When I EOD'd at Calexico in 1964 one of the first pieces of government
equipment I was handed was a common lawn rake. It was a standard metal
rake with about 24 tines, and I was told that it was an integral tool in
the interdiction of illegal alien crossers in the Calexico station area.
Interestingly, my mother had also felt that the same kind of rake was
integral to the tidy appearance of our abode and I had spent many a fine
summer day raking lawn clippings, and gorgeous fall days raking leaves.
( I'm glad that snow didn't have to be raked) I always thought of myself
as kind of an expert with the implement, but that, this was all in my
past. I was an Immigration Patrol Inspector (trainee) now and would no longer have to perform mundane tasks!!!!
I don't know if the other stations used the same sand trap methods as we
did but I learned that, in addition to being an aid in the enforcement
of the Immigration laws, raking was also considered an art form in Calexico.
I had been assigned to SPI Dick McCauley's unit and an old timer named
Donn Schultz took me out east on the All-American Canal to introduce me
to my (re) new (ed) calling. We pulled up to drop #7 and I was amazed at
the neat and excellent appearance of the grounds on our side of the
water control facility. I marvelled at the care the canal maintenence
people took at this site. The grounds were raked perfectly over an area
that must have covered a half acre. My next thought was of the implement
I had carefully placed in the back of the Scout a half hour before, and
it then dawned on me that, art is in the eye of the beholder. This was
only one site!!!Similar scenes existed at the Alamo River, Wisteria, and others whose names I can't remember. That was on the east side, the west side had as many scenes of perfection to be maintained also!!!
I must say that I bent to the task and, although there was an
undercurrent of feeling in the station that said, "Yankees don't know
how to rake", by the end of my probation I was an accomplished raker. I
never understood why guys tried to outdo each other in the size and
perfection of the sand traps by taking one or two more passes with their
rakes, because the half acre traps eventually became full acre traps
limited only by the road atop the canal bank.
A new crisp uniform and shined boots and brass were the order of the day
at the start of every shift but all the raking and dragging (next
recuerdo) in 110 degrees reduced you a soup sandwich within an hour.
One more recuerdo on raking. At the Alamo River, which passes under the
All-American Canal in large tubes, we had to climb down into the culvert
with a rake to groom the trap coming out of the tubes. It was a wet
area with the reputation of being snake country. There was a path along
the top of the culvert to where we had placed a ladder and I remember
the time some wag (R.I.P. Charley Mack Porter) killed a rattler out
there and left it coiled up on the side of the path. How many PI's
almost fell in the hole walking up on that. I think I'll go get a coffee.