Friday, March 16, 2012


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. 

He 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.

 He 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 innocent.

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 them.

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.

One 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."

The 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.

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