Louis Brumfield is well known among many in the town of Yadkinville.
He’s often seen riding his bike around town and has even been spotted riding around Myrtle Beach by town residents on vacation. Although his bike is a big part of his personality, there are many things about him that most Yadkinville residents probably never knew.
Brumfield was born in Statesville and was raised in Yadkinville. He’s lived on Virginia Avenue most of his life in the house that his grandparents built 104 years ago. He attended Yadkinville School and worked in the courthouse offices while he was still attending high school.
He graduated in 1952 and went on to study English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“I had the most interesting career as a student,” Brumfield said. “ I was very well known on campus. Somebody once said that I was better known than the basketball players. I as involved in student politics and I was involved in Sound and Fury, which was a theatrical group. We put on original musical shows written by students.”
After Brumfield graduated from college he went on to officer candidacy school at Newport, R.I. After four months of training he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy and served three years in Norfolk, Va.
After serving his time in the military he decided to try graduate school. He attended Duke University and Wake Forest University but never completed his degree. He began work at The Winston-Salem Journal while he was still attending Wake Forest.
“I was a copy boy at The Winston-Salem Journal,” Brumfield said. “I would watch and if a big story broke I would get it out to the reporter’s desk that would cover it. Once in while if I knew a little something about the story I would write something that they could use or not use it.”
After that, Brumfield decided that he wanted to travel. He had been training in piano since he was 5 years old and said he could play well enough to perform in restaurants, bars and combos. He started his journey in Los Angeles and traveled to Newport Beach and Laguna Beach playing various places along the way.
After a while he headed back east, but a little south of home.
“That winter I went down to Palm Beach, FL and played piano in the Beaumont Hotel,” Brumfield said. “I stayed there for the season and then I went out to Fire Island and played there all summer.”
Brumfield then decided to travel to New York. He had been working on a novel about the time he spent playing in a club in Atlanta, Ga. He thought if he went to New York he would stand a better chance of getting his book published.
“I got a job as a temporary typist and got an agent. It wasn’t but two or three months till my novel sold,” Brumfield said. “I didn’t get a whole lot of money for it.”
Brumfield said that he continued writing novels and advanced to a better job with an ad agency in Manhattan. He sold another novel titled “Destination Nowhere” a short time later.
Brumfield would go on to write and sell three more novels while he was in New York. The final novel he sold without ever knowing the title it was given or what happened to it.
“By that time it was getting so wild in Manhattan and I was sort of burning the candle at both ends,” Brumfield said. “I decided to come home in 1968, and I just rested a while. Then I got a job with the courthouse again. I worked there until Mr. West died and I left after they elected a new clerk.”
Brumfield then took a job working as a piano accompanist for the North Carolina School of the Arts dance classes when the school first opened its doors. It wasn’t long before he was able to move up to a position as an accompanist to the Broadway musical classes.
“That was my cup of tea,” Brumfield said. “I had one favorite student, and he was so smart and so good and I just thought he was so talented. He was nominated for the Academy Award in Amadeus and he played Mozart in the movie. The teachers who knew him said that he was impersonating me in the movie… but I didn’t catch on to that if it’s true and I haven’t talked to him since then to ask him.”
Today Brumfield focuses his energy on riding his bike and taking jobs researching and publishing books on family histories. To date he’s researched and written approximately 20 family history books.
Brumfield’s bicycling hobby has taken him all around North and South Carolina. He’s cut back his destinations as traffic has increased and now he mainly rides three to four hours a day around the Maplewood Baptist Church parking lot.
“I used to ride up to Roaring Gap and then ride on over to the parkway and sometimes I would ride on up into Virginia,” Brumfield said. “I got so I could ride up to the parkway and crossover the Sparta Road, come down to Wilkesboro and get back to Yadkinville all in one day.
“I would also ride two or three times a year to the beach but I don’t ride to the beach or the mountains anymore. It’s more nerve-racking now because there’s a lot more traffic. I’m satisfied just to be riding; I don’t care whether I go anywhere.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.