Mr. Jack remembered with a laugh

Published 3:21 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2021

By Ricky Swindle

Muffler Shop Musings

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Howdy, friends!

I received the news last weekend that a longtime friend of mine, Sheriff Jack Harrison from Marks, passed away at the ripe old age of 95.

I thought the world of Mr. Jack.

We had a tire shop in the 80’s and 90’s in Marks, and I got to know the Sheriff very well. There was no mistaking who the man of the county was back then. He was a straight shooter, stood his ground and feared nothing, or no one.

He was known to be very stern, but fair. He was also known to be extremely generous and big hearted, and would go out of his way to help anyone whom he deemed a friend.

I was a friend of the Sheriff.

Another friend I heard passed away in December was a fellow by the name of Bobby Boucher, pronounced butcher, not like the Bobby Boucher in the Adam Sandler movie The Water Boy.

Now Bobby was a unique individual to say the least. He was a painter by trade, but was multi-talented and could do most anything.

He was short in height, but he had extremely long arms and big hands. He could walk as far as he wanted to upside down on his hands. We would laugh and watch him go down the street bottom side up.

Bobby also had another personality trait – non-stop talking. The man used no periods in his spoken sentences. He rarely took breaths while speaking multi-paragraphs at a time. But, he was always polite, friendly and very entertaining.

Now, I am re-telling a story I heard directly from Mr. Jack and Bobby. I know the story to be the gospel truth because they both told me the tale on separate occasions, and then both men were at the shop and they told it to me together.

According to Bobby, he was doing a little time in the Quitman County Jail for getting caught with, in his words, “a handful of marijuana pills.”

Mr. Jack had a small furniture making business on Highway 6 across from his home, and he would let trustworthy inmates out of jail for a while in the daytime to come do a little work and make them a few dollars during their incarceration.

Bobby being such a talented carpenter and an easy -going personality was a good fit to have at the wood shop.

Mr. Jack said his only drawback was he never stopped talking non-stop 90 miles-an-hour with that fast Yankee accent. Ol’ Bobby was born and brought up mostly in Illinois, hence the enhanced speed in his speaking.

The Sheriff also said it was hard to listen and pay attention to a mouth that just ran constantly, so he just got in the habit of his words going in one ear then out the other and he’d just reply “Yeah, Bobby, yeah” all day long.

One day, Mr. Jack said he looked up and realized that everyone was working quietly with only the sounds of saws and hammers going on in the shop.

He said he went outside the shop and it just hit him, hey my patrol car is gone! Hold on a minute, it’s quiet, where’s Bobby?

Bobby and the Sheriff’s county cruiser was nowhere to be found. Gone.

Mr. Jack related to me that mad and any definition of the word mad in the dictionary could not describe the anger that came over him. He said he remembered saying “Lord help me, I am gonna kill him with my bare hands”.

The Sheriff’s Department put out a notice to all area law enforcement that The High Sheriff of Quitman County’s car had been stolen by an inmate who was named Bobby Boucher.

“Get my car back and bring him to me!” was the Sheriff’s orders.

While hearing the alert go out on his radio, MS Highway Patrol Trooper Lyles Miller spotted the Sheriff’s car on Highway 6 East between Marks and Clarksdale. The suspect and the car were heading back to Marks.

Patrolman Miller turned on his blue lights and the subject just simply pulled over to the side of the road.

He approached the vehicle and ordered Bobby to get out of the car. Bobby complied with Lyles immediately and stepped out, was handcuffed and put in the patrol car, and all the while as usual talking faster than the City of New Orleans train rolling through the Delta.

Lyles told him his next job as a Highway Patrol was going to be trying to prevent the Sheriff from killing Ol’ Bobby for stealing his car.

When they arrived at the jail, Mr. Jack was waiting on him and laying for him. “Boy, pack your stuff! I have already called Parchman and you will be at 49W within the hour and serve your time there.I am done with you.”

Bobby says “Hold on Mr. Jack, this ain’t fair. I told you I wanted to run over to Clarksdale and see this gal. I asked you could I borrow your car and go and you said, “Yeah, Bobby, yeah. Sure.”

The Sheriff told me he scratched his head and said, “Hold on, boys. Call Parchman and tell them we’re not coming. I can’t say for sure he didn’t ask me to borrow it and I’m not positive if I told him yeah or not. He talks a lot, but I’ve never known him to lie.”

Mr. Jack said he let Bobby work at the shop until he served his time. But he said was real careful with him from that day on. He told me it was still difficult to listen to him rattle on all day, but if anything sounded remotely like he was asking him a question he would stop and make him repeat it again.

They would laugh about that day every time they ran across each other over the years. Mr. Jack said it taught him a lesson.

Maybe the High Sheriff Mr. Jack Harrison has run across Ol’ Bobby Boucher on the other side. If they have, I’ll wager they are still laughing about that day.

Take care of yourself folks. Rest in peace, Mr. Jack and Bobby. I’ll never forget either one of you.

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