Tidbits -March 28 2019

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY

ANOTHER ONE BITES
THE DUST

  Sunday was my 68th birthday.
  I’m like that meme I saw recently: I think I’m 18, I talk like I’m 12, but my body feels like, “shouldn’t you be dead already.”
  I appreciate all the birthday greetings I got on Facebook, Instagram and in person, around 800 total.
  It really made me feel humble that so many would take their time to remember me.

MAKING S.C. PROUD

 From all I’ve seen, the top two players in the upcoming NBA draft are both from South Carolina, Zion Wil-liamson of Duke and Ja Morant of Murray State.
  The two joined Durant of Mississippi on a South Carolina AAU team a few years ago. I’d say that was a pretty good team!
  Everyone has followed Zion’s career since he was in high school. His dunks became YouTube favorites  his senior year at Spartanburg Day.
  Morant was more of unknown, however.
  “Forbes” website recently featured a story entitled, “Meet The College Coach Who Discovered Ja Morant, Murray State’s All-American and Top NBA Prospect.”
  Why should that interest you? Because the coach mentioned was Saluda’s own Trevor Deloach!
  Trevor had begun his first full-time college basketball assistant job at Maryland Eastern Shore and began recruiting his home state. Yes, the story did mention Trevor was from Saluda and began his college basketball career at USC.
  Trevor said Morant reminded him of himself when he played and convinced Maryland Eastern Shore to offer him a scholarship. Other teams began to notice Ja, including USC, but he committed to Murray State, which is coached by a man who was an assistant at UNC-Wilmington when Trevor played there.
  The rest, as they say, is history.
  In case you don’t know, Trevor left MES to join the staff at S.C. State. His is now an assistant coach at Nichols State in Louisiana.

TOURNEY TIME

  I love “March Madness.”
  Former Saludan Rob Mitchell posted a picture on Facebook that showed four big screen TV’s tied together so all four games, playing at the same time, could be watched.
  With my two TVs, iPad and iPhone, I could have done that, but I just couldn’t keep up.  Besides, most of the early games aren’t very good.
  It seems, however, for the first two or three years, my bracket was burst with the very first game.
  Minnesota beating Louisville eliminated me from winning millions. The irony in this game is Minnesota’s coach is the son of Rick Pitino, who was fired by Louisville.
  The best thing about this year’s “Madness,” is the tourney returned to Columbia for the first time in nearly 50 years.
  My sister Elizabeth and her husband Rickie Turner got tickets to the Duke game. Because they paid full price for this game they were offered reduced priced tickets on the other three games, so they made a day of it. They brought food and tailgated in their van between games.
  Elizabeth said she didn’t have time to get a Duke t-shirt before the game. Hearing that, I quoted the late Frankie McGuire, “Beat, Duke!”
  As a student at the University of South Carolina when the Gamecocks were in the ACC, I can’t till this day pull for any of the Tobacco Road teams, UNC, Duke, N.C. State or Wake Forest. The Gamecocks were treated horribly by those schools and their fans back then, because a team from outside of the Tar Heel state dared to build a good basketball program.
  I kid you not, if Clemson plays UNC, Duke, N.C. State or Wake Forest in basketball, I pull for Clemson!
  That said, I was glad the Gamecocks got host Duke and another former ACC opponent and number one seed Virginia.
  Those two top teams allowed Columbia to attract the top broadcast crew, Jim Nance, Bill McCafferty and Grant Hill. The tourney brought great publicity to the City of Columbia and the university.
  USC also played a major role in Duke’s current success. Did you know that?
  David Cloniger had a story last week on the “Charleston News & Courier” about the time Carolina hired Duke’s basketball coach Bill Foster.
  To replace him, Duke hired an unknown coach from Army, better known today as “Coach K!”
  Wofford made the state proud, advancing the second round, only losing to Kentucky 62-56..
  Sadly,the Terrieors record  breaking 3-point shooter Fletcher McGee was 0-12 from 3-point land. If he had hit just 3-12....
  Finally, congratulations to Dawn Staley and the Gamecock women for making the Sweet 16 for the seventh time.
  Coach Staley has recruited what some have called the greatest class in women’s basketball history for next season, so look out!

