Cooksie Sherwood slaughtered his opponents in the mayor’s race. Not literally. At least not all his opponents. But when his closest competitor, Ivory Lambrusco, was found dead in the front passenger seat of an overturned two-seater Mazda convertible, questions arose. Lambrusco did not own the car. There was no one else in the vehicle when the police arrived. The car had last been sold as a salvage vehicle a few months earlier, to Sherwood’s former campaign manager, Elizabeth Dole, yet its ownership was questionable. Dole was, apparently, on vacation in Italy when the crash occurred and she claimed she left the car with an auto restoration firm in Houston before she departed for Venice. The firm went out of business while Dole was away.
Despite all the headlines surrounding the mayor’s race and the death of his chief rival, Sherwood won handily, capturing almost eighty percent of the vote. He slaughtered his opponents.
A few months after the election, photographic evidence surfaced that Sherwood and Dole had been together in Houston when Dole supposedly was in Vienna and Sherwood ostensibly was on vacation with his wife in Mexico. The photographic revelation turned the tide against Sherwood. Within months, he was recalled and Dole was arrested, charged with the murder of Ivory Lambrusco, even though evidence that a crime had been committed seemed slim; Lambrusco was found dead in an overturned car. And then Sherwood was arrested as an accomplice to the crime. All of this took place under a new acting mayor, MaryLou Treat, who had been Sherwood’s pro-tem during his brief tenure.
One might be forgiven for assuming this mayor’s race was just another story of political intrigue and big city gang-style crime. But this mayor’s race was for the chief elected officer of the City of Giddings, Texas, population roughly 5,700. The intrigue surrounding murder and the mayor’s race put an unwelcome spin on the city’s motto—Giddings, Texas: Experience Hometown Hospitality.
Fortunately for Giddings’ city manager, Leroy Scotsman, the entire ugly episode took place while Scotsman was on medical leave. Scotsman had been blowing leaves out of the gutters on the roof of his house when he disturbed a bat. The bat flew into his face and bit him. Scotsman swatted the bat to the ground and, in so doing, lost his balance and fell to the driveway below, breaking bones in both legs, his left arm, and his right hand. The responding medical team recovered the bat, which was determined to have had rabies. So, Scotsman was required to undergo post-exposure prophylaxis, an involved process over two weeks. Scotsman was heard several times during the ordeal with Sherwood and Dole saying, “I picked absolutely the best time possible to get rabies and fall off the roof.”
The position of mayor of Giddings is largely ceremonial and the position only pays $150 per month, so it’s hard to imagine jockeying for power and prestige played any part in Ivory Lambrusco’s death. Regardless of the motive, the circumstances surrounding Lambrusco’s death and Sherwood’s arrest caused enormous furor in Giddings. With Lambrusco out of the race, the four remaining challengers to Sherwood each garnered roughly five percent each.
[My attention deficit disorder or short little span of attention or whatever it is that makes it damn near impossible to maintain an interest in anything I do for more than about 45 minutes—90 minutes on a good day—has kicked in. Perhaps it’s that I’ve written myself into an inescapable corner, marked with impossibilities and unlikelihoods. Or perhaps I’ve milked as much as I can milk out of the words I’ve used thus far. Whatever it is, the story will remain untold. Who knows why Ivory Lambrusco died? Who knows who really killed her? Was Leroy Scotsman involved somehow? Was his rabid crash into a concrete driveway simply a diversion? And what about MaryLou Treat and Elizabeth Dole? Why was Cooksie Sherwood so interested in becoming mayor of Giddings? And why were there six candidates for a largely ceremonial position? Too many questions and not enough answers. I may write about a simpler city next time: Mumbai or Rome or Weslaco, Texas.]