When I think back on my life, business and personally, I don’t think anyone made a more lasting impression on me than did Winfield. He and I were just casual friends when we were growing up. Since we grew up in a small town, being a year apart in age, with him being a year older it is understandable that we were thrown together often but weren’t hard and fast friends.
He left for college after he graduated and made it back to town a year later for sure. When my class graduated he hosted a very wild party at his house in which many of us attended. I’m not sure I saw Winfield after that night for many years. He attended Louisiana State University, studying to become a Certified Public Accountant After he finished school and became a CPA he was hired by a large Accounting Firm in Houston. I got busy with my life and moved away from Marble Falls a while after graduating in 1970. Our paths didn’t cross for a decade. By then, he had grown tired of the fast pace of Houston and joined up with a smaller firm in Austin. He had been in Austin a short while when our paths crossed in the early 1980’s.
More likely than not, my Brother Kenny and Winfield ran into each other in a bar. They were each just coming off of marriages and finding out what the Austin nightlife had to offer. I think I remember them seeing each other in a joint up between Bee Creek and the Pedernales River. Winfield was staying up at Double Horn with his folks, when he couldn’t find a cozier place for the night. Kenny was hanging his hat on whatever bedpost was handy back in those days, often times up Burnet County way. Kenny was still working for the company (Lewis Contractors) in those days. Eventually Kenny got Winfield and me together.
Somehow the subject came up about how much we could use Winfield’s talents to either help us make more money or keep from spending more money than we had or how we could use his talents. Winfield and I started putting together a strategy for him to manage our office and oversee the business end of things and that would give Kenny and me more time to concentrate on bidding jobs and getting them built.
Once the deal was hashed out for him to join us, he immediately started hiring pretty young gals to help out in the office. Almost immediately, it was taking Winfield, two girls and Woody to do almost the exact thing Woody had been doing by himself for several years.
In fairly short order, Woody would be gone. That’s a story unto itself, that needs to be told now.
“Throughout this book there will be various stories that were previously written and will be added to give a more full picture of the times and events.”
Woody, My Accountant.
When my friend and neighbor, Udo, decided to retire in 1977 from the excavation business I bought his office, yard and some equipment. The office was in a great location, not far from the current Austin airport.
Woody had been his accountant for many years and a deal was struck for him to come with me. Woody was trustworthy and meticulous. Just the kind of guy I was looking for.
He and I became best of friends. Woody and Lucy were both around 60 and had been married for about forty years. They had never had children.
Madeline and I were about 30 years behind them in our life journey.
I thought so highly of him and allowed him to handle all of the finances. He signed every check.
After a few years Woody let me know that he was going to retire in three more years. He and Lucy had plans of pulling their travel trailer and go around the country.
Woody proudly brought in brochures of a new GMC pickup that he planned to buy to make their travels in. He wanted me to go look at it and drive it with him. We got to the dealership and setting beside the truck he intended to buy, was a beautiful blue and white, four door truck. It was loaded. Woody’s choice was a plain, single cab, a very basic model.
Yes it was a few thousand dollars less than the blue and white one. I encouraged him to buy the nice one. He just couldn’t justify it, knowing that he needed to watch his dollars. On our way back to the office I made the following pitch to Woody. If he would get the nicer one, the company would make the payments, calling it rental each month. We could legally do that.
That way he would have it paid off at the same time he would retire. It was a way to reward him for several years of hard work and dedication, while letting him stick even more money back for his retirement.
While it was a huge purchase for him, it represented less than 1/2 of 1% of the total debt of the company. So what may appear to be a magnanimous gesture on my part was a business decision, based on rewarding an employee for a job well done.
Woody tearfully excepted my offer. Woody and Lucy were so happy with the new truck. He smiled everywhere he drove.
Move forward a year or so and I hired my friend Winfield, a CPA to come in to help me move to the next level in business. Woody liked the idea, because he knew I needed a replacement for him when he retired.
A few weeks later Winfield wanted to talk to me after work, so we met at a bar close to downtown that he went to most every afternoon. He open up the conversation with “I bet Woody feels good today”.
Why is that is ask? “Well he paid of his pickup today”.
In auditing the books Winfield discovered that Woody would make 2 or 3 payments each month, instead of one.
I knew why. He was always afraid that one day I may renege on our deal or that the business may fail, leaving him with the pickup payment. Or at least that’s what I figured.
So I was left to wrestle with how to handle this. He had betrayed my trust, but on the other hand we never actually spelled out that only one payment per month would be made. Maybe he was right. Any business could fail. But what he was wrong about, he had never seen me go back on my word, with anyone. Maybe even that to a fault.
I drove home feeling empty inside. Feeling violated. I slept little, if at all that night. Woody was the person I most trusted in the whole world. I was closer to him than to my own father.
The next morning early, it was a Saturday. Woody wouldn’t be going to work that day. I called him and asked if I could stop by and maybe we could talk.
