Friday, October 21, 2016

George Robert Hall (1896-1971) and Chatham Manufacturing Company

                                                       George Robert Hall with hat with the Chatham's
Fred Norman a prominent Elkin businessman told me that Chatham  's had many men employed with engineering degrees but none could compare to my grandfather. He said that Bob came to Chatham's and standardized all of the many different kinds of looms that they had so that all the loom fixers could work on them. My grandfather was in charge of the Weave Room and over the loom fixers. He also schooled and gave classes for the fixers. He just had a great mechanical mind for machinery. I remember him more in his retired life being able to create many things. He didn't go to the hardware store for things he just made his own. He could also take apart a lawnmower and put it back together. In his retired life he loved to hunt and fish. The Chatham's gave him special privileges to hunt and fish on their many properties. Many times he took me along. Before coming to Chatham's in 1934 he in his early years was a farmer from Patrick County Virginia and then moved to Draper Mills in Rockingham County in North Carolina. His father in law John Hopper (1859-1930) was a well known Draper Pioneer in textiles. When the Great Depression came he and his family relocated to Swannanoa North Carolina in Buncombe County just outside of Asheville and worked at Beacon Manufacturing Company until 1934. His brother in law George Hopper was working at Chatham's and was going to move back to Draper and he recommended my grandfather to Chatham's to take his place. When you go to the Beacon Manufacturing plant now it is just a big empty field. My grandfather worked for Chatham's until he retired. He also patented several of the shuttle type looms for Chatham's.

                                            George Robert Hall at head of table with the Chatham's at Luncheon

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Caboose Show and Dance Band, Tanglewood Steeple Chase 
Back in 1972 I was in a band called The Caboose Show and Dance Band. The band members were Kim Pardue lead vocals, Kathy Fleming lead vocals, Dick Steelman keyboard, myself on bass guitar, Robbie Hall on lead guitar, and Chris Shore on drums. We performed all over the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina and southern Virginia. We used a talent agency to book us called Crissman Talent Agency owned by Roy Crissman from East Bend NC. 

As a young teenager the Steeple Chase was a new venue for us. Mostly wealthy people were attending the event to watch the horses jump over the hedges. We have heard of tailgate parties today but in 1972 they had tailgate parties. All of the attendees were driving station wagon vehicles and would let down the back tailgate.I have never saw such a bar on each one of those. So many bottles of various liquors to mix any kind of drink you wanted. Today they would sip on wine. They also had food and folding chairs and it was such a partying event. You have to keep in mind that we were 16 and 17 years old from Yadkin County a dry county. We grew up in a rural conservative area where nothing like this went on. After a year we ventured out and realized that parties went in all of the time while the parents were gone in the cities and small towns. We performed a while the Motown songs of that era and also did a promo photo shoot at the old Caboose at Tanglewood Park. We didn't feel like we were anything special at the time and enjoyed performing and were paid by Roy and the people must have thought we deserved the pay that we received.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The New Grass Express Bluegrass Band
At the end of 1973 and 1974 I moved from Morganton NC back home with my parents and attended Wilkes Community College to study Electronics. It was in the mid 1970's we organized the New Grass Express Bluegrass Band. It consisted of Keith White acoustic guitar, Steve Brown dobro, myself on bass guitar, Gordon Myers on banjo, and Gary Martin on guitar. Bluegrass music was gaining popularity in the 1970's by young people where everyone was just like we were transitioning from the folk rock genre. You had Seldom Scene, New Grass Revival and the Country Gentlemen rearranging a lot of tunes written by Bob Dylan and other folk hits. Bluegrass music had a new genre in that period called New Grass which is where we got our name. Let's not leave out the Osborne Brothers and even some of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs later leaving and organizing the Earl Scruggs Revue. It was a new time of creativity. We were all in the midst of it. Being lesser known we opened shows for the  Country Gentlemen at Lake Norman Music Hall a large venue for Bluegrass on Highway 150 outside of Mooresville North Carolina. We later opened a show with the Seldom Scene in Statesville. We entered the Sunbonnet Festival talent contest in 1978 that the Yadkin Arts Council was sponsoring and competed against many types of talent and were the winners. The winners performed on WXII TV station and also at Carowinds Amusement Park in Charlotte NC. It has always been frowned upon to have an electric bass in the traditional bluegrass bands but The Osborne Brothers were innovators changing the ways of tradition. I have always stayed faithful to my electric bass in all genres of music.

