OKLAHOMA TOUGH: My Father, King of the Tulsa Bootleggers

Ron Padgett, Author . Univ. of Oklahoma $29.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8061-3509-0

"I was hit with an intense sensation, the pang of loving someone I don't really know," recalls poet Padgett, of a night nearly two decades ago, which sparked the writing of his father's biography. Alternately describing his bootlegger dad, Wayne Padgett, as a dutiful son, wheeler-dealer, womanizer and hero, the author brings to life the paradoxical spirit of a generous, resourceful man, deeply affected, at the tender age of 11, by his own father's murder. Wayne Padgett, as his son describes, was a longstanding member of a Tulsa, Okla., bootlegging outfit known as the Dixie Mafia. Offsetting any tendency toward sentimentality, Padgett (You Never Know) substantiates with personal interviews with his father's peers, newspaper articles and police records, portraying an outsider and outlaw whose ventures included gambling, cars, stolen merchandise, nightclubs and phone scams, and whose customers extended to preachers, cops and the mayor. Childhood memories and an eye for aesthetic detail bring an immediacy to the era and locale in this beautifully written memoir—accompanied by photographs and personal letters. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-8061-3732-2
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