I gave him time to get around and then I stopped and picked him up. We drove to the office. Not much was said. We made coffee and set down opposite of each other.
I said “Woody since your truck is now paid off, I’m going to ask you to go ahead and retire”. He said he understood.
Nothing else was said about that. We sat there the rest of the morning drinking coffee, talking about the fun, the hard times, the struggles and the good times. We talked about friendship and where we wanted our lives to go. About my family. All 5 boys were born by then. We talked about raising them in the business and teaching them to work. There wasn’t much missed that morning. With laughed and we cried together. Then I helped him box up his personal effects and I dropped him off at his home.
I continued to try to understand what had happened and why people do what they do. Then one day I thought about it and decided it had only to do with self preservation. It’s just that everyone’s view of self preservation is different. Mine and Woody’s was far different.
Soon things got busy and I moved on. But this didn’t end the story of Woody and me.
Woody – The Next Chapter
Woody and I talked occasionally during the next year or so. He and Lucy traveled a little but he decided to work a little longer and hooked up with a contractor in Giddings that he knew from his days in the west Texas oilfield.
Time passed and then one day I got a call from him. Lucy had just died. He was in east Texas. They had been visiting Lucy’s sister. I ask if he wanted me to come there. His former boss, my old contractor friend across the street had a Jet Ranger Helicopter. He agreed to fly me to Woody. So within a couple of hours I was by Woody’s side. We remained there until Lucy was buried. We drove back to Austin and he became my constant companion for several months. He had dinner with us just about every night.
After a while he started spending his evenings at the local Elks Lodge. So I saw less and less of him at night, but anytime I was traveling around the state bidding work, Woody was with me.
One day he brought his girlfriend over to meet my family and me. It hadn’t been but a few months since he had lost Lucy. Mariam had been widowed for just a year or two. That was why he had started going to the Elk Lodge, I found out later. To see ole Mariam. They were very compatible. She had a successful child day care facility and was very financially stabile.
Coincidently, she only live about 6 blocks from us in south Austin.
They dated for a short time and decided to marry. They ask Madeline and me to go stand up with them for a weekday, middle of the afternoon wedding. Just us 4 and the pastor. It was very nice.
We stayed in close contact but he and Mariam were able to travel and enjoy life together. It looked like they were meant for each other. They could not have been happier.
Within a few months of their marriage I got a call from Mariam one afternoon. They had rushed Woody to the hospital. He was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. That is a nerve disorder that came on him without warning.
I would pick her up every night and we would go for a 2 or 3 hour visit. On the 30th day of his hospital stay Woody passed away with each of us at his bedside.
Mariam has no use for the blue and white truck and travel trailer after Woody was gone. Kenny bought and enjoyed them for several years. I was always reminded of Woody every time I would see it.
Back to Winfield
Now with Woody out of the picture, Winfield was almost totally in charge of the business end of things, leaving more time for me to bid work and Kenny to see to getting the projects built.
Winfield and the Red Corvette
Winfield was a guy a grade ahead of me at Marble Falls High School. He had the reputation of doing wild and crazy things. We ran around together some, but weren’t constant companions in our school days. He was extremely intelligent, but lacking in the common sense department. After high school, he went off to college and became a C.P.A.
I saw very little of Winfield throughout the 70’s, as he was in Houston, carving out his niche in the accounting world. Sometime in the early 80’s, I found out that Winfield was in Austin working for a small local CPA firm. We managed to get together a few times for lunch. It seemed like Winfield’s craziness had leveled off with the responsibilities of his work and by that time he had become a father. His marriage had failed, but he was able to see his daughter often and was always so happy when she was with him.
With my business growing I thought that the perfect situation was for him to join my construction company, as our accountant and to oversee the financial end of our business. I made him a generous offer. He was growing tired of the humdrum of working in an accounting office and felt that my offer would give him the challenges he was really looking for.
He really caught on to the business in a hurry. He started organizing, hiring office help and making my life much easier. Being recently divorced, he was feeling his oats. He had a new story to tell about his love life daily. He kept all the guy entertained. One of the first things he did was bought a shiny red Corvette. He got speeding tickets on a regular basis. It began to occur to me that all of his craziness hadn’t completely left him. But as long as he did his job, I didn’t get too excited. I often wondered how a guy could continue to rack up all those tickets and keep his driver’s license.
One day when I posed that question to him, he said his license had been revoked a few weeks. He joking said now when he would get stopped, he would just tell the cop that he had lost his billfold. He would then give them my name and recite my drivers license number. He had all my information memorized, we were approximately the same size, so that always worked. I thought he was joking at first, but after thinking about it, I knew it was a strong possibility.
A few weeks later, while driving in downtown Austin, right beside the police staion, he was involved in a wreck. It was discovered that he had several outstanding tickets. Well off to jail he went. Without money to bail himself out, he called me with desperation in his voice. “Please bring $950 and come to the city jail and get me out.” After some contemplating, I made a withdrawal and went downtown.
