Page 1

September OctOber 2009

iris

cOmplImentarY

sumter’s magazine for women

Former Miss Universe Shawn Weatherly Remembers Turning Back Time with Facial Fillers aFternOOn delIGHtS at SpecIal teaS september - OctOber 2009 • IrIs • 1


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Liquid Hospitality 10

Letter from the editor 6

take a step back in time at special teas on main

sumter calendar 8 Women Who make A Difference 17 The selflessness of Sue King

Forever Young 22 What’s all the fuss about dermal fillers? We find out

sumter seen 46 swan song 55 On death and dying

Hometown Honey 28

features

sections

What to do and where to go

iris A publication of

shawn Weatherly’s unlikely journey from sumter High school to miss Universe – and beyond

majestic Nights 36

publISHer Jack Osteen

sumterites are gettin’ out and getting down at the Imperial on broad

color me beautiful 42 For michael Hodge, college was a stepping stone to her true calling

edItOr Annabelle robertson laYOut & deSIGn cary Johnson pHOtOGrapHY chris moore Keith Gedamke advertISInG dIrectOr susan Holley

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September - October 2009 • Iris • 5


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Fall is peaking around the corner, and with it will come the joys of the season. Cozy sweaters and changing foilage. Tailgating and trips to the foothills. Fires in the fireplace. Beaujolais Nouveau. Halloween. Everything we look forward to, when the leaves start to turn. This month, we have a real treat in store for Iris readers. Sumter native Shawn Weatherly graduated from Sumter High School in 1977. Three years later, she was Miss Universe. One year after that, Shawn was on her way to Hollywood, where she would become a star in NBC’s Baywatch. I had the distinct privilege of interviewing Shawn, and it became immediately clear why she had been chosen as the world’s ambassador. Shawn Weatherly Harris is just as thoughtful and kind as she was in 1980, when she took home the crown. In “Hometown Honey,” we get a glimpse of her life, now and then, and what it was like to go from Sumter to the world stage. We’ve also entered the kitchens of two local eateries. What we discovered is that the new owner of The Imperial Dining and Live Entertainment on Broad is living up to the restaurant’s name. He’s

getting diners out of the house and onto the dance floor with weekly music. Forget Myrtle Beach. You can shag every Saturday in Sumter – and have a great meal while doing it. Hungry for some oldfashioned hospitality? Then step back in time at Special Teas, where the ambiance is distinctly Victorian and manners are the word of the day. Choose from a selection of 42 teas (in addition to good ole’ sweet tea) and enjoy lunch or afternoon pastries. We spoke with the owners, longtime best friends, who shared how they caught the vision for the little bistro, which now plays host to the downtown lunch crowd and people looking for the perfect place for a gathering. As usual, we also have profiles of Sumter women who are making their mark around town. We have recipes. This issue, we’ve got drinkable desserts and healthy chocolate. Yes, it’s possible! You choose. That’s only a few of our offerings, so sit back and take a good look. May the chill in the air thrill you with all that’s ahead.

Annabelle Robertson

Editor


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What To Do And Where to Go September 9 2nd Annual Mega Job Fair Sumter Mall, 10am-3pm. For more information, please contact Wayne McFadden at (803) 774-1311.

September 10 Sumter @ Six Outdoor Concert Series. Brody Pavilion Downtown on Harvin Street. “Still Cruzin” will take the stage at 6pm. For information call (803)436-2640. September 10 Sumter County Library Fall Film Series. 5:30pm, “The Bourne Ultimatum.” For more information call (803)773-7273. September 10 –November 12 American Masterpieces of Southern Craft & Traditional Art. Sumter County Gallery of Art, 200 Hasel Street. For more information call (803)775-0543. September 11 Sumter’s House of Classic Movies Sumter Opera House. This month’s FEATURED FILM IS “NOW VOYAGER”! For more information call (803)436-2640. Community Gospel Concert Patriot Hall Performing Arts Center. For more information call (803)436-2260. September 16 über50 Adult Education Series Sumter County Museum. For more information call (803)775-0908. September 17 Sumter Green’s Fall Feast USC Sumter Nettles Auditorium For more information call (803)436-2640. September 18 29th Annual Rub O’ the Green Golf Tournament. Sunset Country Club. For more information call the Sumter Chamber of Commerce at (803) 775-0915. September 18 Sumter County Library Fall Film Series. The movie will be “W”. For more information call (803)773-7273. Fridays at the Terrace Concert Series. Downtown Sumter For more information call the Swan Lake Visitors Center at (803) 436-2640 or 1-800-688-4748. Sumter’s House of Bluegrass. Sumter Opera House. This month’s featured band is “Flowers Family”. For more information call (803)436-2640. September 19 Youth Football & Soccer Jamboree. Dillon Park &

Palmetto Park – For more information call (8803)436-2248. September 22 The Sumter-Shaw Community Concert Association presents “Dick Goodwin Big Band”. Patriot Hall Performing Arts Center. For more information call (803) 499-4032.

