Jul 26 2006
05:08 pm


It happened at the March, 1956 meeting of the Knoxville city council. Councilman Caswell Orton Walker (left in picture) got into a fistfight with Knoxville councilman J.S. Cooper. This picture appeared page 38 of the March 19, 1956 issue of the Life magazine.

Life magazine says that Cooper threw the first punch. He took a poke at Walker with his left. Cas Walker was fixin' to counter with a right cross but onlookers broke up the frakas before anybody could land a solid blow.

The magazine says the fight was over tax rates and property assessments (i.e. taxes). It's not known for certain but since Walker was known for being a fierce fiscal conservative it's reasonable to assume that he was fighting against a tax increase.

This event fifty years ago is a stark contrast to politics today when elected officials seem to never argue over a tax increase. They're too busy trying to figure out ways to slip over tax increases on innocent citizens so they can funnel cash their cronies and crooked buddies (ref. Mike Ragadale's shady wheel tax increase in 2004)

WBIR on Cas

robbie's picture

Cas Walker

My grandfather worked with Cas I've heard my share of stories his name is Little Robert VanWinkle. He was 42" tall--normal from the waist up but had short legs. My grandfather played music and I've seen clips on TV of him playing behind Dolly when she was a girl.

ErnestUTBass's picture

Cas Walker

I grew up in Oak Ridge in the 50's and 60's and remember watching the farm hour and his commercials. In 1968 we moved to Cecil County Maryland. My first day of high school in Maryland this kid comes up to me and says "do you know Cas Walker". I almost fell over. Come to find out Cas did a lot of "coon huntin" up in Cecil County, MD.

redmondkr's picture

Digger O'Dell was the

Digger O'Dell was the friendly undertaker on the old Life of Riley radio program. No doubt that's where Cas' character got the idea for the name.

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R. Neal's picture

I remember the same thing.

I remember the same thing. Maybe I saw you there. I think he called himself Digger O'Dell.

jbr's picture

I recall my parents taking

I recall my parents taking me to Cas Walkers on Chapman Highway to look down through the pipe at the guy buried alive in his parking lot. The guy had a light down in the hole with him.

Years later Cas spoke at a Young Businessmans Assoc for business students at the University Center in the Shiloh Room. He talked about burying the guy in his parking lot and said the deal was just for one or two nights, but business spiked so much he left him down another day or two.

Mandi Lynn's picture

Married into the family

I am glad I found this site. Cas was my husbands great grandfather. His father always tells us stories of things they did together. We thought it was only us who sat around and talked about Cas!

Darlene Graham's picture

Cas walker had a store

Cas walker had a store Pennington Gap, Va and I seen this man many times in my life growing up as a little girl. When did he pass away? I never seen is wife in the store. I say she was there but didn't remember or know who she was. The flood took the store I think in the early 70. I was born and raised there and alot of stories was told what real and what was wasn't. I guess you set aroung and laught and I guess along as that happen he will never die. I can remember him very well and I guess I could tell a few stories on Cas walker myself. Darlene

Pam Strickland's picture

It is an East Tennessee

It is an East Tennessee tradition to talk about Cas. He comes up in conversations all the time. Everybody has a story. I even told Cas stories when I lived in Arkansas, so my guess is that Cas stories are in every state in the country and many foreign lands. He would probably love that.

However, to have him in the family must be interesting. Some wild family stories I bet. All the things the rest of us don't have any idea about.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Terry Troll's picture

I met him once

I just found this string. I met Cas in about '62 or '63 in his Broadway store. I had gone in to see about a job. He was in the little office talking to, I guess, the store manager. He started asking me questions and it turned out he had known my Grandfather. We talked for about 15 minutes and I was impressed by what a nice guy he was.
But what I want to know and have forgotten is (1)the story of the missing red lights and (2)who published the Thunderbolt tabloid. Weren't they available in CW stores?

Joe328's picture

Missing Traffic Lights

Are you asking about the new traffic lights that were sold in a small Georgia town? I remember a story in the Watch Dog about several City of Knoxville employees who had a business selling surplus traffic equipment. One night a city truck left the garage after dark with a load of new traffic lights. Cas Walker had the truck followed to a town in Georgia where they were sold to the local town. After the Watch Dog broke the story, the traffic light were return and no one was charged.

Terry Troll's picture

Thanks Joe,

that was the story. All I could remember was traffic lights disappearing. And thanks to B. It must have been the Watchdog I was thinking of. I do remember picking up the Thunderbolt somewhere in Fountain City or Inskip though.

Bbeanster's picture

I don't know about the

I don't know about the missing red lights.

But I have never heard of Cas having The Thunderbolt in his store. It was a hardcore Klan periodical published by J.B. Stoner out of Stone Mountain Georgia.