They had him in a holding area at the jail and when I entered I could tell he was shaken. I ask the desk sergeant in charge, if I could speak to him in private. He allowed us to go out into an adjacent hallway. I told Winfield that the only way I would get him out is if he would go confess and tell the officer he had been using my name and racked up several tickets in my name also . If he didn’t go back in and get it all straightened out, I was leaving and he was going to stay. Reluctantly on Winfield’s part, we returned to the booking room, where he started explaining to the police sergeant what he had done.
The police sergeant was so astonished with what he was being told, by a Certified Public Accountant no less. He just sat there shaking his head. After Winfield had finished his story, the cop left the room for a few minutes. Upon returning, he told me that my driving record had been cleared up. We were lead to the pay window where they took the $950 in settlement of the outstanding tickets and allowed my C.P.A. friend to leave with me.
I watched my driving record after that and never did have a problem from it.
As time marched on, our financial situation didn’t improve with the addition of a CPA on our staff. That didn’t mean we weren’t bidding even larger projects and expanding the company. The next story is about us taking a next step in our company growth.
Capitol National Bank
Back when my friend Winfield Scott, the CPA, worked for me we were being courted by one of the big downtown Austin banks. Emory Thompson was the pitch man for The Capitol National Bank that would come by and try to get us bring our business to them. I knew him, his family had owned a big tire business that had sold and he went from being a tire salesman to being a money salesman.
We had been doing business with a small local bank in north Austin, aptly named North Austin State Bank. They had done everything I’d ever wanted them to do. But Emory would tell us to really grow and prosper we needed to be with a “Big Bank”.
Winfield, seeing that we were going to need a larger line of credit he started moving towards shifting our business to them.
It was a long arduous process but he worked and satisfied all their requests. In the interim, we needed $150 thousand. We had an old machine that was free and clear so he offered it up as collateral. Wanting to get the deal done they gladly did a short term loan while the slow wheels of loan processing churned along. The old machine was only worth about $50 thousand, but that didn’t seem to matter as long as they had something for their records.
After a few weeks Winfield got the call the big loan was approved. The plan was for them to fund to our original bank, since we already had checks and was needing to take care of several large creditors. So on a Wednesday, Winfield was told that the funds would be wire transferred the next morning. He wrote about a half million dollars in checks to about a dozen of our vendors. He mailed some and hand carried other checks so everyone would be happy.
Thursday rolled around and he got a call from the loan officer that they needed one more document, some real estate mumbo jumbo.
The loan was primarily being collateralized by a piece of real estate I owned.
Winfield called our attorney and he said he would get right on it. Shouldn’t take more than 30 days to get this document. He then called the loan officer back and it was decided they could probably do something to work it out until the correct document could be obtained. The loan committee would meet the next day, Friday and he was sure all would be fine.
Friday came and went with no word. By Monday the checks hit our old bank. Yes, stopping payment on the checks would have been the prudent thing to have done but the dialog with the bank was all positive, so it never crossed our minds.
Our new loan officer finally called late in the afternoon on Monday to tell us that his bank had decided to back out of the deal all together. That had received word that we had “hot checks” out at our old bank and his loan committee didn’t think we were the kind of people they wanted to do business with.
We were speechless. But not for long. I had to get ahold of my old banker and explain the situation. How we were shafting them in favor of the Big Downtown Bank. But instead we had gotten shafted.
When all was explained they went ahead and covered the hot checks, but decided to humble Mr. Scott and me. They had us bring our complete accounting records to the bank. They made their conference room our new office. They required that Winfield and I showed up at the bank every morning at 9:00 AM for a meeting. After a few days the requirement for me to come was dropped but they still had Winfield come there until they fully funded the loan that we had been previously working on with the other bank.
My loyalties remained with NASB until the President and Vice President, with whom were my bankers, were both indicted and sent to prison because of some real estate scam. The bank was sold and I felt alright about moving on.
By the way, this all was taking place while Winfield was plotting to rob the Wimberley Bank. My bankers would have been thrilled to have known that story. More on that later.
One would think that’s enough of this story. But there’s more.
A few days later Winfield received a call from the Capitol National loan officer. Trust me that’s been 32 or 33 years ago and I still remember his name, Brad Timberlake.
Brad said that since we were no longer doing business that we needed to come in and payoff the $150,000 interim loan. They were “Demanding Payment”.
When that news was delivered to me, I said I would gladly respond. I called the young Mr. Timberlake to see where he wanted his piece of equipment taken to. Of course he said he didn’t want the machine, he wanted the money.
In those days that bank sponsored an outdoor performance of the Austin Symphony Orchestra every Friday morning on their atrium on Guadalupe Street between 7th and 8th.
If he wanted to play games I told him I’d pull up there on Friday with his machine loaded cross ways on my lowboy trailer and walk it off in the middle of the Symphony while they were playing.