September 25 Sumter Shaw Street Fest. Main Street. For more information call (803)436-2640. September 25 Sumter Senior Services 5th Annual Backyard Jamboree Sumter County Museum. For more information call (803)773-5508. September 25 – 27 Conference Carolinas Individual Championships. Palmetto Tennis Center. For more information please call (803)774-3969. September 29 – October 3 Sumter County Fair. Sumter County Fair Grounds. For more information call (803)775-5200 October 1 Sumter County Library Fall Film Series. Sumter County Library. The movie will be “Dan in Real Life”. For more information call (803)773-7273. October 2 Sumter’s House of Comedy Live at the Sumter Opera House. For more information call (803)436-2640. October 8 Sumter @ Six Outdoor Concert Series. Brody Pavilion Downtown. “The Tempests” will take the stage at 6pm. For information call (803)436-2640. The Sumter-Shaw Community Concert Association presents “USAF Singing Sergeants”. Patriot Hall Performing Arts Center.For more information call (803) 499-4032. October 8 – 11 Sumter Little Theatre presents “Death of a Salesman”. Sumter Little Theatre. For more information call (803)775-2150. October 9 Sumter’s House of Classic Movies. Sumter Opera House. This month’s FEATURED FILM IS “THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS”! For more information call (803)436-2640. October 10 Red Hat Society Day in Sumter,

8 • Iris • September - October 2009

SC. Sumter Mall. For more information call Diane Siegel at (803)494-3379 or Annette Briggs at (212)564-8178. October 10 The 4th Annual Forrest Ray 5K. For more information, call 803/773-7273 October 15 Sumter County Library Fall Film Series. The movie will be “Man On Wire”. For more information call (803)773-7273. October 15 – 18 Sumter Little Theatre presents “Death of a Salesman”. Sumter Little Theatre. For more information call (803)775-2150. October 17 Carolina Backcountry Harvest. Sumter County Museum. 10am – 4pm. For information call 803-775-0908.

October 18 Community Concert Band. Patriot Hall Performing Arts Center. For more information call (803) 499-4032. October 23 Sumter’s House of Bluegrass. Sumter Opera House. For more information call (803)436-2640. Sumter Civic Dance Company Concert. Patriot Hall Performing Arts Center. For information call (803)773-2847. October 24 Sumter Civic Theater features Thomas Pandolfi Concert Pianist performing “Into the Night with Gershwin”. Sumter Opera House October 24 – 25 Salem Black River Presbyterian Church’s 250th Anniversary. For more information call (803) 495-2381 or (803) 495-2186. October 29 Sumter County Library Fall Film Series. Sumter County Library. The movie will be “Quantum of Solace”. For more information call (803)773-7273. October 29 – November 1 Manchester Trail Riders Horse Ride. Mill Creek Park. For more information call (803)436-2248. October 31 Halloween on Main. Main Street. 5:30-8:00pm. Food, fun and trick or treating at Downtown Sumter’s Annual…. HALLOWEEN ON MAIN.


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Liquid Hospitality Main Street’s Special Teas is serving more than refreshments. This busy bistro is transporting diners to another era. By Erica Christmas

L

isa Rosdail watches as 30 little girls aged five to ten years old shuffled into Special Teas on a sunny afternoon in June. As an etiquette instructor, she teaches the fine art of manners, during monthly meetings at Bethesda Church of God. And this particular outing was to be a test of the skills she had been preaching. After donning dress-up jewelry and high heels, the girls sit down and await their tea. They had no idea that much more than a meal awaited them. Special events like these are commonplace at the brick front tea shop nestled on the corner of Main and Liberty in downtown Sumter.

10 • Iris • September - October 2009


Just walking inside makes visitors feel as if they’ve been transported to a different time and place – a time that was more relaxed. A time when a friend’s visit meant tea and cake served on your very best china. “When you come here, it’s not just about the food,” says co-owner Cathy McCaskill, who founded the restaurant with her friend, Janet Derrick. Derrick agrees. “We wanted to create a place for those people who were always looking for that special place to go – a pleasant atmosphere but not the typical restaurant,” she says. The pair had known each other for ages when the idea first came for the venture. As the only daughters of both their families, they had grown as close as sisters over the years. Their sons were the same age and had attended school together. When each of the boys married, McCaskill and Derrick helped each other host the rehearsal dinners. For one of them, they needed a little extra creativity for the right backyard atmosphere. As they brainstormed, they realized that they were onto something. “This is really what we enjoyed doing,” Derrick says. It took them two years to find a location, locate the perfect china and furniture from antique stores and decide on a name. They laugh as they remember how, at the time, they thought that all they

Passion Fruit tea in a china cup can be just the thing for a relaxing afternoon.

September - October 2009 • Iris • 11


needed was 32 sets of dishes. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for 40 people to be sipping tea at the same time. Hosting a friend’s bridal shower at Special Teas was the best decision Julie DuBose could have made. “It was perfect, just like we knew it would be,” she says. “They took care of everything.” According to Derrick, there is something about “the scent of tea’s aroma that quiets the soul and makes you feel more comfortable.” Which is not surprising, given that tea is the most popular drink in the world. More people drink tea, in fact, than all other manufactured drinks combined. Although there are contradictory sources about tea’s origin, they all begin in Asia, where the Yunan Province of China claims the birthright. Legend insists that the drink was discovered when tea from a nearby tree accidentally blew into the boiling water that a Chinese emperor was drinking. The leaves turned the water brown; the curious emperor took a sip. The rest is history. Derrick says most people are first attracted

to Rooibos or herbal teas. Neither belong to the four main teas of the world, however, which are black tea, oolong tea, green tea and white tea. Herbal teas are created from leaves, flowers, fruits and herbs that contain none of the

12 • Iris • September - October 2009

original tea plant. The Rooibos plant is a South African one that, when not being consumed, is used to cool the body. The other four are made from the camellia sinensis plant, and are each prepared differently. The tradition of

afternoon tea, which is popular in England, began during the reign of Queen Victoria. Apparently, the monarch would grow hungry between meals, so she asked her servants to make sandwiches and tea, to tide her over. The


Inhale the aroma and choose from a selection of 42 different teas.

trendsetting queen enjoyed it so much that she began inviting friends to partake of her newfound snack. This is one of several stories about tea that Derrick and McCaskill enjoy telling their customers. In order to help them decide what flavor tea they would like for their meal, guests are encouraged to visit the antique cabinet, where they can pull down a total of 42 glass jars and inhale the aromas. They even serve good ole’ sweet tea, for diehard Southerners. And it’s all part of the special touch these owners consider their trademark. “If I could give advice to someone, it’s this,” says Derrick. “Go for your dream. It doesn’t matter if you have everything together. It all comes together.” Rosdail’s little charges passed their test that hot summer Saturday. They also received a lesson in true hospitality – one that McCaskill and Derrick have clearly perfected.

