Henrietta, Caroleen and Avondale
They both remember the mill houses. Earlier, as with other houses across the county, there was no running water. As late as 1927, the electricity was turned off to the houses in the morning, and turned on again in the evening with the exception of Thursdays, ironing day, when the power was turned back on earlier in the afternoon.
Some have described the houses as “salt-box” in architectural style. There was the shed-room house, a four room house for two families, similar, it would seem, to today’s duplexes. A three-room house was for a family with a few children. A two-room house was for a man and wife without children. Two-story dwellings, called “ten-roomers,” housed more than one family. Each house had a garden spot which was a necessity in those times.
Families were charged rent by the number of rooms they occupied, and the rent was withheld from their pay. Mr. Arrowood remembers his father paying less than forty cents a week for rent at one time, and he remembers paying eighty cents a week for his family.
Mr. Arrowood has saved a lot of his “pay tickets” from Martel Mills. They paid in cash in an envelope which listed withholdings and wages earned.
The Arrowoods remember what today would be called supervisors and technicians. Then, positions were titled “boss spinner,” “boss carder,” or “boss weaver” depending on which operation the “boss” supervised. There were second hands, fixers, and section hands. Horace Spratt, father of the late Robert Spratt, was a “boss weaver,” and Henry Lowe was boss weaver after him. Pink Scruggs and B. J. Dobbins were two of the early mill superintendents.
A school once shared space with the library on the second floor above the Caroleen company store. Professor Brown, one of the early principals, was a strict disciplinarian. Johnnie Womack and Kansas Byers were well-known teachers.
Inside the company store was a salad bar1 and a drug store whose druggist, Dr. C. M. Cain, had also run the drug store in the Henrietta store. The Caroleen store sold shoes, clothes, groceries, bananas, seed, and seed potatoes, and, outside, gas and kerosene. The meat, considered by some “the best you’d ever buy,” included sausage, fat-back, livermush, bologna, and mince-meat rolls.
To work the gas pump, you would hand-pump the gas into a glass bowl that held five gallons and was located on the top of the pump. When you had pumped up the correct measure, you would open a valve and run the gas into your car, go in and tell the storekeeper how much you got, and pay for or charge it. Mr. Arrowood remembers that once he had a ‘28 A-Model Ford, which he drove very little. It held five gallons, and he could fill it once a month at seventeen cents a gallon, paying eighty-five cents for the month.
There were diversions from work in the mills and daily routines, and baseball was one of them. It was tremendously popular in Cliffside, Henrietta, Avondale, and Caroleen before World War II and after. Each of the mills in these towns had teams that were a part of the Textile League, and they were rivals — they played each other and also teams in South Carolina including Lockhart, Arcadia, Clifton, and Whitney Mill teams. Games were well-attended and there were many good players.
Harvey “Windy” Powell of Caroleen did what some of the other players did; he was paid for his work in the mill, and he was paid extra for playing baseball each summer. In fact, he left Beaumont Mills in Spartanburg to come to Caroleen to play. He helped manage, and remembers many of the players. He also remembers some of the games. “In one game, Paul Head was manager of the Caroleen team when they were trailing Lockhart by a 9-2 score in the second, but they came back to win, 11-10 in the tenth inning.”
Windy Powell was a good catcher; so was Forrest Hunt, who also pitched on occasion. There were other good players. Some worked in the mill; others came just to play. Ellenboro was also a “baseball” town, and some came from there to play at Caroleen including “Dutch” Allen – shortstop, “Red” Smart – second base, and C. A. Kennedy – pitcher. “Uncle” Mart Wright of Ellenboro was a loyal and colorful fan. And, there were others; “Slim” Edgerton from Mount Vernon was a good pitcher. “Dynamite” Roy Ray was one of the better outfielders. “Rabbit” Buchanan was a good infielder, and Fay Owens, a good third baseman. Some said that Charlie Cabaniss could hit the ball as far as any major leaguer. And, there were Belus Smawley, Joe Garren, Don Packard, and “Lefty” Smith.
Charlie Arrowood was a good pitcher on the Caroleen team. He remembers many of these players and specific games. The superintendent of Lockhart Mills in South Carolina and the superintendent of Caroleen Mills were brothers, John and Claude Lockman. Each Fourth of July, these two teams would play each other in a double-header, alternating playing sites, the host mill spreading a picnic lunch for the visiting team, and providing travel expenses. He tells of going as a fan to one of the Lockhart games in a new Whippet automobile, owned by his brother.
Some eventually made it farther than neighboring villages; at least two players, Leonard Jackson and Forrest “Smoky” Burgess went on to play professionally. Jackson started playing with the Caroleen Mill Team, recruited for his abilities when he was only thirteen, and most of the other players were in their twenties. He went on to play in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s with the Chicago Cubs, the New York Giants, the Detroit Tigers, and the Pittsburg Pirates organizations. As a catcher and third baseman, he played with Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, and other stars. He grew up in Cooper Town near Head’s Store. When he first signed, Cubs Management couldn’t believe that there were places as small as Cooper Town and Caroleen.