The Chase, and the Mindset Thereof

The police radio frequency came alive, quickly filled with excited and angry voices, that Summer night in 1968. A chase was in progress, and the reason soon became apparent. One of our North Austin patrolmen had stopped a ’56 Chevy, and the five occupants had spilled out, with one of them pulling a .45 caliber auto and firing a round at the officer’s feet. After disarming him, they roughed him up, leaving him on the side of the road. He had recognized two of them as ex-cons, Dickie Evans and Lonnie Sumner, both White, from somewhere in North Austin.

At age 23, I was beginning my second year with the Austin Police Department. Joe Alvarado was riding with me that night. My beat was East of IH 35. That expressway but nine years old at the time had been configured to serve as a dividing line between Anglo Austin and the rest of the population. East of that line, from E 7th Street south to the Colorado River, was completely Mexican American, all the way east and across the Colorado River into the village of Montopolis. East of that line, from E 7th Street north to E 19th (now MLK), was an entirely Black population. East of Airport Boulevard was divided into pockets of both races. This then made up East Austin, an area most police officers avoided or worked in stretches of time no longer than an obligatory three months. East Austin, violent East Austin, that was my beat.

Now on this particular Summer night, Joe and I were at the jail, where I was interpreting for an illegaI. I was upset to be wasting my time in the jail interpreting for someone else’s prisoner when there was a chase going on, particularly given the circumstances of the chase. Every available police vehicle, it seemed from every part of the city, had headed north to join in the chase and I was stuck interpreting! In the jail, we could hear that chase going on all over North Austin, and then it began coming south. That little Chevy was flat outrunning our Fords! Then it disappeared, only to resurface again, before other units, and then losing them as well. When I realized, after some ten minutes, that the chase wasn’t going to be over anytime soon, I turned to the jail personnel. “Get someone else to do this!” I was going north, and if by luck I could get behind that Chevy I felt I could run him down. Slim chance that I will find him thought I, but I wanted to be in the running if possible.

Yes, I wanted into this race! I felt I could catch him where the others could not. My police car, like the rest of the police vehicles used by the Austin PD, was a 1968 Ford Custom sedan. These cars packed a big V8 engine, with 390 cubic inches of power. I felt my particular car would make a difference in chasing that little Chevy if only I was lucky enough to sight it.

The difference between my car and the police cars which had so far gotten behind the little Chevy was that mine was an East Austin Unit. There were, at the time, four cars which worked East Austin, and they were different from the rest, specifically because they were East Austin units, where things got hot on a regular basis. Getting to a call fast was extremely important. The day drivers of our four East cars, Units 218, 219, 220 and 221 were charged to take these units out onto the then newly constructed and nearly deserted Ed Bluestein Boulevard and blow them out to their top speed of 140 mph. This way, the fellows who drove them during the afternoon 3-11 shift, and the 11-7 night shift, would be able to rely on them to be up to max speed within seconds, without the coughs, stutters, and sputtering the other units were at the moment experiencing, putting them at a distinct advantage to that very fast ’56 Chevy. Those four East Austin cars were different. No other unit in town could keep up with our East units. I wanted to get behind that little Chevie, which had so far outrun every Ford it had encountered.

After informing the booking desk people to find another interpreter, I ran to my unit with Joe right behind me. I floor boarded my unit onto IH 35, and wouldn’t you know it, that ’56 Chevy came blazing by, now headed back north! We were doing 100 mph and climbing when the Chevy turned off at the Airport exit. (I had lost my chance to see what my Ford could do against the Chevy on the straight away!) But I was pushing him, and far ahead of us, they lost it on the curve. Now I had him!

I ran my unit right up against the driver’s side. I jumped out and ran over to the passenger side. You have to understand that emotions were high, (hardly describes the adrenalin flow) and besides, I thought there was a .45 loose somewhere in that vehicle. Dickie Evans was driving. I opened the passenger door and dived right over the passenger onto Dickie. Jamming my pistol into his ear, I hollered, “You’re dead, Dickie!” to cries of “don’t kill him, man, don’t kill him!” “Yeah! You’re dead, Dickie!”
Joe came around behind me, but I was on top of both of those in the front seat, and not far from blowing Dickie away. Joe was thinking, and when he saw what was happening, he quickly jumped into my unit and backed it up. I was surprised, as this was the first fracas we had gotten into together, and I wasn’t sure how he’d react. He then pulled and yanked open the driver’s door of the Chevy, forcing it open, and Dicky and I tumbled out onto the street with me on top of him. I beat the side of his head with the butt of my pistol and he was smart enough to stay down.

