Remembering Mary Ellen and South Trade beyond the tracks

Published 10:00 pm Friday, March 11, 2016

McFarland’s just reported another good friend’s passing from this life to the next. I met Mary Ellen Krydynski soon after Vince took over G&K for the retiring Howard Greene. She was definitely a “people person,” and when I later learned that she was a “nurse practitioner” I thought, “Now there’s a good fit.”

That designation was relatively new then, as the “physician assistant” position is now. I probably would have gone to Mary Ellen’s office, but my doctor then was a former engineer that I had worked with before he went to med school after forty. Dr. Duncan had done his residency in Spartanburg and liked the area, so he stayed.

Now I can continue down Trade Street across the tracks toward the South Carolina line. What is now Sidestreet Pizza was built around 1940 as the Farmer’s Federation. Papa Rippy was a “gentleman farmer” and a member of the Federation. This entitled him to rent a locker in the freezer room, which he filled with meat when Uncle Pete killed and dressed out the hog.

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Virginia Donald was a classmate at Tryon High, and her father built a Dodge dealership in the big building that now houses the Packard Woodworkers. The Donalds also had a tack shop there too, I think.

Across the street was Bob Constance’s “Gas for Less,” at which George “Booger” Ford served the customers. I always gassed up my gas-guzzler Buick there when I visited Tryon during the years I lived elsewhere.

Our Tryon High Class of 1947 had our fortieth year reunion at Sunnydale, which was Tryon’s rustic eatery and “night club” run for years by the gravel-voiced Earnest Kerhulas. His son, Theo, took over his Tea House on Lake Lanier, and Norm Brannon took over Sunnydale for a while and called it the Vineyard. The building was more recently refurbished by Bob Lane and given to the Tryon Little Theater.

The Little Theater Workshop is now in the building that housed the NAPA Auto parts store for a long time. The Tryon Fine Arts Center was built primarily for the Little Theater and David Cromer’s Concert Association performances, but is now so busy that they are reluctant to have the Little Theater group tie up their stage regularly for three weeks at a time . . .

The former Lake Lanier Drive-In theatre is now a parking lot for a strip mall. And just across the state line, Mack Henson has restored the “Silver Springs Filling Station” at the foot of McClure Hill. I think it is interesting that we have two former service stations in pristine condition within a mile of each other.

Between them is the lumber mill formerly run by Tryon Builder’s Supply under C. D. Stevens’ leadership. Mr. Stevens was also mayor of Tryon and had to take Monday mornings off to hold court as magistrate.

I worked there the summer I was 16 and continued after I graduated from Tryon High. I drove the “White Elephant,” a well-worn panel truck converted from its earlier life with Butler’s Dairy to a flatbed pickup by Hugh Jack. Eva Smith, the bookkeeper in the front office, so named the truck, I suppose because it had long since lost its radiator grille and front bumper, so the fenders flapped like Dumbo’s ears.

The main office was in the little building down Maple Street, diagonally across from Brock’s Cleaners. Eva could and did out-cuss the lumberjacks who came in to settle up for their loads of tree trunks. They warmed themselves by the big pot-bellied stove, and when their aroma reached her, she would come out and chase them away, using her colorful language to good effect.

You can read more about all of this in my book, A Boy in the Amen Corner, available at the Book Shelf and at the Village Book Shoppe. I have also placed copies of my books in the local libraries.