The Watchdog was more of a free-flowing rant on whoever Cas was pissed off at at the moment -- most often political rivals and cops. Cas didn't much like cops, and loved to bust them for hanging around his competitors' establishments while on duty.

He also hated dog stealers and women who wore hot pants and then accused his friends of raping them.

citizenX's picture

Toby Julian

How 'bout it, Betty, can you scan your memory bank for the famous squabble between Cas Walker and "Posthole" Toby Julian. Cas stayed on his case and also Leonard Rogers who was Mayor at the time. Remember the fencing at Chilhowee Park....I think that is where the fight started? Can't recall all the specifics...can you?

And who could forget his nickname for our new sheriff....Joe Jenkins...known by Cas as "Broadway Joe."

Carole Borges's picture

Fascinating facts, Folks...

I love all these wee tales about this guy. What a colorful character. Come one Beanster--a book please! This is juicy, delicious stuff.

Bizzy's picture

I thought it was...

"If I ordered a truckload of s-o-b's and all they showed up with was Cas, I would sign for it."

G. Russell's picture

Theme Song

Remember this?

Pick up the morning paper when it hits the street
Cas Walker's prices just can't be beat
Try that Blue Band Coffee you will want some more
Do your grocery shopping at the Cas Walker Store

I was stationed at McGhee Tyson AFB in the
'50's. Cas had great entertainers on his show.
Remember Red and Fred? Honey Wilds? And, of

Jerry Cunningham Sr's picture

Cas Walker

AHHH Yes, All of us oldies but goodies baby boomers in Knoxville, Tennesee and East Tennesse and even into Kentucky and Virginia remember the old guy named Cas Walker who had grocery stores all over Knoxville and even Sevierville, TN and also as far as Pennington Gap, VA. He was a local celebrity of sorts. My father & mother (Arlie Dartis Cunningham & Grace Ruth Ball Cunningham) and family went to Cas Walker's Western ave store in an area in Knoxville, TN known as "McAnally Flats". We almost always lived in the Dale avenue and Fort Sanders area and went to Cas Walker's every Friday night for groceries. I don't know why it was called that but it was. There were always rumors of Cas stores having ice in the hamburger meat to stretch the weight further, I don't know or even care if that was true, but it certainly was a known rumor. Ole Cas was always catering to the "Poor Man" and claimed to be a hard worker and I think he was. I do believe he was a shrewd business man and I respected him. He actually lived on Gaston Street in North Hills close to Cherry Street in an older type home. I met a man at my office at Cunningham Window Company in Knoxville who said he was a UT Professor or a teacher, can't remember exactly his occupation but he said he now owns Cas' old house on Gaston Street and I sold him some windows for the house. Also Cas was said to have always placed his stores on the right hand side of the road going out of Knoxville so people could just cut right off easy into his parking lot and they were more prone to do that on the right side instead of the left going out of town as they would have to cross the oncoming traffic to go left. I don't know if the latter is true, but it kind of makes common sense and that is what Cas claimed to be all about. Cas store on Western Ave was at the corner of Western and Univerisity where a large chruch is now, he also had stores on North Central Avenue in the 1100 block (right hand side of course) where Fred's alignment is now, also at Walker Blvd at the corner of of Mineral springs road, rt side as well a thrift store of some kind now, On Mccalla Ave at 5 points where a new shopping center is now, on Kingston pike near Bearden Center on rt again, and the only one I remember NOT on the right hand side going out of town was probably the one in Sevierville which was on Chapman Highway, but if you consider it , I think it may have been classified as the right side also, depends on how you look at it, lol. I also met some of the people associated with Cas on his TV program called "The Farm and Home Hour" on WBIR TV Channel 10 in Knoxville, shown every morning at 7:00-8:00 am before going to school, shucks we woke up to Country music playing on the TV I think Mom used that as a draw o get us out of the bed. I now remember those "dgood old days" in my later years. I met Bud Brewster who was selling mobile homes for Taylor Mobile Homes in Alcoa TN. I was told that Bud actually kept a fifth of whiskey in his trash can beside his desk, I dunno about that, but I do know he had the dang stuff in the right place, if he would just have left it there. I also live in the Gibbs community in Corryton, Tn and was acquainted with another character from Cas TV show named "Honey Wilds". I don't remember his real name but he lived at the corner of Washington Pike and Boruff Road in Corryton, and he had a CB remember those days? The one thing I remember most about Cas was that he had "Chicken Flying Contests".

He would actually take live chickens and throw them off the roof in pairs to see how far they would "fly" at the 5 points store on McCalla Ave, of course he did this on Saturday mornings to attract a crowd and hope they would come shop his store, guess what? It worked people "Flocked" ( pun intended) from everywhere to see those silly chickens flopping and "flying for every bit of at least 50 feet, cuz thats about how far it was from the roof to the ground, but what a site to see, I am told. Anyone else have any remembrances of this episode in Cas' history, or other stories please email me. I love to talk about Cas Walker. more to come....

