Early memories of live on Gordon Street in Clinton Mills

The real estate industry says it is all about location, location, location. I say it is all about people, people, people. The likes of the folks who live at Clinton Mills and on Gordon Street are unlikely to ever reappear.

My earliest memories are rooted in the four-room house at 112 Gordon Street at Clinton Mills. There were times when eight people lived in what would today be considered cramped quarters. There was Kate and Jim (mama and daddy), James, Earline, Charles, Bobby (me), Louise Ruby and Anne. Anne. Our youngest sibling was born while we lived on Gordon Street. On December 31, 1941 Daddy woke up Earline, Charles and me about 8:00 p.m. and sent us to the movie. James was already in the Army or I suppose he would have been at the movie with us too. When we got home Anne was there. I had no idea why Daddy sent us to the movie and even less of a clue where he got the money. It was a wood frame house, boards nailed to two by four studs. The bathroom had no lavatory and only a toilet. The only other water in the house was at the kitchen sink. Until we got the bathtub I am about to tell you about bathing….it was done in the kitchen, mostly on Saturday nights and in a number two galvanized tub. The only heat in the house came from two coal-fired grates and a wood burning stove in the kitchen. Personal hygiene, things like hand washing and tooth brushing, was taken care of in the kitchen. When I was 10 or 12 years old, a bathtub was installed in the house and I think the rent went up by twenty-five cents a week. There was no free lunch or free anything else in those days. It was several years before we were able to get a coal-fired water heater. Until the advent of this used heater we warmed our bath water by heating some water in pots and pouring it into that tub. Sickness such as mumps, measles, whooping cough plagued the Meadors family as well as other families on the “mill hill.” Earline had typhoid fever when we lived there. At least they said she had typhoid fever and she was sick several weeks. Everyone in the family had to take a series of three shots. The shots made your arms sore and we dreaded them. I think my brother had to be pulled out of a tree for one of his injections. Our house was quarantined. They put a sign on our front door. I do not know why they did that. We never went anywhere anyway. The city had a health officer. As far as I know he had no training for the position but he came and walked around in our yard one day, and that was that. I think the health officer was well connected at city hall. Our house was situated with our back door facing the back door of the Church of God. We witnessed its construction. It was a simple, rather large wood frame structure with no under penning. Among other things it did not have were toilets. With our house being nearest to the church when some of the worship attendees just had to use the facilities they came to our house. I do not think we ever turned anyone away but it was not a thing Mama and Daddy were all that enthusiastic about doing. There was drinking water at the church. It was by no means a refrigerated fountain such as we enjoy today. It was just a pipe sticking up some 30 inches out of the ground with a brass faucet. The water supply for the church was connected to our house. If we turned off the water at our house the water at the church was turned off too. A few times when we observed a worshiper getting a drink we turned off the water. When the person got to investigating and looked up under the faucet we turned the water on. To get this done one of us had to be on the back porch and tell another inside the house when to turn the water off and back on. Mama and Daddy did not approve. The church, not being under penned, provided children a place to play. One day Mamma saw two preschool boys playing under there. They had matches and set the place on fire. The fire department put out the fire before too much damage was done. Mamma never told who the boy were. And we kept a cow right there in our back yard. In a little fenced in area between our house and the church. We did not own the cow but rented it. The cow was fed cottonseed meal and hulls. We had a churn and made butter. School children had a path just beyond the cow stall. Those children we at least somewhat like children of today. They were observant especially of the cow’s body functions. If they observed one function they yelled “come get your milk” and for the other function “come get your butter”. When Pepsi Cola came to town It could have come first to Gordon Street. The man who brought it married a lady who lived right there on Gordon Street. I think he sold them out of a long bed pick up truck. As business grew he moved to a house on West Main street. Being married to a former widow the Pepsi man had stepchildren. I will not name him but one was easy to be frightened. Once when the lights on the street became dim this fellow ran out in the street screaming that he was going blind. Some of our neighbors raised hogs. They were kept in a pasture surrounding Calvary Cemetery. We raised and butchered several. That, at least to me, was more trouble than it is worth. I did not see it but was told that two men on the street killed a hog and scalded it in the bathtub. There was a large gentleman who walked past our house on the way to Blakeley’s store. He always walked on the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the curb. We thought he did that to make his shoes last longer. The real estate industry says it is all about location, location, location. I say it is all about people, people, people. The likes of the folks who live at Clinton Mills and on Gordon Street are unlikely to ever reappear. If they should return they would likely find today’s world too consumer-oriented, too uncaring and I suspect a trifle boring. (Bobby Meadors is retired unit administrator at the Clinton armory of the SC National Guard. He lives in Clinton.)

My Clinton News

P.O. Box 180
513 North Broad St.
Clinton, SC 29325
Phone: (864) 833-1900
Fax: (864) 833-1902


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