The People of Georgetown
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.
Sheldon Butts called me one day and invited me over to meet his friend, Mary Kay McConnell Covery. They had been friends since they were in the second grade. He thought she had an interesting story to tell.
I headed over one afternoon – she literally lives just blocks away from me – and met up with her and Sheldon. Indeed, she does have an interesting story to tell.
Mary Kay’s husband, Martin, or Marty as he’s known to his friends and family, is 49 years old and, sad to say, terminal. When most people hear that someone is terminal, they think of the elderly, having lived a full life… not someone as young as Marty.
Marty’s primary caregiver is his wife who talked with me about his condition. Although, I did not go in to meet him, I did sit and talk with Mary Kay about his health. Since Marty did not know who I was, I did not want to invade his privacy by imposing my presence in his area of care, so I stayed in the living room and visited with Sheldon and Mary Kay.
He has a slew of health issues that’s taken him to the hospital many times, including to MUSC. He’s had to undergo radiation therapy for a “brain bleed,” he’s had surgeries for a large intestinal bleed and ended up with a colostomy, a well as other serious health problems. He’s had so many different health problems that Marty has grown resistant to most antibiotics.
My heart goes out to them. I did ask how she was managing the bills as Mary Kay is unable to work while taking care of her husband. She’s assured me they have a GoFundMe account set up and have already received a few donations, however, the bills are eating the funds up faster than she can get them.
Their only child is Dalton McConnell and his wife, Alexis. I’ve just recently written about this newlywed couple as a Valentine’s special. We spoke of that, too. I expressed that I love writing about the many people of Georgetown in an attempt to show how we’re all “connected,” in some way and this was a perfect example.
Knowing how ill Marty has been and for how long it’s been going on, I asked if Mary Kay and Marty were able to attend Alexis and Dalthon’s wedding.
“Yes, we did go, and just barely,” Mary Kay answered. “Marty had undergone extensive physical therapy. He wanted to be able to walk into the wedding… and he did, but we had to come home soon after. It just tired him out, but we did go.”
“Is he still doing physical therapy, even at this stage of his care?” I asked. As I said, being a retired nurse, I fully understood how sick Marty truly is.
Mary Kay shook her head. “No, he says it just tires him out so much.”
“What about a prognosis? Did the doctor’s mention how long his life expectancy will be?”
“They’ve given him days… just days. He’s still alert and oriented, though, and Hospice will be here, of course, helping me manage his care.” Mary Kay added soulfully.
Just before wrapping things up and leaving, Mary Kay shocked me with more news. Not only is Marty very sick, so is she. She has diabetes and MS. She’s struggling. I have so much empathy, as well as sympathy for this couple.
Sheldon was right, they do have a very interesting story to tell. Thank you, Mary Kay for your time. It was a pleasure to meet you and I will definitely keep both of you in my thoughts and prayers.
I put out a notice in I’m So Georgetown and Georgetown: Shop Local, Eat Local, Drink Local. It said that I was looking for a couple of newlyweds for a Valentine’s article and found Alexis and Dalton McConnell. They’ve been married for about six to seven months now and this will be their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple.
I met with them at El Cerro Mexican Restaurant on Church Street. We were originally going to meet at The Ball N Que, but they were so packed, we opted for Mexican.
Alexis is nineteen and Dalton is twenty. I thought that interesting they being so young and already married. “How long did you two date before getting married?” I asked.
“Five years,” Alexis answered.
“When did you get married?” Alexis started to answer, but knowing the men in the marriage rarely can remember their own birthdays much less their wedding date, I smiled in my deceit and said, “Let Dalton answer.”
“Well, we started dating June 20th and then we got married on June 29th,” he answered. He didn’t miss a beat, either. “We were trying to set the date to as close to when we started dating as possible.”
Our order had come (and quickly, too, as it does at El Cerro) so while we were digging in, I asked of Dalton, “How did you propose? I mean, you dated for five years. How does one do that?”
I had shared with them that when I first got married, I wasn’t sure I could love my husband for five years much less date him for that long. Of course, that was so long ago and now, I can’t imagine not being with him.
“So how did he propose to you, Alexis?”
She was sort of shy about it so Dalton spoke up and answered. “We had just moved into our first house together and I went into the bedroom: I already had the ring so I knew I was going to do it. I turned off the light and called her in there. She came in and when she flipped on the lights, I was there with the ring in my hand.”
“I said yes,” Alexis added.
“Did you answer right away?”
“Yes, I knew I wanted to marry him,” she answered.
“So, who knew first?” I asked of them. “Who knew they wanted to get married.”
“I guess I did,” Dalton answered.
“We’ve known each other a long time… almost our whole lives,” Alexis explained. “We met each other when we were in elementary school: at McDonald Elementary.”
“Then you grew up and started dating?”
