People who do illegal things need to do them with a degree of integrity, don’t you think? G. Gordon Liddy did not seek immunity. He told Nixon to blame the whole Watergate thing on him and he would stand on a street corner and by prearrangement, let somebody shoot him. An honest man, when you buy him, he stays bought. Although our current president may well be a Russian spy, that doesn’t confer the moral authority on his cohorts to tell on him. Flynn should lie into trouble and say Trump did not know and let somebody shoot him. I’ll bet Hillary would.
Here is an example of illegal integrity. Moss Keesee, legend has it, and another fellow were in the big cemetery at Huddy looking on tombstones for the names of dead people they could vote in an upcoming election. Moss’s fellow searcher called out with excitement that he had found the grave of John Longfellow and they could vote him twice, once as John Long and once as John Fellow. “No,” counseled Moss, “that wouldn’t be right.”
Moss ran for Pike County Sheriff six times and was elected twice, only after he learned the fine arts of politics. He gave the job up so that his son Fuzzy could have it and Fuzzy had it from 1962 when he gave up delivering light bread off a Betsy Ross Bakery truck, giving away a lot of their bread, to go on to become the longest serving sheriff in the history of Kentucky, 40 years of illegal integrity.
During most of that time you could vote the dead and buy the living. Cleanup efforts in the last few years have demonstrated that we were better off then. Clean up efforts now mean that politicians don’t even have to buy their own votes but some styrofoam magnates will buy them for him. To get that done the politician must be Koch cozy.
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During most of Fuzzy’s sheriffing our county was dry, which meant that our beer had to come from Mt. Sterling or Cumberland. It was commonly thought that the bootleggers paid off the sheriff, but the arrangement was more sophisticated. The legal liquor store in the wetlands added a dollar a case to what local Thunder Roaders put in the trunks of their large old Oldsmobiles. The old joke was that the cost of living had gone up a dollar a case. That way the sheriff did not have to deal with two dozen bootleggers, but with two or three liquor store owners to pick up his dollars, and every time you, the consumer, bought a case of warm Schlitz, which was about all they had, from Roy Brewer (R.I.P) or Bang Clevenger, the sheriff was getting paid for all that tombstone searching.
When Bang was alive I wrote a column calling him the best bootlegger in Pike County and explaining why, namely, low mark-up, a good selection, and for knowing the difference between a minor and a miner. Bang came to my office with tears in his eyes and gave me a half gallon of Crown Royal, told me he loved me and said that column was the highlight of his life. He showed it to people until he died. Letting Bang and Roy Brewer bootleg was, I say, an act of illegal integrity.
If a citizen came to Sheriff Keesee in the morning to complain about a bootlegger, Fuzzy would take him to the county attorney and help him get a warrant. That afternoon he would see that the bootlegger got out of jail, for a huge hundred dollar fine, and of course, the costs.
Everybody voted for Fuzzy for three reasons. He went to everybody’s funeral, he was hyper-friendly, and most importantly, everybody wants generally honest government, but does want one guy down at the courthouse who has to power to pull tricks for you and will do it if you are in enough of a bind.
There was one other reason Fuzzy used to win elections. He was what they call a Democrat. That used to count for something in Pike County, but the fact that we cannot remember what it counted for is the reason it no longer counts for anything.
Larry Webster is an attorney in Pikeville.