One of the most popular people in south Texas when I was a teenager was our county sheriff. He was a friend to teenagers and watched over them and their parents. As I discovered later, the disadvantaged in the community were thankful for his protection, as well. His deeds often went untold until years later when his name came up and people told their stories about him. Here is one of the stories, I would like to tell you about Sheriff Big Ray, in my poetic version.
was six foot two from his boots to his eyes of baby blue. Or six foot
five and weighed a hundred and ninety five. In his high brim hat and
tall heeled western boots he looked eight foot tall. He postured high
over everyone in a room and wielded heavy strength with his favorite
weapons, his four and a half foot arms. He grabbed outlaws and trouble
makers by their necks and stretched them away from his body while they
kicked and thrashed, but never reached him. Their resistance halted when
their faces turned blue. Seldom did he use his 45 caliber six shooter
he carried close to his waist. Despite his stature, he was a true gentle
giant and avoided confrontation.
Ladies loved Big Ray
and fell under his charms. He tilted his hat and opened car doors,
pulled out their chairs and kissed their cheeks. He wore a constant
smile and told funny jokes. He trusted women, as he did most men.
accompanied men home, when they were in no shape to drive or found in
naughty places. Never telling on them when there weren't any traces.
Sheriff Ray empathized with the underprivileged and race played no role.
He testified for black and brown men alike, when he knew they were
He disliked lying faces and didn't frequent
churches. The hypocrites, he recognized with little patience. He heard
the Amens, they shouted, with their phony voices. He was not one of
Mr. Sanches told the story of when he was a
teenager and worked in a local diner one summer and Sheriff Ray helped
him collect unpaid wages that were due him. He worked for the cranky Mr.
Jansen, who owned Pap's Place. The owner's reputation was also one that
was on the stingy side. On plate lunches he served only one slice of
bread and one better not ask for another or he/she might raise the wrath
of the grumpy owner. When kids got too loud and made noise, it was just
like him to yell at them to leave.
At the end of the
summer when it was time for school to begin, the young Mr. Sanches had
to leave his job at the diner and return to Cuero High School. The owner
of the diner would not pay him for his last week of wages. Sanches was
counting on that money to help him prepare for his school needs.
day, the young man approached Sheriff Ray and told him his dilemma.
Sheriff Ray said, "Okay, lets go see him and pay him a visit."
two of them got into the Sheriff's car, drove down Main street and
pulled up in front of the diner and walked in. Sheriff Ray confronted
the diner owner about his refusal to pay the young man. When the diner
owner did not seem to be cooperating, the Sheriff slammed his fist on
the counter and shouted, "I told you to pay this young man his wages."
At that point, the stubborn owner went to the cash register, pulled out the cash and threw it on the floor and said, "Here."
Sheriff Ray screamed at Jansen and said, "Pick it up."
Sanches said he picked it up himself, and ran out of the diner as fast as could before the altercation escalated any further.
"He was some Sheriff'', said Sanches.
And I agree he was some sheriff and I was proud that I knew him.