Bill “The Fist” Pfister

 Bill “The Fist” Pfister

                                                                                By Dick Mauer

 

Entering on duty at Calexico in 1964 as part of the 83rd session, we worked for about 5 weeks before heading for Los Fresnos via “Service Charter” from El Centro with stops in Yuma, Tucson, El Paso, Del Rio, Etc. I wasn’t lucky enough to get a seat in the first class section, I was in the mojado section. But I seem to remember that the pilots let us all take turns flying the plane?

Upon returning to Calexico some 5 months later we were all assigned to different units. My unit had a grizzled old veteran in it by the name of Bill Pfister, a career PI who had long since given up the dream of becoming a supervisor. I think that Pfister had about 15 years in at the time and a reputation for fisticuffs from exploits at a few different California stations. As a matter of fact he was rumored to be in Calexico on a disciplinary transfer from Fresno after he supposedly punched out a supervisor. The word was that this had not been his first Border Patrol bout, and everyone gave him a little bit wider berth as he was edgy even on his good days. Bill was a good worker as long as no one tried to tell him what to do. UNOIMSAYIN'?

In Calexico we always had a weekend party at the old Pistol Range, and Bill never attended any of these events or socialized with any of the PIs that I knew of. The unit was caught by surprise one Christmas when we all received mailed invitations from Bill’s wife to come to a Christmas party at their home. Bill was, like I said, kind of a mystery so everyone in the unit was going to attend, not only because it was a nice invitation, but also because no one wanted to chance missing anything. The story needs a little more background here. Bill had divulged that he was a Buffalo native and, further, that he still drank Simon Pure beer, an old time Buffalo product. Bill had found a beer distributor in Los Angeles who sold Simon Pure and he drove up to L.A. every other month to bring back a 3 or 4 case supply, his private stock, so to speak.

On the day of the party we appeared and were mildly surprised at his friendliness and good humor. Bill’s wife had set out trays of snacks and they served Carling Black Label beer and we had a great time. Sometime during the festivities, having run out of Carlings, Bills wife came in with a tray of Simon Pure beer to distribute and I’m sure I saw Bill flinch and calculate whether it was worth the effort to grab them back and try to save them since they were uncapped. Like I said, it was a great party and I think Bill enjoyed it too despite seeing his personal stock frittered away.

I was later assigned to traffic check on S2 and Bill was my partner. We got along pretty well after he knew I was also from Buffalo. (I was a probationer and wasn’t telling him what to do, plus, he mostly only fought with Supervisors anyway) The S2 checkpoint was up in the mountains above Ocotillo with no restaurants available so bringing a lunch was required. There wasn't much traffic either as the road was only used by smugglers and lost tourists. One of the important things I learned from Bill was watching him eat his lunch. Bill brought his lunch in a shopping bag and ate during the entire shift, starting as soon as the car arrived at the checkpoint. Bill must have had the metabolism rate of a hummingbird as he was all bone and muscle. The main entree was a special production and was actually a hot meal cooked on the manifold. Fruit, cookies, candy, a wide mouth thermos for soup, and a half gallon of coffee, a feast that lasted about 6 hours. All this made my dinky little horse<@<# sandwich look kind of puny. Bill was an inspiration in a lot of ways.