Billy Chancey




Billy Chancey Stories




This photo, submitted by Evelyn Butler Clifton (’50), was taken of Billy Chancey and Lamar Clifton (’46), two old Albany Herald buddies, at a fund raiser at Thronateeska Heritage Museum back in May, 1983 … 26 1/2 years ago!  Evelyn writes,” Billy had won the best costume contest and was crowned "King of the Road".   After the party, we drove him home to his sister's house out near Palmyra Park Hospital.   He never missed any event that was happening in downtown Albany, and was truly loved by all.   He and Lamar were especially close friends.”     


James Calhoun (’50) started a stream of Billy Chancey Stories when he wrote, "My dear buddy - Billy Chancey applied for a route (Billy was challenged both mentally and physically but I think The Herald was afraid not to give him a route). Some said, "He won't last long because people will take advantage of him and not pay when he comes to collect."  Billy fooled them.... he had a special sense that told him when someone was in a house even when they didn't come to the door. He would sit on the porch and wait - almost immediately the people would run out with the money so he would move on. Billy had the best collection rate of any carrier."  After that memory appeared ... the stories started coming in!!!

Bruce Garey, Class of 1963 writes: James Calhoun (Class of 50) mentioned Billy Chancey in his “Throwing The Herald” story. I bet there are a lot of BILLY stories out there by people who worked in and around downtown. Billy was an “institution” by the time I went to work for the Herald full-time. Billy was quite a character and had unique interactions with a lot of people. For a challenged person, he had a host of important and influential friends who loved him. I’d really enjoy reading others accounts and recollections of the Herald’s most memorable employee.

Billy was one of those icons that made Albany Albany. My Late brother, John (Class of ’51) could have written a book about Billy. I would have to settle for an article or short story.

Billy Chancey, “Mary” (she shook doors at night), and “Bessie” (she roamed downtown looking to have “Buster” killed) were all unforgettable downtown characters in the 1970’s.

I think Billy is as worthy of remembrance as was the Radium Casino, Arctic Bear, Jimmies Hot Dogs, Pig ‘N Whistle, or any other Albany “landmark.” Billy was beloved by all of downtown when I knew him. His “customers” were the movers and shakers who made our city what most of us remember. Mostly people bought from Billy because he was Billy.

 Marion Hay ('55) writes: I would like to reply to Bruce Carey's comments on Billy Chancey.  I also have vivid memories of Billy in his cowboy hat with his six shooters buckled on his side strolling around town selling his papers. He was truly a work of art. He never hesitated to knock on a strangers door to ask to use the bathroom and I don't ever recollect anyone ever turning him down. He was truly innocence at it's best. The last time I saw Billy was at the Pea Nut Festival in Sylvester Georgia about twenty years ago. He was still walking around with both of his pistols strapped to his sides. I spoke to him (he didn't know me from Adam) and he spoke back to me and then all the memories of past years flooded through my mind. I don't know if anyone knows it but I think that it was Sheriff Larmar Stewart that deputized him as Deputy Dog (I think) back in the 70's and took him with him on his many personal appearance trips--- especially when he had to make speeches.

I remember once hearing of the time Billy walked into a restaurant out on East Broad Street back in the late 50's and upon drawing his six shooters told the waitress to stick um up. She screamed and feinted and upon coming to was told to not worry that Billy was harmless and only a kid. Her comment was ---" Kid hell. I never saw a kid with a beard like that in my life." Yes, Billy was a work of art. No more before him or after him. I never heard of his passing but if and when he did the Lord certainly received a special person into Heaven.

I sure would enjoy hearing some good stories about Billy.


 Joan Hand Murphy ('61) writes: At least one time when Billy Chancey needed some spending money, he went into a store,bought some extension cords and sold them on the street for more than he paid for them.  My uncle bought one and when my aunt asked why he had paid a higher price he said, "Because I like smart people and that Billy is one smart man!"  

Mary, Blly and Bessie were around the the late 1950's as well as the 1970's.  Someone said that the reason Mary checked doors of stores at night to be sure they were locked was because ofa murder that happened when she was a child.   The owner had forgotten to lock the store after closing and someone went in, robbed and killed him.  Not only did Mary shake doors at night but, if she found an open door, she would go find a policeman and tell him.   Store owners appreciated her and saw to it that she and her children were clothed.
At least that was the story I was told when I was a teenager and asked why that woman was shaking doors downtown at night.
Great to be reminded of events, people and times so fondly remembered!


Jerry Brimberry, Class of '57 writes: After returning to Albany in 1966 after 3 years in the Army, I got to know Billy Chancey pretty a youngster I was always afraid of Billy because he sported a pair of six shooters while selling the Herald on the streets of downtown Albany.  I didn't know for sure that they were not real and I wanted to err on the side of caution. Accordingly I had a habit of crossing the street whenever I saw Billy walking toward me on the sidewalk.  Billy had become an ardent NFL fan and fantasized about going to the Super Bowl .   It was in the late '60s or early '70s when he opened his mail one day and became the proud owner of an unsolicited credit card.   He knew the advantages of having one but didn't quite understand the down side of pay-back.  Not being one to waste such a once in a lifetime opportunity he got a travel agent to get him a ticket to the game and booked airline tickets, motel room and all the trimmings on this card.  He went to the game and had the time of his life.  Several weeks later the inevitable happened and he received the bill which was more than his annual income.  He talked to me and probably several other attorneys and we told him that he did owe the money but that because of the circumstances and the fact that the credit card company should have never sent him the card they would probably give up and not pursue the claim.   After corresponding with the company they "wrote it off".  



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