Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reader Memories: Desperado receives Frontier Justice

Ernest Gunerius shares some more memories...
When my father purchased the Wardwell house in 1933, I was presented with a boys dream come true.

A thirteen room house with a Den with fire place and an attached shed. The attic had access holes to explore and the attached shed had a large walk-in Ice Box with a small cranny above, between the slant of the roof and the top of the box.

As I carefully explored my new domain I found Treasure above the Ice Box. Shoved way in the back were two sets of Mounted Buffalo Horns and as I brushed away the accumulated dust I found the best prize of all a real working .22 Caliber six shot Iver Johnson Saturday Night Special Revolver.

I was quick to realize that this prize would make me the undisputed winner of all games of "Cops and Robbers" or the more violent games of "Cowboys and Indians". I already had a Shetland Pony now I was complete with a Pistol.

Naturally I begin to carry the Pistol not only in games with my buddies but also in my daily rounds about town (access to cookies could be had at any kitchen door). This was my undoing. My six year old buddies, out of envy I suppose, had not kept quiet about my good fortune and one day the worst happened.

I ran afoul of the LAW.

Percy Slagerman was the Town Constable in those 1930 days. Percy was a large man and gruff as befits a Constable. He had a supposed reputation, at least among us children for being a violent man.

While on my way up-town one summer day in 1935, I walked around the Bank Building Corner and just about in front of Scotty's Saloon, Constable Slagerman stopped me with a severe question.

He said:"Are you carrying a Pistol, Boy."

I replied:"Yes, Sir."

He gruffly ordered:"Give it to me and come with me."

Then he went back around the bank Corner to the alley by Elmer Barry's garage (I believe it is now the Rose Garage-2009) and then down the alley to the back door of the City Hall that led to the room that held the Wheeled Manual Fire Pump and the Jail Cell.

I was sure he was going to lock me up. But instead he put the Pistol in a vice and proceeded to file the firing pin off the Hammer.

Then he handed the non-functioning Pistol back to me and told me to go on about my business (or words to that effect). I did as I was told and had great success with the mutilated firearm in all my games.

Imagine the same situation today and ponder the different outcome with the new attitudes about firearms.

Even more serious criminal matters were were disposed of in a "Keep it within the Town" fashion. I know of two incidents that were adjudicated in this way. Both involved theft and both were settled by the Town Council in a closed meeting with the Accused and the Aggrieved present.

In one case the sentence was Community Service for a specified time and in the other it was suggested that a career in the Armed Forces would be beneficial to all. In each case the Aggrieved was satisfied. Of course the alternate for the miscreants was Charges and the County Sheriff.

I was only aware of these incidents because I knew the malefactors and they told me the details. There were probably more incidents of this kind but they were never made public knowledge as the Council meetings were Closed.