A tribute to Ernie
In the early '40s, U.S. Highway 73 was a two-lane road through Lansing. The majority of schoolchildren lived on the east side of town and had to cross the highway to get to school.
That is why a school crossing guard was needed. Eighth-grade boys took turns rolling the stop sign to the center of the street at Kansas Avenue.
Actually, it was a good-sized intersection with the grade school on one corner and Campbell's Grocery store on the other. Also the Santa Fe spur cut diagonally from the west across the same area, going to the prison.
There were times when drivers did not want to stop, which made this quite dangerous.
There was a man in his mid 20s that lived in Old Delaware, a sort of unofficial town marshal, who came to the rescue. His name was Ernest (Ernie) Forbach. He was tall and good-looking and dressed like a cowboy from the Old West movies with a gun on each hip. As far as we remember he did not have a car and would come into Lansing on the Kansas City-Leavenworth bus line.
His appearance had such an impact on drivers that they would automatically slow down when they saw him. He had two marked spots and he used a stopwatch to determine their speed. He would flag them down and take them to the Justice of the Peace around the corner on Kansas Avenue, the same location where they are building the new Depot Shops across from the fire station.
As far as we knew, he never used those guns.
We remember how good and friendly he was to all the kids and took time to talk to us. He was someone we all looked up to, and we never thought then about thanking him for his efforts.
He later joined the Air Force and after the war worked as a carpenter. He died Jan. 6, 1993.