Dedicated Lawmen Deserve Recognition
By Charles Cooper
Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.
In a past column when I was writing about books that were made into series I said that the great character actor, Harry Carey, was the first Hopalong Cassidy. He was actually the first Stoney Brooke in the first Three Mesquiteers series. He was replaced in later pictures by a practically unknown actor names John Wayne.
As far as I have been able to learn, William Boyd was the first and only Hopalong Cassidy. John Wayne took a risk many thought when Republic pictures loaned him to director John Ford for a part in a big budget western, Stagecoach, but as they say, “the rest is history.”
Young people today will find it hard to understand how much those Saturday afternoon westerns meant to us kids growing up during the depression. For an hour we were transported back to a world that really never existed but the memories have stayed with us all these years.
Here’s a reality for you. In 1895 in a saloon in El Paso the notorious gunfighter, John Wesley Hardin was shot and killed. The coroner’s report stated that he appeared to be a male in his forties that other than being dead was in reasonably good shape.
When I lived there someone put a monument to his grave which had been unmarked until then. Concordia cemetery stated that they always had a record of where he was buried but the donor wanted to remain anonymous.
Today they have turned it into a tourist attraction. Most of the films have ignored the fact that El Paso was a wide open frontier town after more well known places like Abilene and Dodge City have been used many times.
Also in the nineties El Paso Town Marshal Dallas Stoudenmier was in a gun fight with some outlaws and accidentally shot an innocent bystander who had strolled out to see what the fuss was all about. Stoudenmier was not charged as the consensus was that the victim should have had enough sense to duck when he heard the shots.
We’ve had some law officers right here in Yalobusha county who never got recognition for what they did. Will Frost captured the murderer Ed Gammons in 1904 single handed. Sheriff Frank Hyde along with Captain Burns Tatum arrested the accused killer of Private Jimmy Deskin in 1943. Dick Cooper walked up to two young felons who had guns on him and threatened to kill him. He disarmed both and arrested them without firing a shot.
I saw Sheriff Loyd Farmer disperse a potential mob once. He only killed one man in self defense during a long career in law enforcement. Gene Rogers served as Town Marshal both day and night without a deputy in the early part of the twentieth century and kept order when the town had nearly ten thousand people. My friend Jim Allen had a career in Air Police and OSI and helped Loyd Farmer arrest the murderer of Buddy Boy Gilmore near Coffeeville.
I guess with all that’s been happening here in West Memphis, I feel that everyone should take a moment and think of these dedicated men who put their lives on the line every day to protect the rest of us. Someone once used the analogy of a “Thin Blue Line” standing between us and the barbarians at the gate.
We’ve had our great grandson Edward and his parents, Elizabeth and Brooks with us for a visit and it has been a real joy. He is now two months old and is showing a happy personality already. I’m just sorry that the self serving politicians are leaving him a burden he doesn’t even realize , just to serve their quest for power. Speaking of power, I hope that the American people have awakened to the fact that we have the power to overturn their arrogant decisions and will act accordingly. We had an example here recently when a local man named Donnie who for a long time has been standing in front of the Walgreens and never making a nuisance of himself but helps people unload their golf carts at their cars and always smiles and speaks when anyone speaks to him. Recently a directive came down from Walgreens telling the local store that it is off limits to Donnie. I don’t think they realized the fire storm they would unleash. It was enough that the order was rescinded and Donnie is once more smiling and speaking to the customers. That, friends is the power of the people to speak out for this gentle individual who probably never knew how many friends he had. Your input is always appreciated so let me hear from you. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week.