Tidbits - March 11, 2021

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY


WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
   This Saluda High State Championship thing is nice. I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to start back.
    I was 11 and 12 when the Saluda football team won titles in 1962 and 1963, and 26 and 27 when the boys basketball team won in 1977 and 1978.
  The football win in 2019 came when I was 68 years and eight months, and Wednesday’s title win by the girls basketball team came exactly three weeks before my 70th birthday.
  The recent one about did me in, mainly due to the fact it was played at 12 noon ... on a Wednesday. Have you ever heard of such? Of course, all this was caused by the pandemic. Normally, state championship games are on Friday and Saturday at the Colonial Life Arena.
  This year the games began on Wednesday, and were played at the USC-Aiken Convocation Center.
   Before leaving for work, I dressed in the exact same outfit I wore to the football State Championship game in 2019 (minus thermal underwear and heavy coat).
  Wednesday morning for me is visiting 12 paper sales locations. Then I have to haul the paper subscription bags to the Post Office, 28 of them. Then I go back to where we mail the papers, and clear out the leftover circulars to make room for the new ones.
  I did all this, plus I rode over to the Elementary School to take a video of the Lady Tigers riding through on the bus on their way to Aiken. All the kids in the Primary and Elementary schools came out to cheer them on. How neat was that!
  When I finished my normal duties, I had just enough time to go through a drive-thru to get lunch and drive to Aiken for the tip-off.
  Thanks go Saluda native Amy Scott Boozer, who works for the High School League, I was directed to Tammie Newman to get signed up for press credentials. Would you believe Tammie is a graduate of Silver Bluff? She said she and Amy had been going at each other all week.
  I had no problem getting to the Convocation Center and parking. I was at the grand opening of the center a few years ago when I got press tickets for the Kenny Rogers concert. It was this trip that I learned the hard way about all the one way streets in downtown Aiken.
  Tammie’s email told me to go to the back of the building to enter the press gate. I did, and I made it all the way around to the front entrance. I ran into Coach Stewart Young, Chloe and their two children. After explaining my situation, Stewart told me I could walk in with them.
  When I got inside, I saw a High School League official, and he told me to go to the back of the building. I told him I had already tried that trick, but left anyway.
  This time, fortunately, someone opened the proper door while I was passing, and I gained entrance. I entered the arena and sat at the table with the SaludaNOW guys, Burton Campbell, Kevin Crouch and Jeffrey Jordan. They even put me on the broadcast talk about my late Aunt Kay Killingsworth Parris, who was captain of the last Saluda High girls basketball team to play for the State Championship in 1953.
  Then it was game time. I know I have mentioned this before, but watching basketball games of teams I pull for tears up my nerves.
  When Saluda jumped off to a 14-0 lead. I started to relax. I would be fine if the Lady Tigers pitched a shut-out. Then, Silver Bluff had the nerve to score.
  When the Lady Bulldogs cut the lead to 30-28 to start the second half, I didn’t know if I would make it, but Kalisha Hill, the 2A Player of the Year took over and the Lady Tigers built another big lead.
  When the fourth quarter began, I started to get out of my chair and go into the hall until the game was over. When the Carolina women play on TV, I turn the channel. The hall would be my channel turn. But, I stuck it out.
  With three minutes to go in the game, Saluda was up by 15. Normal fans were thinking, “we’ve got it made.” I was thinking, “Silver Buff can hit five straight 3’s and we’re all tied up!”
  I finally began to relax when the Tigers had a 20-point lead with the ball and less than a minute to go.
  In my “previous” championships, I didn’t have the technology to video the final countdown to the title, but I did these last two.
  What a thrill is was to see a Saluda High graduate, Jeanette Ergle Wilder, coach her Alma Mater to its first  girls’ state championship in school history. And it was a thrill to see Jeanette’s high school coach, Patsy Rhodes, sitting in the stands.
  Despite the championship, it has been a sad year for Jeanette and her family. Her father, Richard Ergle, died in January from COVID complications. In an interview Jeanette said she could count on one hand all of her games Richard had missed in her career.
  He was not in the stands for her biggest win, but he didn’t miss it.
  It was a great day. All the students in the district’s schools watched the win on TV, then many fans lined Main Street to cheer the victors when the buses rode through after the game.
  I am not ashamed to admit, the day wore me out, but, of course, I had a hard time falling asleep that night. State Championships will do that to you. It’s a nice feeling.


SAD WEEK
  We had another sad week.
  Mrs. Marie Edwards was a sweet lady, liked by all who knew her.
  She was known around here as the part-owner of Edwards Automotive, founded by her late husband, Walter.
  I’ve known Mrs. Meta Lou Pou for a long time, and like Mrs. Marie, she was loved by all who knew her.
  She and my mother went to Springfield Place in Newberry at about the same time. I was on the way to visit my mother on the second floor one day, when someone rapidly walked by me on the first floor. It was Mrs. Meta Lou. She was 95 at the time! There was no way I could keep up with her.
  I saw Faye Ingram every time I visited the Clerk of Court’s office for many years. She sat at the front desk and greeted the many who came through the office each day.
  I always enjoyed talking to her.
  I was at the Saluda football golf tournament last summer and heard someone call my name. I looked up and saw Mike Spence and his brother, Ron, who was my classmate at Saluda High.
  Mike had gone into the ministry and had risen to the Office of District Superintendent in the Congregational Holiness Church. I recalled upon seeing him he had a health battle in the past, but he looked fine that day.
  Through Facebook, all his friends found out his cancer had come back. He kept us up with his treatments, but most importantly he let us know how strong was his faith.
  I was shocked when I heard he had passed, because his last update was just a few weeks ago.
  We will miss Mrs. Marie, Mrs. Meta Lou, Faye and Mike.