Real Life, Real News

By Ron Barnett

Legal Disclaimer
The following stories are all copyrighted by The Greenville News, a Gannett Co., publication. I’ve already been paid for writing them, and can't sell them again. Not that anybody would think of it, but I am hereby warning you that they are not to be sold, but as far as I'm concerned you could make copies if you wanted. Or just let me know and I could probably make more copies.

“You can observe a lot by just watching.” -- Yogi Berra

A note from the author
When I first had the idea to give a Christmas gift this year that would be something that I made myself, I thought of maybe doing some kind of craft item that you would all like. Then I remembered that I’m not an artist, or a craftsman. Then I thought, well, I could write a song – like I did for Christmas 1976. Then I remembered that I'm too chicken to perform such songs in a solo concert for such a big family as ours has become. Then I thought, well, I could write a story for each of you. That seemed like a pretty good idea. But then I remembered that I'm pretty lazy. Then I hit on the idea you have in your hands: Why not take a bunch of stuff that I've already written and put it together into a little book? Then all I’d have to do is a lot of copying and pasting, and write a little introduction for each story, toss in a preface of some sort and there it would be! So that’s what I did. It turned out to be a lot more laborious than I expected – but it was a labor of love. In the process, I remembered that I've actually written what I think are some pretty good stories through the years. I have spared you all the stories about tax increases and sewer line construction and included only one or two spot news stories. Most of the stories that I'm most proud of are those that are about real people and what they feel and think and the interesting things they do. Probably three-fourths of these are from the past year and a half, but I dug up a few oldies that stood out in my mind. Some of my best stories aren’t in our electronic archive for one reason or other, so they aren’t here. Those would include the story about Forest Green, the environmentalist who climbed up in a tree in the path of the bulldozers plowing the way for a logging road through the Sumter National Forest in Oconee County. Me and Mike Gallagher, who is now a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, interviewed him by shouting up into a tall white pine tree after walking three or four miles through the woods. Also missing is one about the day I spent with the nuns at the Monastery of St. Clare in Greenville, the sisters of sweet contemplation. And there’s nothing here about Doyle Cannon, the escaped convict who was memorialized in song and legend during his 77 days on the lam in the woods of Oconee. I covered some pretty good murder trials during those days also that were pre-electronic archive. But most of my favorite ones are here. I tried to group them together by theme somewhat – religion stories, World War II veteran stories, etc. but you can read them in whatever order you want. Some Christmas stories are at the very end. I stole the name of this book from Gannett. I’ll tell you about the irony of it later. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them and putting them together for you. Thanks for reading. -- Ronnie

Christmas 2004

A clock story

This story started out to be a simple piece about an old woman donating a big clock to a museum. But by the time I was through writing it, I realized it was about much more. This is one of only two stories that I've ever written that nearly brought tears to my eyes. (The other was a column I wrote for The Messenger about the experience of sharing the sight of Halley’s Comet with Josh in the predawn hours of Palm Sunday, 1986, when he was eight years old.) This clock story, really, is about the love an old woman has for her husband who now doesn’t have the mental capacity anymore to understand. The clock somehow came to symbolize the memories of the years they shared together and the strange intricacies of a brilliant mind gone awry late in life.

A TIMELY HISTORY

By Ron Barnett Oconee Bureau Time has stood still, at 3 o’clock sharp, for the past seven years in front of the old Bell’s Studio building on Fairplay Street. That’s how long it’s been since J. Bruce Bell was able to wind the 72-year-old Seth Thomas street clock he proudly erected in front of his photography business in 1967. Bell’s wife, Louise, who shares her husband’s love of exotic timepieces, has allowed the clock to continue its timeless vigil unattended ever since he was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease and could no longer tinker with the favorite piece of his collection. The 18-foot-tall, 2-ton classic will not be left to decay, however, despite Bell’s unfortunate inability to care for it. Its precision clockworks will be wound back up, oiled and set in motion again. The clock last week was carefully dismantled and packed away to begin a long, slow journey to a museum in Columbia, Penn. There, it will mark time at the entrance to the headquarters of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, ticking for years to come as a memorial to a man who was fascinated with "things that have wheels" - and to the woman who cared enough to donate the $45,000 clock in his honor.

"I wanted it to be somewhere it would be loved and appreciated as much as my husband loved and appreciated it," Mrs. Bell said as she watched cautiously, and perhaps somewhat sadly, while members of the collectors’ organization prepared to take the landmark down. "I hate to see it leave Seneca, in a sense," she said. "But I felt a need to look beyond my lifetime." The old four-faced cast-iron street clock, with its glaring gargoyles and lighted glass dials, has measured the hours and minutes through nearly three-quarters of a century of Upstate South Carolina history, spending 47 years on two different street corners in Greenville before taking up residence 25 years ago in front of Bell’s Studio. Soon after getting into the clock hobby in the mid-1960s through Mrs. Bell’s interest in antiques and flea markets, the couple discovered the Seth Thomas street clock in front of the Kirby-Quinn Co. building, on 16 W. North St. in Greenville. "We were impressed by the beauty and grace of this clock and thought about how good it would look on the street in front of our business," Mrs. Bell said. After learning that the clock belonged to a jeweler whose store was about a block away, Bell approached the owner about purchasing it. "Mr. Lacher (the owner) quoted Bruce a price for the clock. However, because the amount seemed beyond our budget at the time, we dismissed the matter until September of that year," she recalled. They bought the clock on Sept. 5, 1967, just three days before Bell’s 58th birthday. Making the purchase was the easy part. Getting the large and rather awkwardly shaped timepiece to Seneca, 40 miles away, was more difficult. "As the clock was being taken down in Greenville, the crane dropped the top portion," Mrs. Bell said. "I vividly recall Bruce’s calling from Greenville to tell me about the accident. It turned out that the damage was not too severe, but the clock needed to be repaired by welding before it could be erected again." The relocation in Seneca was the second time the clock had been moved after it was first erected in 1923. The clock originally was purchased by A.T. Vaughan Sr., of Vaughan and Marcy Jewelers, and was placed in front of that business on Main Street in Greenville near the old Poinsett Hotel. It had been brought by rail from the Seth Thomas Clock Co. of Thomaston, Conn., accompanied by a company technician to oversee its erection, according to Mrs. Bell. Another identical clock was shipped on the same train at the same time, and it is now in front of a jewelry store in Columbia, Mrs. Bell said.

After taking its familiar post on Fairplay Street, the elegant street clock became a symbol of the Bells’ life together and, almost like a grandchild, a legacy that will live on through time. "Bruce was very proud of it and enjoyed the weekly task of winding it," Mrs. Bell recalls. "One could not speak with him for more than a few minutes before he would reach into his pocket and bring out a photograph of our street clock." Now, the big clock is finding a permanent home, in a prominent setting among hundreds of other rare and valuable timepieces. Enthusiasts of the 60,000-member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors likely will marvel at its dignified craftsmanship, remark at its excellent time-keeping capabilities, and critique its features from the expert’s point of view. But as it stands among clocks from around the world, many of them much older and more sophisticated, the old Seth Thomas street clock perhaps will have a story to tell that is richer even than its rare and intricate workings could spin in the mind of a clockmaker. And perhaps, with each turn of the wheels that drive its hands through endless circuits around its dial, the happy memories of a pair of clock-lovers who kept time by it for the better part of a quarter-century will live on.

24-HOUR DEVOTION
This next story isn’t necessarily one of the best ones I ever wrote, but I have included it here because it marks the beginning of a spiritual transformation for me. It was the beginning of God’s bestowing upon me the gift of faith. Up until this time, in spring 1995, I had been accepting Christianity as my religion on faith but the kind of faith that lives in the head rather than the heart. Something happened to me, though, when I saw the faith of these Catholics, who were so devoted as to pray around the clock at this sacred chapel of Perpetual Adoration. Soon after doing this story, I started attending the daily noontime mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in downtown Greenville. For months, I was there every day, but I didn’t go forward to receive Communion because I wasn’t Catholic. But finally, the inner longing became so great that on my birthday that year I did go forward, and Father Charlie, a good old Irish priest whom I had interviewed for stories and grown to love for his colorful homilies and joyful demeanor, gave me the sacred Host. My life hasn’t been the same since. Ironic as it may sound, I was “born again” in a Catholic church. But this tiny chapel in Simpsonville is where it all started.

By Ron Barnet Staff Writer

At 2:45 a.m. every Friday, Hazen Fell gets out of bed and drives two Miles to St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church where he spends an hour in a Small chapel offering prayers and devotion. Before him is a gold, cross-shaped vessel called a monstrance and inside is a circular, paper-thin wafer about 4 inches in diameter exposed in the center of the cross. Fell and other faithful of this fast-growing church believe the wafer is Jesus Christ himself, transformed through the mystery of the Eucharist,offering healing and grace to those who are willing to pray in his presence. In this form, He is known as "the Eucharistic Lord." "Jesus there is really a prisoner waiting for us to come to Him," said Father Herbert K. Conner, pastor of the church. Roman Catholics believe the communion bread and wine become Christ's body and blood when consecrated by a priest and that His "real presence" is in those elements. The portion not consumed during Mass is saved because the church teaches Christ's presence remains until the bread and wine are consumed or altered by fire or some other force. Perpetual adoration of the communion wafer, then, is a way of extending the worship of Jesus in his Eucharistic presence beyond the Mass, Conner said. While not all Christian denominations believe Christ is physically present in the Eucharist, there's no denying the dedication of those who sense the presence of the sacred in the Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Here, in this small room at the rear of the church, the faithful have taken turns keeping a constant vigil since Feb. 20, 1994. "It's seven days a week, 24 hours a day, rain or shine, and we don't expect it to ever end," said Fell, who is in charge of seeing that someone is in the chapel from midnight to 6 a.m. every morning. St. Mary Magdalene is one of only four churches in the state where perpetual adoration is practiced. Considering the significance of the object of adoration in the lives of believers, the practice likely is limited only by the relative scarcity of Catholics in the state, participants said. "If President Clinton were to come to town, or the Pope, or any person that was well-known in the world, I think we'd all fight for a front-row seat, or even an opportunity to go see the person," Fell said. "But if you believe in God and Jesus Christ and you had an opportunity for an audience with that Deity, would you not go see that person?" Despite the hardships of odd hours on bended knee in a silent room, finding volunteers for adoration duty has not been difficult.

"People are drawn by their need for Christ in their life and their faith in him," said Carol McMahon, who coordinates the program. More than 200 permanent "adorers" have signed on to fill the 168 hours of the week, with others coming at unscheduled times, she said. Adorers enter quietly into the chapel, which is only big enough for four or five people at a time, and kneel at a rail before the altar where Christ is enthroned. A gold crown is perched atop the altar, which is draped in red velvet with gold fringe. Blue light from a stained-glass window streams into the room as two women with Rosary beads quietly adored their Lord on a recent weekday afternoon. "You know that Jesus is there and he's listening to you," said Michelle Hufnagel, who stopped by to spend a few moments in the chapel in addition to her regular two hours each week. "And if you're quiet, you'll be able to hear what he has to say to you, too," she said. "You'll be inspired by him." Participants say the practice not only strengthens them spiritually, but they attribute miracles to the prayers and devotion they offer at the chapel. Mrs. Hufnagel said her husband found a new job in answer to her prayers there. Another woman said the Lord helped her lose 44 "unhealthy pounds" and cured her mother, who had suffered several strokes but now is able to go hiking. Others, writing in a book left in the chapel for sharing theirtestimonies, told of miraculous healings and answered prayers. Fell said he doesn't miss the sleep. He goes home and back to bed after his 3-to-4 a.m. shift and wakes up refreshed for another day. "Sometimes that's the only peaceful hour that I have in my whole day," he said. Although he said he has "the attention span of a 4-year-old," the hour in the chapel "flies by." Despite the best efforts of the adorers, who include not only members of St. Mary Magdalene but parishioners from other local Catholic churches and non-Catholics, the Eucharistic Lord has been left alone in the chapel a few times during the 16 months since perpetual adoration began. Signals get crossed, emergencies arise and someone oversleeps occasionally, Fell said. When that happens, the person in the chapel often keeps praying for another hour until relief arrives. But not always. That doesn't break the flow of grace, however, Fell believes.

"God is perfect in every way, and He's perfect in His understanding. I'm sure He understands."

THE 'TORONTO BLESSING'

This is another story that represents a pivotal step in my spiritual journey. After worshiping with the Catholics for several years and realizing that I would never be able to be one of them, I began to long for a church where I could have full fellowship and maybe even participate in the music ministry. I kept remembering what I had seen and felt at St. Francis Episcopal Church, where the following story was done in 1996. It was a church that had openness to the Holy Spirit as well as a deep connection to the sacramental and liturgical elements of the ancient church – and a praise band that I felt I could really fit into. Things have changed quite a bit at St. Francis since then, but I think we’re still open to the Spirit, still have a deep connection our Lord in the sacraments – and a pretty decent praise band, too.

By Ron Barnett Staff Writer A woman rolled on the floor during a recent service at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Greenville, slapping the carpet and laughing uncontrollably. "Alleluia to the King," the church sang solemnly as the woman laughed all the louder. Such a scene might have seemed unthinkable in a denomination noted for its orderly form of worship. But that was before the "Toronto Blessing." This unorthodox service is part of a movement that started Jan. 20, 1994, at Airport Vineyard Church in Toronto, Canada. St. Francis rector Henry Tollison has visited the Canadian church twice in the past few weeks to "re-energize" his ministry. "The Holy Spirit kind of broke out 19 months ago in Toronto, and it's been going every night since then," Tollison said. "There are anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 people there every night from all over the world, every continent." It involves people from all denominations as well, he said. The Toronto church is not connected to the Episcopal Church.

Uninhibited "holy laughter," falling down and shaking during worship services are some of the ways in which the Toronto Blessing has reached Greenville, Tollison said.

But it's not the unusual manifestations that are important, or the particular place where they might occur, Tollison said. It's the way those experiences affect the lives of the believers that matters. "All I can say is in my experience that the love of Christ was very known there (in Toronto), very well known. And certainly I experienced it," he said. "But they'll tell you it's not just there. It's something that goes out from there. And it's to be given away." On Tuesday nights, St. Francis Episcopal gives some of it away at its weekly "healing services." Numerous people from across the Upstate, many who are not members of the church, come to ask for prayer and to have hands laid upon them to receive the Holy Spirit. The service is filled with an aura of worship, combining traditional Episcopalian reverence - kneeling and liturgy - with electronic "praise music" and uplifted hands more often associated with Pentecostal churches. Tollison, dressed in denim jeans and a T-shirt, sat on a pew near the front, his gaze focused on something that couldn't be seen with physical eyes. After several songs, Tollison stepped into the aisle to give a few words of explanation to visitors on what was to follow. He cited Scriptures that described priests being unable to stand up in the presence of God, a phenomenon he called being "slain in the spirit." "It is a time in which someone is down before the Lord," he said. "They have submitted, given up and said 'Lord, take me. I no longer am going to try to take control of my life.' It's a physical example of something that is going on inside of us. "It's important to understand that there's nothing spooky about it, nothing crazy about it. It happens." The music started again, this time with the electronic keyboard droning with soothing, multitextured harmony as singers improvised praise melodies: "We just magnify your name, Lord." The music gradually died down, but the mellow mood and worshipful attitude continued as Tollison called for anyone who has "a need" to come forward.

Looking more like a farmer than a priest, Tollison, with his hands in his jeans pockets, listened intently to the concerns voiced by one after another who walked down the aisle. The fourth person to come forward, a man in shorts and sandals, began to stagger as hands were laid upon him by several people. He fell to his knees in prayer. The next person, a young man on crutches, fell backward and was caught by people who had been praying for him. He lay flat on his back, seeminglyasleep. A few minutes later, he sat up, laughing and coughing a little. As the service neared its conclusion, a woman fell to the floor like the others, but in a few minutes, she started giggling. As assistant rector Ann Davis explained the woman's state of mind, the woman burst out laughing louder. The congregation continued to sing softly. Although the Toronto movement has reached around the globe, not many Episcopal churches are involved. "There are some that would say it's pure emotionalism, (that) it's kind of strange," Tollison said. The Right Rev. Dorsey Henderson, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, said he's not familiar with the Toronto Blessing but has seen some of its elements before. He said he supports "renewal movements" in the church although he places his confidence in "the more traditional manifestations of the Spirit." But he added: "We can't preclude God from acting in any way that God wants to act. So I can't say that God doesn't act that way." For Tollison, the evidence is in the way the "fruits of the Spirit"described in the New Testament - such as love, kindness, and patience - are being developed in people's lives. "And that's the emphasis - a changed life and fruits of the spirit," Tollison said.

Brother Billy
I had two “mountaintop” experiences in one week back in 1996. One was my first visit to Monticello, home of my favorite Founding Father. The other was to Montreat, N.C., to the home of the Rev. Billy Graham –- a very different kind of great figure of American history. The renowned evangelist invited reporters to interview him on the front lawn of his mountaintop home to kick off publicity for his upcoming crusade stop in his

hometown of Charlotte. He was a very likeable, unassuming guy, as you probably would expect. About 40 or 50 TV crews, radio people and print media journalists gathered on the grass while Billy sat in a rocking chair on his porch and talked. They set up a microphone for reporters to take turns asking him questions. After everybody else had had their turn, I decided to go for one. Here’s what I asked: There had been a recent discovery of a planet orbiting another star somewhere in our galaxy, and I asked him if that raises the question in his mind at all that there could be intelligent life somewhere else in the universe. And if so, would Jesus need to go and be incarnated there and save them from their sins? He thought about it for a minute, then gave his answer. You’ll have to read down to the bottom of the story to find out what he said. Afterward, one of the TV guys said to me, “Well, you pitched him a curve ball and he knocked it right out of the park!” I'm not sure if he did or not, but I think he at least got a base hit.

'THAT WAS ALL GOD'S DOING'

By Ron Barnett Staff Writer On a mountaintop he bought from moonshiners 40 years ago, Billy Graham is about as close to heaven as you can get in North Carolina. His step is a little shaky and his short-term memory a little fuzzy at times. But the 20 century's most famous evangelist remained strong in faith as he greeted the press on his front porch recently to discuss his crusade in Charlotte next weekend.
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Wearing blue jeans and a denim jacket that Johnny Cash gave him 20 years ago, the 77year-old spiritual adviser to 10 presidents and preacher of the gospel to more people than anyone else in history downplayed his pre-eminent role in modern evangelism. "I have not been chosen to do anything great," Graham said from his wooden rocking chair. "I think the man that's preaching down the mountain here in a small church is doing a work that I envy, because that's what I'd like to be doing. I don't want to be doing what I'm doing." But he will be doing it again Thursday through Sunday when he brings the same message of salvation that he has preached around the world back to his hometown of Charlotte for a crusade in the new Ericsson Stadium. Graham has Greenville connections. His radio show, "Hour of Decision," is produced here, and his music director and radio and television program director, Cliff Barrows, lived in Greenville until recently.

Because of his progressive Parkinson's disease, Graham's doctors advised him against doing interviews. But he couldn't turn down the requests from media across the Carolinas and opened the gates to his secluded home in Montreat, N.C.

"I have good days and bad days, and this is one of my good days, I'm thankful to say," Graham said. The evangelist contrasted street preaching in the Carolinas with the worldwide ministry that evolved from it, and talked about his health, his son and future successor Franklin, his friendship with presidents, his desire to avoid politics and the theological implications of life on other planets. His cat, Beethoven, vied for attention, and his wife, Ruth, who was in the hospital six weeks earlier with spinal meningitis, stayed in the background until time for the photographs to be taken. Although his vigor for everyday chores is diminished, Graham said he forgets about his illness once he starts preaching. And he said his disease has drawn him closer to God. "I think God has sent it to me at this age to show me that I'm totally dependent on him," he said. "And when I go into the pulpit to preach, I have to have a little help getting to the pulpit. But when I get there, I can sense the presence and power of the Lord. And he helps me in my preaching." His eldest son Franklin, who once rebelled against the idea of coming near his father's footsteps, will take over the helm of Graham's $80-million-a-year evangelistic association whenever the time comes. And the father believes the son, who lives with his family and a pet bear on a farm near Boone, N.C., is well up to the task. "He's a much better preacher than I was at that age," Graham said. "I think God has given him an unusual gift of proclaiming the word of God. And he has a gift of riding horseback and motorcycles and shooting all kinds of guns. I didn't have that gift." Times have changed since a saloon-keeper in Tampa threw Graham into a ditch for preaching on the street in the 1940s. In a recent visit to Charlotte, the evangelist couldn't find the house where he was born four days before the end of World War I. But his faith has never wavered. "No, never since I received Christ as my savior in 1954 ... no, 1934 in Charlotte, I've never had a doubt about my faith in God." He accepted Christ as his savior at age 16 through the ministry of a traveling evangelist and was ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1940. He studied at Florida Bible Institute and Wheaton College where he married a fellow student, Ruth McCue Bell. "If there is any secret (to) our marriage, it's Ruth," Graham said.

After graduation, Graham started preaching to soldiers during World War II and began his rise to international influence. Crusades in Los Angeles, London and New York City were extended weeks longer than planned because of overflow crowds. Television came along and Graham was the first to take full advantage of the new technology for preaching the gospel "into all the world." The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association now reaches people around the world by radio, television, newspapers and magazines, video and motion pictures. Graham even has done live question-and-answer sessions on the Internet and has written 17 books and is completing his memoirs, tentatively titled "Just As I Am." Looking back, he doesn't know how he wound up being the world's most famous preacher. "I don't know, because that was all God's doing. I have no idea." In a presidential election year, particularly one in which evangelical Christians have significant power at the ballot box, Graham anticipated questions about politics and religion, and he nipped them in the bud. He isn't a member of the Christian Coalition but has many friends who are. "I think that a clergyman can talk about moral and spiritual problems that a community faces and let the people make up their own minds," he said. "But to try to tell them or encourage them to vote for this man or that man, I don't that's what God wants me to do." He walked the line on the presidential race. "Bill Clinton has been a friend of mine for - he claims since he was 7 years old," the evangelist said. "And of course the Doles have been our guests here at our home, and we have known Mrs. Dole since she was a girl." Graham said he isn't supported by "radical liberals" or "extreme fundamentalists." "I try to stay right in the middle and love them all and welcome them all to our meetings." He has toned down his preaching over the years, focusing more on the love of God than on the damnation he believes awaits those who reject the gospel. "The greatest need that we have today is repentance of our sins and turning to God," he said. But scientific advances make some problems more complicated than in the Garden of Eden, he said. He envisions a push-button technological war, and he prays that God will spare us. He also believes there is life on other planets in the universe that he would love to preach there if he could. "But then nobody's invited me to be an astronaut, and if I got there I don't think I could speak their language, whoever they are."

He is hopeful about the future. The gospel, after all, is good news, he said. "We believe that Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth again somebody and he's going to rule and reign and it's going to be an era of glorious and wonderful peace." It's that good news he hopes to bring to Charlotte - this time in a football stadium instead of a street corner. "I'm terribly humbled to be invited back because I don't feel I deserve it at this age," he said. But he doesn't have any plans to quit. "The Lord may have plans. And if he has plans, he'll retire me, and he'll retire me through illness or some other reason. But I have no plans, because God called me to preach, and I intend to preach as long as I have strength to do so."

“Dr. Bob”

This is the story that got me blacklisted at Bob Jones University. The occasion of writing it was the 70th anniversary of the founding of the university, and I interviewed Bob Jones III, or “Dr. Bob,” as he is affectionately known on campus, in the stately study in which he ensconces himself from the evil world outside -- when he’s not on one of his mission trips around the world. He’s actually a very nice guy, and I enjoyed interviewing him. I managed to get him a little tearful during the interview. He told me I was not like all the other reporters and he was impressed with my questions. He suggested that I come visit the school’s famous art gallery whenever I had some time during lunch and wanted some peace and inspiration. After my story came out, Dr. Bob sent me a letter on his gold-bonded stationery informing me that I would no longer be welcome on campus (although I have since restored good relations with school officials.) He should have known, he wrote, that “the leopard couldn’t change his spots” and I was just like all the other left-wing journalists in the world. His main complaint was my mention, way down in the story, of a black person who claimed she had been treated without respect when she worked there in a menial job decades ago.

AT 70 YEARS, SCHOOL ASKS IF IT HAS MANY MORE

By Ron Barnett Staff Writer

When they packed up Bob Jones University and hauled it over the Mountains from Cleveland, Tenn., to Greenville 50 years ago, the school and its brand of religion found a comfortable home on a hill above town - for a while. Times were friendlier for "Bible-believing" Christians in those days, said Bob Jones III, 57, president of the university and grandson of its founder. That was before "pagan society" made inroads into the churches - before an "exceedingly wicked man" named Bill Clinton moved into the White House, Jones said. As the fundamentalist Christian school reaches the half-century mark of its presence here, university officials say it is on solid ground financially and its enrollment is stable. And Jones believes Greenville still has "a greater bent toward biblical morality" than most communities. But overall, the world outside BJU's iron gates on Wade Hampton Boulevard isn't on such solid ground, he believes. And if things keep going the way they are - morally, politically and socially - Bob Jones University might not be around for another 50 years, he said. Jones offers that outlook even as the university celebrates its golden anniversary in Greenville and the 70th year of its founding with the slogan, "Still Standing but not Standing Still." If those views sound extreme, they don't come without heart-wrenching sincerity. In an emotional interview in the stained-glassed, oak-paneled Gothic mini-museum which is his office, Jones made no pretense of being upbeat about the future - except for one thing: "I believe the Lord's coming back soon," he said. "I weep for America. I weep for the churches of America. "The day could come when Bible Christianity, when allegiance to the Scripture like we have it is such a minority there won't be much demand for our kind of education. If that's true, we'll close." An island apart All this he and his namesakes before him couldn't have foreseen in 1947 when the school moved from the hills of Tennessee to its current 200-acre site at what was then a cotton field outside Greenville. The hand of God seemed to lead his grandfather, a renowned evangelist of the era, to South Carolina. The way the story was told to Jones III, university officials were in a real estate office in Knoxville getting ready to sign papers to acquire land in that city for a new site to accommodate the explosion of enrollment at the end of World War II.

A typist made an error on the documents and had gone to correct it when a phone call came from Greenville. The city's Chamber of Commerce would give BJU the land it needed. The thrust of the chamber's appeal was spiritual, with prominent businessmen saying the influence of a Christian institution like BJU would be good for the city. Jones' grandfather "felt very strongly" that the university should relocate here for that reason. In 13 months, 13 buildings had risen on the former farm and not without divine providence because of a shortage of building materials following the war, Jones said. "There was a whole series of miracles - really answered prayer," he said. Jones was eight years old when the university, which had been founded near Panama City, Fla., in 1927, opened its Greenville campus. His father, Bob Jones Jr., now 85 and still active as chancellor and chairman of the board, took over as president, a position he held until Jones III took the helm in 1971. During Jones Jr.'s years as president, the institution established a nationwide reputation among fundamentalist Christian churches, never affiliating itself with any denomination but requiring students and faculty to be "Bible-believing" Christians. The school also showed that it would insist on going its own way. The university never has sought accreditation, holding that such status comes at the price of losing control of its Bible-based educational process. In 1970, the Internal Revenue Service withdrew the university's tax-exempt status because it said the school discriminated on the basis of race. At the time, BJU didn't admit black students and forbade interracial dating and marriage among its students, citing biblical beliefs. The school now accepts black students but still bars interracial dating and marriage. Asserting self-sufficiency, the university grows much of its own food on a 600-acre farm near Fountain Inn that doubles as a teaching lab, makes its own electricity, builds many of its own buildings, fixes its own fleet of 300-plus vehicles, prints its own books and does its own laundry. It even has its own hospital. The school also goes its own way theologically, shunning all who would read the Bible from a different perspective. The Joneses have spoken out, "without apology," against those they believe have abandoned sound Bible teaching - including the likes of Billy Graham and the pope. Graham is at fault for reaching out across denominational boundaries for support in his crusades, Jones said. Jones Jr., on the occasion of Pope John Paul II's visit to Columbia in 1987, said he would "as soon speak to the devil himself" as to talk with the leader of the largest Christian body on earth.

Jones III includes "organized religion" in general and even many churches within "Bible Christianity" on his list of those who are leading the nation into a "cesspool" of depravity. "The church today seems to be getting more and more in lock-step with pagan society and making unconverted pagans feel good without any sign of God's judgment on sin," he said.

Outside perception Being often in the center of controversy hasn't Stopped many Bob Jones alumni from rising to positions of power. Terry Haskins is among those who have succeeded in politics. Like many Bob Jones students, the current speaker pro tem of the state House ofRepresentatives came from across the country - Michigan - to attend college here, liked Greenville and stayed. Also like many alumni, he had to overcome the perception that many people have of Bob Jones grads. "I think a lot of times Bob Jones graduates have been stereotyped by some people as being intolerant or being unwilling to consider other ideas," Haskins said. "And I have not found that to be the case with virtually anyone I know from Bob Jones who has gone into public life." Many Bob Jones alumni have contributed to the local economy and been involved in numerous community projects, said David Brown, executive director of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. "It has focused a lot of attention on us because of the kind of institution they are as far as quality of education." The school contributes more than $60 million to the local economy annually, BJU officials said. And the university's religious art collection - largest in the Western Hemisphere includes works by Rembrandt and other masters of the 13th through 19th centuries collected by Bob Jones Jr. and has been a drawing card for the area. But the serenity of artistic masterpieces has been no balm to many who have felt excluded by the institution over the years. Greenville County Councilwoman Lottie Gibson recalls with distaste being told to leave campus because she was black when she went there to deliver a package of canned food as a welfare worker in the early 1950s. "And I don't need to tell you what that did to me as a decent human being, a person who was reared in a Christian home and who had always acted in a legal manner," she said. "I realized then that Bob Jones was not a place for me."

She has been on the opposite side of the political fence with BJU graduate and fellow council member Scott Case on many issues, such as the council's condemnation of homosexuality last year, which Case led. Mainstream religious leaders in town are reluctant to comment publicly about their perception of BJU. Three pastors of large Greenville churches declined to discuss the school. A.V. Huff, a historian and administrator at Furman University who is an ordained United Methodist minister, also declined to comment from a personal perspective. Speaking as a scholar, Huff said BJU has been a catalyst in uniting fundamentalist Christians in the area and forming a strong element within the local Republican Party. The road ahead In spite of increasing feelings of persecution by government, the religious community and society at large, Bob Jones University is making plans to move forward, even though its campus is landlocked, enrollment has reached its limit at about 5,000 and Jones believes the end of the world as we know it is near. The school is reaching Christian high schools across the country through an interactive site program and is developing a K-12 satellite program forhomeschoolers. One thing that won't change, though, is the institution's commitment to its biblical beliefs. "I tell our faculty and students: Look, there doesn't have to be a Bob Jones University. But as long as there is, our commitment is to God's Truth first of all," Jones said. "The day that comes when the political pressures, the educational pressures, the social pressures, religious pressures of our day or whatever pressure is so strong that we have to compromise God's truth in order to exist, then we will close." And although he believes the world is on a downhill slide to perdition, Jones said he isn't disheartened. "I just say, 'Even so come quickly Lord Jesus.' "

Thanks for the Memories
Bob Hope is probably the most famous person I’ve interviewed – either him or Billy Graham. It was a kick talking with him on the phone – but it was kind of a challenge because he had gotten so old by this time (1993) that I had a little trouble communicating with him. I’d ask him a question, then there would be a long silence, and I’d ask again. Or he’d start saying something and trail off in the middle of a sentence, or repeat himself two or three times. He seemed to perk up, though, when Kathy got on the

phone with him. She happened to be home at the time (this was when I was working the Clemson Bureau job from home) and she had a nice chat with him.

