There was another bad time and I don’t remember the year but I was just a small child when the mill caught fire.
Of course, all of the men were working frantically to put out the fire. The billows of smoke were just rising to the skies. I can remember going to the top of Reservoir Street and standing there just screaming because I knew my daddy was right in the midst of all those men who were trying to put out that fire. I don’t remember now the damage that was done, but it was a serious time in the little town of Cliffside.
One of the things I particularly remember: the peddlers that used to come into the town. They carried their big valises. They had piece goods and other things. We all looked forward to the peddlers coming through. They would come to the homes, open their valises, spread out their materials. The neighbors would gather to see what they had and to make their purchases. Some of these men, I remember their names were Peddler Wall, and we called them by that name-we would say, “Oh, here they come,” Peddler Crocker, Peddler Hughes, Peddler Hamrick. All of the children gathered, too, because we were excited to see all of the beautiful wares they had in their valises. You see, we did not have transportation then to go to the larger towns and cities to purchase.
This is a funny incident that happened to me when I was a little child. The farmers came in selling their produce. I was wandering up the street and this man came along with his wagon with all of his produce and he asked me if I wouldn’t like to ride home with him. He said, “Who are your parents?” and I told him. He
said “Your mother and my wife were big cronies when they were young.” So I went home and told Mama, “That man said that you and his wife used to be moonies when you were young girls!” Of course, that has been a word in our family ever since; my mother laughed and she laughed.
Another person that I can remember coming to Cliffside when he was just about fifteen or sixteen years old: He was called the “Boy Preacher.” My daddy brought him and our pastor to our home on Sunday afternoon and he said, “Here is the Boy Preacher.” He was Vance Havner from Lincolnton, North Carolina. Since that time, Vance Havner has become quite a renowned minister. He is still living, in olden years, but he is still preaching in revivals. He goes to camps as a camp minister. He has certainly proven himself as being used by the Lord.
I used to have an “old toe.” Of course, I went barefooted and I could not wait for the first of May to come because that is when I could go barefooted even if it were pouring rain. But, I had this ole toe that I stumped all the time; I never stumped another toe but that one. I would be down the street playing somewhere and stump that toe. This is what I would start hollering, “Lordy, God, God! Lordy, God, God!” My mother would hear me and would say, “Oh, Mabel has stumped that ole toe again,” and she would start out to get me.
Another one of my escapades, I tried to learn to dip snuff. I happened to be the only child in a neighborhood of childless couples, I would say about six or seven. I went from house to house because they all petted me. One day at one of the homes, this lady dipped snuff; my mother didn’t. But, I just thought she looked so pretty sitting there with that “toothbrush” in her mouth. I begged her to give me some; the “toothbrushes” were limbs from a black gum tree. She got a toothbrush and a little can and gave me some of her snuff. I went out to make mud pies and I dipped snuff. Finally, I told her I had to go home. When I got home, I was the sickest little girl you have ever seen. My mother asked me what that was on my dress, and I said that was where I was out making mud pies. After I had gotten so sick, she said, “Uh, huh, that’s your mud pies!” She said, “I knew all along what that was on your dress.” From that day to this, I have never tried to dip snuff; I have never smoked a cigarette. I don’t want tobacco in any shape or form!
Mr. Haynes extended his railroad after a number of years. He built a railroad that went out to West Henrietta to Haynes Store, Number 1, and then he built another railroad that went out across Main Street over into the Mt. Pleasant Church section in Cleveland County. It was on this railroad that a tragedy happened. Mr. Bud Simmons, who lived on the outskirts of Cliffside was traveling down Main Street in his T-Model and ran into the train as it was crossing Main Street and he was killed. He was the father of Pop Simmons, as he was called, and Pop was a big baseball player.
One of the few remaining, very dear places that Mr. Haynes established was the Cliffside Cemetery. There are many, many memorial stones now in that cemetery, and it overlooks the little town where Cliffside used to be. This cemetery has perpetual care through donations of the loved ones of those who have gone on. The roads have been paved. Every second Sunday of May is Memorial Day in the cemetery; people come back from far and near. They gather there in that cemetery on Sunday morning. All of the graves are decorated and it is a beautiful sight to see, if you stand up at the top of the hill and look down through the cemetery at all of the lovely floral decorations. This is a memorial to Cliffside.
Oh, yes, I remember another thing that happened there. Mr. and Mrs. John Hamrick were neighbors who lived just above us on Reservoir Street. Back then, people used to put out their quilts to air and sun, before they stored them away for the summer. Mrs. Hamrick had put out her quilts so they could have a good airing before she packed them in the quilt chest. Their home had two front doors side by side. They were in one room next to the room where she had put her quilts after bringing them inside. They had no screen doors and the door had been left open in that room. All of a sudden, they realized there was a mad dog having fits on these lovely quilts. I don’t remember how they got that mad dog out, but I remember the next day. This black woman came to wash the clothes, these quilts, but that was really a scary night for all.
I joined the church when I was eight years old. In fact, I “found the Lord” in the Methodist Church, but being from a Baptist family, my paternal grandfather was a Baptist minister. Reverend S. A. Bridges. So, at that time, we had no baptismal pool in the church, but a swimming pool had been built there in a creek. We went to that swimming pool of running water and that’s where we were baptized. Of course, we all had a handkerchief to put over our mouth, and I guess I got excited and I dropped my handkerchief and it was floating down the stream. The other ones who were candidates for baptism began to laugh and I remember Reverend D. J. Hunt, who was the pastor, was a very serious-minded man. He scolded us good. I don’t know how I got baptized without the handkerchief, but I did.
Through the years, this has created a lot of fun when I would tell. Back when I was a girl, if a boy sent you a dozen roses or a dozen carnations for Easter, you were supposed to wear the whole dozen! In the box would be a long pin, like a long hatpin. You pinned those flowers across your front. I remember one of our piano teachers. She was tall, most attractive. She stood to sing a special song one Sunday in church, had on this beautiful black picture hat. Her boyfriend had sent her a dozen Easter lilies, and she had all those lilies pinned across her front. Of course, we thought it was just beautiful, but that’s has been the source of a lot of humor for people as I told it through the years.