This same Reverend Hunt preached a long time. You know how children can get so tired in church. Maybe sometimes he would keep us until 1:00 p.m. Some times he would preach until his nose would begin to bleed. I remember how as a little girl, I sat there when he was preaching so long, and I would just pray to the Lord that He would let his nose begin to bleed because then I knew he would stop preaching and we would get to go home.
On Mother’s Day, he always brought this little black cape that had belonged to his mother and he would stand and hold that little cape and tell about this saintly mother and would cry. Oh, it was quite an emotional thing for us, but that happened every Mother’s Day.
In the summertime, we usually had tent revivals. I can remember that they were well attended and they were very happy affairs. Now, they weren’t Holiness, but we would have these good old songs and some of our saintly women, when a soul was saved, would walk the aisles and shout. It just thrilled my heart to hear that. They were sincere, too!
Previously, I have told you about the early schools in Cliffside. I went to the first real school that was built. That’s where I started to school in the first grade. Reverend D. J. Hunt, who was pastor of the Baptist church, was also principal of the school. Oh, we were afraid of him as if he had been a bear! He really ruled with an iron rod. Mr. Haynes felt that this school was not adequate for the town, and he wanted to build a larger and more modern school building. Of course, he did not live to see this building, but his son Charles H. Haynes saw to it that this building was built—that the wishes were carried out and that the building was completed. At that time, it cost almost a quarter of a million dollars, which was a sizable sum. The formal opening and cornerstone laying took place on Saturday, April 22, 1922. The Masonic Lodge, of which my father was a member, was in charge of the ceremonies. It was a great event in the life of Cliffside.
Some of the principals of the former years are the following: Clyde A. Erwin, who later became County Superintendent of Education, and from there went on to be State Superintendent of Education in North Carolina; during World War I, we had one woman principal who served one year—she was Miss Caroline Wright; Mr. Frank Hall, Mr. Barren Caldwell; J. J. Tarleton; and R. L. Leary, who was killed in an automobile accident when he carried a group of young people to Chapel Hill, N. C. to participate in a debate; H. C. Beatty was elected to the position and remained principal until he retired. This is the school where I graduated and one of my children, Anne, was a graduate of that school. The other three were graduates of other high schools in Rutherford County. This is no longer a high school, but is known as the Cliffside Elementary School and the principal is Phillip White. Other than the mill, the school and the churches are the only original buildings remaining.
This is an interesting story about the early days of Cliffside. In the morning at 5:00 a.m., a bell rang at the mill, down in the bell tower. People got up to cook breakfast. Then, at 5:30 a.m., another bell rang; that was the breakfast bell. The people went to work at 6:00 a.m. At 12:00, another bell rang for the lunch hour; that was one whole hour. I forgot to say that at 6:00 a.m., a whistle blew to signal work time and then at 1:00 p.m., the whistle blew again to tell that the lunch hour was over. At 6:00 in the evening, the bell rang and that signified that the day’s work was over.
One funny thing that I remember in those early years: Two young ladies went to New York City, which was a most unusual trip. They got out on the street, and people were going just to and fro, like they did when the mill bell rang. One looked at the other and said, “You know, Virginia, I believe the bell has rung!”
I can remember that I was six years old when electricity was installed in the homes in Cliffside. Now, this electricity was turned on at 6:00 p.m. and turned off at 6:00 a.m. So, the people who bought electric irons had to get their ironing done at night. Heretofore, they had used the old “sad iron” and heated that iron in front of the fire at their fireplaces or heated the iron on their cook stove. (They rubbed the iron on a piece of meat skin to make the clothes stiff and pretty!) At midnight, the streetlights were turned off and the town was in darkness.
This is a rather humorous incident! Mr. Maurice Hendrick, who had become superintendent of the Cliffside Mill, and other executives were in the office of Mr. Charlie Haynes, who was president of the mill. They had a new pattern of gingham that was being introduced. Mr. Haynes said, “Now, this pattern will be called Loretta.” Mr. Hendrick said, “Loretta, that is some name. Where in the world, did you ever get such a name as that?” Very seriously, Mr. Haynes replied, “That was my mother’s name, Amanda Loretta!” I remember banding this gingham when I would work down in the cloth room during the summer, the vacation periods that we would have.
Let me tell you about a ghost story. You know, always every town has its ghost stories, and Cliffside had several. This one particular story was that people were seeing this young woman dressed in a white nightgown on one of the back streets of Cliffside. Everyone was terribly concerned that there was a ghost seen walking on that street. Some of the men got brave enough to go and watch and see what was going on. One night, they saw this woman in a white gown get in a buggy with a prominent doctor and ride off. So, they had the hidden romances even back then. But the ghost turned out to be alive!