Remember When: Remembering Butch and Elaine

Published 4:22 pm Thursday, September 21, 2017

Getting that email from McFarland’s was another shocker… did not realize that Butch’s time was running out. He was always the picture of good health and a straight arrow American.

I identified with Clyde Thomas “Butch” Kennedy right away because he was a state trooper like my Dad. Also like my Dad, he rode a Harley! He was my neighbor when we lived in Holly Hill, so I knew he had that great ’50 Ford, often parked outside where I could see it when I took my morning walks.

When he retired and became police chief in Columbus, I always made a point to greet him as he directed traffic at the Fabulous Fourth and the Christmas parades. He wore his uniform with pride and it showed. He worked quietly to keep us safe in his town.

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One of the ways he left his mark on our town is the 25 mph speed limit he persuaded council to impose on the main drag and also on Peake Street. I am OK with it on Mills Street because it helps us get out of the businesses into traffic. But I get to remember Butch every time I come to town from The Woods. I have to set my cruise control on 26 mph (it doesn’t work at 25 mph!) so I don’t “speed.” I also remember trying to hasten to the Stearns gym, where we Lions kept our medical equipment, to meet Clark Benson there.

I have to gear my tired old stick-shift Saturn way down to go only 20 mph in Tryon and Saluda; it also helps to go down one gear to make it easier for the car to go only 25 mph on Peake Street. So I always “thanked” Butch for thus keeping us “safe.” He just smiled and made no comment. The things our law enforcement people and elected representatives have to put up with from their fellow citizens!

Another notice from McFarland: Elaine Prather has passed away, one of the few remaining from my growing up years in Tryon. We enjoyed our shared reminiscences of earlier times here. I think Prather Chevrolet was in an older building on the corner, removed when Stott’s Ford expanded to cover the entire block. Stott’s refurbished building looks really nice, doesn’t it?   

Did anybody consider where all those ungainly, flat-bottomed fishing boats rescuing people and their pets in the flood waters of Texas and Florida came from, or how they got there? I think they were trailered there by their owners from all over the South, guys who eat the fish they catch and the deer they kill. I bet they were neither asked, nor paid, to be there. This is what our Southern good ol’ boys do. They also have jumper cables and tire tools in their pickups to help get you rolling again. Just a smiling “No charge,” as they get back into their trucks after watching you drive away.

The Discover Columbus Committee is planning a festival on Saturday, Oct. 7, 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., to be observed on the courthouse lawn. It will feature arts, crafts, and music, plus food items for sale. The Polk County Historical Association will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Stearns School with speeches from its steps at 10 a.m. and exhibits inside the building all week. The Columbus Lions will offer free vision screenings with their Welch-Allyn SPOT camera inside the courthouse. 

I forgot to mention last time that my books, including the new second edition of “A Boy in the Amen Corner,” are available on Amazon as well as from the Book Shelf in Tryon.