I am Local 6: Norris McElmurry’s unusual gift carries a message of simplicity

BURNA, KY — A Burna man has the unusual gift of spelling backwards.

Norris McElmurry lives a life of simplicity. He doesn’t own a car, computer or telephone. Why? The reason is simple, too.

“Cause I got a big mouth, and I don’t need them,” McElmurry says.

He does have a TV, but he says he hardly watches it. Instead, he passes his time with his gift of backwards spelling.

“When I was 12 years old, I discovered I had this gift. But I have to know the word forwards, but if I know the word forwards, I got it,” McElmurry says.

McElmurry can backwards spell everything from single words to full paragraphs, such as the preamble to the Constitution. Most of the words he learns to spell backwards come from his old dictionary.

“I got two World Book dictionaries and a collegiate dictionary. You won’t ever learn all the words,” says McElmurry.

McElmurry says he feels he can use his unusual gift to connect with people.

“People need to relate more with each other face to face. We live in a machine age, and these things are good. You got to try and keep up with some of it, but people need to interact with each other,” McElmurry says.

That’s a task that sounds simple, but it makes a big difference. He’s gotten letters from Guinness World Records and “The Tonight Show” highlighting his talent.

“Some people think you gotta’ do a  great big thing where people notice you, and that’s the furthest from the truth. It’s the little things that count,” McElmurry says.