Sports and Recreation in Glendale
From their beginnings, Glendale Mills and
her predecessors, have directly or indirectly, impacted the
and sports life of their employees and their families.
From the pond waters of the old wooden dam on the waters of Lawson's
Fork, most likely built to supply a constant source of water with force
enough to turn a mammoth water wheel, 26 feet in diameter and twelve
feet wide, which furnished power to operate the mill, to the dense
massive farm fields, all have been a constant source of fun and frolic
Men and women, rode in their boats and canoes, fished and,
yes, swam in the muddy waters of the pond while in the winter time when
the pond would freeze over, many skated. I’ve seen upward of a dozen or
so on the waters at one time. Though the ice was thin in some places
and one would crack through from time to time, I don’t remember having
heard that anyone was ever seriously injured. Just got terribly cold.
With the load on the water wheel increasing due to increased mill
production, a new concrete dam was built just below the old dam,
increasing the size of the pond thus increasing fish beds and giving
additional water force for the water wheel. Two gate wheels with which
to raise or lower the
gates, were located on raised platform at each end of the dam. A large
water trunk carried water from the dam to the water wheel.
Wooden aprons were installed on the top of the dam between the
two gate wheel platforms raising the pond level an additional 3 to 4
feet. In excessive rain periods, the waters would rise over the aprons
with such force, it washed the aprons away. (See pictures 1, 2 & 3)
When this happened, the gates had to be raised to lower the pond level
or in some cases, drain the pond completely, so that men from the mill
machine shop could work on top of the dam replacing the aprons.
J.T.Varner, my uncle, was master mechanic for some 40 years. Perry
Lyda, Oscar Brown, Walt Nichols and Ed Rush were among his co-workers.
John Varner Jr., Everett Brown,
Walter Wertz and Walter Draper joined forces in the 30 & 40s. I
supervision of the department in the fifties.
About once a year, the gates were raised and the pond
emptied in order to wash out the mud and muck. Fire hoses were used to
help wash the sediments from behind the dam. When either of these
happened, oodles of fish were released onto the shoals and the lower
way. Scores, perhaps upward of a hundred, men, women, boys and girls
line the river banks with nets, croaker feed sacks, buckets, some with
just bare hands or with any other means to catch the fish. Some got out
into the water, risking being washed away, in order to catch the fish.
I never saw it, some old timers said that they had seen men with one
wagons filled with fish, pulling way from the river banks. I did
see lots of people with 100 pound croaker feed sacks, or other type of
full or almost full of fish going home. Catfish and mud carp were the
One day following one of these events, Mr. Will Rogers,
(picture 4) overseer of the carding and spinning rooms, looked out the
window of the mill from the fifth floor. Seeing what he thought was a
large fish flapping around in a pot hole on the shoals, called one of
his doffers over saying, “Eli, do you see that fish flapping in that
down yonder“, “Yes sir“, Eli said. “Take a piece of scrap cloth, go
there and get that fish for me” Mr. Rodgers said. Reaching the spot,
reached down and pulled up a large eel. Some watching from the window
Mr. Rogers said that when he saw what had happened, Mr. Rogers, shaking
his head said; "ah---fiddlesticks, an old eel” and walked off.
When the first iron bridge, which was one lane, was replaced
by the 2nd iron bridge in the late twenties and stands today, it was
built with two lanes and a pedestrian walkway which gave plenty of room
fish from the bridge. It was not unusual at all to see 2 or 3 or more,
men or women with their cane poles fishing from the walkway. When the
first iron bridge was torn down, it was carried further down stream to
the one lane Thompson farm road just off the Lewis Chapel road to span
Lawson Fork, once again, giving the people of the Glendale Community a
fishing platform. Though the road and the bridge spanning the waters
long since been closed, the bridge was still standing the last time I
D.E. Converse Company, which was incorporated in 1889, owned some1300
acres of land, most being wooded areas, farm lands and pastures. The
wooded areas were full of squirrels, possums and coons providing plenty
of game for the sport of hunting. Mr. Will Rogers seen above, was an
avid hunter. I never saw a posted sign upon a single acre. At one time,
there was a small club of coon hunters who frequented the woods often.
