Remembering Al, Fred and Clarence

Published 11:02 am Wednesday, October 5, 2022

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My great friend Al Creasy was my Treasurer when I was President of the Polk County Historical Association back in the 90s. We not only conserved the Association’s funds, we encouraged visits by school children. I remember stopping some 4th grade boys from demonstrating the use of a grinding wheel to sharpen a knife they had “borrowed” from a display!


Once when I had asked friend Tom Moore for a donation so we could purchase something, he said that he would “journal over” some of his Benjamin Moore Paint stock. When we wound up with some $200 left over, I asked Al to put that in a separate account so that I could spend it without consulting the Board. Al did so, but called it my “slush fund.”

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Al ran a successful insurance business before retiring to Tryon, so he was an excellent financial and other advisor to me as well as to the Association. I valued his wise counsel both then and more recently.


Fred Placak has now left us. He was one of Aunt Mildred’s friends that I sort of inherited. We exchanged emails for a time, but not recently.


Somehow I failed to mention Clarence McCraw’s passing in any earlier columns. I always took my lawn mower to Clarence for tune-ups and whenever it would not run because I had abused it. I sharpened the blade, but it went to Clarence for anything else. He would always receive it courteously, park it in the line-up, and call me when it was ready to be picked up. It always started on the first pull after Clarence had it! His workshop was always clean and orderly, unlike mine.


When Clarence closed up shop to care for Joyce, I sold the mower and hired James Metcalf to cut my grass. The grass was so sparse that James used a string trimmer skillfully to cut it. James was already caring for Shirley Lewis’s yard across Sourwood, so he just walked over to do mine. His trimmer never picked up loose rocks like my mower did.


Friend Reen Smith has informed us of Metcalf’s hit song ”The Devil’s Not Afraid of a Dust Covered Bible.” I have known James for many years, having heard him sing at the Green Creek Festival and tell of his Polk County roots among the Saluda natives. He also sings regularly in the annual “Singing for the Soldiers” on Veterans Day, among other appearances at the Columbus venue.


The troubadour also did stints as a radio DJ for local stations. He is also active in the Polk County Historical Association, among his many hats. But I think James is more at home playing his guitar and singing than guiding a string trimmer among the weeds and grass of people’s yards!

Maurine Smith was once my editor at the TDB; now I see her at PCHA meetings. She went legally blind and acquired a dog to help her get around. Reen has now miraculously recovered her sight, but unfortunately no longer has Dexter to help her enjoy life.


This morning’s tune was from the song Reuben and Rachel: “Reuben, Reuben, I’ve been thinking/What a grand world this would be/If the men were all transported/Far beyond the Northern Sea.” Must come from the ancient adage, “Women are from Venus, men are from Mars.” Was it ever thus? Apparently!


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