Judge Robinette Remembers

This is a Supplement to Leo Kirby's story Remember the Long Day in the Mill.

Dr. Robert Hill, who died about 1964, was a good company doctor. He helped many people regardless of ability to pay. People went to him with all kinds of problems. He was constantly on the go- made house calls- went daily to the Spartanburg hospital and was frequently driven around by a likeable black man by the name of DYKE.

Baseball was a big thing in Pacolet Mills. I remember the Vasey battery. One brother pitched. He was ambidextrous and his brother caught. They won nearly all their games. Clifton Mills enticed them with better jobs to play at Clifton, S.C. Then came good players like Foy Patrick, Tommy Jett, Tobe Campbell, the Teaster brothers, Lewis Petty, Bill Harold, and later Ernie White who went on to make it big with the Saint Louis Cardinals. I played second base on the Second Team. My brother-in-law, Jim Fleming, was our star pitcher who hit real well also. He hit over 400 in 1928 and was given a fine suit of clothes for being most valuable player in the entire league. Good baseball was played in those days.
(Editor's Note: The Teaster brothers were my uncles, Lee (Bo) and Monroe Teaster. Tobe Campbell was also my uncle as he had married my Dad's sister, Bonnie.)

We had extremely high water in 1928. The water was so high coming over the dam you could hardly tell the dam was there. People stood on the banks watching trees and small buildings go by and hardly anyone dared to cross the bridge because we expected it to go any minute.

 Ella Mae Brown and I were in the first grade during the first May Festival and we led the first dance procession onto the field which later became the swimming pool. The school gave us patterns for our costumes and my mother made my green elf suit as well costumes for Oren, Clara Robinette and several neighboring children. My mother was a good seamstress and could do a hundred other things real well.

Miss Belle Fuller was the first nurse I knew in Pacolet Mills and she rode a fine horse. She wore a well tailored khaki riding habit. She was a good-looking woman and rode daily to homes to take care of the sick people.You felt like a hero when she'd let you hold her horse when she went into a house. She was also active in all community projects.

Mrs. Kimberlin was the dietitian for the children’s' nursery and served might good food. She was the widowed mother of six Kimberlin children. 

Pacolet River was about the only place to swim. We swam naked at Big Rock and Flat Rock(22' deep) above the dam. We'd swim all day long some-times in the summer. When we'd come out of the water our bodies were covered with streaked muddy water. None of our crowd drowned-others did.

Back then Ben Montgomery was boss of all outside workmen. Only black men were hired to work outside. They had to do a lot of hand picking when they built new sidewalks and surface water sewers. They'd sing spirituals and would pick and sing in harmony ending every sentence with a loud grunt. They sang beautifully and we young boys would sit and listen by the hour. The workers enjoyed performing for us.

We had much-respect for Jack Petty, the town policeman. He'd lost his left arm and wore a large steel hook which he learned to use well. He worked closely with Richard Byers, a county deputy sheriff. When boys misbehaved people would threaten them with getting Jack Petty.

Along about 1922, and several years following, the company had the outside workers raise a large garden just outside of town! They had the workers bring these vegetables to a GIMMIE STAND they built just beside the company store, and would give these vegetables free to employee families who were willing to bring a sack. I was ELECTED to go for my family. A few families were either too proud or too lazy to go after those good vegetables. We were thankful for them.

The 1918 flu epidemic was awful. Nearly everyone had it- many died. I was eight years old and must have run 1,000 errands to the grocery and/or drug store. Some of my buddies told me "You're crazy to go in houses like that. You'll catch flu and die". Really, I was glad to help those people- mostly neighbors. I finally caught it, but only a mild 2 day case in bed. Fortunately my mother had a mild case also.

I remember when they drained the dam to recover the body of Earl Green. It was drained two or three other times for drowned boys. I remember when the little Jett boy hanged himself. They claimed he saw it in a movie.

I remember too well when Mr. Rogers and his sons drowned in the rock quarry pond. I thought he had four sons-maybe it was only three. We heard-about the drowning late one afternoon and ran about 2 miles to see what happened. We saw Jack Petty and his son Lewis dive in and saw Mr. Petty bring up one body. They wouldn't let us young boys get too close. Mr. Rogers, who worked in the main office, and his family were to go on a vacation the next day and went to the quarry for a dip. No one knows exactly what happened. I couldn't sleep for two weeks.

Back in 1923 or 1924 we lived in one of the old houses on the other side of the river from the company store. These old houses were full of lice & bedbugs. We tried everything to get rid of them. We couldn't get good insecticides in those days. My mother combed them from our heads with a fine toothed crone. It was not uncommon to see a louse crawling on the head of a pupil sitting in front of us.

I was one of those boys who shined shoes at the Y.M.C.A. on Saturday for 5¢ per shine. Also, I made and sold ice cream on Tuesdays (Payday) and on Saturdays for 5¢ per cone. I bought the 2 gallon freezer from Al Bryant for $2.50 and paid him 50¢ per week. There were about five of us doing it. I'd make about $1.50 per churn profit. I was eleven years old at the time and have bought nearly all my clothes since then. 

Mr. Williamson was director of the Y.M.C.A. and organized the BUILDERS. He told us how to cut watermelon with a string and how it always paid to do the right thing. Foy Patrick taught gymnastics and marching at school. He could stand on his feet and cut a flip backwards. He was a good athlete and caught baseball on the town team for a year or two. Also, I remember well Lewis Petty - Jack's son. He was really good at both basketball and baseball. He played some baseball professionally. He could run 100 yards in 10 seconds. One year I played basketball with him on the town team.
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This web site has been started as a public service to share the story of Pacolet. The web master and person to contact about putting information on the web site is me, Gerald Teaster.  Contact me at:
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