(photo by Robbie Caponetto)
“Everybody wants to know when they will win the lottery," said Margaret "Miss Maggie" Burkley. "It’s not the winning or the losing, though. It’s the playing of the game.”
SL Photographer Robbie Caponetto and I sat down with Miss Maggie last March while researching our story The Allure of Natchez in the March ’09 issue. We found her, because when we asked locals about the unique personalities and characters, they all recommended we make an appointment to see her at her pink house on the bluff.
Why? She was the town psychic, and even though I called ahead, I had a feeling she knew we were coming…
(listen to Miss Maggie tell of her first palm readings and when she knew she had psychic abilities)
Robbie and I brought a sack of beignets, Miss Maggie brewed a pot of coffee and chicory, and we spent the whole morning talking about life, love, and happiness.
She told us about growing up in Natchez and how, as a young woman, she first tried her hand at palm reading during a church social gag game. Her interest blossomed when she realized she could read between the lines.
Miss Maggie had held the hands of people from every color and demographic, and after our interview, she gave each of us personalized readings.
I know what you’re thinking, and I was fairly skeptical as well. But I realized that Miss Maggie was more than the town psychic. She was a brilliant listener, and she served as a de-facto counselor for countless answer-seekers in distress.
That morning, she was surprisingly spry, and we watched her clap with pure joy when she got excited. But she also shared with us that her health was waning.
Just before the story went to press in December, a Natchez friend called to tell me that Miss Maggie had passed away. Her obituary in the Natchez Democrat read, "Maggie was well known locally as an art and antiques dealer, an active preservationist and a psychic. She was well known for her great enthusiasm, energy and eccentric creative genius."
I could not have described her more perfectly.
If you have any Miss Maggie stories, please share them in the comments section below.