My favorite Madison eccentric was Pompey Cardwell, or Mack-Pete, or Rodger- Dodger. Pompey was deified by Jerry Bledsoe later in the Greensboro Newspaper.
I knew who he was but Deems was there later at the right time. Deems es- caped death in Vietnam but came back a little shaken. He, also fascinated by characters, became a disciple of the Rodger-Dodger Foundation of Madison , and it’s spiritual leader, P. Cardwell. Pompey called and was called by many simply, “Mack-Pete” because he couldn’t remember names. The Rodger-Dodger club was formed by children who gave him their picture and a penny. These were posted in the tobacco warehouse where he lived on a bunk. He had rhymes (“If you’re ever up a tree, call on me”). Rodger-Dodger with the two finger circle sign. (“If you’re ever down a well, just ring my bell – Rodger-Dodger.”)
Deems and Mack-Pete salvaged the Patovi Theartre seats when it closed, and located them by the river, where they mediated aided by various chemicals.
Jerry Bledsoe was stricken, too, by Pompey and wrote often about Pompey and his dog, Skipper, would go to the poolroom and pick up and deliver two Miller High Lifes in a paper bag. Pompey dressed Skipper in various attire, Santa Claus suit at Christmas, sailor suits, sunglasses or whatever.
We Rodger-Dodgers are aging now, but Pompey lives on.
Here’s Pompey’s signature story: A little village outside of Madison is named
Sandy Ridge, NC. Not much to it.
Pompey swore he got married at 17 years old, panicked and left town the next
day for the World’s Fair in Chicago.
His buddies talked him into going to a Chicago Whorehouse. When he asked the
woman what the deal was she replied (1937 remember?) $3, $5 all night, and $10 for “Around the World”. Pompey had some wedding money and decided what the heck!
Instructed to strip he watched as she kissed his fingers, his arms, his shoulders, ears, neck. Then down to his lower legs, knees, thighs, inner thighs ———- Pom pey said he finally told the girl “…lady your may be going around the world, but it looks like I’m getting off at Sandy Ridge.”