The Most Famous Man in Alexandria.
It was late on a Tuesday night when there was a knock at our door.
I opened the door to see a man about my age, dressed in a loosely-fitting jogging suit and wearing blink on every visible spot of his body. He had slicked-back hair with a coy smile. I immediately thought he was an insurance salesman or a Baptist evangelist.
He put his hand out. “I’m Jimmie DeRamus, and I used to own this house.”
I hesitantly invited him in, and he plopped on my couch and never stopped talking for the next two hours.
He talked about the many twists and turns and careers of his life, family, and business ventures. My favorite was his ownership of a donkey basketball team.
Jimmie DeRamus shared emotionally about the plane accident that killed his son Chad and injured other members of his family. It was clearly evident this was still a deep source of grief in his life. Suddenly I felt a surge of empathy. Like all of us, I’ve had grief in my life.
Jimmie said that his son Chad lived on our street before the plane crash. Jimmie inferred that he’d never driven past the house until tonight.
I took note of another thing. He spoke repeatedly highly of his wife Peggy, “My high school sweetheart and wife of fifty years.”
Any man who speaks highly of his wife is my friend.
About the second hour of our visit, I began piecing together who this stranger was. He was Jimmie DeRamus, owner of Silver Dollar Pawn Shop and star of the successful reality TV show “Cajun Pawn Stars.”
I didn’t recognize him because he’d lost a tremendous amount of weight. I also must admit I’d never seen “Cajun Pawn Stars.” I don’t care much for reality TV or pawnshops. I’ve also never been comfortable with wheeler dealers and knew one was sitting in my living room.
When I finally walked Jimmie to the door and bade him goodbye, my wife was waiting with several questions:
“Who was that man?”
“Why did you invite a stranger into our house?”
“And what did he want?”
I shrugged. “He was just a tired old man wanting some closure on his life.”
It shouldn’t have surprised me that Jimmie DeRamus died from cancer this week at M.D. Anderson in Houston. I realized his visit wasn’t as much about closure as it was about saying goodbye to two houses that represented a sad part of his life.
They buried Jimmie DeRamus yesterday. I bet his funeral had a fine cast of characters.
Most people in Cenla would describe Jimmie DeRamus as infamous. He was larger than life. He was infamous but was also arguably the most famous man in Alexandria.
I choose another word to describe Jimmie DeRamus. He was notorious. The best definition of notorious is “generally known and talked of.”
Jimmie DeRamus was notorious. He probably would have liked that description. He seemed like a man who couldn’t (wouldn’t) be ignored.
I cannot explain why his visit to my home and subsequent death touched me so deeply.
I’ll remember it as a gift. A memorable visit on a cool night from the most famous man in Alexandria.