The Best of Men

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Photograph by Eli Warren

Men live to tell a good story. In the case of some, they don’t have to embellish it; they opt for understatement. Their reputation precedes them. These are the genuine article, gentlemen of the finest order. They take care in their manner, dress with a fine touch. They aim for chivalry and aren’t afraid to show their soft side. They play for keeps.

Take Pastor Terry Ferrell. In his youth, he was a friend to a man named Ansel Adams. In his prime, he saw the beauty and benefit of buying a collection of pottery made famous by a slave named Dave. In between, he gave himself to work and God, raising a son, Stephen, who became a famous potter in his own right. Because of Ferrell, Edgefield Pottery, and the beautiful work of hundreds of slaves, continues to live on. Ferrell also continues to preach and maintain the remaining pieces in his collection. At 95, his mind is as agile as a man half his age (see “Kingdom of Clay”).

While their stories vary, men have a collective way about them. Like women, they draw close, seeking companionship and camaraderie. They come together in private circles, drinking clubs, poker games, and golfing outings. It’s best if there is a good cigar, whiskey, or new toy in the mix. Men, together, like to blow off steam, talk the talk, and even challenge each other.

For Jay Motley, a personal interest in bourbon led to his desire to sample new bottles with friends. Top shelf, bottom shelf, in between, Motley doesn’t discriminate (on sight, anyway); he samples, considers, and collects. Now, several years later, he and 10 men meet monthly as the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club, where they talk family, politics, and the weather—then taste a bottle of something interesting (see “Tasting Table”). Could be whiskey, could be wine. Could even be coffee. They are in it for the pleasure of the pour, to learn something in the process, but perhaps most especially to learn from each other.

The best men live in simple ways, fast ways, loud or quiet ways, but never in small ways.

Greenville Country Club members enjoy the Annual Meeting dinner on the terrace, circa 1949. For more on the new clubhouse, see “Building a Dream”.

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Blair Knobel, Editor-in-Chief

Twitter / Instagram: @LBKNOBEL

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