· Fay Brown (1891-1968)
It’s Monday, August 3, 1931, in Hutchinson, Kansas.
“Buenos días mi amigo,” said Fay Brown, 40, causing Houston Latimer Whiteside, 41, to smile. It was Fay’s common greeting to those men who had served on the Mexican border in 1916 during the international trouble.
“We’re sorry for your deep personal loss,” continued Fay. “Julia was a gift to Hutchinson.”
“Thanks, Fay,” responded Houston, Jr. “If she hadn’t been visiting her sister here in 1888, she and Houston would have never met.”
“Her voice was angelic, her conversation engaging,” said Cora Brown, 37.
“The finest voice in the state,” added Fay. “And how’s your father?” he asked.
“Thanks Cora; thanks Brownie. It all happened so fast,” replied Houston, Jr. “It’s still sinking in for us that she’s gone. At every meal we expect to see her smiling face, hear her laugh, and words of wisdom. At least we were able to say goodbye. First on the train ride to Chicago, where Ada lives, and then the time together in Presbyterian Hospital.”
Junior continued, “Since father was 22 years older than her, he always thought he would die before Julia. He would even joke about her finding a younger man.”
“Do you think Houston, Jr. will ever get married?” asked Fay.
“Sure,” answered Cora. “If the right woman comes along at the right time. Houston, Sr. was 40 when he and Julia married, so it’s not too late.”
“On our New Year’s Day marriage in 1916, we were only 21 and 24,” remembered Fay.
“Fifteen years now,” said Cora. “I was a telephone operator at Missouri & Kansas Telephone Company and you were a merchant policeman. By July you were off to Eagle Pass on the Mexican border.”
“Those were a long four and a half months,” said Fay.
“Too long,” agreed Cora.
“I’m glad Houston, Jr. and Ada got to have their mother for so many years,” said Fay.
“They’re probably not feeling lucky right now,” said Cora, “but yes, losing a loved one comes too soon.”
“I’ve tried, but I can’t remember my father,” said Fay. “I was only three when he died, but I recall my mother. When I was six she passed, and the five of us children became orphans in Henry County, Indiana.”
“When my mother ran off from our farm near Turon, it was hard on me and Occie,” said Cora, “but I learned a step-mother could also be hard. In the long run, it all worked out.”
“Losing Cloe to the 1918 influenza epidemic was tough,” said Fay. “Out of the five of us, she was the youngest. Cloe was only 25 when she, her husband, and their son died in Kansas City.” Click to read about Cloe’s death during The 1918 Influenza Epidemic
You’ve given a good part of your life to law enforcement,” said Cora, “including being president of the Kansas State Peace Officers Association the last two years you were in office.”
“I must have worked in every position or office on the police force and the sheriff’s office after my nights as a merchant policeman: motorcycle cop, patrolman, deputy, jailer, detective, chief of detectives, desk sergeant, chief of police, undersheriff, and sheriff.”
“Even today, you’re still arresting people,” said Cora.
“It’s different but the same,” replied Fay. “Jesse Deck and I can pretty much run our own show as detectives for the investigation bureau without political pressure.”
“I’m glad to be in our own home without the responsibility of preparing meals for a dozen or two boarders,” said Cora. “We had too many middle of the night calls from the public, and too many escaping prisoners. You still risk your life on every investigation.
“You’ve been hospitalized from fights and wrecks. Drunks have battered you on your head with your own gun. You were blinded by corn whiskey and fine glass particles when a woman bootlegger tried to destroy the evidence. Fortunately, you were able to undergo a successful operation on your right eye to regain your vision.”
Click to learn details about Fay losing his sight Blinded by Corn Whiskey
“Mrs. Sheriff,” said Fay, we’ve been an exceptional team, especially during our four years at the sheriff’s residence. You gave up your telephone work to be matron and helped me on many a prisoner trip.
“The trips to pick up or deliver prisoners were a break from the jail routine,” said Cora. “They were sanity breaks.”
“I always tried to do right,” said Fay. “Enforcing the liquor law was the hardest part of the work, but I always tried to be fair, square, and honest with all.”
“One of my worst days as sheriff was July 19, 1927,” said Fay. “Having ten prisoners escape our jail in one night was embarrassing and created a lot of unnecessary trouble. Truman Reynolds, the ‘Bad Boy of Arlington,’ the ring-leader, was a pain in my side. Most of the other prisoners were short –timers, arrested for illegally riding the trains. I’ll never understand them tunneling out when they could have been free men in a few days.” Click to read Jail Escape by the Bad Boy of Arlington
Click to see Sheriff Fay F. Brown reelection advertisement
“The new Reno County courthouse, First Avenue and Adams Street is a thing of beauty,” said Cora. “Ed Cunningham must be enjoying the jail and residence on the fifth floor.”
“He said he’s satisfied 100% and that it’s a wonderful building with everything convenient,” replied Fay.
“I’ll miss working closely with Ed,” continued Fay. “He’s been a chum since our early days on the Hutchinson police force. Some people were surprised that I’d have Republicans working for me, but he and I never let politics get in the way of our friendship or work.
“I wish Ed the best as he sheriffs for Reno County.”
Until next time, happy writing and reading.