Thursday, February 1, 2018
The one that got away
Old Paco was a criminal investigator for the ATF from the 1950s into the early 1970s (it was known as the Alcohol and Tobacco Unit of the Treasury Dept. when he began his career), and was a legendary "revenooer", chasing bootleggers throughout North Carolina. On a table of memorabilia at his funeral service, I spotted a thick case file that he had built on his arch nemesis, the notorious moonshine king bearing the improbable name of Percy Flowers - described in this Wikipedia article as "an American businessman, philanthropist, noted fox hunter and North Carolina's number one producer of illegal alcohol in the mid twentieth century." Old Paco and various other agents tried for years to put Flowers away, but he pretty much had Johnston county in his pocket, which included, among other things, practically every jury that ever heard a case against him. My father said that Flowers was one of the smartest men he ever met, a fellow who could have made a fortune in any honest line of work he might have chosen, but he apparently never had more fun than when making money illegally, and definitely there lived within him something of the age-old rural American hostility to a far-away, meddlesome federal government and its hoggish desire for taxes.