As the others, to include Lonnie Sumners who was in the back seat, began piling out of the Chevy, I hollered to Joe to use my stick and drop the passenger, to get him out of the way. When he hesitated, I hollered, “Joe, drop him!” I hollered again, “Joe! Drop him, Joe!” He buried the point of the stick in the passenger’s gut, and the man dropped, gasping for air.

Where was the .45? “Drop ’em all Joe!” I hit the third man, and he went down. Joe followed, dropping the fourth guy. Only one was left standing, a Mexican American. “Drop him, Joe!” I yelled. The man turned to Joe, pleading, “Indio, (as Joe Alvarado was known in East Austin) tu me conoces! You know me, Indio, tu me conoces! You know me, man!” I hollered again, “Drop him, Joe!” I could see Joe was having a hard time taking down an acquaintance who called him by name. I was stoked by a cold anger and had no such compunctions, no qualms whatsoever. I knocked the man off his feet. All five were face down on the ground where they fell when other officers arrived.

Joe Alvarado was my karate instructor, and I was his student, about the same time that Mr. Takamichi was in high school, and a student of the founder of our style, Michio Koyasu. I never met Mr. Koyasu. As I see it, Mr. Alvarado was the head of a style far more aggressive than that which Koyasu taught, and I would submit that my input as a student was to influence the direction our style was headed. So it was that when Alvarado decided to require much more in our black belt exams than what Koyasu expected, 20 fighting rounds against fresh opponents, I was in agreement.

But three years ago when the Soryu school heads met in Austin, I was disappointed to hear that the requirements for black belt were being relaxed, “to give everyone an opportunity to wear the belt.” The fight standards were to be relaxed, and to my deep dismay, Mr. Alvarado concurred. Jessie Ortegon, who bore the brunt of the first black belt exam requiring him to go 20 rounds against fresh opponents, remained firm. “Ida Lopez went through the exam. No one cut her any slack.”

In the photo, you see Joe Alvarado in the AOK shirt, and myself to his right, shaking hands at the conclusion of an anything goes, full contact team fight between our schools. Although my team emerged victorious, it was but by a small margin, for our fighters were very evenly matched. I had instituted such team fighting with the aim being to demonstrate our superiority over other styles, and Joe was in agreement. I had taken my team to Dallas to compete against a team Greek (Demetrius Havanas) put up, with similar results. From that time to now, relax our standards? Why?

When Takamichi, head of Japan Soryu, came to Texas, I watched from a distance as so many drank the kool-aid of a much kinder, much gentler art than that to which I am accustomed. I was upset at Alvarado for his submission to a lesser entity. Fifty two years ago there was Alvarado, the seasoned Second Dan, and Takamichi and myself, White Belts. He ought not to have submitted, not to Takamichi, nor to the relaxing of standards.

Indeed, the difference in mindset which separates myself and my peer, Mr. Takamichi, is stark, for our life experiences deem it so, and our life experiences influence our manner of instructing and the type of brown and black belts we put out.

That same year of the car chase, while he was in high school, I interrupted a burglary in progress late one night, near to midnight. I shot one of the two men involved and injured the other, sending both to the hospital. That same year, there was Takamichi, a peaceful schoolboy immersed in his studies. His students reflect his mindset. That same year I was immersed in violence in my role as one of the most aggressive officers on the force. A difference in mindset indeed. My students, of whom Master Instructor Jeff Bonugli is foremost, reflect it.

Adios, Johnny, Adios

I remember Johnny lifting his shirt to show me the wound marks left by the three nails. The fight had been a brutal one, and to beat Johnny, his opponent had taken a two by four to him. The nails in the board had pierced Johnny’s side, puncturing a lung. John spent six months in the hospital, but he healed eventually and went looking for the man who had caused him injury. When he finally caught up with the man, Johnny covered the forty yards separating them with such speed that the man was unable to mount an effective defense. He took a terrible beating. Johnny had returned the favor. The man was carted off to the hospital. That was Johnny Maspero, street fighter par excellence in his early twenties.

