Ole Fred

"Ole Fred"
by Dick Mauer

Entering on duty at Calexico in the mid 60s, one of the first characters you got to meet was an old timer named Fred Wamble. Fred worked for El Centro Sector and was the general handyman at the Calexico station. His main duty was repairing the fences on a daily basis. The fence was being cut every night and Ole Fred would be out there knitting it back together every morning. Fred was on the receiving end of many jokes and he usually weathered the harassment in good humor. Ole Fred always told the story of coming into the Imperial Valley with his family in the 40s in a Model T over the old cord road. The cord road was built of railroad ties laid over the sand dunes, tied together with cable, and dating back to sometime in the 20s or 30s. (I always wondered why, if you were moving west from a dust bowl setting, would you stop in the Imperial Valley?)

One afternoon Fred came into the squad room at shift change and excitedly told a bunch of PIs that while repairing the fence that day, he had been propositioned by a young puta eager to provide international (trans border!) services. One young PI (who will be unnamed) couldn't help himself because, when things quieted down, he had to ask, "where abouts did that happen?" I think Fred won that one.

The other Wamble story involved his duty of emptying trash and his habit of rummaging around in the trash can at the gas pumps. He reached in there one day to retrieve some perceived treasure,  got nailed by a scorpion, and proceeded to loudly blame a PI for putting it in there. Ole Fred had that one right too as a future Deputy Chief (again unnamed) broke to having thrown a scorpion he had found in there, although not with the intention of getting Fred.