REMEMBERING GEE

  I was so saddened by the death of my old friend, Gee Sample, last week.
  Gee was only 62 when he lost his battle with cancer.
  He was, simply put, a character, who could make you laugh in a second.
  He could keep you entertained with his stories of growing up in Saluda, his days at Carolina, and life in general.
  I enjoyed delivering papers to People’s Drug and later Long’s, because Gee and I would spend too much time talking.
  He will surely be missed.

 

Legion Meeting Jan 10

GIRLS STATE PRESENTATION - Rachel Porter, Saluda High student was the key note speaker at the January American Legion Post 65 meeting.  She shared experiences from the 2018 American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program that was held at Presbyterian College, June 10-16. She fielded questions from the Legionaries following her presentation. The American Legion Auxiliary Girls State is a nonpartisan program that teaches young women responsible citizenship and love for God and Country.  High school girls, having completed their junior year spend an intensive week of study, working together as self-governing citizens at Girls State. At the encampment, they learn how to participate in the functioning of South Carolina’s government in preparation for their future roles as responsible adult citizens. Pictured left to right:  Grandmother, Daisy Porter; Mother, Melissa Porter; Girls State Citizen Rachel Porter, Auxiliary President; Linda Padgett, and Past Post Commander Al Butler. Girls Staters unable to attend: Gracelyn Metts, King Academy; Bailey Chariker and Kaylyn Herlong; Saluda High School.



Westview Offers First Aid,
Strength for Families


  “This is powerful stuff and it is saving lives,” said U.S. Army veteran and Mental Health First Aider Toushe Paxton-Barnes. “So many people are out there wishing for something better, hoping that help will show up.”
  Westview has received a Mental Health First Aid grant to expand programming to train local community members in identifying mental health issues in youth and adults and then making referrals to appropriate providers.  This program is funded through a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and under the program, Westview provide services across a seven-county area of the midlands and piedmont.
  “We started with the Youth Mental Health First Aid program in Newberry and Saluda three years ago and had such a great response that we knew we had to do more,” said Hugh Gray, executive director of Westview. “We are expanding, not only the scope of our service area, but also the age group we serve. This new grant will provide training for community members who work with 18-25 year olds, in addition to those who work with youth.”
  Mental Health First Aid is 8-hour mental health literacy program trains laypeople to recognize the signs and symptoms of behavioral health problems and crises, ways to support those who are facing a crisis, and where to refer for appropriate professional care.
  Participants are trained to detect and respond to mental illness, to assess for risk, to actively listen, how to provide reassurance and support, and to connect those who are at risk with the appropriate professional services.
  Just over 20 percent of the population will experience a serious mental disorder.  Seventy percent of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20 percent live with a severe mental illness.   As more people, and particularly youth, experience mental distress, there is a need for increased mental health literacy and basic mental health training for the public.
  Ingrid Donato, former Chief of the Mental Health Promotion Branch in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), likened the program to physical health first aid. Instead of helping people understand how to identify the signs of a heart attack or to stabilize a broken bone, they are taught how to identify and triage behavioral health issues.
  “The goal is to train as many people as we can in Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid,” Gray said. “We want to not only reach the teachers, we want to get the school bus drivers, we want to get the juvenile justice folks, the police, the firefighters, the nurses — anyone who comes into contact with children. We want everyone to be able to understand when a child is in distress and to be able to understand how to appropriately intervene and provide support.”
  “That’s what Mental Health First Aid is – it is help to get people connected to care and ultimately to get them to a better place,” said Paxton-Barnes. “Just like CPR is mandatory in many settings, I absolutely believe that Mental Health First Aid should be required for our boots-on-the ground community leaders, like teachers and law enforcement officials, to be able to recognize mental illness and substance abuse.”
  For more information on participating in the Youth  or Adult Mental Health First Aid training offered by Westview, contact Krissi Raines at 276-5690.
  Much like Project AWARE does for youth, Westview’s Empowering Families program tries to connect families with services. A new endeavor of the Empowering Families program is set to kick off this spring and is called Strengthening Families.
Strengthening Families is a nationally and internationally recognized parenting and family-strengthening program. The program is evidence-based and grows family skills to significantly reduce problem behaviors, delinquency, and alcohol and drug abuse in children. The program is also designed to improve social competencies and school performance. Child maltreatment also decreases as parents strengthen bonds with their children and learn more effective parenting skills.
  Through a series of family meetings, participants are exposed to science-based parenting skills, children’s life skills, and family life skills training specifically designed for at-risk families. The program is focused on children ages 6 – 11.
  The Strengthening Families Program courses are delivered in 14 sessions (2 ½ hours each). Typically, the sessions are preceded by a meal that includes informal family practice time and group leader coaching. Each group may include up to 14 families. During each session, participants gather in three groups: parents, children, and then come together as a family. The sessions will focus on developing positive family strengths, teaching families how to stay resilient, improving parenting skills, decreasing the use of corporal punishment, reducing family conflict and reducing parent drug use. The program will also help children with social skills and relationships.
  For more information about participation in the Strengthening Families Initiative, contact Linda Gault at 276-5690.