We were young then, and he is gone now, this friend of my younger years, my comrade and first student, my dear friend Johnny Maspero, bad to the bone, all 6’1 and 238 pounds of him. Yes, he is gone, and I have missed him, for I loved him, which feelings I deeply regret never having expressed to him. He was raised, as he expressed it in perfect Spanish, “en la Calle Green” two entire blocks on that street which were once the home place of the large Italian American Maspero clan. Green Street in San Antonio runs west from S. Flores Street into Luther Burbank High School, which sits on acreage donated to the school by Johnny’s grandfather in 1937. John had been a star basketball player while attending Burbank High School, and athleticism ran in the family. In the mid-1950s his uncle Vic Maspero had set an area rodeo bulldogging record of 5.6 seconds.

I was ending my third year with the Austin Police Department when Johnny came on the force in 1970. We were too much of the same mindset for me to treat him like a rookie. Graduating from “La Burr” (Burbank High) in 1962, a year before my graduation from high school, he was an Italian turned Mexican, which is the crowd he ran with in those days, and we hit it off immediately. He took me to San Antonio to introduce me to many of “la palomia” he grew up with, among whom was his cousin Tommy Maspero, a mountain of a man at 6’6 and 350 pounds. Tommy, who is today an attorney, was also immersed in the Mexican culture and would come to work for me four years later when I took over a state investigation unit in San Antonio.

As intimated above, John was ferocious in a fight. One of his first disturbance calls was to a bar on E. 1st Street, where the bartender challenged him to come behind the bar. Never one to hesitate, Johnny vaulted the bar and the fight commenced. By the time other officers arrived, the area behind the bar was a shambles with Johnny in the process of wrapping things up. It was a harbinger of things to come. In what was then the Black area of town up on Webberville Road, Johnny walked into a pool room when someone broke a pool cue over the back of his head. That was a mistake. With blood pouring down past his ears, Johnny turned to face his attacker. If that man feared the worst he was correct. While Johnny was getting stitches at Brackenridge ER, the man, now Johnnie’s prisoner, was himself getting tended to in the next cubicle courtesy of John Maspero.

Johnny and two other officers began working out with me in late 1970 at a time when I was yet months away from examining for my brown belt. The other two were Bobby Ray and Dan Luna. Johnny was one day asked scornfully by another officer, “Well, is Chris Lopez teaching you anything?” Johnny responded: “Let me show you a combination I’ve learned… Left shuto to the side of the neck…” the man dropped his briefcase stunned by the blow…“followed by reverse punch to the rib cage, and I bury it (he buried it)…and as you go down, (he was going down) I finish you off with a lead leg roundhouse kick…there I’ve laid you out… (this in front of the whole shift)…and that’s all he’s taught me, but you’re down and out, don’t you see?” John walked out of the room, leaving that officer laid out cold. It was a great visual of what I taught, removing any doubt any those officers may have entertained as to what we were about.

Johnny’s actions were a boon for me. It is a fact that Johnny could have taken that man out before receiving any instruction from me, but here he was brutally demonstrating something I had taught him. That made more of an impression than if I had done it myself, for if Johnny was the student, what did it say of the instructor? His harsh actions became a second witness of who I was, and while a member of that department I welcomed and fully lived up to any expectations of me. In another instance Johnny took up my cause physically, quieting dissension which had grown up about me, and this at a gathering of some two hundred officers. When I uttered the command, “Take him, Johnny!” he complied without hesitation, and that dissenter paid dearly. This thing about having your back, why Johnny always had my back, even in later days when we had our differences.

We were in those days in our mid-twenties with Dan the youngest at age 22. It occurred to me that since I was instructing them strictly in fight technique, (forget the kata!) I would eventually have to spar them, and I was not looking forward to such, primarily because I had no idea either of how to introduce the sparring, or once into sparring, how to control the situation in the ring. Nor did they, for they had never seen controlled sparring. And at 147 pounds I had to appreciate our weight differences, with Johnny at 238, Bobby at 230 and Dan at 185 pounds.

I put sparring off for as long as I could, for 4 months, but the day came when I could put it off no longer. It was time to spar. Bobby Ray stepped up first, and almost immediately after bowing in, latched on to my gi top, spun me around and drove me into the brick wall, hard! I responded by going over his hands gripping my gi and raked his forehead with my elbow, opening a cut over his right eye. Bleeding freely, he headed to the emergency room for stitches. Johnny was next, and what a fight that was! I moved! Oh my, I moved! In the one instance where he was able to cleanly connect, it was because he was able to grasp my gi and drive a hard right cross into my upper chest. That should have brought me down, it was so forceful a strike, but it was not in me to go down, and I made him pay dearly.

