UPK’s most recent release, Tales from Kentucky Sheriffs, collects and preserves stories from past and present sheriffs across Kentucky. The collection not only entertains but also provides a slice of Kentucky history and suggests what it means to be a sheriff. Wildly funny and deeply tragic, often at the same time, these tales chronicle each sheriff’s journey from youth to election to office and, occasionally into retirement. Here are just two of the many engrossing stories you can look forward to reading from William Lynwood Montell.
I arrested a notorious guy here one night. We had to fight, or he’d give us a lot of trouble. We got a call telling us he was out on a certain road causing trouble. I didn’t want to go because some nights you just don’t feel like fighting. But I did go out there and saw him setting on the side of the road. So, I whipped around and pulled up, then started to get out of the car. Well, he jumped up and started running to the car, and I said, “Oh, my gosh.”
Well, he run up to the back door of the car and jumped in. He yelled, “Hurry up.”
I said, “What are you talking about?”
He said, “Hurry up. Doggone, it’s almost supper time and I’m going to miss it at the jail.” [Laughter]
Sometimes you expect trouble, but don’t get it.
–John Shipp, Taylor County, July 30, 2009
“MAN ARRESTED BY SANTA CLAUS”
There was a sheriff inWhitley County, whose name was Dick Vermillion. He was a good friend of mine. I think we’d served on the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Sheriffs Association a few times together.
Dick told me he had had a warrant for a fellow for about a year and was trying to find him. Dick said, “Fuzzy, I can’t find that fellow, and the people are down on me, thinking I’m not looking
Come to find out, Dick was a very innovative fellow. He heard this fellow’family was holding a Christmas party and the man was coming in.
“Wonder how I can get him? I think I’ve decided to go there as Santa Claus,” Dick said.
So he dressed up in a Santa Claus suit and went to the place where they were having the party, knocked on the door, and that fellow opened the door. Then the fellow said, “Why, here’s old Santa Claus. Come right on in Santa Claus.”
Since they had all been drinking, Santa Claus was able to walk right in, put handcuffs on the man, tell him he was under arrest and cart him off to jail.
–Charles “Fuzzy” Keesee, Pike County, August 7, 2009
William Lynwood Montell is professor emeritus of folk studies at Western Kentucky University. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Tales from Kentucky Lawyers, Tales from Kentucky Doctors, Tales from Kentucky Funeral Homes, and Tales from Kentucky One-Room School Teachers.