2018 Special Olympics


MEMORIAL WALK - At Friday’s Sauda County Special Olympics at SaludaHigh, Saluda County law enforcement officers walked around the track In memory of Cpl. Dale Hallman. They were accompanied by Hallman’s widow, Brandi.. After the walk, Sheriff Perry and Brandi lit a candle of remembrance. Supt. Dr. Harvey Livingtston said Cpl. Hallman had been scheduled to work at this year’s Special Olympics. (Standard-Sentinel photo)


Saluda County Schools Holds
Annual Special Olympics


By Mary Alice Quattlebaum

  Saluda County School District held its third annual Special Olympics on Friday, April 20, 2018.     We would like to say a special thank you to everyone who helped share this day this us, and all of the people who helped to make this day a success- sponsors, volunteers, EMS workers, Law Enforcement, committee members, faculty, staff, students, parents, and community members.  A special thank you goes to Candace Herron and Courtney Long, teachers at Saluda Primary School for coordinating this event.
  Because of the generosity of the our community, the event raised over $5000.00 as well as many other donations such as food, drinks, water, hats, art supplies, balloons and other necessary supplies.
  The day began with the passing of the torch.  Saluda County Law Enforcement led the event running from the district office out to the Educational Complex handing off the torch. A special memorial walk around the track and lighting of a candle was led by Sheriff John Perry and Chief Kes Holmes, in tribute to Officer Dale Hallman who recently was killed in the line of duty. Corporal Hallman’s family and K9 Copper joined in the memory lap. 
  Dr. Harvey Livingston, Superintendent opened the ceremony by welcoming and thanking everyone who came together through community and school to support and encourage our athletes.    Rev. Trey Shealy served as the emcee for the event.
  The Saluda High School NNDCC presented the colors.  Merissa Robon, Emilliano Perez, and Ashari Wallace led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Crystal Gulledge sang a beautiful acapella rendition of the Star Spangled Banner accompanied by Mrs. Boozer’s class.  Krystal Gross recited the Special Olympic Oath- “Let me win: But if I cannot win; Let me be brave in the attempt.”
  Our special guest of honor, Sergeant First Class (retired) Todd Reed, from the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team was introduced.  While Sergeant Reed was in the U.S. Army on a combat tour in Desert Storm, he stepped on a landmine, causing him to lose his right foot and is now an amputee.  He has earned many awards and decorations and addressed the students and audience that no matter what happens in life, never give up, and let a disability hold you back from doing what you want to do.  His goal was to work with law enforcement and found his dream by working with the Mesa Arizona Police department where he has now retired.
  The torch run around the track was led by local law enforcement, Warrior Todd Reed, and chosen athletes: Esther Ramirez-Rodriguez, Bryston Williams, Honesty Coates, James Moore, Kristan Castro, and Quentin Curry. Sheriff John Perry officially announced the opening of the games.  Athletes paired up with a “Buddy” from Saluda High School who spent the day with them.   Games, arts and crafts, and final competitions were held. 
  This fun filled day ended with the announcement of awards by Superintendent, Dr. Harvey Livingston, as Sheriff John Perry and EMS Director Jacob Starnes handed out medals and ribbons to all the participants.  Everyone involved had a great time!

