Clyde: There are faces we remember…

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 23, 2023

“For if any be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass”

— James 1:23

We can’t seem to find our glasses, keys, or cell phones, but we vividly can see faces from our past. Salisbury characters come and go, but some we should never forget, not just another ol’ what’s-his-face. Face from Latin, facies, to form or make. Computer generated faces take orders and with artificial intelligence generated avitars can even recall your ancestors and talk with them.

Our favorite preachers, who came to town and then were called away, remain etched in our minds. The people we miss most are not always the elite, aristocrats, or even democrats. Norman Ingle, who was there every time the church door opened and loved to dress up for the Holiday Caravan, complete with swords, camels and dancing harem girls. Uncle Ralph Ketner could recite the 28 flavors of ice cream at Dan Dees and the numbers on box cars. He did well with grocery dollars and cents too. Ralph Roberts knew the truth from being up close with Marilyn Monroe.

Mr. Oestreicher strolled around town in his “IWO” monogramed Panama straw hat. When complimented, at age 4, on his jacket he replied: “Yes, and notice the quality.” Mr. Arey was the epitome of the Texaco man, always ready. Rudy Nassar, Shady Saba and the Saleebys bought culture to the “fruit stand.” Wiley and Nannie Lash ran the N.Y. Sandwich Shop and he became mayor.

“Hooch” and Lula Kelsey took care of you in your time of need. Senator Overman got money for the P.O., but still has no bronze plaque where the county now meets. Mr. Fisher started the bank in Granite Quarry and one still runs it. Blanche and Julian Robertson came to town with their fine things from Martinsville, Virginia, and left us with a million-dollar foundation. The Isenhours were the “brick people.” The Goodmans Millwork are now too many to mention. The Bank Street crowd of Kizziahs, Murdocks, Beards, Kluttz, Hobson and down to Clement row, were the last roads to get paved on the outskirts of town. Beulah Stewart Moore must have been a sight for sore eyes. She could make a table walk and studied art under Dangerfield.

All those Stanbacks helped you snap back before they were scattered to the winds. The Aggreys, who actually came from Africa, gave their lives to Livingstone College. Out in front of the Empire Hotel porte-cochère you could see W.C. Coughenhour and Perky, Major Mertz and his midget bride who came here with the Sparks Circus to winter. Look up and Shep might be climbing on the flagpole or the infamous Geo. McPoole, Lord Salisbury, with his painted shoes and long necktie could be showing children a shiny dime.

Our famous, Latin famosus from fame, included Suzanne and Sidney Blackmer, who we shared with the world in the movies. Walter “Daddy Pete” Murphy was Speaker of the House and gave the speech at the dedication of the N.C. Monument at Gettysburg. Clyde Klutz, catcher for the Washington Senators left Catawba College in 1938 to play pro ball.

Of course you could be notorious and be remembered. Otto Wood will never live down his legendary joy ride through town that ended at Penders on East Innes. The wrestler “Dynamite” Wade Alexander Overcash was shot on the Old Concord Road. Geo. Lyerly sold dynamite to people to blow up stumps or whatever else. They had to face the music.

Out of 8 billion earthlings, how many can you put their name with their faces? We don’t know T. Roy Burdette in Spencer but we see his bridge daily. Carl Spencer, with a name the same as the town, came here in 1939 to write Odd Facts in 18 North Carolina newspapers. Mayors’ pictures are all over the walls of City Hall. Commissioners and councilmen are always slip-sliding-away.

If you want to see the face of Jesus, you must find the Veil of Veronica to see what he really looked like. Meanwhile we are stuck with looking at each other. The hoi poloi, the mundane, the common man. “Come let us look one another in the face” (2 Kings 14:8). If we could just remember his name. Who wrote “How to win friends and influence people?”

Martyrs, movie stars, magnates make magic more monumental morbid memories maligned misfits must match motivated moments memorialized in macabre moments. They all still found time to get dressed up with a new set of clothes, shoes and pocketbook to match hats for ladies with gloves to cover their working hands and hats, neckties with tie bars and cufflinks in fashion for gentlemen. So, look good for your Instagram picture to be remembered forever. Put your best face forward.

Clyde is an artist in Salisbury.