· Sheriff Fay F. Brown’s Badge, Preface ·
“Pardon me if my brain’s not as sharp as it used to be. I’m nearly 93 years old. Due to my age, I occasionally get names and dates mixed up. It could happen to anyone.
“However, for the time period 1927-1930, my glory years, my recall is as sharp as a tack, or in my case, it would be more appropriate to say, as sharp as a pin.
“You see, in late 1926, I was crafted by an artisan at Sachs-Lawlor manufacturing in Denver, Colorado. I shined in golden luster for all to see. My original purpose was to help others identify Fay Forrest Brown as the newly elected sheriff of Reno County, Kansas. Those were my sunshine years, when I was active daily and worn proudly. My life had purpose.
“If you’re interested, I’ve got many colorful stories to share with you. You can imagine, most of them I recall from first-hand experience. I was there as a front row observer, pinned to Sheriff Brown’s overcoat. However, other stories are what attorneys and judges call heresay evidence.
“For example, no, I wasn’t present to greet Fay when he was born April 29, 1891, at home in Goodland, Kansas, or when his family was evicted during the terrible economic times in the early-1890s. Unfortunately, Fay’s parents, Marcus and Orilla, died when he was still a young boy. Little Fay was adopted in New Castle, Indiana, where the family had ties. He and his four siblings, Dora, Sally, Dallas, and Cloe, were split up but remained in contact.
“Over and over, during Fay’s two terms as sheriff, I heard him tell stories about his youth. Did you know he was in the Kansas National Guard unit, Machine Gun Company out of Hutchinson, sent to the Mexican border in 1916 when Pancho Villa, the infamous bandit, was a pain in our country’s behind?
“You may not realize the challenges of being a police officer in Hutchinson and Reno County during the 1920s. Fay certainly had the experience, having worked his way up to Hutchinson police chief before rising in the ranks to sheriff.
“As an officer, Fay got hit on the head more than once when unruly criminals refused to cooperate and go to jail. The worst incident was when Fay landed in the hospital after two fighting drunks used his own revolver as a hammer to pound his head. Officer Brown suffered a skull fracture.
“If you stick around, you’ll learn about the Reno County Jail when it was located on east Ave. B, south side, behind an earlier county courthouse. Fay and Cora, his wife, lived upstairs. Cora, who had a heart of gold, should have had her own sheriff’s badge. She was the jail’s cook and matron. Sometimes she and Fay would make prisoner trips to Lansing, transporting men to the state penitentiary, females to the state women’s farm.
“Keep reading and I’ll tell you about families, fights, fires, and floods in Reno County, about the roaring twenties, bootlegging during prohibition, births and deaths, homicides, suicides, and catching bad guys.
“I recall my trip by train from Denver to Hutchinson. It was dark the whole time as I rested in my padded container, but I could hear the conversations of the railway postal employees as they sorted mail.
I knew my life was about to change when a distant voice announced, ‘Next stop, Hutchinson!’”
Sheriff Fay Brown’s Badge, stories transcribed by Jim Potter
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