Photo of The Month – May 2003
Picture and text contributor: Dena Watkins Chandler
Raleigh Haynes had the first car in Cliffside and my grandfather, Robert Broadus Watkins, had the second. This 1911 photograph shows R. B. (in the drivers seat) with some of his family. Left to right, son James Craig Watkins [Dena’s father], age 3; son Bob Watkins, Jr., age 5; brother Joe Watkins; father Romulus Watkins [in front passenger seat]; and wife Ida Craig Watkins. R. B.’s and Ida’s house is to the left. Although my grandmother is striking a saucy pose, she was not happy. She had spent months saving money earned by feeding the black men who were building the mill lunches of pinto beans and cornbread at 10¢ a bowl. With her savings she planned to buy a house and land but grandfather spent it on this car.
“Grandfather was president of the Cliffside Phone Company; a magistrate (his title was Esquire) who performed weddings; a member of the school board; and the cotton buyer for Cliffside Mills. He was mathematically gifted. The story I heard is that he could add figures in his head so fast that he was once sportingly pitted against an adding machine and won.”
—Dena Watkins Chandler
Editor’s Note: Another son of R. B. Watkins was Clarence Watkins (not shown), father of Glenn, Doris, Virginia, Grace, Carolyn, Martha and Joe Watkins.