My father Walter D. Hines, Sr. served as Sheriff of Polk County from 1936 to 1950. While serving as Sheriff my father raised ten children; five daughters and five sons. Four of the five sons followed in my father’s footprints, serving as law enforcement officers.
My brothers, Fred and Walter D. Hines, Jr. served as North Carolina Highway Patrolmen. My brother Melvin, better known as “Mutt”, served as a Deputy Sheriff in Polk County and I retired after serving twenty years as a Detention Officer and Deputy Sheriff in Mecklenburg County. I’m not sure of the total number of years we all served, but I know it was many.
While serving as Sheriff, my father had one full-time Deputy. There were no North Carolina Highway Patrolmen stationed in Polk County. The towns of Tryon and Saluda had one police officer, so my father pretty much had the responsibility of enforcing the law by himself. There were many nights after having worked all day he would have to respond to various calls- not getting much sleep.
Back then, the sheriff and his family had living quarters at the jail. As I recall, I was five years old when we moved to the jail and I lived there until I was twelve. My dear sweet mother, Bessie, pretty much did all the cooking for the inmates. My father had a jailer we called Timmer who only worked part-time. So, besides being Sheriff, my father also had to act as a part-time jailer. People do not know what to think when I tell them I lived in jail. It was quite an experience. One with memories I will never forget.
I’m so thankful that my father, brother and myself never had to kill anyone or was killed. Law enforcement officers have a difficult job so on behalf of my deceased father and brothers, we want to say thank you for the job you do every day.