I was not knowledgeable enough about the process to know how to control the fight and call a stop to it. Nor were we sparring. We were going all out, and I knew that if I lost this one I was through, for I would have lost the respect of those three and my credibility on the force would be in shambles, of that I was sure. It was all or nothing. I was the only karate man on the force at the time, and much was made of that at a time when karate was virtually unknown. I had no choice but to emerge the better man. We were wearing no gloves and two weeks later I was still seeing the bluish purple imprint of four knuckles on my chest, and still feeling the pain, something I never divulged to Johnny. But I was better conditioned, and I beat him down unmercifully, dropping him to all fours. He was able to get up and I dropped him again. This time, when he was able to get up, he grabbed his clothes and stalked out.

Danny was left, but by now he knew better than to come on aggressively. We sparred until the phone rang. It was Johnny. “I’m at Hernandez Bar on 6th Street. Come over and let’s finish that fight!” I walked into that bar thirty minutes later and followed Johnny into a back room. It was a small storage room, and I immediately realized that I would have no room to move, and without being able to move Johnny would surely own me. With that in mind, I quietly put my hand around the neck of one of the empty bottles stored there. To my relief, Johnny stuck out his hand. “This was your day!”

I have mentioned Dan Luna who hailed from West Texas. He too was extremely aggressive and stuck with me, the only one of the three to come back. Since I was not yet even a Brown Belt, I took Dan over to Joe Alvarado’s dojo (then at 104 Bastrop Hiway) to test for his first belt. He had a tough Orange Belt to spar Dan, he said. Johnny went with us, and with John Maspero hollering his support, Dan devastated that tough orange belt, did a real number on him. Back on duty one night, about a month later, up on St. John Street, Dan stopped to question two Black men. He got sucker punched and the two worked him over, putting him in the hospital for several months. When Dan got out of the hospital, he raced back up to St. John Street. He encountered two Black men and tore into them, sending both to the emergency room. The chief fired him the next morning. Dan went back out to West Texas and became a deputy sheriff and I lost a fighting student.

My friendship with Johnny continued but in the back of his mind, Johnny wanted another go at it. We were off duty and in civilian clothes months later when we did a repeat with the same result, only with a bit more blood spilled. That lingered beneath the surface, remaining a point of contention between me and Johnny.

We thought alike about how to handle things on the street. There was a bear of a man who lived in Montopolis whom I remember as “Moncho,” a cognomen perhaps, for Moises. When Moncho got to drinking, he turned mean and wanted to fight, and when Moncho wanted to fight people got hurt. One afternoon when Moncho was on the warpath Johnny took the call and quickly made Moncho’s acquaintance. Units arriving for back up were treated to one heck of a brawl in progress between an evenly matched Moncho and Johnny Maspero in the kind of encounter that delighted Johnny. Moncho was hauled off to jail. A couple of weeks later I was driving down Riverside Drive en route to Montopolis when I spotted a hulk of a man walking in that direction. It was Moncho. I pulled over to talk to him. When it came to Frank Miller’s attention that I was out talking to Moncho, he hurried over. When I advised Moncho, in the presence of an incredulous Frank Miller that I would give him a ride the ten miles to his home, Frank almost had a cow. “He just assaulted an officer!” protested Frank. So I called Johnny. “Johnny, are you ok with me giving Moncho a ride home?” “Sure, give him a ride. Le mando saludes!” (“I send him my greetings.”) Frank was beside himself in anger. “I don’t get you guys, not one bit! Johnny just had to fight this guy and now you’re giving him a ride home! You guys disgust me!” (John had spoken to me after their brawl of the respect he had for Moncho. On the way to jail the two had talked, and the respect was mutual. Only a fighter would understand.)

Johnny and I rarely got to work together, and it was just as well given our competitive nature. He was riding with me the night the call came out regarding an armed robbery which had just occurred involving four subjects. We were close and happened on the car involved, on East 12th near the Interstate. As I was running the car off the road, Johnny and I were actually struggling over the unit’s riot shotgun. I was in the driver’s seat, Johnny was the stronger of the two, and with both hands on the weapon took it from me. I can still remember my ire at Johnny over having to hold only a puny .357 caliber handgun on the four rather than the 12 gauge shotgun which Johnny had wrested from me. A riot shotgun commands some respect, and in Johnny’s hands, those perps came to an understanding.

