Let’s get acquainted……
Jailhouse Stories is my recollection of experiences associated with the Sheriff’s office in Fillmore County, Minnesota in the mid-fifties and early sixties. It is mostly about honorable eccentric characters who happened to be alcoholics, just plain drunks, thieves, burglars, robbers, doctors, lawyers, judges, farmers and ordinary citizens, if there is such a thing. I tend to believe not. I came to understand how people make a lot of mistakes, but in my view there are very few bad people.
Doctor Nehring, with whom I worked closely as County Coroner became such a rich source of unusual tales that I felt obliged to repeat them, first to my wife Helen, then after a small libation or two at social gatherings I’d share some with the group. Thereafter, on many occasions about town I’d be requested to tell Doctor Nehring stories. My transition, from storytelling to story writing, late in life, after serving nine years in the Minnesota legislature and a stint with the federal government (where it seems the cast of characters were strikingly similar) has been difficult and challenging. I first read one of my stories in public to the Minneapolis Writers Group in 1994. They liked it and asked for more. With this as encouragement I began to search through the old jail register. The list of names jogged my memory of many people and incidents. So I set about to weaving the stories into a larger story of how they related to and affected our family life. We were one of the last sheriff families that served in an era when the family residence, the sheriff’s office and the jail were all in one building. So in many ways we all became family. It is out of respect for these characters that I write. I hope you enjoy my interpretation of our experiences along this rather dusty path of life.
I thank the many people who gave direction for the writing of this book: Ashley Warlick author of Distance From The Heart of Things, for setting me firmly on the path of reality and guiding me until I was able to walk by myself; the Minneapolis Writers Group for their listening and editorial critiques; The Camp Creek Writers Club for their many lively discussions. And a thank you to my wife and daughters who kept me from disposing of the manuscript in the fireplace on many occasions of self doubt.
We’ll continue with Chapter 1 later…….