REGION CHAMPS - Saluda High won the 2018 3-AA Region baseball championship Thurs., April 19, with a 5-4 extra inning win over defending state champion Fox Creek. It was the first baseball region championship in school history. (SHS photo)

Tidbits - October 18 2018

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY

ROUTINE, ROUTINE...

  I have been writing my column on Monday night for nearly 40 years.
  Things were rolling right along on Sunday afternoon, when the thought suddenly hit me our paper will get printed on Monday night.
  I had to change my routine, and write my column on Sunday.
  I spent a good portion of last week resizing ads, column heads and fillers for our new format. It took some time, but it will be easier as we go along, and the future ads will be set as they come in.
  All the change takes me back to when I started in this profession at Wing Publications in West Columbia.
  I was associate editor on several magazines, and four state American Legion monthly newspapers.
  The Legion publications had editors who supplied all the news copy. The magazines, all sports related, I had to gather the information myself.
  I would type stories on an IBM Selectric typewriter.
  I “grew up” with the old manual typewriters.
  The IBM was not only electric, it had a tape ribbon and a correction tape. No White Out was ever needed.
  Young people are saying, “What is White Out?,” I know.
  I would type the stories and then send them upstairs to the typesetters, who would type them again! The stories were punched on a computer tape, about a half a inch wide. The tape was wound on a reel, like a movie or tape recorder.
  I know, young people are asking, “What is a movie reel and a tape recorder?”
  The reels were taken and put through a large machine where the holes in the tape were converted to type galleys.
  The galleys were proofread, the corrections were made by typing only the line that had the mistake. The corrections were put put on a reel and run through the machine.
  The layout department would cut out the corrected lines and glue them over the mistakes.
  They also drew borders for ads by hand.
  A copy of the corrected galleys and ads were delivered to me, and I would cut them out and lay out the publication.
  I’d send the “dummy” to the layout department and they would use the actual galleys and follow my design.
  They put it in masks for photographs. In the printing department, negatives would be stripped in.
  The whole process for one magazine would take one or two weeks.
  Today, we can do all that on the computer screen in less than a day for a newspaper.
  When I first came to work at the Sentinel, I set type on a small machine that showed only one line at a time. If you caught a mistake, you could correct it, but once that line was gone, it was gone.
  There was no saving on that machine, so each week I’d have to set everything over. Legal notices, for instance, use the same wording and all you have to change is the new names, etc., on a saved copy.
  Back then it all had to be set over.
  Then we got typesetters with a screen that had the capabilities of saving type on a five-inch floppy disc. Hallelujah!
  We used phototypesetting paper that had to be run through chemicals that developed the type galleys like a photograph.
  In 1991, we bought our first computers and the rest is history.
  I’ve been learning new things all my life, but I wonder when I am going to hit a wall.
  I get gas at the same place almost all the time, because I don’t want to learn how to use another gas tank. When I go on  vacation at the beach, I also use the same station in Cherry Grove.
  Monday is going to take some getting used. I usually work until 11 p.m., putting the paper together. Now, with our 3 p.m. Monday deadline to email the paper to the new printer, I can do that work Monday morning.
  I won’t have to write the County Council story when I get home from the Monday meetings, either, since the paper will get printed that night. I can write the story during the week.
  I think I am going to like this new arrangement ... except I can’t drop papers off at The Circle on the way back from Lexington. I’ll be going in two directions on Tuesday!
  P.S. As I mentioned technology above, some of you may have seen a clip recently on social media. Some youngsters were shown an old rotary telephone, and were asked to dial a number. Most of them could not figure it out. It made me feel smart! I could dial a phone when I was six!

