There has probably been more
stories told about Sheriff Harve Ball than any other citizen of Hughes
County. Not many years ago, I stopped at a barber shop in Holdenville. I
did not need a haircut but I would
buy one just to hear the stories told by the old men sitting along the
wall. An Indian man was in the first chair. A really fine looking
gentleman, perhaps in his seventies, he was getting a flat top haircut.
When he was finished, the barber said I was next. I motioned to the line
of men sitting with me and said that they had been here before me.
"They're just here to tell lies and soak up my air conditioning,"
said the barber.
I got into the chair and was asked how I wanted it cut. The Indian
gentleman was digging into his wallet for money. I pointed toward him and
said, "Make me look as good as you did him."
The Indian handed a bill to the barber and looked at me. He adjusted
his glasses and studied me some more before saying. "He's good, but he
ain't that good."
It was easy to get the old men started telling Harve Ball stories. All
I had to do was mention the name. I listened to their stories for an hour
and wanted to stay and hear more, but I had other commitments.
One of the stories they told was one I had heard many
times. I first heard the story before I became a teenager. It was about
the time when Mr. Ball was nearing the end of his career as a lawman. He
was into his seventies and, although he continued to do an excellent job
and no one had complaints about his work, he began to move a little
slower, and he certainly looked different than he had in previous years.
But he had no other life, dreaded retirement and filed for reelection. Mr.
Ball had never had to campaign. He rarely had an opponent. This time he
did, and the man was campaigning hard. He spoke at every place he could
andmade the same speech at each place. He claimed that, although Mr. Ball
had been a good sheriff, he was getting too old for the job. Sheriff Ball
did not make speeches and did not respond to the charge. But people who
knew him well knew that the allegation hurt him deeply.
Sheriff Ball always parked in the alley on the north side of the old
stone courthouse. He exited down the hallway to the back door. The dark
hallway was lit by a single bulb hanging about head high on a wire from
the ceiling. One day, as he was leaving, he met George. George was another
old timer who had worked in the courthouse almost as long as the Sheriff.
"George," said the Sheriff, "are you going to vote for me?"
George stopped, considered the question, rubbed the back of his neck
and said, "Now Harve, I've always voted for you before, but you're
gettin' kinda old."
The Sheriff was a giant of a man but seldom was ever heard to raise
his voice. This time was no different. He said not a word. After standing
there for a moment, his face turning red, he looked at the bulb hanging
between them, and standing flat footed, he kicked out the bulb. He turned
and started toward the back door.
"Try that sometime, George," he said.
Clayton Adair, Class of 1954 (Clayton attended Moss 1942-53 and
graduated from Holdenville - 1954)