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“B” is for Bates, Clayton (1907-1998)

“B” is for Bates, Clayton (1907-1998), Tap Dancer. A native of Fountain Inn, Bates was injured in an accident at a cotton mill and his leg had to be amputated. He had a desire to dance despite the loss of his leg. So, fitted with an artificial wooden limb—or peg—he adopted tap dancing steps to his own specifications. By age fifteen “Peg Leg” Bates was an established entertainer and performed on both Black and White vaudeville circuits. Throughout the 1930s he played top Harlem nightclubs including the Cotton Club. Bates had an active career in television, including twenty-one appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. In the 1960s he opened the Peg Leg Bates Country Club in Kershonkson, New York, which catered to a primarily African American clientele. Clayton Bates died at Fountain Inn in 1968.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.