CLEMSON PARENT'S DAY TO FEATURE BOB HOPE

By Ron Barnett Clemson Bureau Having a musician for a president has its advantages, according to Bob Hope. "If the country ever starts having a really tough time and people start singing the blues, he can join right in." There won't be any blues at Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum come Oct. 29, Hope says. That's when the 90-year-old master of the one-liner makes his second appearance in Tigertown - 10 years to the day after performing at Homecoming 1983. "I'm coming back to Clemson," Hope said in a telephone interview from his home in Hollywood. "I've got a lot of things to tell them." Hope's performance will be part of Parent's Day weekend at Clemson, as the Tigers take on the Maryland Terps. Hope said he doesn't know if he'll be able to stay around for the football game Saturday after his Friday night performance, but he'll try to get in a round of golf if he has a chance. "I play every day, no matter where I am," he said. Golf may not be the secret to his success, but, "It doesn't hurt," he said. Hope said he'll wait until right before the show to decide what jokes to tell the Clemson audience. "It all depends on what happens from now until I open there, because I always do something with the headlines from the news," he said. "That's been my business ever since I've been telling jokes. "I think people appreciate that," he said. "They read the newspaper then they come in to hear you. They like to hear a comment about it." The show will include performances by comedian Mark Nizer and singer Kiki Ebsen, Buddy Ebsen's daughter.

And Dolores. "Have you heard her album? She's got an album out. It's just beautiful," Hope said of his wife's singing. "And with me killing close to an hour, that'll be a helluva show," Hope said. Hope said he's working on a Christmas album with Dolores, and starting work on his traditional Christmas TV special with the all-American football team. The special, to air in mid-December, will feature old clips, including John Wayne and Hope singing "Have yourself a merry, merry Christmas." Tickets for "An Evening with Bob Hope" can be purchased by calling 291-TIXX. All seats are $16. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Hope's publicist, Wade Grant, said the Hopes will not comment on allegations from an unauthorized biography by Groucho Marx's son. The book alleges that Hope traded girlfriends with Bing Crosby and kept beautiful women near his home so he could visit them on his midnight walks. "They won't dignify that with a response." Grant said.

Senator Lindsey
If Lindsey Graham ever becomes president, you can give me a little of the blame. Our esteemed U.S. senator who took over the seat Ol’ Strom had been keeping warm for the better part of a century liked the story below so much that he used it in his campaign materials during his first run for the U.S. House of Representatives. I didn’t intend to make it sound so favorable to him, but somehow it seemed to strike the chord we wanted to play. He was one of seven or eight people running for the seat that Butler Derrick was retiring from after a couple of decades, and we did a profile on each one of them. I chose Lindsey as my subject because I had known him for four or five years and had a good relationship with him. He was a student at Daniel High School when I was there, but I don’t remember him from then. He was a year younger, and he was from Central. We didn’t hang out with the Central guys much. When I first came to know him, Lindsey was a very laid back young lawyer whose biggest public role was as part-time assistant Oconee County attorney. I figured someday he would probably be the County Attorney or maybe even run for County Council. Then something happened to him. He got bit by the political bug. He started walking faster up and down the halls of the courthouse, animated, talking a lot. One day he asked me what I thought about him running for office. He had heard that one of the circuit judges was planning to retire soon and that our local state senator was up for the judgeship, leaving a vacancy in the senate. Of course, I told him to go for it – but I didn’t really think he had the stuff to be taken as a serious candidate. He

apparently had a better sense of the political climate than I did, though. A couple of years earlier he had been a campaign volunteer for another local attorney, Lowell Ross, and helped him unseat long-time incumbent state representative Bob McLellan, who had become one of the most powerful members of the Legislature. Now, he decided to run against Lowell – which the incumbent considered a major backstabbing job. Lindsey beat Lowell, and after only one term he seized upon the opportunity of Butler Derrick’s retirement. I had no idea what his political orientation would be, because he seemed like a guy who was only interested in being a conscientious lawyer, doing good work and keeping a low profile. But suddenly he was a firebrand conservative – although a folksy and, according to him, compassionate one. He emerged the victor in this free-for-all congressional race, becoming the first Republican to hold the seat since Reconstruction. He quickly emerged as a rabble-rouser in the new Republican majority in Congress, went on to get national exposure as a prosecutor in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, and now he’s a regular on the Sunday morning TV news talk show circuit. He’s still a nice guy. I called him up at Kathy’s request and asked him to grace us with his presence at a Mental Health Walk to raise money for the local mental clinics. He was happy to oblige, and walked right along with us, joking and shaking hands down Main Street in Anderson. Of course, he was campaigning for Senate at the time, too. He’s not one to waste a good political opportunity.

GRAHAM SAYS HE'S CONSERVATIVE BUT COMPASSIONATE By Ron Barnett Staff Writer Growing up around his dad's pool hall, liquor store and restaurant in Central, Lindsey Graham says his early life was not lacking for entertainment or philosophical stimulation. "I've heard a lot of stories in my day," he says, laughing. He's come 180 degrees from his roots in some ways. He doesn't condemn drinking, but he is a non-drinker. He's the first in his family to graduate from college. And, even as a teen-ager in the late '60s and early '70s, he never wore blue jeans. But in other ways, he says the experiences of his youth have stayed with him, tempering his conservatism with tolerance. "I think you get to understand both sides of life growing up that way," says Graham, a first-term Republican state representative who is vying for his party's nomination to represent the 3rd District in Congress. Now an attorney and a major in the South Carolina Air National Guard, Graham, 39, considers himself "a conservative person but with a compassionate heart."

Graham says he "had a great childhood" and considers his "a typical story." But that carefree childhood came to an abrupt, unexpected end when, early in his life, he lost both parents within a 15-month period - his mother to Hodgkin's disease and his father to a heart attack. He then lived with his aunt and uncle in Seneca. Graham's uncle, Hollis Hunnicutt, who took Graham and his younger sister in, says he believes the untimely deaths might have been a motivating factor for Graham eventually getting into politics. "For a few days, he didn't realize where he was going to live," Hunnicutt says. "He knew all the time that we would accept him. But that just made him want to help other people that have any kind of problem, not necessarily that kind. And of course, that's what a politician is supposed to do." Except for his years in college - he earned his law degree at theUniversity of South Carolina in 1981 - and his time in the U.S. Air Force from 1982 to 1988, Graham, who has never married, has lived with the Hunnicutts. He recently bought a house and said starting a family is his next goal, after getting elected to Congress. A 1973 graduate of D.W. Daniel High School, Graham was on the football team, although he weighed only about 110 at the time. He was the holder for the field goal and extra points kicker. "He knew he could never stand up to any of them one-on-one because he just didn't have the size," his former coach, Dick Singleton says. Singleton remembers Graham as an ingenious practical joker and a quick wit whose hard work, determination and sense of humor made him an integral part of the team, despite his size. Graham's somewhat non-traditional but strong family background seems to play into his political pitch, in which he portrays himself as a roadblock to what he calls "crazy" Democratic policies. He points to the narrow vote margins in which some of President Clinton's programs have gone through Congress to stress the significance of converting South Carolina's 3rd District to the GOP. "If you need one more vote to change the nature of Congress, then you've got my vote," he told a group of about 100 supporters at a recent Sunday afternoon outdoor gospel singing/ice cream social/political rally in Walhalla. "If you need one more vote to stop the Clinton administration doing what it's doing to your families, you've got mine."

His pitch never reaches the intensity of the Pentecostal tent revival music that preceded it. But it engenders the spirit of a campaign song written and sung by a guitarstrumming, retired, Lutheran pastor, George Shealy of Walhalla: "He (Graham) won't back down from a fight and compromise with those/who want to turn our country into something we oppose." Democrats have had an iron grip on the Congressional seat since the postReconstruction era. But looking beyond the Aug. 9 GOP primary, Graham is banking on what he sees as Clinton's unpopularity in the district to send the first Republican to Congress from here in many years. Breaking new ground for the GOP is not new to Graham, whose only political experience before winning the state House District 2 race in 1992 was as assistant county attorney for Oconee. He helped Lowell Ross unseat the chairman of the powerful House Ways znd Means Committee, Bob McLellan, in a 1990 Democratic primary. "I showed him around, did some small things," Graham said. Graham took up the populist theme himself two years later. He succeeded in becoming the first Republican elected to the state Legislature from Oconee since Reconstruction. He has never defined himself along party lines, he says, but grew closer and closer to the GOP during the years he served as a chief prosecutor for the U.S. Air Force in Europe and saw the effects of President Ronald Reagan's military buildup. "There's things about the Republican Party that I'm not 100 percent sold on," Graham said. "But I'm glad to be a Republican. I think it's the best hope for our country, to adopt the Republican philosophy in government."

Trust Not in Silver or HomeGold
In this story I tried to capture the depth of emotion felt by these hardworking, salt-of-the-earth people who lost their life savings in the collapse of Carolina Investors. The whole situation, I think, teaches a lesson about the precarious nature of financial investments and trust in an era of big money dealers whose games go beyond the understanding of us regular people. Two of the company’s top officers, including former Lt. Gov. Earle Morris, have been convicted since this story was published in April 2003.

Bankruptcy leaves people feeling angry, betrayed

People caught in Carolina Investors' collapse feel angry, betrayed

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

Little by little, they set aside what they could. For a 24-year-old from Pickens, that meant saving half of the money she received as birthday and Christmas presents from the time she was a baby. For an 80-yearold from Easley, it meant scrimping on household expenses to lay by a dollar here and a dollar there from her Social Security check. For many, it meant working harder and longer. A 64-year-old Easley man said he's never worked a 40-hour week in his life; 12-hour days were the norm. It meant making sacrifices, deferring dreams, keeping an eye on the future, on a far off rainy day. Now, the money, apparently, is gone. Thousands of people in the Pickens County area -- ordinary people with an extraordinary sense of discipline, courage and work ethic -- have watched helplessly as their savings had vanished in the collapse of Carolina Investors. They are angry. They feel betrayed. These are people who placed a higher value in the handshake of a neighbor than in some legal guarantee written by a lawyer declaring their savings safe. Their money at Carolina Investors was not insured, but for decades, it had been a good investment. They knew their money was in good hands because it was in hands they knew. That seems to hurt as much as the loss of the money, a loss of trust in a community institution, in the people who ran it -- people of reputation, people with family ties, people with deep roots in Pickens County. But there is also resilience, and very much a sense of community. Whatever happens, the same tenacity and gumption that drove people to sacrifice and save seems powerful enough to lead them safely to the other side. These are a few of their stories:

Black's Seafood family

Lewis Black, 92, and his wife Clovie, 91, lost $227,000 -everything they had -- when Carolina Investors closed, according to their son, Gerald. They had been friends with the family of the company's president, Larry Owen, and had been entrusting their savings there since it opened in the early 1960s. They worked hard to have something to save. "Daddy was a carpenter during the day and farmed, just about at night, a lot of it," said Gerald Black, 64. "Mom worked in a mill." Born in a log cabin on the same property where he still lives, Lewis Black, by 1968, had saved enough to establish a family-style fish camp, Black's Seafood, which is still run by family members. Business was good. Fried flounder and catfish, country ham and hushpuppies were in big demand around Easley. And all the while, the profits kept going into accounts at Carolina Investors. Altogether, the family has lost more than $400,000, money earned not just from the restaurant but from jobs with Duke Power, the construction business and rental properties. The elder Blacks aren't able to follow the news accounts of the Carolina Investors failure, and they don't know yet that their life's savings are gone. "We'd have to tell them what happened, and if we did it would probably finish them off," Gerald Black said. Gerald and his two sisters take turns, in 24-hour shifts, looking after their parents. They had been paying for their needs with the interest from their parents' investments and their small Social Security checks, but as the cost of health care kept going up, even that hadn't been enough recently, and they had withdrawn $11,000 from the account. "They never, never have got nothing from the government," Gerald said defiantly. "They didn't believe in that at all. "They believed in earning every penny that they got. And I'm the same way." Now, Gerald and his sisters are trying to get Medicaid and food stamps to help their parents. Almost pulled out

Gerald Black said he started hearing rumors about Carolina Investors four months ago. So he went and had a word with Earle Morris Jr., the former lieutenant governor and comptroller general, the Pickens native whose name further strengthened the reputation of the company and its uninsured investments after he retired from state government. Black had intentions of taking his and his parents' money out.

"I talked personally with Earle Morris in his office out there, and he assured me that it was just about solid as gold," Black said. "But he didn't tell me it was HomeGold he was talking about." Black never heard of HomeGold, the mortgage company that owns Carolina Investors and has been given as the source of the financial collapse, until the day Carolina Investors closed its doors. Morris, contacted Friday, said he and other officers of Carolina Investors were advised by their attorneys not to talk to the media because of pending lawsuits. R. Geoffrey Levy, Carolina Investors' attorney, said he doesn't have any knowledge of anything that may have taken place in the past between individual investors and officials of the company. He said he's focusing his efforts on trying to get the investors' money back. Both Carolina Investors and HomeGold have filed for bankruptcy. The second generation of Blacks has put some of its money in other investments. On a rainy day last week at their cream-colored brick ranch house adjacent to lush, rolling pastures outside Easley, the stock ticker streamed across the cable TV as the Blacks watched news of the war in Iraq. At least for the day, the market was up. Gerald, who has worked long hours all his life and still runs a trailer park even though he has "retired" because of a hearing problem, said it's not his own financial loss he is most upset about. He feels especially "rotten" because he didn't take his parents' money out when he could have. The hurt shows in his gray eyes when he talks about it. His wife, Frances, tries to shush him when he starts venting, but he says he doesn't care who knows how he feels. "If I could find out for sure whose fault it was, I'd personally see if I couldn't break some jawbones," he says -- words that don't seem to match his goodnatured character. He'd rather see justice served through the legal system, though. A penitentiary would be too good if someone is found guilty of a crime, he says. He'd

prefer the chain gang for them. "I want 'em put where they took most of it -- in Pickens County, cleaning up the roads." Tragedy strikes twice

Younger families were hurt as well. The family of Larry and Pat Madden in Pickens had already suffered enough tragedy for a lifetime before Carolina Investors went down. Their daughter, Carey, now 24, was nearly killed by a drunk driver when she was a junior at Pickens High School. Every bone in her face but one was broken. She stopped counting the surgeries she's had at 13. "They had to screw my skull back together. My brain had rattled in my skull, so I've got scar tissue on my brain," she said. "And I had seizures, and I had panic attacks, and I know all that's from the head injury." The community rallied around the family during those dark days of 1996, though, raising money for Carey's medical care -- money that was invested at Carolina Investors. The account also had money she had saved ever since she was a child -half of all the money she had. Her parents insisted she learn the virtue of saving. She put off having a surgery on one of her legs a few years ago because she needed the money for school. She also needs an expensive eye surgery that could improve her vision. The insurance is maxed out. She graduated from Clemson University in December and hopes to get a job as a counselor, working with children. But with the economy the way it is, and state budget cuts hitting social services agencies, no doors are opening. "Whenever we first found out about Carolina Investors, Dad told us, and I was like, 'You're kidding me, Daddy.' And he was like, 'No honey. It's gone, all gone,'" she said. "And so I started getting upset and crying. I hung up the phone with him, and I started hyperventilating and panicking." She got herself together and drove to Clemson "to tell them what's going on and tell them they have to help me get a job." She says she has forgiven the drunk driver who caused her such pain, even though it took her several years. Carolina Investors could be another matter. "They haven't said they were sorry to me yet."

Business capital gone

Carey wasn't the only one in the Madden family who took a hit from Carolina Investors. Before she died, Carey's grandmother set up a trust fund for another of her sons who is disabled. And Carey's dad used Carolina Investors to hold the business capital he needs each spring for his landscape nursery business. "When this happened, we had like 400 something dollars in a checking account and that was it," said Madden, 51. "Everything else we had was in there." His plan is to offer discount prices on the plants he does have to try to get enough cash flowing to get the business moving. "But the way the economy is, it just is dead," he said, flipping an ash from a Marlboro Light outside the apartment he built for his daughter. "Nobody's buying anything." Having been in business for himself for nearly 30 years, he's been through enough down cycles to have hope of surviving. He built the rugged building on Sangamo Road that serves as his office out of boards from a defunct sawmill and reinvented his business at least three times. He also teaches horticulture at Tri-County Technical College, runs a tree farm and hosts an AOL chat room on how to grow plants. He hopes the people he trusted will come through, somehow. "I've got confidence in Earle Morris," Madden said. "I think he's doing everything he can to recoup the people's money." His bigger concern is for Pickens County's economy, where he's already seeing ripple effects. "A lot of these people are depending on that interest money to pay their power bills, their water bills, their medicine, their food," he said. Madden hears stories from his customers that break his heart. "It's pitiful. They say, 'Larry, I know you can't do anything about it, but I just need somebody to talk to.'" Outside his daughter's presence, Madden comes close to tears himself when he talks about his responsibility for the loss of his daughter's money and his brother's trust fund.

"I hate that happened," he said, his voice growing quiet. "You know, she looks up to me to lead and guide her and tell her what's the right way to go."

'All I had'

Flo Adams' loss means she'll have to get by on Social Security alone. Adams of Easley will turn 81 on May 3. She didn't lose as much as some did, but that's not much consolation. "I lost $2,000, but that's all I had, so that means a lot to me," she said. She had managed to take a little out of her monthly Social Security check of $835 to put at Carolina Investors to generate a bit of interest income. "And I'm telling you, when you live alone and you only have a Social Security check, it takes a long time to save up $2,000." She says she'll get by. She hopes she'll be able to continue her activities singing at nursing homes, line dancing Saturday nights. But it will be a little harder now. Retired and a widow, she has no brothers, no sisters, no aunts or uncles. She does have four sons -- a fifth was killed in a car crash six weeks after returning from Vietnam and 11 grandchildren, but they all live in Ohio. "So I don't have a soul here," she said. She does have a friend in Jim Graham, 81, who also lost his life savings.

Grease and mud Adams and Graham met at a senior center in Liberty. He stopped by for a visit at her neat, white-paneled manufactured home one afternoon last week. Graham socked $140,000 away during 31 years as a heavy equipment mechanic for the Greenville Water System. "I wallered in grease and mud for years," he said.

What makes it hurt even worse is that two months ago, Graham sold a house and put all but $1,000 of the $75,000 proceeds in Carolina Investors.

"It's sort of a tough go when you work a third of your life and try to save a dollar" and then lose it all. He acknowledges that he bears some responsibility. "Of course, you're supposed to be as sharp as he is, but I wasn't," he said. "I'll have to admit that." A World War II veteran who has enjoyed following his old unit the 3rd Army Infantry in the war in Iraq, Graham says he will be able to get by on his Greenville Water System pension. But it galls him that all the money he stowed away eating ham and beans when he could have had steak, seems to be gone. "I kept asking them, are you insured? They said, 'we can be insured, but we're not insured,'" Graham recalled. "I said, 'Well I want to know if my money's safe.' '"Oh yeah, yeah, yeah,'" was the answer he got. "You see what happened to it." He says he'll be mad until he gets his money back. He doesn't expect that to happen, and he's going on with his life. Like his friend, Flo, he'll survive. "It's done happened," he says. "I don't guess there's nothing we can do about it." Little by little, they set aside what they could. And then, all at once, it was gone.

Band Camp
I’m not sure why, but this was one of the stories I enjoyed most. I think it was because it gave me a chance to describe the life of young, hard-working musicians. It’s amazing what kids will go through. This group ended up winning the state championship at the end this season. I didn’t realize it until after the story was published, but one of the band parents I interviewed was the Jack and Anne Scruggs’ daughter.

Students start tough march for title

Blue Ridge band seeks to repeat, but teens at other schools hope their sacrifices lead to musical glory

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

It begins deep in the band room, with the throaty booming of five silver-plated sousaphones, curled like giant pythons around the bodies of boys who are brave enough to play them. "Daa, daa, daa, daa, daa-daa." It spills out into the hallways, where a half-dozen golden saxophones pick up the same haunting melody, in multilayered rhythms. It echoes in the foyer, where the xylophonists huddle in a circle around an instructor, tapping out the maddening meter on their notebooks. Small groups, all across the school, all working on the same tune. "Dee, da, bom, baa, dee-da-da; dee, da, da, da, dee-da-da." It's band camp time for the reigning AA state champion Blue Ridge High School Marching Band and other high school bands across the Upstate. For students at this northern Greenville County school, which is conducting drills at Blue Ridge Middle School while theirs is under construction, it's a three-week boot camp with horns. And on this day, the 156 students, a record turnout that signed up for the grueling eight-hour-a-day ordeal, are deep into "Abram's Pursuit," a complex piece of music that conjures up images of the Old Testament patriarch's race across the desert to defeat four kings who had kidnapped his nephew, Lot. "It's a bit difficult, but I think with a little time and work, we'll get it," said 15-year-old Tyler Young, starting her second year on bass clarinet with the Tiger marching band. An understatement if ever there was one.

Before this day is over, the band will have rehearsed and re-rehearsed this wild musical swordfight measure by measure, pausing only to rest their worn-out lips for a hamburger supper provided courtesy of Locust Hill Baptist Church of Travelers Rest. They will have sat still for an hour in straight-backed chairs in the school auditorium, playing sections of music over and over that have the trombones relentlessly chasing the flutes and the xylophones clashing with the woodwinds as head drum major Leah DeKalb frantically waves her arms over the battle. "I want you to play the music like you're mad at it," band director James Fox tells them, clapping a pair of drumsticks in 5/4 time as though whipping Abram's camel on its gallop across the dunes. They will have marched for three hours in the hot August sun -- forward, backward, sideways, in crazy converging circles, always (except for a stray misstep or two) winding up in some preordained configuration that is as intricate as the music that's been drumming in their brains all afternoon. Like a Fox This seemingly chaotic orchestral extravagance is presided over by a blue jean-wearing, shirttail-hanging maestro who has seen his band triple in size since he took it over in 1992. Shaped more like a bear than a fox, he commands respect but preaches a theme appropriate for his wily canine namesake: "Think!" Mr. Fox shouts over a portable loudspeaker system that's so far away from where he stands that it takes a second for the sound of his voice to travel across the football field back to him. "Be smart! Don't waste time!" Every second is precious, he says, considering that it takes 200 to 300 hours of practice to prepare for the eight-minute show the band will perform in state competition. It might not look like much fun, marching back and forth. And it's not easy, either, for members like Brendle Gosnell, a 100-pound eighth-grader who struggles to stand up straight while the 40-pound bass drum burdening her sun-reddened shoulders keeps telling her to lean back to offset its weight. But these kids are here by choice. And they have a motivation that's at least as strong as that of any football team in the county. They like to win. "It's just a great feeling," said Derek Pitman, a 16-year-old baritone player who marched with the band on its way to consecutive state trophies over the past

two years. "The first state championship, it was just incredible. And that's what kept me coming back." This year, the rapidly growing school moves up to the more competitive AAA level. The band placed fourth and second in that class in 2000 and 2001, respectively, before moving to AA for the past two years. They have entered the title chase with renewed enthusiasm, said Victor Mooney, a color guard instructor with a flattop haircut and fiercely green eyes. "Anybody can sit on the couch and eat potato chips during the summer," he said. "These kids take half of their summer and come out here for three weeks. They work really hard, and they're out in the sun. They sacrifice a lot to do what they do. "They're some special kids." Making champions But it takes more than motivated, disciplined, talented kids to make a champion band -- although those are key ingredients. It also takes parents. Parents who are willing to work. The Blue Ridge band's booster club raised $60,000 selling fruit and holding beauty pageants last year. The money is being spent this year on everything from instruments to transportation to sheet music. "We're a strange breed of people, but it's just the normal way of life for my family," said trumpet player Megan Williams' mom, Kathy, who organizes the meals and helps with alterations of the uniforms. "I know some people look at us and think we're a little nuts." Band fans are at least as loyal as football fans, said Linda Walker, whose clarinet-playing daughter Katie is in her second year. She recalls a few years ago when the football team wasn't generating much excitement. "During the game, there was an awful lot of talking and moving around in the stands," she said. "But at halftime, everybody comes to this reverent silence. And it's because the band is playing. That's what most of the people were there to see." It also takes community support. The kids at Blue Ridge are fed well at camp, mostly from local donations. Locust Hill Baptist Church, where Fox is music director, brought 225 hamburger patties, 15 dozen buns, 15 pounds of slaw and 20 pounds of tomatoes -- some of them grown by church members Frances and Ralph Gravley.

"A lot of the youth in the band are in our church orchestra, and this is just our way of saying thank you for all that they do and what the school does," said pastor Nick Ballew, who braved the heat in spite of having just gotten out of the hospital. It takes people like Ralph "Red" Staton, whom Fox has named volunteer assistant band director. (His other unofficial title is mayor of Blue Ridge.) Red, 60, has been following the band around for 20 years, ever since his niece played in it. "When I first started out, I was helping them with the equipment and stuff," he said. "And then later on down the years, I just started hanging out with them and have been hanging out with them since." He patrols the halls, checking things out, always ready to help if needed. Although he's never played a note of music in his life, he's there to give Fox advice if something seems wrong. And it takes an assistant band director like David Allen. A graduate of nearby North Greenville College who fell in love with the hill country around Blue Ridge after doing his student teaching here, he takes raw recruits in sixth grade and gets them ready for the varsity band. "Our job's pretty easy. We just sort of guide and instruct," he said. "They're motivated." Hot rendezvous Although band grandmother Carol Plumblee said it was hot enough to warm the hamburger buns on the sidewalk if she'd wanted to, the school takes precautions to protect the troops from overexerting themselves. Fox doesn't send the band out to practice marching until 6 p.m. The sun's rays are slanting at a gentler angle then, but it's still at least 85 degrees. He gives a little sermon on heat stroke at the beginning of the drills. "There's a difference between being too hot and overheated and about to faint and laziness," he tells them over the loudspeaker. "You're the one who's going to have to make a call on that difference. "Any time you feel like it is too hot for you, you need to sit down. Feel free to sit down, go over and get a drink of water." Then he adds: "If you see anyone around you that looks like they're just kind of wobbling and not really all together, you help that person, grab that person, ask them if they're all right."

The staff keeps plenty of water and Gatorade on hand. It's no simple job turning 156 teenagers into a marching, music-playing machine. Fox, with help from his assistant director and the section instructors, runs the band through drill after drill as he watches every detail from a position up the hill. At first, they march up and down the hash marks in straight lines. The steady beat of an amplified electric metronome that requires earplugs for those closest to it is the only sound. Eventually they're swirling in groups like interlaced snowflakes on the burning Bermuda grass. Fox calls the kids "selfish and immature" when they talk -- and they clam up instantly. "I know it's hot down here," he says. "I love you. I'm glad you're here, but that was awful." He calls offending students by name and explains why it was bad and what they need to do to make it right. "A judge will notice things like that," he says. He always has invisible judges peering over his shoulder. Fox also doles out praise. In front of the whole group, he singles one student out for his progress and for responding well to constructive criticism. "Tomorrow, you go to supper first," he says. As the evening wears on, he thinks back to two days earlier, when they were a straggly group of rookies and out-of-practice, summer-lazed veterans who could barely form a straight line. He recalls how they seemed more interested in socializing than in the serious business of marching and music. Yes, things were starting to come together. They had made great strides by midweek, he tells them. Now they were starting to look, and sound, like a band.

The Game
I have done my part through the years to perpetuate the myth that there is nothing more important in the state of South Carolina, at least on one Saturday in November, than the annual in-state rivalry game between the Tigers and the Gamecocks. I remember as a kid having to ask every year how it can be that Clemson is playing against South Carolina

since Clemson is IN South Carolina. The supreme irony was that we’re playing against a school that has a chicken for a mascot when our daddy is the big chicken man at the Tiger school. But after I eventually came to be interested in football – something that doesn’t seem to be a part of the Barnett genes – I have come to love to have a friendly spite for the Carolina chickens. Below is about the fourth time I had written this sort of story at the request of the editors. It does get a little challenging trying to think of a different way to do it each time. And after the way the game ended this year, I can't help but think that the brawling wasn’t in some way egged on by my prose. Anyway, this is the 2003 version of the story.

'The Game' divides friends, families, foes like no other

Game begins at 7 p.m., but rivalry often lasts lifetime

CLEMSON vs. SOUTH CAROLINA The 101st meeting

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
Never mind that Clemson University is about to establish a high-tech automotive research park with world-class partners like BMW and Microsoft. Clempson is a one-cow college of toothless, tobacco-chewing farm boys who can't help but holler when their "Taters" run down the hill. So say the Columbia "Coots." The Coots, by the way, have no right to call themselves USC (that's in California) or "Carolina" (it's somewhere up on Tobacco Road) -- even though they have one of the nation's top schools of international business. That's the kind of chatter you saw on the Internet this week, if you logged onto one of the fan-based Web sites that have become the new frontier for the Great Animosity between the two universities.

But such disrespect, such enthusiastic spite is to be expected. Late November has arrived. The ACC and the SEC matter no more. Only one thing is important now. The Game. It's red clay vs. sandhills. Pitchfork Ben vs. the Lowcountry Conservatives. Bowden vs. Holtz. Tigers vs. Gamecocks. There are no bystanders in this fight -- at least not among anyone who has lived in the Palmetto State for a while. "The whole state is split one way or another," said Jon Snipes, a biology major at Clemson. "You're either a Clemson fan or a Carolina fan. There's no overlap." Despite all the rancor, the pulling down of goal posts and the name-calling, the rivalry is generally a healthy thing, said Edwin Ayers, a psychology professor at South Carolina State University. "It keeps them excited, it keeps them up-key," he said. "Some people look forward to that game all year." And the 101st meeting between Clemson and South Carolina in Columbia tonight promises to be as intense as any, with a winning coach -- Clemson's Tommy Bowden, 7-4 -- facing controversy for not measuring up to some fans' expectations, and a Gamecock team trying to overcome the November Chicken Curse in a last-ditch effort to qualify for a bowl game. It could get ugly. "Jeeeez.. I HATE CLEMPSON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!," someone out on the Internet blurted out on www.GamecockCentral.com earlier this week. That Web site had 26,979 registered users as of earlier this week, according to its administrator, Brian Shoemaker. TheTigerNet.com has 36,000 members online, who hit nearly 800,000 page views on the day of Bowden's weekly news conference this week, said Tommy Crumpton, a Clemson computer science grad who created and operates the site. "It's a whole community," he said. "It's got it's own traditions and customs." There's a Web site for supporters of Bowden. (TommyBowdenFans.com). There's another that argues for firing Carolina's Lou Holtz. (www.firelouholtz.com). Clemson fans masquerading as Carolina fans occasionally go to the chat rooms to stir up trouble -- and Gamecock fans do the same on the Clemson Web sites. Consider this one, purporting to be from former Clemson coach Danny

Ford: "Tommy loses this one, I'll be back in business youngster! Vurry vurry excited to be back at Clemson Tiger University." Gamecock fans have fun with their screen names. In real life, his name is Leigh Judy. On the Internet, he's Big Cock #1. The 26-year-old friends at work anybody you can especially this advertising coordinator who lives in Simpsonville said some of his best are Clemson fans. "We try to hold it back somewhat, but I think like only do that to a certain extent and then the blood boils over -week," he said.

