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Merchants Association honors Shipman Award winner

Jeff Thompson and Michael Thompson pose with their mother, Sallie Thompson, who received the Clifton J. Shipman Community Service Award. Jeff Thompson and Michael Thompson pose with their mother, Sallie Thompson, who received the Clifton J. Shipman Community Service Award.

Sallie Mauldin Thompson, ice cream queen, matriarch of one of the area’s most renowned business families and one of the only people who will smile if someone calls her Piggy, was honored Monday night as this year’s Clifton J. Shipman Community Service Award recipient, the highest recognition bestowed by the Hendersonville Business and Merchants Association.


“I did drive a chicken truck and delivered chickens to Cliff Shipman,” Thompson observed. The Shipmans and Thompsons were both in the restaurant business. “So I can’t think of anything I’d rather receive.”
The owner of Piggy’s Ice Cream Parlor and Harry’s Grill, Sallie comes in every day at age 84 and “still works that 11 hours or more,” Don Holder said as he presented the award.
When Harry met Sallie, he was a freshman at Clemson and she was a 16-year-old beauty in nearby Anderson, South Carolina. Sallie Mauldin was in a carload of girls and Harry was in a carload of boys cruising the square in Anderson on a Sunday afternoon around 1951.
“Please go out with me!” Harry pleaded.
“We’re on the way to church,” Sallie hollered back. “If you want to go out with me, you have to go to church with me.”
Harry jumped out of the boys’ car and hopped in with the girls. Their first date was at a Methodist Youth Fellowship meeting at St. John’s Methodist Church. When Harry proposed, he had to promise Sallie they’d never leave Anderson. The rest, Holder said, is history.
A housewife, mom and artist for the first 20 years of their marriage, Sallie was skeptical but willing when Harry dreamed up the idea of an ice cream parlor on land that had been the Thompson family farm. They opened the ice cream parlor and Apple Annie’s Antiques in 1979 and watched it grow in popularity until they branched with a restaurant specializing in fresh burgers, barbecue and other sandwiches. They added onto the ice cream shop and opened Harry’s Grill in 1993. Sadly, Harry Zebulon Thompson died suddenly and unexpectedly four months after the grill opened.
A devoted antique hunter, Sallie spent many weekends with her son Todd mining out-of-the-way shops and estate sales to collect the unusual signs, decorations and license plates that make the restaurant a museum of hillbilly highway art. Todd passed away in December 2015 at age 59. Sons Jeff, the barbecue pit master, cooks and caters fulltime, and Michael, an attorney, helps when he can, especially during the ice cream rush on Sunday afternoons. The boys were there Monday night, along with four of Sallie’s six grandchildren.
When she’s not running the family business, Sallie might be seen driving her pickup truck with Daisy, a pit bull who found her way to the grill one time and never left, or on board her tractor mowing the family’s 15-acre yard on Dana Road.

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Past winners of the Shipman Award are Clifton Shipman, Doris Eklund, Steve Easler, Carson Calton, Boyd “Bub” Hyder, Sammy Williams, Doc Moore, Sandra Walker, Don Holder, Chat Jones, Danny Williams, Pat Shepherd, Melissa Maurer, Jeff Miller, Tom Cooper and Chip Gould.