Monday, October 17, 2016

We used the name Chisel Ridge in several of the bands that I performed in.. I am unsure who came up with the name but we all agreed upon it. I feel like Chris Transou maybe could have thought of it. He had a brilliant creative mind when it came to words, jokes and sayings. In this band we performed mostly 1970's folk songs such as Crosby,Stills, Nash and Young and also some original songs that David Tenery had written.. We performed mostly in the years 1972 and 1973. I recall two of the times that we first performed. One was in the old Pleasant Hill Church Activity Center and the other was at East Wilkes High School after a ballgame. People brought quilts and blankets and sat on the gym floor unlike the sock hop dances we had played for in earlier bands but like a Woodstock venue. We were in the old East Wilkes gym and auditorium combination. Performing in this band  was Chris Transou on Banjo, David Tenery on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Kim Pardue on pedal steel and acoustic guitar and vocals, myself on bass guitar and vocals, and Paula Dagenhart  on drums and also David Pruitt from Elkin on drums. Also at that time Kim, David and myself were in the Pleasant Hill Youth Choir and the group called The Revelations at the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Elkin North Carolina. David Tenery's dad was the pastor at the church. Kim's dad had a weekend house which was only a half a mile from his other house and both were in Jonesville North Carolina. We would practice there on weekends sometimes into the early morning hours. One night the Jonesville police came at 4 am and said that neighbors in the area were complaining about the loud music and they told us to do one more song for them and then we had to quit. They were real nice about it. In 1973 we regrouped the Band with David Tenery, myself, Ricky Swaim and Mickey Swaim. Ricky and Mickey were brothers from Elkin but were attending Gardner Webb College where we would practice. David and Kim graduated in 1972 and myself in 1973. Kim and I went to Starmount High School while David went to Elkin High School. On our New York City trip when we performed at The Bitter End Rock Club it was David, myself, Rob Conrad and Paula Dagenhart. Rob played electric guitar. Kim's dad had a weekend house which was only a half a mile from his other house and both were in Jonesville North Carolina. We would practice there on weekends sometimes into the early morning hours. One night the Jonesville police came at 4 am and said that neighbors in the area were complaining about the loud music and they told us to do one more song for them and then we had to quit. They were real nice about it. In 1973 I graduated from Starmount High School and pack up my clothes and left home to move in with David Tenery and his parents in Morganton North Carolina where we continued to play until 1974. In looking back at all of this we were serious about our music and wanted to make it in the industry at this young age. We had a real good folk and country sound not as country is today but something similar to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Sound. We had acoustic guitars, bass, drums, conga, pedal steel, banjo, mandolin and fiddle instrumentation for this genre. At this time was when I bought my 1972 Fender Precision Fretless bass, first of its kind and a Hofner A shape mandolin.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


One of the first garage bands that I played in went by the name of The Brooks Exchange Band. We all lived in Hamptonville North Carolina and the name came from the local telephone company Yadkin Valley Telephone because we all lived in the 468 phone prefix. The first time we got together we practiced upstairs at Reid Lowder's home who was the principal of our High School Starmount High School. The members were Rod Lowder, Chris Shore, Dick Steelman, Keith Hall, Randy Long, and Tim Sizemore. Rod, Randy, and Tim played guitars, I played the bass, Dick Steelman played the keyboard, and Chris Shore played the drums. The group later was condensed to Rod, Chris, myself and Dick Steelman. We began practicing at Dick Steelman's house in the garage not knowing at the time bands were given the name Garage Bands. This would have been around 1968 and 1969. I would have been 13 and 14 years old. My first bass guitar was a Kent Newport Bass. The reason I bought a Kent was because Don Houser who performed in my brother's band played a Kent Bass. My first amp was a homemade amp which came out of a Wurlitzer Juke Box and it housed a fifteen in speaker. The amp belonged to Ronnie Wall who was the bass player for my brother's earlier band called The Invaders.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

TEXTILE TOWN, (song) by Keith Hall

I wrote the song TEXTILE TOWN (Ghosts Cry Out From the Looms) because it comes from my experiences of living in the small town of Elkin North Carolina.
It is about Chatham Manufacturing Company and my grandfather George Robert Hall who retired from there. My grandfather had eight brothers and sisters and were farmers in Patrick County Virginia. My grandfather was the eldest of the family and left his home in Patrick County and moved to Draper North Carolina where he met my grandmother Nannie Hopper Hall and he worked in the Draper Mills. Later my grandfather's siblings and his dad John Curtis Hall all left the farm in Patrick County Virginia to work in the mills at Draper North Carolina. All of my grandfather's family and my grandmother's family were textile people and retired from what was called Fieldcrest Cannon. When the depression came my grandfather had moved to the town of  Swannanoa North Carolina close to Asheville and worked for Beacon Manufacturing Company. I have been there and the factory has been leveled where it once stood. The Chatham family gave my grandfather the opportunity to come to their factory in Elkin North Carolina in 1934 and placed him over the Weave Room because he had the great ability of fixing looms where he also patented some looms for them and standardized the looms for them. He educated the other men to do the same where they could all work on the looms.