The Enduring Popularity of Tea • The second most popular drink in the world (after water) • World tea production (2003): 3.15 million tons annually • Largest tea drinking nation: India • Value of the American specialty tea market (2008): $6.8 billion

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S

by Jamie Hudson Wilson

ue King sits on a couch piled high with knitting needles and yarn. “I knit booties for the newborns at Tuomey,” she says, leaning forward. “I’m very pragmatic. I can’t just do something for nothing.” That’s King’s attitude about volunteering – something she has always done in large doses. It must have a purpose. And that purpose is to serve those who are less fortunate. The 70-year-old has worked only a few part-time jobs in her life, but she’s poured out her life for others – first as a mother of four; second, as an advocate of the poor throughout Sumter County. When she speaks, it’s with quiet determination. King is clearly a stoic, but she’s one who talks about her volunteering with regal grace. “It’s about my faith in God,” she says simply. “We’re supposed to share with one another.” King provides the legwork to numerous local activities. In addition to her knitting for Tuomey babies, she also works as an intake interviewer at United Ministries and shares gardening duties at Swan Lake Iris Gardens. There’s more. In fact, King has spent decades donating her time so that others might have the chance for a better life. It was through the Junior Welfare League that she first got involved. That led to a stint with Meals on Wheels, during the 1980s. From there, King joined up with Habitat for Humanity, which was grappling with Hurricane Hugo’s aftermath. Eventually, she would be appointed to the Habitat board of directors. Three or four hours a week, King interviews families who come to United Ministries of Sumter requesting help. During her assessments, she serves as the liaison between the client and any available resources. But sometimes, she says, the best aid anyone can offer is a shoulder to cry on. “For some people just talking is helpful,” she explains. “We try to help each client at least one way, whether it is financial, physical or with just advice. I don’t preach, I just talk.” It’s a secret she learned from her husband, Dr. William King, a local psychiatrist. “My husband listens to people all the time and says you just try to help them where they are,” she says. Also, King insists that while a volunteer’s heart will become burdened with others’ plights, they must learn to separate that weight from their desire to do well. “I think you have to leave it there,” she explains. “Otherwise you will burn out.” She picks up her knitting needles and is soon clacking away. Then, with a quick shrug, she adds, “I’m just the worker bee.” And for Sue King, that explains it all.

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sue King in the backyard of her home in sumter. september - OctOber 2009 • IrIs • 17


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Forever young

Fill Me Up Facial fillers are all the rage. No wonder. If you’re willing to pay the price, they can truly turn back time. By Annabelle Robertson

Courtney Griffin, Etna Griffin Chrystal Mims 22 • Irisand • September - October 2009


I

noticed them most when I was running. Creases, on either side of my mouth. Deep lines that were looking deeper every year, and starting to make me look far too much like my mother. Worse still, my regular up-anddown movements on the treadmill didn’t seem to be helping. “Runners face,” explained Laura Beth Jones, a sports trainer who teaches speed and agility to Sumter’s P-15 pitchers. “When people run, they tend to bear down with the muscles surrounding their mouth. You have to think about not doing that.” Since the only thing I tend to think about when running is when that run will be over – and since exercise obviously outweighs any facial benefits – I figured I was doomed. Then I heard about dermal fillers from Etna Griffin, founder and owner of Southeastern Laser Med Spa on Wilson Hall Road. “I can fix those,” she said, pointing to my cheeks. That got my attention. I’d read about fillers. As with most things, however, my interest didn’t truly peak until the need hit home. It’s all well and good to say that you’re only as young as you feel. But let’s face it. It’s pretty hard to remain in denial when the wrinkles start to hit. So when Etna made the generous offer to inject me with a sample of RADIESSE, I didn’t hesitate. After all, at $650 for a large syringe, fillers weren’t at the top of my shopping list. The wish list, however, was another story. No more jowls? I had to find out.

Dermal fillers are becoming increasingly popular. Although a number of products are starting to hit the market, two – Juvederm and RADIESSE – dominate. Both are FDA-approved. Both stimulate collagen production, which our faces used to do in very large quantities, when we were young. Juvederm is liquid based, and stays that way. Manufacturers claim it lasts up to twelve months. Friends say it’s really six, although a new Juvederm is supposed to last longer. RADIESSE, which consists of tiny calcium-based microspheres, goes in as a liquid but quickly becomes a hard, putty-like substance. RADIESSE reps claim it lasts up to 18 months – something many doctors and estheticians confirm. Etna Griffin is one of them – although Griffin is not your average esthetician, by any stretch. The founder and owner of Southeastern Laser Med Spa, she is also a registered nurse with a bachelors of science degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina. After working in general and open heart surgery at Providence Hospital, Griffin received her certification as a nurse anesthetist in 1981. She worked as a certified registered nurse anesthetist at Richland Memorial Hospital, then joined the staff of Tuomey Regional Medical Center in the same capacity, where she continues to serve. The procedure, which involved dozens of needle sticks, was somewhat painful. Fortunately, Etna took plenty of time to numb all of the areas with local anesthesia (others may choose