THE “A’s” HAVE IT

  The question many football fans have in our area is, “How is it possible for Alabama and Abbeville to get better every year?”
  You can understand a powerhouse college team getting better, because they can recruit.
  But a small high school? Abbeville has won three straight state championships. Saluda is well of aware of that, because the Panthers and the Tigers have made in the Upperstate Championship game for three straight years. We can say the Tigers might have three state title trophies in a row, if it weren’t for Abbeville.
  The great teams in the upper classifications have a large pool of talent to draw players. Smaller schools, like Abbeville and Saluda, do not. You play the hand that’s dealt.
  Abbeville has been dealt a good hand for a long time, and Abbeville High School has 60 less students than Saluda.
  Alabama is the defending college National Champion. When Tua Tagovailia was started at quarterback in the second half against Georgia, the face of Alabama football changed.
  Instead of being an offense that was outstanding on the ground and mediocre through the air, Alabama became a team that does everything well.
  So far this year, Alabama has won games by scores of 51-14, 57-7, 62-7, 45-23, 56-14, 65-31 and 39-10.
  Texas A&M, who lost to Clemson 28-26  and beat Carolina 26-23, got beat by Alabama 45-23.
  When I watched Bama beat Missouri 39-10, it almost seemed like a close game.
 How about the other “A?”
  Abbeville has won by scores of 57-0, 49-0, 52-17, 43-28, 55-7, 50-0, and 36-7. These game were not against cupcakes. They include teams like Lincoln County, GA. Newberry, Emerald and Batesburg-Leesville.
  Abbeville’s closest game was the 43-28 win over Southside Christian, a team that beat Saluda.
  Abbeville will finally come to Saluda Friday night. The Tigers have ended their season  at historic Hite Field the last three years. It will be good to see Abbeville in white jerseys for a change.
  The Tigers have played an extremely tough schedule this year, and Abbeville will be the best teams they’ve seen. Saluda will not be intimidated. It’s not like the two teams haven’t played each other lately.
  Finally, Jake Bentley played his typical lousy first half Saturday, throwing an interception in the end zone.
  Most fans were not surprised, but in Jake’s defense Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards dropped potential touchdown passes. Shi Smith, who people bragged had never dropped a pass, dropped two in the game.
  Jake is never going to get any better, but the  biggest disappointment on the team is the receivers, who some said were the best receiving corps in the nation.
  They have let their team down ... every game, and that is not the quarterback’s fault.

 
 
 

Tidbits - January 4, 2018

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



BAH, HUMBUG

  There really is no such thing as a holiday in the news business.
  There are only two holidays that I don’t work - Christmas and the 4th of July, unless the 4th falls on a Monday, then I work, because the paper is printed on Tuesday.
  The office may be closed on holidays, but I am working at home. I’m watching the Georgia-Oklahoma game on New Year’s Day while I’m writing this, for instance.
  We closed Monday and Tuesday for Christmas, but I had to go to town to deliver papers to our normal Tuesday delivery spots that morning.
  I made my first two stops, then came back to the office to reload my van for more deliveries.
  I was walking with a box of papers to the van, and missed the curb. My ankle twisted, I threw the box forward and I fell backwards onto the sidewalk.
  I was in agony, but before I checked to see if I had broken my ankle, I looked to see if anyone saw me.
  Thank God, Saluda was a ghost town the day after Christmas.
  Then, I had to found out if I needed to call an ambulance, which, of course, would draw a crowd.
  I had fallen, but I  could get up.  I put weight on my foot and nothing gave. I could walk on it. How lucky could I get?!
  It still hurt like all get out. Severe pain tends to make my nauseous, so I sat down for a few minutes until the pain stopped.
  Finally, I was able to load the van. I hopped in, turned the key and the battery was dead. I had my cellphone size instant battery booster, but I hadn’t recharged it since the last use, so it didn’t work.
  I called my brother Jamie, who was about to leave his house to come to town to buy cat food, so he came by and boosted me off.
  I drove straight home and hooked up the battery charger.
  After 30 minutes, I returned to town for those deliveries and then headed to The Circle for another stop. I came home and charged the battery for 30 more minutes.
  Then it was nap time. My ankle did not hurt when I made my deliveries, but after I got up from my nap, I was in agony.
  I walked on tiptoes on my left foot the rest of the day, because it did not hurt as badly.
  I dreaded having to make more deliveries Wednesday, but when I got up my ankle was fine.  I guess I had a 12-hour ankle virus.
   I used up most of the gas in the van on my Tuesday run-around, so when I stopped at Tire & Oil on my paper route, I pumped gas.
  Then I got it the van, turned the key and the battery was dead again. Come on!
  But, if you’re going to have a battery go dead, do it at a place that sells batteries.
  I got a new battery, and my agony and battery Christmas ordeal ended.