But on the Internet, it's no holds barred. "People get on there and it gives them a place to vent," he said. Look for Carolina fans to start a jeering chant of "Charlie, Charlie, Charlie," mocking Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst in the same manner they did Rodney Williams in 1987 -- an effort that was sponaneous then but orchestrated on the Internet this year. Robert Gettys, a 1989 Clemson grad from Greenville, said the anonymity of the Internet allows for a freer flow of ideas. "I think some people actually state their true feelings more than they would if they're standing around a crowd of people," he said. The outcome of the game is important for Clemson, though, as the school considers athletic excellence an important component of becoming a Top 20 university, said former President Phil Prince, who blocked a punt to help the Tigers defeat the Gamecocks in 1948. "It was an intense rivalry then. It's an intense rivalry today," he said. He believes, by the way, that Bowden's job is secure. Businesses don't close across the state like they used to do when the two teams played, but life does seem to stop during the week leading up to the game. "No one can talk about anything but this," said Snipes, the Clemson biology major. "It's like our classes have pretty much stopped." But it's not all about hatred -- even though many fans recall gleefully past games in which they humiliated the other side. Snipes is a member of Clemson's Sigma Nu fraternity, which each year runs the game ball 138 miles from the site of last year's game to the stadium where this year's will be played. Last year, Clemson's Sigma Nu's raised $5,900 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society with the run; their fraternity brothers from USC, who ran it halfway, raised $8,000.

And fans of both sides competed again this year in a blood drive. Clemson leads that annual competition series 12-6. When it comes to the game itself, the Gamecocks have gone home disappointed more than the Tigers. They've lost 60 of the 100 games. That has little bearing on this year's edition of the rivalry match, though. When the 2001 theme announces the entrance of the team in garnet and black, a new chapter of history will begin. It all starts fresh at 7 p.m.

Basketball Bozos
While I’m on sports, I’ll include another one that shows how nasty high school basketball fans can be. Basketball teams feel lash of rage Coaches say high school sport has potential for eruptions of violence

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

The Yellow Jackets came out fast and furious in Tuesday night's playoff game against Eastside, and a Greer fan was rubbing it in. "Yo, boy, how'd you miss that layup?" he yelled at one of the Eagles, tossing in an expletive to drive the dagger into the player's heart. After the third or fourth taunt, Eastside principal Sheryl Taylor approached the offender. "We don't use that kind of language here," she said firmly. "Thank you." In the pressure cooker that high school basketball has become, fuses on tempers can be measured in tenths of a second, and things get personal quickly.

Coaches like Greenville High's Bill Johnson say it's always been that way. A sweaty sport of armpits and elbows that draws people in from the raw winter cold and packs them onto hard bleachers in a crowded, noisy gym is a naturally ripe environment for intense emotions, they say. But others, such as longtime high school coach Louie Golden and sports sociologist Billy Hawkins, say incidents like last week's bench-clearing skirmish at a game between Woodmont and Carolina high schools is a sign that the culture of high school basketball is becoming more prone to violence. One player was arrested after a ruckus that involved about 75 players and fans. "It has gotten down to a point where things are getting out of control in the sport," said Golden, who took the reins of Southside High School's boys basketball team this year after a seven-year absence from coaching. "It wasn't like this before." The heat out on the hardwood is coming from a number of directions, including pressure to gain the attention of college recruiters, neighborhood conflicts that have nothing to do with the sport, and even misbehavior by the stars of the professional game. The NBA has been riddled with players pushing the envelope this season, and high school players haven't missed the message, said Hawkins, a sports sociologist at the University of Georgia. "They have access to seeing images of aggression, violence, taunting," he said. "Research shows that they imitate that type of behavior because they think that they can get away with it, or that it's part of the game, or that it gives them an advantage." Taylor, the Eastside principal, said she went to the Student Council a couple of years ago when the environment at home games started getting a little too heated. Fans were getting too caught up in taunting opposing teams, she said. "You don't have to put other people down to cheer for your team," she said. John Williams of Greer, who was at the Eastside-Greer game to root for his son, Josh -- one of four of his kids who plays basketball -- said it's bad calls by the men in stripes that sparks the rowdiness most of the time.

"I think Greenville County has the weakest officiating," the 44-year-old building contractor said. "I think if there's a problem, that's where you need to start looking first." Ryan Towers, a senior on the Eastside team who was "bumped" by a fan who was hauled out by school officials at the end of a game against Wade Hampton on Friday, said "trash talking" is a routine part of the game. "You've just got to keep yourself contained. You've got to keep your head," the 18-year-old guard said. "We've had our confrontations and everything like that, but it's never gone that far." Johnson, who coached the boys basketball team at Greenville High for 33 years and is now the school's athletic director, said most of the violence he's seen at games comes not from the players but from the fans. "What they end up doing is they bring little animosities and street disagreements to the game," he said. "The big games become a gathering point for the kids. And then they end up bumping into each other, and you just go from there." But perhaps the biggest source of heat in the high school basketball climate, coaches agree, is parents. The stakes are high. A college scholarship is worth big money. And if a Kevin Garnett can rise from Mauldin to haul in multimillions in the NBA, the doors are open to anyone, some parents and players reason. Some parents even hold their child back a grade in elementary school so he can be a better basketball player by the time he gets to high school, Golden said. "Everybody's looking for that kid who's gonna go pro and get a full scholarship in college," he said. "That's the pressure when you get a Kevin Garnett." Coaches often find themselves caught on a fault line between parents who think their kids aren't getting enough playing time and parents who think the team isn't doing well enough because of who's in the game the most. "The intensity of the game has gone up so high, and the fans now are getting too much involved in the game," Golden said. "Parents, uncles, cousins, and just plain fans, they're just getting too involved in the game." Last Thursday's incident, at the end of an 82-66 Woodmont victory on the home court of longtime rival Carolina, started when one player punched another, according to police. Three deputies dispersed the crowd, which was jammed into the small gym close to the action on the floor, with a burst of pepper spray. Woodmont hasn't lost a conference game since February 2001 -- to Carolina.

An 18-year-old Carolina player was charged with simple assault and battery and disturbing schools. Neither coach would comment on the incident or on the potential for violence in the sport. But Carolina principal Lillie Lewis said the story has been "blown totally out of proportion." The game was over when the fight started, and most of the people on the floor were just trying to leave, she said. "When you get a big crowd, things like that happen," she said. Neither the school nor the school district plans any changes to the policy regarding security at athletic events as a result of the fight, said Lewis and district spokesman Oby Lyles. "This was an isolated incident involving two players," Lyles said. The penalty for fighting can range up to recommendation for expulsion, at the discretion of the principal, and is meted out the same whether the fight occurs in the school hallway or at a game, he said. Sgt. Shea Smith, a spokesman for the Greenville County Sheriff's Office, said he doesn't think there's a trend toward violence at high school athletic events. "I haven't seen any other incident reports this year from a basketball game or been notified of any from any of the high school basketball games," he said. Lewis said fights broke out at events at other schools over the weekend. He said his office doesn't necessarily get reports of fights at schools. Figures from the South Carolina High School League show that the number of ejections from boys basketball games fell from 67 in the 1996-97 season to 50 this year. Boys soccer sees by far the most ejections, with 134 in 2002-2003, the most recent figures available. Players can be ejected for two technical fouls, for fighting or for unsportsmanlike comments toward officials. Ronald Matthews, executive director of the South Carolina High School League, said the fight at the Carolina-Woodmont game was the first case in recent years in which he recalls an arrest being made. "We've had kids to push and shove, and we've had them to fight," he said. "That's not something we certainly condone, but it is part of it. "We take strict action when that happens, and our schools take additional action."

Friday night heroes
While I'm on the sports beat, I’ll offer here my story from last year examining importance of high school football to one small town. A week after I wrote this story, they won the state championship.

Football fever sweeps Greer City's passion for team heats up with state title on the line tonight By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
The clock was down to 16 seconds. Union had the ball just outside Greer's four-yard line, threatening to punch it into the end zone and spoil, for the fifth year in a row, the Yellow Jackets' chance to play for a state championship. Greer's Dooley Stadium, designed to seat 8,500, was overflowing with 14,000 fans. They were jammed 10 deep in front of the stands on both sides and at least four or five deep all the way around, making all the noise they could on a cold, late November night. Robbie Gravley, radio announcer for Greer High football games, urged the home-team fans to start rubbing their lucky charms. "They bring a man in motion," Gravley tells the radio audience. "Snap back to (Union quarterback Justin) Knox. Rolling to his left. Fires it out. "And it's intercepted! Josh Williams! Intercepted by the Yellow Jackets. Wooooo!" Across town, fans listening in at the Clock Restaurant leap to their feet and join in the pandemonium. Williams points his index finger to the sky. Greer rules the Upstate. Now it's on to the state title game. High school football has always been big in Greer, and it's nearly always good. But this year, Yellow Jacket fever has struck with a level of intensity not seen in nearly a decade, since Greer's last state title run in 1994.

Tonight, the Friday night heroes have a chance to become Saturday night superstars and take home another AAA state championship at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. This whole phenomenon is about more than sports, though. Few things in life have the power to unify a community like high school football, especially in a small town -- even one that's growing as fast as Greer. "It gives everybody something to kind of rally around," said barber Mike Bullock, a 1968 Greer High graduate who hears plenty of football talk around his shop on Trade Street. The sport creates a sort of extended family, said Greer High principal Marion Waters, who was the Yellow Jackets' defensive line coach from 1974-86. "We cheer for the kid who grew up down the street, who came through your church community, who you've known, and you knew his parents and his grandparents," he said. "And I think that's part of the culture here. It's just special." How many other high schools have a fan-operated Web site? (YellowJacketSports.net) How many others have college football-style tailgate parties before their games? How many others get a police escort to Columbia for the championship game in chartered buses paid for by a fan? "People go crazy for football here," said Jimmy Chulkas, 33, part-owner of the Clock, the unofficial headquarters for after-game celebrations. A caravan of Yellow Jacket fanatics is planning to follow the team to Columbia after a 1 p.m. community pep rally at the school's gym today. A second wave plans to leave at 4 p.m. from the parking lot of the former Kmart store. In 1994, nearly 20,000 fans traveled to Columbia to watch Greer win its last title. Gravely, who volunteers his time and energy as the radio voice of the Yellow Jackets, expects at least that many at tonight's game. "It's just one big happy family that wants to get behind something that's good in the community," he said. "You've got people of all backgrounds standing arm in arm cheering together." Part of it has to do with tradition. And you can learn about that nowhere better than at the Poinsett Grocery, where the hard-core prognosticators and color analysts of Greer football drink coffee, hash over last week's game play-by-play and talk strategy for the next one. In a smoky aisle somewhere between the pork skins and the Mountain Dew, you'll find local legend Steve Brown, one of the first five inductees of Greer High's Ring of Honor and a member of the state champion 1958 team. And just to keep things

lively, Robert Coggins, a Riverside High supporter, offers the contrary view. And Bob Burnett, Class of '56, another mainstay of Yellow Jackets football. "Game's going to be close," a cigar-puffing Burnett said of tonight's 8 p.m. title match against West Florence. "Going to be determined by the kicking game." He figures Greer has the edge in kicking. Brown, who attends all the Yellow Jacket practices and is noted for his encyclopedic knowledge of Greer sports history, believes Greer can win if it avoids turnovers and penalties. Brian Duckett, a tire technician who stopped in for a chicken salad sandwich and some chocolate milk, joined the discussion. "It's been frustrating being beat by Union the last few years," the 1984 Greer High grad said, "and beating them twice in one year, I'm real proud of Greer, real proud of them." The Jackets defeated Union during the regular season prior to last Friday's Upstate title victory. In a county with historically lackluster high school football, Greer has been a standout for decades. A top-notch youth sports program has something to do with that, said Gene Collins, owner Bailes-Collins Men's Wear, and a 1964 Greer High grad whose son, Jason, was on the 1994 championship team. "Jason started playing ball when he was seven years old, and most of the kids that were on that championship team in '94 he came up with from seven years old," he said. "So they were just like a big family." Greer kids aspire to be Yellow Jackets. The school had nearly 100 players on its junior varsity and C teams this year. Collins, who donates racks for the football booster club's Humble Bumble Wagon to sell Yellow Jacket merchandise at home games, said he can't keep enough blackand-yellow items in stock. "They've pretty much cleaned me out," he said. You don't have to be a long-time Greer person to get caught up in football fever, either. Ken Emory, a barbershop gadfly who says he's a go-cart salesman, is firm in his conviction Greer will win 28-26 tonight, scoring in the last two minutes. "I didn't go to school here, but if you get here, man, you become a Yellow Jacket," he said. No one is higher about tonight, though, than the students of Greer High School.

"It's exciting, because we haven't been since '94," said 17-year-old senior Niccole Foster. "There's going to be a lot of people up there having fun." Lauren Gilliard, 18, said she's been to every game this year. "I love it because I'm a senior, and in my senior year, we're going all the way." Football has even been a religious experience for some this year, according to Gravley, the radio announcer. The home games are broadcast on a gospel station, WPJM 800-AM, and each one ends with a short devotional. "We've had some people tell us they made a commitment to Christ after our broadcasts." Greer coach Travis Perry "feels like God's had his hand on the team this year," Gravley said. "He prayed with the team right after (the Union game) was over. It was pretty awesome to hear that on the radio."

The Nigerian scam

If I ever wind up missing or dead for unknown reasons, tell the FBI to check my email and see if I have any threatening letters from high-ranking government officials from obscure African nations. This is a story I did for the fun of it mainly – and of course as a public service – to try to do something about the e-mails I kept getting from scam artists. As you’ll read below, it can be pretty serious business – but I'm pretty sure the scam artists are in more danger than I am.

African e-mail spells danger Feds warn about plea from Sierra Leone

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
An e-mail comes in with a subject line in all caps: URGENT ASSISTANCE NEEDED.

It's from someone claiming to be the son of a rebel leader in the African nation of Sierra Leone. Because of the tragic civil war going on in his country, he has fled and is seeking political asylum in the Netherlands -- or so he claims. He happens to have $10.5 million stashed away in two trunks at a "finance house" in Holland and, because the local laws prohibit political refugees from conducting financial transactions, he needs your help to get to it. If you get an e-mail such as this, the Secret Service has an urgent message for you: DON'T BELIEVE IT! People have gotten themselves murdered for following through with such scams, said Neal Dolan, South Carolina's top Secret Service agent. "When you've got some individual representing himself as a representative of the Nigerian government contacting some sole citizen, it should raise a red flag," he said. The so-called 4-1-9 scheme, named after the section of the Nigerian penal code that deals with it, is proliferating wildly on the Internet, he said. It started in Nigeria and has spread to other crime-ridden African nations where the culprits are using a variety of new twists to lure their victims, Dolan said. The biggest case so far in South Carolina involved an affluent retiree who transferred $600,000 to an Upstate bank account set up by Nigerians, he said. "They came in with one of these letters that had to do with religious missions, and this gentleman was involved in some type of church mission," Dolan said. "He took the bait." The crooks sent the man, whom Dolan wouldn't name, a check for $800,000. He was told to keep $200,000 for his church's missions and send the rest to an account designated by the criminals. Even though the check was counterfeit, the bank didn't detect the fraud, and it cleared, Dolan said. So he forwarded $600,000 to the account set up by the Nigerians. Afterward, though, the man became suspicious and called the Secret Service. "We checked on the account right away and found the $600,000 still sitting in the account, which kind of surprised us because normally they would have sucked it out in Nigeria by now," Dolan said. The bank wouldn't cooperate, so the Secret Service got a federal warrant to seize the money.

"So it saved this man probably six hundred thousand bucks that he would have lost," Dolan said. Not all scam victims in South Carolina have been as lucky. In the worst cases, Americans who have fallen for the multimilliondollar scams are convinced to pay numerous advance "fees" to process the transaction and eventually to fly to Nigeria to supposedly complete the deal. The criminals bribe government officials to allow the victim in the country illegally. Once they're there, though, they can't get out without the help of the con artists. Sometimes they hold their victims hostage. At least two Americans have been killed. On its embassy's Web site, the Nigerian government laments the negative impact the scams "perpetrated by a clique of unscrupulous Nigerians in collaboration with their foreign counterparts" have had on the country. People receiving these e-mails shouldn't get the idea that Africa is a continent of criminals, said Tom Owino, an assistant professor in agriculture and bioengineering at Clemson University, who is from Kenya. "To me, it just looks like a criminal activity, and criminals are everywhere," he said. "Obviously, it's giving the Africans a bad image, but I wouldn't go so far as to generalize." Some of the latest e-mailers have figured out that Americans are too busy to read long tales about obscure African nations. One, calling himself Dr. Bouguiba Samuel, director of project implementation for the ministry of health and social services of Ouagadougou, goes straight to the business proposal with his "strictly confidential" pitch. The greeting is "DEAR Sir/Madam" -- he doesn't know his recipient's gender but says he knows enough about the recipient to trust him/her to transfer $45.5 million gleaned from "over inflated contracts." He doesn't give up easily, even after being told that the person he is soliciting is a newspaper reporter who plans to turn the e-mail over to authorities. He replies: "Mr Ron, You can go on and do any finding you wish to find but, make sure you keep my identity secret as a civil servant in my Country so that i ceased from have problem with my govt. I will also tell you that I can assure you that the sky will be your limit if you assist us in the transaction."

The Schizophrenic Strangler

This story illustrates the tragedy of mental illness, not only for the victim of the disease but for their family. And it shows how the system doesn’t always do what it should to help and protect those who need it. The killer in this case has now been charged with murder, but the solicitor’s office hasn’t decided whether he’s competent to stand trial. Family lost son to disease, then to killer in mental hospital Now-closed state hospital one bright spot in dark decades of schizophrenia

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER rbarnett@greenvillenews.com He was a star on the Botany Woods swim team, a prankster, an artist. He could gobble three cheeseburgers at the Clock Drive-In and then work it all off in his basement exercise room. Paul Radler was one of the popular guys at Wade Hampton High School when he was a sophomore, back in 1977. Blond, handsome and witty. Something happened to him the next year. He started spending more and more time in the workout room - excessive amounts of time. He became withdrawn, and stayed awake more, sometimes all night long. Even his walk was different, stiff and erect. He began hearing voices no one else heard and seeing things no one else saw. His family thought maybe he was on drugs. Then came the diagnosis: schizophrenia, the most chronic and crippling of the mental illnesses. For a quarter century, Paul Radler wrestled his demons within. He fought them until the end. He had stopped taking a medication that controls the symptoms of schizophrenia, something many people do when they feel better, or when they feel worse. He was sent to Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital in Anderson. He was stabilized, feeling better and soon to be released. And then tragedy struck on top of tragedy.

Another patient entered Paul's room some time the night of Aug. 27 and strangled him, authorities said. He would have turned 43 on Wednesday.Botany Woods days Paul was the youngest of five children - four boys and a girl - in a Catholic family near Milwaukee, Wis. His father, John Radler, was an engineer who took a job in Greenville in 1973, when Paul was 12. Paul and his brother, John Radler III, just 10 1/2 months older, enrolled at League Middle School. Although they missed their extended family and friends in Wisconsin, they found a new circle of friends in Botany Woods. "From about eighth grade until my junior year, we were doing a lot of things together. We shared a bedroom. It was just normal," John III said. They swam in the neighborhood pool, rode their bikes everywhere, played cards. "Paul was such a free sprit," one of his friends from those days, Susan Carleton, then Susie Parsons, wrote in an e-mail to The Greenville News. "He was always laughing and had a continuous sparkle in his eyes." The sparkle began to fade about the time he turned 15. He started to "pull back" from the group, said Parsons, who now lives in the Seattle area. "When I would try to talk with him, our conversations didn't make sense," she said. "I knew we were losing him. I was losing him as a friend. The helplessness, the sadness, the feeling of loss was overwhelming." It hit his parents just as hard. "He just didn't sleep a lot. He'd be awake all night," said his mother, Joan Radler. "I think he was trying very hard to hold on to his sanity and so he stayed awake." They went through a trying period of not knowing what was going on, a feeling shared by countless families experiencing mental illness for the first time. They tried to get counseling for him but without success. Jerry Vanderwood, who lived three houses down from the Radlers, said the change in Paul was sudden and dramatic. "Almost overnight, his entire personality and demeanor changed," he said. "He became just very quiet and humorless, and really the only way to describe it was paranoid. Obviously, something was wrong." Paul didn't talk much about what was going on inside of him, and when he did, it made little sense to his family and friends. Paul imagined family connections to

the Nazis of World War II, his brother said. He exaggerated his Catholic beliefs and claimed "to know things that no one could possibly know." "He would be very concerned about people who were brainwashing him or people who were trying to get him," John said. The staff at Gregory's Residential Care Center near Simpsonville, where Paul lived for the past few years, wouldn't talk about him, citing confidentiality. Bull Street It wasn't until after the Radlers moved to Charleston in 1978 that Paul began to get help, his mother said. But it was a frustrating and expensive process. He spent several months each at the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital and Charleston County Hospital. "We tried a private psychiatrist, and he wasn't helpful." Around the time of the move, Paul ran away. "He ended up in Florida, and he was trying to work at a fast-food restaurant," John said. "He had no place to live. He was sleeping in the woods." The Radlers got a call from a mental-health hospital in Florida. When his parents went to pick him up, they were shocked by his state and appearance. They knew they had to make a change. "We made the most difficult decision of our lives. ...We had Paul committed so he could get the help he needed," his mother said. His turnaround came at the State Hospital on Bull Street in Columbia. "They were absolutely wonderful," his mother said. "That was actually the only time in which he improved, and he was doing so well." There, he was put on medication that got his hallucinations under control to the point that he was able to move into a private residential-care facility. The closure of State Hospital this year was disappointing to her. "I think that's a real pity. It's helped so many people, I'm sure," she said. "And I don't know what they do now." But Mrs. Radler doesn't blame the staff at Patrick B. Harris for what happened to her son. "I can understand that they can't control everything. And these people are very difficult to keep track of, I'm sure." Reconnecting with family

After he graduated from Wade Hampton High in 1978, Paul's brother John enrolled at Clemson University to study chemical engineering. But before he started his classes there, he joined the family for a summer at their cottage in northern Wisconsin. Paul's illness was changing him, but John holds on to memories of that summer, of canoe trips, of fun in the northwoods. He laughs about cooking a turtle with Paul and a cousin and eating it with peanut butter and jelly on one fishing trip when the fish weren't biting. He starts to cry, though, when he thinks of how the disease took away his relationship with his brother. "That was really my last childhood ... memory of doing something with him," he said. John started his studies at Clemson. Paul and his parents moved from Greenville to Charleston. Eventually, Paul would move into a residential-care facility near Aiken. But things didn't always go smoothly. Occasionally, when he was under less supervision, he would skip his medicine. He would become difficult, and sometimes he would wander away. He needed the care he was getting, and his parents' main concern was seeing to it that care would always be available. They were protective of Paul's interests, from their estate planning to acting as messengers between Paul and the rest of the family. John and the others sent Paul birthday cards through their parents, who would visit and report the news. After they moved to Florida, they bought Paul a phone card to make it easier to stay in touch. Paul's mom and dad visited him often during the 22 years they lived in Charleston, and his "greatest wish" was that some day he would come home, his mother said. John lived in Michigan, but his parents encouraged the visit. So, last September, during a trip to Greenville for a 25-year reunion of his class at Wade Hampton High, John visited Paul at Gregory's, a compound of small ranch houses with about eight residents in each. They had been talking on the phone for several months but hadn't seen each other since the 1980s when he visited Paul at the hospital on Bull Street. John got permission to take Paul out for lunch. They ate at a 1950s style diner and smoked cigarettes. Paul was afraid to go to Greenville, saying, "that was where the bad people were -- the people who brainwashed him and did bad things," John said.

Paul insisted on calling Gregory's and talked with a nurse who assured him everything would be OK in Greenville. The brothers drove through Botany Woods and looked at their old house, the schools they attended, and the Clock Drive-In. When the conversation would turn strange, John would listen quietly for opportunities to change the subject. "It was a roller coaster, and it was a tremendous struggle for him," John said. The peaks of the roller coaster were moments when Paul was lucid and able to communicate, before the twists and turns took hold of his mind. When they returned to Gregory's, the staff held a party for all the residents who had birthdays in September -- including Paul. John left feeling a new phase in their relationship was beginning. "I didn't know where it was going to lead, but I felt that we had reconnected forever," he said. "And I, of course, never in my wildest imagination thought that anything like this would happen." The details of Paul's death haven't been released. The state Department of Mental Health is investigating, with assistance from the State Law Enforcement Division, and the 10th Circuit Solicitor's Office is weighing the case to decide how to proceed. The suspect, whose name and condition haven't been released, has been taken to a prison hospital in Columbia. The coroner has said charges are pending. Knowing what they know, learning what they've learned through this difficult journey of their own, the family isn't pushing for punishment. What they want is better understanding -- and better treatment for the mentally ill. "What is important to us is that this person is recognized for being violent and that that can't happen anymore," John said. "And the other thing we're concerned about is whether or not there is a history with this patient that should have been recognizable or if there was some sort of incidents leading up to what happened that if there had been more ability to observe or recognize that it might have been prevented." Joan Radler, who has seen how a disease can take control of a good person, has compassion for the man who killed her son. "I just feel for him, because it may be very tough on him, and he doesn't really know what's going on, I'm sure," she said.

What she wants now is for the state to do a better job caring for people with mental illnesses. "They were doing a great job, and then they just decided to chuck it all, I guess," she said, referring to the $50 million in budget cuts and 900 jobs lost over the past three years. State officials have said the cuts were resulted from a sharp decline in revenues during the economic downturn. "That's too bad," Mrs. Radler said, "because there are a lot of people who need help, and what happens is those become the street people, and no one can care for them. And that's a sad way."

Gone before their time
Moving along in the sad-story section of Real Life, Real News, I’ll offer this, one of the saddest pieces I've ever done. It’s always difficult interviewing parents whose children have just been killed in some tragedy, but for this story I had to interview a whole roomful of them. One thing I've learned is that the old saying is true: It’s always the good ones who die young. Grab your hanky. Memory candles let parents' love shine Ceremony next month helps grieving families

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER rbarnett@greenvillenews.com You can see it in their smiles -- strong, painful smiles that hold back floodgates. You can see it in their hands, caressing scrapbooks, lockets, photos from happier times. But most of all, you can see it in their eyes -- eyes that tell of long, tortured nights, of profound, prolonged sadness, and of countless tears. The eyes of parents who have lost a child.

The children, regardless of how old they were or how they died, are remembered every day by parents who eventually find a way to go on with their lives. But they will be remembered in a special way next month, when here in Greenville and around the world candles are lit in their memory. The first candle will be lit in New Zealand at 7 p.m. local time on Dec. 14. The flames will burn for one hour, to be extinguished when parents in the next time zone to the west light their candles. Half a world away, at 7 p.m. EST on that day, Julia Muirhead and members of a group called The Compassionate Friends, will light candles at Thomas McAfee Funeral Home in downtown Greenville. For Muirhead, a 45-year-old loan operations manager at a downtown bank, it's just one way to keep alive the memory of her 19-year-old daughter, Amanda, killed in a crash on Interstate 26 in 1999. "You have a choice: You can be bitter, or you can be better," she said. "So what I'm trying to do through the Compassionate Friends is be better. I'm trying to help other people as they travel down this journey that I wish not a soul would ever have to travel down." Events such as the candle lighting service have symbolic power to help grieving parents draw strength by joining with others, said Gisela Lin, a mental health counselor at Texas A&M. "I think it's comforting to the family for so many people to come together to remember their loss," she said. "The whole ceremony is very spiritual, very special." It also helps such parents make it through the holidays, when the loss of a child can be the most painful, said Rita Milburn-Dobson, founder of Precious Gems Counseling Services in Philadelphia, which specializes in working with grieving parents. "It's not a time where we sit there for an hour and cry the entire time," said Milburn-Dobson, who lost two children as infants more than a decade ago. "It's a time just to share and to be with people who understand." Amanda Williams Dec. 4, 1979 -- July 25, 1999 It's 6 p.m. on an early November night at Julia Muirhead's home off Pelham Road, and alhough the leaves are turning from golden yellow to brown, fall has refused to come. One by one, leaves drift away from an oak nearby as Indian summer clings to the Upstate and Muirhead recalls, bravely, the death of her child. Amanda had been to St. Helena with her boyfriend, visiting her grandparents. They were on their way home, on I-26 in Orangeburg County, when a bucket fell from a truck in

front of their car. Her boyfriend swerved to avoid it, crossed the median and struck three cars traveling in the opposite direction. And she was gone. For the next six months, Muirhead was overwhelmed with grief. She couldn't work. She couldn't focus. A finance professional, she couldn't balance a checkbook. "It was all I could do to breathe," she said. Amanda was enrolled in Clemson University's honors program and was a rising sophomore. An devoted athlete who played basketball and soccer at Eastside High School, she hoped for a career in sports medicine. Someday, another Clemson student may have the chance to live out that dream, thanks to a scholarship Muirhead established with an endowment in her daughter's memory. Amanda's father, Johnny Williams, who operates the Greenville Compassionate Friends Web site, has set up a Web site in his daughter's honor, ChildrenRemembered.com, as a way of working through his grief. "I engulf myself in the Web sites," he said. Mothers and fathers often grieve differently, and the differences can cause conflicts in marriages, according to Sherry Schachter a psychologist at Memorial SloanKettering Cancer Center in New York and vice president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. "A man may not feel comfortable crying in front of someone else or telling his story in front of someone else," she said. "He may want to express his grief by taking his hammer and building something, or hitting a punching bag." One way of grieving is not better than the other, though, she said. Just different. Kirby Walser March 19, 1978 -- March 21, 1999 Such differences in dealing with the death of their son almost apart," said Nona Walser, a 55-year-old sales consultant. "tore our family

Her son Kirby, also a Clemson student, had been at his sister's apartment celebrating his 21st birthday on the night of his fatal accident. "Of course there was some drinking involved," she said.

Kirby, who hoped to become a state trooper, was walking home from the party when a friend stopped and asked if he wanted a ride. The friend also had been drinking, Walser said. "Then they decided to see how fast the car would go," she said. And just like that, he was gone. Her husband was able to feel compassion for the driver, who Walser said she now realizes is "a good guy." But at the time, "That hurt me a lot," she said. "In the long run, he did the right thing. He did what my son would have done." The family established a scholarship at Greenville Technical College in his memory. She is now able to laugh when she remembers her son. "He's gotten better since he died," she joked. "It's amazing how much better they get. I think he's even making good grades now." Eric Gow April 6, 1971 -- Nov. 4, 1991 As 7 p.m. approached at Muirhead's home last Thursday, the doorbell began to ring. It was time for a meeting of the Compassionate Friends committee that's organizing next month's candle lighting event. And with each ring, another story of love and tragedy walked through the door.

Janis Gow, a 51-year-old marketing supervisor at Kemet Electronics, has had more time than most in the group to come to terms with the death of her son, Eric. The anniversary last week of his accident on Interstate 85 in Greensboro, N.C., wasn't as difficult for her as the date had been in some of the early years. But the hurt is still there, and the memories. "There are days that it seems like yesterday, and other days it seems like it's been a lifetime," she said. Unlike most, she has a living reminder of her son -- his identical twin, Aaron. The twins, who were surveyors at the time of the crash, were traveling in different cars on the same highway, when a wheel came off a tractor-trailer truck and hit Eric. And just like that, he was gone.

