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Acreage and trust funds helped somewhat but

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Unformatted text preview: black maid named Bessie or Pearl, partially reared by doting grandparents who once owned the ancestors of Bessie or Pearl, and lectured from birth on the stringent social graces of a privileged people. Acreage and trust funds helped somewhat, but Mississippi was full of insolvent blue bloods who inherited the status of family money. It could not be earned. It had to be handed down at birth. When I talked to the Caudle family lawyer, he explained, rather succinctly, the real value of their family money. "They're as poor as Job's turkey," he said as I sat deep in a worn leather chair and looked up at him across his wide and ancient mahogany desk. His name was Walter Sullivan, of the prestigious Sullivan & O'Hara firm. Prestigious for Ford County—seven lawyers. He studied the bankruptcy petition and rambled on about the Caudles and the money they used to have and how foolish they'd been in running a once profitable paper into the ground. He'd represented them for thirty years, and back when Miss Emma ran things theTimes had five thousand subscribers and pages filled with advertisements. She kept a $500,000 certificate of deposit at Security Bank, just for a rainy day. Then her husband died, and she remarried a local alcoholic twenty years her junior. When sober, he was semiliterate and fancied himself as a tortured poet and essayist. Miss Emma loved him dearly and installed him as coeditor, a position he used to write long editorials blasting everything that moved in Ford County. It was the beginning of the end. Spot hated his new stepfather, the feelings were mutual, and their relationship finally climaxed with one of the more colorful fistfights in the history of downtown Clanton. It took place on the sidewalk in front of theTimes office, on the downtown square, in front of a large and stunned crowd. The locals believed that Spot's brain, already fragile, took additional damage that day. Shortly thereafter, he began writing nothing but those damned obi...
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