- Associated Press - Sunday, August 24, 2014

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - If the new tour guide at Melrose seems wise beyond his years, well, he just may be.

CJ Dee, a sophomore at Alcorn State University who began an internship with the Natchez National Historical Park earlier this month, is the grandson of a Melrose expert, Fred Page.

Page originally worked for Melrose owners George and Ethel Kelly - as a butler - before the house was sold, eventually to the National Park Service. After the sale, he stayed on as a tour guide.

To Page, Melrose is not just a piece of history, but memories he will gladly share - especially with his grandson.

“He knows a lot; he still tells me a lot,” Dee said. “I’ll go home, and I’ll say something I don’t know and (Melrose staff) doesn’t know, and I’ll say ‘Grandpa, What was that?’ and he’d yell ‘It was’ this.’”

Dee’s internship came at the recommendation of his grandfather.

“I thought he’d be the right fella,” Page said. “He’s good to talk to. He’s been like that since he’s like a little boy. He’ll do what you asked him to do, and he’ll be smooth and real nice.

“I wouldn’t recommend him if he wasn’t good, but I recommend him very highly.”

Dee lived with his grandfather as a child and often visited Melrose for tours.

Page’s knowledge didn’t come from an interest in the house, but out of necessity - it was his job.

Today, for example, he can tell if the lace on the curtain is Belgium or French.

“I was blessed I could remember a lot (Ethel Kelly) told me,” Page said.

Page came to Natchez when he was 18 in the 1950s, when the community was heavily segregated. Page said he worked several jobs in which he dealt with people of all types and races.

His focus became the people.

“When you talk to people, if you can’t help people, don’t say anything,” Page said.

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