Hello everyone; hope you‚re having a good week. Lately we’ve been writing about Mississippi murderers and outlaws. I thought it was about time to change direction.
Did you realize that in this area that Oxford produced a Governor, Lee Russell; Water Valley, Earl Brewer; and Grenada, William Winter? However, at least two of them jump started their careers by being connected with murderers.
Earl Brewer gained recognition by his successful prosecution of Ed Gammons. He murdered a girl who had rejected his attentions. Kermit Cofer was appointed as a public defender with the thankless job of defending the two accused in the Wagner murderers.
Earl Brewer successfully prosecuted and gained a conviction of Ed Gammons who was executed for his crimes. Kermit Cofer unsuccessfully defended two confessed killers who were subsequently executed for their crimes. Earl Brewer went from District Attorney to Governor of Mississippi from 1912 to 1916. Kermit Cofer ran a successful private law practice for many years, was also city attorney, chancery court judge and eventually a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court.
It made me think about an old Memphis Slim song, “One man’s sad is another man??s glad.” Neither of these men sought out what must have been a distasteful task, yet pursued it with all of their ability. Someone — I think it was Admiral William F. Halsey — said, “there are no great men, there are only ordinary men upon whom circumstance have placed great responsibilities.”
I apologize to Ex-Governor Winter that I don’t know enough about his career to draw a parallel, but if he would care to enlighten me, I’ll write about it. He did have an interesting column in the Commercial Appeal the other day in which he talked about the Mississippi of his boyhood and the Mississippi today.
I can identify with him talking about muddy roads and poor families living in houses with no electricity and no indoor plumbing. It was not only poor families but families who were not so poor who lived under the same circumstances.
I’ll give you an example: Among Papa Badley’s neighbors, only one family had a refrigerator — the Edgar Carr family. However, it was a Servel kerosene unit as they had no electricity either. The changes that Mr. Winter talked about came to late for many, including Papa Badley who gave up the farm and moved to town to live out their last years in some degree of comfort.
The media never misses the opportunity to mention that Mississippi is at the bottom of the states in income and education, yet fail to mention that the programs for mentally and physically handicapped people leads the nation. I‚m sure someone is going to challenge me on that one. I remember when I was in the Air Force and someone would ask me where I was from and I said Mississippi they looked at me in amazement — I could actually read and write and was accustomed to wearing shoes.
I can understand why people are moving back to Mississippi. We always have it in our system regardless of where we live.
As usual I don’t give you a “canned column.” I start with an idea and go where it leads me.
Sometimes it leads me in different directions but you long time readers know this and have come to accept it. I have a lot of research that I draw on and with the help of some of you I always find inspiration each week.
I haven’t heard from long time readers, Cathy Ward and Gloria Gardner recently and hope they are both doing fine. Let me hear from you either by email firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101. Have a great week.