A Place Called Art Cloth

Darrell Bumgardner

Was there really a place called Art Cloth? After the 2004 death of his beloved son, Michael, Darrell Bumgardner wrote about him and recollected his own boyhood experiences growing up in the small mill village near Lowell.

Someone asked me a few weeks ago if there really was a place called Art Cloth. I assured them there was and still is a place called Art Cloth, though they don’t call the little mill village Art Cloth anymore, since it was annexed by the town of Lowell. I had moved to the big city of Gastonia and do not remember when it was annexed. All the mill houses are still there, and most of them were built in the mid-1920s and 30s.

We lost our only son, Michael Kane Bumgardner, March 5, 2004. I wanted folks to know about this wonderful young man. I wrote about him in my book, A Place Called Art Cloth. Here are a couple of stories, taken from my book.

One of my best friends in those days was Billy Blaine Falls. I remember Bill and I were playing in a small patch of woods beside his house when I found an old tattered five dollar bill. I was just a little boy, but I knew that was a lot of money. I took the money home and gave it to mama. The next day, mama took me to the bus stop and we caught the bus to town. With that five dollars, she bought me new pants and shirts. Looking back, I realized where that money came from. The Barrs had a boarding house near that patch of woods and the men who stayed there had poker games in the patch of woods. The five dollars was poker money somebody had lost in the leaves.

Billy and I were the same age, and we started trapping muskrat, setting rabbit boxes, and hunting at a very early age. Looking back on it, we must have made the animals' life around Art Cloth a living hell.  Billy's dad, Mr. Glen Falls, taught us how to shoot a gun and how to hunt. He was a wonderful man, who also loved the woods, and running his hunting dogs. I remember he always went to church on Sundays—maybe to say a prayer for the animals. With Billy and me around, they needed a prayer. I remember we were trapping on the South Fork River around 1950. We had an old boat that we had found, and it leaked so bad, that we were always dipping water and trying to stay afloat.  We were on the river one day when we met an old man named Pop Rhyne.  He was a trapper also and had a farm on the other side of the river.  He was a nice old gentleman and we liked him a lot.  We often parked our old boat and walked to his farm. It was a wonderful place to visit and Pop was fun to be around. He would take us around the farm and teach us about farm life.

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