The first job Edward Columbus Cross held in Hudson when he left Baltimore was at the Brisman Brickyard. Crewmen lived at the yard while employed there. He was in the first crew, but then a second crew was hired. However, the first crew was required to show up at the yard, paying for their transportation, even if they were not hired for that work day. Edward said that the first crew was “tied” to the Brickyard. After three weeks of that not getting to work, he left.
Next, he went to Hudson and tried to get a job at the cement plant. He tried a second cement plant also and was hired. He worked there for two and a half years. When the cement plant shut down, he was again looking for work.
Edward went to Greenport where houses were being built to find a job. He was not hired so he continued looking, walking past the Fireman’s Home. Walking back to the brickyard, which was now an enclosed building, he was hired. When he first came to Hudson over 60 years ago, he met George Robinson, who was his foreman at the Brickyard. He worked his way up from “sandman” which was sending the coal dust up to where the bricks were made, to “pilot man”. After learning so much as a pilot man, he got the job of racking. He racked bricks until the Depression closed the yard, resulting again in his being unemployed.
Edward’s next job was on the railroad. But he found it to be too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, so he quit. After that he walked over the Hudson River through Catskill to Athens looking for work. He didn’t find anything so he walked back to Hudson. Edward learned that his old foreman from Atlas Cement Plant wanted to rehire him to work on the Hudson River as a longshoreman. This work was from March through to October. After he was laid off, he went to the Brickyard in Stockport to work in the clay pit. He disliked this job and quit. He walked back to Hudson from Stockport. When he next went back to the cement plant, he stayed. Jobs were plentiful back then. Lone Star Cement Plant was his last and longest job.
When Edward was in Hudson on his own, before having a family, he would rent a room.
Edward still worked at Lone Star Cement Plant after he was married and his children were born. When he was permanently laid off October 31, 1967 he retired. Edward said he was not treated well by the plant,even though there was a union at that time, but he toughed it out. As a retiree, he misses working, wishing that he had some kind of “little” job to give himself more to do. Edward was involved with politicians and the voting process during elections in Hudson, working as a poll worker.
Edward had five sons and felt blessed. Edwards’ son Vernon is a minister, which makes Edward extremely happy.
Mr. Silver owned the house next to the Colored Citizens’ Club over the bank. At the club, Edward had several roles at different times, as president, custodian and bartender. Some of the members were Mr. Robert Tyler, Mr. Levy Cooper, Mr. John Tucker, Mr. Pell, Mr. Sonny, Mr. Boxtail, Sam Smith, and Mr. Jeffers. Some of the Black businessmen were Mr. George Heinz who lived on Columbia Street but owned a store on Chapel Street, Reverend Holmes who owned a fish market, and Mr. M. Livingston who had a shoe shine parlor and blocked hats. His store was located between Fourth and Fifth Streets.
Edward believes that some progress has been made in Hudson during the last 60 years. However, there were KKK activities in Hudson when he first came here. Today he thinks it is more entrenched and stronger. In those days when they would see lights in the distance and they believed it was the KKK. During prohibition there were bootleggers in Hudson who made beer. People had oil lamps and candles before electricity. When there was no work they used kerosene to keep the electric bill low. Wood and coal stoves were used for cooking. There was no indoor plumbing when he first came to Hudson.
People took the ferry boat at the Ferry Boat Landing that was in front of the Bridge to cross the Hudson River. The Ferry cost 10 or 15 cents taking both people and cars across.
As a child in Maryland he would pick cotton, sometimes jumping off the wagon when coming home. One time the kids in the wagon wouldn’t let him back onto the wagon and the two-teamed wagon rolled right across him. Another time he fell off a loading truck at the Lone Star Cement Plant. He lost 40% of the use of his arm as a result of that accident.