He said he would get back to me. He called back shortly to let me know they’d be happy to do a note for the amount and let me pay it off over the next 36 months.
I always thought it was so nice of them to decide to let me pay it off over time.
It’s good when people decide to be decent.
photo of Hein Werner C-12 Excavator
After The Capitol National Bank Debacle
As we recovered and moved on finances continued to plague the company. We were stretched so tight that any time someone failed to pay us timely, we would have trouble meeting our payrolls. The bank wasn’t always so trusting of us, as they had been in the past. Winfield was alway resourceful. I’d ask “how are we going to meet our payroll?”. He would say “I’ll make it happen”. I’m sure there was plenty of check kiting going on. On several occasions he went to the bank with his personal American Express and drew several thousand dollars, to make up a shortfall. He was very loyal to the cause.
One day he asked me to meet him down on Riverside Drive at his old CPA Firm. When I wanted to know what for, he said just come on down I want you to meet someone. I showed up at the appointed time and we were ushered back to the office of the firms owner. Winfield had explained to his old boss that we had a short term cash flow crunch and had arraignment for a loan of $30,000 from him. All he wanted was to meet me in person. It was a personal short term loan with no collateral.
Within a few minutes we walked out with a check in hand. We were able to pay that loan back and take care of Winfield’s American Express Card bill.
During the course of all the Capitol National Bank deal, the borrowing money from an old boss and other creative ways of raising cash, Winfield and a drinking buddy was plotting to rob a bank. Now don’t get me wrong, I never believed that attempting to rob a bank had anything to do with pumping money into our business, but all these years later I’d have a hard time believing if Winfield had a big windfall and the company needed money, he would have been ready to infuse some cash into us.
Now for the story about Winfield and the Wimberley Bank.
Winfield and the Wimberley Bank
I thought that the incident with Winfield and the tickets had taught him a lesson. I found out later how clueless I was about what all was going on in that man’s head. If you set and listened to him you would really take him to be just a big talker, but you knew he wanted to make it big one day. He had been around a couple of years by this time and my business was going through a very tumultuous time. All my bills were all behind, creditors were beating our door down and Winfield was spending most of his time putting out fires. He was arraigning loans for us left and right. It seemed that he always made everything workout, so we could continue to operate. I was working on a project down near San Antonio, so I was away from the office most of the time. Kenny was taking care of the work in and around Austin and helping keep an eye on Winfield.
One day Kenny called and told me we needed to talk when I got back to Austin. When I got back he told me of an incident that had happen during that week at our office. Kenny and Winfield were the only two at the office that particular day. All the girls that Winfield had hired had long ago been sent down the road.
Two men dress in suits walked in and asked to talk to Winfield, in private. Kenny figured it was someone Winfield had a deal working with. He later found out that Winfield had never laid eyes on them before nor was expecting them. The three of them went into my private office, the only completely private place and shut the door. After 20 or 30 minutes, they all came out and the two men left.
Nothing was said for a couple of minutes and Winfield seemed to be completely cool about everything. He then ask Kenny to come out in the back-yard area, as he had something to tell him. Winfield didn’t want to talk inside the office, for fear it was bugged. The two men were FBI Agents. After walking out back, Winfield’s knees began to wobble and he could barely speak. Outside in the open yard he felt it safe to tell Kenny the following story.
Winfield had moved back home with his folks in Marble Falls and would stop and get drunk almost every evening up near the Pedernales River at a little beer joint. He and a drinking buddy, an Ex-Vietnam Marine, had started discussing how easy it would be to rob a bank. They figured a sleepy little place like Wimberley, Texas would be a perfect place to pull it off. It was a town in many ways, it had all the businesses you associate with a town. Many people vacationed there and a big housing development had brought a lot of retirees to Wimberley. It just didn’t have government, therefore it didn’t have a police force. The Hays County Sherriff’s Dept. was the law enforcement authority but was headquartered some 25 miles away. That made it the perfect place to rob.
After some planning they decided that a third person would be needed. The Marine had a buddy that had served in Vietnam with him and would be perfect for the job. But after a meeting or two the number three guy begin to get cold feet, but never mentioned it. He fell out of sight but they thought he would reappear by the time of the heist. They didn’t really need him for the planning anyway.
He went to the FBI. Now with the authorities in on their plan, they were constantly being watched. The two suits that came to the office that day had told Winfield every move that he had made and every person he had called for the past couple of weeks. They had followed Winfield and the Marine as they staked out the Wimberley Bank on two occasions. (I would find out later they had gone in one of my company trucks) The FBI Agents warned Winfield that if he decided to act out any more of this fantasy, he would regret it. It seems strange that he wasn’t arrested. They also warned him about retaliating against the informant. I never knew if they spoke with Winfield’s accomplice. I suspect they did.
As far as I know, all plans of robbing banks for Winfield, died that day. Winfield went on to become Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston. I always wondered if Winfield was ever nervous about his past as he was studying became an attorney and whether he would be certified. I guess there was nothing in his record about the incident.