topical numbing cream). I had no idea how much of an art this procedure truly was, however, until I saw how deliberately she injected me. After each one, she would step back and look, turning my face from side to side, before injecting a little here, a little there. I went home pretty swollen and bruised, dabbing an icepack to my cheeks and worrying about what to tell people. I looked like I had been in a boxing match – and lost. But the next day, the swelling had decreased significantly. And, one week later, even though I still had a few bruises under my eyes, I could see a tremendous difference. My nasolabial folds, also called smile lines, were far less noticeable. And the craters under my eyes were significantly improved, thanks to the RADIESSE Griffin injected along my cheek bones – a procedure that is less common, and which causes far more bruising than the smile lines, but which she excelled at. For a skeptical journalist, I was sold. I definitely look better. And yes, younger. What price, youth? Pretty high. But boy, is it worth it.

September 14-18 is RADIESSE week at Southeastern Laser Med Spa. The first 15 people who purchase a syringe will get a second free. Call (803) 469-SKIN (7546) or visit them at 1250 Wilson Hall Road in Sumter for more information.

September - October 2009 • Iris • 23


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D

reams really do come true.

Sometimes, they even come true when you don’t know you have them. That was the case with Shawn Weatherly, a Sumter native and 1977 graduate of Sumter High School, who entered the Miss South Carolina beauty pageant on a dare – and went on to become not only Miss Universe, but a celebrity starring in a major television series. Just one month after winning the Miss South Carolina pageant, in April of 1980, Shawn represented the Palmetto State at the Miss USA pageant in Biloxi, Mississippi. To her immense surprise, she won that title as well. Two months later, after a whirlwind of national publicity, she traveled to Seoul, Korea, and took home the Miss Universe crown. Shawn spent her year as Miss Universe traveling the world, shaking hands and posing for pictures with heads of state – including President Jimmy Carter and even Fidel Castro – and everyday people alike. After visiting more

than 40 countries, Shawn moved to California to pursue her dream of acting. She starred in several

Baywatch, where she played the character of Jill. She received an Emmy nomination for her appearance in the

she sticks close to her home and family in Southern California. In November, she will celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary with her husband, Chip Harris. They have two children, Jack and Jessica. Iris was honored to interview Shawn recently. Here’s what she had to say. Tell me a little about your childhood here in Sumter. What are some of your favorite memories? I loved going to Big Jim's for French fries and milkshakes – and, of course Prom night. But then it was steaks, baked potatoes and Thousand Island dressing with salad on the side! I loved hanging out at Sunset Country Club, too. My dad played golf all day and I was a lifeguard at the pool. Every time fall hits the air, I think of working on the floats for Homecoming at Sumter High School. Do you still have family here? How often do you come back? I try to come back at least every other year. I have a brother who still lives in Columbia and another brother in Atlanta. I've taken my family to Myrtle Beach, where I waitressed between semesters

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TV series and films, including television’s Thirtysomething, Chicago Hope and, most notably, NBC’s

30 • Iris • September - October 2009

NBC docudrama, Ocean Quest, in 1986. Nowadays, Shawn takes on the occasional acting gig, but mostly,


Horace Curtis, city manager, and Ernest Stroman, Jr., owner of Belk-Stroman department store, cut the ribbon with Shawn at the grand opening of Belk at the Sumter Mall (formerly the Jessamine Mall) in 1980.

at Clemson, and to Charleston. My dream is to buy a place at the beach, a sort of reunion destination. Why did you decide to go to Clemson, and what do you remember most about those years? Both of my brothers were at Clemson, so I made that decision to stay close to them. Of course, the Tiger tailgating memories are epic, but one of my fondest memories was working at the Hallmark gift shop in

3

downtown Clemson. I loved helping people find the perfect card for a loved one. It was personal, yet simple, and it still reminds me of how sweet a simple job can be. That memory holds as dear to me as meeting the president of the United States. People are people. And sometimes, a connection is all that matters – not necessarily who you are. How did you decide to participate in your first beauty pageant? It was a dare from my oldest brother, Kurt.

4

And then, a great deal of support from a friend’s mother. The comment that really made me seriously consider it was from my boss at a seafood restaurant called Christy's where I worked in Myrtle Beach. Mr. Bach had a TV in the bar of the restaurant, and that was when a TV in a bar was rare. Once, when I went into the bar to get some drinks for a table, the Miss Universe pageant was on. Mr. Bach said, "Shawn, you should be in this pageant. You

would win." I had never seen the Miss Universe pageant. I had been in the Miss South Carolina pageant, and won first runner up. But I had only entered that to get a chance to dance on stage. I loved tap dancing and was always looking for venues to showcase my dancing. But I thought my pageant days were over, until I saw the Miss Universe on TV. Looking back on it now, how did your win change the course of your life? And what

5

September - October 2009 • Iris • 31


would you have done if you hadn’t won? It changed everything. Instead of finishing nursing school (where I struggled with the idea of being a nurse), I got the nerve to set out on a career in acting. If I hadn't won, I always imagined myself teaching dancing and owning my own studio. What interested you most about acting, and how did you make the transition after your year as Miss Universe? After my work as Miss Universe was over, I had a few endorsement contracts with Adidas and an agent at William Morris who wanted to represent me for commercials. I tried getting commercial work, but frankly, I felt so awkward trying to sell beauty products that I never landed any. I have a terrible funny bone that saw how ridiculous the beauty product business was. I just couldn’t keep a straight face, trying to sell wrinkle cream, when I was barely 20 years old. I told my agent to see if he could get anyone to see me for theatrical work, and that was the beginning of a lot of acting jobs. I remember, as a kid, setting up a stage to perform for all my relatives at family reunions. I've always loved entertaining people. I think laughing and crying can be great medicine for the soul. What has your life been like during recent years? Tell us a little about your family. I'm blessed with two healthy children and a husband that I've been married to for almost 20 years. Since I had my son Jack, who is 14, and my daughter, Jessica, who is 11, I have devoted most of my time to being with them. My mother died when I was nine, so I don't take a moment for granted. It has made me a better mother, but maybe my ambition will never be the same. My husband Chip is president of Acacia Research Corporation, which buys, develops and licenses patents.