Ralph McGraw of
Glendale, an avid coon hunter, was a leader.
Though you don’t hear anything about them anymore unless you
see one dead in the roads, possum was once considered a food delicacy,
not by me, but by many. Back in the thirties, my Uncle Mitch Allen, a
Spartanburg City policeman, who married my aunt who was a Glendale
lady, and Dr.
J. B. Brannon, the popular Spartanburg Chiropractor of that day, where
good friends and would go out into the company woods behind our house
to hunt possums. Seldom did they come back without one. They would
and bake them among a tray of sweet potatoes, somewhat like they
a small piglet for eating. They both were full of fat and are no doubt
outlawed today by medical advisors.
The farm lands had houses in which the tenants and their families
lived. They tended the farm and worked in the mill also. The
fields were full of quail and rabbits and fox. Rabbit hunting season
opened about Thanksgiving time and I remember seeing large groups of
hunters, with their
rabbit dogs, flooding the fields looking for rabbits. When bird season
opened, hunters with their bird dogs would again fill the fields,
for quail. Up until World War 2, rabbit, squirrel and quail pot pies
frequent servings found on the family dinner table.
The pasture land held the villager’s milk cattle, a few horses for
plowing, pulling buggies or wagons and a few for the sport of
horse-riding. Along the edge of the pasture land next to the village,
were a few hog
pens where villagers raised their own hogs for slaughter.
The community building built in the 1800s in “the flat” of the village
(picture 5) had three floors. The first floor contained the post
office, a barber shop, a shoe shop, the village’s first fast food -
Darracot Lunch room - which was where the youths hung out. There was
also a recreation room where the game of checkers was the main feature
of the day.
Movies were shown on the second floor on Saturday nights with
Will Quinn, village policeman, (pictures 6 & 7),
fee of ten cents from the patrons. The main
features were westerns such as Tom Mix and the likes. They also had
entertainers, musicians and comics, to put on shows from time to time.
The Boy Scouts also met on the second floor.
The third floor was for clubs, community groups, Redman, Woodman, and I
think, Masons, met there until they all moved upstairs in the Company
store. School classes were taught there for a while until a house built
especially for school was opened. (See schools for more information about the
story of Glendale schools.)
Pictures 6 & 7
In the early 1900s, the Glendale Park was built on the large
pond of water up stream from the dam. The electric trolley car passed
over the pond via a trestle. (See pictures 8, 9 & 10) Records,
hold, show that the park was built on a five acre tract leased from the
mill company and was built by the S.C. Gas and Electric Co. as a
business venture. News reports stated that hundreds came to the park
from all sections of the county, primarily by trolley. City school
teachers arranged trips to the park for the students. It has been said
that on week ends and holidays, the park was filled with visitors.
A picnic pavilion was added for family and group picnics. Today,
there is nothing to remind one of the park. Though the pond has filled
in with mud, dirt and muck, grasses, bushes and even trees are growing
in the area which the park once covered, there is talk about the
possibility of reopening the park one day. At one time, Ed Rush had a
fence around a large portion of the area in which he kept cattle. It
has been said that
an Indian burial ground was in the area. I have seen many arrowheads
up from the area and had some myself at one time.
In the 1930s, in conjunction with the W.P.A., Mr. Lindsey
Swofford, mill paymaster, had a large pool built in the company pasture
behind the upper cemetery which became known as The Boy Scouts Swimming
pool and was very popular. It was a beautiful place. The grounds were
covered by grass, like well kept lawns. Several concrete picnic tables
and benches were scattered over the grounds. Read more
about the pool at Glendale Swimming
The upper end of the pool was very shallow to allow children to wade in
the waters. A diving board was mounted on the dam. The sides and dam of
the pool were made of concrete. The bottom was natural gravel and dirt.