Winfield did live to do many more outrageous things before he was found dead in 1995 of a drug overdose or a slaying over to a drug deal gone badly.
All this was going on while Winfield was dealing with banks on my behalf. I’m sure my bankers would have been impressed if Winfield, my CPA had been arrested for bank robbery.
The bank robbery incident brought an end to mine and Winfield’s business relationship. We kept in touch over the next several years. He observed how easy it was to make money in the underground utility business so he decided to start a company doing similar work to us. I always wondered why he thought he would do so well in it, when he had zero experience and no one hired that knew anything about it either. But being delusional seemed to be a Winfield trademark.
Next is a story about his next chapter.
Winfield and the Farming Enterprise
When Winfield left Austin on shaky ground with me, and many others may I add, he ended up in Oklahoma for a short time. Doing what? Trying to go into the Utilities Construction Business. That venture didn’t make it far, but I wasn’t surprised.
One day when he was coming through Austin from Oklahoma he called and wanted to stop for a visit. We agreed to meet at one of my jobsites. I had just purchased a micro-cassette recorder and was playing with it when Winfield drove up. Knowing that I was going to hear some wild stories that I may want to share with Kenny and others. I pushed the record button and laid in down on the seat as Winfield got in.
Of course, in Winfield typical fashion he told me about his recent conquests. Just guy talk. Then he launched into his plans for a new business venture. He was going to start a farming business. When I asked what he would be growing, he would never say. Since it was Winfield I knew what it was. He assured me he the perfect place picked out and all the components in place to become quite wealthy.
A couple of weeks later I heard from a friend in Marble Falls that the whole Scott family had been arrested. Minus Winfield. His mother, dad and brother were at home at Double Horn when the raid came down. The tax appraiser had been to the Scott place looking around when he peered through a garage window to see the whole thing filled with potted marijuana plants, ready to be set out.
I called Winfield to inquire. He thought I was kidding. I wasn’t, I told him. I could imagine the blood draining out of his face as we talked. His voice quaked and I knew he was shaken. Winfield mostly fell out of sight for a while. I would get a call from him occasionally asking me to call Mrs. Scott and let her know he was alright. When there was a court date coming up, she would call and ask me to let Winfield know. It occurred to me one day that I was in the middle of one of the craziest stories to ever come out of Burnet County. I’m not sure exactly how the case was disposed of but it seems like most charges got dismissed with the Scott’s not having to serve time beyond that at the initial arrest. (If anyone has the details, please share)
After things settled down, when I would talk to Winfield, I’d play the tape that was made when he first talked about farming. I think there was even a price established for me to turn the tape over, but I never saw the money. I think I still have it somewhere.
After the pot bust and difficulties Winfield had been through with his ex-wife and child custody, he left and went back to Houston. He enrolled in Law School and before I could believe, he was a practicing personal injury attorney working with a law firm in Houston. He said after everything his ex’s attorney put him through he was better preparing himself for the future.
During his lawyering years, I would call and get together with him when I was in Houston. He had a case that came up in Austin that involved a wild horse that hurt someone. Knowing Kenny was a horse person, he unlisted his help when it came to trial.
This is a story of how that came out.
Winfield’s Expert Witness
After all of our wild rides through life with Winfield as a CPA, he called on Kenny to testify as an expert witness in a case in Travis County after he switched to being a lawyer. This was in the late 80’s.
There was a personal injury case involving someone hurt in a mishap with an animal. Not sure if it was a horse or a cow.
To prepare for the trail, with Winfield in from Houston, they decided to meet at The New West dance hall and beer joint in north Austin. After several hours preparation, they decided to leave and get much needed rest before time to show up in court the next morning.
Winfield always had a certain abruptness about him, when he had too much drink. I think he decided to order Kenny around. As much as Winfield was abrupt, Kenny Lewis is not going to listen to anyone barking out orders, especially when he has been drinking. In the parking lot there came a Clash of the Titans, with Kenny supposedly on top rubbing Winfield’s face around on the asphalt parking lot. They finally worked out their differences.
When Winfield got to court the next morning it was obvious that he hadn’t brought a change of clothes or made it to a hotel to freshen up. He must have had a pretty good case because his client prevailed, despite him showing up in court with a skinned up forehead and knee ripped out of his trousers.
To show his appreciation for Kenny coming to testify, they left the courthouse and headed straight to Sugars Gentleman’s Club to celebrate. I’m not sure they ever hugged and kissed to make up. But all was well between them.
The next story is my final one about Winfield. As you’ll see, the stories stopped one day. The memories may live on but no new ones will happen.
I should let this story be the final one for Winfield, but I will go ahead and tell it now, because there are many other chapters between the one I wrote earlier about him and the end. I’m sure a lot of people wondered what ever happened to him.
