BJ DRYE COLUMN: Throwing Shoes and Playing Keys – The Stanly News & Press


BJ DRYE COLUMN: Throwing Shoes and Playing Keys

Posted at 11:42 a.m. on Saturday, October 15, 2022

Ronnie Tucker must have missed his horseshoe partner.

That’s the first thought I had when I heard the news.
Tucker, 72, died Sept. 14.

Bill Hinson, one of his horseshoe throwing friends, died on October 6 at the age of 86.

Pitchers from the Frog Pond group would often make appearances at the SNAP office when they had an upcoming tournament or when bringing in trophies won in the previous tournament.

Curly Ballard, left, and Bill Hinson display their trophies from the Tar Heel Classic horseshoe event in Raleigh in 2018. (File photo)

In 2014, he became the United States Senior Games National Horseshoe Champion for men aged 70-75.

I hate that I’ve never picked up a horseshoe because I graduated from West Stanly and the mascot is the Colt.

But I knew Mr. Hinson. He didn’t deserve to live out his last years the way he did. Several factors did not allow him to maintain his active rhythm.

He still played golf, basketball, or horseshoes and still played in senior games. I think he even speedwalked.

He has spent more than 40 years as a coach, teacher and administrator in schools in North and South Carolina.

He was my principal throughout my elementary school years at Stanfield.

There are lots of memories from those years – not all of them great, but a few that stand out with him include:

• the time the boys played jerseys against skins in basketball. It’s something that wouldn’t happen today, and something I wish hadn’t happened back then, because I was on the skins team – and nobody wanted to see that. They still don’t.

• the time we found him sleeping on a bench inside the National Gallery of Art during our eighth-grade trip to Washington, DC
It’s hard to believe it was 28 years ago, but this trip changed my life.

• the time I received the Piano Man award.

I don’t have the talent or the money of Elton John or Billy Joel, but the summer before eighth grade I was having fun with the ivories.

Well, Mr. Hinson came in while I was experimenting on the keys and so the superlative prize was awarded at the end of the year.
So I guess there are two things to take away from this story.

I’ll either have to learn to throw horseshoes or play the piano.

Since Elton is retiring, maybe there’s a room for me on the yellow brick road.

I’ll leave the horseshoes to Ronnie and Bill.

BJ Drye is editor and managing director of The Stanly News & Press. Call 704-982-2123 or follow bjdrye1 on Twitter.

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