Tidbits - February 20, 2020 (2)

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



BAD MEMORIES...

  The murder of that precious child Faye Swetnik last week brought back terrible memories to many in this area.
  As a sad irony, I posted a newspaper clipping from 1985 on Facebook about Saluda County making preparations for the Larry Gene Bell trial. Within a few days after I posted the clipping from a paper Motte Jean Yarbrough gave me, little Faye was reported missing.
  Many joined me in making a correlation. Faye was a blue-eyed blonde, and in 1985 Bell was convicted of abducting and killing two blue-eyed blonde girls.
  After I posted the clipping, many recounted how terrifying it was around here until Bell was captured. Parents would not let their children go outside without adult supervision.
  This precaution was not an over reaction, because it turned out Bell was living in Saluda County when he murdered Shari Smith. He was a regular at the stores around the Traffic Circle.
  I went to a press conference at Lexington County Sheriff’s office, where we were supposed to get  more information on the case. It was  cancelled.
  Sheriff George Booth, however, kept me abreast of what was going on. Our Sheriff’s office played a big part in solving the case, but got little recognition.
  Finally, the terrible news came down that Shari’s body had been discovered at the Masonic Lodge, near the Circle.
  I drove down and parked at the end of Mt. Willing Road. That’s as far a spectators and press could go.
  I saw someone taking pictures of everyone in the crowd, including me.
  I introduced myself to the photographer and asked what he was doing. He said often the murderer comes to the crime scene, and even to the funeral, so law enforcement takes pictures of everyone.
 Wow, I could be standing among a murderer, although I recognized most of the people in the crowd.
  Soon, we saw the Ramey Funeral Home hearse come down the road, and turn toward Newberry. Shari’s body was going to autopsy.
  In the days ahead another child, Debra Helmick, was abducted and her body was found later.
  Great forensic work led to the arrest of Bell.
  I searched through my pictures I took the day Shari’s body was found to see if Bell was in the crowd. He wasn’t.
As many of you know, after Saluda County went great expense to ready for the “trial of the century,” the venue was changed to Berkeley County. The trial was moved, but Saluda County still had to pay.
  Bell was found guilty and sentenced to death. The same thing happened in the Helmick trial, and a few yearslater he was executed.
  The case became a TV movie, ”Murder in Columbia County,” and a “Forensic Files” episode.
  It all came back last week when little Faye disappeared. I’m sure parents in the West Columbia area felt the same way those in the Midlands felt 34 years ago.
  As it turns out, Faye’s was an isolated case, but that doesn’t make it less sad.

WHO KNOWS?

  I guess Carolina and Clemson fans don’t know what to think when it comes to their men’s basketball teams.
  Carolina is beginning to play more consistent now, winning eight of their last ten, but who can forget the team that beat Kentucky and Virginia, also lost to Stetson, ranked 310 in the country. That loss could do the Gamecocks in come selection time.
  Clemson entered Saturday’s game with No. 5 Louisville at 12-12 on the season, and proceeded to beat the Cardinals 77-62. The Tigers have also beat another Top 5 team Duke, and won  at Chapel Hill for the first time ever.
  So, how to you explain the rest of Clemson’s games?
  Unless Clemson wins the ACC tournament, the Tigers are not going to the dance.
  Carolina needs to keep on winning against teams they are supposed to beat, and pull a few upsets to have a chance.
  I don’t know Clemson roster, but I know Carolina has only one senior, so this is a team for the future for Frank Martin, who many fans wanted to see fired earlier in the year.
  There is no doubt about the Gamecock women. The are ranked number one, because they are the only team in American to have beaten nine Top 25 teams, and three Top 5 squads.
  The SEC tournament is going to be played in Greenville and so is the East Regional. With that setup, this may be another national title team. Even if they don’t win this year, with three freshman starters this is a team to be reckoned with  for a few years to come.
  Congratulations to the Saluda girls, who went 17-1 and won the region championship with a 10-0 record. The girls open the play-offs Tuesday at home against Southside Christian. The Saluda boys are also in the play-offs and will open at home Wednesday, also against Southside Christian.

TWO I’LL MISS

  Two ladies who meant a lot to me passed away recently.
  The only thing Elizabeth Taylor didn’t have going for her was her name!
  Even though she was 11 years older than the movie star, she faced  joke questions and double takes every time she was introduced in her married life.
  When her father Earl Steadman retired, she and her husband Floyd, a retired military man, followed Mr. Earl to his some county of Saluda and home church Emory.
  All of them played major roles in the church. Mr. Earl was choir director, wrote the church history, and spearheaded the project to build our social hall. It is named in his honor.
  Floyd held every leadership role in the church and taught Sunday School. His class was named in his honor.
  Liz was loyal choir member.
  One Sunday I learned a lesson. Just before the choir was ready to process, I asked her to pray.
  There was a long silence, then a “I can’t. Nothing will come out!”
  I was a young whippersnapper back then, and I assumed everybody had a canned prayer in them. She didn’t.
  From that point on, I gave people a long advanced warning ...  like the week before, IF they wanted to lead in prayer.
 She and Floyd moved to West Columbia after Mr. Steadman died at the age of 104. We sure missed them at Emory.
  Liz had reached the age of 99 when she passed away.
  When my mother’s family moved to Saluda  in 1946, Patsy Deloach Quattlebaum became one of her first friends. That friendship lasted 74 years.
  Mother and Daddy Shake and Patsy and her husband Tom did a great deal together. Daddy and Tom would play golf and softball together. Mother and Patsy would play bridge, and the couples would go to the dance club events and Carolina football games.
  The thing that they were most “famous,” however, were their setback games.
  They would take turns hosting. Of course, Jamie, Dibbie, Elizabeth and I, and Pam, Ann and Pat Quattlebaum were “forced” to be present, while they played and laughed and laughed and played. We’d roll our eyes with each chuckle.
  They would tell the children they were practicing for the World Setback Tournament in Nashville, which didn’t exist as far as we knew.
  As a Carrier dealer, Tom would win trips to places throughout the world.
  One year that went to Rome.. Tom and Patsy knew Daddy served in Italy in World War II, and got sent home when he broke his leg when he fell from a utility pole as a member of the signal corps.
  When they returned home and resumed the setback game, Patsy said, “Shake, did you know there was a monument to you in Rome?”
  Daddy shook his head, and Pasty handed him miniature Roman columns on a marble slab, with the typed inscription, “Shakio’s Italiano Leghorn Monument.”
  They had loud laugh about that, believe it or not.
  I will cherish those memories of Patsy. No matter how old we got, we always shared a laugh.