Fed by springs in the pasture, the water was clear as crystal and
almost as cold as ice water. Large bathrooms stood along side the pool
in which one was to bath before entering the pool. Though persons of
both genders were allowed to visit the pool grounds at any time,
separate days were assigned for the ladies and men to swim. One day
when a young teen age boy was
swimming, some bullies caught hold of him aggravating him by ducking
time and again in the pool. The more he begged them to stop, the more
ducked him. coming up, exhausted and mad, he said to the bullies,
“O.K., you drown me and I’ll kill you”. The life guard broke it up.
The Pentecostal Church in the community used the pool from time to time
to baptize their converts and members.
While it has been some forty years since I have been to the pool
area, I am told that the bulk of the dam still stands along with some
concrete walls and a few broken picnic tables, that large trees are
in the bed of the pool with a small stream of water flowing through. See photographs of what is left of the swimming pool.
The Company built a ball park and stadium and sponsored
a base ball team which played in the Textile league. (See pictures 11
& 12.) During WW2, national league ball players who were in
at nearby Camp Croft would play with our team. Fact of the matter,
about 1945, the U.S. Army Colonel who was at Camp Croft and was
over the ball players, supplying some players and supplies for
Glendale, came into my office along with Tommy Jett, a former Glendale
ball player to
get a check cashed. The check bounced. I turned it over to my friend
was a F.B.I agent. He had a check ran on him and found that he had
a half dozen warrants against him for bad checks. His wife had signed a
warrant against him because he had embezzled some 50 thousand dollars
her money. He was caught and sentenced to one year and one day by a
Federal Judge. ( See also Baseball for
on Glendale's baseball story.)
D.E. Converse Co./Glendale Mills, sponsored a Boy Scout
troop for many years with Elmer Willis serving as Scout Master. I
him as assistant Scout Master in the late forties and early fifties.
Mrs. Ella Bennett and Mrs. J. Hicks Lovelace sponsored a Girl's club
led by Susanne Lovelace, President, Connie Gail Rhinehart, V.P., Nancy
Brown, secretary and Patsy Rodgers, treasurer were meeting regularly.
On January 31, 1950, the new Community gymnasium (picture 13) opened
with a double header game before a large crowd. The Glendale Girls
playing the Pacolet Girls, (Picture 14, though fuzzy, shows a game in
between Glendale Girls and Pacolet girls but it might not be the game
opened the gymnasium.) The Glendale boys played the Navel Reservists.
Unfortunately, I have misplaced my pictures and score of the games.
Bobby Cannon had been employed as Basketball coach. Pete Brown, who
became personnel manager, along with James Jack and Henry Childress,
also had responsibilities in the athletic department.
At the end of the tournament, winning over the Lyman Pacific's
59/51, the Glendale Browns became the first team ever to win the YMCA
county Basketball League pennant. They had just eliminated the
Spartan mill team to place them in the final tournament. Pete Brown
racked up 16 points,; James Jack, 8; Henry Childress 8,; Jimmy Maxwell,
12; Jimmy Lowell, 13; Others that played on the team were, Darrell
Medlock, Jim Aughtry and Grey Gosnell. Sub players were, Parris, Lynch
and Brookshire. (See Picture 15)
Of course, as related in an earlier mill and village story,
the mill sponsored special recreational and sport events on July 4th
and at Christmas time.
In the late 1990s, the Methodist Church sponsored a Boy Scout club led
by Phil Bryant as scout master and a Cub scout pack led by Robert
White as cub master.
Unfortunately, with the Mill and the Methodist Church closed, there are
few sponsors of community sports or recreation. The Glendale Baptist
Church has a fellowship building in which the youth play basketball and
have other youth programs. A few probably still fish and hunt but that
is about the limit of recreation and sport activities at Glendale today.
(A new organization has been established in
Glendale to offer more possibilities for recreation and outdoor
activities. It is called the Glendale Outdoor Leadership School (GOLS)
and it is located in the former Glendale Methodist Church Building. The
is a program of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation which is also has
headquarters in Glendale, The GOLS website is at:
This web site has been started as a
public service to share the story of Glendale. The web master and
to contact about putting information on the web site is Mary McKinney
Teaster. Contact her at:
or by telephone at (843) 873-8117. See
more information about Mary and her Glendale connection at Mary McKinney Teaster.