The Trip to Cliffside
I as if it were yesterday. We were going to Cliffside! All of the 7th and 8th grade basketball players loaded on the Shiloh Wildcat activity bus and headed off to play Cliffside. Now, in our minds Cliffside was a long way off. It wasn’t like going down to Harris, or up to Ruth, or even over to Mount Vernon. This was at the edge of Rutherford County. Heck, it wasn’t far from South Carolina. It was a big trip.
And tradition…boy, they had tradition. Pop Simmons was their coach. By my estimation, Coach Simmons must have been there 70 years.* And their floor, it was wooden, one of the few our team ever played on. In spite of its age and poor lighting, to us, it was a basketball cathedral.
One additional factor made for the ultimate in excitement. The Shiloh Wildcats were 3-0, including a 13-10 victory over Cliffside at our place. We were looking to make our mark on Rutherford County Elementary School basketball. As skill would have it, we lost that day and two more times on our way to a 7-3 season. Yet, I don’t remember the trip home as any less fun than the one down.
It was that game at Cliffside where we met friends we would spend the next four years with at Chase High School. It was the first time I remember meeting David Jackson or Terry Hines. It was ironic, in that, during my high school years, there were days I probably spent more time with friends in Cliffside than I did at my own house in Shiloh!
In my adult life I’ve taken many trips. I’ve been in over 30 states, traveled abroad on three occasions, lived in Louisville, New Orleans, university towns and even a state capital. Yet, none of these experiences dim my memory of that trip to Cliffside!
About Bobby Jones: “My dad (now deceased) is Reid Jones, Jr. Many people knew him as Director, Department of Social Services. Prior to his completion of his education and employment at DSS, he was a loom fixer (2nd shift) at Stonecutter for 10+ years right out of high school. My mom is Betty Ray Jones. She worked 30+ years at Doncaster.
“During those years while my dad was at Stonecutter, our Friday night ritual was for my family (mom & sister) to visit with a high school friend of my mom’s and her family (five kids all together). At midnight, when our dads got off from work, they’d get burgers at the Shake Shop and we’d all eat together. It was fabulous: play with friends, stay up late, and get a midnight treat. Just like the other story, it was a time when things were way more simple…and an awful lot of fun!”
* Broadus “Pop” Simmons, legend of the ’30s and ’40s, coaching at Cliffside in the ’60s? Hard to believe. We consulted Phillip White, former principal of Cliffside School, who offered this information:
Mr. Beatty hired me in 1966 to teach seventh grade and to coach boys and girls basketball and boys baseball. I had Curt Simmons in my class. He was the son of Pop and Ida Simmons. Pop had retired as Principal of Mooresboro School the year before. When basketball season started he came over to the gym to see how Curt and the teams were doing and probably to check me out. Of course he knew it was hard to coach both teams and offered to help me out with the boys team. And since he had coached championship girls teams in other schools, he gave me a lot of advice and strategy. The Girls were 6-4 that year and 10-0 the next year. Mr. Beatty probably asked Pop to hang around and help me out. Pop and Harley had taught at Cliffside together in their early years. He was a very good baseball player and would teach between ball-playing stints.