For more pictures ....see
the Slideshow
Legacy of Reuben & Marie
Samuel Bruce Ricketts
28, 1910. On November 10, 1934, he married Margaret Lee Scearce (born Sept. 4, 1918), the daughter of Roy
Pritchard Scearce and Mary Jane Grant Scearce.

Sam and Margaret Ricketts had four children:
Edward Gene Ricketts born December 2, 1935. He had two children: Robin and Rhonda.

Billy Ray Ricketts was born August 23, 1937. He owned and operated The Nostalgia Store on Cherry
Street in Black Mountain, North Carolina. This store contained one of the most extensive collections of Coca-
Cola souvenir items in the country. Billy Ray Ricketts had two children: Barry and Randy.

Bobby Wayne Ricketts was born October 11, 1939.  He had one child: Kathryn.

Buddy James Ricketts was born February 14, 1953. He was a medical systems specialist with Beckman
Instruments, Inc., a company that specializes in medical and scientific instruments.

Sam Ricketts - the early years......
When Sam Ricketts was nine years of age (in 1919), his family moved to 743 Patton Street, Danville, Virginia.
He was selling newspapers on the streets when the big fire of January 20, 1920 destroyed the Masonic Temple,
Jacobs Drug Store, Johnson's Department Store, the 5 cent admission Bijou Theater and other businesses.  

The Number 1 Fire Station was on Patton Street near the present location of the Municipal Building. All the
downtown streets, including Main Street, were paved with cobblestones. On Union Street, there was a "bar" with
a white elephant on a post out front.

Sam Ricketts quit school at any early age. He delivered telegrams, worked at service stations and grocery
stores. He worked at Walters Bakery, along with his brother Reuben. An undated newspaper clipping from
Sam's scrapbook reads:

    "Sam B. Ricketts was painfully injured last night when his right hand was caught in a cog wheel and
    badly crushed, the mishap taking place at Walters Bakery, where the youth is employed. He was
    taken to Memorial Hospital for treatment, examination disclosing that two fingers were badly
    smashed and the hand and arm painfully injured halfway to the elbow."
If you are a descendant of Samuel Bruce Ricketts
and would like to have your information (including
pictures) on this page, please
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Margaret and Sam Ricketts and their three oldest sons:
Billy Ray Ricketts, Edward Gene Ricketts,
and Bobby Wayne Ricketts
The information on this page is from an out-of-print
book entitled "Truth and Honor, Ricketts Family
History Book" by Ray Eugene Ricketts and Robert
Daniel Ricketts. 1981.
Sam's invention...
Sam Ricketts: artist, sign painter, inventor - has been described as "The Man Without a Shadow." He had a
shadow alright but when Sam walked away, the shadow would remain behind. That was Sam's claim to fame. Sam
was a sign painter by trade, one of the best. He specialized in gold leaf. He had a very inquisitive mind which led
him to all kinds of experiments, one-way glass, kites, hot air balloons, abstract script, lighting and shadow
machines. In the early 1930s, Sam Ricketts developed a device that separated a person from his shadow. So
captivating was his "shadow act" that it was chosen from one million entries to be used in Ripley's Believe It or Not
display at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. Sam said, "They told me if I hit the road with it I could make a fortune
but I didn't care much for traveling."  After showing the act in a few towns in Virginia and North Carolina, Sam
dismantled the machine and returned to full time painting (and experimenting with other things.) Sam never told
anyone (to our knowledge), not even his wife or children, just how his shadow machine worked. He said that, while
dabbling in electronics and mirrors, "I just blundered into it and improved on it. I did all the wiring myself. I imagine
at some time or another someone will be able to perfect it."

Once Sam constructed a huge kite.  It was seen flying in the midst of a thunderstorm even though it was made of
bamboo and silk.  He also caused quite a stir among the citizenry when several of his hot air balloons were
released over the city at night. Because of his many experiments, Sam Ricketts was known throughout the Virginia
and Carolina region. Those who really knew him say that Danville has never been the same since Sam moved his
family to Florida.

Florida - the land of opportunity.....
In the early 1950s, Sam decided that the State of Florida would be the place for his family. He toured the whole
state, inclding Key West, before deciding to settle in Jacksonville. The city was perfect for Sam's line of work.
Specializing in gold leaf work and lettering, evidence of Sam's talents adorn practically every major building in
Jacksonville and the surrounding area. He also contracted work for foreign nations and performed gold leaf
application in many kinds of ships, including U. S. Navy aircraft carriers.
Later, Sam was a money guard for
Southeastern Express on the
(Southern). Sam helped build the
new Main Street bridge after a fire
Later, Sam was a money guard for
caused the old iron bridge to
Southeastern Express on the
Southeastern Express on the
Richmond and Danville Railroad
Richmond and Danville Railroad
(Southern). Sam helped build the
new Main Street bridge after a fire
caused the old iron bridge to
collapse into Dan River in 1927.  
Also in 1927, Sam bought his first
car, a Ford Sports Roadster.  

He worked in a sign shop for
George B. Lavinder and later
operated his own sign shops in
Danville. The first shop on Fuller
Street (at left) was destroyed by
sedan but it was cut away at a level below the windhield. It was painted white with "Ricketts Sign Company"
lettered on the side. With a ladder hanging over the back, Sam drove the old Ford at a rather brisk pace. In the
picture above, we think one of Sam's boys is the passenger.  Sam's largest job was painting the huge numerals at
the ends of each runway at Danville Municipal Airport, to indicate compass headings.

Sam and his wife Margaret bought his brother Percy Ricketts' house on Fuller Street in the mid-thirties, after
Percy and his wife Beatrice moved into their new home on Rocklawn. Sam also purchased the Ricketts family
homeplace on Fuller Street. At one time, Sam and Margaret lived at the Bachelors Hall plantation home, which
was built before the Civil War.
Samuel Bruce "Sam" Ricketts
the Slideshow
Legacy of Reuben & Marie