Iredell County Historic Photographs
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Max Tharpe's Most Famous Photograph

Long hours in the darkroom often sent Max Tharpe roaming toward the Brushy Mountains on sunny days. In the early 1950s, during apple season, Max spotted young Billy Ray Anderson in the Pores Knob community of Wilkes County leaning against some timbers eating an apple with obvious delight. The result of this meeting was a series of photos of Billy Ray which soon became trademarks in the apple industry. The photos were reproduced on billboards by the National Apple Institute, were on the cover of the National Fruit Growers Magazine, and have been used on posters and brochures all over the world to promote the sale and consumption of apples. Max was indeed happy that the publicity "added a little adventure to Billy Ray's mountainside existence." He shared some of the profits with Billy Ray early on, as much as $100, which was a grand sum for a kid in those days.

The Winston-Salem Journal (February 1, 1977) reported that Sgt. Billy Ray Anderson, 25, was killed in a Viet Cong ambush. He enlisted at age 17 and was survived by his mother Mrs. Mildred Lane Anderson, then of Winston-Salem. Max Tharpe made a point to find out exactly where Billy Ray was buried so he could pay respects to a brave soldier who had charmed so many.