Today was Blackie Stephens funeral…his last big ride. To the Atlanta film community Blackie was known as THE camera truck driver. He was also known as a Georgia cowboy and could often be found riding his Harley, taking care of his horses or playing his guitar with his friends in out of the way dives. He lived hard and he played hard.
Anytime the crew took over a bar it was certain that Blackie would be one of the last ones out the door. At the graveside service, after the last prayer, one of Blackie’s biker friends climbed up into the bed of a pickup truck into which they’d strapped Blackie’s Harley. The guy cranked the bike up and it bubbled to life, loud and snappy… brap-brap-brap-brap brap brap brap…. when he gave the throttle a twist the engine howled like a banshee, snarling and wailing; a biker’s bagpipe memorial. One of the bikers pulled out a bottle of Jack Daniels and they saluted Blackie’s passing, renegade style. The guy running Blackie’s bike must have given it too much gas though because the engine’s growl quickly quavered, sputtered and died – its sound reporting back from the trees on the edges of the cemetery. A biker’s Amen.
Here’s a poem written by a very talented woman named Gayle Rawlins, daughter of J.L. and Cindy Parker, a legendary pioneer couple in Atlanta’s film industry history.