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The Legend of Black Angus

By Angela Reinhardt

Staff Writer

  This photo of Black Angus was taken on a busy St. Patrick’s weekend downtown. Where did it come from? Why is it still here? 

            It’s been four weeks since I saw the cut of meat first, and this morning it was still in the same exact spot, unmoved but changed in form. Just like every March, the spirit of Black Angus had descended on Main Street.

            If you’re not familiar with the tale, Black Angus was one of the first inmates at The Old Jail after it was built in 1909, serving his time under Sheriff Dock Taylor. Angus was a notorious figure, a towering Irishman whose presence was unsettling to others and unsettled within himself. His nickname came in part from his eyes, which according to the tale were blacker than the darkest coal and seemed to reflect all the evil of humanity, but the name also came from his huge, hulking presence.

            Black Angus worked at the marble quarry under Col. Sam Tate, his strength and stamina a thing of legend, but his temper got the best of him and he was incarcerated for killing a fellow quarryman in a brawl. Not long after, when he was outside on work duty, he was stabbed by the brother of his marble quarry victim. It’s as unsettling as Angus’ jet black eyes, but that brother took a piece of him as a trophy. Early each March, on the anniversary of his gory death, Black Angus’ spirit visits Main Street in the form of his stolen flesh.

            The tale of Black Angus isn’t true, of course, a late April Fool’s joke I wrote on April Fool’s Day  – but it IS true there has been a Black Angus steak on the grassy strip by the sidewalk near the Progress office for over a month, and also true I’ve been a little confounded by it. When I first saw it I thought it was part of some wild animal a different wild animal left behind. I came inside and asked anyone if they had noticed it.

            “Oh you mean the steak?” one coworker said. She proceeded to tell me she’d seen it a couple weeks prior, but at that time it was in a meat tray, wrapped in plastic with a tag on it that said “Black Angus” steak, and that it was in a different spot.

            I probably should have picked it up and thrown it away then, but I didn’t. After a few days and it hadn’t moved from the heavily-trafficked area by the sidewalk I decided to leave it and I’d see how long it would last. Surely one of the murder of crows that frequents the tree by the parking lot would get it; or a stray dog; or some do-goody passerby. But no. Week in week out it remained, surviving a busy St. Patty’s weekend downtown, slowly deteriorating, and as of press time Tuesday it was still there.

            I have so many questions. How did the steak get out of the package and end up in that grassy, public strip? Why wasn’t anything eating it? Am I the only one who sees it?

            I likely annoyed my husband and a few friends with regular updates over the weeks. “It’s still there,” I’d text. Among our speculations: Maybe it was possessed; Maybe if lightning struck it it’d come to life like Frankenstein’s monster; Maybe the meat was of such poor quality nothing would eat it, a commentary on the dire state of nutrition in the country.

            Oddly enough, during this same timeframe a book about Medieval chivalry was found open on a bench on South Main near the Keep Pickens Beautiful office and, like the steak, went unmoved for over a week.

            Editorials usually argue a point, which is….what in this case? I’d say there could be several – April Fool’s jokes are fun if no one gets hurt; urban legends can start from anywhere, even a discarded Black Angus steak (take for example a recent article about a Pickens man who scared a bobcat off from his yard and a radio station picked it up with the much more legendary headline “West Pickens man wrangles bobcat”). Or maybe there’s no argument and I just want readers to write me about local urban legends, give me some theories about why that steak hasn’t moved, and tell me about other items that have sat unusually long periods of time in populated areas.    

            Whatever your takeaway, don’t soon forget about the infamous Black Angus – be it man, steak, or legend – don’t forget to write, and happy belated April Fool’s.    

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