Shawn received an Emmy nomination for her role in the NBC docudrama OceanQuest.

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7

32 • Iris • September - October 2009

During her years as Miss Universe, Shawn traveled to more than 40 countries and met heads of the state like Fidel Castro.


8

Will there be any pageants in your daughter’s future? And how would you feel about them getting into acting? Jack and Jessie are kind and loving and, at the same time, very confident. I see a lot of Chip in both of them. They are very inquisitive. I don't see Jessie ever being involved in pageants. She has so many opportunities in other areas. She is an amazing athlete and a terrific student. If she wanted to go into acting, I would support her only after she went to college. It's a wonderful job, but the longevity of having a successful career is tenuous. When you do work, you have little control over your schedule. And, for a mother, that is difficult. Then again, any work is

difficult to juggle while being a good mother. I'm not sure if there is an ideal job for a mother! What do you do now? Give me a typical “day in the life” of Shawn Harris. I'm a fulltime mom now. My son is starting high school next year, and I drive them both to sporting events – baseball, football, soccer, dancing, singing, guitar. I keep them on the straight and narrow. With the energy I have left, I've been writing some memoirs. I'm having fun remembering the crazy life I had as a Miss Universe and as a former Miss Universe. I'm hoping to share my stories online soon in The Item. The title of the column will be “Tales from Beneath The Crown.”

9

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What are your core values, and how do they play out in your daily life? Thankfulness. In everything, be thankful, even if, at the time, the struggle is difficult. So many times when I felt lost and scared, I could just say, “God, thank you! And, by the way, HELP!” Help came in ways I could have never imagined! Are you still involved in the Hollywood scene? I have friends who work in the business, and an agent, to look for things that I could do and still stay close to home. You worked closely with David Hasselhoff during the first year of Baywatch. He’s been in the media a lot lately. Have you stayed in

11

12

touch? I haven't talked to David since we worked together. My thoughts naturally go to his children and their well being right now. Alcoholism is a family disease; everyone suffers. If you had to give one piece of advice to the women of Sumter, what would you say? What life lesson would you like to pass on to the sisterhood? Well, I turned 50 in July, and I'm as excited and scared as any woman would be, at my age. I think being a great role model for our children is the most important job we can have. As we go, so go our children. Also, the older I get, the more I appreciate the unique little town I grew up in.

13

Chip Harris and Shawn Weatherly Harris with their children in 2003.

September - October 2009 • Iris • 33


34 • Iris • September - October 2009




     

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September - October 2009 â&#x20AC;¢ Iris â&#x20AC;¢ 35


Majestic Nights The Imperial is encouraging Sumter to step out and step it up. By Nick McCormac

36 • Iris • September - October 2009


F

or the longest time, Tracey Ragin had a hard time finding a local upscale dining experience that mixed hospitality, cuisine and service. Chain restaurants didn’t suit her palate, and because she worked as a teacher and IT administrator, Ragin didn’t have much time to travel to Columbia or Charleston. But last year, she stumbled into 451 Broad St., home of The Imperial Dining and Live Entertainment. “To me, there’s no other way to describe the experience of the Imperial as anything other than impeccable,” she says. That’s the sentiment owner Ted Wilson was aiming for when he opened the restaurant in August 2008. Formerly the home of Big Jim’s Restaurant, and before that, Cathy’s on Broad, Wilson knew the building had a legendary reputation, so he sought to open an establishment that would complement that history. “We wanted a place that would make people feel good and invited, but also somewhere that had a level of sophistication not usually found around here that would add to the history of the location,” he explains. Wilson says the regular compliments he receives from guests prove he’s succeeded in his goal of providing a sophisticated yet accessible dining experience – especially in an area not known for

Photo, Above Left: Imperial's Executive Chef Clyde Grant fans into flame one of his signature dishes.

such venues. And, even though the economy has gone south, business has continued to climb at a steady rate. Ragin visits the restaurant three or four times a week and has yet to be disappointed. “I can go for a drink after work in casual attire, or I can get dressed up and go to dine out, and they’ll still treat me exactly the same,” she says. “You’ll get five-star service and enjoy an upscale experience regardless of

who you are, and I think that’s one of their biggest draws.” The restaurant’s original wood paneling, plush black seating, exposed brick and antebellumstyle columns create a look that Wilson calls “old-meetsnew.” To add to that ambience, Wilson has begun emphasizing the “entertainment” part of the Imperial’s name. “We’ve had entertainers fighting to come and perform here,” he

