Interview with Mr. Ernest Alley
Lifetime Resident of Glendale
February 22, 2001
Mr. Alley, now ninety-four years old, was born and reared in Glendale. He tells that during the Depression there was very little work, maybe three days a week, sometimes every other week. Most people had a garden, a cow or two, a hog or two, and chickens. Rent for a six-room house was eighty-five cents per week, including water and lights. People were friendly and enjoyed life.
Mr. Alley completed the fifth grade. He said the mill ran the school. The house that is in front of the Glendale Fire Department was once where the fire station is now, and it was Glendale Grammar School.
The community of Glendale was first known as Bivingsville. It started in the early 1830's when Dr. Bivings brought mechanics and carpenters in and started a yarn mill. They built homes for the employees, and the mill began to enlarge. The final addition was built in early 1900's. At the State Fair in Columbia, in 1869, the textile plant, owned by D.E. Converse, was awarded a gold medal and $8 in gold for best bale of sheeting, best bale of shirting, best bale of yarn, and $3 in gold for the best bale of tweeds and satin or jeans. He says, "Some of the best employees earned $1 to $1.25 per day.” The village had sixty homes, four hundred inhabitants, and a church. The company owned 1600 acres of land. Goods were shipped all over the Eastern U.S.
At this time, Bivingsville was the showplace of the county. The post office at Bivingsville was established December 5, 1837 and discontinued June 10, 1867. The post office at Glendale was established April 19, 1878. He says it was told that mail between these dates went to Rich Hill (Whitestone) SC. The first floor of the building where Kozeev's World of Gymnastics now stands was the post office and an icehouse. Saw dust was used to insulate the ice. The second floor was a silent theatre. People would come from Spartanburg on Saturday nights to see the movies. The cost was ten cents. Mr. Alley says, "It always ended up someone falling off a cliff, and it would be continued next week." The third floor had a reading room. In 1950, the building was torn down, and what is there now was built.
The building where the Glendale Post Office is now located used to be the Company Store. Mr. Alley says, "You could buy almost anything there except caskets, and you had to go to A.T. Sloan where they were sold." He also said that you could go to the bookkeeper and ask for a coupon book for any amount. This is what you used at the Company Store. Mr. Alley had some of the coupon books, and was nice enough to give me one. The amount was deducted from your paycheck each week. Many employees charged more than their wages and never received cash money. Mr. Swofford was the paymaster, and he built a swimming pool in the company cow pasture. Mr. Alley says, "They would have nice parties every year. Everyone would enjoy their time at the pool." Mr. Alley remembers the mill bell. It would start ringing one and a half hours before time for the workers to be in. Then the bell would ring for lunch and half would go home to eat at 12, and then the other half at one.
Mr. Alley enjoyed Glendale, and knew a lot about the place. Mr. Alley worked at the mill until it closed, and then went to Clifton until it closed. He retired in 1971 and became a school-crossing guard. He still is a school-cross guard, and he delivers Mobile Meals and volunteers at Spartanburg Regional Hospital, and also teaches Sunday school at Glendale UMC where he has attended all his life.
Thanks, Mr. Alley, for all of your help and information.