Clovis had been taught at an early age that the best

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Unformatted text preview: e legitimate people, taxpayers and such, with their children in the public schools. During the 1920s and 1930s, when alcohol was illegal and the nation was thirsty, Padgitt whiskey could not be distilled fast enough. It was shipped in oak barrels across the Big Brown and hauled by trucks up North, as far away as Chicago. The patriarch, president, and director of production and marketing was a tight-fisted old warrior named Clovis Padgitt, eldest son of Rudolph and the local. Clovis had been taught at an early age that the best profits were those from which no taxes were extracted. That was lesson number one. Number two preached the marvelous message of dealing strictly in cash. Clovis was a hard-nosed cash and no-taxes man, and the Padgitts were rumored to have more money than the Mississippi state treasury. In 1938, three revenue agents sneaked across the Big Brown in a rented flatboat in search of the source of Old Padgitt. Their covert invasion of the island was flawed in many ways, the obvious being the original idea itself. But for some reason they chose midnight as their hour to cross the river. They were dismembered and buried in deep graves. In 1943, a strange event occurred in Ford County—an honest man was elected Sheriff. Or High Sheriff, as he is commonly known. His name was Koonce Lantrip, and he wasn't really that honest but certainly sounded good on the stump. He vowed to end corruption, to clean up county government, to put the bootleggers and moonshiners, even the Padgitts, out of business. It made for a nice speech and Lantrip won by eight votes. His supporters waited and waited, and, finally, six months after taking office he organized his deputies and crossed the Big Brown on the only bridge, an ancient wooden structure that had been built by the county in 1915 at the insistence of Clovis. The Padgitts sometimes used it in the springtime when the river was high. No one else was allowed to cross it. Two of the deputies were shot in the head, and Lantrip's body wa...
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