His family was pretty well off in terms of most of us. His dad had a good job at one of the dams in the area and also had a large hog farm. Winfield left Marble Falls in a Porsche headed to LSU in the fall of 1969. He became a CPA and went to work in Houston for one of the big national firms. He aced all parts of The CPA exam which I’m told is very hard to do. Winfield had a fantastic memory and very seldom studied for anything.
After several years as a CPA and working for me, he decided to go to law school and by the early 1990’s Winfield had finished law school and had become a successful attorney. He was doing personal injury law in Houston. We remained friends and kept in touch during those years. I would see him when I was in Houston for business. We talked often on the phone. Things were wonderful for a time for him. He made a lot of money. Houston was a bad place to be if you had a lot of money and were single. The party life began to take a toll on him. The alcohol was bad but the cocaine was his real problem. Cocaine was everywhere in Houston in the 90’s. I got a call one from him in 1993 I believe. He told me he was no longer interested in being an attorney. I later found out the he had been disbarred for cocaine possession. He was really in denial about his circumstances.
The new Winfield was moving on to become a Goat Rancher. The Valley as it is called is far south part of Texas and has a large Hispanic population and the need for meats goats. Cabrito, was a real burgeoning market. He had become involved with a gal in Houston, at his old law firm, that had family ties to the Valley and through that connection he could sell as many goats as he could find. This was Winfield’s new meal ticket. He enlisted my help finding anyone with meat goats for sale. I never referred him to any goat raisers I knew. Nothing really seemed right about anything he ever said. He was a mess. I really didn’t want any part of him. I knew real trouble wasn’t far away.
One day In May, 1995, I opened the Austin paper to the obituaries. Winfield was listed. I wasn’t surprised. The funeral was that afternoon. I was already in Austin on a jobsite, so I called my wife, Madeline to tell her. She brought clothes for me and we attended the graveside service that was held in High Grove, a little community southeast of Austin where his Dad had been raise. Only a handful of people were there, perhaps 25. The only one’s I recognized was his Mother, his older Brother, his Daughter and the Ex-Wife. The remaining attendees were just local folks that had known the Scott family from years ago.
It was a somber day, rainy. A very pretty Hispanic lady picked me out. We had never met, but she knew who I was. She was the girlfriend. As we waited for the service to start, she led me aside to tell me what had happened. Winfield had rented a little house out in the country south of Houston, with place to pasture goats, waiting to be shipped south by the truckloads. You could tell she was a believer in the goat business. A drug deal gone bad had left Winfield floating in a bathtub full and overflowing with water. She seemed to know more than she told me. I wasn’t surprised and I suppose it made no difference.
The service finally got under way. The casket was left open during the brief words that were spoken. That was strange to me, but everything was strange that day. Everything in Winfield’s life was strange, so why was his funeral going to be any different. Afterwards the funeral director closed the lid on the casket. His mother accompanied by her remaining son arose and approached the casket to place a rose on the lid. As she reached out with the rose she fell across the casket, hugging it. The emotions were high, for a mother burying a son, they always are. At that moment she cried out “Oh Lord why did it have to be this One”. Everyone was stunned, hesitant to look at each other. A short few minutes later Madeline and I were on the road back to Austin, unsure of what had just transpired.
In the years since then it is hard for me to go to a funeral without thinking of that day. Madeline and I have talked on many occasions about how bizarre that whole thing was.
A few days ago (I wrote this awhile back) on Feb. 12, 2010 my miniature Beagle named Jazzy ran under the rear wheel of my truck when I arrived home. She had only been in my life for about a year and a half but she had really found a place in my heart. I am not a typical dog lover but I don’t hate dogs either. I can make it fine without one in my life. We have had several different dogs over the years, each meeting death for one reason or the other. I let Jazzy get to me. She was the only dog I ever bought myself. All the others being someone else’s idea. Given the short life span of a dog compared to a person, you expect to out live them the day you bring them home. But that was too short of a time for me and Jazzy. I was very saddened by the loss.
Madeline wasn’t home when it happen. The rear wheels of the truck rolled over her rear legs. I took her to our local vet. I knew it was serious. She was in real pain. I left her there for x-rays. It was only a short time before I got the call. The damage was extensive. Not only were several bones broken but her intestines were also very messed up. The vet said she could be fixed, but healing was going to take many months and be very costly. There was no way to know how many complications she could have. I saw no reason for such a sweet puppy to suffer the pain she would have to endure just so I could continue to have her in my life. I decided it was best to terminate her life.
I went out under the big oak tree where several other dogs and a hamster were buried and dug yet another hole. I returned to the vet clinic to retrieve her remains. Upon returning I saw that Madeline had returned home so I phoned to tell her I was back. She said she would come right out so we could bury her together. I placed the little lifeless body in the hole. Lucy (a mutt that had been left her by one of our sons) and I stood there at the edge of the hole looking down while Madeline walked the 50 yards from the house to the burial plot. Just as she arrived beside us I fell to my knees and wailed “Oh Lord why did it have to be this One”. I think my wife was as startled then as we both had been some 15 years earlier at the funeral of our friend Winfield. I looked up at her and we both broke out into a fit of laughter that lasted until the grave was filled in and we both were back inside the house. If not for the opportunity to laugh in a moment like that, the sorrow would have been much worse, with no purpose being served by it.
