Monday, February 6, 2012


When I started at Newnan PD sometime in 1971, there was a local character known as LeRoy Evans. Ole LeRoy was Black and a Transvestite. Being from tiny Hogansville, I personally had never knowingly met such a person. Leroy's alter persona was LeRhonda(not a lot of thought went into the name). LeRoy/LeRhonda was routinely being caught shoplifting women's underwear. It did not help that he was born and raised in Newnan and everybody knew him/her by both names. Most ladies wear shop owners just went ahead and called the Police Dept. as soon has she/he walked in, because he/she/whichever was going to try to steal something. The officer on call would always find something on him/her and cart him/her off to jail where upon he would plead guilty and be put on "run around" status. A "run around" is what a "trustee" is called at Newnan PD. That meant he would get credit of two days for every one he served. Their jobs consisted of helping the on duty officer go get meals, washing police vehicles, cleaning the office, cut grass, and LOCK UP THE CEMETERY AT NIGHT!

Now let's tie Leroy/LeRhonda, Asst. Chief Theo "Fat" Austin, and the Cemetery together.

Chief Austin had been with Newnan PD or years. He was the Asst. Chief and was in charge of the day to day operation of officers. He was from the Old South and definitely did not have a good relationship with blacks. When it came to LeRoy, I had heard him on several occasions that if he could get away with it, he would should shoot him on the spot! LeRoy/LeRhonda believed him and was afraid of him until the day Chief Austin died and beyond!

When it came time to lock the cemetery, there was a crossroads where you would take 2 chains and lock them to a third post. Right next to that post was the tombstone and final resting place of Chief Theo "FAT" Austin. Many officers would take the opportunity to tell LeRoy when he was next to Fat's grave to be on the lookout, Fat may get him. LeRoy always stepped lively!

Around 1975, the Sheriff's office and Jail moved from East Broad Street, abandoning a very spooky building. An old jail makes a very good haunted house. I bring this up to introduce costumes that are important to the story. I was in charge of the Jaycees Haunted Jail that was upcoming and had just gone to Atlanta and picked up a truck load of scary, scary costumes.

Those costumes were in my truck as I was patrolling with another officer, also named Cook. Officer Winford Cook(nicknamed Wimpy) was always up for a prank. We came up with a plan to have some fun with LeRoy. Just before time to lock the cemetery, Wimpy dropped me off at Fat's grave with the costume I had picked up earlier. The plan was that he would signal me on my walkie-talkie just before he came into sight with the run arounds. 

Everything was going as planned. Wimpy was letting the two guys lock chains in order as usual. When I got the signal, I crouched down behind the tombstone of our beloved Chief Theo "Fat" Austin, in full custom, waiting to scare the hell out of LeRoy/LeRhonda Evans!

The moment of truth! Leroy had one chain and Lamar Haynes, the other run around, approached the post with the second chain. Just as I heard them attempting to lock both chains together(probably less than 10 feet away from me), I vaulted over the tombstone and sticking my landing in the middle of the narrow drive like Mary Lou Retton(hard to imagine at my advanced age today)!

 In my best "straight from hell" voice I yelled, "L-E-R-O-Y! This is FAT and I have come for you!"  

Wimpy had quietly moved the patrol car down several feet and locked the doors. Well, I don't know who screamed the loudest, LeRoy or Lamar. LeRoy dropped his chain, ran to the car and tried every door to get in. When Wimpy would not open the doors, LeRoy jumped on the hood and tried to pull the windshield wipers off to defend himself from the Ghost of Fat. Lamar, scared out of his wits, took off running for the car as well. The only problem was, Lamar forgot to let go of the chain.  It looked like slapstick comedy, until we found out that it dislocated poor old Lamar's shoulder.

Laughing so hard that I could barely see, I went to the car. When LeRoy saw me coming, he screamed again and took off running down the drive. Wimpy and I were laughing uncontrollably until Lamar brought us back to reality. "That damned fool is going to run across 4 lanes of traffic--if he makes it!"

Lamar and I got in the car as quickly as we could and Wimpy "laid rubber" in an attempt to overtake LeRoy. By ordinary rights, LeRoy would have indeed run into 4 busy, busy lanes of traffic, almost assuredly going on to be with Fat.


LeRoy had run full-bore until he reached the edge of the part of the city cemetery that honored the Confederate dead. It was if ole LeRoy had hit an invisible wall. He was jogging in play, crying, and cussing Wimpy and me for all we were worth! After a huge amount of pleading from Lamar, LeRoy finally got in and we took him back to the station. As we drove off to attend Lamar's injury, LeRoy/LeRhonda was telling us what he thought of us.

Luckily for me, the emergency room nurse was the wife of one of the Lt.'s, hated LeRoy, loved me, and loved a good prank. We slipped Lamar in one of the exam rooms and the doctor on duty put his shoulder back in place. Nell, the nurse, shuffled the paperwork, and we back to the station with Lamar pumped full of pain-killers and happy as a clam. Back at the station, we gave both guys a cartoon of cigarettes each, which amazingly, satisfied them both.

A short time later Wimpy and I were coming out of the locker room on the way back to the patrol car when we past the CHIEF! "Hey, the Cook Brothers, step into my office NOW!-' My heart was in my throat! "If I hear about this from the Mayor or City Manager, or Lamar's family files charges, your butts are gone! But DAMN! I wish I could have seen it! Now get the Hell out of my office."

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