- Category: News Links
- Published on Wednesday, 20 July 2016 14:14
- Written by Ralph Shealy
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We all have people that aren’t “immediate” family, who play a major roll in our lives.
One of those people in my life was Donald Winn.
Oh, he was, indeed, family. By genealogy standards, he was my second cousin, or first cousin, once removed (I never understood that.)
He grew up in the Herlong sisters’ “compound.” You could literally throw a rock and hit the homes of Eugenia Shealy, Mary Ellen Winn and Carrie Calk on the Batesburg Highway in the Emory Community.
The Shealy children - Alton, Julius, Doris, Mildred, Ed, James (Shake) and Anne; the Winn children, Clinton, Louise and Donald; and the Calk children - Homer Jr., Willie and Mary, were all more like brothers and sisters than first cousins.
They spent practically every day together.
Donald was the youngest in the lot.
There are several Emory School student pictures with the little white haired Donald front and center. The only problem was Donald was not old enough to go to school, but he walked with the crowd of cousins and got in the shot.
When my mother moved to Saluda in 1946 at the age of 15, she and Donald became good friends.
One day he told her, he wanted her to meet his cousin.
“How old is he,” my mother asked.
“Oh, you’ll see. He looks 18.”
He may have looked 18, but my Daddy, a World War II veteran, was 20 at the time!
Well, we know how that turned out.
In 1966, the Braves moved to Atlanta.
Donald, a sports fan to beat all sports fans, had already seen the Braves a couple of times, when he and Daddy got up a weekend trip to see a three-game series between the Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. Well, almost.
“Almost” is the difference between men and women. If a women plans a weekend trip to a see baseball game or any attraction, she will get tickets AND a place to stay.
Donald and Daddy got tickets to the games. They didn’t take into consideration the Braves would draw 52,000 fans to each of the three games and hotel rooms would be hard to come by.
Seven of us loaded into Donald’s beautiful Chrysler New Yorker. It was dark green with white leather seats, and is still one of my favorite cars ever.
In our entourage were Donald and Daddy, my cousin Thomas and me, both 15; my brother Jamie, 12; and Donald’s two sons, Russell, around nine, and Kenneth, about five, and all boy.
Saturday was a day-night double header. Our plans were to go to the first game, which ended around three, find a hotel room, then return to the second game, which began at 7:30. The planners figured we would find a room quickly, rest a little, then return to the second game.
Did I mention there were 52,000 people in town for the games?
“No vacancy” signs greeted us at every motel. We rode for several hours until we found the last hotel room in Atlanta, which is what the clerk told Daddy and Donald.
The first thing we noticed was the swimming pool covered with scum, and it stunk to high heaven.
The room didn’t smell so great either, but it was the last room in Atlanta.
We had just enough time to get into the room and watch Kenneth do a flip on the bed and burst his lip open, before we had to return to the second game.
Our seats were near the top of the stadium for all three games, but to a kid from Saluda, who had never seen a major league baseball game, it was joy even if the players looked like ants.
I took my Swinger Poloroid camera I got for my birthday and took plenty of pictures. I’m sure I’ll find them someday, but 50-year-old Polaroids don’t hold up too well.
That weekend we saw Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews and Joe Torre bat for the Braves, and Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale pitch for the Dodgers. Maury Wills, who set the Major League record for steals at the time, also played for the Dodgers. How many chances do you get to see that many future Hall of Famers play in one weekend series?
We were worn out after the second game of the doubleheader, and were happy to return to the motel for a night’s rest. Somehow, seven of us slept well in two beds.
Sunday morning, we checked out of “Cruddy Joe’s,” the name we gave the scum palace, and for the next 50 years each time any of us saw another, we called each other “Cruddy Joe.” Seriously, The only name I called Donald for the next half century was “Cruddy Joe.”
Despite the motel, I wouldn’t trade that trip for anything. It was one of the greatest weekends of my life.
Donald and his wife Winnie were well known Saluda restaurant owners.
The food was great, but the fellowship was better.
In a world when businesses did not like teenagers hanging around, Donald and Winnie encouraged it.
Saluda teenagers had a place to go, and there was no time limit on how long you could stay.
Teenagers were so blessed back then. We had “Teen Town” AND Winn’s Restaurant.
Donald and Winnie were among the adults who played a role in making growing up here so special.
After they got out of the restaurant business, Winnie worked in the clothing store Kenneth opened, where Simon Wolf’s used to be. Then she became the lunchroom supervisor at Saluda High, where her good cooking and love of teenagers came together again (or visa versa, I forget the order).
So many were saddened when Winnie lost her battle with cancer several years ago.
Donald carried on, and spent many hours supporting Saluda High sports.
Some people are football fans, some are basketball, some are baseball. Donald was all of the above.
If the Tigers were playing, Donald was there - home or away.
He was “related” to all of Saluda’s greatest moments. His first cousins Ed Shealy and Bettis Herlong were members of the 1941 state championship football team. Bettis was the coach of two SHS teams that played for and lost the state championship in the 50s. Russell Shealy and Larry Thompson, the sons of two of his first cousins, Julius Shealy and Anne Thompson, were members of the 1962 and 1963 state champs. His son Russell was a member of the 1973 11-1 Tiger team that played for the Upper State Championship, and his son Kenneth was a member of the 1977 and 1978 SHS state basketball championship teams. Finally, his great nephew Forrest Winn was the quarterback of this years’ Tiger team that played for the Upper State Championship.
Sadly, Donald fell while this past season was going on and didn’t get to make it to final games.
Like me, he saved all his memories.
Because it was paper printing day, I didn’t get to make it to Donald’s funeral at Emory Tuesday morning.
I went by Russell and Terry’s house Monday after work, and Russell told me the vestibule of the church was filled with some of Donald’s memorabilia.
I rode by the church on my way home and took a look.
All I could do was smile.
There in the church where he grew up was a microcosm of Donald Winn’s life, a life lived to it fullest, a life that showed pride in his wife Winnie, his daughter Donna, his sons Russell and Kenneth, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and his love for Saluda High sports.
In the last two weeks, two of the greatest fans of Saluda High School sports, Pat Rodgers and Donald Winn have died. (Oh, yes, they were related.)
The Tigers, their fans, and this community will truly miss them.
Thanks, for the memories.....
I love the British Open, or as it should be called “The Open.”
The ancient links courses, and the weather make the tournament fun to watch.
When pros have to hit sidesways or backwards out of a pot bunker, instead of toward the flag, it makes every duffer in the world smile.
Columbia’s Dustin Johnson was making a run until he hit into the gorse ... twice on the same hole. He triple bogeyed and his chances were done.
No one from South Carolina knows what gorse is, and we don’t want to know.
The worst thing about the Open is it comes on live at 4 a.m. In the old days, it was tape delayed and shown at a normal hour.
For four straight days, I awakened during the night, flipped over to the Open, and did not go back to sleep. It also ran through nap time on Saturday and Sunday.
I was worn out Monday from all that “work” I did watching golf on the weekend.
It was nice to hear to the story about Open champion Henrick Stenson and his wife.
Both are from Sweden, but they first me in Columbia, while his wife was on the Carolina lady’s golf team. Stenson came to Columbia to work out with the Carolina men’s golf team, coached by his old friend Puggy Blackmon.