Local man celebrates birthday by giving away $5 bills

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Bob Blackley, gives a five dollar bill to a passing motorist at the corner of Peters Creek and Silas Creek parkways, Friday, September 6, 2013. This is the second year that Blackley has done this to celebrate his birthday. (Walt Unks/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Bob Blackley spent his 58th birthday Friday standing on the corner of Peters Creek and Silas Creek parkways holding a cardboard sign.

Cleanshaven and dressed in a bright orange T-shirt, cargo shorts and dark sunglasses, Blackley had a simple message: “I HAVE A HOME, I HAVE A JOB, COULD YOU USE AN EXTRA $5.00?”

A retired special needs teacher from Walnut Cove Elementary School, Blackley had withdrawn $750 in $5 bills from his credit union account and gave one to anyone who would take it.

“Who can’t use an extra $5?” Blackley asked.

Some motorists tried to ignore him; others sought him out, circling back around the parking lot for a greenback.

Still others, like Angel Queen of Lexington, parked their cars and got out to speak to Blackley.

“He gave me $5 and I had to stop to get his picture.” Queen said. “I’m going to post this to Facebook.”

“I did a double take. How many times do you see someone on the corner, look the other way, and not read the sign? Nine times out of 10 I look the other way.”

One man returned and handed Blackley a store-bought card that simply said “Happy Birthday, Bobby,” along with $3 in change.

Blackley said two police officers stopped to find out what he was doing. One told him, “I don’t know what to do about you out here. I’ve never seen anyone giving money away,” Blackley said.

“He just asked me to move over into the grass so that I don’t get hurt in traffic,” he added.

It took him a little more than three hours to give the $750 away.

This is the second year that Blackley has given away cash on his birthday. And it runs in the family. Blackley’s wife, Carol, spent her birthday in February with their 8-year-old grandson, Gabe Sullivan, giving away gift certificates to customers at the Aldi grocery store on Peters Creek Parkway.

“We try to teach him something,” Bob Blackley said.

Blackley said there’s a bit of competiveness between him and his wife.

“I think she did $700 on her birthday, so I had to do $750,” he said.

But the two also help one another.

“We help fund one another,” he said. “I gave her $350 for her birthday, and she gave me $350 on my birthday. My dream is to win the lottery so I can travel across the state to give away $100 bills.”

Motorists commonly asked, “Why are you doing this?” to which Blackley responded, “It’s my birthday. You’ll be there one day.”

Credit: The Winston-Salem Journal