In late 1973, Johnny left the department. Johnny’s wife at the time, (Sandy) worked at the Adjutant General’s office and had insights about a new state investigative division forming up. Captain Howard Smith, the head of Texas DPS Intelligence was hiring law enforcement personnel to man that division, a total of 114 men. Johnny applied and took over a unit in that division in Austin. In October of 1974, I also joined that agency, taking over an investigative unit in San Antonio. Johnny and I were together again, but with the passing of time, we got crossways again.

In 1980 Johnny went to the FBI, eventually becoming the Special Agent in Charge of the Austin office. While there he was active in assisting the Austin Police Department and other agencies in dealing with organized crime and Mexican Cartels, both of which were his specialty. He retired from the FBI in 2000 and ran for and was elected Sheriff of Williamson County, following Sheriff Ed Richards, for whom Johnny and I had both worked while with the state. I took this high point in his life as an opportunity to call him and congratulate him, with an eye to patching things up. We had a pleasant conversation, with even the suggestion being made that I go to work for him. In short order, Johnny revamped the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department’s chain of command giving it greater efficiency, and County Judge John Doerfler rated his job performance for his first year in office as “excellent.” During this time he was also hailed as Top Administrator of a Sheriff’s Office in Texas. Unfortunately, Johnny had a drinking problem, which led to his resignation in 2003 amid allegations of public drunkenness and a series of domestic disturbances involving his ex-wife. At one point after his resignation, it required four Georgetown police officers to take him down. With political enemies taking jabs at him publicly, Johnny had hit the lowest point of his life. My heart went out to this warrior friend and student of mine who had soared so high and was now brought down in so humiliating a manner.

But you cannot keep a champion down, and in the end, Johnny now a guest lecturer at Texas State, pulled it together for the good, spending the last five years of his career working with young people as a special education teacher for Temple ISD. Indeed, Johnny had much to pass on to young people concerning the vicissitudes of life. Further, he taught Sunday School for the youth at his church. Bravo! There is no greater work than that which we do amongst young people. They can remember it as a privilege to have been taught by John Maspero, whose new life was certainly pleasing to the Lord, who said that “there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Yes, such a blessing is repentance as we turn things around, and Johnny soared at his highest in those last days of his life. Oh, how I wish I had known him in those last years! Such a time we would have had! He passed from this life on March 22, 2014, at the age of 69. Johnny, ever the fighter, ever aggressive, plunging headlong into the fray, had finally slowed down.

Johnny Maspero, utterly fearless and the consummate lawman whose escapades as a lawman border on legend, played an important part in my early years as a martial arts instructor. He was my first student. He was ferocious in a fight and would put many a black belt to shame. After Johnny, I knew the type of fighter I was capable of training. Within six months of opening my dojo in Austin as a new brown belt in 1971, I was able to send over to Joe Alvarado’s school five fighters. Predictably, Louis Arnold the soon to be legendary brown belt and winner of over 200 matches in that division, walked on my orange belt heavyweight, Mike Pair. The rest of the fights favored my boys in their matches against the students of the toughest dojo in Austin.

Curiously, where my nearly five decades as a martial arts instructor are concerned, I began with an Italian American in John Maspero, and I’m ending with another Italian American in Jeff Bonugli. There are so many similarities between the two. I take consolation in the fact that in the nigh 50 years of instructing, from Johnny Maspero to Jeff Bonugli, I have never been accused of teaching a substandard fighting art. I taught the fight game. Jeff Bonugli is taking it from there.

Above all things, Johnny was my friend. Such great times we had together! He has been much on my mind of late. I miss him! As one brother loves another, I loved him. Yes, I miss him, and when I see him again it shall be in a place where there will be none of the contentions we knew when we were young, contentions that we permitted to keep two dear friends apart. Until that blessed day Johnny, my beloved friend, I bid you goodbye. Goodbye, beloved friend!

