June 22, 1988, Anna Maria Island

Floyd the Flim-Flammer

By Gib Bergquist

An open letter to the Citizens of Gallia County:

“Please permit me to introduce myself. My name is Floyd Lee Cantrell and I was born and raised in Gallia County on a farm near Bidwell. My mother still lives there. At present, I am incarcerated at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus where I am serving a five-year sentence for auto theft and burglary, but in a few months I will be out on parole.

“I want you to know that while I have been here, I have worked very hard to turn my life around and become a decent citizen again like my father was. Through the excellent educational rehabilitation program here at OSP, I have learned a trade and have applied for my license as a master electrician. I plan to return to Gallia County and open my own business employing my newly acquired expertise.

“As you are probably aware, the Rural Electrification Administration in Washington has recently approved loans that will bring electricity and telephone service into the most remote farms in our county. In less than a year, the local power co-op will be setting poles and stringing power and telephone lines to the farms that are presently without those services.

“Now wouldn’t it be nice, neighbor, when the day arrives that these services reach your home, if you have prepared for it by having your house wired in advance? Then all you will have to do is throw a switch and enjoy all the benefits an electrified home and telephone will bring.

“I’m prepared to offer this service at a great discount and will sell you the electrical fixtures at a fraction over cost as a measure of good faith and in order to establish myself among my good neighbors again.

“This offer is good on a first-come, first-served basis, so write to me in care of OSP, Columbus, Ohio right away. My inmate number is 674892. As soon as I am released I will call on you and give you an estimate.”

Thus ran the ad in the local paper some years ago when the Cracker was an FBI Agent on assignment in southern Ohio.

Ol’ Floyd did get out of the pen on schedule and opened up a thriving business installing fancy chandeliers and other fixtures and appliances in soon-to-be-electrified farm houses about the county.

Finally, the great day arrived when the power poles reached the first house that Floyd, the master electrician, had serviced. When the wires were strung from the utility pole to his fuse box, the anxious farmer stood by his family to throw the switch that would light up his glass-baubled chandelier. When all was ready, he threw the wall switch and nothing happened, much to his surprise and chagrin. He tried all the other switches and they didn't work either. It was the same story when he tried his telephone.

You see, Floyd had installed all those ceiling fixtures, wall switches and outlets without fishing the first foot of connecting electrical cable through the walls.

When the irate farmers realized what had happened, they went looking for Floyd only to find that he had closed out his business in the dead of night and had taken off with his girlfriend, Charlotte, in a stolen Cadillac.

The Cracker followed Floyd and Charlotte’s exploits for the next several years as they went all over this country, Mexico and Canada plying their trade as very professional fraudulent check passers selling worthless Canadian gold mining stock and carrying on other flim-flam schemes.

Floyd quickly developed into the most intelligent, charismatic, glib con artist the Cracker ever ran across, and it is a pity he spent his whole life flim-flamming his fellow man. The Cracker often wonders to what height he might have risen had he chosen to play it straight.

Whatever happened to Floyd? Well, I’ll tell you. While Charlotte waited at curbside in their latest stolen Cadillac convertible, Floyd emerged from a bank in Tampa, Florida, where he had just passed a sizable fraudulent check, and dropped dead on the sidewalk of a heart attack.

From Cracker's Crumbs, 1995 Gib Bergquist

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