Ready on the Left, Ready on the Right

A recuerdo............

"Ready on the left....Ready on the right"

By Dick Mauer

In a facebook entry the other day Chuck Huffman, Andy Lynch and Doug
Keim posted pictures and comments on primitive traffic check
accommodations of the old Patrol. The pictures were great and triggered
my memories of Border Patrol facilities I had witnessed and worked in.

Starting in Calexico in 1964 our station for about 60 Patrol Inspectors
was located in an old building on First Street in "downtown" Calexico
right behind the Port of Entry, and underneath our famous 130 foot
tower. The two story building had been the home of the Calexico Fire
Department, but they moved out when the building was condemned. Maybe
after an earthquake, but who knows. In any event, the Border Patrol
happily moved in although no one was allowed to go on the upper floor.
The only piece of Fire Dept. equipment left was the outside fire hose,
which we made occasional use of in hosing down wets who had been in the
New River. Like probably every Border Patrol station in the country the
building had a couple of bullet holes I knew of and if the building
could talk, what stories it could tell. Calexico got a fancy new station
on Andrade Street but I didn't stay there long as I transferred to Indio
and later to Buffalo.

The building at 2151 Niagara St. in Buffalo(near the Niagara River) had
previously been a used car sales lot. It housed the Sector which was on
the Second floor that had been somebody's residence and the Buffalo
station downstairs. The downstairs had a few sales offices but was
mostly a large garage that had a vehicle lift. Half of the garage was
partitioned off by P.I. carpenters and made into offices, lockups, ammo
vault etc. It didn't look like anybody had a level or believed in them.
To top it off, the whole thing was painted Sea Foam Green. At least the
building hadn't been condemned.  The tiny men's room was the terminus
for all the electrical work in the building (again, P.I. electricians)
and the wiring ended in an exposed jumble at the fuse box. I was afraid
to touch anything in there.  The wets had better toilet facilities than
we did, especially after we installed a nice stainless steel toilet for
them. This was necessitated after a Canadian wacko ripped the porcelain
one out of the floor.

One last memory was that the P.I.s of the day were nearly all pistol
shooters and they eked out a 2 position range in the garage where they
had fifty feet. They installed 2 large steel sheet back drops angled to
send wadcutters into a sand box. They rigged lights, target holders,and
a bench.  They probably spent most midnight shifts plinking away.  Did I
mention that the building was in a city neighborhood and surrounded by
residential homes. The garage windows were probably 20 feet high and
there was no sound deadening considerations nor was there any air
cleaning equipment installed. I'm sure that, at night, they shot with
the garage doors open to exhaust lead fumes and to the surrounding homes
it must have sounded like WWlll, Complaints to police brought no relief
(as they were probably participants) but complaints to politicians
finally ended the nightly competition. The Chief Patrol Inspector at the
time was William S. Eatmon, (el Oso Peligroso) himself a pistolero of
note, who probably participated occasionally. That's part of the "good
old days"