Ye Ought forgive One Another

I awoke very early one morning pondering over the things I had not been able to forgive. I mentally recounted some of them. There was the teacher who terrified and bullied me when I was a little child. That was most difficult to forgive, for I remembered the tears it brought to my gentle mother. There were later the hurtful words from a school administrator. And there was the beating I received from two male teachers in a dark room long after school was out, under the guise of corporal punishment. When I grew to young manhood and was more than able, I longed for the day I might meet the two together in a dark alley, for I wanted to extract revenge.

There came to me that early morning the words of the Savior, “Ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (1)

Ought I not to forgive finally? There had been so many wonderful and loving teachers and benefactors in my life, so why should I let these stand out? Yes, for the word of the Lord is clear: “ But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (2) Mine were so many, grievously vexing the Lord!

As I considered my life and reviewed each of my own grievous failings, I discovered that for each of these minor acts against me, I could find a much greater flaw in mine own life! There was a counterbalance, and more! I was in deficit, for the Lord had been surpassing merciful unto me! Who was I not to forgive? Who was I to hold out?

“Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted that I may heal you?” (3)

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy; and my burden is light.” (4)

O Beloved and Divine Redeemer, Thou, the Savior of my soul, shall I not love Thee forever? Yea, I shall love Thee forever, and yet it shall not be enough!

(1) Doctrine & Covenants 64: 9-10 (2) Matthew 6:15 (3) 3 Nephi 9: 13 (4) Matthew 11: 28-30

The Theme of Redemption

Great literature has the capacity to stir our souls, and to uplift and edify us. The greatest of all the works of literature center on and around the theme of man’s desire to better himself, and to redeem and separate himself from that which is degrading. Such a work of literature is Joseph Conrad’s “Lord Jim.” The message behind the novel is one of redemption. It is about Jim, an idealistic young man who agonizes over a past transgression. His grief over his past is such that he labors to redeem himself all the days of his life in service to others.

Trouble ensues when a pirate appears who knows of Jim’s past. Rather than take the life of the pirate, he allows him to escape because he feels it would be dishonorable to take the life of a man, simply because he knows of Jim’s past. The pirate and his men set an ambush in which a young friend of Jim’s is killed. In an attempt to recompense for the life of the boy, Jim willingly turns himself over to the grieving father. Having thus offered himself up, he takes a bullet in the chest.

Through great literature we become privy to profound thought, for no book of true value is written save through intense mental struggles on the part of the author. His mind probes the very depth of human reason; he pens his thoughts with the aid of Heaven; inspiration is his guide and benefactor. His mind is constantly on his chosen piece, for even in his leisure moments, he is mentally writing and rewriting.

Of all literature written, is there any to compare with the scriptures, from which source many a great writer has received spiritual sustenance? In holy writ, the central theme is indeed that of redemption, for a loving God would have us repent of our sins, that we may return to Him cleansed of our sins if only we will.

A Trap and a Snare

More than two decades ago I served as a full-time recruiter for the Army National Guard. I had done damage to my government vehicle. The brass above me wanted me to resign. Definitely not. When that did not work they wanted me to pay for the value of the car, which they would retain. Definitely not. I could get the damage repaired for about $90. I would make no concessions beyond that. There commenced a period of threats and harassment which continued for months. My office was in the ROTC building at Texas State, an office otherwise staffed by Regular Army personnel with a Lieutenant Colonel in charge. A National Guard Staff Officer came by one day and in a laughable display at investigative skills harangued me for nearly an hour behind the closed doors of my office. I listened, saying nothing. After he left, the Regular Army commander came to me offering to get involved on my behalf, for I was well liked there. I politely declined his kind offer.

I had finally had enough. In an unorthodox move, I wrote a “for your eyes only” letter in parable form to my National Guard commander. The gist of the parable involved a Feral Hog who was quietly going about his business when a pack of high bred hounds happened upon him and began to threaten him. The Feral Hog patiently advised them that he only wanted to mind his business and suggested that they mind theirs. Nonetheless, if they would not cease and desist, and if it was a confrontation they really wanted, he allowed as to how his patience was finally exhausted. They should have their desired confrontation, whereby he commenced to cut them to shreds. No names were mentioned, but the message of the parable was clear.

