Remembering Willard Pace

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, June 9, 2016

I have just received word that my good friend Willard Pace has left our world to embark on his new adventures in the next. It will surely be a continuation of a life lived to the fullest here.

I traded two of my books for his two and reviewed them for the Bulletin. I compared his “Return to Bailey Town” to my own early experiences as a country boy raised on a farm. His descriptions in the story drew a close parallel to my own, so I felt the book was an authentic tale well told.

His second book was about the legendary “Witch Ann,” a character in local folklore. When I asked him how he put that together, about his research for it, he laughed and said he wrote it all “off the top of my head.” Willard had an imagination a lot bigger than mine!

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When I was president of the Polk County Historical Association, Willard brought a beautiful Celtic harp he had made and presented it to us. I was showing it to visitors recently and we all admired its beauty and his good workmanship. I would like to find a harpist to play it and make a recording to share with our visitors.

Both of Willard’s books are available at the PCHA Museum in Columbus. They are also in a special bookcase in our house, devoted almost entirely to books by authors that were/are good friends of ours.

Most of the paintings that hang on our walls are originals by artists that also were/are friends. I still wonder what will happen to them when we are gone . . . will anyone cherish them as we do? Should we sell them at garage sale prices now that we need to downsize to make our last move before the nursing home?

Since Hub Arledge and I have not yet managed to get together about his block of Trade Street, I will skip over to the one beyond the traffic light. Rector’s Cleaners was on the corner where the delightful little garden is now, maintained by the Green Blades Garden Club. Jennie Sue Rector held forth from her counter just inside the door, expressing her opinions freely while checking your clothes in and out. The dry cleaners part of the business was in that building, but the laundry was farther up US 176 behind Curt Eargle’s Ice Plant.

The Tryon Town Hall and Police department are now in the much-modernized building that was Hotel Tryon when I was a boy. Aunt Mildred’s friend Mary Danis and her sister Ruth ran that for a number of years before its demise. Most of my family had portraits made there by the visiting Manzer studios in the early 40s. I used mine to illustrate the dust jacket I designed for my book, “A Boy in the Amen Corner.”

The Tryon Bank castle was built on the sunken lot vacated by McFarland Funeral Home when they built their new facility out by Wilderness Road. The Tryon Presbyterian Church was in the building perched rather precariously on the hill across the street before they moved into the rock boat built for them on Harmon Field Road. Avant Electric had offices on the corner where their successor, Duke Power, built the modern building now home to the Forbes Pre-school.

The ski-jump contour of School Street was a challenge for us bicycle riders going to school in the morning. I succeeded in pumping straight up that hill only once on my Western Flyer one-speed bike. But it was a great ride down the hill in the afternoon!