Mr. Gold, the Whippet Truck and Missing Pants
There used to be a Mr. Gold, I believe his first name was Broadus, who was the overseer of what was called the outside gang. This was a group of men who were used for any and everything needed in matters of upkeep around the village. It must have been around 1940 when Gold had his gang out picking up flattish rocks to be used building rock walls around the village. Several of the men were needed to pick up a large rock and when they got it up off the ground Mr. Gold stepped under it to kill a snake he saw under there. He made the mistake of yelling, “Hold it! There’s a snake!” Well, don’t you know, when he said that, the men turned loose and ran? The rock fell on his foot, messing up his foot and ankle. I don’t remember if he ever got over that or not. If you walked out towards the graveyard from Main Street, Mr. Gold lived in the first house on the left on Church Street.
Did you ever know that we once had a laundry located almost under the river street bridge, on the road leading down to the boiler room? It was opposite the wood shop.
One cold morning I was in the old Whippet truck used by the telephone company. I started down the hill between the cotton gin and the warehouse, and before I knew it I hit black ice. That old Whippet went round and round as it slid down the hill. No way to stop it. All I could think of was sliding off the road at the bottom and going over the side. Lucky it stopped in the middle of the road. Some would tell you Whippet never made a truck. They didn’t, but a place in Charlotte bought the chassis and built the cab and truck bed. They used all wood and going around a curve you could see and hear the wooden cab lean to the sides. It had a hook on the right front fender and one on the back of the bed. We could pull up along side the pole pile and lift one end of a pole on to the hanger, then lift the other end on board. We drove that old truck everywhere…over ditches, gullies, and open fields. We would hand-dig a hole to plant a pole, drive the truck up close so we could lift the butt off the truck, let it drop at the edge of the hole, then by brute strength and awkwardness raise the top end of the pole in the air. Lots of hard labor back then, not much in the way of mechanical help. Had it existed then, OSHA would have had a fit the way we did things. But we lived through it. It was the same in all work then. We wouldn’t have thought of asking for overtime or hazard pay. We wouldn’t have had a job the next day.
Would you believe—Annabelle Logan taught my mother (I believe she said in the first grade) and she also taught me in the fourth grade? She had a wicked 12-inch ruler made of wood. The ruler didn’t hurt too bad, it was the fact that she would grab your fingers, turn your hand palm up and apply the ruler while at the same time bending the hand backwards at the wrist and the fingers downward. Now that hurt!
Gerard Davidson was a high school grad at age 12, as I recall. He went to Spartanburg to Wofford College, graduated and returned to Cliffside as a teacher. Now, he was only a year (maybe two) older than I, but he was my teacher! He took a group to Chapel Hill once to some public speaking affair. Before we went I took my “Sunday suit” to the dry cleaners. When I picked it up, I just packed it in my suitcase without looking too closely at it. Just before time for me to appear on stage I changed clothes. Lo and behold, I had a coat, a vest and no pants. Fessor (Gerard’s nickname) had to loan me a pair to go on stage.
Another time we went to Central High at Rutherfordton to speak. When I took the stage my mind was only on what I was doing. I don’t know how we fared that day in the speaking engagement but afterwards the central speaking coach came to me and congratulated me for having the presence of mind to continue my speech-making when the fire engines roared up. She said that had I hesitated it might have caused panic among the students. I was so intent on what I was doing I didn’t even know the fire engines had rolled up to put out a grass fire on the school grounds.
And at another time we went to Kings Mountain to speak. Afterwards the local coach cornered me and congratulated me for my deep-throated voice that carried so well in the auditorium. That day I was so hoarse I could hardly speak! I had to force myself.
I believe it was on the way back from Chapel Hill that Fessor was driving us in his father’s [Barney L. Davidson] ’37 Pontiac. Fessor said he would bet that the sign on top of the next hill, some mile or so ahead, was a stop sign. I didn’t see how he could read that far away (I couldn’t). In a few moments, as we approached the sign, he pointed out that it was an octagon shaped sign. That’s how he knew! Now I had been driving a couple of years—with no license or training—but had never known that the shape of a sign signaled its type. We learn in varied ways.