Tidbits - July 4 2019

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



MAY THE 4TH....

  With this issue dated July 4th, it brings back memories of my childhood and our family July 4th gathering.
  For many years, the family of Rufus and Eugenia Shealy would gather together on the 4th of July at the home of one of their children, Mildred in Monetta, Doris in Silverstreet, or Shake and Anne in Saluda.
  Since practically every member of Mammy and Papa’s family came to their house every Sunday afternoon, the primary specialty of the July 4th  gathering was eating.
  The gathering on the 4th was a carryover of the Grigsby Family reunion in a field on the Columbia Highway. This crowd had to be huge! This was before my time, but I understand a pit was dug for cooking a pig, and they always also had barbecue goat.
  The goat carried over to the Shealy’s 4th gathering. That was the only day in the year we ate goat, and it was Daddy’s duty to cook it.
  The fun part of having goat is that guests didn’t know what they were eating.
  I remember I was sitting at the table with Aunt Mildred’s friend Wynton Henneberry one holiday, and she made the fatal mistake.
  “This is good, what is it?,”she said just as she  put a bite her mouth.
  When we told her, “Goat,” she couldn’t swallow and she was too classy to spit it out.
  Aunt Mildred and Uncle Sam’s home was my favorite place for the gathering when I was a little boy.
  The house had a big, shaded yard, but you better not go  barefooted on the zoysia grass,  because it was like running on needles.
  The house also had a second story, and you know the attraction of stairs to children!
  “Quit running and down those stairs!,” we’d hear, so we’d gently walk up and down.
  Aunt Mildred and Uncle Sam’s house, also had a back staircase, so we could torture our mothers in two directions.
  The boys would bring our bats, balls and gloves and play a game of baseball or roller bat.
  The men would sit under the trees, while the women set up everything, and swatted flies and 20 million gnats. The gnats were the worst part of the Ridge on July 4th.
  When the crowds began to get smaller and smaller, because of so many July 4th week  vacations and other parties, we moved our family get-together to Mother’s Day. 
  Each year at this time, however, I go back in time to my days of surf shirts, penny loafers, baseball, and eating goat with family, many of them gone.

TAKE ME OUT..

  Another American tradition is baseball.
  I think it is neat that America’s game, baseball, was played the week of July 4th in England, the country from which we got our independence.
  I enjoyed watching parts of the Yankees-Red Sox games Saturday and Sunday at London’s famous Wembley Stadium.
  The Yankees won both games by scores of 17-13 adn 12-8, respectively. I hope people in England don’t think all baseball games are like this!
  I particularly liked watching the crowd in England sing “Sweet Caroline,” during the seventh inning stretch. I heard Sunday they sang, “New York, New York.”
  During the week, the Yankees broke a major league record by hitting a home run in 28 straight games.
  I was surprised to hear this, because I would have thought my favorite team of all time, the 1961 Yankees, would have exceeded that record.
  I was ten years old, and the Yankees were my favorite team until the Braves moved to Atlanta. Center-fielder Mickey Mantle joined Roy Rogers and Arnold Palmer as my childhood heroes.
  That year Mickey and his teammate Roger Maris had the greatest seasons ever for two players from the same team. Both were challenging Babe Ruth’s 60 home run record.
  Mickey, who missed several games due to an injury, finished the year with 54, while Roger broke Babe’s record with 61.
  Back then, there were no baseball game choices to view on TV. You watched what Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee broadcast on CBS on Saturday and Sunday.
  Usually, the games featured the Yankees. If I remember correctly, there were some special broadcasts or cutaways to the games as Maris approached the record. I believe I was watching when he broke Babe’s single season record, just as I was watching when Hank Aaron broke Ruth’s career home run mark.
  Mantle and Maris had plenty of help in the home run department.  First baseman Moose Skowron hit 28, catcher Elston Howard hit 22, leftfielder Yogi Berra hit 23 and third baseman Clete Boyer hit 11. To further demonstrate how powerful this team was, John Blanchard, who backed up Skowron and Howard, hit 21!
  Six players with 20 or more home runs is pretty impressive, but the current Braves could break that mark with seven.
  Before the All-Star break, Freeman has 22, Acuna 19, Swanson and Donaldson have 15, Riley has 14 and Albies has 13. I realize that is just six players, but catcher Brian McCann has hit eight, and the other catcher Tyler Flowers has seven, so that is 15 from the catcher’s position.
  That only position, other than pitcher, that doesn’t have double figure home runs, is right field, where Nick Markakis has hit eight.
  This has been one of the most enjoyable Braves’ teams to watch in ages. With all the power, this team is never out of a game, and they have staged many comebacks from the seventh inning on.
  Along with the majors, this is also the time the college World Series and youth baseball all-star tournaments.
  Vanderbilt won the College World Series, beating Michigan.
  The SEC East doesn’t get much love during football season, but the East has won five World Series titles this decade, Carolina and Vandy, two each, and one for Florida.
  Vandy has most of its team back next season, so look out.
  I was in Punk’s the other Saturday, and Bradley Gantt mentioned Saluda’s Major League All-Star teasm was playing at Abbeville, and that stung me like a knife in the back.
  It was the word “Abbeville” that brought it all back. Through the years I’ve mentioned my performance against Abbeville in the All-Star tournament of 1963.
  Our team was 1-1 in the tournament at Laurens, but Abbeville was leading us 16-3 going into the sixth inning of the elimination game.
  The coaches put me in for “mop up” duty to pitch in the top of sixth.
  My cousin Lewie Shealy was the catcher, and he knew how wild I was.
  Before the inning began he came out, and said, “It so hot and I’m dying back there. Don’t walk them. Let them hit it and we can get them out.”
  I followed his advice and they hit it, and hit it, and hit it, and hit it.... Unfortunately, we didn’t catch a fly or field a grounder.
  We finally got themout, and I gave up ten runs. Abbeville beat us 26-3.
  There was no mercy rule back then. I could be the  reason the 10-run mercy rule was put in!
  It’s only been 56-years, but it still stings!

IN MEMORY

  I was saddened at the passing of Bill  Begemann last week.
  Bill, 94, was a highly decorated World War II hero. He and Mr. Billy Coleman were among the last veterans of World War II in American Legion Post 65 and we lost them both this year.
  Bill retired to his wife’s, the former Edith Plunkett, hometown and became an active member of Zoar Church and our community. Edith was my relative on the Herlong side of the family.
  I looked forward to the times when Bill would visit our office.
  He will be greatly missed.
  I’ve known Irene Gantt a long time.
  Her sister Virginia Vaughn worked with my mother so long at Saluda High School, she calls me her nephew!
  Virginia, Irene and Irene’s daughter Jan have been among our Tuesday paper buying regulars for years. I always enjoyed talking to and joking with  all of them.
  Like Bill, Irene will be missed.
  I was also saddened at the sudden passing of former Strom Thurmond head football coach Dusty Triplett.
  As Saluda’s P.A. announcer, I get a chance to meet all the coaches who bring their teams to our stadium.
  Dusty was a fine man.
  Dusty was a fine man.
  I had finished this column and made up page three, when I discovered Earl Forrest had died. I’ll write about this Saluda legend, as well as another business leader, Wilbur Scurry,  next week.