September - October 2009 • Iris • 37


says. “We wanted to bring a real show to Sumter and all of the acts we’ve had have loved the place so much that we can’t get them in here fast enough.” One of the most popular weekly events is their new Saturday shag nights. Enthusiasts of the old-time swing dance approached Wilson with the idea, but at first, he was skeptical. Now, he wonders how he ever thought twice about embracing the craze. “I can’t believe the response we get on Saturday nights,” he says. “The dancers are obviously having a great time, and even people who don’t know what’s going on are just enjoying the experience.” Another weekly act that keeps people coming back is singer Anne Galloway and pianist Linda Beck. The duet has been performing every Thursday night since June, providing diners with a mix of big band, blues and Motown classics, and it’s

transformed them both into local stars. “I get a ‘Cheers’ vibe every time I walk in the

big, welcoming family that really makes me look forward to Thursday nights.”

door,” says Beck, who also works as the chorus director of Furman Middle School. “It’s a

Over the summer, Beck and Galloway expanded their repertoire to include classic beach

38 • Iris • September - October 2009

tunes, in order to complement the warm evenings. Having such a diverse crowd is what Beck loves, she says, as she sits behind her piano every week. “I think our approach toward music is the same approach the staff has to diners, insofar as we really enjoy accommodating everyone and don’t want to shut anybody out,” she says. Lunch is one of the establishment’s most popular meals, thanks to their country buffet, which is comprised of a wide variety of offerings, including meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, fresh-carved meats, turkey wings and various types of fish. Staples such as sandwiches, wraps, burgers and salads are available for order. When the sun goes down, the caliber of the food gets kicked up a notch. Menu staples include rack of lamb, various types of fish (including “the only real red snapper in Sumter,” according to Wilson), duck and prime rib – the bestselling dish in the house. The average dinner costs around $25 per person


and lunch is only about $10 a head. It’s all in the hands of their maestro. Director of operations Violet Smith calls him “the Michael Jackson of chefs.” “You can bet I’m going to make it worth the wait,” says Executive Chef Clyde Grant, who prides himself on giving the same attention to every dish that leaves his kitchen. Grant has no “20-minute meals” – no pre-cooked meats or half-hearted dishes. Everything, he says, from the salads to the beef tenderloin, must have the same consistency and presentation. His goal is to guarantee that no one leaves disappointed. “He’s had no formal training or education in the art of cooking, but his passion toward his profession and his willingness to take on culinary challenges is unparalleled, in my

eyes,” Smith says. Grant perfected his craft at Lilfred’s in his hometown of Rembert, S.C., where he worked as head chef from 1990 until 2007. After breaking his ankle, he took a hiatus, during which time he was courted by restaurants from around the state. Wilson’s pitch for the Imperial impressed him the most. What Grant didn’t realize was that another Grant had run that same kitchen for almost three decades. Henry-Ann Grant, Clyde’s mother, was the chef at Big Jim’s for 27 years. Grant said it had to be destiny. She had, after all, introduced him to cooking. But, after getting his professional start in 1987, Grant’s desire to learn different styles of cooking led him from kitchen to kitchen, in the hopes of sharpening his skills. “One of my mentors was experienced in

many different styles and stressed that it was important for me to take advantage of different techniques, if I wanted to be as great as I hoped to be,” he says. My number one priority in choosing a place is atmosphere and

conditions, and this place has the best I’ve seen in a long time.” It’s an attitude shared by everyone at the Imperial. For every handshake and compliment Wilson receives, and every person Beck inspires to get up and dance, and every returning customer Grant is able to serve, the staff feels that they can rest easy, knowing they’ve made someone’s night. They wouldn’t be living up to the majesty of their name if they didn’t.

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September - October 2009 • Iris • 41


Color Me Beautiful Artist michael Hodge took her education in a new direction. by erica christmas

42 • IrIs • september - OctOber 2009


S

ome artists go to art school. Michael Hodge went to University of South Carolina Sumter – and majored in computers. Hodge married her husband, Robert, in 1990 then dropped out of classes at USC in Columbia. Years later, however, she realized that she wanted to finish what she had started. She chose to return to USC Sumter, she says, because of the small community atmosphere, and the proximity to her home. “It has a great small town community feel,” she says. “Everyone knows everyone.” Hodge’s original major was chemistry, because she had dreamed of practicing geriatric medicine as a young woman. But when she decided to go back to school, she took a simpler approach. She would finish her associate’s degree in independent studies, and focus on computers and science. Nowadays, Hodge spends her time working in an entirely different arena. She earns her nickname by face painting, creating murals, teaching art classes and homeschooling her two daughters, Hailey and Victoria. But Hodge credits her time at USC Sumter as giving her a greater knowledge of thinking and questioning the

world around her. “Strangely enough, my USC Sumter degree has nothing to do with my chosen career path, but I believe that the connections and friendships that I made while there helped me in my business,” she says. “What I learned while at USC Sumter was community.” Her most challenging professor was Dr. Joe Gagne, who taught religion. “He made me question things in a healthy way, and that strengthened my faith,” she explains. Hodge’s artistic talent, which she now uses so widely, is a family trait. She learned from her mother and has taught her daughters as well. They help her, on occasion, and can often be seen together at events like the Sumter County Fair, where a line of children can be seen, waiting their turn to receive one of Hodge’s mini masterpieces. As to her favorite part of her job, Hodge says it’s all about the people – being out in public and interacting with as many as possible. “My motivation to succeed both professionally and personally is to use the talents that God has given to me to the best of my ability,” she says, “and to make Him proud.” For more information about Hodge and her work, visit her at www.michaelsmasterpieces. com.

