We have already established that “Uncle” Claude Reese did not abstain from alcohol. The South Carolina Highway Patrol had taken his driver’s license in 1948, and even when he could legally get another set, he decided it was just too much trouble.
He never drank and drove, after that one time, but he never applied for new driver’s license either. But that didn’t keep him from driving an automobile on a regular basis. In fact, he had two Caddys, all the time, both registered to his wife. “The Widow” drove one, Uncle Claude drove the other. And because he was so well known in his home town, every policeman knew Uncle Claude was driving illegally, and some of them made a game of trying to catch him behind the wheel. Even when they knew he was completely sober.
On South Main Street, in Anderson, right across from the old City Hall, was a small cafe called Murphs. It may still be there.
I don’t remember if they spelled it Myrph’s or Murph’s, (I’m pretty sure Murph’s is correct) but the food was good, the hot dogs were terrific, and you could just pull into a parking space and the “curb hops” would come out and take your order and bring your food. They had room to eat inside too.
One day, two of Anderson City’s finest had parked the patrol car up the street and were walking in to claim stools for lunch. One deputy noticed the Caddy, first, then saw Uncle Claude sitting quietly in the passenger seat, eating hot dogs.
Uncle Claude did not appear to be neither high nor hammered. He did not appear to be drinking at all but he was the only person in the car, and they knew he didn’t have any license.
All Uncle Claude wanted was to be left alone so he could eat in peace but that was not going to happen. While he would have loved to chew his dogs in a restful fashion, the policeman just would not let Uncle Claude alone. He kept trying to get Uncle Claude to unlock the door, and Claude refused, grinned, and took another bit of his hot dog.
That was just too much for the policeman to handle. There was a locksmith shop just up the street, and the policeman went up there to get assistance.
The locksmith was using a “Slim Jim” on the driver’s door. And every time he got the lock to come up, Uncle Claude, who by this time had finished eating and was just sitting there, because he was unable to just crank up and drive away, was watching.
The locksmith would manage to get the door unlocked, and before they could open the door, Uncle Claude would slam the lock back down. And grin.
The policeman got madder and madder, and Uncle Claude was having what appeared to be having an illegal amount of fun.
The authorities had the car towed all the way across the street, and eventually both locksmiths had success at the same time so Claude could not relock both doors.
They got him out, handcuffed him, and took him in to face the judge. I would have said face the music, but Uncle Claude said later there wasn’t any music.
The judge asked Claude what he had done, and the answer was, “Eat two hot dogs.”
The police said they had not seen him driving, that he was not drinking, but he was guilty of resisting arrest. Uncle Claude said he didn’t resist, he just kept relocking the door.
The judge decided Uncle Claude had done nothing wrong. He was sober, not drinking, and not driving.
They let him go. Claude walked outside, got in his Caddy, and drove off…back across the street and ordered two more hot dogs.