Archive for January, 2011

Citizens Arrest, Citizens Arrest!

Monday, January 31st, 2011


            I bet you remember the “Andy Griffith Show.”  They just don’t make those good ones anymore.  One of the outstanding shows in the series was the one called, “Citizens Arrest.”  Gomer Pyle makes an ‘U’ turn right in front of Barney Fife; the town of Mayberry’s deputy sheriff.  Barney turns on his blinking red lights, sirens, and stops Gomer.   Barney gives him a ticket and a lecture that is was his duty to up hold the law as well as plain citizens duty.  Then Barney makes a ‘U’ turn right in front of Gomer.  Well Gomer stops Barney yelling “Citizens Arrest, Citizens Arrest.”  Andy gets into the argument and forces Barney to write himself a ticket.  It gets very sticky fast after that.  Rather than pay the ticket Barney locks himself in jail.  The story goes downhill from there.

            Just a show on television and could not happen you might say.  Well it did.  Right here in downtown Liberty Hill.

            After Joe Spivey, Gary Spivey’s grandfather, retired, Lee Hayes was elected constable of the town of Liberty Hill.  Lee had developed a feud with Eugene Shackleford, Title One councilor and advisor, and owner of the local pool hall.  Some nights around the pool hall things got a little loud and out of hand, and Lee Hays tried to quieten things down. Shackleford took umbrage to the request.

            The next day Shackleford saw Hays run a stop sign on his way to Allman’s Grocery.  Shackleford claimed he had almost hit him.   He followed Hays to the store and declared “Citizens Arrest,” and filed with the Justice of the Peace.  Hays pleaded ‘no contest’ and paid the $3.00 fine.  The next day Hays said he didn’t run a stop sign; he wasn’t guilty and got his $3.00 back.

            Shackleford felt unrequited, so he got a bucket of red paint, a big brush and painted, in one foot letters, on the outside of his pool hall, for all the town to see, “LEE HAYS IS A LIAR”.

            That really incensed the local law.  Hays filed a criminal libel suit in Williamson County Court against Shackleford.  Shackelford decided rather than pay a lawyer he would defend himself.  He had never heard what Abraham Lincoln said; “A man who defends himself in court has a fool for a client.”  Shackleford lost. He was sentenced to a year in jail and a hefty fine. The Texas Civil Liberties Union heard of the case and supplied Shackleford with a lawyer. The TCLU tied the courts of Williamson County into knots. Local folklore said the TCLU took the case all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. They proved the courts did not have jurisdiction in the case and got a reversal of the previous verdict. Further more they forced the County to pay Shackelford restitutions. The amount Williamson County had to pay Shackelford was never reviled.

        So Justice prevails.  I don’t remember how Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle’s case played out in court, but I suspect Andy Griffith was able to get the case resolved so that “Everyone lived happily ever after.”



Mountain Lion Trapper

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011


            As a kid we were all enthralled by the stories spewing from old timers sitting by the wood stove at the feed store about their trapping days.  Old Rupert McCoy, who was a regular at the store and a great storyteller, accounted in detail about his exploits as a trapper.  He said he had trapped every wild, fur bearing, animal in the woods from here to west Texas.  And, he added, made a lot of money while enjoying living out in nature.  We encouraged him in his telling.

            ”Tell us about trapping that mountain lion Rupert,” we asked even though we had heard the story often enough to tell it ourselves.

            “Well, I was camped up in the Chios Mountains out west.  In fact it was in the Big Bend country…a wild and lonely place, don’t you know.  I found a trail this cat was using on his rounds and set a big #8 steel trap for him.  I baited it with a little cotton tailed rabbit I had killed,” he said.  ”Next morning as I approached the trap, I could tell that lion had been there. The rabbit was gone, the grass and bushes was all torn up, and my trap was missing.”

            “What did you do then,” we asked.

            “Well, I baited another trap with a rabbit. This time I set a #10 steel trap and fastened the chain to a bigger bush.  The next morning I carefully approached the trap site and found that mountain lion had been there again during the night.  He had eaten the rabbit and made off with my other trap. This time I set two #12 traps about three feet apart and baited with another couple of rabbits.”

            “Did that get him Rupert?” we asked.

            “It sure did,” he said.  ”Next morning I came to the spot and there he was, caught by one front leg and one back leg…stretched out squalling loud enough to awaken the whole mountain side.”

            We enjoyed the story as often as we could trick Rupert into telling the tail.  But it had an effect on us kids.  We all wanted to hunt big game out in the mountains and sell the fur and become rich.

            I had an Uncle that had a bunch of steel traps that I could borrow.  I found a likely rock bluff, up San Gabriel Creek, with crevices, bushes, and everything.  I knew, for sure, there must be a mountain lion around somewhere close.  I fastened the trap’s chain to a persimmon tree, baited the trigger with a chicken wing from Mother’s kitchen, and set the trap.

            The next morning, just at daylight, I eagerly went to claim my trophy.  As I approached the site I could hear the chain rattling, and see it wiggling at the mouth of a crevice.  I had caught a lion for sure.  I ran all the way back to the house and got Mom to bring the gun and help me with my lion.  With a stick I pulled on the trap’s chain and out came…a big, creek wood rat.

            That ended my grand adventure of becoming a great, rich, story telling, trapper like Rupert McCoy.