We say good-bye to Clay's "Crow"
By Bob Weaver (2003)
Joey "Crow" Smith is dead at age 38, the Town of Clay's most famous alcoholic and "good will" ambassador.
Newspapers and photographers came from far and wide to photograph Crow, who most usually was sitting, legs crossed,
on the stone pillar in front of the old Clay courthouse. The first time I spotted him, I said to writer Jim Mullooly, a passenger,
"I'll bet that guy has a story."
We stopped and talked with Crow on more than one occasion, and shortly he began to tell his misadventures. "You're not another
guy from the Gazette?" he asked. I told him I was from Calhoun County. He said "There's a bunch of big-time drinkers over
there." I told him I was an alcoholic, but had the miracle of getting sober many years ago. He said "I can't stay sober. I've
tried. It comes back on me (the obsession to drink)."
He spoke openly about his life-long problem with addiction to alcohol and drugs and how he killed a person in a fit of
passion, going to prison for the crime.
Then he hit me up, asking if I would go across the street to the Rite Aid and get him a bottle. I told him I couldn't do that, but
after watching his shaking hands, I gave him five bucks. Before we went down the road he said "They won't sell me booze in
the Rite Aid anymore, so I'll have to hunt someone to buy it for me."
Some Clay residents have said Crow was kicked and beaten in the Rite-Aid parking lot by several local thugs. One report
said the well-known alcoholic climbed to his perch in front of the old courthouse, to possibly be clobbered again. Crow
reportedly tumbled to the street. None of the information could be confirmed by authorities.
Later, Crow did fall down the steps at his shack, injuring his head. Law enforcement did not arrest him but sent him to
Braxton County Hospital, where he died from an apparent brain injury.
I suppose Crow was an embarrassment to most folks in Clay. He did a lot of embarrassing things.
However, it was with compassion I have listened to his words as a recovering alcoholic - "But for the grace of God, go I."