Cliffside men continued to play an important part in the Rutherford County Club during the years of its existence.
The younger set also had their organizations. The girls of the high school organized a Camp Fire Girls Club early in the year. And the Boy Scout Troop was hard at work on community service, for in March the Boy Scouts were encouraged to reopen the Laurel Valley and Lovers’ Lane trails along the river below and above town. Evidently these trails had some history already at this point, since they had apparently overgrown. In any event the scouts were equal to the task for on a late April Sunday “Laurel Valley was swarming with folks, mostly young people.”
Business happenings in Cliffside were not exceptional in 1922, but they seem to indicate that the economic health of the village was basically sound. Dr. Chas. S. McCall, who had practiced dentistry in Cliffside since mid-1919, relocated to Forest City early in the year. But by July Dr. T. L. White of North Wilkesboro opened his dental office in the village.
No doubt there was a stir caused by the arrival of Miss Evelyn Pusey, the new milliner, in March. Miss Pusey might have been from Philadelphia, or from Baltimore, as reports differ. But in the fall she was “the milliner in charge at the Cliffside Mills Store again this season.” On September 15, the millinery department was the center of attraction at the formal opening of the Cliffside Mills Store. Music was furnished during the entire evening by an “Edison laboratory model graphophone” and a player piano.
A new garage, the John Hamrick Garage, appears for the first time in the 1922 Dun and Bradstreet listings. In August the excavation for a two-story garage to be occupied by the Cliffside Motor Company was almost completed. In September Mr. Walter Suggs moved from Henrietta and opened a first class shoe shop at the stand previously occupied by George Daughtery.
The Cliffside Hotel, under the management of Mrs. H. M. Shearin, was doing good business and in November had 26 boarders and many transients. The store of M. T. Green and M. Scruggs, near Cliffside, was robbed and then set fire in late September. But within five weeks the store was rebuilt and they were doing business at the same old stand with a full line of goods.
The year 1922 came to an end with Cliffside having its own newspaper (in a way). The Cliffside News—a section of the Forest City Courier—with B. E. Roach as editor and Clyde A. Erwin associate editor had its inaugural issue on March 30. Certainly from the end of March through the end of December there had been plenty of Cliffside news to report, and residents must have felt justifiable pride and optimism as they looked forward to 1923.
The mill stopped for Christmas at noon on Saturday the 23rd—and started again the 27th. Saturday evening the Community Christmas tree and program was presented in the school auditorium. All employees received a Christmas gift and children received candy, toys, and in some cases shoes and clothes. The band gave a serenade starting at 10:00 PM.