Ray (#266) 04-09-13

OK, here is a bit of a shaggy dog story.

Scene 1. Recently, my wife and I visited my sister in Blue Ridge, GA. We were her guests at a Rotary meeting. The guest speaker, Dale, was 94 years old, and spoke perfectly without notes for 20 minutes. Impressive! Having lived in the area for several decades, he became a de facto historian. Among other studies, he chronicled all of the cemeteries in Fannin County, well over 200! Most were small family cemeteries. As my wife is into genealogy, she spoke with Dale for a while, after the meeting.

Scene 2. Less than an hour later we were driving on a back road, just two blocks from "downtown". And there, was a tiny graveyard. Most of the tombstones were embedded in the ground, and numbered. A tiny kiosk housed a book with the numbers and names of the interred. But a larger stone in front of the cemetery said:

                      Padgett Chapel Cemetery


Now was this a coincidence? My wife's maiden name is Padgett, although she is Caucasian. In her research, she has learned that after the Civil War, many emancipated slaves took the surnames of their former masters. Very possibly, a white slaveholder named Padgett (an ancestor?) freed his slaves who then became Padgetts.

Scene 3. Still an hour later I was stranger hunting, downtown. I approached a young blond woman who was cleaning in front of a store. She wore a Tennessee Volunteers shirt, so I did not mention that I am a Florida Gator. :-) As I spoke, she smiled, but suddenly put her hand up and said "oh no, not now, I look like s**t". She did not. But she felt that because she was working, she was not ready for a portrait. Then she said, "photograph HIM", and pointed. I spun around and saw Ray approaching. The words were only halfway out of my mouth when he said, "sure", and gave this look.

What a guy! We spoke for a minute and I asked if he lived in Blue Ridge. He gave a hearty laugh and said that NO blacks lived in Blue Ridge. I begged to differ, and described the Padgett black cemetery. He seemed a bit perplexed, so I showed him the sign on the camera's LCD. He seemed at a loss for words when I said, "OK, maybe we can say this; there are no blacks ALIVE, living in Blue Ridge". He howled in agreement, and loved it.

Thanks, Ray, for being a character and a good sport. I like shaggy dog stories.