Having another son who looks just the way Eric would have looked at age 32, is a bittersweet experience for Gow. "There's times I find myself just staring at him," she said. "I know that makes him uncomfortable." Greg Lackey Feb. 8, 1976 -- Dec. 4, 2000 Greg Lackey was a 24-year-old world traveler, a new graduate of the University of South Carolina's international business master's program when he was killed in an accident at a train station in Casablanca. The honors graduate of USC and graduate of Christ Church Episcopal School spoke Portugese, did an internship in Brazil, traveled in India and the Far East before visiting Spain. "He was going to Morocco to ride a camel, and then go to Portugal and come back home," said his mother, Judy Lackey. When he realized he had gotten on the wrong train on Nov. 29, 2000, he tried to jump back onto the platform wearing a 50-pound backpack. He died five days later. His parents have established a scholarship in his name to USC.

Matthew Renner Sept. 21, 1972 -- Jan. 13, 2001 The death of a child isn't any easier when it doesn't happen unexpectedly. Matthew Renner was a 28-year-old former Greenville police officer who had moved to New York where he died after a nine- month battle with lymphoma. "We worried about him as a policemen. He had even been in the emergency room a couple of times when a drug pusher pulled a gun on him and things like that," said his mother, Margaret Renner. "And then he had relaxed and moved to New York with his wife and child, and four months later he called us, and he's got a huge tumor on top of his heart."

Lisa Etherington Oct. 9, 1980 -- Feb. 11, 2000

Even though she knew she was dying, 19-year- old Lisa Etherington continued living as though she had a future. A graduate of Dorman High School, she enrolled at Spartanburg Methodist College for a three-week college career before dying of Hodgkins lymphoma, said her mother, Debbie. "We knew for a year and a half that we only had six months," she said. "And she grabbed the next year to finish everything, I guess." As the holiday season approaches, and most families are thinking about gifts and decorations and dinners, these families, and others, will be remembering the ones who have left them before their time. The candles will stretch round the world, shining in the darkness. They won't produce much light, but the love they shed will be unfathomable.

Unsolved mysteries

OK, while we’re in the sad-story mode, I’ll submit a few more. These are some of the ones I've done in the past year. This first one is about a case in Clemson in which the parents, and the police, are convinced that they know who the killer is but they can't prove it. It seems I've written more sad stories than I realized. Skip on down to ‘Bi-Lo Bad Boys’ if you’re not in the mood for more sadness.

Family of slain

Clemson freshman still seeks 'justice'

Parents, police frustrated that killer has gone free for 7 years

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
The shoreline is thick with warning signs. No swimming. Don't eat the fish -- PCB contamination. Turn on your radio if you hear the Oconee Nuclear Station sirens.

But here, where Stacy Brooke Holsonback's body was found floating in Lake Hartwell seven years ago today, there's no warning that would have helped save the 18-year-old Clemson freshman. Nothing about going riding in a four-wheeler with two guys from school. The red clay dunes where the high-spirited biochemistry major went "mud bogging" have been leveled and replaced with a Chrysler-Dodge dealership. The narrow strip of State 93 near the boat ramp where her body was found is now a landscaped fourlane highway. The years have gone by, and a new student body has come and gone. "I think this is a very safe place," said Sumera Patan, a graduate student in electrical engineering who had never heard of Brooke Holsonback. She said she frequently walks around campus and downtown Clemson at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning and doesn't worry about her safety. If life has returned to normal at Clemson, it, of course, is not the same for Warren and Debbie Holsonback, Brooke's parents. It will never be the same for them. Nor for Sgt. Greg Reed of the Oconee County Sheriff's Office. Holsonback's death was ruled a homicide. Bruises were found on her throat, and an autopsy showed she died by strangulation rather than drowning. How it happened remains a mystery. "I'm bent on solving this case," Reed said, "and I think it will be solved." The Holsonbacks and the Sheriff's Office are convinced they know who killed her. But lacking hard evidence, no charges have ever been filed. "I still worry that whoever's out there that did this could do it again to someone else," Warren Holsonback said. "And that really bothers me, that they're still on the loose." Lingering questions It had been an overcast but unseasonably warm Wednesday for late February when Holsonback decided to go out for some late-night fun. Holsonback had had a drink or two but was nowhere near intoxicated, her autopsy showed. She and the two men, one of whom she had studied with frequently and the other whom she had met a couple of times, headed out after 10 p.m. on U.S. 123 toward

Seneca, Reed said. They made their way in a black Jeep Cherokee to a gullied clay wasteland well known to thrill-seekers with four-wheelers and dirt bikes. Eventually, they got stuck in the mud. "The story that we're being told is that they tried for a long time to get the vehicle out," said Reed, the lead investigator on the case. "The two guys who were accompanying her got into an altercation, and the last time that they say they saw her, she was sitting on the bumper of the vehicle." They told authorities they thought Holsonback had decided to walk the three miles back to campus. The men decided one of them would walk back to campus to get some help, Reed said. They found some buddies at their dorm room to come back and rescue them. They said they never saw Holsonback after that, Reed said. Police interrogated the two freshmen for more than 13 hours. One of them had a bite mark they said occurred during their fight -- an alcohol-fueled brawl over blame for getting stuck in the mud. A dental test to determine who did the biting was inconclusive, Reed said. Reed wouldn't comment on tests to find out whether Holsonback had been sexually assaulted. But he said evidence degrades rapidly in water and that her body had been in the lake at least eight hours before it was discovered by a construction worker at the ramp near the YMCA beach. "It's a very frustrating case," Reed said. "Sometimes you feel like you've got a lot, and then you feel like you don't have that much. But I am convinced that that case will be solved." Candle still burning At the Holsonbacks' home in Newberry County, an electric memorial candle engraved with Brooke's photograph remains lit, seven years later, Warren Holsonback said. He keeps photos of her, and her brother and sister, on his desk at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, where he's an instructor. "It has been a long time now," the 50-year-old father said, "and it's still something that we deal with on a daily basis." For Debbie Holsonback, this time of year is always harder. She still avoids her daughter's gravesite. "It's hard to just deal with that part of it," she said. "At this point, I choose to think of her with good memories."

She remembers a daughter who had aspired to treatments or design artificial limbs for disabled people, a a personality that could light up a room when she walked in. 25 now, excelled in classes for gifted and talented students sing gospel music.

discover new cancer high school cheerleader with Brooke, who would have been in high school and loved to

Brooke's younger sister and brother keep Mrs. Holsonback going, she said. Both are Clemson students. Kelli, 22, is a senior who plans to go to the Medical University of South Carolina after finishing a master's in physical therapy. Justin, 18, is a freshman in engineering. "It's easy to give up when it's just you," Mrs. Holsonback said. "But we've tried to keep their lives going as normal as possible." Do the Holsonbacks worry about their kids' safety on the same campus where their daughter spent her final day? "Sure, you can't help but have concerns and worry about it," Warren Holsonback said. "The thing is, you can't let that totally consume you, though. And that's hard balancing that out." If most students at Clemson don't remember Brooke's story, her sisters at Gamma Sigma Sigma have made sure they still hear her name. The service sorority established a program called SAFE, or Safety Awareness For Everyone, in her honor, to offer self-defense classes and raise awareness of campus safety. Hope abides It's faith that Warren Holsonback relies on to cope -- both religious faith and faith that the case someday will be closed. "Whether it's taken care of here in my lifetime or not, I know it will be taken care of," he said. They still believe someone may have seen something on that dark road between Clemson and Seneca. Or that someone has heard something. Officers handed out hundreds of fliers to motorists who traveled the road where Holsonback was last seen. Once they got an anonymous phone call from a woman who said she had information and would call back. She never did. But they know that as time goes by, the leads become fewer and farther between. And there are new cases to be investigated.

"It would be nice to have the ability to sit and just work on this one case or on any unsolved case, but unfortunately, you can't do that, because crime doesn't take a holding pattern," Reed said. "It keeps happening." The Clemson University police, the State Law Enforcement Division and the FBI continue to assist, but there hasn't been much new to investigate lately, Reed said. Reed pins hope on advances in crime-solving technology. "Every day something new in forensics is coming out," he said, adding, "There is no statute of limitations." For any parent, coming to terms with a child's death requires grace beyond measure. But for the Holsonbacks, that has remained just beyond reach. "A lot of people say the victim's family, all they want is revenge. That's not what we want," Warren Holsonback said. "We just want justice."

Chopper One
Regional One paramedic died living out his dream His widow recalls a man dedicated to helping others

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
SIMPSONVILLE -- It began with a part-time lawn-mowing job and turned into a summertime romance that lasted two weeks shy of 16 years. J.R. Bacon had a passion for helping people in life-and-death situations, and it was a passion the teenage volunteer firefighter shared with the girl whose father had hired him to cut their grass. "We spent more time talking than he did mowing the lawn," said Stephanie Bacon, who became his wife after an eight-year courtship. After spending half their life together -- the 16th anniversary of their first date is Aug. 1 -- J.R. answered his last call as a paramedic aboard Spartanburg Regional Memorial Hospital's Regional One helicopter on the morning of July 13.

The chopper crashed in the Sumter National Forest after picking up an injured hitchhiker on Interstate 26 in Newberry County. There were no survivors. Bacon, whom family and friends describe as a light-hearted soul who loved to make people laugh, died fulfilling one of his passions and left his other great passion -- his wife -- to carry on the family tradition. She is scheduled to go back to work Monday as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Palmetto Richland Hospital in Columbia and return to part-time work as an emergency medical technician for Greenville County EMS next month. "It's the right thing to do," she said. "I did it before all this, and I feel like it would almost be a pleasure for me to do that in my husband's honor, to continue that work." Bacon, 31, of Simpsonville, along with flight nurse Glenda Tessnear, 38, of Bostic, N.C.; pilot Bob Giard, 41, of Landrum; and patient Alicia Goodwin, 27, all perished in the crash that is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. A preliminary report issued by the NTSB last week said the aircraft, flying in a mist and light fog, collided with trees during its initial climb about 5:35 a.m., 33 minutes after it left the hospital. Stephanie, 32, drove past the rescue staging area on her way to work that morning, not knowing her husband was one of the victims. "I got to work and changed into scrubs and was standing there at the nursing station waiting to get a report when I got a phone call," she said, holding back the flood of emotion during an interview at her well-kept home in one of Simpsonville's newer subdivisions. She takes comfort in the fact he died doing the work he loved. "Knowing him and knowing what they do in that aircraft, I know that literally to the second before they died they were doing what they were trained to do and what they were there to do -- doing their job," she said. "I guess if I had to lose him any way, I would rather him have been happy doing what he's always dreamt to do." J.R. had just become a nationally certified flight paramedic, one of 390 in the nation, the day before the crash. The Bacons moved to Greenville four years ago from rural Effingham County, Ga., near Savannah, after J.R. responded to an ad in the back pages of a medical journal. The Greenville County EMS was in need of a paramedic, and J.R. was impressed with the advanced technology the county was using.

But ever since he was a teenager and flew a rescue mission on a helicopter, working as a flight paramedic, helping those in the most critical situations had been his dream. When a job on the Regional One crew became available, he jumped at it. "All through his life, that was what he wanted to do," said Bacon's brother-in-law, Gary Kocher. "It wasn't like he had almost reached his life's goal. He was living it." He continued working part time for Greenville EMS. The crash, which happened just seconds after the chopper lifted off the Interstate 26 pavement with the patient, has left his family and friends struggling to cope with their loss. Greenville EMS paramedic Sharon Craver first met J.R. when he and Stephanie were planning to move to Greenville. "He just had a way of making everybody around him feel good, just by his attitude," she said. "And he was an excellent paramedic. This is a great loss to us." Greenville EMS Capt. Dean Douglas said J.R. always was laughing and smiling. "He was fun to be around. He was one of those people everybody loved." The couple had no children but shared their lives with two black cats, IVy and Murphy, and loved to spend time with their nieces and nephews in Georgia. "Theirs is a great love story," said Stephanie's paternal grandmother, Hazel Kocher of Rincon. "J.R.'s main goal in life was making Stephanie happy." The two met during the summer before ninth grade when Stephanie and her family moved from St. Petersburg, Fla., to Rincon, a town with no stoplights and the only high school in the county. They carried on a long-distance romance after Stephanie left for Newberry College to earn a degree in biology. She went back to school after the couple moved to Simpsonville, earning a bachelor's degree in nursing from USC Upstate two months ago. "J.R. has been so much a part of our family," Hazel Kocher said. "We've always been very close. Over the last few days, we've done a lot of praying. And we've been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love shown to our family." Hazel Kocher said both of the Bacons had spent practically their entire lives helping other people. Often, their commitment to their jobs forced them to spend long hours apart. "Maybe God was preparing them for this," Kocher said.

She said she has found peace in a telephone conversation she had with J.R. and Stephanie the weekend before he was killed. The couple was driving to Georgia, and they called from the road. "Before she hung up the phone, I told her to tell J.R. that I loved him," the grandmother said. "You don't know what a tremendous gift that has been to me, to know that I was able to say that. It has given me so much peace." As for Stephanie, she plans to stay in the house that now seems so empty without her husband. She has her memories, her photos of J.R. clowning around at their wedding, and a local support network of people who, like her, are dedicated to helping others. "Even though I don't have family -- blood family -- that are here, I have my EMS family and Regional One family who are here to help me out," she said. And even though she says she'd give "everything I have" to have him back, she is finding strength, and purpose, in his legacy. "I have to be strong. I have to go on," she said. "He wouldn't want it any other way."

Death by drowning
One note on this one: I was able to help this family get help for their funeral expenses through this and a subsequent story that prompted people to set up a fund to collect donations. Fishing trip turns to summer tragedy Family remembers fun-loving teenager who fell in Saluda

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
It wasn't supposed to happen this way. On any other Sunday afternoon, Jerimi Antwon Dendy would have been off with his mother's friend, Larry Garrison, helping rebuild carburetors or doing a brake job on a friend's car.

But on this particular summer Sunday, the 16-year-old West Greenville boy had fishing on his mind. It seemed like the perfect day for a cool ride down to the Saluda River with "Mr. Poppy," owner of a nearby convenience store, and a few buddies. He wasn't supposed to panic when he slipped off a rock in the river at the State 124 bridge and plunged into a pool of deep water. He wasn't supposed to die. "We were supposed to go to the 11th grade together. We were supposed to graduate together," his 17-year-old sister, Danielle sobbed outside their white frame house overlooking a kudzu field and New Beginnings Church of Deliverance. "He left without me," she said. "We're supposed to be by each other at all times." But on Sunday at about 4 p.m., Dendy did get in County Coroner Jim Mehanes said. trouble in the water, Pickens

He and two other boys, ages 12 and 13, had decided to wade out into the brownish-green water until they were chest deep, the coroner said. They intended to swim across to a rope swing for a traditional summertime thrill over the river, Mehanes said. Antwon, or 'Twon as his friends call him, climbed up on a big rock, and for some reason slid off into a pool 15-20 feet deep, according to Mehanes. "And they said virtually as soon as he got in the water he started floundering, up and down, shaking his arms and stuff like that as though he had panicked," Mehanes said. The other boys jumped into the river and tried to calm him down, Mehanes said. In his panic, Antwon grabbed one of them around the neck and started pulling him under with him, he said. "So he had to push himself away and they still grabbed him by his arms and tried to support him and tried to tell him to calm down and whatnot, but they couldn't do it, and he went under." It was between 30 minutes and an hour before divers were able to retrieve him. He still was alive. He was alive when his brother, Kevin "Dee" Dendy, arrived at the hospital. He believes Antwon waited to hear his voice before giving up his losing battle for life. "He squeezed my hand," said Dee, his voice giving way in sadness. "He squeezed it a little bit, then he let go. And then he was gone."

Antwon could play football, basketball, soccer. He had proven to be a good swimmer on a trip to Virginia Beach just three weeks ago, his mother said. She keeps a small trophy on a shelf in her house that recognizes him as "Most Improved" student at Parker Middle School in 2001. "He was an amazing kid. He could do a lot of things I couldn't do," his brother said. Except dancing. "He just couldn't dance," Dee laughed. "I mean I love the way he tried. He tried his hardest, but he couldn't." He wasn't perfect. As smart as he was at fixing cars -- he could take one apart and put it back together, according to his mother, Rose Dendy -- he had some trouble in school and last year was assigned to a special education program at West Greenville School, she said. "He was a good baby." While at West Greenville, he met the Rev. Willie Choice, who at that time was pastor of Rock Hill Baptist Church in Greenville. "I'd go pick him up from his mom's job and we'd go out and do things -take him out and get ice cream and things like that," Choice said. "He was an outgoing kid and one that loved his family," he added. "He wanted to make something out of his life." Cynthia Downs, who met the Dendys when they moved here from Clinton six years ago, said Antwon helped move furniture for her about three weeks ago. He was always willing to do things like that and never asked for pay, she said. "He would give you his last," she said. Life wasn't always easy for him, said his cousin Rosie Coleman. "But he was sweet. He wouldn't hurt anybody." His sister, Danielle, regrets that she wasn't able to be there when Antwon died. But she's glad she was able to go see "I, Robot" with him a few days ago. It was the first time they had gone to a movie together, just the two of them. But he won't be able to go to the Usher concert they had planned as their next brother-sister outing. And his brother's unborn child won't meet his uncle. He won't be able to fix the transmission on the car that his sister planned to buy so they could drive to school together.

His school clothes and shoes and notebooks, sitting in a layaway storeroom somewhere, won't be needed. Instead, there's a wreath of white roses on the window of a white house on Lemon Street. And a family in mourning for a 16-year-old who went fishing and never came back. It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

Bi-Lo bad boys
It’s probably a very good thing I never made it to the big time in the music business or I might have ended up crazier than I am now, like some of the rock stars who perform at the Bi-Lo Center. Below is a story I did as my contribution to a special section we did commemorating the 5th anniversary of the arena. The editors cut out the very end of the story, which had to do with some rap artists and various bodily waste matter.

Touring artists call city home for a day They do things like go to the mall or a park. They need things like water and vitamins. Then they go on stage and put on a show

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
They're just regular people, really. Regular people who set up kiddie pools and inflatable palm trees on the loading dock, fill a whole room with wigs, carry around their own video arcade, and ride scooters in back hallways. Normal guys just trying to relax from the hard life of the road. The Bi-Lo Center has seen them come and go over the past five years, the biggest names in show business -- Cher, Elton John, Barney the purple dinosaur.

And in spite of some of the quirkiness that often is part of the lifestyle of the rich and famous, many of the stars have done some pretty normal things while they were in Greenville, and gone unnoticed in the crowd. "A lot of the artists go to the mall, surprisingly," said Jill Weninger, marketing director for the Bi-Lo Center. Some even venture out through town on foot. "The first time the Dixie Chicks came, they took their dogs to Cleveland Park and hung out," Weninger said. "I don't think anyone realized it was them." They have normal needs, too. Like the time Cher needed to have the chain on a turquoise necklace lengthened. She sent it to J.B. Lacher's on College Street. "When we first saw it we thought it was a cheap piece," said Phil Neas, shop supervisor. "And then we started checking more closely, and it was a designer piece, which had platinum on it -- which on something like that you would never imagine." "At the end of the day, we felt it a great accomplishment that we were able to do something for somebody like that," he said. They also have a need to make themselves at home in their home-for-aday, said Nikki Malpass, the Bi-Lo Center's director of events. Tim McGraw carries a basketball goal with him everywhere he goes. He and his crew played a pick-up game on the loading dock when he was at the Bi-Lo Center, she said. Brittney Spears insisted on being provided with chewable Flintstone vitamins. Everyone, of course, has to have their own brand of spring water. "You have to think, they're away from home. They live on a bus. They go to sleep in one city and wake up in another," Malpass said. "People sometimes think what stars ask for is excessive, but it's not always fun being on the road." Sometimes the Bi-Lo Center staff has to go to the Fresh Market or Garner's Natural Market to find some things performers insist on. Most of the time when it comes to food, though, staff members can get what they need at -- you guessed it -Bi-Lo. At least two stars have celebrated milestone birthdays with performances at the Bi-Lo Center. Kid Rock took his entourage to a local strip club after his concert to celebrate his 30th birthday. Tony Bennett's 80th was a little more laid-back. Dinner at Soby's and a chocolate cake courtesy of the Bi-Lo Center.

Things haven't always gone smoothly for the stars and their crews. A storm knocked the power out when Creed came to town in 2000. After an hour and 15 minutes, it was still out. The band was already back on their bus, pulling out of the loading dock, when the lights came back on, Weninger said. "They turned around and came back." On the Dixie Chicks' latest visit, in May, one of their crew members accidentally knocked himself unconscious working underneath the stage. Even the Bi-Lo Center's own chiropractor, Dr. Michael Bovee, couldn't handle that one. He had to be taken to the hospital. Most of the stars have been gracious visitors. "Alan Jackson's extremely shy. Dave Matthews hangs out, just walks around the backstage hallways and just is there all day hanging out with everyone," Malpass said.

The First Day of Spring
This was one of the first stories that I really enjoyed doing after I went back to being a writer following four and a half years as an editor. Even though I had put in the request to return to writing myself – being an editor just isn’t a very creative job – I still had to go through a very difficult adjustment period. Being an editor, or any kind of boss, is a kind of disease of the ego. Without realizing it, I had gotten to where I felt kind of big about myself, being on a higher plane than most of the people in the newsroom, being a part of the elite group that ran things. Then, even though I was classified as a “senior writer,” I was basically back on the same rung with everybody who I had just been above, and I was below the guys who had been my comrades. Now, I've always been of the opinion that the people who report and write the stories are the ones who are doing the real work of journalists. We’re the ones who produce the product. We’re the reason people read the paper. Editors, just like people in the circulation and advertising departments, are just there to support what we do. Still, the world doesn’t see it that way. Editors, even though they don’t write a single story or take a single picture, are the ones with the status. What does all this have to do with the first day of spring? Well, to compound my adjustment to being out on the street again, I was dealing with a stopped-up ear that I couldn’t hardly hear out of, and the weird stuff that pollen does to me in March had made me unable to sleep for several days. The weather had been unseasonably wet and cold and dreary for weeks. Then along came the first day of spring, and my editor asked me to do a story about it. It was the same day we were zapping Iraq with “Shock and Awe,” but in Greenville it was a beautiful day. I got out in the car and had a little fun writing a story, and suddenly, life was good again.

Spring has sprung, right on time

After a week of dreary weather, balmy sunshine makes it official

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
Inside, we knew it was coming. The long days of gloom, days when the fluorescent yellow of the forsythias and the shimmering white of Bradford pear blossoms could barely brighten back yards, couldn't last forever. Then, just on schedule, spring arrived. According to the astronomers, it happened at 8 p.m. Thursday, when the earth sat up straight on its axis, returning from its winter tilt away from the sun. But here in the Upstate, it came in all its glory at approximately 11:15 a.m. Friday, when blue skies -- beautiful, brilliant, warm blue skies -- replaced the dismal gray that has seemed to shroud the whole world in recent weeks. Car windows were rolled down, and elbows were poking out of them. Office workers, fidgeting as Friday afternoon wore on, looked for any excuse they could think of to get outside. For many, that meant getting out in the yard, digging around in the still-damp earth and praying that, at least for a while, the season had really turned. Roger Mayes, a 44-year-old resident of Planter's Row in Mauldin, was one of many shoppers at Lowe's on Roper Mountain Road buying what they needed to fulfill springtime dreams that had been deferred for too long. "I'm trying to start getting my yard in shape for the coming year," he said. "I haven't had the opportunity yet because of all the rain." Mayes travels a lot for an environmental health and safety company and planned to spend the weekend unwinding in his Bermuda grass. "It's just a way of relaxing. It takes off some of the stress and tension from work," he said. "It also gives me an opportunity to spend time with my family when I'm at home." Dana Ware, a 28-year-old merchandiser for Costa Color, was getting busier by the minute, stocking marigolds, impatiens and begonias.

"It's been slow all week, and then as soon as the sun comes out, everybody starts pouring in," she said. Just down the road, Eldon Hall, a 74-year-old retired chemical engineer who lives in Mauldin's Forrester Woods, was busy in his "mostly fescue" yard, spraying weed killer. "The winter's been so bad, the weeds have really come in. It's hard to keep up with them," he said. "Right now, everything's in a mess. We haven't been able to work out here because of all the rain -- terrible rain." He was taking a leap of faith in the weatherman, because any rain within 48 hours would wash away the chemicals before they could do their work. "They're saying it's going to be good through Tuesday, so I hope it is," he said. According to the National Weather Service, the temperature Friday rose from 49 to 71 degrees. Sunny skies are predicted for today, with a high of 70 to 75, and no rain is in sight until Wednesday. For those for whom yard work doesn't have a driving appeal, the first breath of spring had other attractions. For the young, that often revolves around cars. Wearing blue jeans and no shirts, Donald Roe, 20, and Clayton Lilly, 19, hunkered under the hood of a metallic blue 1969 Camaro on Pope Field Road in Easley. They weren't working on it. Just admiring its rebuilt engine. "It's pretty much all original," said Roe, a construction science and management major at Clemson University who is on spring break. The weather was fine indeed for poking around in a classic car. "It's about time," said Lilly. "It's better than yesterday. You couldn't even walk outside without getting in a downpour." A mile away on U.S. 123, Nathan Townsend, 17, was washing his '92 GMC Suburban at Magic Minit Car Wash. He had big plans for the weekend. "A friend of mine's turning 18, and we're probably going to go over to Frankie's Fun Park and go do some stuff," he said. The last frost could still lie ahead, and more rainy days are sure to come. But spring is officially here -- and it's about time. Now, the only thing missing is baseball. Eight more days ...

I’ll have to include a couple of my Iraq stories for the sake of Real Life, Real News. Like most of the news media, we pretty much got on board and hoorayed that we had something to write about, at least on the home front. Dang it, how were we supposed to know that Saddam didn’t really have any big bad weapons of mass destruction? Oops, now we’re a trillion dollars in debt and have to rebuild the place we blew up to make the world a safer place. Oops, it’s not safer yet. Good thing we’ve got a genius in the White House to get us out of this mess.

Upstate keeps eye on war, goes about business Prayers, thoughts with troops By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
It came as no surprise. But that didn't make the news any less jarring to Upstate residents trying to go about their usual business Thursday. War. On the surface, life seemed to go on much as it had the day before the bombs began falling in Baghdad. For many, it was rising floodwaters, left behind from a night of pounding rain and thunder that sounded like bombshells, that disrupted the routine most. There were no long lines at gas stations as there had been on that day in September a year and a half ago that awakened the country to the unseen threat of terrorism. Little plastic American flags had not started flapping on the windows of every other car, truck and SUV on the highway. But if the signs that war had begun weren't so visible on the surface, they were there just the same. They could be seen in prayer services at Christ Church Episcopal and at Greenville Memorial Hospital. They could be seen in TVs at Greenville Mall tuned to war news. They could be seen in an American flag, fastened onto a lock at a construction site in front of Poinsett Plaza in downtown Greenville. And they could be seen, especially, in the eyes of those who have friends and loved ones whose lives are on the line in a war that promises to be unlike any that American troops have fought before.

Georgia Blake, a 22-year-old student at Tri-County Technical College, tried to stick to her routine Thursday. She went to school. She went to the grocery store. She planned to go to her job at Home Depot in Seneca later in the day. But all the time, her mind was on a half-dozen friends in the Persian Gulf. "They're supposed to be gone a year to 24 months, and I just don't know when I'm going to see them," she said, while shopping at Winn-Dixie in Easley. "And it's just really hard having friends over there and all you can do is mark down the days on the calendar until they come back -- and hope they come back." In the laundry detergent aisle, Carrie Fowler's eyes welled up, and she laughed nervously when asked about her feelings on the war. Her husband, Kett, a deputy with the Pickens County Sheriff's Office, just got out of the Army two years ago, and they have a lot of friends still in the military. "I've been out shopping, trying to keep my mind off of things," said Fowler, a 31-yearold mother of two from Liberty. She fears the war could last longer than some have predicted. "I think urban combat gets ugly," she said. Thursday was Day 7 of rain and gloomy skies, Day 1 of war. Folks stopping for coffee and gas in the pre-dawn hours, eating lunch in downtown Greenville or just taking a break from their jobs had had about enough of the former. Many were more than ready for the latter. "I'm glad it's here," said Arlene Brett, 52, who works for the Nelson Mullins law firm in Poinsett Plaza. "But I'm worrying about the troops." "I was hoping they'd killed Saddam last night," said Brett, who was sitting outside the Poinsett Plaza smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee at lunchtime during a break in the rain. James O'Donnell, a 67-year-old veteran of Korea drinking coffee at a Hardee's in Taylors, had similar thoughts. "I'm hoping they'll find him and kill him and that'll be it," he said. O'Donnell, like many others, didn't say who "him" was. There could be no confusing "him" with anyone other than Saddam Hussein. "President Bush did what he had to do and stood by his word," said Julius Thompson, ducking into a Fast Fare convenience store with rain pouring off his hooded head. "Something had to be done. It had been dragged out too long." Behind the counter, Ray Williford, 61, offered a theory about support for this war. It's generational, he said.

"Talk to people my age, they say it's a good thing," said the former Marine. "Talk to young people, they say it's a waste of humanity. And unjust." Breakfasting at Denny's, Tori McKinney, 26, bore out Williford's theory. "I understand going over there and using the bombs and what not," he said. "But for us to go in and start an all-out war, it's not right." Similar sentiment was apparent at a Battle of the Bands at Mauldin High hours before. About the time Bush was ordering a surgical strike, Mauldin student Kiley Dorton was rapping his disapproval: "What's the reason we're fighting you? Nobody knows it. America's out of the loop. It's seems like our leaders have got some screws loose." But those feelings were scarce in a downpour Thursday morning, when thoughts ran to drier climates in Kuwait and Iraq and Qatar. Linda Headen, 26, said war was the only way to fight terrorism. "They've already proven what they could do by bombing the Twin Towers," she said. "If they're not stopped, what else will they do?" Many people expressed a feeling of "it's about time." Over breakfast at Denny's, Tom Duvall, 52, said, "It's 12 years too late. We should have taken care of it a long time ago." In Easley, "Pop" Winslett, 68, also said the war was long overdue. "There's been a lot of talking,'" he said. "If we'd gone and gotten him in 1991, we wouldn't have to do this." Patrons at Jimmy's Restaurant in Easley were staunchly pro-war. A "War Paint" photo of a bald eagle with the American flag superimposed hung on one wall behind the register. On the other were dozens of photos of President Bush campaigning at the restaurant in 2000. At Greenville Mall, business went on as usual, with one notable exception: War news was playing on televisions in Oshman's Sporting Goods. "I have to think about how I'll explain to my children what's happening now," said Yuki Bjontegard, a native of Japan who lives in Greenville. Shopper Rick Butler of Greenville expressed reservations about the outcome of the war. "I think it could be a bad deal for the United States in the long run if it's not handled really well," he said. "There's a lot to be worried about." Rather than worrying, students at St. Joseph's High School in Greenville were preparing. They practiced locking the school down and made plans to stash water and granola bars in a windowless "safe room," said principal Keith Kiser.

And they prayed. "It may seem extreme to them, initially," he said, "but we have to be prepared."

The Dixie Chicks
Now, everyone knows its “unpatriotic” to speak against the president in “time of war.” That’s one good reason to have a war, I guess.