I am giving serious thought to making my last request be that my funeral be presided over by a standup comic rather than a minister. We’ll see how that plays out.
No story about Winfield would be complete without a couple of stories about his Father, MQ Scott. It will help the reader see where the craziness in Winfield came from. The final story is a bit of Scott Family History that goes back many years and may farther help clear up some things.
MQ Scott Came Over To Smithwick To Buy Some Hogs
This story was told to me by Winfield about his dad, MQ. I’m pretty sure that MQ was as crazy as his son, Winfield. There are many stories about him but none that top the following. I had only limited contact with him when I was a kid. The first time I remember seeing MQ was during a hog buying episode when he bought a pen full of hogs from Brown Parker. Trying to load the hogs, something happened causing him to slip down in the loading chute with a big sow on top of him. He literally bit her ear, then once he was up on his feet, started beating her in the head with his fists and screaming. Then he lit into Winfield for no reason that anyone there could explain. The encounter ended with Brown and Cec running him off telling to never come back on our place again. I don’t think he ever did.
MQ and the Out of State Hog Buyer
A hog buyer from Arkansas came to the Scott Hog Farm and bought a truck (big cattle truck size load) load of hogs and paid MQ with a check. The Buyer and the Hogs went to Arkansas. The check bounced. The buyer showed up wanting more hogs. MQ asked about the hot check, not wanting to get stuck for a second load. A deal was made for a second load under the condition that he would be paid with certified funds for both. The truck was loaded and told to follow them to the Big Wheel Truck Stop in Oak Hill, in the edge of Austin. The driver was to set and wait.
MQ drove the hog buyer downtown to one of the big banks where the guy had made arraignments to get a certified check for both loads. The buyer told MQ to pull up to a walk up window at 8th and Guadalupe where he has been told that a check would be waiting. In a matter of minutes there were APD cars with lights and sirens going coming from every direction.
The buyer had walked up to the window, handed the teller a note saying the guy in the brown Ford LTD had kidnapped him and was going to kill him if he didn’t pay a ransom. Once the cops starting arriving, the buyer faded away into the hustle-bustle of downtown Austin, supposedly meeting up with the truck and headed out for Arkansas. By the time MQ was arrested, booked into jail and allowed to tell his version of events, the guy was long gone, to never be heard from again.
The real problem was there was no evidence of who the guy was or where he was really from. The check had been a complete forgery.
A story about the Double Horn Scott Family ancestors, long before they came to Burnet County.
The Scott & Singleton Conflict
This is a story that I had heard about all my life. At least from a time I was in high school.
I attended grades 8-12 at Marble Falls High School and was friends with Winfield Scott. He was a grade ahead of me. As anyone that has followed The Angora Chronicles has heard many stories about Winfield Scott, in school and later in life & death.
My grandmother, Leona Lewis would tell me about the history of the Scott Family. She being a Purcell had grown up around the Scott Family, at High Grove down in Bastrop County. She never went into the gritty details, only to say that there was a murder by one Scotts and the murder of one of the Scotts. I never really put the whole story together with reference to a time frame. I just knew they all sounded a little wild and maybe even a little more crazy.
As I got to know more about Winfield and his dad, MQ, the more crazy I found out the whole bunch was.
I awoke this morning to an email sent to me be a Purcell cousin, Kathy Anderson Strittmatter. There were newspaper clippings of the events surrounding a double murder that happened back on July 20, 1944.
I did a little additional digging and this is what I found.
Mrs. Walter Stark, a sister to Jesse Singleton, was renting a house in east Austin from Mr. MM Scott. There was a dispute over the rent money, an augment ensued and left Jesse Singleton (age 44) and Winfield W. Scott (age 31) dead.
The newspaper clippings pretty well tells the story of MM Scott (age 51) going on trial for murder and was convicted to 5 years.
Below is the Appeal of the Trial:
SCOTT vs STATE
The offense is murder. The punishment assessed is confinement in the state penitentiary for a term of five years.
