The story of the fire was reported in the weekly paper. The surprising part was there was no backstory…no investigation was announced. Wasn’t there more to the story than a house and business lost in the flames?
He was an alcoholic, and Kansas was a dry state…selling and buying liquor was illegal. Somehow, he found suppliers and managed to keep their names a secret. He tried to maintain his dignity and place in his tiny community. He was referred to as “the town drunk”. He was questioned by the law as to the sources for the alcohol, but he did not reveal any names.
When it became known that he had been questioned, his suppliers got nervous. Would he cave into authorities and reveal their names? It was time for them to issue him a warning, something that would be blatant and get his attention. And so, the warning was given.
It was a Thursday in 1935. He and his family were attending a funeral, and no one would be home nor the business open for the day. Fire! All was destroyed…a fire brand of a warning to remain silent and not disclose any names. He never reported who and how his property was burned.
All the involved parties were on the wrong side of the law…Lafe for buying and the suppliers for arson. They took their secrets with them; however, my mother, who was his granddaughter, revealed the secret to me many years later.