La Feria News

Lawmen

CentennialSeal

The city of La Feria is celebrating its 100th year anniversary and to commemorate the occasion we are digging deep into our archives each week to bring you images and stories from La Feria’s colorful past.

The following is part of a series of historical articles written by Michael Lamm that originally ran in the La Feria News in 2003. They are being reprinted with the author’s permission.

randolphscott

Randoph Scott was an American film actor whose career spanned from 1928 to 1962 whose most enduring image was that of the tall-in-the-saddle Western hero. Photo: Google

La Feria had three peace officers when I was a kid back in the 1940s and ‘50s. Jake Cain served as city marshal, and Pablo Lopez was town constable. The third lawman was Pinky Dierks, our local highway patrolman.

Not that this trio had to fight a lot of crime, because there wasn’t much. These men’s duty was more to prevent crime than solve it. All three were well known and highly re-spected.

Jake and Pablo were absolute opposites physically. Jake, who was then in his 50s, stood tall, thin, gaunt and, I think, patterned himself after Randolph Scott. Pablo was 20 years younger, short and rotund. Both were immaculate dressers, and their “uniforms” consisted of heavily starched and beautifully ironed cowboy outfits. Their wives must have spent hours at the ironing board.

Jake’s typical getup would consist of gray twill trousers, gray cowboy shirt with green piping and brown inserts at the shoulders, hand-tooled cowboy boots, a beige Stetson and, most fascinating to us boys, a big, shiny badge and a chrome-plated .38-caliber Colt revolver strapped to his hip. Jake Cain was the consummate cowboy lawman, and Pablo Lopez was, in our eyes, his sidekick.

Pablo wore similar outfits, also starched and ironed to a fare thee well, with creases as sharp and straight as a knife edge. Both lawmen drove identical Fords, each with a big red light on the roof and a chromed siren on the passenger-side fender.

Pinky Dierks also drove such a Ford, but his was a black-and-white with Texas stars on both front doors. Pinky was a large man, well over six feet tall, florid, freckled, built like a red-headed, blue-eyed bull. Pinky was in his 30s.

He wore the standard-issue Texas highway patrol uniform, which again looked a lot like a cowboy outfit. Pinky’s territory wasn’t limited to La Feria or even the surrounding area. During the day he patrolled the Valley from McAllen to Brownsville. But since he lived in La Feria and spent quite a bit of time in town, we considered him another of “our” peace officers.

I got to know all three men when I worked as a pump jockey at Joe Machner’s filling station at the corner of Main and Commercial Streets, just off the old Highway 283. This was in the early 1950s. Machner’s Humble station (Humble Oil was a subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey) served as a gather-ing place for all sorts of La Feria citizens, partly because Joe had a very charismatic personality and partly because the station breezeway was always nice and cool.

We all perched on the front fenders of two or three or four cars parked grille to grille in the breezeway. These gatherings took place most weekday evenings when things got slow at the station. I was always the youngest of the group. The usual cast included the three lawmen, Jake, Pablo and Pinky; my boss, Joe Machner; my co-pump jockey, Jorge Guzman; a man named Butler, who ran La Feria’s only taxicab; Mr. Simandel, the town’s night watchman; and maybe one or two farmers who happened by.

Discussions were always led by the three lawmen, who re-galed us with their days’ adventures: domestic tiffs, speed-ers, drunk drivers, stray animals, car accidents and so forth. Innocent as it was, we all thought this was local news and gossip at its juiciest.

Of the hundreds of tales told in the breezeway, I remember only one. This story came from the lips of Jake Cain, and the reason I remember it is because it haunted Jake for a long time afterward.

Seems he got called over to the south part of town one evening by the owner of a bar. The barkeep asked Jake to come pick up a woman named Angelina, who was very drunk. Angelina, as all of us fender sitters knew, was the town hooker; in fact, she was La Feria’s only hooker and much talked about for that reason.

Jake drove to the bar, picked Angelina up and deposited her in the back seat of his Ford, whereupon she immediately fell fast asleep. Jake knew where she lived, so he drove her home. When they got to Angelina’s house, Jake opened the Ford’s rear door. Angelina awoke, looked up at Jake, smiled sweetly and cooed that one fateful word, “Daddy!”

Jake told us the story, and we all laughed, but then Pinky said, “Hey, Daddy, what happened after that?” So we had an-other good laugh. And from that night on, we all called Jake Cain “Daddy.” It always caused a titter. Poor Jake must have hated that word, but he never got angry, never called anyone on it, and after a while we started calling him just Jake again.

MichaelLamm2ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Lamm’s family moved to La Feria in 1939, when Mike was three. Both his parents practiced medicine in La Feria. Mike grew up here and went away to college in 1954, first in Oregon and then in New York. He and his wife, JoAnne, and their three sons live in California, where Mike publishes books about cars. His company website – www.LammMorada.com.


Do YOU have any photos, books, or stories that might help us piece together La Feria’s storied history? If so please email us or call our office at 956-797-9920 and let us know!

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