Marriage and Work
Soon after returning home [from the Navy], Sam went with his parents to visit some of his father’s relatives, and met Polly Goforth, a friend of his cousin, Pat Lovelace (Mrs. John) Travis. After the introduction, Sam and Polly dated a few times, and then both drifted off to date other people. Sam and Whitey Scruggs, who was Sam’s best friend for many years, both dated girls in Spindale, so Sam would drop Whitey off at his date’s house before going to see his date. One night when both Sam and Polly’s dates “stood them up,” they again discovered each other. They started dating, became engaged, and were married at Spencer Baptist Church in Spindale on October 12, 1947, which was his Grandma Hill’s 72nd birthday.
Sam and Polly lived in Spindale until 1956, when they moved to Cleveland, Ohio where John and Pat Travis were living. Five years later, both couples returned to Rutherford County. They jointly purchased 12 acres of land on Piney Ridge Road and set about building a body shop in which they would be partners.
John and Pat Travis, their son Chris, Sam and Polly Hill, and Polly’s niece, Frankie Edmondson, all lived in the little white house that was on the property until they each built separate homes a few years later. They were very close, and seemed like one family.
John and Sam started out their business with the determination to do a good job on any cars they repaired in their body shop, and they gained a good business reputation. As their business grew, they built additional buildings on the property and leased them out to others doing car cleanup or other work concerning cars. At first, most of the work of Travis/Hill Body Shop was done for private parties, then for car dealers, and then for insurance companies in accident claims.
John and Sam, as they grew older, spent less time doing body work on cars belonging to someone else. With the years of experience they had gained in doing work for others, they had learned just what it would take to repair a car, and where to locate the used parts they needed. With their frame machine and body repair equipment already in place, they found they could buy a damaged vehicle that was good mechanically, repair it, and sell it more profitably than they could do repairs for others. This came to form the bulk of their business; although they did continue to do body and frame work for others at the same time.
As the years passed, Sam and John, both with health problems, leased out more of their shop buildings to others and only worked in the shop themselves as they were able. Sam developed circulation problems and had bypass surgery in Charlotte in July of 1988. His heart and circulation became better after he recovered from this, but he suffered a great deal from rheumatoid arthritis.
On July 17, 1994, his mother, at age 88, and his Aunt Malleree Prewitt, at age 78, both suffered fatal injuries in an automobile accident only yards from their homes. A year later, in September of 1995, John Travis died of congestive heart failure and a stroke at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Less than two weeks later, Pat suffered a hip fracture from which she never fully recovered, and she died in October of 1996.
Sam and Polly, their love and dedication to each other still enduring, celebrated their 50th Wedding anniversary on Sunday, October 12, 1997. They were honored at Spencer Baptist Church, riding to the church in a 1937 Hudson Terraplane very similar to Roy Hill’s 1936 Terraplane in which they had driven to the church 50 years before to be married.
Polly had knee replacement surgery in 1998 and recovered from that, then was diagnosed with and successfully treated for breast cancer, which she is hopeful will not recur. Sam’s arthritis has limited what he can do, and he has been through a pretty rough couple of years since developing cancer. In spite of all this, he maintains a cheerful, uncomplaining attitude, looking upon their health problems as the cost of still being alive. He is a joy to be around, and his family has come to love and appreciate him more than ever.
Sam loves Cliffside and the people who were his friends and neighbors, and he values his memories of growing up there. He has read most of what is on the Remember Cliffside Web site, and looks forward to each new article or picture that appears.