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National

Birmingham's Very Own 'Superhero'

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Something we learned this week - Birmingham once had its own Batman. Willie Perry, who lived in South Titusville - I love to say that town - Titusville, near here and worked in the cast iron furniture business, heard about a woman being attacked after her car broke down. And he decided to devote his life to helping others.

In the early to mid-1980s, Willie Perry drove his souped-up 1971 Ford Thunderbird around Birmingham and offered roadside assistance to those who needed help to start their car, change a tire or had too much to drink. Birmingham honored its Batman with a Willie Perry Day. Michael Jackson arranged to meet him. But in 1985, Willie Perry was working on his Batmobile, somehow the garage door got stuck, and he was overcome by carbon monoxide.

His daughter, who sometimes joined him on the rides to help others, said, I thought people were laughing at us because of the car. But when I started riding and seeing the passion from people in the city, it really gave me a different look at what he was doing. He was our super hero.

JOHN PAUL WHITE: (Playing guitar). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.