Mr. Maffeo entered the U.S. Border Patrol in February 15 1941 and was a member of the 8th Training Session at El Paso Texas . Some of his classmates were James Bunner Albert Conway Bill Davis Lenord Gilman and Gordon Pettingill. In his interview Mr. Maffeo only mentioned in passing his experience as an Instructor at the various Border Patrol Academies. His pears however and all of his students would acknowledge his outstanding abilities as a Spanish language instructor and his contribution to many successful careers. Interview was conducted at the Border Patrol Museum on September 4 1986 by Ms. Terrie Cornell.
MM – I came into the Border Patrol in February 1941 and worked on the river for two months before I went to the Academy. I went to the eighth training session of the Academy.
TC – Do you have your picture?
MM – Yes I do have a class picture. You dont have the eighth one? Ill send you a copy.
TC – Oh great. What day in 1941?
MM – February 15 1941 and I went to the Academy in March of that same year. After that I just worked on the river you know line watch until that summer. We had a camp at Ft. Stanton where we kept all the sailors off the steamship Columbus that they scuttled of the coast of South America.
TC – I thought the Brits got the Germans off the ship?
MM – I dont know who got them off. We eventually got custody of them here via San Francisco. I think they came from San Francisco to Ft. Stanton. We rode herd on them up there for quite a little while. I think that Jake Longan was going to leave the pictures we used to use for ID up there.
TC – We have he whole box.
MM – It is great that you have the pictures for the museum. We used them twice daily to check each detainee in camp. The pictures were arranged in the order that each subject sat at the dinner table. It was easy to check each able at dinner and breakfast. If a seat were vacant we would have to check the sick bay or the hospital. If the man was not sick we would then check the various details where he might be working. We had a horse patrol every morning and evening to sign-cut and check the fence. The horse patrol covered about twelve miles around the perimeter of the camp. We also patrolled all the highways near there both night and day.
TC – Then you must have known Ben Powell. He lives down in Fabens and he came in and brought a bunch of his own personal snapshots.
MM – Yes I knew Ben. He still here?
TC – Oh yes he still here. How long were you there?
MM – We would stay a month at a time there. We went up in three month intervals. We stayed in barracks and ate in our own mess hall. We had a pretty good cowboy cook whose specialty was stew. He also made good biscuits. My first detail to the camp started on June 15 1941. My second detail started on November 1 1941. Senior Patrol Inspectors in Charge were Tom Linnenkohl and Shelley Barnes.
And then of course came Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and we immediately went to White Sulphur Springs West Virginia.
TC – I must have a picture of yout hen. Ill get the pictures out that Ben gave us. He took a lot of pictures. You went there?
MM – To White Sulphur Springs. We left El Paso on December 19 1941 en route to White Sulphur Springs WV. We arrived there on the 23rd. All of the alien enemy diplomats and their staffs were being kept there awaiting their return to their home countries. Each time that the exchange ship the Gripsholm came to New York we would take a train load up there so they could be put on the ship for its return to Europe. The ship was painted white and it sailed with its lights on for assured recognition. At the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs we had sentry boxes located at strategic points so that all entries and departures could be checked. At the less strategic points we had sentry boxes manned by local guards that were hired there.
TC – And it took fourteen months to do that?
MM – Fourteen months to do all that. And then we were not through because we moved some of them down to Asheville North Carolina. We kept some there for quite a little while in the Grove Park Inn.
TC – Did you go down there?
MM – Yes. I went down there for a couple of months.
TC – Was that as swanky a hotel as the White Sulphur Springs?
MM – Just as swanky yes it was a great big place. It had a fireplace as big as that wall there. They used to have a little donkey come in and they would harness him to pull the logs up on a pulley arrangement so that they could be swung into the fireplace.
TC – Were you married at that time?
MM – No.
TC – Gee what fun.
MM – Oh it was a great detail. You know when I came into the Border Patrol I was just an old country boy and I didnt know there was such a thing as a coffee break. I worked in the mines in Bisbee and then I taught school over there for a while but I never knew anybody took a coffee break. I joined the Border Patrol here and the Assistant Chief one day said lets go uptown for a cup of coffee. I said Were supposed to be working. He said Youre supposed to drink coffee twice a day once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I didnt know that.
TC – Where were you born and raised?
MM – Morenci Arizona.
TC – When did your parents go out here?
MM – My dad came from Italy in 1884 to Bisbee.
TC – To the mines?
MM – His father did. My father was just a baby when he came.
TC – How interesting.
MM – My parents were married in Bisbee AZ. They spent about twenty-five years in Morenci. That is where I grew up and finished high school. I have the distinction of having been born in the Territory of Arizona. It was admitted to Statehood eleven days after my birthday.
