Stephen F. Austin State University

Peek into Panola (February 2014)

Peek into Panola
By Vina Lee

I was visiting with Beatrice Parks several weeks ago as she delighted in telling about her husband's escapades as Chief of Police in Carthage between 1970-1993. Carson Parks had been a Town Marshall in the 50's, a deputy sheriff and Special Texas Ranger before becoming Carthage's Chief of Police in 1970. He was a member of the East Texas Peace Officers Association more than 50 years and past president of the Kilgore Police Academy serving on their board until his death at the age of 81.

She said, "Some people didn't like Carson very much because he was tough and enforced the law." Her eyebrows went up arching over a hit of mirth in her eyes, " Other people loved him," she grinned.

I remember what it was like in the 50's too. We lived in a very small town and my dad was the editor of the newspaper there. My brother took my sister and I with him and several friends to a basketball game in neighboring Canadian. On the way home at a traffic light in the wide open spaces so often found in rural Texas, one of his buddies revved his motor. As his car jumped and surged at the red light, my brother just grinned slightly saying nothing.

The green glob popped open and both vehicles lurched into the night side by side, flying down the highway. Minutes later, the two became three. The third vehicle radiated in a halo of rotating red lights. With siren screaming, it flew past us, settled in on the scarlet tail lights disappearing into the blackness ahead.

The parents of the brothers in the car with us owned the only motel in town. It had car ports and garages with the units all under the same roof. They said, "Pull into the unit behind the office, cut the lights and pull the door down!" We did, then we all climbed through a window into the motel room and waited.

Search lights swept the parking lot, the highway and the only intersection in town until eventually all was dark again. We slinked home in Dad's car, tip-toed into the house and tried to sleep.

Morning came early that Sunday. We didn't tell Dad what happened or mention it to anyone, but the boys whispered about the Highway Patrol at church between songs...and prayers.

Monday morning before school, the proverbial knock on the door came. The uniformed law enforcer stood there with his report in his hand and the license number of a speeding car from Saturday night's drag race. We were caught, but the boys in the other car? We weren't telling who they were and where did the car go? It was a mystery. We didn't know. It remained a mystery for years, until graduation. They simply got to town first, pulled into a parking space with some other cars and cut the engine. There they were, the ones really speeding, hiding in plain sight!