In the Navy
Roy Hill was too young to go into service during WWI, but he left his job in Cliffside Mills to join the Navy in 1922 when he became 18 years old, and was stationed aboard a ship in the 7th Fleet.
When the war ended in 1918, it was decided that the somewhat isolationist position the United States had held before the war was not in the country’s best interest. In an attempt to build better relationships with other countries, ships in the Navy’s 7th Fleet were sent on what was termed a “Good Will Tour” to many countries around the world. While stationed with this fleet, Roy visited ports in Japan, China, Australia, Italy, Spain, France, and many more countries, then arrived back in the United States, where they docked in New York Harbor.
During the tour Roy saw much of the world and also acquired the tattoos that fascinated his nieces and nephews so much. Just above his ankle, a black cat stood spitting and hissing atop a red number 13. A rooster stood on top of one foot, and a pig on the other. He said he got the pig and rooster in honor of crossing the equator and going around the Cape of Good Hope. He told of the initiation that he was required to undergo the first time he crossed the equator, which was a Navy tradition for all first time “crossers.” They were subjected to dunking, paddling, and various other unpleasant things, after which they were awarded a certificate for having survived the rigors of crossing the equator.
After completing his tour of duty, Roy returned to the Mill to work in the Machine Shop on the night shift. His job was to repair anything that was broken, to fabricate any part needed, and to fire the boilers, which in the beginning meant shoveling coal into them. He would hold this job in “The Shop” on this same shift for all his working years.
Boxing in Cliffside
Roy had learned to box while he was in the Navy, and when he came home after his discharge in 1926, he and several friends, including “Tubby” Hawkins and “Shine” Goode tried to promote the sport of boxing in and around Cliffside. The group attended Golden Gloves matches in Charlotte and scheduled matches between local boys who were interested in boxing. G. C. “Fish” Fisher was one of the boxers they thought was very good and had the potential to go far. However, they were unable to generate enough interest to make a going venture of it, so abandoned the idea.