Dixie Chicks storm rolling into Greenville They kick off a concert tour Thursday amid protests, tighter security

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
The war in Iraq may be fizzling like the tail end of an all-night Texas hoedown, but it ain't over in Greenville yet. The Dixie Chicks are coming. The troops have been building up for more than a month: The trio's CDs were crushed beneath a 33,000-pound tractor in Louisiana. Radio stations in Texas pulled their music altogether. And the South Carolina House of Representatives called for them to apologize. The world will be watching Thursday as Greenville plays host to the first stop on the Dixie Chicks' first American tour since singer/guitar player Natalie Maines told a London audience those now famous words: "Just so you know, we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas." In spite of the high-profile backlash the outlandish group from the Lone Star State has faced since that March 10 remark, the Bi-Lo Center is expecting most of the nearly 15,000 people who shelled out up to $66 for seats to turn out for the first stop in the Top of the World Tour. The Bi-Lo Center sold out the show in less than an hour on March 1. But some who bought tickets won't be there. Instead, they'll be using their tickets for free admission at an anti-Chicks concert in Spartanburg highlighted by the Marshall Tucker Band, a 1970s

vintage Southern rock group that, according to the promoter, has a more patriotic message than the women from Texas do. The concert was organized by nationally syndicated radio talk show host Mike Gallagher, a former Greenville radio personality who said it was a way for Dixie Chicks ticket-holders who wanted refunds to make a statement against criticizing the president in time of war. Gallagher said he initially targeted performers Charlie Daniels, Travis Tritt and Toby Keith but later settled on the Marshall Tucker Band, which has roots in Spartanburg. He said they've sold roughly 2,000 of the 3,000 available seats for $35 and $40 and raised about $75,000 that will go to military families through the Feed the Children campaign. Gallagher, who will have a crew filming a documentary at his event, predicted both events will have a circus atmosphere. "In our case, we're going to have a fun circus," he said. Kathy Allmand, a spokeswoman for the Dixie Chicks, said they are not doing any more interviews before the concert so they can focus on their performance. The Chicks, who said they have had death threats even though Maines apologized for the comment, have asked for extra security for their concert -- metal detectors and no bags allowed in the arena -- but such measures are nothing new for the Bi-Lo Center, said executive director Ed Rubinstein. "These are things that possibly they might not have specifically asked for previously," he said, "but the fact is we would have done it anyway." He does plan to increase the number of in-house security officers on duty, though. Protesters are expected. "Since we are private property, we are allowing limited numbers of protesters on site," Rubinstein said. "If they write to us, give us their name, address and phone number, we have a specific location on site." The Bi-Lo Center's property extends all the way to the street, he said. Some of the protesters are mad at the Bi-Lo Center as well as at the stars. Dozens sent e-mail to Mayor Knox White asking him to cancel the concert -- which he has no power to do. "There are people that have questioned why we're doing it, and there's an easy answer to that," Rubinstein said. "We're a publicly owned building, and we have a contract with a promoter to do the show. And we honor our contracts." The Bi-Lo Center is owned by a public body, the Greenville Public Facilities District, but because it's managed by a private company, Rubinstein said the arena has authority to regulate who's on site. National media also are expected. "Inside Edition" requested credentials, along with several other outlets, Rubinstein said.

If the crowd turns rowdy, offenders will be arrested and prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law," he said. Charges would be determined by the Greenville Police Department. Rubinstein couldn't say what action might be taken if boo birds get out of hand. "We're going to be vigilant," he said. "We want to make sure that those folks who are coming to the show to have a good time will have that good time." The Bi-Lo Center landed the opening date on the tour in part by offering the band use of the arena for two days before the concert for rehearsals. The Chicks' crew is scheduled to start setting up for the show Tuesday morning. The trio, which mixes a rootsy, traditional country sound with a brash girl-power attitude, is expected to begin rehearsing later in the day and again Wednesday and Thursday. While talk radio reaction has been harsh, a spokesman for both Greenville country stations has declined comment about the controversy and their fans' reactions. Instead, one station, WSSL 100 FM, has been airing an announcement telling listeners that the station is contractually obligated to give away tickets for the concert and that winners can do what they want with them. Winners can choose between a "Whistle 100 Chicks Rule" T-shirt or a "Whistle 100 Bush Rules" T-shirt. "Whistle is very aware of the strong sentiments on both sides about the Dixie Chicks," a statement on the station's Web site says. On WORD 1300 AM talk radio, a commercial for the bash-the-Chicks show encourages listeners to give the girls the treatment "they so richly deserve" and attend the patriotic concert. Sentiments across the Upstate are mixed. "I just feel like she was expressing how she felt, which is what we do every day," said Danielle Airline, 24, of Greenville. "I hear it every day, how people are ashamed of President Bush. The only reason it's been blown up the way it has is because of who they are." Her friend Dee Gee, 28, also of Greenville, said she thinks "it was the wrong time" for Maines to speak her mind because of the war." Airline disagreed. "There is no wrong time for freedom of speech," she said. Susan Rahn, 44, of Greenville, said she was offered free tickets to the concert but turned them down because of Maines' comments.

"I was appalled. I think she used her platform to be political instead of musical," she said. She said she won't get rid of her Dixie Chicks CDs, but she doesn't plan to buy any more. "I just think less of her for running her mouth," she said. Local record stores said they've seen some but not much of a drop in sales of Dixie Chicks tapes and CDs. "Sometimes controversy spurs sales, and sometimes people turn their back on somebody's music," said Carl Singmaster, president of Manifest Discs & Tapes. Regardless, the Dixie Chicks' music is still popular. Their "Home" album remained No. 3 in Billboard magazine's country chart Friday -- just one notch from Toby Keith's Red White and Blue "Unleashed" album.

One Year Later…

Upstate families worry,pray for those in Iraq New wave of bloodshed leaves those left behind more anxious

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
The words stop hearts and put lives on hold every time: "Identities of killed and wounded service members are being withheld, pending notification of next of kin." "It takes them about 24 hours to notify them," said John Roe of Belton, whose son John is in the 1st Infantry in Iraq. "And for that 24 hours it's your loved one." Saddam is gone, and three-fourths of the 2,000 National Guard troops from South Carolina deployed in Iraq are back home. The first shift is over. But the end is not in sight for Upstate families with loved ones in the full-time military forces and some part-time soldiers as well. They talk about boys who left home in high spirits, returning for brief visits as changed men. They talk about tears, about holding their breath through newscasts.

When it comes to coping, though, they talk about prayer. "Worry and pray, that's all you can do," said Joan Dingess, mother of U.S. Marine Jacob "Jake" Dingess, whose unit is in Fallujah, where the Marines are in a tense standoff with insurgents after four civilian contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated there on March 31. The rapid rise in the death toll since the one-year anniversary of the start of the war last month has made the folks back home more anxious than ever. A fourth of the 400 U.S. troops killed in Iraq since last May 1 have died this month, according to Department of Defense figures. "Any time you hear that somebody has lost a child, just a little part of you dies," said Phyllis Witt, whose son, Army 1st Lt. Charles "Charlie" Russ, has been in Iraq since September. "All you can do is just hope and pray." Death has come close to the Roe family already. One of John Jr.'s close friends from Camp Riley, Kan., Doyle Hufstedler, was killed when a homemade bomb hit his armored personnel carrier March 31. "I know now how my parents felt when I was serving in Vietnam," John Roe Sr. said. His son is a first lieutenant and battalion maintenance officer stationed near Ramadi. The soldier's wife, Beth, bore him a daughter just eight days before he left. Charlie Russ also left a baby behind -- two of them, in fact. Identical twin sons Brooks and Bradley, born just a few days before he shipped out last May, have spent most of their first year without their dad. A 1998 graduate of Wade Hampton High School, Charlie had never thought of a military career before he was approached by a West Point recruiter at a state championship wrestling match in high school, according to his mother. His scholarship came with a six-year military obligation, but going to war seemed only a theoretical possibility in 1998. All that changed after Sept. 11. He was sent to Germany last May, a year after earning a degree in engineering. Eventually, he was stationed at the Baghdad Airport, where he had a role in security operations and technical weapons systems. Charlie surprised his family with a visit home in January. But he wasn't the same happygo-lucky kid they had known, his mother said. "It was like he was continuously looking over his shoulder," said his mom, a 50-year-old substitute teacher. "He was a whole different person from when he left."

Now, the family stays tuned to CNN at their split-level home in Taylors. Missy, a Chinese pug, lolls in the living room floor as Charlie's little brother, Keenan, 13, plays with a friend in the yard. A delicious aroma drifts in from the kitchen as supper time approaches. His grandmother is doing the cooking. But no one knows for sure where Charlie is. He sent an e-mail April 10 that gave the family hope he'd be home soon. "I am now in Kuwait," the message read. "This means I'm 10 days or so from Germany. Everyone in my whole division got recalled except my battalion. I am so lucky and thankful for that." Another e-mail came a week later saying he expected to be in Germany on Friday. But they've heard nothing from him since then and aren't getting their hopes up until they know for sure. Another family on the other side of Greenville has longer to wait before looking for their boy to walk through the door again. Discussing the war over coffee and cigarettes in the kitchen of a home near the old Southern Weaving mill, Joan Dingess is on the verge of tears. She breaks down when she thinks of her 19-year-old son, shipped off straight out of high school. Already he's on his second tour of duty. "The first time, he didn't realize because he was just a young feller, just out of basic and all that," said Dingess, 49. "And this time, I can just tell a difference in him." In the meantime, she was fixing a care package for her son -- some mint-flavored Skoal tobacco and a batch of Jolly Ranchers candy. "I just live one day at a time," she said, her tired hazel eyes showing red around the edges. "And pray. And worry."

Mud monster
This one falls under the category of spot news, I guess, but it was just so weird I’m including it in this anthology.

Canoeist rescues man stuck in mud

Paddler finds him up to his chest; he may have been in lake for hours

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com
Mike Slagle was paddling his canoe in Lake Conestee with largemouth bass on his mind Monday afternoon when he saw something very strange in the water up ahead. It was "kind of purple" and covered in mud. Then a horrible realization hit. It was a man. Steve Camden, 36, of Greenville, was stuck in mud up to his belly, with only his shoulders, neck and head sticking out above the water, near a small island. Thanks to Slagle and others, he was in the Greenville Memorial Hospital emergency room late Monday night and was expected to be admitted, but his condition was unavailable, hospital spokeswoman Erika Spinelli said. Slagle, a self-employed tree service operator, pulled Camden partly onto the bank but couldn't get him all the way out of the mud. There was only one thing to do: paddle the half-mile back to the Conestee dam, go to the Pumpers convenience store nearby and call 911. "I was just asking God to let him live until I could get back," Slagle said. He made the call and started paddling back. When he got there, Camden was unconscious and had fallen back into the water, his head nearly submerged. "I believe he was drowning," Slagle said. "I held his head up with my boat paddle, and I could tell he must have been passed out. "I jumped out of my boat and climbed up on the bank and grabbed him by his hair and pulled his head out of the water. And then I wrapped my legs around him and pulled him up. "I just held on to him and kept telling him it's gonna be all right." Justin Burton, a friend of Slagle's who happened to be at the convenience store when Slagle called 911, helped pull him out of the water. Rescuers from the Belmont Fire Department and Greenville County EMS soon arrived but had to use chain saws to clear a path through thick woods to get to the spot.

"If the guy with the canoe had just not happened upon him, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have died there," said Belmont Fire Chief Anthony Segars. "He could have screamed his lungs out and wouldn't have been heard." Camden had been in the water at least four to five hours, Segars estimated. Lt. Eric Lutz, of the Greenville County EMS, said the soupy sediment that washed in from the cold rains made wading across to the island a forbidding task. "We were sinking up to our hips in it when we were trying to walk across," he said. "You basically have to get down and just crawl through." Officials said they didn't know what he was doing there, or how he got there. Slagle, who caught two bass before all the excitement started and threw them back, said he's not sure why he decided to go fishing on a cold, rainy day at a spot he goes to only a couple of times a year. But he's glad he did. "I thank the Lord I was able to help him," he said. "I just hope he's gonna be all right."

Visitors from the East
I had some fun on this one at the expense of a group of very nice Buddhist monks. They were so nice, I doubt they would have minded, if they had spoke English. Actually, if you read the first and last sentences of the story carefully, you’ll understand it’s not really them but us that mocking. We, who are trapped in a civilization that keeps us running in circles so we can't comprehend the deep and beautiful things of the spirit these guys are saturated in.

Tibetan monks share grains of Buddhism Healing ceremony enlightens, mystifies Furman students

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

None of it made any sense, if you looked only with your eyes and listened only with your ears. Eight men dressed in saffron and scarlet, wearing what looked like fluorescent yellow brushes on their heads, stood on the bank of Furman University's lake making vocal noises that sounded somewhere between a cow mooing and a diesel truck trying to crank on a cold day. And the wild, out-of-tune music -- two 15-foot bass horns groaning like an elephant with indigestion, while cymbals and bells clanged and smaller horns wailed like bagpipers at a New Year's Eve party. All to ceremonialize the strangest irony of this event: After spending the past four days working on an incredibly intricate, delicately beautiful pattern of colored sand on a tabletop, the artists swept up the millions of grains, handed the stuff out in plastic bags and Dixie cups to anyone who wanted some and poured the rest into the lake. But if you tuned in to what was going on from a deeper, spiritual perspective, perhaps you could feel something of what this outwardly bizarre ritual meant, said some of the more than 200 students who jammed into a breathing-room-only space at the University Center for the Tibetan Buddhist ceremony Thursday. "I'm very interested in the Christian relationship with the East," said Joe Waters, a junior from Greenville majoring in history. "We can be greatly enriched by simply experiencing them and what they're doing here." Some students had quizzical looks on their faces during the ceremony, glancing around to study the reactions of their friends, seated cross-legged on the carpet. A few closed their eyes in meditation. Julie Skees, a junior from Kentucky who is studying physics, said she planned to give some of the sand to her sister, who is searching for her spiritual path. "I'm a practicing Catholic, but I also think that it's important to understand other people's religion in order to be more strong in your own," she said. The sand painting, called a mandala, has different levels, but the purpose of the entire event was healing, said T. Rigzin, spokesman for the group of monks Monastery in southern India who are on a yearlong tour of several different meanings on to bring purification and from the Drepung Loseling the United States.

"We're not trying to convert people to Buddhism, but we are simply sharing our ancient Buddhist culture to spread global energy, peace and harmony," he said.

The monks processed toward the lake from the upstairs room in the student center, their horns blaring and cymbals ringing, sounding wild yet somehow soothing. The crowd followed them to the shore, where, after more chanting and music, they poured the sand, against the wind, into the lake. The crowd stood in silence. Construction workers nearby leaned on their shovels, wondering at the spectacle. And off in the distance, three black swans honked, flapped their wide wings and took to the air.

The Shooter

The only reason I included this one was because it was I was so struck by the image of this guy walking through a manufacturing plant with a cigarette dangling from his lips and calmly shooting a bunch of people. It was also one of the few times I was sent out of state to cover a spot news event.

2 SUSPECTS, 9 VICTIMS

By Ron Barnett Staff Writer

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A man stood calmly at the front door of a tool-shipping center Wednesday morning with a cigarette in his mouth and a World War II-era assault rifle in his hand. Inside, three company managers lay dead, four employees were sufferingbullet wounds or broken bones, and dozens of others were cowering under their desks in cubicles that moments earlier had been sprayed with gunfire.

"It's such a useless tragedy," said Debbie Medford, personnel administrator at the Union Butterfield Division plant. "Those three good, good people are gone."

Ms. Medford couldn't help but wonder whether she had been an intendedtarget as well. She and Anthony S. Balogh, vice president of finance, who was one of the three killed, had fired the suspect, James Floyd Davis, on Monday after a shoving and shouting incident with other employees last week. "I think he was shooting at anybody, really," said Ms. Medford, who was in an office away from the gunfire when it started about 11:30 a.m. "But you can't help but wonder what goes through a person's mind. I would think that the people who took his job away were probably the foremost on his mind." Davis, 45, of West Asheville surrendered peacefully to police outside the plant after more than 50 rounds were fired inside and outside the building about two miles from Asheville's famed Biltmore House. He had purchased the M-1 carbine a few hours earlier at a pawn shop, police said, along with three 3-round clips and at least 90 rounds of ammunition. Davis was being held without bond at the Buncombe County jail on three counts of firstdegree murder and several lesser charges. District Attorney Ron Moore said he would seek the death penalty. Also killed Weaverville, plant, which tools, drill were Frank P. Knox, 62, of Asheville, and Gerald Miles Allman, 52, of said Asheville Police Lt. Bob Emory. All three heldmanagement jobs at the is the national distribution center for a Gaffney-based maker of cutting bits and drill devices.

Debbie Whitaker, 38, and Howard Reece, 46, were treated at Memorial Mission Hospital and released. Both were injured not by gunfire but in a stampede to safety during the 10minute shooting spree. Larry Cogdill, 42, was admitted to Memorial Mission for observation with gunshot wounds to his arm and leg. He was listed in fair condition, hospital officials said. Earl Worley was treated at St. Joseph Hospital for an ankle injury. Asheville police officer Mike Godwin arrived on the scene just after the gunman had sprayed the offices with bullets. "As I pulled up, we could see him standing on the stoop out front. People were running, and I heard a couple of rounds fired. I couldn't see which direction he was firing," Godwin said. The gunman went back inside the building when police arrived, he said. "We talked him out on the PA, and he hollered out the door 'Don't hurt me.' And they said 'Throw the gun down and come out with your hands up."' He surrendered without a fight.

Jim Daniels, owner of the building and president of Daniels Graphics, Which shares the 64,000-square-foot facility, said he called 911 when one of his employees who had been testing the sprinkler system next door came in yelling, "There's somebody shooting over there." As he lowered the company's flag to half-mast Wednesday afternoon, Daniels described what he saw when he ran outside the building. "We saw him standing in the door shooting at someone going through theparking lot. "And he kept shooting at them, sort of dancing along behind them. It was like Wyatt Earp, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap." When the police talked the suspect out of the building, "They asked him to lie down. He did. They frisked him. He still had a cigarette in his mouth," Daniels said. About 35 Union Butterfield employees ran into a separate part of thebuilding seeking shelter. "They were scared to death," he said. Daniels said employees told him they were afraid of Davis. "They had to walk on eggs around him." Police psychologists were talking with employees late Wednesday, Daniels said. Larry Short of Asheville called Davis "a dangerous guy, and we knew it." Short works at the plant and was in the line of fire but wasn't hurt. He said he was sitting at his desk and ducked under it immediately when he heard the gunfire. "Then someone yelled 'It's James,' and then everyone ran," Short said. "He fired at me directly, like 15, 20 times." Lynn Yarbrough, vice president of Daniels Graphics, said he saw the suspect in the doorway smoking a cigarette when police arrived. He said the man talked with police for several minutes, then threw out a rifle, a pistol, an ammunition belt and another clip of ammunition. "Then he dug into his pockets and took out some loose shells," Yarbrough said. "He did that two or three times." Police Chief Will Annarino said the gunman entered the front door of the building carrying the M-1 and a handgun, walked from cubicle to cubicle seeking people he had targeted and then shot randomly. Annarino said Davis had driven his white pickup truck to a side door, which was unlocked, and entered a break room at the plant, which was unlocked and had no security guard. Police found the three people who were killed near the break room.

No shots were fired in the warehouse area where Davis had worked for more than three years assembling drill sets, authorities said.

Thanks for saving the world, guys

I have come to be the guy who gets tapped every time there's a World War II anniversary or commemoration of some sort, and I enjoy interviewing these guys. After all, they did save the world. It makes me think I should do a regular interview with my own dad to get all the details of his naval career. History shows that the Japs did surrender when they heard he was coming. Either that or the A-bomb. I could put together a pretty fair sized book just from the stories I've done about veterans of Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and other such events. I’ll just include a few of them here, though.

Area veterans welcome World War II Memorial Millions expected to watch dedication May 29

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

It's been 21,411 days since World War II ended, and Tomie Gaines still has flashbacks. He still has headaches from the shrapnel of a German hand grenade. His knees still hurt from crawling on battlefields in Italy to bandage wounds and set bones. Gaines, a member of VFW Post 6734 in Piedmont, will have to wait another 43 days before his country formally honors him 70,000 South Carolinians and 4 million Americans still living who saved the world from the Axis powers.

By then, another 1,500 veterans of that war will have faded away. The National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be dedicated May 29. Gaines, who was a medic with the 2nd Cavalry Division in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific, said it's about time. "I deserve it," he said. "I don't know about these other fellows, but I went through hell." To hear the others tell it, they did too. As Americans continue dying in another war, in Iraq, Memorial Day this year in the Upstate and across the country will be marked by fresh pain and overdue gratitude. Gaines' post will provide the color guard for the annual observance at Greenville County Square. Big-screen TVs will be set up at a gym next to the old Seneca High football stadium so Oconee County's "largest-ever gathering of World War II-era veterans" can watch the ceremony as it happens. Plans were made for big-screen viewing at Greenville's American Legion as well. Hundreds of World War II vets plan to watch on big screens aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown in Charleston harbor. A delegation from the state American Legion office in Columbia will be at the ceremony in the nation's capital. Some vets who wanted to go won't be able to get a seat because of overwhelming demand for tickets. Dr. Ben Thrailkill, who survived a torpedo attack that sank his ship in the English Channel on Christmas Eve 1944, said he had been promised tickets and had 50 vets and their families signed up for a chartered bus trip to the event. He made a call to Washington to confirm the tickets and got bad news. "I said I've been sending you money up there every year for the last 10 years, and I thought surely we could get tickets," Thrailkill said, referring to donations he made for the monument. "And he said, 'Well, I'm sorry.'" He now hopes to put together enough people for a trip June 10-12. "It's really a shame that they have had to wait over 60 years for something that was really a miraculous achievement that that generation went through and accomplished," said Jim Hawk, department adjutant for the American Legion's South Carolina headquarters. Vietnam veterans, who didn't receive the ticker-tape parade homecoming the World War II vets did, have had a monument for 22 years to mark the sacrifice of their fallen comrades.

A World War II memorial "should have been there a long time ago," said Leroy Cruell, who served in Vietnam in 1968-69. Soldiers returning from the Second World War had things other than monuments on their minds. After spending nearly a year in German captivity and living on a diet of "grass soup" and potatoes when he could get them, Roy McJunkin returned home to his wife, Lois, and his job as a firefighter at Donaldson Air Force Base. He went on to start an insurance agency, which he operated for 45 years. His wife of 63 years died last week. He holds vivid memories of what happened 59 years ago this month. "We were liberated on April 29, 1945, by Gen. George Patton's army," he said, recalling the flamboyant general, sporting pearl-handled pistols, climbing up on the back of a jeep and proclaiming their freedom. "When we got up that morning, that old German flag, the swastika, was flying over the camp," the 82-year-old commander of the Upstate chapter of American exPOWs recalled. "In the afternoon of that day, they raised the American flag. And when we saw that going up, we were really excited." He will be excited again when the memorial is dedicated on the National Mall. "I think it's great," he said. "I think it's been a long time in getting it." A monument is good, but some veterans said appreciation in more practical ways would be even better. William Warren, 83, who recalls nights of horror as the Luftwaffe bombed buildings all around him during the Battle of Britain, said he has had trouble getting treatment he needs for asthma and diabetes.

Warren and his friends joke about each other's ages -- "They're the old rascals there," he said of the other two. But he's not kidding when it comes to their health-care needs. "I don't know why it's so hard, when you've been in the service, and they treat veterans like this," he said. Veterans who responded to an American Legion survey last year said they had to wait an average of seven months to get a first appointment at a VA hospital. Johnny Burton, 88, is still waiting for the bonus pay he was promised -$20 a day for foreign service and $10 a day for domestic service.

"We've got some homeless vets around here who ain't got nowhere to go and nowhere to stay, and we ain't doing a durn thing about it," said Burton, who slept in foxholes across North Africa, Corsica and Italy. Gaines, Burton and Warren, who served in all-black outfits in the segregated Army of the era, lived through decades of discrimination when they returned home, and said they were treated as second-class soldiers while they were in the service. "We did guard duty down there on detail every night, and we're walking around there with an empty rifle," Burton said. "And everybody else has got live ammo and everything else they wanted." For Gaines, the war made him that much more aware of the prejudice of American life when he returned home. "I couldn't go here, I couldn't do that," he said. "Now over there, I could do what I want to do, go where I want to go." And then there are the unsung heroes of the war -- those who fought, who went beyond the call of duty and returned home to quiet lives, helping build the nation's economy, being good citizens, never asking for monuments or glory. Thomas Parham, 84, an Army medic, risked his life to reach a platoon that had been hit by Japanese machine gun fire on an island battleground nicknamed "Death Valley." "I was running about a foot off the ground," he said, laughing at his second-most-exciting recollection of the war. He returned to Greenville and spent 45 years working in Judson Mill. He doesn't figure he'll ever make it up to see the National World War II Memorial. He has a garden to tend at home. But he'll hold on to his memory of the most exciting moment of the war. "That was when it ended," he said.

A long-overdue honor
By Ron Barnett Staff Writer

As much as he’s tried, Jim McMurria can’t keep history from knocking on his front door. The retired Greenville banker has been asked so many times to recount his tale of torture and starvation at the hands of the Japanese during World War II, of being shot down in the Pacific and living among aboriginal island inhabitants for months before being captured, that he dreads dredging up the topic again. "I don’t want it to sound like I’m still bellyaching," McMurria said. But with Saturday marking the 50th anniversary of the day the treaty ending the war in the Pacific was signed, McMurria’s story is in demand. He’s been asked to accept the Prisoner of War Medal from the Secretary of the Army today in ceremonies at Pearl Harbor, where President Clinton and other top U.S. military leaders will gather this weekend to celebrate V-J Day. The event is the climax of a five-year commemoration of World War II sponsored by a presidential commission, an Army official said. McMurria, now 77, was chosen to receive the medal after his story came to the attention of Secretary of the Army Togo D. West Jr., a spokeswoman for the secretary said. "Secretary West wanted to be able to do something during the ceremonies in Honolulu to honor Mr. McMurria and his service," spokeswoman Dawn Kilpatrick said. McMurria downplays the honor. "I’m going out there not to get some sort of have a big time." He can laugh about it with malaria-infested blood and watching two days before the Japanese surrendered, he was celebrated the treaty that ended the war. medal," he joked. "I’m going out there to now. But 50 years ago, after being injected of his friends die from the disease just still awaiting liberation while the world

His ordeal had begun nearly three years earlier, on Jan. 20, 1943, when, as a B-24 pilot flying his 20th reconnaissance mission with no fighter protection, his plane was surrounded by a group of Japanese Zeros and shot down off the shore of New Guinea. "If I was going down in a plane today, I’d scream and holler," McMurria said. "But it didn’t bother me too much then. I thought, `We’ll work it out somehow." The plane broke in half as soon as it hit the water. Two of the 10 crewmen didn’t survive the crash. "When I got out of the window I must have been 40 feet under the water," McMurria said. One of the plane’s two life rafts didn’t eject like it was supposed to forcing four of the eight survivors to cling to its side as they paddled and swam for three days and two nights before making it to an island. There, they befriended the natives and lived about two months before deciding to try to make it back to their home base 600 miles away in Australia - by canoe.

They hopped nearly 200 miles from island to island with the help of thenatives before arriving at New Guinea. But there, they were betrayed, lashed to poles and imprisoned in a 12-foot hole in the ground. Later, during Allied bombing attacks, they were crammed into a cave sosmall they had to stand for three days. "We were starved to death, beaten, deprived of any Red Cross packages,"McMurria recalled. "No sanitary facilities whatsoever. No clothing. No beds. No bomb shelter." The food at the camp in Rabaul, a Japanese stronghold on the coast of New Britain, was so scanty that McMurria’s weight dropped from about 180 to under 100 pounds. Only seven of the nearly 80 POWs who were there at one time were still alive as the end of the war approached. And then came the medical "experiments." A Japanese doctor, seeking a clue as to why the Americans seemed to have greater resistance to malaria than the Japanese, drew blood from five of the remaining seven prisoners, including McMurria, and injected them with Japanese blood infected with malaria. Two of McMurria’s comrades died days later. McMurria credits his survival to having developed some resistance to the disease through numerous previous infections. On Sept. 7, 1945, five days after the surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay, the Australians liberated the camp. But before he left, the Japanese, "for some reason," paid their captives, McMurria recalls with a grin. He remembers exactly how much he "earned" for his years of suffering - 1,635 yen. (That’s after deducting for "food and lodging.") In today’s exchange rate, that would amount to about $16.50. In 1945, it was probably worth closer to $3.25, McMurria estimates. "That’s a dollar a year," he laughs. Though he’s reluctant to acknowledge it - citing the suffering and death of thousands of others during the war - perhaps history owes him a bit more than that. And, after 50 years, the bill comes due this weekend in Hawaii.

REMEMBERING A HEROIC RESCUE
By Ron Barnett

Staff Writer

It had all the elements of a World War II legend: American paratroopers dropping out of the sky on a suicide mission. A surprise attack. The dramatic rescue of thousands of civilians that military leaders feared were about to be executed. But the rescue of 2,146 civilian prisoners of war on a small island off the Philippines never made the headlines, never found its way into the annals of popular history. The rescue at Los Banos on Feb. 23, 1945, seems to have been all but forgotten, even as the great events of the war are memorialized on their 50th anniversary. For a mission that was marked by such good fortune, it suffered one stroke of bad luck: It happened on the same day the American flag was raised on Iwo Jima, an event that nearly eclipsed the rescue. It also was a top-secret mission, kept quiet until several days afterward, when the world's attention still was focused on Iwo Jima and the approaching climax of the war. There are a few, though, who will never forget: The soldiers who risked their lives, and the prisoners of war who were swept to freedom less than an hour before they were to be lined up and executed by the Japanese.

'They're awful special' "They're heroes," said Joy Lilley of Clemson, who was 10 years old when she and her nearly starved missionary parents were whisked from their burning thatch prison huts by U.S. troops that day. "You just feel you owe your life to these guys. They're awful special people." She's not the only local resident who recalls the escape from Los Banos. Three members of the U.S. Army's 11th Airborne Division live in the area, although they've never met Ms. Lilley and learned about her only recently. Even the soldiers who took part in the mission lost touch with each other until the early 1980s, when small groups across the country started to meet each February to swap stories. Dwight Clark and Boyd Murphy of Greenville and Carl Sampson of Belton are among the veterans of the Los Banos rescue who faithfully gather each year, to remember the day they pulled off the mission so flawlessly against such odds that they can't help but think it was a miracle.

They met last week at a Greenville restaurant to retell the story that has bound them together. "It was a great day," said Clark, who drove an amphibious tank to the gates of the camp to load the escapees and take them to safety. "Even Gen. MacArthur said that 'God was with us today."'

'We've got to try' Here's their account of what happened: Gen. Douglas MacArthur learned from Filipino guerrillas that the Japanese were planning to execute all the prisoners on the island of Los Banos shortly after the guards' morning exercises, Lt. Gen. E.M. Flannigan wrote in his book, "Los Banos Road." MacArthur decided a rescue must be attempted. "It was one of those operations he said a lot of us would die, but he said we've got to try," Clark said. "He said he'd never forgive himself for not trying." Intelligence reports were so accurate that the attack came as a complete surprise, catching the Japanese with their pants down. The prison guards were in their diaperlike "Sumo uniforms" exercising when about 135 U.S.paratroopers - including Sampson - quietly dropped in. Sampson, who made three combat jumps during the war, had been told hischances of surviving weren't good. But he said he didn't have time to think about that. "If I told you I wasn't afraid every time I jumped, I'd be lying to you," he said. "But what are you going to do? You do the best you can." By the time the 250 or so Japanese at the camp knew what was happening, Filipinos who were allied with the Americans had stolen all their weapons, and in a flurry of machine-gun fire, the battle was over quickly. All the Japanese lay dead, and only a few Americans were injured. Meanwhile, Clark and Boyd had been quietly rolling in on amphibious tanks, navigating in the predawn darkness with hand-held compasses across a 10-mile lake between the camp and the allied beachhead. "Miraculously, we came out to the right beach, the right place at the right time," Clark said. "Everything just fell into place. It was beautiful."

