Some things are gone forever, but never the memories.
In my mind’s eye, it is just like it happened last Wednesday. Why Wednesday? Well, you never grew up in a small town like Lexington, SC.
Not today’s version of Lexington. I need a GPS to get around the town today, but in the days of my youth (in the 1950s), it was different.
Wednesday’s were special. All the Main Street merchants closed on Wednesday afternoon and most of the community would drop by the ballpark to watch the Mack’s Meatheads (Mack’s Cash & Carry grocery store) take on one of their rivals. Later, most would come by my grandfather’s house for a cookout. He would pass away later that summer. That was 1959 and I was only 10 years old.
There were teams like Harmon’s Pill Rollers (R. B. Harmon’s Drug Store), The Dispatch-News Makers (Lexington Dispatch-News, The Bruner Family), Berley’s Bruisers (Berley Kyzer’s beer joint)… to name a few of the Pee Wee teams that played there.
My uncles, Arthur and Eli Mack, Jr., ran Mack’s Cash & Carry, originally founded by their father, Eli Mack, Sr. (affectionately known as “Jew Mack.”) No, he was not Jewish. He was Lebanese by bloodline and Lutheran by faith. Still, everyone thought he was Jewish.
In the early years, I was one of the Meatheads along with the likes of Grover Ray Revels and Ralph “Pete” Steel. When I had advanced to Little League, Pony League and Colt League, I became the manager of the Meatheads. I coached lots of kids named Dooley, Gunter and Corley.
My favorite memories were the snacks provided by the mom’s like Connie Dooley and her mother, Mrs. Spoon. Grandma Cip Spoon was the biggest Meat Head’s fan of all. She could out-holler all 200 people who showed every Wednesday during the summer.
Every time I address an audience, I speak of my Lexington roots. I suspect 90 percent of my material is about the lessons I learned growing up there, not just from my parents, siblings, uncles, grandfather and other mentors but other members of the community.
I was fondly recalling that 1959 championship of Lexington. Folks would journey to the local baseball diamond (behind what was then the old Lexington High School on North Lake Drive) to watch us play. In those days, they took time to smell the roses. We were undefeated
We were undefeated and heading into the championship game that July afternoon. The Mack’s Meatheads were playing the Harmon’s Pill Rollers for the Pee Wee League Championship… the World Series of Lexington.
R.B. Harmon was our local pharmacist. His drug store was on Main Street Lexington right next to where the old Lexington Court House. Another rival, The Dispatch-Newsmakers, were next to his store.
Many of the town’s finest had shown up for the championship game. I was pitching and Grover Ray Revels was my battery mate behind the plate. I do not recall how much we won by, but to have 200 of our fellow Lexingtonians looking on was a huge thrill for a 10- year old kid.
We won the championship and my granddaddy, Elias S. Mack, Sr., hosted the barbecue behind his home next to our house on South Lake Drive (the current site of the Lexington Town Hall.) It would be the last time my Jiddy (Arabic for grandfather) would cook for us. He died later that summer.
I remember how proud he was of the Meatheads. Most of the 200 people who witnessed the game also came to Jew Mack’s home afterward to have some grilled burgers and hot dogs, including all the members of the Harmon’s Pill Rollers.
Such were some of the happy moments of growing up in the quaint little town of Lexington, S.C.
Michael Aun is the author of “The Great Communicators,” about his grandfather Elias S. Mack, Sr. (Royal Publishing).