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James Clark and the Raiders

The state legislature had enacted a goofy law before I became District Attorney that I inherited and that my predecessor had refused to enforce.

That idiotic law prohibited nightclubs from stocking liquor.

To have a drink of alcohol legally, one had to take an unopened bottle of booze to a club and then have the bartender open it, then serve you a cocktail from your bottle and of course charging you. When you left, you were prohibited from leaving the bottle there with your name written on it. (Each time you visited you had to take an unopened bottle of your favorite liquor, so package stores loved it.)

But every club owner in the county ignored the law and at all times stacks of opened bottles were left behind the bar with patrons’ names written on each.

By formal letter and a personal visit by my investigator, I had warned every club owner in Carter County that I would enforce the law.

I was ignored. No one complied and the violations continued.

Fed up, I had a squad of OHP Troopers accompany me on a Saturday night in what were called “Special Emphasis” raids. It was not the wisest thing to do as a political figure but I was so fed up with being ignored that I didn’t care.

We hit every club in Ardmore including black-owned sites, loading truck loads of opened whiskey bottles from behind the bars which were later sold at a sheriff’s sale. The inventory was astounding, requiring several trucks to haul the confiscated booze.

At The Cloverleaf Club in Ardmore, one of the worst violators, I was behind the bar about 9:30 with 2 OHP Troopers boxing up booze when the phone on the wall rang. One trooper from Davis, Ray Ashford, a favorite of mine, picked up the receiver and activated the speaker. He answered:
“Cloverleaf Club, Ashford speaking.”

A man’s voice clearly said, “…who’s playing there tonight?” Ashford quickly replied, “James Clark and the raiders.” The man replied, “…never heard of ‘em,” and hung up.

Old time retired peace officers still tease me about that incident. I think it’ll survive my death.
-james a clark