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Carol Perkins: In the case of the flea market Federal Case

Friendships sometimes take surprising twists
Last week's column: Carol Perkins: New York City at Christmas

By Carol Perkins

Having just returned from New York City and visiting Chinatown where knock off purses are as common as the sweet and sour chicken offered at one of the many Chinese restaurants, I thought about my first experience with knock off purses many years ago.

At one time Donney & Bourke (R) purses were the range. As they were selling for well over a hundred dollars, many women were thrilled to find knock-offs that looked real.

Several years ago, Guy, Carla and I went to the Tennessee Flea Market around Christmastime. All of a sudden, up the aisle from us, a crowd of women began stampeding! My daughter and I edged our way through the crowd as women grabbed fake Dooney purses by the handfuls. We joined in and came out, uninjured, with three purses: one for her, one for me and an extra one.

As we covered the rest of the flea market, I thought of someone else who might like a purse, so I rushed back to the booth only to find that the police had shut it down. Gone were the purses, the wallets, and the women. Not one in sight. I looked to the left and then to the right. I made a quick exit.

That night I called some of my friends to tell them about my fabulous finds and the story of the shut-down booth.

The following Monday morning a man called who identified himself as a Tennessee Federal Marshall. He questioned me about my whereabouts on Saturday and if I had purchased three purses. He knew exactly what I had paid for them, the kind of car I drove, and my license number. "I'll call you tomorrow and give you instructions as to what we expect of you," he said in a commanding voice.

I ranted and raved. "How did they find me? Why me out of all those women?" Guy tried to assure me it was probably a routine call. "I'm calling J.C. (the late Jim Coleman was our lawyer and our friend.) "It can't be routine if he had my license number!"

"Just wait until you know more and then you can call J.C."

All day I fumed. For twenty-four hours I told everyone who called. "Can you believe a federal marshal tracked me down? I guess I'll go back to court if I have to, but I'm not giving up my purses without getting back my money!"

That night I couldn't sleep for practicing what I was going to say to the federal marshal. The conversation played over and over in my head and I had a compelling argument by morning.

I don't really remember how the truth unfolded, but finally it came to light when I picked up the phone to call Jim Coleman.

This is what really happened: Judy plotted this scheme, along with Guy, and without much trouble dragged her colleague John Marrs into their plan. She knew I would not recognize his voice and he certainly had the voice of authority. (Sadly, John passed away not long after this.)

I had been "punked" long before MTV and Ashton Kutcher. I think I was the most upset at Guy for letting me fret for so long.

As for Judy, this was her best work. She is known for her quick wit and her sense of humor and out-did herself on this one. The joke was on me but she knew after that one, that she would forever have to sleep with one eye open.

This story was posted on 2015-12-16 13:33:40
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