One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about friends of my friends. The post below is the story on a friend of a friend for January 12, 2015.
When I went to Western Carolina University in 1980 the Sports Information Director there was Steve White. Cullowhee is a village so the chances are your professional colleagues often turned out to be your friends and that was the case with Steve. He loved to play golf and he joined our WCU basketball coaching staff at Maggie Valley, Holly Forest, and Waynesville Country Club a bunch each spring and summer. He also was a regular at our poker games involving WCU Baseball Coach Jack Leggett, Jim Rowell, and other WCU staffers.
Steve has nearly a half century of involvement with and service to Western Carolina University in a variety of capacities ranging from undergraduate student assistant to sports information director and department historian; associate athletics director to radio network personality and finally the director of the school’s letter winner’s club.
A 1967 graduate of Western Carolina, White served for over four decades in the University’s athletics department before retiring in April, 2010. He officially took over as the school’s sports information director in 1970, a capacity he held until 1998. White wrote millions of words publicizing WCU’s student-athletes, coaches and teams, helping 35 football, basketball and baseball players to attain All-America honors; hundreds to become All-Southern Conference; and several football and baseball teams to achieve national rankings.
During his storied professional career, White witnessed over 400-consecutive Catamount football games, one of the longest consecutive-games streaks in the profession. He was also an eight-time recipient of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards for “Outstanding Press Box Service.”
White initially retired from full-time duty at Western Carolina in 1998, but remained active with the Catamount Sports Network providing color commentary on football, men’s basketball and baseball broadcasts until 2007. He then took over as the Director of the Cats’ “W” Club, an association for former Western Carolina student-athletes and letter winners – a position he held until April, 2010.
While employed at Western Carolina Steve introduced me to one of his friends the self-proclaimed Mayor of Cullowhee Mr. Clarence Pressley. This man was actual a barber and owned Pressley Barber Shop but unofficially he had many roles including mentor, banker, psychologist, marriage counselor, coach, basketball official, minister, trader, friend, supporter, and yes the mayor. He closed his barber shop in September of 2004 after 42 years due to the effects of Parkinson Disease.
The Friend-STEVE WHITE
The Friend of the Friend-CLARENCE PRESSLEY
My story of meeting Steve White friend Clarence Pressley
Sometime events cause you to change behaviors or shopping patterns. This is story about one of those live changes. In 1980 I had just got married and on our honeymoon got offered the chance to leave Pembroke State (now UNC Pembroke) and go to Western Carolina University. The people were very friendly and some of the first people we became friends with that were not on the basketball staff were Fred Cantler and Steve White. Fred was the Athletic Trainer and Steve was the Sports Information Director.
As with any move I needed to find out some things about the area. Cullowhee being so small there was not much there. Literally there was the US Post Office, Hardees, Pizza Hut, Jimmy’s Mini-Market, Cullowhee Café, and Pressley’s Barber Shop.
I needed to get a haircut and Steve White told me he would take me to Pressley’s and introduce me to the barber Clarence Pressley. Clarence had a guy in the chair and I sat down and Steve left. I found it strange that outside of a barber shop there were all kind of items for sale. Lawnmowers, weed eaters, wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, and bags of fertilizer.
The customer in front of me got up paid his $4.00 which was a real good sign on the price point for a haircut. I jumped in the chair and Clarence introduced himself as the mayor of Cullowhee. We started talking about basketball and the man knew our team at WCU better than I did. He also told me he was a HS basketball official.
We eventually got into the details on what I wanted in a haircut. I told him a little off the top and bring the sides to the top of the ears. He mentioned that everyone in Cullowhee knew he was famous for his flattops and did I want to change my mind. I responded by saying no just a little off the top and bring the sides to the top of the ears.
Everything was going according to my instructions on the haircut until a mountain man dressed in overalls came into the shop. He asked Clarence if that weed eater out front started easily? Clarence said to the man “absolutely let go check it out.”
He put down the scissors and out the front door he went with the overall wearing mountain man. He left me right in the chair in the middle of a haircut without a word. He went right to the weed eater and started pulling on the cord-nothing. He hit the prime button and gave it a few pulls and he started up. Then the mountain man started checking out how well the string fed out. Clarence demonstrated how to feed the line by tapping the weed eater on the ground. This went on for about 10 minutes-all the while I am sitting in the barber chair. They come back in the shop haggled for few minutes on the price and the man purchases the weed eater for $35.
Clarence goes back to the haircut with the clippers not the scissors and begins to give me whitewalls on the side of my head. I asked him what he was doing and he responded he forgot where he was at when he went outside. He had started on the right side of my head with all the amenities that come with a flat top. This hair cut turned into a disaster. I got up out of the chair looking like I was going to report for duty at Fort Bragg.
I went home and told my wife Mira we purchasing clippers. The rest of the time at Western Carolina Clarence Pressley was still the Mayor but my wife was now my barber.