BY RALPH SHEALY
I don’t know why coaches don’t tell their players, “If the press
asks you a controversial question, just say ‘No comment.’”
Last week at the SEC football kick-off, Carolina’s Skai Moore was
asked a couple of those type questions, and, unfortunately, he
answered them both.
Dabo’s pretty smart, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t have
a plant who asked Skai, “Where is the real Death Valley?’
Naturally, he answered “LSU.” That’s a good answer if you’re
playing LSU during the season, but Carolina doesn’t play LSU. They
do play the team from the other Death Valley.
Moore also supplied some bulletin board fodder, when he talked
about Missouri quarterback Matty Mauck, a player the Gamecocks face
again this season.
No matter what Steve Spurrier says, it always gets press.
He made a comment about Arkansas and Tennessee being happy about
7-6 seasons, and “we’re happy too.”
The headline was “Spurrier trolls Arkansas and Tennessee.”
I think Spurrier was a being a little facetious since Arkansas and
Tennessee, with their 7-6 finishes, are picked near the top in their
divisions, while the Gamecocks, with their 7-6 record, are picked
11th out of 14 teams by some.
THREE WE’LL MISS
It has been another incredibly sad week in Saluda County.
I’ll begin by remembering two beautiful ladies who waged valiant
battles against cancer.
Charisse McGee Thompson modeled in her youth and majored in
She also helped out her parents, Shelba and Garvin McGee, at
Starvin’ Garvin’s on Jefferson Street, and I ‘d see her at least
once a week when I’d take the papers by. I always enjoyed talking to
She was young when her cancer battle began, and she was a fighter.
I saw her husband Rodger Monday, and he said, “She made me a
better person. Just ask anybody.”
Rodger was the All-State running back on Saluda High’s 1963 State
A couple of years earlier, as a 10-year-old, I started paying
attention to SHS football. I also started paying attention to the
cheerleaders, and developed a boy crush on one of them, Annelle
Witt. She was my Saluda equivalent to my Hollywood dream girl,
Annette Funicello. (I never told Annelle that.)
Not only was she pretty, but Annelle was a great athlete, leading
the Saluda girls basketball team to a 71-14-4 record the four years
Annelle had many other talents. She was a teacher in the
classroom, and in the pool where she gave private swimming lessons,
even to toddlers. She was a good singer, and was music director at
Good Hope Baptist Church.
In May, Annelle gave the featured address at the Saluda County
Relay for Life. She told how her great faith had sustained her in
her battle with cancer.
I can still see Charisse, Annelle and others we lost, like young
Reggie Parkman, making that Survivor’s Walk around the track. Now
they are walking in Heaven.
Annelle’s husband, my old friend Jones Butler, was in our office
last week, and when I asked about Annelle, he just shook his head.
I knew Charisse and Annelle were not doing well, so their deaths
saddened me, but I wasn’t surprised.
I was shocked, however, when I learned my old friend Charles
Hallback had died.
Charles, a fixture at Cromley’s for many years, had been my friend
for nearly a half a century..
He and my brother Jamie were the same age, so, like most who have
younger siblings, I became lifelong friends with my brother and
The trip to the Carolina-Clemson game with Jamie and Gay Beiers,
the party at Broadmoor Apartments in Columbia, and the bachelor
party at my house are just a few of the laugh out loud stories I
could tell, but WILL NOT put into print!
Years ago, Charles, Jamie and I made one of those “spur of the
moment” trips to Gatlinburg.
Our first mistake was not taking the interstate. We drove through
the mountains from Cherokee to Gatlinburg. The scenery was
beautiful, but it took us two hours to drive 36 miles because of all
After we arrived, we decided to eat at one of the Gatlinburg
restaurants famous for trout.
I’m not a big fish lover, but I decided to try the house
When the dish arrived, you could hear Charles’ boisterous laugh
fill the restaurant, because my trout arrived with its head still
That’s how I discovered I could not eat anything that was staring
at me, even through empty eye sockets.
I covered the head with some French fries, and took a few bites,
but I just couldn’t handle it.
The next day we toured Gatlinburg, which I called back then
“Myrtle Beach without the beach.”
Jamie and I wanted to go to the top of Gatlinburg’s mini-Space
Needle, and Charles came along.
When the elevator door opened at the top, we immediately saw the
floor was iron mesh, which allowed you to see all the way to ground
Jamie and I walked over to the rail to look down and noticed
something conspicuously absent.
We looked back and saw Charles with his back and hands against the
wall, unable to move.
It was then we found out he was scared of heights, and we were
400-feet off the ground!
Oh, the times we had.
Everyone knows I’m a clothes’ horse. Well, Charles was even
I have my “slob” days, but I don’t think Charles ever did. Even
when he was casual, he was dressed up!
Charisse and Annelle and cancer. Diabetes was the dread disease
He had been on dialysis for a number of years, and had some toes
amputated recently. That did not stop him.
Charles died Sunday, following complications from a fall.
When good people die, we think of how unfair it is, but we also
should think of how blessed we are for knowing them, and how they
are now relieved of pain and suffering.
The ones left behind remember fondly, and we can smile through the
After I wrote this column Monday night, I learned on Facebook my
old friend Judy Coleman had also died.
Judy was as good a Christian woman as you would ever want to meet.
She worked for many years at DSS, and was devoted to her church,
Butler UMC, and her family. She will be greatly missed.