The People of Georgetown
Every time I hear of (another) missing person in Georgetown, my thoughts go immediately to Crystal Gail Soles. Indeed, when Tina (Tisdale) Cooper recently went missing, Crystal came to the forefront of my mind again. As I was talking to Ginger Goude about Tina, Crystal’s face flashed.
I glanced at the date and realized, it’s been just over 16 years since Crystal Soles went missing. January 24, 2005 marks the anniversary of her disappearance. Whenever I try to sit down and write about her, I get choked up; even now.
Although, she was a drug user, that’s not how I met her. I was a nurse at the detention center when she came through. There are certain people in your life that will always stay with you, whether it be their maladies, illnesses, something they said, or how you felt, but they will always be there. Crystal is that person for me.
I didn’t know inmates when they were inebriated; 90% of them, I met when they were sober and a completely different person. As I said, I did not know her as a drug user. I knew Crystal Soles as a soft spoken woman, kind eyes, funny, smart… just a good person who got caught up in the wrong scenes and didn’t know how to break free.
I’m reminded of one of her visits to my office. She admitted to me that she was “strung out.”
“Why don’t you get some rehab or something when you’re released, Crystal?’ I offered. “I can look some places up for you and give you the information. I’m sure there are some that won’t charge, or if they do, they won’t charge you much.”
She chuckled, ever so lightly, and with a sadness in her eyes, that I can still see today, she said, “I hope I don’t get out. I’m safer in jail.”
I didn’t probe and ask questions. My offer was on the table for her if she changed her mind. However, I did tell my, then supervisor, about the conversation.
“I bet so!” my supervisor exclaimed. “She’s an informant for the police. I heard… at least, the word on the street is, someone put a contract on her.”
(the jailhouse rumor mill)
“I don’t know! I’m guessing it was whomever she turned in to the police.”
I came into work a couple of days later and Crystal had already been released. I watched the newspapers looking for something on her. It came on a Monday: Crystal’s family was looking for her. I was looking for her, too.
If there was ever time I was hoping that an inmate would return to jail, it was her, but alas, that didn’t happen.
She was such a beautiful, beautiful person. I would like to see her come home and bring her family some peace. Or the worst case scenario, her remains brought home to give her family some peace. Either way it goes, the memories that I have of Crystal Gail Soles will stay with until the day I die.
I ask anyone: if you know something, please contact Crime Stoppers. Let’s bring her home. Before you disregard the notion, think about this: What if it were you… or your family?
Crime Stoppers (SC): 864-467-5357
24 Hour Tip Line: 910-343-1131 or 910-232-1687
If people have read my stories about Georgetown, they know that I try to show the connections we have with one another. Having said that, I had the pleasure of meeting with Jonathan Angner. “Pronounced like anchor with the G making a hard K sound,” he said of his family name. We met at Rollin Locale (I think I saw Jamie Finely a time a two. For the most part, she’s usually there on half off sushi night).
I originally noticed Jonathan on Facebook. I didn’t know who he was except that he lives in Georgetown. I did notice a couple of his posts so I asked if we could get together after the holidays. I wanted him to be my next victim… I mean subject for my Meet Georgetown segment.
I enjoyed our conversation. He’s very intelligent and well versed in finances. I liked that about him. He shared with me that he took a lot of courses in college that taught financing, accounting, banking, and so on. He even owns his own company.
He has lived in Pawley’s Island with his wife of 21 years and their family. Later, they moved into Harmony, a subdivision off Pennyroyal Road and currently, he’s living in Kenny Mitchum’s old office.
“Really?’ I said. Already knowing the answer, I asked, “Is is haunted?”
“I’ve experienced movements and little things,” he answered and then added humorously, “My wife doesn’t want to talk about it, though.”
To show the Georgetown tree, we both know Phil Brady, the Fords (Jeepy), Kenny Mitchum, members of the board of city council, including the mayor. We spoke of Tim Chapman and while Jonathan knows him more personally than I, I am still looking for an interview with him.
“I’m a staunch believer in the 2nd Amendment and I’m an avid hunter,” Jonathan added while we chatted. “I like to travel outside of the country when I hunt, too, but thanks to Covid, it’s a little harder to do now.”
For those that may (or may not remember), Jonathan is one who sued the City of Georgetown for hiring an outside construction company to build City Hall (he’s the guy!).
I asked what happened to that and he answered, “We were in talks of a settlement when the whole Covid thing hit and brought everything to a halt.”
Something interesting I found about Jonathan was that he’s running for City Council. “Why?” I asked.
“Well, I see what’s going on there,” he answered bluntly. “I have financial knowledge and I want to help Georgetown. I have the proper education, experience, and the know-how since I’m also a business man.”
