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Oglesby: Strange tale of 'The Georgia Wonder Woman'

POSTED: February 28, 2012 1:00 a.m.

Just one political note: You still can vote early at the elections office in a shopping center on the left side of Brown's Bridge road going out of Gainesville. Do this and avoid the precinct lines.

One of by Oglesbyisms holds that some things we know to be true are unexplainable. You're unlikely to believe this story, but it is well-documented truth.

My mother's maiden name is Lula Ruth Moncrief. Though she went by Ruth, her first name was after Mrs. Lula Ruth Atkinson of Madison. She wasn't blood kin but we would go by to visit her in her old age as a widow. I was in mid-elementary school when I first met her. My brother and I loved to play in the giant oak tree in her front yard.

At first I was terrified by her, and soon was fascinated by her. She had been an international entertainer called "The Georgia Wonder Woman" who possessed strange powers for which doctors, psychiatrists, detectives and renowned medical research firms and schools never found an explanation. She never understood them herself. That's why she cooperated fully with the research efforts.

After reaching the age of puberty, strange things would happen when she was in a room. Heavy furniture would inch against the wall inexplicably. She could instantly cure a headache with the touch of the palm of her hand. I know firsthand, for she cured me of a headache when we visited once, and several of mom's, who had frequent migraines.

She could hold a broom or stick with two fingers and three strong men couldn't wrestle it from her.

She decided after high school to capitalize on those powers and gave a few shows around the state. One of the places she went, always chaperoned by her straight-laced father, was Madison. She was given a rousing introduction by Madison native and businessman Paul Atkinson, who had studied dramatics in Boston. He gave a rousing introduction, though privately he was doubtful of her abilities.

Her father eventually hired him as business manager and introducer. They started touring throughout the country, to Atlanta, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Denver and Minneapolis. They always played to awestruck, sell-out crowds.

Here are a few of the feats she performed. She'd call three strong men selected by the audience to the stage, and sit them three deep in a single chair. She would then lift it with the palm of her hand.

She would have the largest man in the audience come on state and sit in a chair and lift it similarly. The she'd have him sit in and it she'd sit in his lap. The scales would record the table's weight and the man's weight but not hers.

They began touring internationally in Europe's and Asia's largest cities to overflow crowds. She and Paul eventually fell in love and were married. Paul was wealthy with all kinds of interests, including owning the Cyclorama Civil War museum in Atlanta.

She eventually tired of traveling and they moved back to Madison, where Paul served several terms of what today is known as probate judge. She joined legal society and charitable organizations, and was active in church.

After Paul died, she boarded single teachers. Mother's sister was one of those teachers. Lula died never knowing the source of her powers.

All of this is documented in research files. A book was written about her. At least one hardback copy is in the rare books collection at the University of Georgia library. I have and treasure a soft-backed copy A picture of me and her was destroyed several years ago when my basement flooded.

Ted Oglesby is retired associated and opinion editor of The Times. His column, its 53rd now, appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint. You can contact him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA, 30503.



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