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nOt-SO-mean GIrlS Movies skim over the benefits kids gain from being a part of a social circle

bY mAttHeW m. F. mILLer CTW Features

In the 1970s it was â&#x20AC;&#x153;Carrieâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;American Graffiti.â&#x20AC;? In the 1980s it was any film starring Molly Ringwald and in the 1990s it was â&#x20AC;&#x153;Clueless,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;American Pieâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mallrats.â&#x20AC;? Today, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mean Girls,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Superbadâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Napoleon Dynamite.â&#x20AC;? Movies have long portrayed the harsh extremes of awkwardness and torment teens face when navigating social circles in junior high and high school. Cliques, especially those pertaining to young women, often are shown to be elite social circles that lead to demeaning and dangerous pranks, self-loathing and backstabbing. Movies, however, are not real life when it comes to teenage behavior, says Dr. Natalie Adams. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There are actually many positives to being in social groups during the teen years,â&#x20AC;? says Adams, an associate professor of educational leadership, policy and technology studies, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Social groups provide a sense of community and support. This is where many people find their life-long friends. These groups also teach basic social skills such as negotiation, compromise, teamwork and communication.â&#x20AC;? Adams believes social groups are

the positive, often overlooked norm whereas cliques represent the bad we commonly see in films. In social groups members are free to spend time with kids considered not in the group without fear of being cast out of the group. Even when trouble arises in friend groups, as long as the kids are happy and thriving overall, parents should remain hands-off, Adams says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a fine line between being a helicopter parent who hovers over their child and makes every decision for them and being an involved parent who allows their children to make mistakes and recognize that those are places and opportunities to grow,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not the end of the world if your child is not invited to a sleepover or if somebody says something ugly to your child. These are, in fact, opportunities for your child to grow in character. Let your child fight his or her own battles.â&#x20AC;? Unless, of course, some of those behaviors start reminding you of scenes from the aforementioned films in which case Adams recommends taking immediate action. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If the situation crosses over into the realm of harmful behavior â&#x20AC;&#x201C; your child is being bullied or hazed â&#x20AC;&#x201C; then, as a parent, it is your responsibility to get involved,â&#x20AC;? Adams says. Š CTW Features

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Sumter seen

Sultry Jazz and Hot Summer Nights It was a hot July night – and Hamptons Restaurant made it even hotter with a little musical mojo. The evening began with a cocktail reception at the historic Barnett House, followed by a performance at the Opera House by the Roger Moss Quintet and a five-course meal with wines at the restaurant. Roger Moss and two members of his quintet.

Guests enjoy Peach Bellinis at the Barnett House on Warren Street.

46 • Iris • September - October 2009

Michelle Logan-Ownens and Mr. and Mrs. Mitch Williams with friends.


Amy and Chris Niebuhr. Danielle and Greg Thompson

Emma Lee Cannon and Jackie Osteen.

Col. Joseph Guastella, commander 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw Air Force Base September - October 2009 • Iris • 47


Eat Chocolate, Stay Healthy

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Try these recipes that incorporate the foods you love with nutritional virtues you want: Chocolate Sorbet 4 ounces (85 percent) dark chocolate 4 cups water 11/3 cups sugar Chop chocolate into small bits. Heat water and sugar together in a medium-size pot. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves. Add chocolate. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the mixture is very smooth. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Pour into a covered container and refrigerate for 3 to 24 hours. Pour into an ice cream machine and process according to manufacturerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s directions. Makes 4 cups; 8 servings. Each serving has: 200 calories; 0.5 grams protein; 4.5 grams total fat; 82.5 grams carbohydrates.

Mendiants (Adapted from â&#x20AC;&#x153;Bittersweetâ&#x20AC;? by Alice Medrich, Artisan, 2003) Mendiants are small disks of chocolate studded with blanched almonds, raisins, hazelnuts and dried figs. You can vary the toppings to use other dried fruits or nuts. 2 ounces each of three or more of the following: Toasted hazelnuts, pistachios or coarsely chopped almonds, pecan halves or macadamia nuts Dried cherries, blueberries, raisins or cranberries or coarsely chopped figs or apricots Toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds Chopped candied ginger or citrus peel 48 â&#x20AC;˘ Iris â&#x20AC;˘ September - October 2009

1 pound dark chocolate Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Have your topping prepared and set in bowls ready to go. Chop chocolate into chunks. Set aside 2 large chunks, about 4 ounces and chop the rest into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces. Place the small chocolate pieces into a 2- to 3-quart heatproof stainless steel bowl. Set the bowl in a large skillet filled with barely simmering water. Stir chocolate frequently being careful to not let any water splash into the chocolate. When 3/4 of the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and stir to melt the remainder. Using a candy thermometer, check the temperature, which should read 100 degrees; allow to cool if necessary. When the chocolate reaches 100 degrees drop in the two reserved larger chocolate chunks. Stir constantly until the chocolate cools to 90 degrees. The chocolate chunks wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t melt completely. Remove the chocolate chunks; chill and use for another recipe. Immediately use the melted chocolate for the mendiants. Drop chocolate by the teaspoonful onto baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. Rap the baking sheets to spread chocolate. Sprinkle on garnishes. Set aside in a cool place to firm up. To store, stack in a covered container between layers of waxed paper. Store in a cool dry place. Makes 12 servings.

Each serving without toppings has: 140 calories; 1 gram protein; 9 grams total fat; 17 grams carbohydrates.

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Drink Your Dessert By Annabelle Robertson

T

Summer is over and so is bikini season. So hop off that treadmill and put away your Thigh Master. It’s time to indulge.

he holidays are still far away, but we can feel their pull when fall winds begin to blow. That’s what makes these velvety drink concoctions all the more delectable. They’re the best of both; something to cozy up with, as you light your first fire of the season. Don’t let the names fool you. You may think you’ve heard of – or even tasted – these tasty beverages. Not so, says Josh Peters, head bartender at Hamptons Restaurant, who created them with co-owner Danielle Thompson. They’re “old” made “new.” And definitely adults only. So put away the dumbbells and pick up the shakers. It’s time for dessert.

