This week I have borrowed from a “Wagon Wheels” article published in the Comanche Chief in 1987. It caught my eye because my grandparents’ Proctor home was featured on the same page and because John Croft whose family is tied into many of my memories of Proctor played a role in the story.
Other names such as Rackley, Evans, Reid, and Carleton, at least for a moment, served to remind me of lazy days, and walking to the store to get a popsicle…maybe even stopping for a minute to visit with a sweet, sweet woman whom we were allowed to call Lilly Belle. (McCamey) Just today did I stop to think how odd that was because my grandmother (who was born a century too late) always insisted that we call everyone Aunt or Uncle, regardless if they were part of the family or not.
The day of the big bank robbery in Proctor was also a fairly lazy day with very little happening. It was a spring day in the early ‘30’s, and Fred Rackley was seated on a bench in front of the Mercantile; Paul Hornburg was inside. John Croft and his cousin, Wesley Briscoe, were shooting a game of marbles, and Roger Evans was working alone inside the bank.
No one was paying a bit of attention when the armed robber entered the bank and demanded that Evans give him the money. Before Roger could get all of the money for him, the robber noticed a customer coming in the door. He jumped behind the counter with the gun pointing a silent threat if the teller gave him away.
The customer was Will Carleton who had a $20 check to cash for a crisp new bill. Unfortunately, the only $20 that Evans still had in the drawer was old and wrinkled and did not please Carleton in the least! However, Roger just couldn’t be bothered about that as he did his best to get Carleton out of the bank without both of them being killed.
As soon as Will Carleton was gone and Roger Evans had given the gunman all of the money, he fled the bank, threatening Evans if he said a word. He then jumped into his auto and raced away.
Of course the roads weren’t much better than sand fields in those days, and it wasn’t long until the man was stuck in the sand. He borrowed a shovel from Buddy Weeks, dug himself out, returned the shovel, and resumed his get away.
Two more miles and the over taxed auto was overheated. The man walked to the Hughes’ home, borrowed a bucket of water, returned the bucket, and took off again.
Yep. You guessed it…stuck again, and by this time Roger Evans had sounded the alarm. The law was called, and the man was arrested. Now, here’s the strange part. Witnesses recognized the man and the car; it had only been a short while since he had left the bank. However, the money was never found, and the man was sent to prison, shouting his innocence.