Don Stahl, a former FBI agent, was elected sheriff of Mecklenburg County in 1966, a few months after I graduated college and went to work full-time for The Charlotte News. I got to know him because he was on my beat. I covered the Sheriff’s Department along with county government and the courts.
Stahl was a good one –I liked him– which is not to say I didn’t ding him or his department from time to time. But the hard feelings didn’t last. He knew how to take a punch and he knew how to throw one, too.
One day, after I wrote something bad about the high sheriff and then went by his office to see him, he told me I was going to have to watch myself, I was going to have to be careful.
Sheriff Stahl told me, words to this effect:
“In my jail upstairs there are some good looking women who would do anything I asked them to do. I might asked one of them to be nice to you. For the rest of your life, Stith, if a pretty woman flirts with you you’re going to have to ask yourself, ‘Is this one working for Sheriff Stahl?'”
He was joking, I think.
But when I told my wife, Donna, what the high sheriff had said she took an immediate and everlasting liking to him.
Coming Monday: A Promise I’ve Kept