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· Sheriff Fay F. Brown’s Badge: Cora and Occie ·
Hello readers. I’m Sheriff Fay F. Brown’s Badge and I’m recalling my days in January 1927, after arriving in Hutchinson, Kansas. Don’t ask me what happened this morning because my short term memory is iffy, but I remember my first days in the Salt City. Ninety-three years ago I was in Cora Brown’s purse, awaiting the opportunity to meet Sheriff Fay F. Brown. I’d been handed to her by outgoing Sheriff Jess Langford when he was leaving the sheriff’s residence, for the last time.
“Finally! I’m going to get to meet Sheriff Fay F. Brown,” said Sheriff Fay F. Brown’s Badge. “Today’s the day. We’re minutes away!
“I can hear people beginning to gather at the temporary court house, 5th and Washington. This is where the sheriff has his office and where the county holds district court.”
“Occie, thanks for coming,” said Cora to her sister, as they hugged one another, standing outside the district court room.
“I wouldn’t miss this for anything,” replied Occie. “I’m so happy for you and Fay. For him, I don’t think being sheriff will be much of a change, but for you, going from a telephone operator to a jailhouse cook and matron, does sound extreme. Are you still willing to do it?”
“Sure,” replied Cora. “We’re fortunate to have a job. I won’t be doing the work alone. The current jailer, Jess Blanpied, has agreed to stay on. He knows the routine. But living in the jail may take us a little time to adjust, even for Fay who worked as a jailer there years ago. In time, we expect it to feel like our residence, our home, not the jail house.
“Oh, Occie, I love your shoes,” said Cora.
“Thanks, Cora, I got them Saturday. They’re on clearance sale at Rorabaugh-Wiley’s for only $3.45. They’re perfect. I know you’re really busy right now, but they still have a lot of nice choices available, especially in dress shoes.”
“We’ll see,” said Cora.
“Where’s Fay?” asked Occie.
“He’s in the office with Ed,” said Cora. “They’re probably rearranging the furniture. Those two are no strangers, that’s for sure. They should make a good team. Both have a lot of experience on the police force, including being injured on liquor raids. It’s a dangerous business.”
“Yes, it is,” said Occie.
“You must remember,” said Cora, “one night, maybe three years ago, when Ed was a city patrolman, he was shot in the face by a bootlegger after responding to a call of a crap game that turned into a drunken brawl. Fay and I visited Ed at the Methodist hospital. The bullet entered his right cheek and lodged in his neck. He still has severe headaches from the injury.”
“I remember he was shot by a Negro,” added Occie.
“Clint Bowen,” recalled Cora.
“I hope the county work will be agreeable to Ed,” continued Cora. “Fay likes it much better than the police force. When you’re chief of police, you’re always serving at the whim of the newest mayor.
“Verna’s so young,” Cora continued, “just twenty. She had their third child this past summer; that’s three children under five years of age. If she and Ed lived where we grew up, I expect she would have made breakfast, done the laundry, and weeded the garden, all before taking a few minutes to deliver her own baby.”
In agreement, Occie added to the story: “And then she would have hitched up the horse-and-buggy and driven to our Turon post office to mail out birth announcements. I don’t know how she does it. Ed gets to leave the house, but who helps Verna all day? Sidney and I have only Lee in our household; you and Fay have your dogs.”
“Yeah,” agreed Cora, “we don’t know how it is for Verna as the mother, but we know how things can get for children when parents are struggling.”
“Bless our parents,” said Occie. “I think the financial problems made it hard on them. Well, we got a nice half-sister out of it.”
“Yeah,” Cora replied slowly, “but we also got a step-mother.”
“Here comes the next sheriff,” said Occie.
It’s about time, thought Sheriff Fay F. Brown’s Badge. Let me out of this purse!
“Brownie,” a friendly voice said, “you’ve come a long way since your days as a merchant policeman checking doors on Main street all night long.”
“It’s been more than a few days ago,” commented Fay Brown, technically the undersheriff for a few more minutes. “We’re going to get a seat in district court now. We just heard the Honorable William G. Fairchild’s Model T arrive.”
“Occie,” said Fay as he gave her a hug, “thanks for being here.”
“Cora,” continued Fay, “it won’t be long now.”
“Fay, what took you so long?” asked Occie. “I was a Reno county deputy sheriff in 1913 before you were even a merchant policeman.”
“Here we go again,” Fay responded with a grin.
“I was commissioned by Sheriff K. C. Beck before you had a star in your pocket,” bragged Occie.
“But you only lasted one day,” replied Fay.
“Margaret O’Hara and I kept the peace at the polls in South Hutchinson without a single fight,” Occie emphasized. “Now, Kiowa county Sheriff Mabel Chase is the state’s first elected female sheriff. You better look out Fay, or Cora might be running against you one of these days.”
“Hold on there, Occie,” said Cora. “Don’t be causing trouble on a perfectly calm day or I’ll have this here new sheriff arrest you for disturbing the peace. Fay will lock you up behind bars at our own Queen Anne-Bastille and I’ll feed you nothing but bread and water.”
“Let’s get into the courtroom now, or I may be the one in trouble,” said Fay. “The judge is the king of his kingdom.”
As the courtroom filled up with officials and goodwill wishers, the water tower’s shrill whistle sounded twelve o-clock. The audience grew silent. Judge W. G. Fairchild cleared his throat, prepared to speak.
Hey, thought Sheriff Fay F. Brown’s Badge, get me out of here! I want to see what’s happening. Why should I have to wait any longer?
The Kansas Authors Club www.kansasauthors.org is a statewide organization that encourages and supports great writing. It’s divided into seven districts. In Hutchinson, Reno County (part of District 6), we have monthly meetings at Hutchinson Community College. http://www.hutchcc.edu You’re invited. Questions? Contact Jim Potter, firstname.lastname@example.org