Book Report: Buff Lamb: Lion of the Ozarks by Randy H. Greer (2022)

Book coverI got this book at ABC Books during a book signing in August, and I delved right into it. Well, relatively–sometimes books go into the Nogglestead stacks for decades (I have a couple of books I bought in college that I still have not read, so within a couple of months is instantly when it comes to reading a book I bought).

So Buff (short for a longer nickname Buffalo) was a circus rider and driver who ended up a town marshal in his early 20s who parlayed that into becoming a sheriff’s deputy and then getting elected sheriff of Christian County, Missouri, for a long time and in non-consecutive terms. He served at the same time as Mickey Owen (former big league baseball player turned Greene County sheriff whose reelection notepad I still have on my desk, albeit not on the surface but in a cubby with notepads). He was a bit of a womanizer, married many times, and had a couple of children from whom he became estranged. He was a larger than life character, but his bluff and bluster and occasional brutality made Christian County safer, but it took a toll on the man and his family.

I have probably mentioned before, gentle reader, that I only went on one travel vacation in my youth (I did mention our trip to Rockaway Beach in a post about a vacation in Wisconsin). The trip to Rockaway Beach would have been when I was in middle school or high school, so the middle 1980s; my mom and my brother stayed at some cabins where my mother had stayed with her family at one time. Rockaway Beach, although it is close to Branson and is on Lake Taneycomo, one of the three lakes that gives the Tri-Lakes area its nickname, was deserted. And one of the proprietors of the few amusements on the main road through town said that in the 1970s, within recent memory, the town was taken over by bikers and had not recovered. Although Rockaway Beach is in Taney County, when the Taney County sheriff called for help when one of the biker parties got out of hand and turned into a riot, Buff Lamb and his deputies joined in the clearing of town. So that account connected up with something I knew.

So this book straddled a line between history and current events (well, events current to my lifetime) in a way that history books generally don’t. Another connection was that a deputy whom Buff promoted and backed but then turned on when he wanted to be sheriff again was appointed interim sheriff in 2012 when the then-current sheriff was ousted for corruption. I remember that. And I’m surprised that it was ten years ago already.

I guess that’s how it happens: The older you get, the more you’ve lived becomes history.

It looks as though the author has been making a lot of appearances in support of the book, including talks here and there. It’s a pretty good book. A couple of typos, including a passage where a person’s name is spelled both Francis and Frances (prompting this post). But he’s fair in his treatment of the subject, and it was an enjoyable read.

It makes me hope that the kittens soon knock down the other book of his that I bought at the same time.

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