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Residents bond over law careers

Frankie Walker and Dot Brooks never knew each other before theybecame roommates at Golden Living Center, but they already hadplenty to talk about when they got there.

“We started rooming together about three or four months ago,”Walker said.Walker, 80, was a Justice Court judge for almost 12years, starting in 1975. Ironically, while she was working to putpeople in jail for breaking the law, Brooks, 79, a bail bondsman,was helping get them out.

“I was getting people out of jail,” Brooks said. “They wouldn’tstay in there 10 seconds. They wanted out of there.”

The two women sleep in a comfortable room, in beds that line awall separated by a curtain, but it’s open most of the time. Thewalls, tables and shelves are lined with photos of their familiesand keepsakes.

During the day, they sit in chairs that face each other and whenthey’re not doing activities set up by Golden Living Center staff,they talk about family, or reminisce about old times.

And they’re grateful for each other’s friendship.

“She’s a really good person,” Brooks said. “And we’re reallygood friends.”

Walker agreed.

“I’m very lucky to get to live with her,” she said.

Both say it was in part, the criminal justice connection thatgave them something to bond over. There are stories upon storiesthat they can both tell about their days on either side of thecourt process.

Walker tells the story of a man who came into her court afterasking some game wardens to stop what he said was a man who wasbaiting turkeys on his land at 3 a.m. When they went out to thecomplainant’s property, they found something unusual.

“They went out before they thought he was up, and they found himfeeding his turkeys,” she said. “He was feeding his ownturkeys.”

And Brooks said she remembers the days when she almost felt likea celebrity because people would call out to her when she wouldvisit the jail to get them out.

“People would holler at you when you went to get them out,” shesaid. “They’d see me and holler, ‘Hey Dot, come get me out ofjail!'”

But still, Brooks said, people would confuse her with hersister, Ruth Newman, who actually got her into the business of bailbonding.

And both women said just as there are happy memories, there weresome down sides to the jobs as well.

“We didn’t know each other back then, but we knew all thecrooks,” Brooks said. “I saw some pitiful sights, but I enjoyed myjob.”

Walker had another facet to her job that judges today don’toften have to deal with, as well. She said some scenes from her jobstill haunt her.

“If they found someone dead and the coroner couldn’t go, we hadto go,” she said. “That bothered me.”

But the part of both jobs that the women still treasure to thisday is the chance to connect with so many people.

“I loved my job. I just loved meeting people and helpingpeople,” Walker said. “You make great friends, but you also makegreat enemies.”

Walker said she has advice for people who still want to make adifference, whether they’re in some part of the justice system ornot. It’s easy to help people and change things, she said.

“I love voting. They bring us our absentee ballots up here so wecan vote,” she said. “You’ve got to vote.”

And both women have influenced the generations of theirfamilies. Brooks has two nephews and a niece who are bail bondsmennow, and she said she hopes they enjoy the work as much as shedid.

Walker’s grandson Ryan Cannon just graduated from law school inMay, she said, and along with passing along the legal gene, Walkerpassed along something else as well.

“My grandson has my gavel on his desk,” she said. “I’m veryproud of him.”