Bulger's Beat: Waverly man lets walking do his talking - WSMV Channel 4

Bulger's Beat: Waverly man lets walking do his talking

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WAVERLY, TN (WSMV) -

It's 60 miles west of Nashville, with a population of 5,000 or so. There, the most popular man may also be its quietest one.

Buildings are usually what stand the test of time in small town downtowns.

Waverly is different.

One man, one walking man, is the landmark here, has been for years.

"In our town, he is a legend," resident Melinda Proctor said.

John L. Mays, born autistic, is now 83 years old. Every day from sun-up to sundown, he walks the streets of town.

It's a guaranteed sight, as sure to be seen as the daily showings at the old theater.

"He's been around ever since most everybody here was a small child, and everybody knows him," Proctor said.

Melinda Proctor owns a photography studio, and she expects a John L. visit every day.

A man of few words, autism has forced him to make his walking do his talking.

"If you tell him who you belong to he remembers, goes way back, tells you things that happened 50 and 60 years ago. He can tell you history, but may not know where he's headed to next," Proctor said.

Often times, it's the Humphreys County Funeral Home, where John L. attends every funeral that happens.

On most days John L. is an overalls-and-straw-hat kind of guy, but the shirt and tie means he's headed to a funeral.

One man's simple journey means much to many.

"It makes me smile, because he's just part of my life as a child. I mean this town isn't Waverly without John L.," Proctor said.

The people of Waverly want John L. to know how they feel about him, so on September 25 they will have the first ever John L. Mays Day.

Organizers say the event will be a tribute to John L.'s life and spirit.

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