Fifty seven years ago the plant was closed one week for vacation starting on Saturday, July 26, 1947. I, along with guys such as James “Wormy” Hawkins, Raleigh Pritchard, Earl Johnson, Ashley and Blackie Reid, Bobby Packard, Charles Fushay, Jr. Beason, Theron Jolley and my Grandfather Simmons, went down through a man hole in the turbine room floor to the bottom of the dam to clean the water turbine and then to paint it.
That night Juanita [Daves] and I slipped off to Gaffney and got married. She then went home as if nothing had happened and I went to my grandfather’s house so we could go back to work on the turbine at 6:00 o’clock Sunday morning.
That weekend had several firsts for me including it being the first time I ever was paid overtime at time-and-a-half. Ninety cents an hour or $1.35 overtime for two 10-hour days. Can you just imagine my pay check come payday? The grand total was $63.00. (Now please don’t ask me what I had for dinner last night because I have no idea.)
I was looking at Highland Street and who lived where in 1945. In mid-1948 they started playing musical houses. Mr. Johnson Sr. moved from #4 to #5. Earl Johnson moved from #2 to #4 and Herman Johnson, Earl’s brother, moved to #3 from down the road, the Bridges were still in #1, Juanita and I moved into our first house at #2, the Dale’s were still at #8. The Hawkins had moved and they made a duplex out of #7 and a young man (a painter) Charles Fushay lived in one of the apartments. I don’t remember #6.
House rents: When Juanita and I moved into #2 Highland Street, it was a 4-room house with 1/2 of a 2-car garage and screens on the doors and windows. The rent was 25¢ per room per week, the garage was 25¢ per week, the screens were 25¢ per week and the electricity minimum was 20¢ per week. A grand total of $1.95 per week. The electric meters were read each month and on the last payday of the month the excess power used over and above the minimum 20¢ per week was added to that weeks rent and deducted from you pay envelope.
A few months after we moved in, in late 1948, they increased the room rent to 50¢ per room, making a total of $2.95 per week.
This thing about the screens has caused a lot of questions over the years when we talk about our first house. Most textile villages did not have screens because of the cost. In Cliffside the screens goes back to the health thing years ago when the village had a company nurse, etc. Flies and mosquitoes carried a lot of germs so the company maintained the screens, but they charged for them because a lot of people did not take care of them. If you needed a screen replaced or repaired, all you had to do was to tell Ike Biggerstaff the outside boss and it would be replaced, most times the same day. One of the carpenters would come out and exchange the screen and return the old one to the carpenter shop for repairs.
I can’t remember what year it was, but my granddad Simmons ran the ice plant and fired the boiler for steam to most of the town buildings including the memorial bldg. and the cannery. Sometime during the war, not sure when, the company turned the ice plant over to the Dedman family, who already did most of trucking of the ice. When the Dedman’s took over, the company shut down the boiler and switched over to the mill boiler room. At this time my granddad Simmons became the paint foreman until he was 67 and retired to Bat Cave. I started working for him as a painter in May 1947, got married in July and moved to 2 Highland Street, down in the hole below the road, the last house on the Northeast end. Some time in 1949 I went to work for Duke Power at the Dan River Plant. Came to California in Nov. 1952. Soon be 50 years. In about 1965, when working for Standard Oil Co. of California, I went to a seminar where we discussed a new phenomenon called “central plants” (that would use large amounts of fuels and lubricants, which I was selling at the time). This was the coming thing, a big deal where the gas company built large facilities and ran heat and air conditioning underground to surrounding buildings. I told them this is not new. My little home town back in Cliffside, N.C., had done this 50 years ago.
My dad always told us a story about the roller mill and his father [Robert Edgar Haynes, son of R.R. Haynes]. He had a little black man working for him when the old roller mill was new. The first Saturday when it came time for a pay check my grandfather said, “Robert, will you give me your full name?” Robert said, “Mr. Haynes, do you want my full name or do you just want my initials.” Granddad said, “I would rather have your full name.” Robert gave his name: Robert Lewis James Pinkney T.B. Lovelace Washington Watkins. Granddad said, “Your initials will do.”
The “Robert” was for my granddad; “Lewis,” we don’t know; “James & Pinkney” were sons of Kinchen Tennessee Carpenter, who was the labor boss man at Cliffside (and was R.R. Haynes father-in-law); “T.B. Lovelace” was the only doctor around at this time and had delivered all the babies; “Washington,” we weren’t sure of, but thought maybe it was for George, our first president; and I think “Watkins” was after Rgee’s [R.G. Watkins] grandfather, who was a boss man of some type.