I would like any Cas enthusiats to come see me or call at least.

When asked once to run for City council, Cas said "I don't know if I would make a good city councilman, but I would make a good Watch Dog" and thus he started the old WATCHDOG throwaway paper he handed out at his stores when you came in with gossip and hard talk on anything he disagreed with or supported. If anyone has any of these old Watch dog newspapers of Cas I would surely like to obtain a few of them.

Jerry Cunningham, Sr (965) 522-0800 owner of Cunningham windows 800 E. Magnolia Ave Knoxville, TN 37917 email: Come by & bring yur chicken we might just want to try it at my place. (Grin)

(Anonymous)'s picture


Sorry gang, I had a problem with my email, had to change it to

I can be reached at Cunningham Window Company 800 E. Magnolia Ave Knoxville, TN 37917 (865) 522-0800 or email at

I luv old Cas Walker stories and there is a guy named Mark Field who works at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce who does Cas Walker imitations, I wish you could see that he is a Hoot as they say in the country in Corryton, TN.

When I was just a youngster living in the UT area on 16th street we would "Park" cars for the UT football game, well we didnt really have a parking lot, we would just run down drivers parking on the street and tell them we would watch their car for a quarter, lol and they would give us a quarter as kind of blackmail to not have us let the air out of their tires when they came back from the ball game.

I guess there was a Knoxville branch of the mafia after all.
I never did do that but the fun of it was they didn't know for sure and what the heck to give a kid a quarter wasn't such a big deal anyway and it was just part of living in the "UT area".

more to come............. I have tons of stories growing up in Knoxville and especially about Cas Walker and his gang on the early morning Farm and Home Hour program, where Dolly Parton actually got her start you know and now look she is world famous.

I wish Dolly would consider having a remake of the old Farm and Home hour incorporated into the Dollywood Theme somewhere with characters to mimic those including herself in it would be absolutely wonderful.

mrvlknxor's picture

Dolly Parton singing Cas Walker theme song

You can hear Dolly Parton sing this on her Heartsongs album. The full clip is on

Pam Strickland's picture

early mornings

My sob g'father loved Cas. Because of that every morning of my life until Cas went off the air the first thing I heard on school mornings was Cas carrying on about something, and my g'father talking back to the TV. My g'father was freuqently cussin' either Cas or whoever Cas was carrying on about.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

redmondkr's picture

He was un-straightening


He was un-straightening his tie and messing up his hair.

That reminds me of a story a friend used to tell of seeing Cas deplane at McGhee Tyson one afternoon.  He was perfectly groomed in an attractive business suit until he ducked into a nearby lavatory to become the Cas we all knew.

Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things. - Dan Quayle

Anonymous's picture

Cas lives...see Steve Hall,

Cas lives...see Steve Hall, Stacey Campfield, Tyler Harber, Randall Parker, etc. Good old Knoxville politics. Betty Bean loves them all, though. She's got all the column inches...Go Betty!!

Bbeanster's picture

Email me?

I'd love to talk to you about this.

Betty Bean

nextarchitect's picture


email was sent back.
my grandfather was a friend of cas. he worked for journal in sales dept.
when i was in middle school i took the photos of cas from his daily ads and made a 'beautiful' mobile. now its buttons. and scissors tie clips.
not sure what the fascination is.
ive heard that dolly was setting up a museum.
love to hear any stories.

ben garlington

KnoxVol's picture

"Your rights end where mine begin"


Cas used to say "Your rights end where mine begin". I'm not sure if he was talking about his fisting duels, though.

He had another political enemy with whom he reportedly got into a fist fight. The other person's name was E.B. Bowles.

Talk local politics at The County Seat


Jerry Cunningham Sr's picture

"Your rights end where mine begin"

I remember E.B. Bowles, he had a produce business in the 50's and 60's down off 5th ave close to the viaduct about 2 blocks east of what is now I-275 on a street called Banana Ave.

bill young's picture

cas recall

knoxville had a city manager form of government until the recall of cas walker & 2 other members of council in dec 1946..the city manager ran the day to day workings of the city & was appointed by council...the mayor was elected by council(the way the chair of the county commission is elected today)..cas was elected mayor by council in jan 1946....cas's gang fired the city manager,who was very popular with the silk stocking crowd....The Good Government Group was formed..backed by the News-Sentinal...& forced a recall vote...recalling cas & 2 other members of amended the city charter to create our present mayor/council form of government..from 1946-1971 knoxville had 8 mayors(Dance died in office & Duncan was elected to Congress)from 1971 till term limits in 2003 knoxville had 3 mayors...testerman(2 non consecutive terms),tyree(2 terms) & ashe(4 terms) info from the book heart of the valley

Les Jones's picture

My favorite quote about Cas

My favorite quote about Cas was something like "If I ordered a whole truckload of sons-a-bitches and all they sent me was Cas I wouldn't complain."

