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The Best Reason Not to Steal a Truck in the Country

Mrs. Odell Jones

By Larry M. "Doc" Hudson

My wife's Grandmother, Mrs. Odell Jones, was a well-respected and well-liked member of both her community and the Camp Ground Methodist Church in that community. In fact the Jones' household was often the "parsonage" when the minister was a bachelor fresh out of the seminary. "Mrs. Odell's" cooking and thrifty management of her farm also brought respect from her neighbors. She was widely known as a generous soul always ready to help anyone in need. She was also known not to tolerate anyone who tried to take advantage of a poor defenseless widow.

Camp Ground and the Jones farm lay in northeastern Crenshaw County, Alabama near the Pike County line. About forty miles to the north was Kilby Prison (now closed). Escapees from Kilby had sometimes been known to pass through Crenshaw County en route to the Florida state line, sometimes stealthily and sometimes with Alabama State Troopers in hot pursuit.

One night in the early 1960's WSFA-TV's News Center 12 announced a daring prison escape by a murderer with a life sentence. The escapee had eluded pursuit and was last known to be headed south toward Florida. My wife, her mother and sister were living with "Mrs. Odell" and all four were somewhat disturbed by the news. There was a bit more care taken that night than usual to secure the house before bed. The rarely locked doors were locked and barred and the windows were lower and locked despite the summer temperature. "Mrs. Odell" also took her late husband's S&W .32 Hand Ejector out of its regular place in the night stand and put it on the top of the stand.

With these preparations in place, the women and children went to bed in a rather tense mood.

About 2:00 a.m. the quiet country night was broken by the sound of an automobile horn. In our part of South Alabama, even into the 1960's, it was considered impolite if not down right unsafe to drive up to a house in the country and alight from the vehicle without an invitation to "Come in and sit a spell." The polite method was to honk one's car horn and wait in the car until the homeowner invited you to get out. People who failed to observe this rule of etiquette often ended up looking down the business end of a shotgun. However, no one went around honking horns at 2:00 a.m. unless they were there to announce a birth or death in the family. Since none of "Mrs. Odell's" family was sick or in a family way, she immediately went to condition red.

A quick survey out the windows revealed that the only vehicles in sight were "Mrs. Odell's" aged 1953 Chevrolet pickup and her daughter's 1959 Chevrolet. The horn sounded again and the noise was determined to be coming from the truck.

By the light of the mercury light to the right of the truck, Mrs. Odell thought she could make out the figure of someone at the steering wheel of her truck. He appeared to be slumping over and hitting his head on the horn button, sitting upright and then slumping again.

Mrs. Odell, her daughter, and two frightened granddaughters all came to the same conclusion. The figure in the truck was probably the escaped convict. They thought that he might have planned to steal the truck but was too tired or injured to remain conscious. It would take a half hour or more to get the Sheriff's Department to send someone and Mrs. Odell was not of a mind to allow someone to steal her pickup or even sit in it until a deputy arrived. She decided to take direct action to defend her home, family and property.

With her trusty old Smith & Wesson in hand, Mrs. Odell raised a window, propped her beefy arms on the window sill, took aim and ordered the person in her truck to get out. There was no response except another long toot of the horn. Twice more she demanded the intruder to depart. Still there was no response except for a few more horn blasts. Finally in exasperation, Mrs. Odell yelled, "If you're not out of my truck by the time I count three I'll blast you out!!!" Again no response, save an insolent toot of the horn. With that, Mrs. Odell commenced firing.

Mrs. Odell's hired-man, Jack, heard the gunshots and the truck horn from his house about 100 yards up the hill from the main house. He quickly dressed and ran toward the Jones home. Jack arrived panting from his run with a shotgun in hand not long after Mrs. Odell had emptied her revolver. The truck's horn was still giving toots at irregular intervals.

Mrs. Odell reloaded her revolver and gave Jack her flashlight. With both flashlight and shotgun at the ready, Jack cautiously approached the truck only to find it empty. Just then the horn tooted again and Jack nearly jumped out of his skin. Then he started chuckling. Jack raised the hood of the truck and pulled a battery cable loose. The horn immediately fell silent.

Everyone laughed with relief once the truck horn stopped, but Mrs. Odell's laughter was cut short. Closer examination of the truck disclosed four flat tires, each with a .32 caliber bullet hole in it. This discovery lead to further gales of laughter

The story of "The Night Mrs. Odell Jones Shot her Truck" made the rounds of the community and the tale did not suffer with the telling. In fact Mrs. Odell didn't mind telling the story herself. In spite of the laughs the tale generated, it also demonstrated quite clearly that this was one little old lady who was ready to defend her home, family and property with deadly force if necessary. While she lived, no one dared think of intruding on the Jones farm uninvited.






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