I grew up in Ripley, Tennessee, a farming community of three thousand people, the county seat of Lauderdale County, located fifty miles north of Memphis.
My mother and dad had been married seventeen years when I was born. They had grown up poor and sacrificed for me to have the things they never were able to enjoy in their youth. I had a happy childhood playing sports with my friends and doing the things boys do in small towns.
My father began the practice of law in 1918 when he came home from the Army at the end of World War I. He was the mayor of Ripley when I was born in 1935. He served in the Tennessee state legislature, was the president of the Bank of Ripley and co-publisher of the weekly newspaper, The Lauderdale County Enterprise.
A lot of the people in my family were lawyers. My dad met my mother in a cousin's law office in Ripley. My grandfather on my mother's side, Blair Pierson, was a judge of the Chancery Court in Memphis in the 1800's.
My third cousin, Colin McKinney, from Ripley, was on the Tennessee Supreme Court. He dissented for the court in the Scopes case, the Dayton monkey trial case. Judge McKinney took me to court with him in Nashville when I was a little boy. The Tennessee Supreme Court building was my first exposure to an elevator. It was self operated and he would hold me up to push the buttons.