Miss Lucy, my childhood legend

By Tom Poland

Small towns have that one eccentric person people long remember. Lincolnton, Ga., had Miss Lucy Glaze. As I write I see a woman dressed in black, like Granny Clampett, racing down the sidewalk brandishing a rake. My crime? Being a kid. For years a battle raged around the corner of Humphrey and Dallas Street down past Sunrise Drive and the old Green Building, a legend also. The rake-wielding years? The Great Time of Bedevilment? That was in the 1960s. To this day, if you want to excite folks back home say, “Do you remember Miss Lucy?” Stand back because an arm-waving, hyperventilating soul is about to time travel back to a shrubbery-hidden home near the Green Building. Miss Lucy lurked across the street and if you approached her house, she’d pounce on you like a cat on a lizard. I don’t use exclamation points. Elmo Leonard said, “You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.” The “selfie” of punctuation, exclamation points populate this column. Well, that’s okay. They testify to the memories Miss Lucy elicits years after her passing. Right out the gate, Eddie Drinkard shares a memory colorful in more ways than one. “Sunday mornings, 1964. As soon as Mr. Freeman and Coach Bunch’s Sunday school class ended, Gerald Smalley, Tommy Bunch, George Richard, and I would strike out for Mr. Maurice Banks’ station up on the corner. “There was a 20-minute window to load your Sunday pants pockets with Mary Jane’s and Fire Balls and get back before preaching started. The best seats for eating candy were the back two rows under the balcony. No problem, but about twice a year, after church was about full and Preacher Buice was about to start, in walks Miss Lucy, walking stick and red hat with mesh on top. “She could have walked straight in and got a good seat in the open sanctuary with the old folks, but no, she always turned left and took a seat on the front row under the balcony. You could hear an ‘Oh shucks’ murmur go through the congregation! “The only other sound was we boys unwrapping Mary Jane’s and Fire Balls. I remember a couple times when a giggle and snicker from our row would agitate her and she’d tap the walking stick on the floor, mumble, and walk out. Sigh of relief for the back row!” Cathy Bufford Brantley remembers how kids loved throwing sand poppers on Miss Lucy’s front walk to make her come out raising hell. “Lord, we tortured that poor woman, screaming ‘Heeeeyyyy, Miss Lucy! Ohhhhh, Miss Lucy!’ ” Cathy recalls Miss Lucy as an infamous flower bulb thief. “My grandmother, GG, caught her many times digging up bulbs in her yard.” Coach Jimmy Smith’s widow, Joan, recalls that as well. Joan’s son, Randy, according to his wife, Jeanie, bought the cane she chased and hit him with. Priscilla A. Estes has carried a Miss Lucy story for 50 years. “When my mother, Lib, owned The Little Shop, manager Hollie Cartledge changed the window displays to reflect the seasons. One day Hollie left female mannequins unclothed while she took care of customers. I was in the store that day, working or pretending to. “We heard banging out front, loud and fast. There was Miss Lucy. She was dressed in black and used the tip of a matching black umbrella to rattle the display window. Hollie, Mom and I stepped into the entrance. ‘Miss Lucy! Whatever are you doing?’ said Mom. “ ‘Heathens! Heathens!’ Miss Lucy shouted, brandishing her umbrella. ‘Nekkid women in the windows! Shameful! Disgraceful! Cover up those nekkid women! Heathens!’ “I’m sure my mother, a Methodist minister’s daughter, chuckled inwardly. ‘Of course, Miss Lucy.’ Miss Lucy watched as Hollie assembled the quickest window display of her life. Only then did the town character wander on.” Miss Lucy returned to Lincolnton after working in New York City as a maid for the wealthy. Did Northerners’ cranky ways rub off onto her? Maybe. Aggravating kids didn’t help, but they made her a legend. Was she the tyrant we remember? Probably not. Eddie Drinkard remembers that “as disruptive and scary as she seemed to us kids, she would come across the street and sit with our grandmother Blanche who was in a wheelchair for years.”

Author: Stephan Drew

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