A continuing tale of life in the boonies
Brownie: the people's cop
FARMINGTON - Anyone who grew up
in Britain in the 1950s will be familiar with an old song which was played every
Saturday on the BBC radio show, “Uncle Mac's Favorites".
The song, called "The
Laughing Policeman", concerned a locally loved and respected member of the
London beat constabulary who was able to see the humorous side of just about
Sgt. Walter Brown, who served
almost three decades on Farmington Police Department, and who died last Friday,
always put me in mind of this English song - not that Brownie laughed in a
maniacal way like the four lines of that chorus. The Farmington sergeant might
allow himself a twinkle of the eye,
or even permit a small chuckle to escape his lips. Nonetheless, he had a great
sense of fun, and was able to chuckle or twinkle at himself, too, which is rare
in a figure of authority.
It was Brownie, himself, who told
Farmington Corner about chasing an escaping prisoner down Main Street one time -
a prisoner, who, fearing the worst, suddenly stopped, causing a pile-up on the
sidewalk of pursuing policemen.
Or there was the time when
Brownie, who, to make ends meet, was working in the shoe factory during days and
driving the cruiser at night, snatching a few hours of sleep when he could. One
morning, driving down Central Street, fatigue overtook him. He nodded off for a
few brief seconds, but re-awoke when the police car nudged into Rufus the
Barber's shop on Main Street.
Brownie was always willing to
help out in local escapades. When the Goodwin Library announced it was going to
exhibit the fine art works of local artists, it was he who provided an armed
guard for the Famous Kennedy Painting to thwart an art heist, as the invaluable
work was being moved from Dumontski's Restaurant to gatecrash the exhibition
across the street.
Then there was the time someone
found a Taxi" sign, and stuck it on the back of Archie Corson's truck, as
he snoozed at the wheel on the Square. Brownie, ever watchful for rumored
unlicensed taxi activity from this particular quarter, rapped on Archie's
windshield, pointed to the illegal sign on the vehicle, and prepared to make
ready with some paperwork. Only grudgingly (although in on the joke from the
start) did Brownie accept Archie's protestations of innocence.
Brownie was always respected by
that section of the citizenry that tended, after occasional wild weekends, to
appear in Judge Nute's district court on a Monday morning. The sergeant had a
reputation for giving people a fair break, and, in the old small town way of
policing, would rather drive them home than lock 'em up.
A few weeks ago, I was perched on
a stool in Denny Scruton's Neutral Zone, sipping
a cold one after the Bicentennial Parade and shooting the breeze with the
guy on the next bar stool. Through the pub window, we saw Judge Nute getting
into his car, which he had parked nearby.
There goes old Give-a-Hoot-Nute,"
observed my neighbor with unexpected warmth, recalling the fair treatment he
felt he had received at the judge's bench, in earlier, wilder days of youth.
Many people have the same
grateful memories of Brownie, who, instead of throwing the whole book at them,
rapped them on the knuckles with a page.
In this spirit of good-humored
respect, an underground song, "The Roundest Brown in Town," composed
by a well-known local character, is still sung at certain lively parties in the
As a final tribute to one of the
wisest of Farmington's Finest, we'll finish this column by reprinting "The
Ballad of Chevy Chase", from Farmington Corner of July 2, 1990.
This describes a real life event,
in which Sergeant Brown (Warden Browne in the song) was unsuccessful in rounding
up some mudders. He enjoyed the verses though.
The Ballad of Chevy Chase
God prosper our selectmen three,
Our liffes and saftyes all!
A joyful mudding once there did
On Ten Rod Road befall.
To climbe a hill in Chevy truckes
Came chosen men of mighte,
Who knew ffull well in time of
That Budde would serve arright.
These tidings reach-ed Warden
In Puddledock he lay,
Who sent the mudders present word
He'd stop them if he may.
The truckes ran swiftly through
To reach the Whitehouse Hill,
The blast of many a knightly horn
Did make an echho shrill.
With mirey tote rode steep before
And Ten Rod Road behind,
The dryvers mustered gallantly,
Payed Warden Browne no mind.
And long before high noone they
Quaffed down a case of Budde,
Then one by one the dryvers went
To battele with the mudde.
To win the topmost of the hill,
These truckes roared up the
'Til ooze and slime, 'spite booze
Defeated eche knight's hope.
It caused stout hearts great
greeve to see
Eche noble Chevy foiled,
White clouds of steam from
truckes did ream
As radiators boiled.
Then knights, at speed, their
As custome bade they oughter,
Through woodes to trampe 'til
And fetch back cannes of water.
At length there came a champion,
Who strove with mickle mighte
And trusty 44-inch tires,
To gain the muddy height.
Greate cheers did ring the
And Buddes were swallowed down,
To celebrate the victorie -
When uppe rade Warden Browne.
“Shew me," said he,
"what men ye bee,
That mudde soe boldly here,
And with a scant regard for law
Do drink yon cannes of bere."
The first man that did answer
'Twas noble Ceejay, hee,
Who sayd, "Wee wist not to
Nor shew what men wee bee."
They've mounted in their Chevy
And shewing little ffeare,
Sped merrilie from Warden Browne,
Ere he could draw his spere.
Forsoothe their plates with dirte
Thus did they thwarte pursuite,
Unhappilie the Warden's carre,
Mired down in mudde,to boot.
Now Browne has ta'en a dreadful
He would aveng-ed bee,
On suche as mudding reivers bold,
Under the greenwoode tree.
Yet God save our selectmen three,
And blesse this land with peace,
And grant henceforth suche
Twixt noble men may cease!
And we might add that truly noble
men of spirit like Sgt. Walter W. Brown, people who have wisdom in their hearts,
and a love of their fellow citizens in their breasts, will live long in our
This Thursday night, let's drink
Aug. 23, 2001
FC Part 5