Snowshoe PatrolSnowshoe Patrol
By Dick Mauer
When I arrived in Buffalo in 1968 I was setting up a new household after living in a trailer in California. I needed appliances and the Buffalo Agents quickly introduced me to Vinny Stark saying that I would get the best deal in town from him. Stark owned one of the largest appliance stores in the Buffalo area. Here was the kicker, Vinny Stark had been an Immigration Patrol Inspector (IPI) during World War II and was kindly disposed to those Agents who followed in his footsteps, so to speak.
Vinny was a flamboyant character who relished having Border Patrol Agents come into his store for the opportunity to spin his Border Patrol yarns. Vinny had been hired around 1940 and worked for 3 years before resigning to join the Army. Vinny said the decision to leave was a patriotic one as well as dictated by the harshness of the job as follows. Vehicles were almost non existent during the war years and his post was walking the shoreline of Grand Island, a 5X7 mile island in the middle of the Niagara River facing Canada. The station senior would drive him to the island and pick him up 8 hours later. All the foot patrols were either on the river or Lake Erie. Vinny related that the West River shoreline, looking at Canada was virtually uninhabited in those days, and while summertime patrol was good, wintertime patrol was a bear, often done on snowshoes. He claimed he did it for 3 winters before deciding that the Army might be a better option.
Upon returning to Buffalo in 1945 he decided to go to school on the G.I. Bill and then got into the appliance business. His Border Patrol days were over but not his fondness and support for Border Patrol Agents. He sold appliances to generations of Border Patrol Agents and claimed he still didn't like going over to Grand Island.
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