ALWAYS LEARNING

  Santa brought me a WiFi electric plug that I can plug something into and my Amazon Echo can turn it on or off at my command.
  I was going to plug my Amazon Fire stick into it, then I discovered by accident, after a whole year, my Echo can communicate with my Fire (Amazon’s equivalent of Roku).
  I tried it. I turned on my Fire Stick and said, “Alexa, show me comedies.”
  And immediately, a list of comedies popped up on my TV screen.
  That’s downright scary!
  My sisters, Dibbie and Elizabeth, have been giving each other “12 Days of Christmas” gifts for years, only they do it backwards. Instead of doing after Christmas, they do it before.
  This year they included my mother and me.
  It was lot a fun opening one little gift each day.
  One made absolutely no sense, a talking bag clip.
  When mash the clip, it goes “M-o-o-o!”
  It’s hilarious, but who came up with that idea and who decided to make it?
  I came from Kohl’s, so that makes sense. Kohl’s sells those wild Christmas suits.
  Dibbie had told everyone she was going to “win” Christmas this year. We had no idea what she meant.
  She walked into the house, and handed us teddy bears, and an envelope with pictures.
  My envelope only had a picture of our Daddy and his six siblings.
  Dibbie then had to explain she had the bears made out of Daddy’s coveralls. The vest was made from one of his shirts, and the bowtie was made from one of his neckties.
  She met Dianne Caughman at the Christmas Craft Show, and Dianne made the bears.
  Yep, Dibbie won Christmas!
  After Christmas, she gave me a “Christmas Story” sportcoat and matching tie. I’m going to have to come up with a place to wear it next year.
  I don’t think I can wear a coat and tie with a leg lamp prominently displayed to church!

BOWLING

  I went to Matthews BBQ and got New Year’s Day lunch plates, complete with greens and black-eyed peas.
  New Years’ Day is the only day of the year I eat greens. Yes, I’m Southern, but I don’t like greens.
  I’m just glad liver in not a required New Year’s Day food.
  I finished eating around 11:45, so I could go to my room and NOT watch the Carolina-Michigan game.
  While recording the Outback Bowl, I watched three episodes of “Black Mirror,” one of “Midsomer Murders,” and took a little nap.
  When my phone informed me Carolina had won, I rewound the tape to when the score was 19-3 Michigan in the second half, and watched from there.
  All you people who spent three and half hours watching a game, I covered the good parts in about ten minutes.
  So, who’s the smart one?
  I’m very proud of the Gamecocks and their 9-4 season, and I hope Bryan McClendon gets the offensive coordinator job, full-time.
  Absolutely no one gave the Gamecock offense any hope of scoring against one the best defenses in the country.
  The return of Rico Dowdle after breaking his leg earlier this year pointed out how good a running back he is, and add the return of Deebo to the team next year, then the Gamecock offense should be really good in 2018.
  Of course, I said that last year....
  I can’t say anything about Clemson-Alabama, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to fall asleep before its over.

