The City Magazine Since 1975

Still Smiling

December 2017
Still Smiling
PHOTOGRAPHER: 

Clarence Davis has logged an impressive 43 years as a bellman at The Mills House 

One “Throwback Thursday” this summer, The Mills House hotel gave a social media shout-out to longtime bellman Clarence Davis, posting then-and-now photos of him in uniform. Immediately, the comments section overflowed with praise from long-ago guests, as well as coworkers (“I worked with this wonderful, amazing man for 13 years, and he was always smiling”). The overarching theme: everybody loves Clarence! After sitting down with him to talk about his 43 years at the Mills House, you can add us to that list, too.

CM: Do you remember your first day?
CD:
It was very exciting! I remember it was February. I was a young lad coming on a big job here with some of the older guys, who taught me along the way. I was a good listener. I took everything in.

CM: Now that you’re one of the ”older guys,” do new employees consider you a mentor?
CD:
Yes. It’s a good feeling. Some of them say, ”Is Clarence still there? And if he’s not, then I’m not coming.” I point them in the right direction, give them the inside scoop, and tell them they don’t have to be so boring. I try to energize them a bit!

CM: What do you love about the gig?
CD:
The people. I just like to put that smile on their face and see how they go about their everyday. They help me along the way, too. They keep a smile on my face and help me keep it real.

CM: Who are the most exciting guests you’ve met?
CD:
I had Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Elizabeth Taylor. It was inspiring to see them. Muhammad Ali would shoot a little jab and say ”Watch out now!” Sugar Rae Leonard was here, and we had a nice, big chat-chat-chat. Those were big moments for me.

CM: What is your perfect day off?
CD:
I like to go fishing. Sometimes I catch the fish, and then I ask the wife to be excused out of the kitchen. I like to catch ‘em and clean ‘em. Then I’ll call her when it’s ready.


Clarence Davis

Age: 67 (and “feeling good!”)
Lives: In North Charleston with his wife of 34 years, Bertha
Bad-mood cure-all: “I grab a cup of coffee, and I take a walk around the building. After I get a half a cup down, I’m ready to go back to work!”
Favorite local restaurant: Amen Street