Working with Guy
Regarding the telephone system, when I finished high school  Mr. Charlie [Charles H. Haynes, president of Cliffside Mills] put me to work. At 8 am I was helper to Guy Frye until 12 noon. He and I took care of the telephone system and the village electric system. At noon I rushed home to my folks’ house at 3 West 2nd Ave., ate a bite, quick bath, run to the bank where I worked until 5 (if the books balanced…otherwise we worked till they did). On Saturday I worked at the bank only. Clarence McKinney and J.C. Hames were the full time bank employees.
Don’t know when I last even thought of this…did you know that Cliffside Telephone Co. also had an exchange at Avondale. Old lady McCurry was the operator and that is the only name I can put on her, to me she was an old lady and that is what Guy always called her. She had a son, have no memory of any possible husband. We also looked after that exchange and system. At that time the Cliffside exchange was operated by Mrs. Bridges and Corinne (her daughter as I remember) in the house at the rear of the Baptist Church. They lived in the house and had a bed in the room with the switchboard. Did you know that before it was moved to that location the exchange was in the house across main street in front of Dr. Mills house?
Soon after I started with Guy, he was teaching me the ropes and took me up into the clock tower where we had to clean and oil it at intervals. He really set me up. We worked at the level where the ‘works’ were located, then had to climb a ladder to the next floor where the bells were located and there was another level to climb to be where the four clock faces were located. Guy told me to go ahead and climb the ladder up to the bell level and I did. Just about the time I got my head and shoulders thru the opening going up, those bells started clanging to ring the hour…that was hard on the ears, especially with Guy standing down there laughing at me.
I was 17 years old and Guy strained his back, couldn’t work for some time and there I was with the full load on me…the easiest part of the job was reading the electric meters on the houses.
You mentioned the [town] band…in the old town hall upstairs over the stores I found all the old band instruments stored. They were old, dusty, in poor condition. I went to Mr. Charlie and asked if I might be allowed to try to fix up one of them. He okayed it and I took an alto sax home. The pads on the valves were rotted out. I got some sheep shin from the roller shop where Kate Mashburn’s father refinished rollers for the spinning room and repaired the sax valves. The old reed was damaged and I whittled me one from a piece of wood. I blew on that thing and made noises that I could not describe as music! But I had fun trying.
Remember when they remodeled the theatre, the movies were shown in the old town hall meeting room over the stores.
At one time the building behind the store, the one where Solon Smart had a washerette on the bottom floor, years ago had a skating rink upstairs.
It’s time I stopped taxing my memory and had a cup of coffee… Just entered my mind, across from the memorial bldg there used to be a cafe run by Sam Haynes on the street side of the building and with Walt Suggs shoe shop on the other end of the building but I have no memory of what was in between them. Years later Tubby Hawkins had a grocery store in that building.
We’d just got a volunteer fire dept started up in Cliffside, the little town where I was born, when one day a woman called in. “Hello, I’ve got a fire out here at my house.”
“Okay, where is it?”
“It’s in the kitchen.”
“I mean, how do we get to it?”
“Well you can come in off the back porch or through the living room either one.”
“No, I mean how do we get from here where we are, to you, out where you are?”
“AIN’T YOU GOT ONE OF THEM BIG RED TRUCKS ?”
(This is just one of the ways I spread the word about Cliffside, every chance I get.)
An aside about the village. Morton Scruggs once told me that he contracted to build all the houses on River Street for $20.00 apiece. Would you believe that ? Of course that was for labor. Mr. [R.R.] Haynes furnished all the material, and that was a long time ago.
Today building inspectors would die if they saw a house being built like they did back then. All green lumber that dried out and would shrink up leaving open gaps. Wooden shingles with no sheeting underneath. They would shrink up and you could see thru the gaps but when it rained they would swell up again and not leak. The old rim locks on the doors were all alike. One five cent skeleton key from the hardware store would open any of them. Of course no one ever locked them anyway, no need to.
The old window panes had glass that had a greenish or bluish tint and was not ‘glass smooth’ back then but wavy enough to distort items viewed thru the glass.
Okay, it is time again for me to try to send this and then get a cup of coffee.
Lost my wife last summer and life is not the same, now I have to make my own coffee, so if I get a cup I’ll have to go. Regards. Best wishes.