For years La Grange socialite and former Miss Swisher Sweet 1974 Paulette Burroughs was a monthly feature in this column. Stories of her exploits – many of which had to be redacted due to dozens of ongoing investigations – are the stuff of legend.
“I couldn’t go anywhere without being accosted by fans,” Burroughs said on Monday. “I’d be out shopping for groceries or ammunition and people would just start talking to me like we were long-lost friends.”
During out chat, Burroughs reminisced about the incident that led to her leaving
“Many years ago during one of my spells I hooked the C.S.S. Neuse replica in Kinston up to the trailer hitch on my Suburban and drove off,” Burroughs said. “When I woke up I was in a Bojangles drive-thru with the boat tangled up in the awning over the pick-up window.”
“I asked Paulette if she was okay,” said Bojangles employee Peggy Lipton. “Her response was ‘I will be when you give me my biscuit.’”
After completing her community service, Paulette decided it was time to retire from public life.
“When you’re a celebrity you are living under a microscope,” Burroughs said. “When you’re famous you can’t go out to dinner or spray paint a manifesto on a water tower without everybody having an opinion about it. I had to get out of town.”
After retiring from the newspaper business Burroughs bounced from job to job like a rounded stone on a placid lake, always making a bit of a splash wherever she landed.
“I moved to Swansboro and worked at a little restaurant for almost a day,” Burroughs said on Monday. “I was doing okay until someone ordered a side salad and I accused them of cheating on their main salad. The manager made me turn in my apron on the spot.”
With her stint in the food service industry expired, Burroughs became a professional gambler. Using an algorithm based on the abc conjecture and the astrological signs of Kenney Chesney and Robert Guillaume, Burroughs cleaned out more casinos than Meyer Lansky.
“Man, let me tell you I had a full-proof system for the cards,” Burroughs said. “I was so loaded with cash I hired Biggie and Tupac to perform at my birthday party in ’09, and I don’t mind telling you those are both tough bookings.”
Once the gaming commission banned Paulette from the casinos, Burroughs hit rock bottom.
“She was in dire straits,” said Burroughs personal manager Mark Knopfler. “At her lowest ebb she emptied all of the old ketchup packets in her glove compartment into a Mason jar and tried to sell them to a blood bank. She might have gotten away with it had she not been dipping fries in the jar at the time.”
After the ketchup incident, Burroughs was court-ordered to take “a rest at a government facility” for three months. During this time, Burroughs learned an all new trade that she’s hoping will turn her life around.
“While I was on vacation at the Gray Bar Hotel the only thing they had for entertainment were old movies on betamax tape,” Burroughs said. “They had a betamax player in the rec room but it wasn’t working. I took that thing apart and had it fixed in time for my entire cell block to watch ‘Escape From Alcatraz’ before lights out.”
Once her vacation was over, Burroughs rented a spot in downtown La Grange and started her very own betamax recorder repair shop.
“Everything – be it food, movies or teeth – is so disposable nowadays,” Burroughs said while shuffling around the spacious, uncluttered lobby of her repair shop. “I believe having constant access to everything instantly is bad for us. I’m hoping hipsters and Luddites alike who are tired of all this technology will give betamax a try. If they don’t like it they can always go back to the cutting edge world of VHS.”
Jon Dawson’s books available at www.jondawson.com.