INCREDIBLY SAD

  What a said week.
  Rose Marie was a comedic actress who starred on the old “Dick Van Dyke Show.”
  I read somewhere where she was celebrating 90 years in the entertainment business. What?
  Correct. She started as a child star when she was four and she was now 94.
  I found out she had a Twitter account, and began to follow her.
  Each day she shared stories from her career, including historic photos. I looked forward each day to read what she had to share.
  One day last week, she sent out a tweet and died a couple of hours later. Her daughter let all of Rose Marie’s followers know, she was going to continue sharing her mother’s stories.
  Ted Charles was a fine man. I’ve known him since he was a little boy.
  I was stunned to hear he died. I can’t remember if I read his sister-in-law Kathy Charles’ post about Ted’s’ death, before or after Tommy Willis’ funeral. Like Tommy, Ted had a heart attack.
  Phil Atkinson was a brilliant man.
  After successful career, he retired to Saluda in 1998, but he didn’t stop working.
  He started a company that designed devises that helped the handicapped. The recipients of these devices received them a no charge.
  I’d run into him at the Post Office on a regular basis. One day he drove up on a hemi-powered Dodge Magnum. I was impressed since he was pushing 90.
  The Magnum soon gave way to a new Chrysler mini-van.
  Phil’s brother Jack showed me a letter Phil had written to his little brother “Jackie” during World War II.
  Phil was injured in a Marine training exercise and was in the hospital at Camp Lejeune. Phil was writing to wish Jack a happy birthday.
  In today’s time of texts and email, it was refreshing to read this letter from a soldier to his 12-year-old little brother.
  “Give my love to the everybody, and take care of the family until I get home. Your very homesick bro’, Phil.”
  Phil died of complications from pneumonia.
  I was floored Friday morning when Sandra Boozer called to tell me our old friend Tommy Willis had died in his sleep.
  I was speechless. In our capacities with the Saluda Players we had spent so much time together over 20-years.
  What great times we had.
  Friday night some of us got together at Tommy’s son Jarred’s house. I got the address from Jarred’s sister Jess.
  I put the address in my phone. I got closer and closer and finally my phone said I had arrived.
  I was in the middle of the Newberry Highway!
  I turned around several times, and even crossed the bridge into Newberry Country. Finally, I turned at some reflectors. That was the house.
  I could just hear Tommy laughing at me.
  Those of us at the house shared our Tommy stories and helped Jarred and Jess plan the funeral, which had a  theatrical flare.
  Both children wanted to funeral to start late, because the old joke we always shared was Tommy would be late for his own funeral.
  As fellow actors, Dean and I spoke. Sandra sang Tommy’s favorite song, “The Rose.”
  The hymns we sang were featured in the first play in which we all appeared, “The Diviners.”
  Dean praised Tommy’s acting ability, saying he could make you laugh and he could make you cry.
  Before the final hymn, Good Hope Baptist pastor Jeremy Beauford asked the congregation to give Tommy a standing ovation. He would have loved it.
  In my segment, I shared stories of Tommy’s vivid imagination in designing sets.
  My favorite idea of his was in the play “Harvey.”
  As many of you know Harvey was a giant, invisible rabbit, the best friend of the character I played, Elwood P. Dowd.
  When it was time for the curtain call, I was supposed to come out las by myself.
  Instead, Tommy, the director, had me come out one side of the curtain, and out of the other side stepped Jarred, dressed in the biggest bunny costume have ever seen.
  We walked to the front of the stage and Elwood and Harvey took their bows together. The audience went wild with laughter.
  Only Tommy could come up with something like that.
  Someone from the Historical Society said Tommy WAS the Saluda Theater.
  He knew every nook and cranny. He knew how to do everything, and now he has left us.
  We tend to take people like Tommy, who spend their lives doing for others, for granted.
  If all his many friends band together and fill Tommy shoes, Saluda will be a much better place.
  And with all the above going on, I learned my dear friend, SHS classmate, Tuesday paper buyer, and fellow actor with Tommy and the rest of us in “An Evening of Culture,” Brenda Shorter was in the hospital.
  We’re all praying for you Brenda.