Tidbits - October 3 2019

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



COUNTRY ROADS

  I thoroughly enjoyed Ken Burns’ 16-hour documentary series on country music that concluded last week on PBS.
  So much of the series reminded me of my first cousin Johnny Shealy, who lived in Nashville for over 30 years and was a devotee of the Grand Ole Opry.
  Johnny knew many of the legends featured in the series, and he was known for his hobby of writing down every performer and every song on the Opry for decades.
  If you wanted to know a date of a performance, Johnny could tell you without referring to his notes. He remembered.
  One night Roy Acuff was talking to the audience during his segment on the Opry and got stuck on a date, and said, “Is Johnny Shealy in the audience?”
  Johnny was there and answered Roy’s question without hesitation.
  Before Johnny moved to Nashville, he listened to the Opry every Saturday. If the AM signal didn’t come through on the home radio, he’d get in his car and drive around until he picked up the broadcast and would pull over on the side of the road and listen.
  Johnny had a good singing voice and his dream was to go to Nashville and sing on the Opry stage. He was a teenager when he bought his first autoharp, and he’d come serenade us. He was good at impressions too, and he’d sing an Ernest Tubb song and sound just like Ernest.
  When you’re a kid, who listened to rock and roll, the last thing you wanted to hear were country songs and Minnie Pearl jokes.
  But, the music rubbed off on me, eventually. When Johnny upgraded his autoharp, I bought the old ones. If you know anything about chords, the autoharp is pretty easy to play.
  When Johnny moved to Nashville, many family members would visit through the years.
  In the mid 70’s, I was working at Wing Publications and had to attend the Tennessee American Legion convention in Nashville. My brother Jamie made the trip with me.
  Friday, Johnny gave us a tour of downtown Nashville, before we went to the Opry performance at Opryland.
  I was driving, and Johnny instructed me to park in an ally when we got downtown. Back then, downtown was not a nice place to be.
  The streets were full of homeless people and panhandlers. Johnny encouraged us to walk fast, as he led by the Ryman Auditorium and to his favorite place, the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, where Johnny visited every weekend.
  I enjoyed seeing downtown, but I was glad to get out of the ally and drive to the modern Opryland.
  At the Opry, we saw all the regulars, including Roy, Minnie Pearl and Little Jimmy Dickens, who Johnny always said reminded him of my Daddy Shake. Daddy, at 5-6, was a giant compared to the 4-10, Little Jimmy, however.
  Johnny was vocal with his “Yee Haws” all through the show. I wanted to sink in my seat, but most of the fans were yelling.
  I had to attend the convention on Sunday, but Jamie stayed at Johnny’s apartment and was given the full tour of Nashville, included Johnny Cash’s house.
  Cash was prominently featured in the series.
  When I was at Carolina, I went to see Cash in concert. On the show were The Statler Brothers, and Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters. What a performance that was!
  I had forgotten about the concert until I saw the Ken Burns’ docu-series.
  When Cousin Johnny died in an auto accident nearly 12 years ago. My tribute to him I wrote in this paper was reprinted in the Index-Journal in Johnny’s hometown of Greenwood.
  That Index-Journal story is framed and on the wall of the Ernest Tubb record shop in Nashville. Johnny never performed on the Opry stage, but he left his mark.
  Thanks, Ken Burns, for bringing back the memories.
  By the way, Johnny was a country music purist. He didn’t like any of the new music or new performers. He didn’t even like “Alabama.”
  I tried to tell him “Alabama” was good, but he’d shake his head and say, “I don’t listen to that new stuff.”
  He would have liked the documentary. It stopped coverage in the mid-90’s.

