Tidbits - May 11, 2023

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY


NOODLES
  Palmetto Gourmet Foods in Saluda donated a case of ramen noodles to every student in the Saluda County School District.
  I’ve always wanted to sample the product made right here, so with my school relations I got a sample box.
  The box features an Easter bunny and eggs decorations and the label says the noodles turn a color when the water is added.
  What I really like about the container is it says, “Made in the USA. Produced in Saluda, South Carolina.”
  I had my noodles for supper on Thursday. The label was correct. The noodles turned an Easter pink!
  Regardless of the color, the noodles were really good! They had a chicken flavor and had peas, carrots and corn added.
  Thanks, Palmetto Gourmet Foods. I knew the children and their parents appreciate your generosity.


WATCHING
  I “watch” the Saluda High baseball games on the Game Changer app.
  Rickey McCary is the “master” of the Saluda app. On his phone he posts batters, fielders, pitchers, ball and strikes, hits and outs.
  It reminds me of a story the late great Gamecock broadcaster Bob Fulton shared in the book he wrote.
  In the old days, he announced baseball games on the radio, using information he got off the AP wire, which provided information like Rickey is doing.
  People listening had no idea Bob wasn’t at the game.
  Saluda hosted Batesburg-Leesville Monday night. The game was back and forth, with the Tigers staging several comebacks.
  In the last inning Saluda came from behind to win. The Tigers had bases loaded with two outs, trailing by one, and a 3-2 count on the batter.
  Coach Travis Mills had his baserunners take off on the payoff pitch, and the ball four pitch got by the catcher. The runner on third was forced in for the tying run, and Josh Uhlar was able to score the winning run all the way from second base.
  I knew the Tigers had won on Game Changer, but that ending was one you have to be there.


BIG MIKE
  Mike Lake is irreplaceable, literally
  All people who pass away are irreplaceable, of course, but Mike’s 7-feet presence is not something you see everyday.
  He was our Saluda County novelty, and he enjoyed every minute of it.
  I’ve known Mike for well over 60 years. He’s just a year younger, so we were grouped in little league, 4-H, etc.
  Mike was always tall, but Gloria Caldwell in the comments of my Facebook post on his passing said Mike started her 10th grade English class as a tall young man, but at the end of the year, he was a giant. And he kept growing.
  We played basketball together at Saluda High. My senior year, Mike was a mere 6-8 junior, but he kept growing and finally hit the 7-foot mark before he turned 20.
  At 6-8, Mike was still imposing on the basketball court. We never played anybody over 6-5.
  Mike didn’t jump very high. With his arms extended, he didn’t need to be a jumper to block shots. He, also, couldn’t outrun the average senior citizen.
  What he could do was shoot the daylights out of the ball. The lefty had a great outside shot, and he rarely missed a free throw.
  Along with basketball, Mike was known around these parts as a vital member of the pond seining group.
  I can’t remember if the group was started by Uncle Jake Grigsby or his son, J.L., but they would go around to area ponds, seine the fish, then cook the fish on banks.
  Mike was used in the middle of the seine, because the chances of him drowning were slim to none.
  Working the net was good, but people came from miles around to eat Mike’s hush-puppies.
  I took part in a few of their seines at our pond. I hated the mud between my toes, and I’m not a fish lover.
  What I did love were the fries and hushpuppies.
  Mike allegedly had a part in one of Saluda’s legendary events, the time Bigfoot visited the Hollywood section.
  After a heavy snow, people noticed giant footprints, resembling those made by Bigfoot in the northwest.
  George Hopkins Sr. headed the local exploration, and I went with him to do a story and witnessed the tracks. They looked real to me. We even had a Bigfoot expert come down.  
  Months later, the rumor began to spread that Mike was Bigfoot. He already had big feet, but the footprints were huge, “possibly” made by plywood cutouts.
  Many times in the later years, I asked Mike if he made the prints. He would never confirm nor deny.
  When the community needed a “giant,” Mike was always willing to help. In the Timber Festival Parade, who, but Mike could play Paul Bunyan on a float?
  We all have favorite Mike stories.
  Thomas Shealy recalled a time after a Clemson football game, when one of his friends said, “I saw the biggest man I have seen in the stands. He stood up and blocked the people sitting behind him.”
  Thomas knew who it was. Mike was at the game.
  Mae Langford Jackson wrote this under my Facebook tribute:
  “He was a gentle giant. I knew him best when he worked with his dad at the gas station across from my house.
  Every day my mother wanted a "small" Coke in the glass bottle. Mike would see me coming with one or two empty bottles (to trade of course). He would hurry out to escort me across the street. I felt like a tiny princess.
  He opened the deep cooler, felt around for the coldest one, took my mother's coin and the " teeth" that held the bottles opened wide. He then got me MY money for the bottles. After a few trips I would have enough money for a candy bar.
  He carefully placed my merchandise in two small brown bags...then held my hand to walk me back across the street. I thought he must have been at least as tall as God!!!
  Oh yes, the small bags were not thrown away. We recycled before it was a thing. They became lunch bags, puppets, and covers for small books. Mike Lake, you helped make my childhood grand.”
 Andrew Lake, Mike’s nephew wrote:  “He’d probably be a little embarrassed by this story, but I’ll tell it anyway. The year Clemson won the Orange Bowl against LSU, one of the jobs he used to do was make deliveries.
  One time he had to make a delivery at Clemson. Well, he went up there and did his job, but before he left, he wanted to get a picture of that championship trophy. Well, Mike goes into the football building looking for it and a guy his size, ain’t too many people gonna say much to him otherwise.
  Well, he eventually finds the trophy and it looks like it was in this press conference place. He takes his pictures and beside him he suddenly hears “Excuse me, sir!”
  He looks around and beside him he sees… Dabo Swinney. He looks up at Mike and doesn’t ask what he doing or anything, just simply “You wouldn’t happen to have any sons at home would you?”
  Mike was quick witted. You couldn’t get anything by him.
  I’ve taken many pictures of the late Mike over the years. One day I was walking into the Caper House and saw Mike sitting in a tiny Nissan car.
  I asked him, “How does a 7-footer get into a Nissan?”
  He said, “Getting in is no problem. The question is, how does a 7-footer get OUT of a Nissan?”
  I’m sure going to miss my photography model Mike Lake. If he was anywhere, football game or Christmas parade, I’d usually snap a photo.
  He was one of kind, not just because he was seven-feet tall, but because he was a great human being.
  Rest in peace, old friend.