'Quite exciting'

After returning to safety, they had to make a second trip back to the camp to get another load of escapees. All the while, they were worrying that a Japanese division with hundreds of soldiers just six miles from the camp would move in to retaliate. "But they never moved. And we never figured out to this day why they didn't move," Clark said. "Maybe they thought our planes were their planes, our tanks were their tanks." From the perspective of a 10-year-old girl who hadn't eaten in about three days, the experience was both terrifying and exciting. When the prisoners saw American planes dropping paratroopers, a cheer went up. "And I, as a child, didn't understand it, so I just started to cry, because I just didn't know what was going on," Ms. Lilley said. But soon paratroopers of the "Angel Division," who took the nickname from a nun's description of their descent, were hurrying her and her family to safety. "We had to get down in the bottom of the tank, and the soldiers swung their guns into place," she said. "It was quite exciting." Murphy, a paratrooper who came in by amphibious tank that morning, said he hopes the rescue at Los Banos emerges from the shadow of that icon of American heroism, the flag-raising on Iwo Jima, and takes its rightful place in history. "We all believe in Old Glory, the American flag, and motherhood, ice cream and apple pie," Murphy said. "But that Marine accomplishment, raising that flag, was nothing compared to the liberation of those prisoners that were slated to be slaughtered."

THOMAS ATKINS KEPT FIGHTING ON LONELY NIGHT 50 YEARS AGO

By Ron Barnett Staff Writer

To hear Thomas Atkins tell it, he was just a country boy trying to survive. But according to the citation presented to Atkins when he earned the Medal of Honor 50 years ago, the Campobello man's actions showed nothing less than "superb bravery" and "fearless determination."

"Well, I wasn't brave," the 74-year-old World War II veteran said ofsinglehandedly killing more than a dozen Japanese in the Philippines on March 10, 1945. "I just wanted to get out of the way." Atkins laughs now about his night in a muddy foxhole at Villa Verde Trail on the island of Luzon. He cackles when he tells about raising up off a stretcher after he was severely wounded to shoot a group of "dad-burned Yankees," as he calls the enemy. "I laugh a lot," he said. "I reckon it keeps anybody from getting scared." He even joked with President Truman when the commander-in-chief was presenting him the medal in a White House ceremony. "He come down there shaking hands with everybody," Atkins recalled. "He said, 'I'd rather have this (the medal) than have anything I've got up here.' I said, 'You're telling a lie.' I knowed that man wasn't going nowhere." It was no joking matter that night in Luzon, though. With two companions, Atkins, a private in the 127th Infantry, had occupied a position on a ridge outside the defense perimeter established by the Americans. About 3 a.m., two companies of Japanese attacked with rifle and machine-gun fire, TNT charges and grenades. Atkins was hit four times and both his comrades were killed "ground up like sausage," in Atkins' words. "I'll tell you right now, that hurts any man," he said, turning sober at the memory. Despite the continued attack and the pain from his wounds, Atkins held his ground and returned heavy fire. Rather than return to the American lines for treatment, he remained in his precarious position while an enemy machine gun, set up 20 yards from his foxhole, attempted in vain to drive him off or silence his rifle. Atkins remained in his hole for four hours, "maintaining steady and accurate fire until each charged was repulsed," according to his citation. "All I could see was their heads sticking up," he said. By 7 a.m., 13 Japanese lay dead in front of his position. He had fired 400 rounds - all he and his two dead companions had - and had gone through three rifles until each jammed too badly to fire. After the Japanese finally withdrew, Atkins crawled 300 yards to theAmerican lines to get another rifle and more ammunition. He was persuaded to remain for medical treatment.

The ordeal wasn't over, though. While waiting to be taken to a makeshift hospital, he saw a Japanese soldier within the perimeter. Atkins grabbed a nearby rifle and killed him. "That fool jumped up. When he jumped up I emptied my whole rifle," Atkins said. A few minutes later, while lying on a litter, he discovered an enemy group moving behind the platoon's lines. Despite his wounds, which ran up his leg and side, he sat up and began firing at the enemy. "I never did give my rifle up," Atkins said. He makes light of his deeds now, but his actions were significant enough to earn him the highest honor bestowed on an American soldier by the U.S.Congress. "Private against the main major factors in superior force," Atkins' superb bravery and his fearless determination to hold his post force of repeated enemy attacks, even though painfully wounded, were enabling his comrades to maintain their line against a numerically the citation says.

Atkins said he had no idea his actions would be worth a Medal of Honor. He was just glad to make it home, back to the farm, alive.

UPSTATE RESIDENTS SAW VICTORY SEALED

By Ron Barnett Staff Writer

Even as the Japanese officials boarded the USS Missouri to reluctantly hand their fallen empire over to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Ned Thompson of Tigerville was at battle station, ready for action should the surrender be a trick. "You could have heard a pin drop when that peg-legged guy came up the gangway and came on the ship," the Greenville County resident said of Japanese Foreign Minister Namoru Shigemitsu's long walk to the table where the documents that would end World War II were to be signed 50 years ago Saturday. Milton Evette of Pickens was one of 100 Marines on the Missouri assigned to an honor guard for the historic event.

"We - the 100 Marines - were just several feet away and you could heareverything because it was on loudspeakers," Evette said. "I remember Gen. MacArthur well. I thought he was going to give the Japanese a good scolding, but he didn't. He was very brief and talked about how the end of the war would bring about new relationships with other nations." “They did not want to surrender," Evette said. "They were angry,embarrassed and humiliated. But the good thing about winning the war was it destroyed the barbaric system the Japanese lived under." Photos of the event don't do justice to the mood of moment, according to Thompson. "It was sort of an unreal atmosphere. We didn't really believe what we were seeing," he said. The Japanese official "was a mortal enemy, and he was shown no courtesy. He was there for one thing and that was to sign that document and get the heck out of there." After enduring several kamikaze suicide plane attacks on the ship in the months since Okinawa, the crew of the "Mighty Mo" wasn't prepared to accept the Japanese surrender on face value. Sailors had been ordered to battle stations, and Thompson was in position to call his crew on the 40-millimeter guns to action. "When they said they'd surrender, nobody believed them," Thompson said. "They were very tricky people." "The kamikaze attacks were just unbelievable," Evette said. "I couldn't understand then and I still can't understand how a nation could send its young men to fly planes on suicide missions. "This was a last ditch attempt by a barbaric Japanese system to try to win the war, and I remember only one kamikaze pilot hitting and landing on the Missouri. The young pilot was killed, but the plane did very little damage." Evette said Japanese military leaders had brainwashed the young pilots to fly kamikaze missions against U. S. ships, "but the Japanese didn't really appreciate these young men; they didn't care what happened to them." "The Navy gave the one that hit the Missouri a decent burial," Evette said. "I'll always remember that - how we did something decent for a young Japanese pilot on a suicide mission when the Japanese did so many horrible things to our men." While Thompson and Evette were witnessing the end, Myrtle McGarity, a Greenville native who had volunteered for Red Cross duty in the Pacific, was in the Philippines, just a couple of miles from MacArthur's headquarters there. "We had gathered in a sort of a common area with our dates that night," said McGarity, who won the military's highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom, for her service.

"And all of a sudden we heard whistles blowing and all sorts of noise. And the lights came on and somebody started shouting, 'The war's over, the war's over.' And we celebrated." A few days later, a "very serious, very stern-looking" MacArthur returned to Manila, and McGarity remembers seeing him meet with a Japanese envoy at his headquarters. She had volunteered for the Red Cross looking for excitement and in order to get involved in the war. "I had no male relatives involved and I thought, 'Well, it's high time somebody in my family took part,' " she said. "So I decided I'd just join up and see what happened." To get to Manila from New Guinea, where she had been stationed previously, she had to hitch a ride with U.S. aviators, who turned their heads the other way to let her hide behind boxes of spare airplane parts. John Tompkins of Greer remembers the V-J Day celebration in his laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where he had been analyzing samples of uranium, or "the material" as it was called, which had gone into production of atomic bombs. "It was ecstasy down in Oak Ridge" when word came that the Japanese had signed the surrender, he said. The date Sept. 2 holds special significance for Tompkins for anotherreason. Exactly a year before V-J Day, he became, in a sense, one of the first casualties of Hiroshima. As a new physics graduate from George Washington University, he was Ddrafted and ordered to join what he later learned was the Manhattan Project, the development of the atomic bomb. On Sept. 2, 1944, he had just arrived in Philadelphia to begin training on a process for enriching uranium to be used in making a nuclear weapon. Tompkins and other soldier-scientists would supervise the production on a larger scale at the military labs at Oak Ridge, Tenn. He was standing outside the lab where the uranium which later went into the bomb dropped over Hiroshima was being processed when pipes containing uranium hexafluoride, a white, weird-smelling and horribly caustic substance, exploded. Two civilian scientists were killed and the building was destroyed. The blast left Tompkins blind for two weeks, suffering third-degree burns on his legs and with lung and other internal damage. The explosion wasn't radioactive but left him hospitalized for months. In spite of his injuries and the stress he experienced when the bomb was dropped over Hiroshima in August 1945 - "I was tense as hell when that Thing went off," he said -

Tompkins is confident that V-J Day wouldn't have come on Sept. 2 without the Manhattan Project. "It was a great project, with great national cooperation," Tompkins said. “My personal feeling was, by golly, that ended the war."

THE HORROR OF THE HOLOCAUST

By Ron Barnett Staff Writer

Five decades hasn't dulled the pain Leo Diamantstein feels when he thinks of his relatives who died at Auschwitz. And, a half-century later, he still can't understand the terribleanti-Semitic fervor that swept "the most civilized nation on earth" - Germany - dragging six million Jews to their deaths during World War II. But Diamantstein, a Greenville resident who survived the Holocaust by luck, daring, and quick thinking, is sure of one thing: It could happen again, and not necessarily in Germany. "There is no guarantee that such a thing cannot happen here or anywhere else," Diamantstein said. "You can't just say it's not going to happen. That's what they said over there, too." Diamantstein is one of more than 40 Holocaust survivors now living in South Carolina, at least seven of them in the Upstate, including former Greenville Mayor Max Heller and his wife Trude, according to the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust. Neither has time blurred the grisly Holocaust memories that Ethel Stafford of Mauldin has lived with for 50 years. She saw the horror not as a victim but as a member of the liberation forces. As a U.S. Army nurse, her mobile hospital unit encountered the most ghastly scene imaginable: 1,800 people, mostly Poles, burned alive. The few who had tried to escape were beaten to death or shot. "You had nightmares over it, and you try not to think of it," Mrs. Stafford said. "It's always with you, but if you were to dwell on it, you would go off your rocker."

Looking back, though, the experience made her stronger, and morecompassionate, she said. Diamantstein, who fled Germany with his family to Italy and finally toSwitzerland to slip through Hitler's grasp, said there are days when he can't find it within himself to speak of the Holocaust. But when he's asked to speak to students in local schools, he finds that some young people see the events as remote and irrelevant. And he remembers that the story needs to be told again and again. Diamantstein was about 10 years old before he realized that some people hated Jews. That was 1933, the year Hitler came to power. Hitler was seen as offering hope to Germans suffering through the Great Depression. And his laying blame for the nation's economic problems on the Jews heated anti-Semetic feelings that had deep roots in history. "There was a need of a scapegoat," Diamantstein said. "And the Jews were the ones." It was a gradual progression from prejudice to denial of civil rights to violence before Hitler implemented his "Final Solution:" extermination, Diamantstein said. "We were harassed, we were beaten up, we were made miserable in hundreds of different ways," Diamantstein said. Still, in the years between 1933-38, many Jews believed the persecution would pass. "They all said Germany is the most civilized country there is,"Diamantstein said. But Diamantstein's father recognized the danger and decided the family should leave Germany - a decision which ultimately was to spare them the Nazi gas chambers. Eleven million people, about half of them Jews, were exterminated inconcentration camps. That his relatives wouldn't be convinced to flee is Diamantstein's great regret. "It grabs my heart every time I think about it," Diamantstein said, his voice quaking with sorrow and anger. "I say, 'damn it, why didn't they listen to us? Why did they stay?"' All his relatives who stayed met the same fate: death at Nazi concentration camps. But finding a country that would take the Diamantsteins wasn't easy. "I remember my father took me by the hand and we went from consulate to consulate together," Diamantstein said. "Nobody would let us in."

Finally, the Italian government agreed to allow the family to cross its borders provided they brought no belongings with them. In summer 1934, they boarded a train from their home in Frankfurt to Milan, Italy. The Italians, despite being ruled by a dictator aligned with Hitler'sregime, were friendly. Eventually, though, Diamantstein was sent to aconcentration camp in southern Italy. He wasn't beaten or mistreated as Jews in camps run by Germans were, but disease was common, he said. By 1943 the family was released from the camp and moved to a town nearVenice, where they were living when Germany ordered the deaths of all Jews. Using fake IDs, Diamantstein, then a teen-ager, tricked Gestapo officers into allowing the family to take a train to the Swiss border. In Switzerland, Diamantstein and his two brothers worked in labor camps but managed to avoid the Nazis until liberation came. Like Diamantstein, Mrs. Stafford believes Holocaust is a presentpossibility, a terrible chapter in history that must be remembered by future generations. She was a nurse with the U.S. Army's 113th Evacuation Hospital in April 1945 when her hospital unit arrived ahead of the Army at Gardelegan, a slave labor camp in northern Germany. "They had burned 1,800 people alive in this large stone building which was probably a barn," she said. "They herded the people in, apparently, and they put straw all over the place and set the straw on fire. "Those that tried to escape...tried to dig out under the doors, and you could see where either their heads were bashed in with gun butts, or they were shot," she said. She arrived just hours after the incident. Such a sight left an imprint of horror on Mrs. Stafford's mind. But it also made her more sharply aware of the value of human life. "It makes you stronger in your moral values and how you treat other people," she said.

Goodbye, Max

This story isn’t one you’ll probably have much run reading, but I’ve included it here simply because it was my biggest scoop. Whenever the president of a major university resigns it’s a big story, and I managed to beat everybody on this one. Max Lennon had

been accustomed to the reporters who covered Clemson basically working as an extension of the university’s PR office. Being a guy who truly loves Clemson, I wanted to write about what was really going on – both the good things and the problems. I started going to Faculty Senate meetings, talking to professors and listening to the growing discontent about the administration. I soon realized that Lennon was in trouble. He was completely out of touch with what was going on, though. He surrounded himself with yes-men, and as far as he was concerned, I was just giving voice to a few malcontents. Eventually, though, he came to realize that things weren’t going his way and decided it was time to move on. But before he had a chance to make the announcement on his own terms, I called him up late one Thursday night and told him I had just been at a Faculty Senate meeting in which they had decided to call for a vote of no-confidence in him. He didn’t want such a story to run in the paper and told me he had a bigger story for me. He said he would give me the exclusive on a story about his decision to resign if I didn’t run the Faculty Senate story in Friday’s paper. So we made a deal. I met him in his office Friday and we ran the story below Saturday morning. Needless to say the dookey hit the fan that morning in newsrooms across South Carolina, and I was the most hated (and envied) newsman in the state for a day. Lennon hastily called a Saturday morning news conference to “announce” his decision. I don’t know what he told the other reporters about how I got the story. But he told me later that it was the worst decision of his career to give me the exclusive. He had hoped for much more of an ego-stroking story about his great accomplishments without any mention of the turmoil that had led to his departure. Lennon, who at the time was considered prime executive material in academic and business circles, went on to work for a salad dressing company and then a small college in Mars Hill, North Carolina, where he eventually was forced out for the same sort of reasons.

CLEMSON'S LENNON STEPPING DOWN By Ron Barnett Staff Writer

Clemson University President Max Lennon said Friday he has resigned but will remain in office up to a year while the search for a new president is undertaken. Only days away from his eighth anniversary as president, Lennon said he is leaving because a university president becomes less effective if he stays too long. "Based on my personal study of the best educational institutions, there's a limited period of time when a person should stay in a leadership role," the 53-year-old Lennon said in an interview with The Greenville News. His decision comes amid what Lennon called unprecedented budget pressures and a call by the Faculty Senate for a confidence vote on his leadership.

But Lennon said the faculty discontent and the call for a vote on his administration weren't factors in his decision. "I have suggested, and (Clemson Board of Trustees Chairman) Bill Amick has accepted, that it's time for me to step aside right now so that we can focus on this process of change, rather than backslide." Amick said he "reluctantly" accepted Lennon's decision to resign Tuesday. "Our board respects his decision. We regret it," Amick said in an interview. "But we're deeply grateful to him for the service he's provided us over the last nine years." "It was Dr. Lennon's decision entirely," Amick said. Faculty morale at Clemson has been sinking in the past few years, according to a survey done two years ago by the Faculty Senate, which represents faculty before the administration. The Faculty Senate adopted a series of resolutions recently callingexpenditures for administration too high and opposing the buyout of former football coach Ken Hatfield's contract, among other complaints. Unaware of Lennon's plans to leave, the Faculty Senate's executive advisory committee voted Thursday to hold a referendum asking all faculty whether they have confidence in Lennon's leadership. The committee, by a secret ballot vote of 7-5, approved a motion to call for a referendum by April 4, with some members citing "intense pressure" from other faculty to put the issue to a vote. Walt Owens, vice president of the Faculty Senate, said late Friday thegroup might call off the referendum in light of Lennon's resignation. He was unsure what the reaction to Lennon's resignation will be. "I'm not sure really what the faculty will say," Owens said. "That's adifficult thing to really comment on." Lennon said Friday that the Faculty Senate's move was in response to a request he'd made that the body evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his administration. He said he'd asked for the evaluation so it could be used in helping the trustees pick a new president. Lennon, Clemson's 11th president, said he initiated discussions with Amick 18 months ago about the need for a change in leadership at the university. "I've been at several different universities, and I've followed people that have been in office at different amounts of time," said Lennon, who was named president in

October 1985 and assumed office March 1, 1986. "And those that have remained more than 10 years became less effective. And that's not fair to the university." In elaborating on his reasons for leaving, Lennon cited unprecedented budgetary problems and demographic changes that have hurt all of highereducation. State formulas for funding higher education are outdated, and a smaller percentage of the state budget goes to higher education than in the past, he said. But those problems will be there regardless of who is president,Lennon said, pointing to the length of his service as the primary reason for his decision. "When I came in the fall of '85 and spoke to the faculty, I said then that it's a deep belief that I hold that leaders on campus should seriouslyevaluate themselves and that 10 years may be too long for any of the leadership positions," he said. Lennon said faculty discontent, expressed particularly by the Faculty Senate, was not a factor in the decision. "It's very predictable," he said. "We're talking about significant change. And I think the discussions that we're hearing across campus are very good, they're very healthy and very predictable." Amick said Lennon may have become "a lightning rod for anxiety" due to the budget crunch and reorganization it necessitates. "These are critical and crucial times in higher education," Amick said. "Another factor is the pace of change that Dr. Lennon has been seeking at Clemson. Change creates anxiety, and major change creates major anxiety." Lennon said he believes he accomplished the goals set before him by the trustees when he took the job. "While we've focused on maintaining the highest quality we could given limited resources with our undergraduate program, we've dramatically increased our research activity, and problem solving activity in the strategic areas - food and agriculture, engineering and sciences, and the environmental arena." Amick noted that under Lennon's administration, the university raised more than $100 million in private donations, and Clemson's endowment grew by more than 150 percent to $77 million. Asked if he would do anything differently if he could do it over again, Lennon said: "I can't think of anything." Will he be a lame duck as the university hashes out a budget for the coming year and moves forward with implementing its strategic plan? "Not at all," Lennon said. "I can be a bit more candid now."

Lennon's departure will not change the direction he has set in reorganizing and streamlining the university to meet the educational, research and service needs of the state and nation in an era of reduced state funding, both he and Amick said. "The process is not Max Lennon's process," Lennon said. "It's a process that has to become a Clemson process. And everyone has to get involved." "We live in a changing world and we cannot become status quo," Amick said. "We must move forward." Neither will his leaving affect the plans he set in motion to focus onoutreach and service to the state's business, industry and government, Lennon said. Amick said he hopes to start the search for a new president the week of March 7. Lennon said he will stay until March 1, 1995, if necessary to give the Board of Trustees time to select a successor. If Lennon leaves before Feb. 25, 1995, he would forfeit a deferred compensation package consisting of approximately $425,000 in private money set aside over the past few years to discourage him from leaving, according to an agreement with the Clemson University Foundation. A native of Columbus County, N.C., Lennon came to Clemson from Ohio State University, where he was vice president for agricultural administration. He held posts at the University of Missouri and Texas Tech prior to that and worked in private industry. Lennon declined to comment on his plans after leaving Clemson, but said, "It's obvious that we will try to generate some options."

Save your Confederate money, boys

This is another story of mine that became famous via the Internet. I got response from secessionists from across the country. Most of them praised me for giving them a fair and reasonably balanced story, compared to what they're used to. Now, I love the South as much as anybody, and I agree with them that if a section of the country wants to secede from the Union it ought to be able to. I also agree with them that we have become way too Wal-Martized (although Sam Walton was a Southerner) and that a return to a simpler, Andy Griffith lifestyle would be good. I also don’t think these guys are really a racial “hate group” so much as a group who would just rather not have any liberals living in their midst. But I hope they don’t succeed with their political agenda. I don’t want to be a part of a South that doesn’t allow free thinking.

Group sees future in Confederacy's ashes League of South, which fought against King Day, rejects racist label

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

The years have mellowed the red brick streets of Abbeville, softening the edges of this rural courthouse town. But history has a way of coming alive in such a place. Revolutionary ideas have been born and died here: The first mass meeting of South Carolinians clamoring for secession took place on a hilltop just above town in 1860. The last Cabinet meeting of the defeated Confederacy also happened here, 4 1/2 tragic years later. The days of revolutionary thinking did not end there. Today, just off the tree-lined courthouse square, a half-dozen flags wave gently in the afternoon breeze -- among them the battle flag of the Confederacy and the familiar blue and white flag of South Carolina. This is the state headquarters of the League of the South, a 100-yearold wooden-floored storefront stocked with all things Southern, from Maurice's barbecue sauce to Jefferson Davis coloring books. To members of the group, which made its presence known in Greenville during the fight over a Martin Luther King holiday, the palmetto and crescent flag outside is not merely the symbol of a small Southern state. It is the banner of a sovereign republic. South Carolina, like the other 13 original states, never ceded its power of self-rule at the end of the American Revolution, according to the League of the South. To this day, the League says, it is a state under federal occupation, overrun roughshod by a national government that is imposing its misguided policies and high taxes on the populace in violation of the U.S. Constitution. "This is pretty radical stuff," acknowledges one of the League's founders, University of South Carolina history professor Clyde Wilson. "But our main endeavor is to get people to thinking a little differently and to try to reclaim some of their freedom that we have lost in recent years, and their self-determination."

A sovereign republic of South Carolina would be a much different place than the state now managed by Washington, in the view of Robert B. Hayes, state director of the League. Abortion would be illegal. Taxes would be much lower -- 10 percent of a citizen's income at the most. There would be no government-funded public education system: The current one has proven government's ineffectiveness in the education business, he said.

Hate or heritage? The right of free association also would be upheld, meaning private businesses could decide for themselves who they would serve -- or not serve. That doesn't mean that the group advocates exclusion of anyone, Hayes said -- such rules wouldn't apply to public facilities. It's strictly a matter of private property rights. "Now, it may be a very, very poor business decision to deny Catholics or deny Jews or deny whites or deny whatever group you want to deny," Hayes said. "But the owner of the property should have the right to decide who he has in his place of business." Because of such views, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to fight intolerance, has labeled the League of the South a neo-Confederate hate group. Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center and editor of the center's Intelligence Report, said the group started quietly in 1994 as an intellectual movement but radicalized after the Confederate flag battle in South Carolina. "It developed into an organization that describes segregation as a policy designed to ensure the integrity of the races," he said. "It believes the South is fundamentally Anglo-Celtic, created by and for Christian whites and will allow others to live in the South as long as they know their place." The League won't say how many members it has, but Potok counts 9,000 members and chapters in 15 states. South Carolina has the most chapters, but there are chapters as far away as New York and Montana. League members question the credibility of the Southern Poverty Law Center, saying it profits financially by creating lists of hate groups. They say the League is being unfairly cast as a group of one-dimensional people focused on the race issue. It's not the League that keeps fighting the race issue but people like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who raised the profile of the debate over a King holiday in Greenville County, they say.

Like Jackson, Hayes has become a fixture at County Council meetings. Saying he was invited by members of the League from Greenville, he addressed the council again and again on King's marital infidelity, doctoral plagiarism and purported Communist ties, urging against establishing a holiday. Eventually, the council voted to let county employees decide which holidays to observe, a plan the League supported. But the issue stirred up racial strife, with black leaders vowing to continue to fight for a holiday to symbolize that Greenville County has joined the rest of the nation in recognizing the civil rights struggle. The power of symbols cuts both ways. Even in the League's own back yard, some locals have a distaste for the display of Old South symbols on Main Street. "I know it irritates a lot of people. A lot of blacks complain about it," said Mark Bobo, a 26-year-old textiles worker who was relaxing on a park bench in front of the Abbeville courthouse on a recent afternoon. "Why should they have something like that just right up on the square?" Such views are based on a misperception of what the League is about, members say. "Anytime anybody says something 'Southern,' then there are people who immediately start jumping up and down about how you want to restore slavery or segregation," said Wilson, who is the editor of John C. Calhoun's papers. "We're not talking about that. We're talking about the future." "We repudiate all forms of racism and we have taken great pains to exclude anybody who wants to preach that kind of thing," Wilson said, "and people who want to preach that kind of thing avoid us and criticize us." If hate is not the driving force of the League of the South, anger is certainly a factor. Anger against big government. Anger against the news media. Anger that reaches back to what they call the War Against Southern Independence, Lincoln's invasion of the South. Anger even against a sitting president in time of war. "The president has violated the Constitution, so why shouldn't anybody speak out against violating the Constitution?" Hayes said, answering why he had a Dixie Chicks T-shirt in the rack at the League building. And especially, League members feel anger against anything that threatens what they consider Southern culture.

Egghead beginnings Jim Kibler, a professor of Southern literature at the University of Georgia, was among a group of about 40 college professors from across the South who decided in 1994 to combine their scholarly efforts in reaction to what they saw as a liberal agenda being pushed by many of their campus colleagues. They decided that rather than take second- and third-hand sources for their historical and literary research, they would go to the original documents. "We were, I guess, a bunch of scholar eggheads who wanted to do that kind of research for the sake of, really, what we considered truth," Kibler said. The League founders also wanted to put the South in a positive light -something that seemed to be disappearing in the popular view, he said. The news media, much of which is controlled by "South-hating" business empires, have created a racist stereotype of anyone who displays the Confederate flag or who talks about Southern heritage, Kibler believes. "That's the simplistic, propagandistic cultural Marxist approach" that even many Southern newspapers take, he said, and they are "aided and abetted by the Chamber of Commerce and all of the New South people who would sell Granny if they could get a buck for her hide." Kibler is particularly concerned about the "sprawl-mart mentality" he believes big business is pushing and the impact it's having on the South. "We're against the homogenizing. We like diversity. Nothing wrong with diversity," he said. "We want people to be who they are. We don't want our communities to all look the same." The distinctiveness of the South is in danger of being lost, he fears, through outside influences that seek only to make money or grab power that belongs to local communities. His purpose, as a member of the League of the South, is not to politicize his teaching and literary research but to celebrate the uniqueness of the region. "I'm more interested in literature and I'm more interested in the history of the South and its language and its front porches and its architecture and its gardens and its plants ..." But clearly, the League has political aims, foremost among them shaking off the shackles of the federal government. And that means secession. "Secession is neither premature, impractical, nor illegal," a position paper posted on the League's Web site states. "The time is right for separation and the establishment of local self-rule."

If the 13 states of the old Confederacy were a nation, its gross national product would place it among the richest five or six nations of the world, the Web site says. "Its laws would better reflect the natural conservatism and Christian roots of the Southern people. Our laws on gun control, abortion, school prayer, and immigration would without question be different." Another civil war wouldn't need to be fought, either -- if only the federal government would abide by the Constitution, the League says. Indeed, some scholars argue that the South did have the right under the Constitution to leave the Union in 1860, said Bill Steirer, a history professor at Clemson University. "But like anything, a right is yours only if you have enough power to take it and to keep it," he said. The League's claim that South Carolina is already a sovereign nation based on the peace treaty signed at the end of the American Revolution is more questionable, Steirer said. When South Carolina ratified the Constitution on May 30, 1788, the state gave the federal government the power to regulate trade between states, to have a court that's superior to all state courts, to mint coins, to provide for the defense of the nation and to set public lands policy, he said. "It does not seem to me that the powers that the state has left are those powers which anybody would think a sovereign nation has to have in order to be a nation," he said. Walter Edgar, director of the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina, also said the state's sovereignty is a dead issue. "That has been decided both by the courts and on the battlefield," he said. If secession seems a stretch, the League believes it is already becoming a factor in state politics. It started a movement called No Votes for Turncoats after July 2000 when the Confederate battle flag was taken down from the Statehouse dome and legislative chambers and put on the grounds next to a Confederate monument. "We picked and choosed who we were going to go after -- those that were in marginal districts," said Hayes, a former high school science teacher who runs the Confederate store as well as directing the state League's activities. Since that time, more than 50 officeholders on the state and local level have fallen, partly due to the League's influence, Hayes said. "We can't take full credit for defeating Beasley, nor can we take full credit for defeating Hodges. But we were certainly one of the most active groups out there," he said.

Furman political science professor Donald Aiesi said the claim to throwing out 50 officeholders doesn't ring true. "They're delusionary if they think they have," Aiesi said. "They may have captured some of the same constituency that would have voted against those people anyway, and I doubt if they were pivotal in any races substantially." Hayes isn't ruffled by the skeptics. The cause, he believes, is worth the fight. "We have a message that we think is an important message, and that is self-government and that is state sovereignty," he said. "If we can convince enough people in South Carolina to agree with us and to politically move us in that direction, we are simply abiding by both the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution and the political process. "If we can't get people to accept our message," he said, "then we're just going to fade away."

Christ’s name, Amen

Here’s a controversy that shows how silly “religious” people can be sometimes. Now everybody who wants to can get down on their knees and pray to their heart’s content in their closet, like Jesus said, or in church, or even before a city council meeting. But what’s more important: asking for God’s guidance for the elected officials or making a public show of prayer? Inquiring minds want to know.

Upstate groups grapple with court's prayer ruling Many don't want to leave Jesus out

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

What's in a name? Plenty, if the name is Jesus. Or Buddha. Or Allah. Or any other that makes it clear that a prayer spoken under the auspices of a local government is directed to a specific deity, according to a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit U.S. District Court of Appeals. God by any other name is a violation of the First Amendment, the court recently ruled in a case that puts city and county councils and school boards across South Carolina in the position of either doing away with invocations, making them generic or running afoul of the law. The appeals court upheld a U.S. District Court decision in a case against the Chester County town of Great Falls. The town was sued by Darla Wynne, a Wiccan, who objected to the use of the name Jesus in the prayers before town council meetings. The court's ruling says governmental bodies can ask for divine guidance before meetings, using words such as "God" or "the Almighty" that don't exclude any religion. The ruling says using generic terms for the deity doesn't violate the First Amendment's ban on government establishment of religion, citing previous cases in which the courts said such language dates back to the Founding Fathers. The town plans to appeal. "Whose edict do you follow?" asked Republican state Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville. "I personally would choose to ignore it and would encourage any and all (local governments) in South Carolina to ignore it. "To pray to a generic god is to pray to no god." Some have already chosen the middle way. Greenville City Councilwoman Chandra Dillard closes her prayers before meetings with the words "in your name we pray." She doesn't say who "your" refers to -although in her mind, it's Jesus. "I am astute enough to know and recognize that people worship in different ways, and I am sensitive to the diversity that we have," she said. Others, such as Tony Beam, director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville College, see the ruling as an attack on the First Amendment's guarantee of the right of free exercise of religion.