ON THE ROAD

  Saluda High’s football team Friday returned the scene of the most miserable night of my life, Southside Christian’s football stadium.
  In the third round of the state play-offs last year, the two teams played in rainy, 35-degree weather, and I had to keep stats beneath my plastic purple poncho.
  Friday, the temperature was in the 90’s when the game began. There was no chance of freezing.
  The Tigers gave a valiant effort, but lost to the Sabres for the third straight time.
  Saluda’s Cade Gentry intercepted a Sabre pass in the game, and that was the first and only turnover Southside Christian has made against Saluda in their three games.
  Saluda had seven turnovers in the two games against Southside Christian, and fumbled away the opening kick-off Friday.
  The fumble resulted in three points, and the Tigers had a 90-yard kick-off return called back. Take away those two mistakes, and the Tigers win.
  Of course, you can’t take it back.
  I hope the two teams will have a chance to meet again in the play-offs.
  Abbeville beat Southside Christian 14-10 two weeks ago, and Saluda fell to SCA 16-13 Friday. Abbeville, SCA and Saluda are three of the Top Five ranked teams in 2A.
  Friday, 4A’s 6th ranked Hartsville  came to Abbeville and got beat 31-10.
  I saw on Twitter, after the game one of the Abbeville players told  a Hartsville player, “Welcome to 2A football!”
  The Clemson-UNC game was a great game to watch.
  Tar Heel coach Mack Brown made the decision to go for two with over a minute to go in the game.
  Some say he should have gone for the tie to send the game into overtime, but that was no guarantee. Trevor Lawrence would have had plenty of time to lead the Tigers into winning field goal range.
  When Saluda scored on the last play of the game against Thurmond, the score was 21-20 just like in the Clemson-UNC, and like Mack Brown, Saluda’s Stewart Young elected to go for two.
  Unlike UNC, Saluda successfully passed for the two-point conversion and the win. Mack Brown called an option play, and if there is any defensive coordinator  in America who can stop the option better than Clemson’s Brent Venables, I don’t know who it is. The Tar Heel attempt failed miserably.
  The Tigers dodged a bullet.
  The Gamecocks finally broke the losing streak to Kentucky.
  As I promised last week, I was not going to let Carolina football bother me anymore.
  Saturday, I was watching Netflix on one TV, and had the Gamecock game on the other.
  I saw Carolina march down the field to take a 7-0 lead.
  Then they held the Wildcats, and the punt hit a Carolina man and Kentucky recovered.
  I immediately turned to another game and did not turn back.
  I told you. They are not making me miserable again.
  Of course, I got score alerts, so I was not completely in the dark.

JUDGE BAGGETT

  I was saddened to hear of the passing of Judge Julius Baggett last week,
  In March when Billy Coleman died, I wrote of an experience  I had with Judge Baggett and  Mr. Billy.
  Little did I know then, I’d repeat what I wrote five months later:
  “I had the pleasure of sitting between Mr. Billy and Judge Julius Baggett in the end zone at Death Valley for the 1980 Carolina-Clemson game.
  That was the year George Rogers would win the Heisman Trophy, and Carolina entered the game highly ranked with an 8-2 record.
  That was also the year Willie Harper intercepted two Gary Harper passes and returned them for scores. Clemson won 27-6.
  Wearing Gamecock colors in a sea of orange was not pleasant. To say we got taunted when we left the stadium would be an understatement.
  I was only 29,  Mr. Billy was 65 and Judge Baggett was in his late 50’s,  and the three of us made a vow that we would never, ever attend another Carolina-Clemson game at Death Valley. All three of us kept the promise.”
  Other than the heartbreaking loss, I was a pleasure sitting between those two story tellers for three hours. I wouldn’t change that experience for a Carolina win.
  Judge Baggett will be greatly missed.

MOMENTS TO
REMEMBER

  I was a senior in high school when the regular public adress announcer Ivy Smith couldn’t be at the Saluda High football game, so Coach Bull Lee asked me to announce the Homecoming game, and all the festivities.
  Friday night, I will once again announce a Saluda High Homecoming game, and attending will be some members of my Class of 1969, as we will have our 50th reunion Saturday.
  I hope I do better than I did in that fall of 1968, when I said, “Mr. Crodd will now town the queen.”
  Time flies......