“It shall pass, hold on, just hold on” are words to live by according to Anthony Wright, AKA Tony the Peanut Man. Tony has not had an easy life; from losing his well paying job, overcoming racial issues, divorce, suicide, to fire. Through it all, he continues to look at the positives in his life.
Tony, at age 61, is a Charleston icon. What makes Tony a success? According to him, it is his attitude; politeness and being respectful to all people regardless of age or race.
Tony started selling peanuts not because he wanted to, but because he needed a job to provide for his family. He was literally one step away from the unemployment line when he was approached by a family friend who offered him a job selling peanuts. His pride stopped him from accepting the job several times, but, once he started, determination made him a success. He learned about peanuts from Marion Heyward, who sold peanuts for a living. Mr. Heyward introduced him to Ben Campbell, who at the time was the Peanut Man in the Charleston Market. Mr. Campbell taught Tony the art of selling. Tony developed his own style and a great jingle, “Got some broiled, got some roasted, got some stewed, got some toasted.”
Growing up Tony was given the nickname Mutt because he was always clowning around and getting into trouble. He was teased and bullied, and everyone thought he was dumb. Tony has Attention Deficit Disorder he now knows, but back then, his parent just thought he was bad. To make up for his disability, he clowned around and told jokes. Today he is still doing that, but instead of getting into trouble, his jovial personality has made him very famous. Tony shares his story with school children at several schools, teaching them that getting a nickname is a good thing. Everyone remembers you because of your name. “Treat that name as a gift and remember to smile and laugh about it,” Tony tells the children.
Tony started selling peanuts at the Charleston Riverdogs games back in 1996 and has become part of their family. He entertains as well as sells his peanuts. He makes you laugh and want to pull out your wallet at the same time. Smart man!
When asked about aging, Tony replied “I don’t feel like I’m 61 years old because I don’t let age get into my way. I love my life and my friends. I don’t let my pride get in my way anymore. I don’t look down on others because then I would be looking down on myself. God has blessed me and I want to share my blessings.” These days, besides selling peanuts, he volunteers his time with school students and brings awareness to the mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charleston.
The Charleston Riverdogs are a Class Single-A South Atlantic League team and have been affiliated with the New York Yankees since 1995. The stadium, lovingly named, “The Joe”, has been home to the Riverdogs since 1994. Like Tony, The Riverdogs’ staff and players are active in the community. They volunteer their time for many worthy causes.
Wednesday night home games are “Senior Wednesdays”. All seniors who enter the ballpark before 7pm receive a free meal including a hot dog, bag of chips and a soda. This will be a great opportunity to meet your friends and/or family there and enjoy and evening of fun and great food. Introduce yourself to Tony and be sure to ask him “What kind of peanuts do you have?”
Editor’s note: Article written by Lyn Small, Charleston Senior Directory. A special thanks to Anthony Wright for graciously allowing us to feature him on our cover and in this edition.