She went the extra mile (er, 400 miles) to stand by her man
HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) — How far would you travel to get your significant other out of the slammer?
Would you travel, say, 400 miles? On a bus? Going without food for two days? And would you make this long, wearisome trip with not just one, but two 5-month-old babies in tow? Do you love your spouse that much?
That’s what one devoted High Point woman did more than 75 years ago, when her husband ran afoul of the law in Philadelphia, getting tossed into the clink for what newspapers reported to be “a minor charge.” Minor or not, the young wife and mother took it upon herself to hightail it up to Philadelphia and help her jailbird of a husband become a free bird — and newspapers across the country gobbled up the heartwarming story.
The year was 1941, and the story began when 24-year-old truck driver Chester Causey — who drove a regular route from his High Point hometown to New York — was arrested during a stopover in Philadelphia and placed in Moyamensing Prison. According to a newspaper account, Causey was jailed when a pair of women complained that he had “annoyed them in the street,” whatever that means. Causey denied the charge, explaining he was merely trying to find his way back to his truck after going to see a movie.
Whatever the case, word of the arrest somehow reached Causey’s wife Louise, also 24, back in High Point. We don’t know if her wedding vows specifically included the phrase “for better or for worse, in incarceration and in freedom,” but what we do know is that Louise dove into action.
First, she sold the family goat — the source of the family’s milk supply — for $7.50, and she began making plans for her and the couple’s 5-month-old twins, Charlie and Ila May, to go to Philadelphia.
“I got $7.50 and bought a bus ticket for $6.80,” she told a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer. “That was all the money we had. I was left with 70 cents, and spent it on the way here to buy milk for the babies. But we didn’t have anything to eat at all.”
The tale of Louise’s amazing journey to Philadelphia became public after she was found wandering around on the sixth floor of City Hall, lugging the twins and a large suitcase.
“I’ve come to find my man and help him,” she declared. Then the exhausted young woman slumped into a chair and added, “I haven’t eaten in two days.”
Fortunately for Louise, she was in the City of Brotherly Love. Upon learning of her plight, the staff of the district attorney’s office sent out for food, took up a $20 collection, and referred the young family to a local shelter they could stay at while Chester awaited trial.
Meanwhile, Louise vowed, “If we get (Chester) out of his trouble, I’ll make sure he gets a job close to home.”
The next day, Louise took the witness stand on her husband’s behalf, the ultimate character witness.
“My husband is a fine husband and a good father,” she told a Philadelphia jury. “He has a good reputation and no criminal record. I know, because I investigated that before I married him.”
That line probably elicited a few chuckles in the courtroom, but it also resonated with the judge, who told the jury the young wife’s testimony was uncontradicted and should be given great weight. After only 15 minutes of deliberation, the jury voted to acquit Chester and send him on his way back to High Point.
The judge, clearly impressed by Louise’s efforts to stand by her man, offered a few words of wisdom to the young defendant before releasing him.
“You are a lucky man to have a good wife and two healthy babies,” the judge said. “Now go home and behave yourself.”
As far as we know, that’s exactly what Chester did.
And as for those folks in the City of Brotherly Love, they made believers out of the Causeys. After Chester was acquitted, the City Hall staff took up another collection to send the young High Point family back home.
Information from: High Point Enterprise, http://www.hpenews.com