· Sheriff Fay F. Brown’s Badge:
Sisters Night Out
It’s the evening of June 18, 1927. Cora Phares Brown, 33, and her sister, Occie Phares Hamilton, 40, are going to the Midland Theater to see the silent film, “The Telephone Girl.”
Occie pulled her Overland coupe up to the sheriff’s residence which was part of the Reno County Jail, at 15 B, east, Hutchinson, and got out. Recalling brother-in-law, Sheriff Fay Brown’s cautionary advice, she locked the doors.
Cora stepped out of the residence, onto the front porch, and welcomed Occie, “Hello Sis, you’re right on time.”
After a quick hug, the sisters started walking to the corner of Main St., and proceeded north. It was a comfortable June night.
“Seven months ago, I had a fairly predictable job at the telephone company,” said Cora, “but Fay seems to relish the uncertainties of being sheriff.”
“Do you expect him back from Washington soon?” asked Occie.
“I don’t know yet,” said Cora. “Picking up the prisoner in Chehalis took longer than expected. Fay told me he’d have to miss our movie night, but he encouraged me to go without him. I don’t even know if the movie’s going to be worthwhile, but at least we can count on fresh popcorn at the Midland Theater.”
“I know you wouldn’t pass up a movie with the title, The Telephone Girl,” said Occie. “I hear that Madge Bellamy is a stunner in her role as Kitty O’Brien.”
“I hope they have scenes at the telephone company,” said Cora. “I’ll see if they ring true.”
“Thank god for farmers, but I could never be one,” said Cora.
“I’m glad we got off the farm when we did,” agreed Occie.
“The farmers have had it tough ever since Europe’s agriculture recovered after the war,” she continued.
“No wonder American farmers are losing their farms,” agreed Cora. “They went into serious debt when wheat and corn was selling high. Now, with these prices, they can barely break even.”
“And this cold, rainy weather is making things bad for the farmers and the harvesters,” said Occie. “When I was on Sherman Street this morning, I saw men lined up at the free employment agency. They’re waiting for harvesting work.”
Harry Chabin, the manager at the agency, is warning of hungry men who expected to have money in their pockets by now,” said Cora. “The state depends on the annual migration of harvest hands, but this weather has created problems for the city and county. Penniless men have been forced to go house-to-house canvassing for food.”
“Hungry men mean hungry families,” said Occie.
“Exactly,” said Cora. “Until today, we had two men sitting in jail, waiting for trial in district court, with no money to bond out. With destitute families, the children have been receiving food and clothes from the county. They’d starve to death without the aid.”
“What kind of charges?” asked Occie. “Theft?”
“The one that’s still in jail, Arthur Townley, was caught stealing copper cabling from Carey Salt,” replied Cora. “He’s got a wife and three children. They’re newcomers from Kansas City.
“I’m really surprised that the prisoner with the more serious offense of assault, Chester Crouch, was paroled today after pleading guilty to lesser charges,” Cora continued. “Maybe it’s because he has a trade as a plumber. He has a wife and six children. Crouch promised the judge that he and his family would leave Hutchinson immediately and return to Oklahoma City.”
“It sounds like the county commission and county attorney will decide these difficult situations on a case-by-case basis,” said Cora. “The question is, ‘If these men are released, will they take good care of their families by working an honest job, or will they commit more crime?’ Who knows?”
“I read that Lindbergh flew to St. Louis in his Spirit of St. Louis, said Occie. He helped present 1926 World Series Championship rings on the field to members of the Cardinals prior to their ball game.”
“And I heard that the Hutchinson Chamber of Commerce sent Lindy a telegraph, inviting him to visit and celebrate at our fair city on July 4th,” said Cora.
“What are the chances of that happening?” asked Occie.
“About zero,” replied Cora. “But it never hurts to ask.”
“I heard he’s tired of making speeches and tired of eating chicken at formal dinners,” said Occie.
“And I understand that he’s included his mother in most of the festivities,” said Cora. “He’s a good son. I wonder how she got to St. Louis from the east coast. Lindy could have flown her, only the Spirit of St. Louis is a one-seater, not two.”
“President Coolidge and Mrs. President are vacationing in the Black Hills of South Dakota,” said Occie. “Apparently, the president is trying to avoid the sweltering summers in D.C. They plan on spending the summer at a higher elevation where he will take care of presidential business.”
“Like fishing?” asked Cora. “I heard President Coolidge is learning how to fly-fish rather than drown worms. He’s already caught rainbow trout. Wonder if Mrs. President is cooking or if the White House chef is along?”
“It wouldn’t be a real vacation for me if I was cooking,” said Occie.
“Babe Ruth, the Home Run King, has already hit twenty-one balls over the fence for the Yankees,” said Cora. “I think he’ll set more records by the end of the season.”
“Charlie Chaplin’s divorce trial may never go to court, but the news says he’s expected to pay Lita Gray Chaplin one million dollars,” advised Occie.
“He’s a genius writer and actor, but it serves him right for cheating on his wife,” said Cora.
Occie bought the theater tickets. Cora purchased the popcorn and soft drinks.
“I’m a little disappointed,” said Cora. “The movie was a political melodrama, not a training film for Southwestern Bell Telephone operators.”
“Madge Bellamy was divine,” offered Occie.
“She was nice looking and played her part well,” Cora agreed. “I like how Kitty refused to cooperate with the political boss, Jim Blake.”
“When did you know Kelly and Tom were going to get married?” asked Occie.
“I wasn’t sure until the end,” answered Cora, “because I kept thinking that if they married, Kitty would have to put up with Tom’s father as her father-in-law. Then I realized, Tom’s father wasn’t all bad or his son wouldn’t have turned out so good.”
“In real life,” added Cora, “if only for a day, it would have been a dream come true for me to have met Fay’s parents. Marcus and Orilla died much too soon. You know, Fay was orphaned at age six.
“If they were alive today, they’d be so proud of their son.”
Until next time, happy writing and reading.