Tidbits - January 19, 2017

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY


LONG WEEK

  I’m very sincere when I say I am happy for my Clemson supporting family and friends for the Tigers’ National Championship win last Monday night.
  There were many from Saluda County who made the trip to Tampa to witness the historic event. Saluda County also has a tie the Tiger team in SHS graduate and former football player Zach Fulmer, who is a member of the Clemson coaching staff.
  I know many from Saluda County made the trip because of the pictures, millions of them, on social media.
  While it was a great week for Clemson fans, Carolina fans equate it to just a hair below Chinese water torture.
  Social media blew up, and Gamecock fans threw up.
  But that’s the way it should be. It wouldn’t be any fun to live in states like Arkansas and Louisiana where there are no other in-state rivals.
  Then again....
  When Clemson won the title in 1981, Al Gore had yet to invent the internet. There were no Facebook, Instagram and Twitter apps on cellphones, because there were no cellphones.  ESPN was only two years old.
  Few people could afford VCRs, so not many could record the game.
  In 1981 all Carolina fans had to endure were car flags, orange shirts and talk.
  Within seconds of Clemson’s win last week, social media went wild.
  It continued every day. As much as I am happy for the Clemson fans, I did what I did during the election, I scrolled on by.
  But Sunday was coming, the day of rest?
  No, not if your preacher is a Clemson graduate!
  Paul Cheezem began his sermon with “Have you heard Clemson won the National Championship Monday?”
  To which, Carolina fan Annelle Ridgell replied from the choir, “People in Hong Kong have heard.”
  Paul’s wife Doty is a Carolina fan and pointed out to him during the week the Gamecocks two recent National Championships in baseball, which any Clemson would say is not the same. It isn’t, I admit.
  I’ve got to hand it to Paul, though.
  Somehow he tied in the National Championship with his taking rehab with the Clemson players after he had knee surgery as a student a Clemson in the late 70’s, to getting to eat with the Clemson players because of the rehab, to Johnny Cash and the Commodores music during the meals, to Steve Fuller asking the players to “Stand up and testify,”, to Carolina’s 56-20 win over Clemson in 1975, to John the Baptist, Jesus and the Holy Spirit! It worked.
  Monday, a national holiday, things began to get back to normal on social media.
  Some very thoughtful person put up a map with the title “The State of South Carolina in the last seven years,” and showed the top of the state in orange with Clemson’s football title, the middle of the state in garnet with Carolina’s two baseball championships, and the bottom of the state in teal for Coastal Carolina’s baseball title during the summer.
  The map made me remember the last two collegiate national champions, Clemson and Coastal, have come from the state of South Carolina!
  Clemson’s win was good for the state, some say. It is true one of the top Google searches last week was, “Where is Clemson?”
  The good story on Clemson’s win in Sport Illustrated never once mentioned where the university was located. It did, however, mention the University of South Carolina and Frankie’s Fun Park in Greenville!
  I wonder if President Trump will invite the Tigers the White House? “Tweet about that,” as Dabo once said.

YOU NEVER KNOW

  Ralph Kennedy, Jr.  sent me a text a few weeks ago about an article he had read in the Wall Street Journal that mentioned Saluda!
  In her column, Peggy Noonan featured photojournalist Chris Arnade who has spent the past year traveling the country in his 2006 Honda Odyssey, taking pictures of regular people and writing about their lives.
  In one paragraph she wrote: “He met a black couple with a van full of relatives and friends in Saluda, S.C., who were grabbing a bite at McDonald’s between services on Sunday morning. “I asked, ‘Between services?’ “ They said, “Yes, we attend 3 churches on Sundays. We do all we can for the Lord.”
  How about that?!!!
  In his travels, Arnade found that two institutions held communities together, the church and McDonald’s! I guess that is why he was at Saluda’s McDonald’s.
  This story reminds me of the old adage about Saluda before all the interstates opened, “You can’t go anywhere without going through Saluda first.”
  I heard the story many years ago about a Saluda man who met baseball legend Dizzy Dean at some function.
  Dizzy asked the man where he was from, and when he said, “Saluda, S.C.,” Dizzy said, “I’ve driven through there many times.”
  Another story told of someone seeing a movie star pumping gas at a local station.
  Like I said, these two stories happened before all the interstates opened, but the fact a photojournalist who was featured in a Wall Street Journal column was in Saluda means “famous” people are still driving through!

LOOKING GOOD 

  I had the pleasure of attending the Saluda High football banquet Sunday night.
  It was great to see at team that everyone in the room thought was the best 2A team in S.C. get recognized.
  After attending the last two banquets recognizing 10-3 and 12-2 teams that both played for the Upper State Championship, I was able to surmise Sunday the Tigers are going to be good next year, too!
  Going into the season I certainly didn’t think this year’s team would improve over 2015, but they broke all of the 2015 team’s records.
 Next year, the Tigers return some really good players. They won’t have all-stars like Malik Brooks, Tyrell Abney and Malcolm Wiggins, plus many more good seniors, but they have a good nucleus, at least 20 players with plenty of experience to go along with some good young talent off the Jayvee team.
  The Tiger coaches showed they can make adjustments. The 2015 team lost an excellent passing quarterback and some outstanding receivers. The leading receiver last year caught 56 passes. The leading receiver this year caught 21, but the team still scored over 500 points.
  After two successful seasons, I’m not going to say Saluda is in that “reloading” stage like our neighbors Batesburg-Leesville, Strom Thurmond and Abbeville seem to do every year, but that may be close.
  For instance, Coach Stewart Young brought the team’s kickers up to the front of the audience Sunday and said sophomore Francisco Yepez has the chance to be the best kicker in South Carolina next year. Francisco was standing beside senior Dylan Strickland, who set the state record for consecutive extra point kicks, 75. Dylan’s a pretty good kicker, too! Between them, they scored 92 kicking points. Two seasons ago, Saluda scored 12 kicking points the entire season.
  In the last Jayvee game of the season, quarterback Dallan  Wright ran for two touchdowns, including a 74-yarder, and threw for three scores. That looks great for the future, especially when you consider Tiger starting quarterback Noah Bell is only a freshman. Dallan might be the new Tyrell.
  There will never be another Malik Brooks at running back, but the young man who might replace him, Kendarius Graham, runs a 4.3 40.
  Winning breeds winning, and I’m already looking forward to 2017.

JOHN ABNEY

  Our county lost another WWII hero in John Abney last week. He was 92.
  He was on of those soldiers presented the Philippine Liberation Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation Badge 60 years after the war ended in appreciation of his role in helping to preserve the peace and freedom the Republic of the Philippines.
  Many years ago Mr. John bought a Plymouth Valiant from my daddy Shake. The car had the famous Slant-6 engine and Mr. John drove that car for years. He kept the engine purring like a kitten.
  He was a fine man. My sympathy to his family.