Cumberland Falls by: James E. Lawson

Sterling Lawson
Submitted by: Mary Lou Hudson
The Whitley Republican, Williamsburg, KY May 6, 1976
Heads or Tales by Eugene Siler
    A supersalesman, or how the mold was broken
He was a giant of a salesman - the kind that could sell
air conditioners to Eskimos or fur coats to Cubans.
This crack salesman was grandfather to John Lawson, who
works at one of the local banks, an uncle of J.Will Sharp
who raises cattle on Wolf Creek, kin to all the Lawsons
in these parts.
The salesman's name was Sterling Lawson. He originated on
Capuchin Creek, later came to Newcomb, died somewhere
around Jellico at the age of 86 after selling dry goods
all over southeast Kentucky.
In the beginning he rode a horse and buggy. Later he rode
a Model T. Ford or something similar.
Sterling chewed tobacco, dressed carelessly, talked
fluently, usually sprawled over a seat rather than an
upright position and made friends easily.
One day J. Will Sharp was passing along where Sterling
was resting in the shade during the sunset period of his
life.
"Come in here, J. Will, I want to talk some with you."
said Sterling.  They talked about an hour. Then Sterling
said, "J. Will, you're a fool to waste your time talking
to me. You ort to get on down the road and do something
better than wasting time with me." And so their 
conference thus came to an end.
Another time J. Will was driving Sterling over in the
valley and suddenly Sterling said, "Pull over to that
store and I'll buy you a cokie cola."
"How much are your cokie colas?" he asked the merchant.
"They are now six cents.We recently had to raise them
a penny."
Sterling said, "Drive on, J. Will, we ain't going to pay
no six cents for cokie colas."
One of the few times I ever met and talked to Sterling he
related how he had made a selling trip up to Leslie
County, which was then remote and quite isolated and had
neither hotel nor motel.
Sterling accepted an invitation to go up on the
mountainside and stay all night in a mountain home for
a modest fee.They talked and talked before the open
fire and finally got on the subject of funerals and
funeral sermons.
Sterling told his host he had taken part in several 
funerals and "had never had any complaints" on his talks.
The host spoke up and said, "if you don't care, just 
kinda go over a funeral talk for me and say what you
would if you were talking over me."
"All right.Get some chairs and stretch out on them and 
I will stand up here and talk just like it was your
funeral.
So the man stretched out, folded his hands and closed his
eyes.
Sterling said,"You all knew this man better than I did,
but there are some things I'd rather not talk about, such
as drinking moonshine and stealing watermelons and so
forth.  I just won't talk about such things on this 
occasion."
The "Deceased" jumped from his catafalque and said, 
"You shet your mouth, Lawson, before I break this chair 
over your head."
Lawson said, "Well I never told nothing - just stated, 
'I'd rather not talk about such things' - and now let's
get to bed."  And so they did.
Someone asked Sterling why he had joined a church in
Jellico rather than one of the country churches close to
where he was raised. His reply was that in a country 
church he might get put out if he drank any beer or
whiskey or went out to a dance, whereas in Jellico
nobody would pay any attention to things like that since
most of them were following the same conduct over in town.
There never was another one like Sterling. He was a
product of our hill country and I am certainly glad I
came to know him and listen to him talk occasionally on
Courthouse square. The mold is now broken -- there 
are no more Sterling Lawsons.

 

 

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