Alexis nodded. “Yes, we started dating when we were 13 and 14 years old. Not like real dating, on our own kind of thing. I was almost 16 when we went on our first real date, by ourselves.”
We talked a little about who their family is. You know Georgetown. Usually the first question asked is, “Who’s your Daddy?”
When Alexis told me Trey Pope was her daddy, I got suspicious. Then she told me her grandparents (GRANDPARENTS!) are Donna and Lonnie Pope. Holy mother of grandmas and grandpas! Donna and I took our GED’s together, we were pregnant at the same time; she with Tiffany, me with Amber, and Donna taught me that you can order pizza anyway you like it (Thanks Donna, I’m 150 lbs heavier now).
Getting back to the interview, I turned to Dalton. “Well, when did you know she was the one?”
“When we were in 5th grade,” he chuckled. “I think I knew then. I started talking to her and we got along fine.”
Talk about stamina – this guy is full of it. He stuck by his heart and waited all of those years for his soulmate. Now, he has her and she has him. These two are already ahead of the game, too.
Unlike so many of these young couples today, they know to keep their private business off social media and they keep friends at arm’s length. They love their friends, but they don’t let them into their business. They both shared with me that their families are very supportive of their relationship, they all get along, and they all keep their opinions to themselves. Families do matter in the success or failure of some relationships.
When asked what they thought made a marriage lasting, they replied:
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dalton and Alexis. You are a rare couple and that alone makes me feel you’ll have a long lasting relationship and will grow old together.
I had received some phone calls and text messages from concerned parents and students over the “Coach Coleman” situation at the high school. Apparently, the school is looking for (another) head coach which was expressed to me to be an unnecessary thing so, I called the principal, Craig Stone and set up a meeting.
What was supposed to be a 15-30 minute interview turned into over two hours. He’s very approachable and personable and you cannot help but be drawn to his warm character. We spent that time talking about the football coaches, how this was going to play out, and how it would affect the players who currently play under Coach Coleman. The rest of the time, we just visited. As I said: approachable and personable.
“Tell me about the coach position?” I started. “Why are you looking for a new coach if everyone is happy with the current one?”
“Well, let me explain how this came about…” Principal Stone began explaining the situation: “Principal Evans, who was here before me, needed a coach and it was agreed when Coleman took the position that it was temporary. The position would be open and of course, he could apply for the permanent position at the end of the season.
“It was an agreement made between he and Evans and I just honored it. Since I inherited the position and was not from Georgetown, I helped to form a committee made up of people in the community: coaches, business owners, and parents who can go through the applications and choose a coach for the upcoming year. Coach Coleman is just one of over 40 applicants and 13 left to interview before any kind of decision is made.”
“So, he agreed to go through this process when he accepted the position?”
Principal Stone nodded. “Yes, he did. He knew from the beginning and agreed that he would have to apply just like everyone else.”
“So in the end, you’ll decide which applicant to hire and it could very well be anyone?”
“No, not right away,” he answered. “It’s up to the committee to choose three people and then Dr. Dozier, the superintendent of the schools, will choose from that list.”
Glancing down at my notes, I asked, “What kind of things are you looking for here in a coach?”
He thought for a minute and then answered, “I think all of us on the committee are basically looking for the same thing. We want someone with consistency, longetivity… the players need someone who is going to be here for them. Do you know, they have had a different coach every year for the last five years? One coach stayed eleven days and then went back to his old school to coach. These players need continuity and I think that is something we all want for them: the committee, the parents, and the players all want someone who cares.”
“Okay, I get it,” I replied. “I understand what you’re saying, but players like Tarquez Myers, Jakai Frasier, Landon Hayes, and Jaden Kinard have all said you already have someone that can give you all those things, plus, they’ve all voiced they want Coach Coleman to continue to coach the team.”
“I know they do, but it’s not up to me right now. It has to go through the committee,” he answered. “I have been in athletics my whole life. I’ve taught most sports that are in high schools; football, baseball, basketball… I love sports, I’m a sportsman, and believe me when I say, my concern is what is best for the children. However, because of their (Evans and Coleman) agreement, the members of the committee, like me, are going to honor Principal Evan’s word about officially hiring a new coach.”
Quite coincidentally, I have been trying to get an audience with Dr. Dozier as he’s soon to retire. He’s been with the school system for many years and it will be sad to see him leave us.
I do hope they work out this situation and even more so, having talked to the parents and students, I hope Coach Coleman is a viable contender. I believe Jakai Frasier said it best to me, “We really want someone like Coach Coleman to stay. Some of us really need a male role model in our lives and we’ve found a positive one in him.”
In the end, I really want to thank Principal Craig Stone for taking so much time with me. I truly enjoyed our time together and hope to see you around town. Good luck with the coach situation.