"Ray developed a reputation for walking around Route 351, and neighboring roads in Beaver County at night," said York, who also grew up in Ellwood City. "Obviously, the way he looked garnered some attention. Rumors spread. People started to actually seek him out. And for many, he embraced that. He loved to smoke, he loved to drink beer. These late-night encounters became one of his main connections to the outside world."
Though for Ray, that wasn't always a good thing.
Not everyone who tracked down Ray on those backcountry roads was content to share a beer with him, take a picture, and move on. As anyone who has gone through life being different knows, and as Ray certainly knew, the world can be a cruel place.
"People would beat him up. They would urinate into beer bottles, then give it to him, so he never drank an open drink. Sometimes people would pick him up, drive him to the middle of nowhere, and toss him out of the car. People were just so cruel to him, and he never understood why," York said.