Why was the “Battle for the Beer Barrel” between Tennessee and Kentucky discontinued in 1997? (Part 1)

In the movie “Alvin York” Gary Cooper play York and 14 minutes into the move there is a scene where Alvin goes to a bar that is on the Kentucky and Tennessee line. It is a very funny scene where Alvin is trying to get drunk but his little brother fetches him home at gunpoint. A lot of times we laugh at drunks when they are pictured in comedies but in real life the results can be fatal.

I recently posted about the Battle for the Beer Barrel that started in 1925 between the Kentucky and Tennessee football teams, but was discontinued due to the tragic deaths of several Kentucky football players in 1997 in an alcohol-related car crash.

Several of my relatives live in Lowell, Arkansas where Police Chief Joseph Landers had served for years. Sadly his life was taken by a drunk driver. Below are the facts:

The Battle For The Beer Barrel (aka The Border War)


The prize: The Beer Barrel

Florida Man Arrested In Chief Landers’ Death

Police: More Charges Could Be Filed

POSTED: 8:44 am CDT May 8, 2012
UPDATED: 9:08 am CDT May 8, 2012

 LOWELL, Ark. — A Florida man has been arrested in connection with the death of Lowell Police Chief Joe Landers who was killed in a motorcycle crash in April.The Florida Highway Patrol arrested Jimmy John Christo Jr. on Monday and booked him into the Bay County Jail on charges of leaving the scene of a crash with death. Additional charges are pending the completion of the traffic homicide investigation.Landers died Friday at Bay Medical Center from injuries suffered in the crash.Authorities said Landers was riding with a group of motorcyclists at 8:30 p.m. on April 27 when a driver pulled in front of him. He hit the vehicle and went over his handlebars to the ground. Christo, 52, was driving the Nissan Maxima that police said pulled in front of Landers.Deputies said Christo fled the scene but was caught a short time later. The Florida Highway Patrol arrested Cristo and charged him with fleeing the scene of a critical injury accident, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and other traffic violations.”From speaking to the trooper, the gentleman pretty much confessed to drinking, confessed to causing the accident, confessed to leaving the scene,” said Sgt. Paul Pillaro.

I really enjoyed the article below which appeared on May 15, 2012 in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

Live life for today

Over in an instant

By Mike Masterson

This article was published today at 3:45 a.m

LITTLE ROCK — If you’re searching for evidence of how unpredictable physical existence can be, look no further than Joseph Landers, the popular police chief for 15 years in Lowell before his death, following a motorcycle accident, nearly two weeks ago in Panama City, Florida.

I’d met Chief Joseph last Christmas Day at a family gathering with my son Brandon, his wife, Sarah and granddaughter Elizabeth. Joe had come with his sweetheart, Sarah’s sister, Kelly Arnold Long.

I liked Joe right away. He was a friendly, soft-spoken, insightful and confident man with a good heart.

Yet he wasn’t your conventional buttoned-down chief of police. Instead, he was what I think of as a “working man’s” chief. Anyone who’d spent a year as part of an international police training unit helping teach (well, trying to) a timid group of Iraqi citizens to be professionals amidst such anarchy was definitely a hands-on lawman.

We chatted, took pictures, laughed and visited that Christmas morning. And when the time felt right we scattered in different directions.

I saw him several weeks later when he and Kelly came to Elizabeth’s 5th birthday party, then again a few weeks ago at Kelly’s home during an evening visit.

On that night, he was doing what he truly enjoyed: riding his Harley.

As fate would have it, it would be the same cycle he was on at a motorcycle rally in Panama City after enjoying dinner with friends. The story of what happened next has become sadly familiar to many over the past weeks.

A man identified in a Florida news story as Jimmy John Christo turned directly in front of Joe’s cycle as Joe was accelerating, sending Joe into the side of Christo’s car and over it to slam head-first onto the pavement. His pelvis was shattered and arm broken. That’s what the police report says.

In Arkansas and Florida, motorcycling adults are not legally required to wear helmets. Like many Harley owners, Joe understandably preferred to risk riding without one when he wasn’t officially on the police motorcycle back home.

Police soon found Christo, who they said had fled the scene and parked in a friend’s driveway. He’s since been charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, a first-degree felony. A conviction could bring up to 30 years in prison. Yet the local court saw fit to free him on a paltry $10,000 bond.

The bottom line is that Joe’s 51 years of life effectively ended in an instant. And not because of anything he’d done wrong.

Back in Northwest Arkansas, all who knew Chief Joseph were stunned and saddened in the way folks feel when someone they care for departs suddenly. The outpouring of grief and support down in Florida and at his memorial service at home was overwhelming.

If prayers could be numbered in books, those sent up on Landers’ behalf undoubtedly would easily have filled the Washington and Benton county libraries.

Joe was in great shape physically. And he’d fought like the dickens to remain in this world. His children, Kelly and friends remained by his side supporting his struggle for nearly a week.

But the damage to his swelling brain was just too extensive. Even radical lifesaving measures didn’t help. No matter what the surgeons and medical staff did, he remained unresponsive, though his vital signs remained surprisingly strong after being removed from the ventilator.

After two days in hospice, Joe surrendered and drew his final breath.

And so can too easily go the unpredictable days of our own lives, my friends. One second Joe Landers was happy, looking forward to Kelly joining him in the coming days. The next-and from out of nowhere on a Florida city street-all those hopes and dreams vanished in an instant.

I’ve become fond of quoting the late actor Michael Landon of Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie fame. Before his death, he advised each of us to get on with living our lives today, right now, this very moment because tomorrow may never come.

There’s a mysterious and uplifting footnote to share in connection with Joe’s passing.

His final posting on Facebook on the evening he died simply said he was “missing Kelly” followed by the symbol of a sad face.

Kelly told me that after flying home from Florida to Rogers, she went out the following morning to retrieve her newspaper.

There she noticed something glistening in the driveway. Bending down, she collected pieces of a small, scalloped object that, on closer examination, turned out to be a broken seashell.

But how was that even possible? Especially when the broken white shell matched the one she’d collected on the Panama City beach to bring home after being at Joe’s deathbed.

She says there’s no question in her mind where this little crushed shell (now saved in a bag) came from and how it wound up 900 miles away in her particular Northwest Arkansas driveway.

For Kelly, it was Joe’s way of letting her know he’s still missing her and is still with her. And I wouldn’t begin to tell her any differently. How about you?



Mike Masterson is opinion editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Northwest edition.

Editorial, Pages 13 on 05/15/2012

Print Headline: Over in an instant


ryan dunn Jackass dead in crash

Bam Margera’s First Interview After Ryan Dunn’s Death

Ryan Dunn and his friends moments before they died.

Flickr user Eric Lewis posted the image below with a caption that says the photo shows what’s left of Dunn’s car.

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