TC – And then you taught school for awhile?
MM – After I graduated from school there were no jobs.
TC – Did you go to college?
MM – Yes. Arizona University. Thats how come I came into the Border Patrol. So when I finished college I couldnt get a job and I went to work in the mines in Ajo. Then I came to Bisbee and worked in the mines. I went underground there and I didnt like that underground work. So this job came up as a school teacher so I went to work as a school teacher in a little country school in Pearce Arizona. Its like Wilcox the largest town close to it. The pay was $1100 a year for ten months of teaching. And the Border Patrol came out with an ad for $2000 a year so I thought thats for me. I had taken a lot of exams so I thought well Ill go down and take that one. They asked me if I would take an appointment before I knew what I had made on the examination. I said sure. You know I jumped from $1100 to $2000 that was sure a big jump. Thats how come I got in the Border Patrol.
TC – And you were a single man then that was really riches.
MM – Yes I didnt want to be anything else but a Border Patrolman after a couple of months on the job. Oh it was terrific.
TC – It paid so well.
MM – Yes it paid so well and the work was so interesting. We worked with a great bunch of guys whose morale and esprit de corps was always tops. Some days the work was easy and we would have our coffee breaks but the night shifts on the river and line watch were something else. We would wear warm clothing and carry heavy blankets to sit on and wrap up in. There was a lot of liquor smuggling in those days. There was always a lot of activity around what was then known as Cordova Island. At that time Cordova Island was the part of Mexico that was on this side of the Rio Grande. If Darbeyshire Steel Mfg. Co. is still in El Paso the northwest corner of Cordova Island would be just across the road from their shops.
TC – And then you got these cushy assignments.
MM – Cushy assignments yes. They called me Per Diem Maffeo for quite awhile because I was gone so much. O.K. then after that detail in Grove Park Inn.
TC – How many aliens did you move down there would you guess?
MM – It would just be a guess I would say four hundred.
TC – Four hundred!
MM – Yes we had that Greenbriar Hotel full. I dont know how may we had in there at the time.
TC – And these were people that had been in the Greenbriar for fourteen months?
MM – Some of them were and some you see they had the Grove Park Inn the Greenbriar Hotel and Hot Springs West Virginia. The spa there. That hotel over there was full for a time too.
TC – This is the whole household of these families right. Their nannies cooks and whatever?
MM – Everybody The staffs all went there too.
TC – Did they bring more people in during the was?
MM – Yes they picked them up in South America and brought them up here.
TC – Who picked them up in South America? Other Countries?
MM – No I think our State Department picked them up and made arrangements to bring them up here to make the exchange because see they were our allies in South America.
TC – So you were constantly getting new prisoners?
MM – Yes.
TC – Moving them down to North Carolina must have been exiting. Guarding them?
MM – Oh you put them on the train and man each end of the Pullman car. You know first class. They were all used to first class treatment.
TC – Did any of them try to bribe you to stay here?
MM – No not me personally. But they did some of the officers. I never had any contact with any of them who came up and offered.
On another detail they attached us to an army group lets see a National Guard outfit somewhere back there that was still in the country. They had the submarine scare on the coast at that time and the army wanted some Immigration Officers to work with their patrols in case they picked up somebody to help find out if they were aliens. So we got to ride the beaches out there with the army for a couple or three months and I asked to get back to El Paso since it was my official station.
TC – Did you enjoy the beach patrol?
MM – Well yes but we had to live in army tents.
TC – What time of year was It?
MM – Lets see I returned to El Paso in January so it must have been in December of 1942.
TC – Was there a submarine or just a scare?
MM – Well it was just a scare. They thought the submarines had come in where the water was shallow and dropped people off spies and so forth and they waded in.
TC – But they had not done that?
MM – But during the war they picked up the Japanese you know and picked up their staffs and put them in internment camps. There was an internment camp out here at Lordsburg.
TC – At Lordsburg? Did you get out there?
MM – I was stationed at Lordsburg. When I came back from this detail they sent me out to Lordsburg. That was 43 then when I came back. See 42 had gone by and I came back here and went to Lordsburg.
TC – I havent heard anybody talk about that camp.
MM – Yes the camp was about six miles southeast of Lordsburg. We used to do a lot of fingerprinting out there.
TC – And there were only Japanese in that camp? How many would you guess were there?
MM – Two or three hundred. I stayed there until June. I thought the way the war was going over in Europe I thought it was almost over and I wanted to have a veteran status when the war was over. So I didnt ask for our blanket deferment the blanket determent we would get every time we would get a call from the draft board. We would just call the Chief and of course he had a blanket deferment for us. It came out of Washington. But I didnt take my deferment that time and the war was not over and I ended up with three years in the infantry.
