Stories & Recollections of Etowah . . .
as told by ~ Emma Louise Curtis Thomas
b. 1926 1941, moved to Etowah from Pisgah Forest
My name is Emma Louise Curtis Bradley and I was born in 1926. I have been a native of Etowah since 1941. I lived on the Everett farm in Pisgah Forest. We were poor. My daddy was a farmer and I slipped off and got married. I was only 15 and I wrote a poem about it. Not knowin’ what life was all about I slipped off and got married. He [husband, Ernest Grover Bradley] moved me in the house with his mother. My married life was not what I expected it; not what I wanted it to be, but we were married for 59 years with 8 children. We lived in an old house down on School House Road for 20 years at the site of the store where Whitey lived. ‘Course I ought to have appreciated moving into the house with his mother because I didn’t know how to cook. I was one of 8 children and my mother was teaching the older ones to cook not knowing that I needed to learn.
We had to walk everywhere, and I don’t know if anyone remembers, Soland (sp?) and Amy Whitesides that lived on the hill above the pizza place, they had a farm. We’d go up there and I’d buy feed sacks. They got their feed in cloth sacks, beautiful prints and all, and I’d make our clothes out of them. I’ve sewed since I was 14 years old and I still do that. They were beautiful. I worked for Ruth Originals for 12 years in Hendersonville [Ruth's Originals Corporation on South Main Street in the 1950's. Ruth Combs, Daisey Sample, and Nelle Karling. Made children's dresses for top retailers such as Marshall Field, Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue]. I used to work at home. I’d bring pieces of materials – sacks of material-to put dresses together. I sewed for them. Then when they didn’t have any more home sewers, I went into the shop to work. I couldn’t drive at that point. I rode with Ruth Riddle and I rode with Mildred Roberts. Then I got a car and learned to drive. I was their “zipper girl”. I did the zippers and I did as many as 500 in a day. I would take the pattern that was on the material I got and cut my children a dress out of it and I made their clothes just as beautiful as Ruth Originals. I got two daughters. I’ve made about 12 pair of shorts for my great-grand children.
Mr. Tuff Whitesides ran a fillin’ station and you could buy milk and drinks and a few other things. The old store building is still there, but they’ve remodeled it and someone lives there. [About the Gray store next to Emmy Duncan] Mrs. Waldrop was there when I moved here. Yes, they had a little store. When I moved in Waldrop’s ran the store. I didn’t go to that store. I just didn’t go over there. I was just afraid of that man. Mr. Waldrop. I don’t have any reason. I just know'd I was afraid of him. We went to the A&P Store in Hendersonville on Saturdays and bought groceries. I was homebound most of the time. Couldn’t drive and go many places.
My husband [worked for Etowah Brick]. Over there where the golf course is - is where they made the brick and he would handle the bricks, load the trucks. He helped build Ecusta, the plant. Then he got a job up there. He worked up there for 37 years and I stayed home and sewed. There’s different places in the golf course with different colored dirt, and the bricks were determined by the color of the dirt. There] was a company store. If you worked there you got an account. They [workers] were given credit. You could shop at the store.
Ecusta was built out of brick that was built over there. My father worked at Ecusta for Fiske Carter [Construction Company]. That was the one that built it. My husband didn’t know how to lay bricks so he furnished them with the cement. He rode a wheel barrow. My husband worked in the Finishing Department. I don’t know about the different departments, but he made boxes. And that’s when I miss him at Christmas time. He could take any size of box and cut it down to fit the gift.
[WWII] Well, they took my husband for an examination but they turned him down. For what, I don’t know. He just laughed at me and wouldn’t tell me why they turned him down. I could guess, but it might not be right. My husband’s name was Ernest Grover Bradley.
I had 3 brothers serve in the war. One lives in Virginia and the other one passed away. The one next to me lives at Black Mountain. I prayed for it [the war, WWII]. Things were rationed. We could just get so much of anything while it was going on. I forgot how it was handled, but if money got low at our house, I would go to work somewhere, sewing, work a few months until things got caught up, then I would quit and stay at home with the children.
I loved my husband and [Etowah] that’s where he lived and that’s where I wanted to be. We was married for 59 years.