The State’s evidence shows that Mr. and Mrs. Walter Stark rented a dwelling-house from appellant and his wife in the month of February, 1944, and moved into the same; that they agreed to pay $35.00 per month as rent for the use and occupancy of the house. They paid $25.00 for the month of February and $35.00 for the months of March and April. Then Mrs. Stark consulted the O.P.A. with reference to the amount of the rent and was advised by them that $22.50 was all she could pay; that if she continued to pay $35.00 per month, she would be violating the law; that thereafter she declined to pay $35.00 as she had agreed to do but offered to pay $22.50. Mr. Scott declined to accept said sum but insisted that she comply with her contract or vacate the premises which she declined to do until she could find another house to move into. Thereupon a suit for forcible detainer was instituted by Scott against Mr. Walter Stark and Mrs. E. E. Stark. The case was tried on July 17th, which resulted in a judgment of restitution being entered in favor of M. M. Scott. A writ of restitution was not issued until the 29th day of July. On the morning of July 20th, defendant (M. M. Scott) and his son, Winfield Scott, appeared at the Stark home, armed with a pistol, for the purpose of putting them out. Mr. Stark was not at home but his wife was there. Appellant, who saw her through the window, said to his son: “Shoot the old bitch through the window.” She immediately telephoned the sheriff and the police. She also telephoned her brother, Jessie Singleton. After the lapse of a short time, her brother appeared at the Stark home, armed with a pistol and accompanied by his 14-year-old son. Upon his arrival, he and his son went into the Stark home, and after a short conversation with Mrs. Stark, he went to where the Scotts were at their automobiles and inquired of them: “What’s the matter, Winfield? Can’t you give her a chance to get out?” They then began shooting at Jessie Singleton, who immediately fell to the ground mortally wounded. Mr. Singleton’s son, who was in the house at the time and saw his father fall, picked up a .22 caliber rifle and shot Winfield Scott through the head and he, too, fell mortally wounded. The boy then began to shoot at M. M. Scott, striking him four or five times. Appellant, after being wounded, ran away, carrying with him the pistol of his dead son, but left his own pistol lying on the bumper of his car. After M. M. Scott had departed, and the Singleton boy had emptied his rifle, he walked out to the body of his father, picked up his .32 caliber pistol and shot Winfield Scott through the neck.
Appellant did not testify or offer any affirmative defense. He did, however, introduce his wife and his daughter-in-law and proved by them that the pistol exhibited to the court and jury belonged to his son, Winfield Scott. It makes no difference with whose gun the deceased was killed or by whom of the two he was killed, since the evidence shows that they were acting together, aiding and abetting each other in the commission of the offense, which made them principals. Just why the court failed to instruct the jury relative to the law of principals, we frankly admit that we do not understand.
The only complaint brought forward by appellant relates to Paragraph 10-a of the court’s charge, which reads as follows:
“You are instructed that that portion of the testimony of the witness, Mrs. Walter Stark, concerning actions of various persons made and done out of the presence of the defendant, M. M. Scott, is admitted for the limited purpose of showing all relevant facts and circumstances relating to the killing, if it does, and the previous relationship existing between the defendant and the deceased, Jessie Singleton, together with all relevant facts and circumstances tending to show the condition of the mind of the defendant at the time of the homicide, if it does, which may be considered by the jury in determining the punishment to be assessed, if any.”
Appellant objected to this charge on the following grounds: (a) Because it was not a proper application of the law with reference to the testimony of Mrs. Walter Stark; (b) because it is upon the weight of her testimony; (c) because it places an undue limitation upon the testimony that was to go to the jury in the case; (d) because it permits the jury to consider the testimony of Mrs. Walter Stark concerning acts and statements made at various places out of the presence and hearing of the defendant; (e) because nowhere therein is the testimony of Mrs. Stark relative to the actions and conversations between her and the defendant, M. M. Scott, limited or restricted, but permits the jury to consider the same for all purposes.
Appellant cites us to the case of Riles v. State, 150 S.W.2d 1043 , as sustaining his contention. In that case the court charged the jury in the language of Art. 1257a, P. C., which permits the admission in evidence of all relevant facts and circumstances surrounding the killing and the previous relationship existing between the accused and the deceased, together with all relevant facts and circumstances going to show the condition of the mind of the accused at the time of the homicide which may be considered by the jury in determining the punishment to be assessed. The judgment was reversed, it being held that the charge in question should not have been given.
1This statute is but a rule of evidence enacted by the Legislature as a guide to the court in admitting relevant evidence on whether or not adequate cause existed at the time of the homicide, by which is meant such cause as would commonly produce in a person of ordinary temper that degree of anger, rage or sudden resentment as to render the mind incapable of cool reflection so as to bring it within the definition of murder without malice. The trial court, in a murder case, may, in his charge to the jury, define “adequate cause” and instruct them that if adequate cause, as the same is defined, existed at the time of the homicide, then they could not assess the punishment in excess of five years’ confinement in the penitentiary. However, to instruct the jury in the language of the statute which is nothing but a rule of evidence, as we have heretofore said, was first held by this court to be error in the case of Crutchfield v. State, 110 Tex.Crim. R.. See also Hill v. State, 95 S.W.2d 106 ; Jamison v. State, 148 S.W.2d 410 , where the propriety of giving such a charge has been fully discussed, and we see no need for any further discussion thereof.
Therefore, in keeping with the prior decisions by this court, we feel constrained to reverse the judgment of conviction in this case, and it is so ordered.
The foregoing opinion of the Commission of Appeals has been examined by the Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals and approved by the Court.