Remembering Moby and DeBerry

Published 3:20 pm Friday, September 10, 2010

I had the good fortune to go to Tryon School with these two Dick brothers. William DeBerry Dick (Billy) was in my class and dominated the list of superlatives in our yearbook when we graduated. Both played football, but Robert (called Moby at school) Dick was on some of the teams that put Tryon on the map around 1940 . . . a bunch of mostly man-sized boys that won nearly every game they played.

Their mother was our Class Mother in 6th or 7th grade, or both. She was unhappy that we all called Billy DEE-berry, but she still smiled a lot and brought goodies to school for us. Do they still do that?

Moby came back from service in WWII and appeared at school often. I remember he had a Speed Graphic camera and took good pictures of our Halloween party at the gym and other school functions. He had me hold up an extension flash bulb for a group picture, and I noticed a lot of people were looking at my flash. Bet they were sorry after it flashed!

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One day some seniors met me in the hall and as they gathered around, Moby put his hand on my shoulder and told this freshman earnestly that they valued me as much as LIFE itself- or any other dime magazine, for that matter. Guess nothing has changed, except the price of magazines.

Moby went on to finish in engineering at NC State and went to work for Duke Power. In those days they had offices in nearly every town, Tryon included. Al Bowen was our local manager then, and everyone regarded Duke Power as a good neighbor. (The Forbes school building at the foot of School Street was designed by our own Holland Brady and built originally as Dukes Tryon office.) It was natural for me to buy Duke Power stock much later in life when I could afford it.

Imagine my surprise to see one Robert L. Dick, Jr., listed in my annual stock reports as VP Construction! I learned that he had a long record of bringing in new power generating plants on schedule and often under budget. And for all his engineering and management prowess, he enjoyed landscaping his yard, raising beautiful camellias.

DeBerry (then called Bill) went on to manage a large plant that specialized in printing large sheets in full color. One of their repeat jobs was Playmate centerfolds for Playboy magazine. He told me, when asked, that he did not have a collection of them at his house. I told him that one of the NASA Wind Tunnels at Moffet Field near San Francisco had a big workroom wall papered with dozens of them.

Bill attended our only Class reunion, the 40th, in 1987. We ate at Sunnydale (next to the new Dollar General) and picnicked at Pearsons Falls. He made nametags with photos of us from our 1947 yearbook, the first one published by Tryon High School, so we could recognize each other. I believe he printed and bound our souvenir booklet as well. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly after, so I never got to see him again.

Some of those man-sized Tryon Tigers, in addition to Moby Dick, were Harold Taylor, Seth Vining Jr., Lock McGeachy, Bill Derby, Marion Greasy Edwards, Ed & Dutton Beatson, Frank Wall, Homer Shields, Bill Swann, William Doodle Martin, Robert Andrews, and Jack Melton. Mark Caldwell coached them to victories against bigger WNC schools. Mr. Caldwell also coached boys basketball, and Ive heard tell that if they were short a player he would suit up and play on the team rather than forfeit.

Harold Taylor, who added some names to the list above, reminded me that their mothers had to mend and wash their uniforms, which had to last all season, probably longer. There was little money for sports, and no lights or bleachers at Harmon Field in those days. Curt Eargle, who owned the Ice Plant, contributed a lot of time, interest, and probably money as well, to make football possible at Tryon High. I think that he and other sports enthusiasts sold the town voters on approving an ABC store (in DRY Polk County!) to finance recreation at Harmon Field.