The second World War came and men were enlisting to go fight in the war an act of patriotism that we don't see in this day and time and my Uncle George Curtis Hall enlisted and left home where he too worked at Chatham Manufacturing Company. He was in the 80th General Hospital and never made it to the Philippines where he was to be deployed but died of a kidney disease in California and was transported back home to my grandfather and grandmother and they were devastated. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Elkin and there is a plaque at the Elkin Municipal Park with his name on it along with all the others who died in the War for the Chatham Employees and their families. Chatham Manufacturing did real well during the war effort because they supplied the blankets for the war.
Since 1988 the Company has been sold and has changed ownersip several times currently being owned by a company today called True Textiles and only a small portion of the facility is being used.
Most of the buildings where people spent their livelihood are standing empty compared to the giant it was back before 1988.

Textile Town (Ghost Cry Out From the Looms)

Eight brothers and sisters grew up on a farm
We worked in the fields each day
Then the mills came and gave us a job
To weave and spin was our way

The Depression came and the mill didn't fall
We new how to live from our past
As farmers before we knew how to plow
How long would this Depression last

Textile town where have you
The mill that blessed us with food
Greed sent all of our jobs to
a foreign land
And the ghosts cry out from the looms

The Second War came our sons went away
Their mothers grieved their loss
Some never came home but the
blankets were made
The war and their lives was the cost


One day I came home and our mill
was sold
Our jobs was sent overseas
Now I drive a hundred miles
to feed my family

© 2016 Keith Hall

Friday, December 20, 2013


The Weekly Bath by Keith Hall
As I was taking my morning shower the other day like I normally do daily I thought how blessed we are just to have warm water and a shower. I began to go through the process in my head of how the water pump, pumps the water out of the ground and how the water fills up in a hot water heater and it is heated and stored for use at our convenience. I began to think how our grandfather's would have accomplished this a hundred years ago.
There was no pump or electricity to pump the water and the water was carried from a spring in mulltiple buckets. Can you imagine how many buckets it would have taken to fill up a tub? Families today consist of four to five people. Families a hundred years ago usually had on an average of ten to twelve people. This would involve ten to twelve people having to take a bath. A hundred years ago people had large families to help farm, raise food, cut wood, (with a saw or axe) so they could stay warm and not freeze to death.
Families had one large tub and everyone would pitch that was ten or an older to bring water from the spring in as many buckets that they owned to fill the tub. Buckets were an important commodity but today we take no thought in owning one.  The water of course would have been so cold that it was heated on a wood stove and then poured into the tub. It could have been decided one of two ways who would get to go first. The eldest to the youngest or the youngest to the eldest. There was no changing the water after each bath but everyone used the same bath water. This is why I titled this the weekly bath. People usually bathed once a week and a shower was unheard of at this time. There wasn’t any running water, hot water heaters, or showers. That is why you see in the old western movies men going into town to a public bath.
The next time you get into the shower and think how good the warm water feels then realize how blessed you are to have something as nice as a shower. Many parts of the world today still bathe just the way I described because they are living a hundred years behind modern times. A major catastrophe could happen someday and take away what we take for granted. People now have to worry about how dry their skin gets in the winter time when the heat is on and the hot showering everyday also removes the oil from

their skin. Maybe you should just take a weekly bath and allow the natural oils of the skin to lubricate your skin but instead we have to buy oils, lotions and moisturizing soaps to keep our skin from getting so dry.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Marketing Strategies, Using your Company Vehicle for a new Business Concept

Your company vehicle is one of the best marketing strategies that you can use especially for a new business concept. It is very important that you choose the best colors for your logo so that when people see it they automatically know that it is your company or brand. You need to keep it simple and not try to place too much in the logo so one may read it while the vehicle is moving. It needs to be precise and to the point so that when one sees it they know what kind of business that it is. If it doesn't do this, then you need to go back and plan some more. Question yourself, does this logo tell what type of business we have? If I were an outsider going down the road, would I know what you were offering or selling? If you have trouble branding yourself and planning your logo look at other companies’ vehicles and see how they have marketed their product and an idea may come to you on how you may do yours. Once you obtain the logo that you want and have it put on your vehicle then you can park your vehicle as close to the road as possible so passing cars can see your business and your brand will be implanted in their minds. Be sure and put a phone number, address and website address on the vehicle so people can contact you. Take an old vehicle whether it is in running condition or not and park it close to the road with your logo on it too. This will save you money on paying for billboard space and some municipalities will not allow signs to be put up in the city limits and usually they have not passed laws on signage on company vehicles.