Tidbits - January 31 2019

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY


AT THE BEACH

  Grace Spainhour was one of the reasons I love the beach so much.
  She owned Grace Realty in Cherry Grove, and was also the mother of my brother Jamie’s first wife, Donna.
  In my early days at the Standard-Sentinel I didn’t make a lot of money, so a week long vacation at the beach was out of the question, but with a realty company as an in-law, I got some bargains thanks to Grace.
  Each year, she would let me stay in one of her unoccupied rental properties for a  few days at a greatly reduced price.
  These places were not “The Ritz” by any stretch but they were all I needed. All of them were close to the beach, and all an AC and a television.
  One of the selling points of a beach rental back then was, “has a telephone.”
  None of my places had that luxury. If I wanted to order a pizza, I drove to the place, ordered a pizza, and waited.
  I ordered my first King’s Pizza back then. Of course, I couldn’t eat it all.
  I reheated it in the oven! Can you believe that? An oven!!!
  Some years my vacation corresponded with the vacation of my good friend Gay Beiers and her family. They would stay two weeks!
  Late one afternoon, I joined Gay’s family for a walk on the beach.
  A little girl was walking in front of us carrying a bucket filled with seaweed. Some of the seaweed was hanging over the side of the bucket.
  “I wonder what she’s going to do with that rabbit?,” Gay’s grandmother Mert said.
  Gay, her sister Melanie, her mother Kat, and I all slowed up to get behind Mert, so we could laugh out loud.
  A few weeks ago, Melanie posted on Facebook about her Christmas trip to the beach, and I commented, “Did you see a rabbit in a bucket?”
  It’s been over 30 years, but some things never stop being funny.
  Some years, Donna, Jamie, Erin and Trey would vacation at the same time, and Grace would take us all out to eat. She knew all the good places at the beach, and even took us to a barbecue  buffet in Shallotte, N.C., one year.
  After I bought the Sentinel, Grace put me in the nicest condo, yet. This one was on the big channel, as it formed from the ocean, and it was for sale!
  That was in the good old days, when this newspaper was making money, and I seriously considered buying the place for $82,000.
  I talked myself out of it, thinking it was the smart thing to do. Three years later, the condo sold for $162,000. Yeah, I was smart.
  Most of those places I stayed in those early days at Cherry Grove are no more. They have been demolished and replaced by high rises.
  A few years after I bought the paper, I started renting a channel house from Grace, and invited the whole family to visit during the week.
  My favorite place had a downstairs apartment I used, and I let the rest of the family use the main house. The owners had the nerve to sell that house after we used it for several years. That happens at lot at the beach.
  One of the houses we got on the main channel one year is memorable, because that was Daddy’s last trip to the beach.
  He enjoyed going down. Daddy never met a stranger. One year he talked every day to a man who lived next door, who was building a mansion at the end of the street. Daddy was most impressed, not by the house, but by the fact the man had eight season tickets to the Panthers games.
  One Thanksgiving we did something different. Grace offered us her house on the beach, and we all went down.
  The two story house was originally named “The White House,” but after Hurricane Hugo knocked her off her foundation, she was resurrected as “The Morning After.”
  That was a fun weekend, but it was one of those years that Thanksgiving had cold temperatures. You haven’t lived cold until you get blasted by cold sea breezes. We stayed in most of the weekend.
  I also stayed in “The Morning After” following Saluda’s game at Green Sea-Floyds a few decades ago.
  When I started renting a channel house, our Parris family from Spartanburg started renting a house from Grace for the same week. She helped us keep our family bond strong, and she would always come by to visit.
  When her granddaughter Erin Shealy married Ryan Coleman at the beach several years ago, Grace used her friendship with the vacation community to arrange special rates at a hotel for all those attending the destination wedding. That was a fun weekend.
  In the last few years, Grace Realty has not offered vacation houses, but dealt with year round rentals.
  Things have changed at the beach. People don’t care about a phone now. They key word in vacation rentals is “WiFi.”
  A sadder change came to the  Cherry Grove community last Friday when Grace Spainhour passed away. She was an institution down there.
  I appreciate all the kindness she showed me through the years. She was a character, and I will miss her.
  My sympathy to Donna, Erin and Trey, and the rest of the family.

IN THE SWAMP

  The other day, after one of our recent rains, I walked down my back steps to feed the cat, and when I took my first step on the ground, the mud almost pulled my shoe off!
  I’m old, and I have never seen it so wet. Retired Clemson Extension Agent Phil Perry, also said he have never seen the ground so wet either, and he’s much more an authority.
  My driveway is a swamp. I have to find dry spots to walk to the mail box.
  I park my van, so I can get out on dry land, but the passenger side is in the mud.
  Many people have gotten their vehicles stuck in their own yards.
  I go on my walks around the pond, but the water in the spillway is so high, I have to turn around and walk back in the opposite direction.
  This is great for the groundwater, but I wish we could save some of this until we need it in the summer.

  JIMMY RIGGS

  I was saddened by the passing of Jimmy Riggs last week.
  He was a fixture at Amick Farms for many years, and is his spare time, Persimmon Hill Golf Course was one of his favorite hang-outs.
  Jimmy was a fine man, who will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
  My sympathy to his widow, Connie, and the rest of the family.