"When the court system says, look, you have to do it a specific way, that's stepping across the line and it's prohibiting the free religious expression of the people on that council," he said. "That's my concern." Pickens County Councilwoman Jennifer Willis prayed to the "Heavenly Father" at a recent meeting without mention of Jesus, in response to the ruling. "I certainly don't want to step on anybody's toes," she said. "I am a little disappointed in the decision, but I will certainly try to abide by it." What were the Founding Fathers thinking about? "Many of them used euphamisms for God -- like Providence and Higher Being -- never mentioning Jesus," said Clemson University history professor Bill Steirer. Some of them were devout Christians, but others, such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, more likely held the deist belief of Enlightenment thinkers -- belief in a supreme being but not in the divinity of Jesus. However, he doubts that they would have been concerned at the time about prayers before governmental meetings being given in Christ's name -- and they probably were, he said. Reaction on the street was mixed, with adherents of the Upstate's dominant religion -- conservative Christianity -- holding the view that Jesus shouldn't be kicked out of council meetings. "It just doesn't seem right," said Ted Spano, a 38-year-old electrician from Pelzer. "This is a religiously based area, and if you want to pray to Jesus, you should have every right to do that. They pray in Jesus' name at the NASCAR races and at football games and everything else. I don't see any harm in it myself." Robert Dill, 34, a real estate agent from Simpsonville, said governmental bodies should be able to pray in Jesus' name, but he thinks leaving it out in favor of words such as "God Almighty" is a good compromise. The best approach, said dispute resolution specialist Rod Downs, 23, is to be sensitive to others while praying when a diverse gathering of people is present. "If one is made to feel uncomfortable by using Jesus, although that's my personal belief, you can't force your personal belief on a wide spectrum of people." Don Aiesi, a political science professor at Furman University, said many local governments are likely to follow the lead of former Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore, who refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a judicial building after the court ordered it. "People think of it as more a battle in the culture wars and they're not accepting the legitimacy of the decision," he said. "They're considering the source, and

they figure that the courts have sold out to the other side, to the enemy and the secularist society." Local governments are divided in their response to the ruling. Eddie Hughes, mayor of Liberty, said his council uses a Southern Baptist minister to deliver the invocation, and he does it in Jesus' name. "That's what we plan to continue to do until we are challenged on it," he said. On its first meeting after Sept. 11, Greenville County Council members stopped saying the prayers themselves and started inviting clergy for that purpose, according to County Attorney Mark Tollison. He doesn't think the court ruling addresses that practice. Tommy Reece, chairwoman of the Greenville County school board, said the school district's lawyer has advised that prayers should be kept inclusive. Grady Butler, a member of the board who also is pastor of a Presbyterian church and chaplain of the school board, said he doesn't use Jesus' name for that reason. But he doesn't think that makes his prayers any less effective. "It doesn't bother me that it's restrictive in terms of not calling Jesus' name, because to me all of life is centered around Jesus," he said. Helen Lee Turner, a religion professor at Furman University, said there's no biblical mandate for praying in Jesus' name. The model prayer Jesus gave to his disciples -- the Lord's Prayer -- doesn't mention his name, although prayer in his name has been a common practice for centuries, she said. But she said making prayers generic diminishes religious tradition. She said allowing a moment of silence for everyone to pray in public meetings is a better way. "I think there's some problem with forcing your prayers to conform to the wider society, so there might be a reason to not see that as the place to have public prayer," she said. The greater principle that should guide public officials is to be sensitive to the feelings of others, said Dick Berger, a member of Beth Israel Synagogue and vice chairman of Greenville Faith Communities United. "If they spent more time trying to understand one another rather than just be offended if they can't do it exactly their way, I think we'd all be better off," he said.

Interview with a Witch

It’s a little eerie, talking to a witch. She wasn’t exactly the stereotypical hag with a broom – although I had to do the interview over the phone rather than drive down to Great Falls, so I don’t know for sure. She didn’t sound like a hag. This story found its way onto several national Wiccan Web sites and religious persecution blogs, so I've made my contribution for religious freedom – something I believe in deeply – as long as you really follow that “harm none” rule. This ran as a sidebar to the council prayer story. Woman says townspeople persecuted her for her religion Witch says her move to small town backfired

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

She moved from Alaska to Chester County to be closer to her mother. She wanted to live in a quiet, small town, close to nature, just her and her cats. Great Falls seemed like just such a place. One problem. She's a witch. Darla Wynne, a practitioner of the earth-based Wiccan religion, started going to town council meetings because she wanted something done about the crack dealers in her neighborhood. But when council members saw the bumper stickers on her car -- such as "Witches Against Religious Discrimination Inc." emblazoned with a pentagram -- they weren't interested in listening to her, she says. "All of a sudden the crack dealers weren't important. "It was the stickers, my religion," she said. Wynne, whose lawsuit against the town led to a federal court ruling that prayer in Jesus' name at council meetings is unconstitutional, said her home has been

vandalized and townspeople have tried to forcibly "exorcise" demons out of her, poisoned her cats and threatened to burn her house. "They flipped over my refrigerator. They squirted ketchup and mustard everywhere. They've written 'Die, witch.' " Wynne makes her living driving Alzheimer's patients to their doctor's appointments. Her religion, she says, has a credo, "Harm none." Wiccans don't believe in a Satan, her coven does nothing illegal, and the "spells" she casts are akin to prayer and are always for positive purposes, she said. Regardless of what has happened to her in the community, the town officials of Great Falls have done her no harm, said Brian Givens, the town attorney. "We never treated her in a mean manner," he said. "That was her opinion of how we treated her, and unfortunately (the court) sided with her on those issues. "We disagree with Darla Wynne's opinion, but we never deliberately excluded her or tried to hold her out or ostracize her for not participating." She, and the court record, tell a different story. The ruling of a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Wynne at first "stood and bowed her head during the prayer" at council meetings along with her neighbors. A regular attendee at meetings since 1999, she eventually stopped standing and bowing her head during the prayers, the ruling says. At a meeting in 2000, she addressed the council and objected to the use of the name of Jesus in the prayers and suggested that members of different religions be invited to give prayers, the record shows. The mayor responded "to the effect that: 'This is the way we've always done things and we're not going to change,' " according to the ruling. When she decided to arrive a few minutes late at a council meeting to avoid being there for the prayer, she was stricken from the agenda and not allowed to speak, the ruling says. At another meeting, when Wynne announced to the council that she had canceled plans for a Pagan Pride Day, a councilman replied that "the Christians of Great Falls should be proud this day because they defeated the pagans," she said. With the appeals court decision, the town has stopped references to Jesus during prayers but plans to ask the full 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case, Givens said. A former state solicitor from Virginia is taking the case at no charge to the city, he said. South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster has filed a brief in support of the town.

If the court in Richmond refuses to rehear the case, the town may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said. Wynne said she also has legal representation, if the case goes forward. Denyse Williams, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, which has provided Wynne legal assistance in the case, said she doesn't think the court will rehear the matter. "What they're talking about is a governmental body establishing a religious ceremony, and that flies in the face of the Constitution," she said. Rick Hahnenberg, president of the Upstate South Carolina chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which also filed a brief in support of Wynne, said the case should settle the issue of sectarian prayer at public meetings. "Government just can't take a position on it," he said. "That's why we have houses of worship."

Adam and Steve
While we’re on religious controversy, we can't overlook the one that’s rocking our beloved Episcopal Church. Of all the sins mentioned in the Bible, it’s hard to believe that one that affects only 3 percent of the human population seems to have loomed larger than the ones that cause so much misery for a much bigger percentage. What would Jesus do? I don’t know for sure, but I know what he did about a woman caught in the act of adultery.

Episcopal churches divided on gay bishop Church's bond being tested

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

The liturgy of the Episcopal Church is comfortably predictable from week to week, filling sanctuaries each Sunday with a common rhythm of worship, an exquisite expression of high-minded spirituality. Episcopalians in the Upstate will tell you that strength flows from the beautifully structured service and the ancient rituals of the church, forming a bond that ties the faithful together in prayer and communion. The limits of that bond are being tested these days. The national church's decision in August to approve the ordination of an openly gay bishop has created a fault line that threatens to separate the Episcopal Church in the United States from its worldwide mother church, the 70 million-member Anglican Communion. And within the mostly conservative Episcopal churches of the Upstate, there is dissension, disagreement and disillusionment. Some expect that the Episcopal Church eventually will be separated from the Anglican body and a new, more conservative province of the Anglican Communion formed in America to take its place. Opinions in Episcopal churches around Greenville are divided, with the majority siding against the actions of the national church but no consensus on what to do about it. "I've heard some who said it didn't matter, and more that said it did matter, that it is going against the Bible," said Mary Thompson, a member of the vestry at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in the Nicholtown Community. But like most, she doesn't know what lies ahead. Some hold onto their faith in the innate ability of Episcopalians to agree to disagree and still follow the same Lord and same manner of worship. But among most, there is grave concern that their church, a bastion of order and good manners, is facing a fight. "There's clearly going to be a schism," said Sarah Hey, a 34-year-old marketing executive who is a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Greenville. "The question is when and how." Those who hope to avoid a split are placing their hopes on ideas that came out of a meeting of international leaders of the Anglican Communion last week in London. The primates, or leaders of the various branches of the church, called for the establishment of a commission to undertake "urgent and deep theological and legal reflection" on the issue of homosexuality and report its findings within 12 months. Their statement came one week after conservative Episcopal leaders met in Texas to call for the Anglican leadership to censure the liberals of the denomination.

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson, bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, said the primates' statement affirms the traditional teaching of the church while keeping issues of sexuality open for discussion - a position he applauds. "Although it expresses concern, it neither condemns nor censures the American Church," he said. "A split has been avoided, and God's will for the unity of the Church has been affirmed." Henderson has taken the position that the consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire wouldn't affect the policy of the diocese here. Hey said that doesn't follow her understanding of the way the Episcopal Church is structured, as a group of associated dioceses headed by bishops who are the guardians of the church's teaching. The idea of setting up a commission to study the issue is only a delay tactic in her view. "I love my church, my local church," she said. "But we're in a denomination that largely has changed what Scripture teaches about the gospel of repentance and submission to God's grace and transformation." Views among the 4,000 members of Christ Church, the sixth-largest Episcopal church in the nation, vary, though. The Rev. Bob Dannals, the church's rector, supports the idea of further study on the issue. "The primates statement tells me that they are trying to prayerfully attend to biblical ethics and staying in communion," he said. "I personally support that they are going to continue meaningful dialogue in the next year to address concerns over the conformation and what that means for the Anglican Communion." But the church's vestry, a group of lay leaders, has voted for the parish to withhold the money it had been sending to the national church and use it for missions work in the Upstate instead. The annual meeting of the Upper South Carolina Diocese will be held in Columbia this weekend. Although the early agenda didn't include anything on the controversy with the national church, decisions on the diocesan budget will force church leaders to take a position on sending money to the national organization. Cecil Nelson, a Greenville lawyer who heads Christ Church's $15 million capital campaign, thinks most parishioners want to stay within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, regardless of their view on the sexuality issue.

"My hope would be that the calmer voices on both sides of the issue would get together and work through some sort of resolution that's going to make the 80 percent in the middle comfortable with where the Episcopal Church ends up," he said. Henry Tollison, rector emeritus of St. Francis Episcopal on Edwards Road, said church leaders probably shouldn't have acted on the ordination of a gay man as bishop before clearing up the church's view on homosexuality. "There's no doubt that the Scripture says, at least in certain parts, that there is a prohibition against homosexual activity," he said. "But the interpretation of that is where the cloudiness comes. Some are interpreting that in an absolute way, and some are saying that's not necessarily what it meant at the time." He doesn't see a resolution of the debate coming anytime soon, though. Nor does he think the church will split up. "There'll be some fallout, but I don't think you'll see another whole Episcopal church start up," he said. The Rev. David Upton, rector of St. Andrews Episcopal in the West End and a supporter of the national church's position, said he's not sure whether time can heal the differences over the issue. But he's holding onto hope, after last week's meeting in England. "It sounded as though they talked, they prayed, they read Scripture and they listened to each other," he said. "And I think anytime people get together and talk and listen, it's a good thing."

The Other Pope
Billy Graham may be the most famous religious figure I’ve interviewed, but the pope of the Coptic Orthodox church is unquestionably the highest-ranking cleric I’ve covered.

Eastern pope visits Mauldin

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

The pope came to Mauldin on Friday. Not John Paul II, leader of the world's Roman Catholics, but His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, leader of the world's 45 million Copts. He arrived in a black Lincoln limousine in front of the new St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church on South Main Street at 8:39 p.m. amid the joyous clanging of cymbals, whooping of women and the solemn Arabic chanting of a choir of men dressed in white robes with red and gold sashes. The 80-year-old pontiff, who came here from Alexandria, Egypt, made his way up the steps of the church, processed down the aisle and pulled back a maroon velvet curtain to unveil the church's altar amid the cheers of a congregation of more than 300. Many of them held video cameras aloft or waved hand-held fans with his photo. Today, Shenouda will consecrate the church, marking the culmination of 20 years of growth in the Upstate's Coptic community. "It's an honor to have the pope of all the Coptic churches here with us tonight, and I think it's a true blessing to have him consecrate our church and bless all of us," said Cindy Youssef, 17. Shenouda is the 117th in a succession of Coptic popes that stretches back to St. Mark. Although it has always been led by a pope other than the bishop of Rome, the Coptic church was united with the Roman church until the fifth century, when it split over a theological difference concerning the divine and human nature of Christ. The Upstate's Coptic church began in the early 1980s, when Egyptian families began moving here, gathering in their homes to pray. As the group began to grow, it rented a sanctuary from St. George Greek Orthodox Church in downtown Greenville and eventually bought a small church in Fountain Inn, where it has met for the past 10 years. Friday night was the first time the congregation had used the new sanctuary -- it has been meeting in the basement while awaiting the pope's blessing. Most of the church's 70 to 80 families are from Egypt, said Alphonse Kelada, one of the earliest members of the church and a native of Alexandria. Some came here for jobs, but many came because of persecution in their predominantly Muslim homeland, he said. "In Egypt, the Christians are not very well treated," he said. Persecution has been a long-standing part of the Coptic church's history, stretching back to the martyrdom of St. Mark. During the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, more than 800,000 Copts were executed for refusing to worship the Roman gods.

In spite of the adversity, the Coptic church has contributed much to Christianity. The first Christian monks were Coptic. A Coptic deacon, St. Athanasius, played a major role in development of the Nicene Creed, recited every Sunday by millions of Catholics, Orthodox and adherents of other liturgical faiths. It's as if a chunk of Alexandria, Egypt, has landed in Mauldin. Over the past two weeks, handmade pews, icons and other pieces of religious art, all crafted in the monasteries of Egypt, have arrived at the new church. "It's a piece of art," Kelada said of the new sanctuary. The church is built in the Coptic tradition, in the shape of a cross, with a large dome over the altar and two steeples on either side of the main entrance. "Instead of going to Egypt to visit these old churches, you have one here close by," Kelada said. "And we don't charge anything for visiting."

High Flight
The following story is an example of what an enterprising reporter will do when his editor is on vacation and there’s not a lot of hard news to write about. It’s also an example of a reporter writing himself into the story. Remember the story about Paul trading his cinnamon roll for an airplane ride when we were three or four years old? Well, see if you can guess who the “245-pound student” in this story is.

FAA rule changes may put more in line for takeoff Federal agency creating looser restrictions on 'light-sport' craft

By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

A three-wheeled motorized hang glider rumbles across a bumpy grass landing strip at Happy Valley Flight Park, pauses and revs its propeller with a vibrant, noisy whir.

Flight instructor Al Kvist lets out a whoop - as close to a Rebel yell as someone with a silent "v" in the middle of their name might be expected to do - and the craft, teacher, and a 245-pound student careen down the runway and slip the surly bonds of Fountain Inn. The student hangs on for dear life as farm ponds, pastures, oak trees and houses pass by in surreal majesty, 700 feet below. This isn't exactly ultralight flying - the 75-horsepower Australian-made aircraft weighs considerably more than the 254-pound limit that the Federal Aviation Administration has set for those "flying lawn chairs," as ultralights have been called. But it's certainly no general aviation aircraft, which must weigh at least 1,232 pounds. Under the current regulations, it's considered an "experimental" airplane and requires a private pilot's license to operate. And anyone riding in the second seat must be a student. That could change soon, though. The FAA is in the final stages of writing new regulations that will create a new "light-sport" aircraft category and a "sport pilot" license. The new license will be much easier to earn than a private pilot license, and the new classification for the planes will make them safer, cheaper and more accessible, the agency says. So, 100 years after the Wright brothers unraveled the mysteries of motorized flight, the skies soon could be opened to a whole new class of casual flyers, enthusiasts say. Perhaps not everyone will be happy if that happens. Ultralights and their heavier offspring, which can be anything from the motorized hang glider variety to planes that look like miniature Piper Cubs, have not always been popular with folks on the ground. John Stewart, owner of Chandelle Aviation Estates, started selling ultralights from a small landing strip in the middle of a residential area north of Greer in the early 1980s and quickly had a small squadron of the tiny, buzzing contraptions based there. "In the beginning everybody loved it and they'd come out and wave," he said. "But after there got to be 30 of them, they'd come out and wave, but it wasn't a good kind of wave." He moved his operations to another, more isolated location, but growth caught up to him again. This time, he decided to change gears and turn the property into an air park -- a residential development for pilots of less annoying conventional airplanes.

He's been lobbying the FAA for more regulations for light aircraft for years and says the new rules, when and if they are adopted, won't address the problems he sees. Even under the new regulations, flyers of the "true ultralights" -- those lighter than 254 pounds -- still won't have to have any aeronautical training. "I think anybody that is going to take off from the ground in anything that flies needs to have some form of training," he said. The new rule, which is now under review by the U.S. Department of Transportation, will apply to about 10,000 "fat" ultralights that don't meet current regulations, plus 20,400 airplanes now classed as experimental, said FAA spokesman Christopher White. "It'll become easier for more people to become pilots and own aircraft while increasing the safety benefit for the general public," he said. It will also legalize flying that is going on behind the FAA's back, said Jimmy Dill, owner of Happy Valley Flight Park. "For years ultralight flyers have been flying heavier and faster ultralights -- all which are really not legal. And it's not legal to fly two people in one unless you have an exemption for training purposes," he said. "So this new regulation is really supposed to provide an opportunity for ultralight flyers to legally do what a lot of them have been doing all along." And it will put these aircraft on the property tax rolls, just like regular airplanes, he said. The changes could help give wings to Thi Nguyen, a 22-year-old student at Greenville Tech who is taking flying lessons at Happy Valley. "It's such a great feeling," he said. "You can see everything from up there."

Guitar Pickin’ Mama
I haven't had the opportunity to write anything autobiographical for The Greenville News except for a little piece about a memorable Christmas experience and this one, for Mother’s Day. So it certainly belongs in this collection.

The Greatest Mom

When I was about 11 years old, I discovered a strange and wonderful thing about my mother: She was a guitar player. This had escaped my notice due to the fact that she hadn©t owned a guitar for years. My dad, in a flash of brilliance, decided to rectify this problem, and a Gibson electric guitar and a Fender amplifier became part of our household. This happened around the same time that a group of long-haired lads from Liverpool came on the scene. And my life was changed forever. Mom wasn’t as keen on the twangy electric guitar as my brother and I were, though, and she soon switched to the softer-sounding nylon-stringed variety. But she quickly became the hit of the neighborhood, and all the kids started taking lessons from her. Before we knew it, we had a music store. It’s not her virtuosity that has made the greatest impression on me, though. It’s her ability to translate life into music, and vice versa. She has set to music all our family lore and legend, joy and heartache. There’s the sad tale of a nearly forgotten ancestor who died in an asylum for old soldiers. Another favorite is "The Little Rebel-Yankees," the story of the birth of my fraternal twin brother and me, conceived in Arkansas, born in Wisconsin and raised in South Carolina. And from her "Egypt Songs" collection, there’s the piece about impoverished but bright-eyed children to whom she taught music at a school near Alexandria. Any family gathering isn’t complete without Mom’s performance of her latest compositions, along with plenty of pickin’ from the rest of us on the old standards. But she’s much more than my first guitar teacher and the family balladeer. Her music is just one expression of a heart that is always full of joy, kindness and love. Everybody probably thinks his mother is the only person in the world who always thinks of others first, who has never spoken an unkind word, who has the kind of faith that moves mountains, who stays happy no matter what. But I’m here to tell you that my mom, Bonnie Barnett, is such a person. And for all that and more, I love you, Mama. Happy Mother’s Day! -- Ron Barnett

Who's the Boss?

This story is about my day of following the governor's wife around the Statehouse and governor's mansion one day to show that she's the real power behind the throne. I didn't really like her much, but it was an interesting day.

Jenny Sanford reinvents first lady's role Governor's wife helps run his office: Former Wall Street executive balances political, family roles
By Ron Barnett STAFF WRITER rbarnett@greenvillenews.com Things were not going well for the Sanford agenda in the legislative chambers, and the war room in the Governor's Office was in full battle mode. The governor's communications director, his spokesman and his speech-writer were in an intense conversation with an animated Sanford, who paced a room filled with stacks of newspapers, cluttered desks, and a closed-circuit TV with a piece of paper taped to it that read, "THIS IS OUR TIME TO LEAD." It wasn't Gov. Mark Sanford at the center of this controversy. He was having lunch in Fort Mill with a business executive, talking about the company's expansion plans. It was his wife, first lady Jenny Sanford. Then, a few minutes later it was on to the next assignment: handing out a Mother of the Year award and greeting a circle of grandmotherly Southern ladies, all smiles and how-do-you-do. It's all part of the job for this high-energy Wall Street executive turned governor's wife who is redefining the role of first lady of South Carolina. She works out of a tiny cubicle designed for an intern, has no job title other than first lady, leaves at 2:30 on most afternoons to pick up her kids at school and gets paid nothing for the job. But it doesn't take long to see that if she's not the engineer, Jenny Sanford is the one who makes the trains run on time around here. After Fred Carter left the job of chief of staff in December, the governor named two staffers as interim co-chiefs of staff -- and the first lady took on her office job. "To date, that has remained and seems to be working fine," Mrs. Sanford said between reading e-mails and trying to learn to use a new Nokia cell phone. "So for all intents and purposes, until or unless that right chief of staff person shows up, we will continue with this situation we have right now."

The fact that the first lady is playing a substantive role in the administration may raise eyebrows, reminiscent of Hillary Clinton, a politically very different first lady, said Clemson University political scientist Bruce Ransom. But he said, "If it works, it works." Even without a chief of staff title, though, the first lady is likely to wield more power than others in a staff of unelected people who "pretty much run state government," said Ransom, a former senior policy adviser to the governor of New Jersey. "I would imagine, without any question, that regardless of what titles others may hold, they don't lose sight of the fact that she's the governor's wife," he said. Restless energy In an office led by a governor noted for his laid-back style, Jenny Sanford is a jolt of rapid-fire talking and high-heels walking with a whirlwind management style that wastes not a second. She gets up at 5:30 every morning and does an exercise routine that includes aerobics and Pilates, a form of stretching exercise that she says has helped with back problems she suffered. She gets the kids off to school and arrives at the Statehouse by 8:30 for the daily staff meeting. After the staff meeting one day last week, she prepped a staff member for the governor's Cabinet meeting and sat in on part of it. Before the morning was over she had done an interview with The Greenville News; approved a press release quoting the governor urging the Senate to pass his Fiscal Discipline Plan; discussed with the governor's speechwriter details of the mountains-to-the-sea bike ride the first family plans in May to encourage fitness; fielded questions from a group of Girl Scouts who had come to the Statehouse to serve as pages -- and held a 30-second tete-a-tete in her cubicle with the governor on contacting a former New York banker and a former chief financial officer for Macy's who want to help with a review of the state's finances. "It's no knock on a traditional first lady role," the governor said as he whisked through the intern area on his way to his meeting in Fort Mill. "It's just that God gives every one of us different talents, and I think that one of her talents ... is that she has a remarkable eye for detail. That eye for detail has consistently shown itself to be of great help to me in my political work." Mrs. Sanford, who managed her husband's campaigns for Congress and governor, says later that what was going on in the strategy session with the governor's PR staff isn't ready to be made public. "We were talking about legislation, things that just happened on the floor, how we should react, as in how Mark should react, what should we do going forward," she explains in staccato tones out in the hallway.

Changing roles She was thrust into a nontraditional role not of her own choosing immediately upon moving into the Governor's Mansion. The mansion, which traditionally has been the first lady's domain, was in dire financial straits. Mrs. Sanford, the granddaughter of the founder of the company that makes Skil saws, went to work cutting the budget, letting go of 40 percent of the staff and trimming operating expenses in half. "I haven't had anybody call me or write me and say you should be doing a lot more flashy entertaining," she said. Then, Carter left the chief of staff position -- he had been "on loan" for a year from his job as president of Francis Marion University -- and Mrs. Sanford started coming to the office with her husband on a daily basis. "At that time we also had one big project that Mark had been working on and he just felt overwhelmed with -- and that was the putting together of this big budget," she said, holding up a thick blue paper-bound book. "I do have a financial background," she said. Her part, she said, was to make sure that the cuts the governor wanted could be justified with hard numbers and supported with detailed background. said. "I just basically helped the team here produce this budget," she Perceptions Legislators, who generally stay out of the wing of the Statehouse occupied by the governor and his staff, said they don't have much firsthand knowledge of what the first lady is doing in the office. But none had anything but good to say about her. "I think she's taken a more nontraditional role or involvement at that level than recent first ladies have done," said state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens. "But I don't think she's injected herself in any type of policymaking role, or formal policymaking role, that anyone would have any problems with." House Minority Leader James Smith, D-Columbia, said he has no "direct knowledge" of the situation, "but the perception is that she wields considerable power." He didn't see that as a problem, though. "From everything I've heard she's a very bright, very capable individual, and if she can help the governor in his work and by virtue of that, help the state, I think that's a good thing," he said. Former first lady Mary Wood Beasley said each first lady brings her

own unique talents and abilities to the position, adding that "hers are obviously different from mine." Mrs. Beasley spent much of her effort during David Beasley's term, 1995-99, in renovating the Governor's Mansion and trying to raise awareness of women's health issues. "I don't think it ever would have occurred to David to ask me how to spend the state's money, nor would it have ever occurred to me to ask him how to remodel the Governor's Mansion," she said. But as to Mrs. Sanford, she said, "If that's where her passion is and that's the way they work best together, I think that's great." A mother first Jenny Sanford isn't all business, though -- even if it appears that way in the office. After a hectic morning last week, she went home to have lunch with her 5-year-old son, Blake. Marshall, 11, Landon, 10, and Bolton, 8, were still in class at Heathwood Hall, a private Episcopal school. She whistles loudly and shouts, "Blakie!" as she enters the mansion. Blake is upstairs, playing with Ben, a friend from school. He appears at the banister, swings one leg over and seems to be getting ready for a joy slide. "No, no, no, we're not sliding down there," Mom shouts. Later, she soothes his bumped head with a hug and a kiss after the boys had a minor collision in the hallway. She makes a quick tour of the kitchen, inspecting the vegetables for tonight's reception before heading for the cooler, where she chooses a Granny Smith apple -- her lunch. Blake, taking up a spot in an employee break room, eats more heartily -- two hot dogs, a plate of macaroni and cheese and chips. But Mom makes sure he and Ben both get a serving of fruit before they're done. The boys quickly burn off their lunch outside, playing with Jet, the first family's year-and-a half-old black Lab. Mrs. Sanford doesn't always make it home for lunch with Blake, but she tries to spend time every afternoon and evening with her boys, she said. Later that day, after an afternoon tea and before a 6 p.m. reception, she and the boys put in an hour and a half at a downtown soup kitchen -- a weekly project they've taken on during Lent. She talks passionately about fitness and health, particularly cancer prevention, an issue close to her heart because of her mother's continuing battle with melanoma. But she acknowledges that her office job has forced her to cut back on speaking engagements on those issues. "The question you face when you're a first lady is 'Can I make a big difference in a big way about an issue, and if so, how can I do that?'" she said. "I, for the most part, have chosen -- actually fairly cognizantly in this past year -- I have chosen not to follow a big issue in a big way, in the traditional First Lady sense." She may want to go back to being a Wall Street financier someday, she said. But for now, family comes first.

While presiding over the Mother of the Year presentation, she quotes Psalms 127: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth." She looks around at the Mother of the Year's children and grandchildren and tells the group, "I am a big believer, and always have been, that there are many ways to leave a legacy. But in God's eyes, the most important one is to leave good children and good grandchildren. place." "And if you do that well," she said, "everything else falls in

Circle the wagons

This story put me in the middle of an Indian squabble that continues to rage in South Carolina over who’s got the right to call themselves an Indian. I’m the only paleface on the mailing list for “Red Copy,” an Internet-based newsletter that goes to Indians across the state. Some of the natives say I have helped shed light on issues that are important to them. Others say some of the “Indians” I’ve been interviewing aren’t any more Indian than I am. As far as I’m concerned, red, yellow, black or white, we’re all precious in God’s sight.

Indian bones given arduous reburial route Hundreds of remains are still under state control

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

With one hand, William Koon waved a turkey feather, mingling the aromatic smoke of sage and sweetgrass as it wafted across a ceremonial mound on the shore of Lake Marion. With the other, the Santee Indian chief held a cell phone, linking him to a spiritual leader in a sweat lodge in Nebraska.

The bones of their common ancestors were being returned to their place, after spending decades in cardboard boxes guarded by the state archeologist. The souls of 27 Santees, according to Indian belief, were finally reunited with their relatives in the next world. "Opening the boxes of the remains and looking at the remains -- about everybody there lost it," Koon said. "There was a lot of emotion there." The long-distance joining of spirits was symbolic of more than a kinship between two branches of a tribe that was geographically separated in the dimly remembered past. It also illustrates a legal connection that gives federally recognized tribes' authority to decide the fate of the remains of American Indians whose descendants aren't granted any status by the government in Washington. The Santee reburial, which took place in March, is the only instance so far in which local tribes have succeeded in gaining the support of a federally recognized tribe -- and working through the lengthy federal process -- to release some of the skeletal remains of more than 300 native Americans held in the custody of State Archeologist Jonathan Leader. "The federally recognized groups are well aware of the situation," Leader said. "Frankly, what we're doing is assisting and waiting for the next request that can go through by federal law."