I absolutely agree that being knowledgeable about money and financing is what we need on the city council board. Although, I’m not putting the whole “political conversation,” here, I must say, I liked his ideas. They’re fresh and innovative. I think we need a breath of fresh air in our City Council. We need something.
We wrapped up our meeting so he could leave to attend date-night with his bride. Before leaving, though, I did say to him, “Pertaining to your house: while it is haunted, I believe the upstairs is more-so than the downstairs.
“Kenny allowed me to tour the house years ago and I remember refusing to go upstairs because I had the feeling it was more evident upstairs. You probably don’t realize it because when you’re up there, you’re usually asleep and therefore, unaware of what’s going on.”
Meanwhile, good luck with everything, Jonathan; City Council included. I look forward to see you around town and on Facebook.
Georgetown, I want to tell you that I had the esteem pleasure of meeting a renown photographer, Simon Hare. He was right here in our little town! I stopped in at The Cottage, on Front Street and talked with the owner, Susan Brannen during this time.
"He must be the photographer; the one holding the camera,” I said motioning in Simon’s direction. I’m observant like that.
The Cottage is next to Alfresco’s, in Jimmy and Chip Daniel’s old furniture store. I wandered in and the place was jumping. Not just with customers but with people excited to meet Mr. Hare and have their picture taken.
“He’s offered a free photo shoot today," Susan explained, “And we’re happy to have him here.
But why such a generous gift? As it turns out, Susan and Simon have an unusual story about how they met. Simon’s own nine-year-old son sells his seashells, driftwood, and wind-chimes in her store. This little salesman is the one who forged this friendship between shopowner and father. As a return courtesy on behalf of his son, the famous photographer has agreed to a free photo shoot.
Originally, Simon is from South Africa. He’s since moved to the United States and has lived in San Francisco, Miami, and Chicago before finally settling in McCleanville. He’s photographed many famous people along the way, including, but not excluding, our very own President, Donald Trump (while he was just a celebrity and not as the president).
I did speak to Simon for a few minutes and was honored that he allowed me to take his picture; even approving of my amateurish shot of him in the store.
“Are you a naturalized citizen?” I asked of him.
“Yes, I’ve been American longer than I’ve… not been,” he said with a chuckle.
Jokingly, I commented, “That makes you a true African-American.”
With another laugh, he agreed, he’s truly an African-American. He talked with me about his son’s endeavors and how he stays on top of it. “I wanted him to learn something useful,” he said of nine-year-old Tristian.
“How long have you been doing photography?”
“I’ve been doing it about 20 years,” he answered. “I finally decided to settle down and get out of the hectic lifestyle of fashion shows and ads. I like McCleanville. It’s a nice friendly little town.”
For what its worth, I’m glad to have him as our neighbor and look forward to seeing some of his work in local spots. Welcome to Georgetown, Simon, and on behalf of the town, we look forward to meeting up with you again sometime in the near future.
I have wanted to catch up to Paige Sawyer for years. It’s been for so long, I cannot even remember when I first decided I wanted to interview him. As many know from reading my, “Meet Georgetown,” blog, I love to write about the people and places to show how we, as a community, are connected to one another. Paige only solidifies the cause of my mission.
Paige has lived here in Georgetown his whole life so it was a nice walk down memory lane when we started talking about “way back when.” He certainly remembers my father-in-law, Clyde Cox, and the infamous Maryville Shell Station (later, after Hurricane Hugo, Clyde opened Cox’s Quick Lube across the street from Liberty Steel Mill on Fraser Street).
We talked a little about my husband’s grandfather, who passed away before Reese and I ever met, Joe Reese McDaniel, AKA “Mac.” He used to own the pool hall on Front Street between where a bank used to be and where Coffee Break is now.
“I did not know Mac was your grandfather,” Paige said as he turned to my husband. With a chuckle, he added, “I remember him and the pool hall quite well. Kids were often told by their mama’s not to look inside the place whenever they walked by.”
We spoke of City Council, which at one time, Paige was a councilman. Many in Georgetown have said they would like to see him run for Mayor the next mayoral election, even threatening to write him in if his name is not on the ballot already.
At 72 years of age, Paige stated, “I’m not interested. After I lost my seat on city council, I decided not to stay in politics. You need four votes to sway the council and I was just one man.”
On the other hand, I believe everyone in town knows Paige and his wife Susan as our local photographers. They began in 1974 with a place on Front Street and a few years later, the Sawyer’s moved their business into their home on Highmarket Street. For the purposes of our interview, it took place in their photography studio at the back of their home.