TC— You were drafted?
MM – Yes.
TC – And when did you go in the army?
MM – In June of 1943 until the war was over until January of 46. See I was in 43 a half year and then 44 and all of 45. Two and a half years in the Service.
TC – Where were you stationed then
MM – They sent us to New Zealand as replacements in the 25thd Division. Then we came to New Caledonia and we trained there for another nine months. We made a practice landing on Guadalcanal and made the real landing on Luzon. But we had dress rehearsal on Guadalcanal and then we had opening night on Luzon. We fought on Luzon for six months then went to Japan for occupation for three months and then came home.
TC – And you still werent married?
MM – No not until I came back to the States.
TC – Im jumping ahead of you how interesting. So you had both the Border Patrol and the army during World War II. The best of both worlds.
MM – You might say.
TC – O.K. then pick up after the war.
MM – After the war? I came back and the Chief said where do you want to go? I said I want to go back to Lordsburg. I loved it there it was so close to my home and dad was a contractor and of course on my two days off I could always moonlight with him for the income. So I stayed in Lordsburg for six months after the war. They called me into El Paso one day. They said send Mike in to talk about a possible transfer so they sent me in here and the Chief said We want to send you up to Albuquerque. I said I dont wand to go to Albuquerque. He said you know Mike a single man who would rather live in Lordsburg than Albuquerque I couldnt recommend him for promotion. So I told him as long as he had explained the benefits to me Id go to Albuquerque. So I went up to Albuquerque and that is where I met my wife. We were married in 47 in Albuquerque and honeymooned upstairs in this hotel.
TC – What did you do in Albuquerque?
MM – In the Border Patrol. We checked freight trains and checked the beet fields in Colorado. We had a road block in Trinidad. Of course all those freight trains went through Belen which is 25 miles this side of Albuquerque.
At Belen that reminds me when I first came into the Border Patrol I put truck driver down as one of my occupations before I came into the Border Patrol and they sent me to Belen to move a man back to El Paso for transferring back to El Paso. I went up in the truck and stayed in the hotel that night and the next morning I went over to his house and told him I was there to move him and that was the first indication he had that he was going to be transferred when I showed up.
TC – Oh this is a Border Patrolman you were moving?
MM – Yes.
TC – He didnt know he was being transferred until the moving van showed up at his door?
MM – Yes. He was excited and he called on the telephone and finally he said yes I guess I am transferred.
TC – Do you know who that was?
MM – His name is Dennis Wolstenholme. Dennis and I had breakfast a couple of weeks ago and he reminded me of that incident. The man Parks was transferring in to be an Immigrant Inspector so the move was no surprise to him. Dennis later became a Chief and was stationed in Tucson. If you ever have the opportunity to interview him you will get some truly interesting stories.
TC – You only did that one time?
MM – No I did it another time. I went to Fabens down here to move a man named Dayton Tuck in this old flat rack Chevrolet truck you know. His wife said you know my refrigerator is brand new and I dont want anything to happen to that. Are you sure you can move it out? I said well your husband can help. We can wrap it up in quilts and so forth and we will tie it up in the truck and nothing should happen to it. O.K. so we were tooling off down the road to Ft. Hancock (he was going to be moved to Ft. Hancock) and the road was kind of rough. He was following the truck and the car started to honk and I looked back. The truck had been bouncing and the top of hat refrigerator bounced off and fell off on the pavement. By the time I got back there it was one of those old enamel jobs and the enamel was still crinkling off of that refrigerator. He said Oh Ive got to tell my wife what happened. She sure is going to be mad at me.
TC – How long were you stationed in Albuquerque?
MM – Two years. And then I came down here to El Paso transferred to El Paso. Thats when they asked me if I wanted to be an instructor in the Academy. And I didnt want to. But it was a two-grade jump and a promotion and I was married then and settled down.
TC – You didnt want to though.
MM – Not really. You know I really enjoyed patrol work even in spite of the fact that it was shift work. But anyway the Academy was straight days and had its advantages.
TC – But you missed the line watch being outside?
MM – Oh I missed it yes.
TC – So you taught from what 49?
MM – Lets see from 49 to 55.
TC – Can you give me the locations of the Academy in those years?
MM – In 49 it was down here at Camp Chigas. Then in 1950 we were on detail down to McAllen Texas and had it down there two sessions I think and then we came back here.
TC – A session would have been how long?
MM – A session was six weeks. And they ran two classes at a time. Two Spanish classes and two law classes. There were about a hundred in each session.
TC – About a hundred in the two classes together.