The 'House Cat' Tribe The Greenville News reported two years ago that the remains and burial artifacts, unearthed during the construction of roads, buildings and lakes across South Carolina, were being held in a secret location in compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a federal law passed in 1990. State legislators responded by setting in motion a process that for the first time would give American Indians state recognition. The General Assembly this year expanded the state Commission for Minority Affairs to include representation for Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, and "other minority groups." The commission has been entirely black. At least five of the nine members of the expanded commission will continue to be black, under the new law. The legislation also calls for the commission to develop regulations that would allow American Indian groups to apply for state recognition. "It's the first time we've finally got a state agency to work with us," said Vernon Tanner, a mingo, or chief, of the state's Chaloklowa Chickasaws in the Pee Dee area.

State recognition, he said, would allow Indian groups to deal independently with state agencies as recognized entities and to apply for government grants that are available to native Americans, he said. It also could give them a better chance of being acknowledged by federally sanctioned tribes in their quest to rebury the remains of their ancestors, said Harold "Buster" Hatcher, chief of the state's Waccamaw tribe in Horry County. "All the federal tribes are very, very protective of their sovereign rights, and I can understand that," he said. "But when you're a nonfederal tribe, if you have no status at all, including as a state tribe, they are even more reluctant to work with you. "But with state status, it may give you a little bit more clout in dealing with the federal tribes." That's because of the proliferation of Indian groups that don't necessarily have a real link to any historic tribe, he said. "You can take a $25 check and charter the House Cat Tribe of South Carolina through the secretary of state, and they would have the same authority as any other chief out there, whether they be real or not," he said. In the case of the Waccamaws, there is no federally recognized Waccamaw nation, so they can't do what the Santee did with their brethren in Nebraska. All the federal tribes that have ever lived in South Carolina must agree to release any bones if they are to be reburied, officials said. Whose ancestors? Although some skeletal remains can be identified by tribe because of the artifacts found in the graves, most of them can't be positively linked to a specific Indian group, Leader said. That doesn't surprise Gerald Schroedl, an archeologist at the University of Tennessee who has studied Cherokee sites in South Carolina. Knowledge of cultural identification further back in time than 400 years is scanty, he said. "If I have a skeleton, there's nothing about the bones that tell me that person's cultural affiliation," he said. Bones discovered in newer Indian sites also can't necessarily be identified with certainty, he said. "When you get into the historic period, you could even have burials in American Indian sites, and the person buried there is a white person," he said. "Sorting all this out is not easy."

Some Indian leaders, though, are skeptical as to whether state recognition would make a difference in the release of the remains. "It doesn't have anything to do with it," said Gene Norris of Greenville, chief of Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation of South Carolina. He has asked the federally recognized Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, based in Cherokee, N.C., to agree to the release of remains in South Carolina that have been identified as Cherokee, but the process has gone slowly. "We can only request their aid and help, and if they don't want to do that, our hands are tied," Norris said. Russell Townsend, deputy tribal historic preservation officer for Eastern Band, said federal law requires that his group also get approval from two Cherokee organizations in Oklahoma before any remains can be released. State recognition isn't a factor, as far as he's concerned. "We're happy to work with any descendants of tribal peoples, because in South Carolina we're not right there on the ground," he said. "We rely on people like Gene to give us a call and say 'hey, do you know this is going on?'" But Townsend said the Eastern Band has connections with large portions of eight states and deals with about 2,400 such cases a year, which makes the process tedious. "That's a whole lot to keep an eye on," he said. Some of the state's tribes, such as the Waccamaws, have asked the Catawbas, South Carolina's only federally recognized tribe, for help. But federal law requires that in cases in which the remains can't be positively linked to one tribe, all the federally recognized tribes with historic links to the state must agree for any remains to be released, said Wenonah Haire, executive director of the Catawba Cultural Preservation Project. "It's not up to the Catawbas. It's not a decision that we can unilaterally make," she said. "Any other federal tribe who had ancestral linkage to this area has an equal voice." No gambling Meanwhile, the potentially thorny issue of deciding who can qualify as a staterecognized tribe remains to be addressed during hearings this fall, said Janie Davis, executive director of the state Commission for Minority Affairs. "There's a lot more at stake, I would say, in the next piece of legislation," she said.

Tentative guidelines would allow only those who can show that their ancestors have maintained a cultural presence in the state for at least 100 years could qualify as a tribe. Only two of the 18 American Indian groups in the state would fall into that category, and about a half dozen others would meet criteria to be classified as an Indian "group," said Tanner, the Chickasaw chief. The law specifically notes that any state-recognized Indian tribes would not be able to use their new status as leverage to start gambling operations, or to lay claim to ancestral lands -- two hitches that have held up such legislation in the past. Those restrictions seem unfair to Koon, the Santee chief. "We don't have any gambling stuff whatsoever going," he said. "But we still look at that like, well, all these other people in the state have got bingo all over the place. So why should the Native Americans be excluded even from bingo?" As to the land claim issue, the Santee have never ceded their territory to the state in the first place, Koon said. "My people have got over 4 million acres of land in the state of South Carolina that we can claim as ours," he said. "We're not about to give that up."

The Sky is Falling
You just never know what may be going on next door. We at The Greenville News like to think we’re the big dog of the media in Upstate South Carolina. But at a building a block away, there’s a guy broadcasting around the world via shortwave radio who probably has a bigger audience than anybody around.

WARNING THE WORLD VIA SHORTWAVE RADIO

Greenville man sells gold, message of economic collapse on daily broadcast

By Ron Barnett Staff Writer

Ensconced in red leather furniture and Confederate memorabilia at hisdowntown Greenville business office, Ron Wilson seems far removed from th economic calamity he predicts on his daily shortwave radio program. However, Wilson, a gold and silver dealer who doubles as host of an "information and commentary" program heard around the world, sees a much different future than that his surroundings suggest. It doesn't take long to catch the theme of "Hour of Courage," which issupported by the guests Wilson interviews: The tentacles of a bloated federal bureaucracy are swirling outward to take away your guns, meddle with your finances and, in a vast conspiracy against the Constitution, wreck all that the Founding Fathers envisioned. This governmental intrusion is leading to an economic collapse unlike any the world has ever known, Wilson asserts. If his thinking is on a different wavelength than what some people think, so is his method of disseminating his ideas. But a growing number of self-made talk show hosts, who believe journalists are controlled by big government, are using the shortwave medium as a pipeline for views they are convinced are being supressed for political reasons. Wilson's program originates not at a radio studio but from one corner of his seventhfloor business office where he tapes it on his own equipment and mails it to a station in Nashville, Tenn., for later play. Like many others now using shortwave as an alternative means of getting their ideas out, Wilson offers a defense against the problems he describes: gold. It's no coincidence that Wilson owns the show's sponsor, Atlantic Bullion & Coin Co. Wilson, a native of Tennessee who came to Greenville 20 years ago as an employee of the John Birch Society, makes no apologies for hawking his company's products on the radio show. He said he's paying for the air time and he's preaching the truth as he sees it, unbiased by the profit motive. "Frankly, as long as this pays for the program time ... we're inclined to keep doing it," Wilson said. Wilson isn't alone in catching the attention of listeners of shortwave radio, which, unlike AM and FM, is capable of being tuned in globally. Wilson's pre-taped program is just one of 400 broadcast by World Wide Christian Radio, according to station manager George McClintock. Most of the shows are religious, although the lineup has included spokesmen from the far right, such as Mark Koernke, who is a shortwave voice for the militia movement, WWCR, one of about 50 shortwave stations in the country, suspended Koernke's program, "Intelligence Report," because of "adverse publicity against programs of this nature" in the aftermath of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, according to a statement released by the station.

McClintock said because of the number of programs the station airs, station personnel don't monitor them prior to broadcast. "We're the melting pot of America," McClintock said. "Whatever is America, that's pretty much what's going to be aired -- consistent with slander laws and consistent with the court rulings that we've had on freedom of speech. Neither Wilson nor station officials can say how many people tune in "The Hour of Courage," which airs six days a week. However, Wilson said he's gotten calls from listeners from as far away as England and India. Ed Bailey, president of the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters, said studies by Voice of America and others indicate an estimated 100 million people internationally listen to shortwave each week. Between 10 million and 20 million shortwave radios are in the United States. Shortwave is a relatively inexpensive way to get a message out to a large audience around the world, he said. Charles DeLancy, a professor of communications studies at Furman University, said the shortwave phenomenon could stem from the same frustration with government expressed on more mainstream talk radio programs featuring hosts like Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy. "If they don't perceive, because of their way of life or position within society, that they have access to this very powerful medium of information, then it doesn't matter what Tom Brokaw or Connie Chung or anybody else might say," DeLancy said. In an age of digital satellite communications and international computer networks, shortwave radio is "dinosaur technology," said Kent Sidel, a professor of broadcast journalism at the University of South Carolina. "I'm pleased that there is this renewed interest in shortwave broadcasting -- but I think frankly it's a technology whose time has passed," said Sidel, who regularly listens to the BBC by shortwave. Shortwave sound quality is so poor that AM radio is a treat to the ears by comparison. Yet the extended range gives shortwave a distinct role in radio. Signals from AM and PM transmissions can go only as far as the horizon. Shortwave radio signals bounce off the ionosphere echoing around the globe to distant continents. That phenomenon made shortwave an important propaganda tool for the United States and other countries since it first went into use in the late 1930's, said an official with the Federal Communications Commission. FCC rules designate that shortwave be aimed at international audiences.

According to the rules, American shortwave stations must "reflect the culture of this country and promote international goodwill, understanding and cooperation." Commercial sponsorship of shortwave programs is allowed provided commercials "give no more than the name of the sponsor of the program and the name and general character of the commodity ... advertised." Wilson said he often covers international topics on his program and believes his advertising, which includes a description of his views, falls within FCC guidelines. While programs are supposed to be aimed at foreign audiences, there're no restrictions against Americans listening in, said Bill Wiltshire, adviser to FCC's International Bureau. A congressional inquiry into militia-type shortwave broadcasts was launched in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, but no guidelines on defining what constitutes an international or domestic broadcast have emerged, Wiltshire said. The FCC doesn't monitor shortwave programs for content but focuses on technical issues, he said.

By and by in the Sky

My predecessor on the religion beat once did a story about hell. So I decided it would be even more interesting to do a story about heaven. Such are the kinds of subjects you can cover when your beat covers the realm of things hoped for but not seen. So I’ll take this opportunity to say a little about my view of heaven. I don’t know what it’s like, but I think it will be a place where everybody recognizes that they are created in God’s image and that we are all unique and beautiful and precious. I think everyone will feel that they are known and loved completely by everyone else, and everyone realizes how foolish it is for anyone to think they are better than anyone else – or worse. I think we will all appreciate each other’s gifts and rejoice in using them for God’s glory forever. I think we’ll spend most of our time praising God and all of our time loving him and thanking him for creating us and loving us. The wonderful thing, though, is that we can do all these things now, here in the world. I think that’s why Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is within and among us. But once we’re in heaven, there won't be any more of the things that pull us away from God – not the physical degeneration or the sense of selfcenteredness that is at the root of all evil. And we’ll be free, I think, to live in the eternal, creative presence of the source of all good, recognizing that the yearning we had all through our lifetimes is now fulfilled in the great I AM.

Visions of heaven approach the infinite Faiths, individuals each have own ideas of what awaits whom

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

Susie Salmon looked down from heaven and watched compassionately as her family tried to track down her killer and come to terms with her death. Heaven, to the 14-year-old in Alice Sebold's best-selling novel "The Lovely Bones," looks a lot like her school playground, with all the best equipment. And as soon as she thinks of something she wants, it appears -- everything except a reunion with her family on earth. Susie's heaven is different from other people's heavens. In real life, almost everyone wants to go to heaven, but they disagree on how to get there and on what it will be like once they do. One thing seems clear: When there are wars and rumors of wars in the Middle East, earthquakes in places like Alabama, and a brand-new global pestilence, SARS, people start thinking more about their own mortality. And about heaven. "From time to time I hear individuals say, 'Is it the end of the world? What's going on, with all of these different things going on?'" said the Rev. Steve Watson, pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Greer. "And it makes you think." Heaven in flux For Becky McCarter, 18, the scene above must include animals. Pausing on Main Street on her way to Downtown Alive, she pictures a place of "peace and happiness, and everybody getting along." Her boyfriend, Neal Ledgerwood, 21, doesn't necessarily agree with the concept of critters in heaven or with the traditional view. "I'm not sure I believe it's all milk and honey in the roads and all that it says in the Bible, but I believe it's a nice place," the Clemson University mechanical engineering major said. "I believe God's there, Jesus is there. Who knows, maybe Buddha's there." The latter statement, spoken by a self-described Methodist who rarely attends church, brings up another point. Views of how to get to heaven are changing, with the traditional Christian view losing ground.

According to the most recent survey by the Barna Research Group, 53 percent of Americans believe that all good people, "whether or not they consider Jesus Christ to be their savior," will live in heaven after they die. That figure, from 1999, is up from 40 percent in 1992. Don't try to convince a Baptist that there's more than one road to Beulah land, though. "Being good isn't necessarily going to get you a spot in heaven," New Jerusalem's Watson said, "because the Scripture teaches us plainly that if you're going to go to heaven you've got to believe that Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for all of our sins." In the Greek Orthodox view, which predates all of the Protestant denominations, the afterlife is more of a continuum ranging from places close to God to places far from God, according to Father Tom Pistolis, pastor of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. "According to the early apostolic church, heaven means closeness to God. Hell is distance from God," he said. "So actually the more of a godlike life we lead here on earth, up to our very last breath, the better the chances of us being that much closer to our Creator." The concept that some will receive higher degrees of reward in heaven than others is shared by the Catholic Church, although the Rev. Patrick Cooper, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Mauldin, says, "Nobody that makes it is going to be disappointed." It's a matter of how much capacity each soul has for receiving the glory of God's presence, he said, a capacity that is developed while people live on earth. "If you take a thimble, if you take a bucket, if you take a basket and you take a swimming pool, they have different capacities," Cooper said. "You fill them up, they're completely full, but they're different capacities. "And so it will be with the saints in heaven. It's not a generic one size fits all."

The unimaginable But what heaven is like can't be conceived here on earth, Cooper said, citing passages of Scripture such as I Corinthians 2:9 which says "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." Heaven is, in essence, a state in which the soul has a direct "vision of God," he said.

"There's no physical description of heaven that can qualify." Some denominations, though, read passages from the New Testament book of Revelation as a literal description. The next-to-last chapter of the Bible describes a city of 1,500 cubic miles, adorned with jasper, sapphire, emerald and other precious stones, streets of gold and pearly gates. "That's the way I look at it," said Dennis Stone, pastor of Abundant Life Church of God. But his preaching, he said, is more about how to get to heaven than what heaven will be like. Dr. Frank Page, pastor of Taylors First Baptist Church, sees the golden city as the biblical writer's attempt at using human language to describe spiritual realities. He sees heaven as a place where the barriers of misunderstanding and poor communication that mar human relations will be gone forever. "The saints of God throughout the ages will be able to meet and talk with people all throughout history that knew the Lord," he said. "So there's going to be a great deal of communication." Mainly there will be a lot of worship, he said. If the idea of round-the-clock church doesn't sound appealing, or if life without the kind of problem-solving work we thrive on here seems dull, that could be because of the limits to our perception of eternity, Page said. "People in our country, in our culture, are very obsessed with production and with maintaining a frenetic sense of activity in order to feel that they somehow are worthy," he said. "I think people who think that way have a very limited view of what worship really is all about and what worship in heaven will be like." Those who dwell in heaven also will be able to understand the sometimes chaotic and tragic things that happen on earth, some believe. During the funeral of Sylvia Holtzclaw, the teller who was shot and killed in the robbery of Blue Ridge Savings Bank in Greer, the preachers made numerous references to the big-picture view she now has from heaven. "We do not understand why what happened Friday happened," said the Rev. Wilson Nelson, her pastor at Greer First Baptist Church. "She is with the Lord, and she knows fully what has taken place."

Pictures of heaven mentioned during the service ranged from the streets of gold theme to a place where Holtzclaw might continue to do the kind of things she enjoyed doing here. She had been scheduled to serve at a church dinner the week after she was killed, said the Rev. Dan Dather, former youth minister for the church. "She's taking care of a different Praise Night this week -- lining up hot dogs in heaven," he said during a segment in the service that drew chuckles of fond remembrance from mourners.

Sex in heaven Christianity isn't the only one of the great monotheistic religions with wide-ranging views. A more sensual view of paradise is part of the Muslim vision of the afterlife, according to Alfons Teipen, a Furman University religion professor who teaches courses on Islam. Some passages in the Quran refer to a paradise with rivers flowing with wine and "where the male inhabitants in heaven will have at their disposal female companions -- eternal virgins." More moderate Muslims argue that those verses are symbolic that heaven is to be understood as a place of pleasure and point to other passages that tell of wives being reunited with their husbands in heaven, he said. The range of opinion on heaven is even wider within the Jewish faith.

Modern Judaism developed from the ideas of the Pharisees, who argued with the Sadducees in biblical times that there is an afterlife, said Rabbi James Cohn, of the Temple of Israel. Views of heaven within Reform Judaism, of which his congregation is a part, vary widely, he said. Some hold elaborate concepts in which people will be reunited with their loved ones. Others see heaven as more of a more spiritual existence. Some believe in reincarnation, and others haven't formed a definite idea.

The great beyond

Another way to find out what heaven is like is to ask someone who's been there. Dr. Maurice Rawlings, a retired cardiologist from Chattanooga, Tenn., and author of the book "Beyond Death's Doors," has talked with some 300 people who he believes had bona fide experiences of heaven -- or hell -- and come back to life. Rawlings has seen a pattern in the experiences of these people who have been resuscitated after being clinically dead. They all say they were out of their body, could see what was going on in the room, exited to another world, were reunited with loved ones and were interviewed by some spiritual being. Usually they are in the process of crossing from the entrance ground to a place beyond a wall or river or blockage of some sort when they are forced back into the body, when modern medicine brings them back to life, he said. There is no clinical explanation, he said. What heaven is like for those folks depends on who's doing the reporting. "What one calls heaven the other one would call a garden, and somebody else, streets of gold, yes," he said. "But it isn't one thing. It's variable. The important thing is the patient says 'This was heaven.' " Some might agree with Hank Williams Jr. that if heaven ain't a lot like Dixie, or somewhere else they know and love, they don't want to go. But for most, heaven isn't a lot like anything around here. And that's why, more than anything, they want to go. Just ask Patrick Jeter, a 36-year-old mattress stuffer from Greenville. Sipping a Corona on the sidewalk in front of the Sunset grill on Main Street on a recent afternoon, he tried to picture what heaven might be like. Nothing came. Still, he couldn't help but feel that a reward is waiting for him. "I believe there's a better life after death, because life is hard now," Jeter said. "So death's got to be easy."

A Cosmic Christmas story
This story looks at a theological question that bothered me terribly before the gift of faith came into my heart – the question of whether there may be life on other planets, and if so, would Christ need to be

incarnated as one of them and give his life for them, too. It isn’t the sort of Christmas story my editors really wanted, and it took quite a bit of convincing for them to agree to it. I pitched the idea to them my first Christmas as a religion writer, in 1994, and they wouldn’t go for it. After a year on the beat, I pitched it again, and they conceded. But by then, my heart had opened up to Jesus through the Eucharist to the extent that it wasn’t such an important question anymore. I had come to believe that the truth of God is so deep and multi-faceted that my tiny brain will never be able to ever unravel its mysteries intellectually. Faith is what's important, and it is beyond explanation. Anyway, I've heard scientific theories in recent years that indicate that the circumstances that allow life here on Earth are very unlikely in the vast majority of galaxies. Ponder this if you dare:

Christ and the Cosmos
Theologians disagree over whether Jesus' birth represents a cosmic Christmas
By Ron Barnett Staff Writer Spinning in perfect synch with the clockwork of the universe, a small blue planet tilted its northern hemisphere to its farthest angle from the medium-sized yellow star which gave it light and warmth, marking the winter solstice, the birth of a new solar cycle. It was at this darkest time of the year, according to Christian tradition, that the Son of God, the light of the world, came to this planet and took on human form to offer humans eternal life with the Creator. A star in the east announced the birth of the baby who came to atone for all sins ever committed; past, present and future, the New Testament says. This small blue planet, Earth, orbits one of the more than 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way, in turn, is one of hundreds of millions of galaxies in the known universe. There are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on all the seashores of Earth. Billions of planets likely circle those stars -- perhaps millions of them with the same characteristics as Earth. The odds that our planet is the only one in this vast cosmic ocean where intelligent life exists are small, say astronomers at Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. "I not only think there's a possibility but I think it's a very high probability,' says Donald Clayton, a Clemson University astronomy professor. "It just does not seem likely that what happened here can only have happened here." If intelligent life exists elsewhere, some theologians supposed that such life, like humankind, might be sinful by nature and thus, under the doctrines of Christianity, in need of redemption. If that's the case, does the Christmas story encompass the entire universe? If there is life -- if there are beings with souls -- elsewhere, would Christ need to take on their flesh, be born on perhaps a million different planets throughout the cosmos on a million Christmas days?

Or would his sacrifice on earth some 2,000 years ago be sufficient for the sins of all beings in the universe? Theologians disagree over whether Christ's birth represents a cosmic Christmas or the beginnings of an Earth-bound religion --whether the sin of mankind in the Garden of Eden and the redemption offered by the Son of God on Earth would apply to other worlds. They also differ on whether Christian theology leaves room for the notion of life elsewhere in the cosmos. Some believe the Scripture imply that Earth -- though now known not to be the physical center of the universe -- is the spiritual center, the only place where intelligent life exists. Joseph Henson, chairman of Bob Jones University's division of natural science, says that based on scientific observation it's reasonable to speculate that there could be life somewhere besides on Earth. But that thinking doesn't fit in with his fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible, so he discounts the possibility. "If there were other people, other races of people, then I presume the problem that the Scripture talks about regarding the need for salvation would apply to them," Henson says. "And it just poses some doctrinal problems, I think. . . problems that there really are not any good answers to." A Roman Catholic theologian in Rome, Piero Coda, responding to the discovery in October of a Jupiter-sized planet 40 light years from Earth, has called on his church to consider the possibility of evangelizing extraterrestrials, according to Ecumenical News International. "If life were to be found on the planet, then it would also have been contaminated by original sing and would require salvation," Coda told the Vatican. John Shelley, a religion professor at Furman University, takes the view that the odds of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe are "overwhelmingly positive." But he believes Christianity ± and particularly the theme of Christ's incarnation ± are "specifically Earthbound." "I think the idea of a sacred presence in the whole universe is something that can be extended from Christianity," Shelley says. And I would certainly extend it from Christianity to Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. "There are very different ways of understanding or manifesting that presence. But in some sense, it is the same presence." Yet David Yeago, who teaches systematic theology at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, believes Christian theology can be expanded to include the entire universe. "I don't know whether there is other life in the universe which God has called to communion with him," Yeago says. "But, if there is, that communion will be also in Jesus Christ. It seems to me I can't make any other sense out of the New Testament." Yeago, who wrote, "Jesus of Nazareth and Cosmic Redemption," says the Greek work used in the New Testament to explain that Christ "became flesh" is not a "species-specific definition" but could apply to other forms of life capable of rational thought. "To say that all human destiny is determined with relationship to one first-century Palestinian Jew is already such an enormous claim that adding life on other planets to it doesn't really stretch it that much further," he says. John Safko, an astronomy professor at the University of South Carolina, says his scientific opinion that life probably exists elsewhere in the universe doesn't hinder his belief in God but only expands it beyond traditional Christianity. "God is everything," Safko says. "It there's life out there I don't think the Christian religion necessarily has to answer their moral dilemmas and problems.

"Too often we try to remake God in our own image," he adds. "Or as some people have said, `God created the universe, and mankind returned the compliment." The New Testament writers could not be expected to put their theology in terms that weren't scientifically understood in their time, he says. "One can only speculate about religion in context with your knowledge of the universe at the time," Safko says, although he says he has heard others interpret the passage from the Gospel of John, "In my Father's house are many mansions" to speak of other worlds. Considering all the earthly problems Christianity faces and the lack of proof that our planet isn't the only place where life exists, the possibility of life in unimaginably far flung reaches of the universe isn't a pressing issue for most theologians ± or likely for the average church-goer. But if scientists at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute are on target, it could be an issue that will have to be addressed sooner or later. The institute started by NASA but operating privately now because of budget cuts, began a systematic search for intelligent life three years ago, on the 500th anniversary of the day Columbus discovered America. Using techniques that are thousands or even millions of times more efficient than any used in the past, researchers think it's possible they will pick up verifiable radio signals from extraterrestrial beings by the year 2000. If they do, it wouldn't be the first time Christianity has had to expand its view of the universe and move Earth farther from the center in the face of irrefutable scientific evidence, says Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the organization. Galileo, in 1633, was forced by church officials to admit the "errors" of his view that Earth orbits the sun and not the other way around. Later, astronomers proved that the sun is only one star in a vast galaxy, and by 1920 that the Milky Way is only one among billions of galaxies. "So there's nothing special about our situation astronomically in the universe," Shostak said. "To assume that there's now something special about us intellectually, biologically or morally ± you can make that assumption, but the track record isn't good," he says. "The track record suggests that we are part of a very vast tapestry and we're not the most important part of it." So far, no verifiable signals from other civilizations have been heard. However, considering the enormous number of stars in the galaxy and the relatively small number we've been able to listen to, that's not surprising, he says. "It's a bit like Chris Columbus' first voyage. If you asked him two weeks out of Spain, `have you found a new continent, any suggestions of a new continent,' he would have to say, `no, there's nothing but water here,"' Shostak says. It could be that all these questions about whether Christ would need to be incarnated on other planets to offer salvation to other intelligent beings, if they exist, might be missing the point of religion, says Charles McPadden, priest and parochial vicar at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville. It's not theology but faith in action that really matters, he said. "I think people can be saved even if they've never heard of Christ, if they respect one another and behave in loving ways," he says. "If they try to do the things that God expects from people, they will be saved, I believe, absolutely." The real measure of the incarnation of Christ occurs not in space and time but in the hearts of people, in how they respond to his message, McPadden says.

All of these theological problems, all of the philosophical discussions, all of the social and political controversies that occupy us, all disappear when we come face to face with a question that is the simplest you could ask but the hardest at the same time: "Would I dare to share what I have with others? Would I dare to give some of my material possessions or my time, or my knowledge, to help somebody else? "Just a simple question like that is what brings us down to the basic of what religion is all about." "And that's as far as incarnation goes in your life," McPadden said. "That's the extent that Christ is alive for you . . . to the extent that we're ready to share ourselves with others." The mysteries of the Christian religion ± for example the concept that in Christ all things in the universe hold together ± can't necessarily be understood by finite human minds, says Tom Pistolis, pastor of St. George's Greek Orthodox Church in Greenville. Faith transcends logic, he says. "We may be trying to put words in God's mouth, and we are limiting in fact what God has meant," Pistolis says. "But that's going to take someone much more wise and spiritually minded than I am, certainly." The Bible, he says, "was never meant to be a science book."

Christmas at the bus station
I've always been fascinated by traveling and travelers – especially those who travel by Greyhound. That’s because they usually have the most interesting stories to tell. People with plenty of money live pretty dull lives. Those who travel by bus are much more colorful. I wanted to do a different kind of Christmas story last year, so I used that as an opportunity to hang out at the Greenville bus station for a day or so and try to get some stories out of people. Here’s what I came up with.

Millions begin mission to get home for holidays Travelers hit road with stories to tell; most off to see loved ones

By Ron Barnett STAFF_WRITER

rbarnett@greenvillenews.com

A dozen bone-tired travelers hunkered down on three rows of chocolate-colored metal benches at the downtown Greenville bus station, waiting.

A two-foot artificial Christmas tree swirled slowly on a stand at the ticket counter, its fiber optic icicles changing from red to white to yellow to blue, and back to red again. At the counter, Jorge Rodriguez grinned broadly at the ticket agent, dancing a little to the soothing strains of Chopin coming from his small CD player. Here, at the Greyhound station on McBee Street, people from around the world, traveling from all parts of the United States, pass through Greenville every day. But now, they're on a special mission. Home for the holidays. For nine out of 10 of the 140 million Americans who will travel at least 50 miles during Christmas and New Year's, the trip means cranking up their own vehicle and heading out, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. But for 1.3 percent of them, the bus is the mode, if not of choice, of affordability. Rodriguez, a native of Puerto Rico who works for an industrial cleaning company in Greenville, was on his way to see his family in New York. His mother, sisters and brothers will be expecting him. And especially his 13-year-old daughter. "I call her Lady. Lady Joanna," he said with a laugh. His will be one of many family reunions, most of them joyful, some tinged with sadness. Darryl Barber, 30, from the Marion County town of Mullins, had gone to Indianapolis to spend the holidays with friends when he got the word from home: His 84year-old grandmother had just had a stroke. "My grandma's in intensive care. That's why I'm going back home," said Barber, who travels across the United States, Caribbean and Africa working at conventions of the Born Again Church of Jesus Christ. "Just say a prayer for her." Vonella Sneed, a 4 1/2-foot-tall great-grandmother wearing tall, shiny black boots and a military-style cap was transferring buses on her way from Cleveland to Columbia. It was just for a holiday visit with her daughter, a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson, this time. But soon, it'll be for good. Her husband of 44 years died on his birthday this year. "I lost my husband, so I'm selling my house in Cleveland and I'm going to move to South Carolina," she said. It was a joyful time amid the storm for Julius Young, a 22-year-old Navy seaman who got off a bus from Norfolk, Va., wearing a Santa cap.

A veteran of the war in Iraq, he was being showered with attention by a young woman outside the station. "I'm home," he said, with a wide smile. "I'm here for the holidays." Love was the driving force for Vladimir Metallus, a 22-year-old truck driver from Haiti who logged more than 6,000 miles over the last week driving back and forth from Greenville to New York. He was taking the bus to Miami to see his family -and especially his fiance, Ebimir. "She's waiting for me right now," he said, his eyes wide with anticipation. Some travelers were nearing the end of a four-day trip across the continent. Tom Reagan, a 34-year-old construction worker, arrived from Seattle, on his way to Augusta, Ga., to visit his aunt and uncle. He picked up an orange University of Tennessee hat in Knoxville. A University of Washington fan, he didn't know the Volunteers were playing Clemson in the Peach Bowl. He just liked the hat. "It better be good on me. If it's not, I'll burn it at a University of Washington game when we play them," he said. It was the second time in a month he's made the trip by bus. "You meet a lot of good people," he said. Some were making a much shorter trip. Phillip Corley, a 39-year-old maintenance worker at a mobile home park in Greenville was on his way to Batesburg-Leesville to see his family. "It's a good way to go, man," he said, after quaffing down a breakfast of Cheetoes and a honey bun. "It's safe. You feel safe anyway. The drivers drive good." Others began their journey much farther away -- like Africa. Chak Thiam, 24, grew up in Senegal and came here via New York. "I came to see my family -- I have many friends here," he said. "And I like this country." He was on his way to Anderson to see his sister, Yacine. Some got here almost by accident.

Mike Pierce, a 54-year-old nurse from Lebanon, Pa., was on his way to visit his step-father in Hendersonville, N.C., and wound up in Greenville -- on the other side of Hendersonville. "Two buses broke down," he said. "I missed my connecting bus out of Charlotte this morning, so I came down here to go back up." One thing most riders had in common, though, was a spirit that drew them to their families. Maybe it was the spirit of the season. Rodriguez, the Puerto Rican playing the classical CD at the ticket counter, was ready to get started on his journey, but he had two hours to kill before his 8 p.m. bus arrived. He could wait here, but there's more to Greenville than a bus station, he knew. He loaded his bags and CD player onto a hand cart and headed out into the night. "The Christmas lights on Main Street," he said. "They are so beautiful…"

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