Tiramisu Martini A little pick-you-up (and put-you-down) kind of drink! 1 oz (shot) Espresso ¾ oz Kahlua ¾ oz Frangelico ¾ oz Bailey’s Irish Cream ¼ scoop of vanilla ice cream

52 • Iris • September - October 2009

Take your mixing vessel and add all the liquors first. Hopefully, that espresso shot should be cooled downa little bit by this time. Add your caffeine boost then add your ice cream. No more than a quarter cup of ice cream, though! We’re not making root beer floats here! You shouldn’t have to add any ice; the ice cream should do the trick. However, if it’s too warm then ice it down. Shake , strain and enjoy.


Raspberry Cheesecake Martini No need to head to New York City for this. Only your local liquor store. 1 ½ oz Chambord 1 oz Vanilla Schnapps (Dr. McGillicuddy’s ) 1 oz whole milk (or skim, if you are watching those calories) This one is really easy. Just add everything into your shaker with some ice.

Oatmeal Cookie Martini No oven required!

Do your best Tom Cruise (“Cocktails”) impersonation and strain into a martini glass. I think you will like this one. After all, less can be more, right?!

1 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream 1 oz Cinnamon Schnapps (Goldschlager! Real gold, anyone?) 1 oz Butterscotch Schnapps A dash of Half & Half Grab your shaker and fill with ice. Pour in all ingredients in and shake until very cold. Be careful; I don’t want you freezing your little digits onto the shaker (kind of like “A Christmas Story,” when that kid got his tongue stuck to the pole. Ouch!) Shake and strain into your martini glass. Then sip. Why would you ever would put on oven mitts again?

September - October 2009 • Iris • 53


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Swan Song

On Death and Dying We can be agents of healing to the grieving – but only if we can silence the clichés.

It was the summer of death. Throughout the tri counties, we spent the long, hot months being buffeted by fatal accidents – many of them involving teenagers. All were loved. All are gone. Their deaths, which I wrote about for the Item, kept me in a melancholic mood. I interviewed the family of one young woman, and their grief was so raw I couldn’t help but set aside my journalism hat and pray for them. I cried. And, as I did, I felt the rat-a-tattat-tat of reality, knocking at my door. There isn’t a parent in Sumter who didn’t imagine their children – and themselves – in the deadly wrecks of recent weeks. We were at the wheel of the SUV that was hit by a train. We were in the crash that slammed a metal toolbox into a pregnant teenager’s head. We were in the backseat when the young mother took her baby out of the car seat to feed him, only to see him ejected minutes later, upon impact. Death, inevitably, makes us ponder our own mortality. When others die, we die. But when the unthinkable becomes not only thinkable, but very, very possible, indeed, we are left with one question. What then? It’s easy to spout clichés in the face of grief. I heard plenty, following my multiple miscarriages. So much so, that I now see clichés as an almostinstantaneous reaction to grief. Everything from “It’s the Lord’s will” and “She’s in a better place” to “Time heals all wounds.” I groan thinking of

them. Every time I hear a new one, I want to pull aside that person and say, “Don’t you see what you’re doing?” As one of my professors said, “Bad theology hurts people.” Death is never the Lord’s will – any more than sin is. And, that person may not be in a better place; not everyone is after death. And, even if they are, that doesn’t take away the loved one’s pain. And no; time does not heal all wounds. The wound may not be quite as gaping, but it will always be there. And to assume otherwise, quite simply, is abusive. When we offer these words, we mean well, of course. We say them because that’s all we know how to say, and we want to help. But that doesn’t make them right, especially if we understand that the reason clichés crop up is not for someone else’s assurance, but to assuage our own emotions. No matter how we try and resist, we’re right there with those who are grieving, and that makes us feel incredibly uncomfortable. So we start in on the clichés – not to make the griever feel better, really, but to get rid of those terrifying emotions creeping up and around our heart. The real answer to grief is a simple one, but a painful one. All we have to do is be there. Be quiet. Listen. And let the emotions ride. With those who are grieving, showing up is half the game – especially after things have settled down and the funeral is a distant memory. That’s when most people go back to their

By Annabelle Robertson

busy lives, but when loved ones are hitting their grief journey, full stride. They need people who will listen – quietly and without response, save for the occasional nod and sympathetic utterance. Just listen. It’s a hard thing to do. It’s hard for me. But I know that it’s a skill I must learn, if I am ever going to be effective at consoling and ministering to those in need. As uncomfortable as bad feelings make us feel, it’s not our job to make them go away. Even if we could, it would only hurt – not help. Feelings cannot stay locked inside our hearts. They are meant to be shared. And sharing is the path toward healing, the very essence of the grieving process. But all too often, that process is cut short by others. Ultimately, true healing – and any fragment of hope that is ever to be found – will come but from one source. As Missy Geddings, mother of Nikki Geddings, said, “There are no words to say. All we can do is drop to our knees when we have bad days and tell God to help us make it through.” We can all be facilitators of the grieving process. We can extend the hand of blessing – not through misguided words, but through the patient perseverance of a listening heart.

September - October 2009 • Iris • 55


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56 â&#x20AC;˘ Iris â&#x20AC;˘ September - October 2009

Fall Issue of Iris Magazine  

Former Miss Universe Shawn Weatherly Remembers...

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