Hey, Les, why don't we just call each other assholes and get it over with. - Somebody on the old (if that was you, claim your quote and win net.fame!)

Bbeanster's picture

Mine, too. It's in Bruce

Mine, too. It's in Bruce Wheeler's book, and it's from Cas's old arch-rival George Dempster, a former mayor and inventor of the Dempster Dumpster. The way I remember it, Dempster said "If I ordered a boxcar load of sons of bitches and they only sent me Cas, I'd pay for the whole order." Dempster was a brilliant, witty man who deserves to be well-remembered, but isn't. Cas considered him the ring leader of the Silk Stocking Crowd. Interesting stuff on Dempster from my favorite local historian: (link...)
bizgrrl's picture

That was fascinating. I grew

That was fascinating. I grew up with some of the Dempster relatives. They too were wonderful people.

KnoxVol's picture

That's only part of the photo - I've got the remainder.


That is only part of the picture that is in the Life magazine. The picture spreads across the magazine fold. The part that you're seeing above is on the left hand side of the fold.

I took the picture with my digital camera. The Life magazine is at the Knox Co. library. I cropped the picture just to show Cas and J.S. Cooper. There are two other persons to the right. Neither of them appear to be laughing.

I couldn't tell if it was a hoax.

I would like to upload the whole thing for everybody to see. If somebody will show (or tell) me  how I will upload the entire picture. I like to never figured out how to get the first one up there.


Opinari's picture

Thumpin' Good!

I keep hearing the ol' Cas jingle in my head: "Thumpin' Good, Thumpin' Good!"

Funny, too, how he was such a fiscal conservative, yet he was also popular with the working class and with minorities. Sorta like a Republican Democrat, or something like that.

Rachel's picture

Not sure this is SUCH a

Not sure this is SUCH a stark contrast to today.  I remember Mike Arms giving John Mills the finger at a County Commission meeting just a couple of years ago.

R. Neal's picture

Looks to me like Cas had the

Looks to me like Cas had the Superior Kung Fu.

MartyD's picture

I remember relatives saying

I remember relatives saying this made the front page of the LA Times.... City Council Metting Hillbilly Style.

Bbeanster's picture

Notice how everyone in the

Notice how everyone in the picture is laughing?
That's because it was a hoax.
How do I know?
Cas told me so.
I had the Cas Walker "beat" when I worked at the KJ (Knoxville's late, once-great other daily newspaper, for you newbies). It started with me interviewing him when he was in the nursing home in Blount County, and we became fast friends over the last decade of his life. He was a helluva story-teller, and, near as I can tell, mostly told me the truth -- mostly. He told me that the "fistfight," a framed picture of which hung in the Journal editor's office, was "a put-up job," and that he and Cooper had cooked it up ahead of time. He wore many hats -- salesman, coon hunter, obstructionist, political boss -- but more than anything else, he was an unparalleled master at commanding the attention of the public. And it was hard to spell Cas wrong. I treasure my Cas Walker stories almost as I do my brother's.

Somebody remind me some day, if you are interested, to tell you about the time that brother John conned Cas. It was classic. Godzilla v King Kong.

Bbeanster's picture

Thanks for that story.Much

Thanks for that story, Metulj-
Much as I love my brother and much as I miss him, sometimes I cringed at the stuff he'd do in pursuit of the perfect prank.
Great story --

Factchecker's picture

That was fascinating...

That was fascinating. I grew up with some of the Dempster relatives. They too were wonderful people.

+1 to the last three posts (+3?).   I used to hear that when my grandfather would bring his kids, one being my mom, to Knoxville while he was on business with the Secret Service, he would drop them off to stay with the Dempsters. 

Now, Betty, we're ready to pull up our chairs.  If you're saving it for a book or something, that would be worth waiting for too. 

R. Neal's picture

My sister-in-law was his

My sister-in-law was his caregiver/nurse at the nursing home over in Maryville in his final days.

I met him once, when he came to Doyle High to speak to us about marketing back in the early 70s. He was standing out in the hallway, ready to go in and give his talk. He was un-straightening his tie and messing up his hair. He said it was part of his image of being a regular guy.

WhitesCreek's picture

Beanster, I thought it was a

Beanster, I thought it was a put on when I saw the pic but I couldn't be sure. I've actually know folks that laughed while they were beating or getting beaten up.

 The pose is all....well posed though. Good stuff for political theater.


bill young's picture

cas's gang '46 or '47

if beanster's got any stories on this i'd love for u to share 'em...but i do know that this is when knoxville changed from a city manager system to the present mayor council system

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