Welcomed to Tryon by the Mayor Himself 

Published 7:01 pm Thursday, February 21, 2019

Remember When column 

Nothing like being welcomed to Tryon by the Mayor himself! Alan Peoples is a “friend of long standing” (I don’t say “old” friend anymore) whom I have known since before he was a County Commissioner. 

When I pulled up behind a car on the hill by The Nest and stopped to wait for the light to change, the door of the car opened. Fran commented that the driver was probably coming back to tell me to go around because his car was disabled. 

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Then we recognized Alan, as he broke into a big grin, spread his arms wide, and hollered “Welcome to Tryon!” We both laughed as he rushed back to his car and went on through the light. 

I had commented to Alan in an e-mail that I had moved to Tryon at long last, and that I could vote for him now.  

Yes, I have lived in “Our Area” off and on, but on Rippy Hill overlooking Lynn. I started and finished at Tryon School, but used my grandfather’s address of Box 22 Tryon for all those years. 

When I retired some 40 years later, I built my dream house on a lot we had bought in Columbus. Its appeal was a fine view of Tryon Peak, a requirement for a returning son of the mountains. 

My last job here before leaving for the Air Force was driving the “White Elephant” truck for Tryon Builders. Owner C. D. Stevens was also Mayor of Tryon, and I visited with him often when I came home over the years. Being friends with the Mayor is therefore nothing new for me!            

Mayor Stevens helped me get into the Air Force. I had applied under a program that let me pick my tech school before enlisting. I had to send three letters of recommendation along with my high school transcript; I asked Mr. Stevens to write one of them. 

I asked Seth Vining, Sr., editor of our daily newspaper, and L. K. Singley, Superintendent of Tryon Schools, to write the other two letters. Lula Burrell, the school secretary (who still lives here at White Oak) provided the transcript.  

When I went through the “fun house” at Greenville AFB (then), I finally came before the Flight Surgeon at the end of the really complete physical exam. He read all of the letters and looked over the transcript. 

Then he looked up and commented, “You really want to get into the Air Force, don’t you?”  

“I am counting on it, Sir!” 

Then he scratched out whatever my poor uncorrected vision was, changed it somehow, initialed his change, signed his name, and deposited the sheaf of papers in his outbox. “Enjoy your service in the Air Force, Son!”  

And so this near-sighted, but otherwise fine, 18-year-old physical specimen was soon sworn in and began the long transition from civilian to airman. 

The whole military/naval enterprise is based on uniformity, both physical and mental.  With everything standardized, they cannot accommodate people who are outside their envelope—too tall, too short—or in any way impaired. But since I would not be part of an aircrew, only “flying” a desk, the Flight Surgeon exercised his authority to grant a waiver of one of the physical standards for me on the spot. 

There is no “right” to serve, because the mission of our armed forces is to fight and win wars. I like to think that my corrected visual “impairment” did not hinder my support of pilot training during the Korean War. My illustrations for their pilot training manuals were much appreciated by the authors; one of them rewarded me with a ride in a two-seat jet fighter plane!