Paige shared that after he left the Army in 1971, he decided to pick up a camera and his interest in photography grew. He even had a job taking pictures for Georgetown Times, at one point and it’s been his calling every since.
“Has the current state of things (the Coronavirus) decreased the amount of business you’ve been doing?” I asked.
With a slight nod, he answered, “Yes, it has affected it, but I think that digital photography has done more to decline the need for professional photography.”
“Oh, you mean because everyone takes pictures now and posts them on Facebook.”
“Yes. The quality of the photographs have declined… instead of professional photographs, you have a lot of people who are taking pictures with poor quality to post on social media,” Paige answered.
We spoke of Kristie Cannon, another photographer here in Georgetown. I expressed to Paige that we did ask around for a professional when my daughter got married, but was told he did not do weddings, so fortunately, we found Kristie.
“Kristie is really good,” he concurred, “She’s a very nice young lady, too, but Susan and I had to stop doing weddings when our sons were young.”
I didn’t have to ask; I think my quizzical expression gave me away.
“It seems everyone gets married on a Saturday,” he explained. “So during the week, the boys were in school and on the weekend, we had to drop them off at our parent’s house so we could work the weddings.
“When you shoot a wedding, you have to be there several hours before to set up, then during the wedding, and the reception afterwards. It’s time consuming and it seemed, we never had time with our children while working every weekend, so we decided not to do them anymore.”
Now-a-days, Paige works as a Naturalist for Low country Tours. The tour boat is a 49 seat passenger boat that takes people on a 4 hour cruise around on the Low Country rivers and talks about the history of our town. It was, at one time, Captain Ron’s Tours and although, Captain Ron has retired, his tours go on and Paige is the tour guide.
“I love Georgetown history,” he said of his hometown. “There is so much of it here: the rice plantations, the ecology, with so much more – all of it. It’s such a beautiful history, too: the good and the bad.”
I agree with that. Georgetown has a beautiful history and that it why it has become my passion to write about the many people and places here. Thank you, Paige Sawyer for your time and words given to me for my article.
.Lardy its early Saturday morning in Georgetown in 1979. Waking up to a beautiful morning, I get dressed and head out to the smell of bread and butter from the paper mill. I get in my Dodge Duster and head to town.
First up breakfast at the Lafayette. Sitting at the big table eating a western omelet and grits n toast talking to Mr. Paul McCants and others pouring down a great cup of coffee.
Then I go to Front street to Richards Barber Shop as I’m getting a little shaggy. Sitting in the waiting chair reading the latest Field and Stream, it's my turn. Sitting in the chair, Richard ask me how I want it. I laugh because he has cut my hair FOREVER. As he cuts I am memorized at the painting of Custard's last stand above the mirrors and the fact it is 3 paintings wide and trying to figure out how I would survive. Richards all done and he takes his wisk and uses Gentlemen's Club Talcum Powder on the back of my neck and I'm back out on the street feeding the meter.
Now time to visit the local stores. I visit Parker Electronic Store next door and look at all the current electronics on display. I go to Irvings and thumb through the latest 45's and pick up a few and an 8 track cassette for my car. I stroll across the street and see Bubba Ferdon at the Western Auto. We chat about a game that was on Channel 5 last week.
I stop into Cottinghams and chat with Mr Wallace and his wife and ask how Kevin is doing at college and by a pair of Dockers as I have worn my pair of boat shoes out from going to Myrtle.
I stop and feed the meter as I see Mr. Mundy strolling the street writing parking tickets. Time to buy some clothes. I hit up Belk's and see Tommy Pope in the store and of course he hits you up with his local wit and charm. You head upstairs to see what's on sale. Grab some socks and a polo shirt for tonight.
Next stop Roses. You walk in and your hit with smell of popcorn just popped and warm cashews. I grab a bag of each and stroll stopping at the lunch counter for a fountain Coke shooting the breeze with the mayor of Front Street, Robbie Assey. I just cant help but stroll down the stocked toy isle being jealous of all the cool new toys I didn't have when I was younger. But I pick up some April Showers powder for my Grandmother and I'm off.
I go into Tomlinson's and get some khaki pants for work cross the street and go to both Fogel's and Ray's and browse. It's lunch time so after crossing the street to feed the meter I head back across the street and go into Walsh's. I say hello to Mr Red and Miss Helen and order up a walshburger basket add heavy onion n cheese and cherry coke.
I get into the car listen to WAZX where Tom Walters is broadcasting live from the new McDonald's on Frazier street drop off my goods and take a nap for my trip to the beach later that night.
Boy that sounds great. Ahhh the memories. God's true gift to us all.