December 05, 2010

Over the fence for a dollar!

  A retired Trooper told me one of his favorite “war stories” during a breakfast meeting recently. Back in the old days the Highway Patrol worked security during the annual football clash between the University of South Carolina and Clemson University.
  The event was called “Big Thursday” and occurred every November during Fair Week. The game was played at Carolina Stadium, directly across from the State Fairgrounds. You'll recognize the playing field today as Williams-Brice Stadium.
  One of the reasons — probably the main reason — the annual clash was changed to alternate back and forth between Columbia and Clemson on a Saturday was the parking problem. That change was made in 1963.
  The Highway Patrol committed lots of Troopers to the Big Thursday clash. Troopers were housed Wednesday night in barracks at Fort Jackson, then bussed over to the stadium in time to control the inevitable crowds.
  Back in the sixties, scammers worked, as now, to free people of their money.  One particular scam was the “ladder team.” Two men would have an eight foot ladder leaning up against the cyclone fence surrounding Carolina Stadium.
  The scammers would offer a deal to fans: “Use our ladder to get over the fence for only $1 per person.” They’d also promise, “If a SLED agent (State Law Enforcement Division) kicks you out, we’ll give you back you’re dollar.”
  “That routine went on outside the fence at every game,” said the Trooper, “and some of them got away with it. But if a fan got caught without a ticket by a SLED agent, they’d kick him out of the stadium.” Carolina-Clemson tickets were $10 to $12 back in the early sixties, compared to $50 to $60 today.
  “Even though the ladder climbers had not purchased tickets, they wanted their dollar back,” said the Trooper, “but by the time they got kicked out the trick was — find the ladder guys! They were long gone.”

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