· Sheriff Fay F. Brown’s Badge: Bank Bandit
Bob Collins was a wanted man. Thug, ex-convict, and bank bandit, he was no choir boy. Even his father admitted that as a youth, his son always seemed to be getting into trouble because he was easily influenced.
Reno County Sheriff Fay F. Brown, 35, pressed a piece of ice against his jaw. Hutchinson Chief of Police George M. Duckworth, 60, wiped the blood off his pistol. It was April 22, 1927. The two local lawmen had just locked up Robert “Bob” Collins, 30, in the Reno County Jail.
“For a little guy he sure packs a powerful punch,” said Sheriff Brown as he rubbed his jaw. Collins was of small build, 5 feet, 5 inches tall, and weight of 134 pounds. “I should have never dropped my guard until he was safely locked up. I know better. He’s a desperate man.”
“Brownie, we dodged a bullet tonight, I mean this morning,” said George McCamey Duckworth, alias “Came,” checking his pocket watch. It was half past two.
“Came, it was a good plan,” agreed the sheriff. “We outsmarted him, but we were lucky to get the tip that he was staying at the Savoy Rooms.”
“I think he was looking for his sweetie,” said Duckworth, “but I hear she’s in a hospital somewhere out of town after a motor car wreck.”
“It all happened like clockwork,” said Brown, “except for me catching his vicious right. It rocked me to my toes.”
“We got ‘em all right,” said Duckworth. “Every lawman in the state was looking for him. He had to have known he was going to get caught sooner or later.”
“Yeah, and every bank has been expecting him to make an unscheduled large withdrawal,” added Brown.
“If we hadn’t fooled him into believing we were just making another rooming house vice raid, he would have never hidden his .32 caliber in the lounge chair,” stated Duckworth.
“Agreed,” said Brown. “He’s known as a bad actor, a desperado who stops at nothing. If he had known we were on to him, there would have been a shootout. Someone would have died today.”
“He sure doesn’t have much to say now,” said Duckworth. “Wants us to believe his name is Sam Price, but I remember him and his father from my early days as sheriff. Bob went to Sherman school. His father, Eli, owned a livery stable and was a well-respected man.
“In fact,” continued Duckworth, “I remember asking Eli if he was any relation to the first sheriff of Reno County, Charles C. Collins. He said he didn’t think so.”
Fay opened his mouth wide, then closed it, using his tongue to check for chipped or missing teeth.
“Another thing,” said Duckworth as he pointed at a piece of furniture, “have I ever told you that twenty years ago Florence and I used that very side table in our bedroom upstairs?”
Brown said, “By tomorrow we’ll have sheriffs arriving with bank tellers from around the state, Nebraska, and Colorado, all wanting a closer look at our bank bandit.”
“Yeah, especially once they hear about the $5,000 in bills he was hiding in his sock,” said Duckworth. “Good job on your search, Brownie. I’m not sure I would have found the money.”
“I’m just hoping that one of the banks will be able to trace the four $1,000 bills to their establishment,” said Brown. “It would make a nice money trail at a future trial.”
“If Collins has anything to say about it,” said Duckworth, “they’ll never be a trial. He’s done time at the Reformatory, shoveled coal at the State Penitentiary in Lansing, and he’s escaped from the Pratt County Jail. I think he’d rather be dead than return to prison.
“I’ll be sleeping with one eye open,” stated Brown. “We’ll be watching Collins on the inside and expecting his partner in crime, Eddie Jenkins, to try and help him escape from the outside.”
“Good to hear,” said Duckworth. “I thought for sure Jenkins would be with Collins at the Savoy Rooms.”
“Me too, but one in the cell is better than two in the bush,” said the sheriff.
“Collins is desperate; Jenkins is clever,” stated Duckworth. “Remember, Jenkins escaped from Lansing by climbing a telephone pole inside the walls and rolling over on the wires until he was past the prison wall.”
Even though it was past two o’clock in the morning, the sheriff stood up, walked to a window, and in the poor lighting studied the closest telephone pole to the jailhouse.
“Let me know if we can be of help until he’s picked up by another sheriff,” said Duckworth. “I’m going to go home and get some sleep.”
“Came,” said Brownie, “it could be a while until the attorneys determine which county has the strongest case. If you hadn’t given him a good pistol whippin’, he would have been half-way to Dodge in a stolen motor car. Thanks again for coming to my rescue. I owe you one.”
“Brownie, any time; I’m not keeping score,” said Duckworth. “We did a pretty good job for a couple of orphan boys.”
It was something they rarely discussed. Fay was orphaned at age six when his mother died. At age thirteen, George buried his father.
Until next time, happy writing and reading.
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