MM – Yes. At that time. Then we went to McAllen in 50 and again in 52. In between we had it here at Camp Chigas.
TC – O.K. Do you know why they moved down to McAllen?
MM – They had such a big class down there and they were putting so many on down there they didnt want to pay them per diem to send them up here on detail to go to school.
TC – So they took the school to them.
MM – They took the school to them you see. In 52 we went to Las Cruces for a couple of sessions. Wait let me take that back. We went out here to the Radford School for girls for one session. We ran a school once out there.
TC – This would have been about 1952? Would that have been in the summer?
MM – Yes.
TC – And then Las Cruces.
MM – And then Las Cruces. We had two sessions up at Las Cruces at the New Mexico Agricultural College.
TC – Do you have pictures of all this?
MM – I dont think so. There are some there were class pictures. From NMSU then we came back to Ft. Bliss. We had an old WAC quarters out there so we had a nice area out there. We kind of changed it around a bit to make class rooms out of some of the parts of it. I taught the two sessions there. And thats when I left the Academy in 56.
TC – So you were seven years altogether in the Academy? You taught Spanish?
MM – Yes Spanish and some Nationality law but mostly Spanish.
TC – And then what did you do?
MM – I transferred to Tucson and was an Anti-Smuggling officer at that time.
TC – And thats why you retired there? You spent the rest of your career there?
MM – Yes in Tucson
TC – When did you retire?
MM – In 1972 July 15.
TC – Goodness you were there a long time.
MM – Yes half of my Border Patrol career was in Tucson. Thirty-two years credit I had for pension computation including military.
TC – Who did you work under at Tucson?
MM – Let see the first Chief I worked under there was Wolstenholme and Henry Stallings was Assistant Chief. Then Wolstenholme was replaced by Hensley. Then Hensley was replaced by Bruce Long. And then after Bruce Long was Jim Kelley. Jim Kelley was Chief when I retired. But during that hitch in Tucson I transferred to Investigations for two years. I was an Investigator in Tucson.
TC – Do you have any good stories from that?
MM – No not really. It was one of those deals where we were all upgraded the Anti-smuggling officers were all upgraded and took charge of prosecutions. That was Investigations territory and they didnt like it when we were upgraded because some of their Investigators were waiting for promotions. It wasnt a great two years as far as Im concerned because when the opportunity came to go back to the Patrol I did right quick. My partner was shot one night.
TC – Killed?
MM – Yes.
TC – Who was that?
MM – Bill Phillips an Investigator.
TC – How did that happen?
MM – He had a warrant for this guys arrest and the guy was living with a family in south Tucson and we went down there early one morning to see if we could catch him. He was just leaving the house and we had to chase him in the car and we chased him all over south Tucson and he finally ended up going right back to the house again. He jumped out of the car and ran in the house and slammed the door and Bill was chasing him and then Bill went around to one of the windows to see if he could see him and he shot him through the window. Bill couldnt shoot back because there were kids in the house.
TC – And he was killed right there? How sad.
MM – Yes. And Bill was a Border Patrolman before he went to Investigations so I dont know if he is listed with Border Patrol casualties or not.
TC – Did you get the guy who killed him?
MM – Eventually yes. We had to go to Mexico City. They caught him in Mexico City and so we went to Mexico City and testified against him. The Mexicans wanted the gun and we were bringing the gun to Mexico City and not let any of their Customs people en route know that we had the gun. Naturally by this time the FBI was deeply involved in the investigation an d were very helpful in arranging our passage to Mexico City because one of their Agents was going with us. The subject Jesus Leon-Reynaga was sentenced to prison. It was a Military type prison. Later in an escape attempt he was shot and killed.
TC – Your exciting details happened early in your career and then after that you settled down.
MM – Yes. Those were nice details. We didnt fly in those days we went on the train every place. When we went from here to White Sulphur Springs they had sent me to Arizona on detail and called me back from Arizona and I did have time to come back here and store my car and get on the train and there were five of us went back on this detail. They detailed us out so fast we had a private car all the way to St. Louis. –
TC – To go to White Sulphur Springs. Do you remember who the five were?
MM – Lets see Jimmy Smith Leighton St. Clair Thomason Ben Powell and me is that five of us?
TC – And you had a private car.
MM – After I retired I went to work for Pima County State of Arizona as a property appraiser. I worked mainly with ranches and their properties. After that I substituted in the school system in Tucson for a couple of sessions as a school teacher and then quit altogether .
TC – Are you traveling around now?
MM – Not a whole lot. We take a couple of trips a year but I spend most of my time hiking in the mountains. I keep in pretty good shape. So thats it. I cant think of anything else.
Original transcription by Roberta N. Shasteen on February 1 1990