Another Saluda treasure to be missed

Published 5:56 pm Thursday, August 29, 2013

We have lost yet another Saluda Treasure, one of our dwindling old-timers this past week. Horace Pace was a Saluda native who was a huge part of what makes Saluda special. Today, here the column is again, in Horace’s memory and to honor a man who had a kind heart, was an adventurer, gardener and outdoorsman. Horace could fix about any mower, even those without hope. Thank you, Horace.

Editor’s Note: This column originally ran in the June 3, 2011 edition of the Tryon Daily Bulletin.

…There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,

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And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pool singing at night,

And wild plum trees in tremulous white…. 

~ Sara Teasdale

It’s hard to believe that heated days of sweet June are here already… not that long ago I was whining about freezing winter.

The other day, my old (really, really old) push mower balked at mowing the back yard. It got slower and slower, heavier and heavier with each hill. How I sympathized as it lagged — I know the feeling, old mower, I muttered as we struggled along. Time to get a mower tune-up rather than pack the old friend off to the dump. So, I called up Horace Pace right here in town, told him I’d get it over somehow to his place, along with the old Mantis tiller and loppers, all needing a Horace fix. I could just feel Horace smiling through the phone. He loves a challenge – grumpy old mowers don’t faze him.

For those who don’t know, Horace is a Saluda treasure. Hailing from a large family, he can tell you the best fishing stories imaginable — and doesn’t have to make a thing up. The very next morning, he’s calling me to tell me every thing is ready: tuned up, sharpened. How much do I owe you, Horace? He cites a number so low, that I ask again, just to make sure I heard him right.

Of course, it’s Horace we’re talking about. He’s retired, he’s got no overhead, and he loves helping people out. People like me need a Horace in their lives. My billfold is perpetually thin, and the grass still needs mowing: thin billfold and grumpy mower or not — so he’s a blessing in this community. I promise to come by and add in a hug along with payment; which I do that evening.

We stand out by his shed, Horace in a neatly-pressed khaki shirt, right at home with well-used tools, rows of old mowers — many older than mine: each carefully covered with a round metal trash can lid just in case of rain.

Nearby, kids yell, playing at the Baptist church, lightning bugs flash in the evening breeze, and we chew the fat a bit between us, laughing and enjoying a bit of Saluda time. Too much time goes in between those mower tune-ups. Sometimes life gets busy, but the sweetest thing about Saluda time is slowing down a bit to share a minute with someone else.

One thing I know is Horace is a good man; a Saluda treasure. The mower agrees.