The fact that the crime of three high ranking officers who had absconded with $350,000 was surreptitiously swept under the rug and that I was aware of such would have occurred to him. For my part, taking on the crime would have been extremely difficult and I would have had no support. Even my friends in the Guard would have shied away from me for fear of reprisal. But such was not impossible. It would be a repeat of an incident a couple of years past when it seemed that the whole world had turned against me. I was alone, but by prevailing brought to light such evidence that a long time officer, my superior, was asked to resign or face criminal charges. Now here was this parable, whereby this commander believed I had the investigative skills to bring it and the three principals to justice. The harassment stopped. We came to terms.

Now we have the situation with this White House. I have difficulty with his daily tweets and name calling, and supported another candidate for the office. But when it became clear that my candidate would not be in the running, I penned an article on FB stating my reason for supporting Mr. Trump and not casting away my vote for another candidate. By splitting the vote I reasoned, the result would be Ms. Clinton as President, which in turn would have a disastrous effect on the Judiciary, these being the Supreme Court and some 75 Federal Judgeships. I believe that my article resulted in quieting the concerns of many in the Latter Day Saint community, for my article was shared some 30 times, prompting much discussion, particularly in the Utah area.

Now, Mr. Trump is considering sitting down for an interview with the special counsel. There is a time to remain silent. He has been counseled against doing the interview. Perhaps he believes he is smart enough to beat the odds, and the trap being set for him. Having experienced the deviousness of those who set such traps makes me doubt that he knows what he is getting into. It is a situation of, “we have no case, but as soon as he opens his mouth, we will have him.”

Even former Vice President Joe Biden has suggested that “one of the things I would worry about if I were his lawyer is his saying something that’s simply not true without him even planning to be disingenuous.” Newt Gingrich said it better. “The idea of putting him in a room with five or six hardened, very clever lawyers, all of whom are trying to trick him and trap him, would be a very, very bad idea.”

Indeed it would be a very bad idea, and if Mr. Trump takes the bait, he will quickly rue the foolishness of such a decision. Mr. Trump has proven time and again that he is no angel, but he is President as the result of the will of the people. If Mr. Mueller has a credible case against Mr. Trump, he needs to present it. In such a case, a subpoena (which can only be issued on credible evidence) will do, and if the President is found guilty of criminal misdeeds, he must pay the consequences of his actions. However, if on the other hand, a case is built, not on any transgression on his part but instead on his spoken contradictions, how sinister are the designs of those who lay the trap!

I am an admirer of the law, and of honorable and just attorneys. However, I am dismayed by those who misuse their skills. I am dismayed by the round the clock assailing of the President by a press which picks up on his every flaw, rather than focusing on any positive contribution. History repeats itself, for we read of that which was taking place some eighty years before the birth of Christ. How applicable to the current setting the following!

“…there were some who thought to question (him) that by their cunning devices they might catch (him) in (his) words…now these lawyers were learned in all the arts and cunning of the people; and this was to enable them that they might be skillful in their profession. And it came to pass that they began to question (him), that thereby they might make him cross his words, or contradict the words which he should speak…”

Of these did a man of God named Amulek declare: “O ye wicked and perverse generation, ye lawyers and hypocrites, for ye are laying the foundation of the devil; for ye are laying traps and snares…” (1)

Yes, a trap and a snare, and as tragically appear to be looming, (save patriots in the Congress of both parties move in favor of country and not of party) the paralysis caused by a constitutional crisis and thereby the possible administrative collapse of the government. Sadly, one can envision that a worst-case scenario would be a civil war.

(1) Alma 10: 13, 16, 17, The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ)

A Vale of Tears

Men of a spiritual propensity have correctly characterized this life as “a vale of tears.” Whether it comes to us soon or late, each of us will one day face our personal Gethsemane. Shall we then turn our backs on Him who will never turn His back on us? Sadly, some there be that choose such a course.

Or shall we follow the course set by Him who pleaded that if there were another way, that He not drink the bitter cup? Our pleading then will be in emulation of Him, and with tenderness of soul and heart a-breaking we will utter the words, “Father, I grieve, and my grief cannot be contained, nonetheless not my will but thine be done, and to Thee be the glory forever!”

Having accepted His will, we stumble onward, holding within ourselves our grief by day, and soaking with tears our pillow by nighttime. And then when our grief is palpable and oft times more than we think we can bear, there comes a voice to our mind, “you shall be comforted.” Think you that the comfort will come now because Heaven has decreed it so? Nay, for mark you well that Heaven operates on a different timetable than on puny man’s reckoning!

Through trials and tears, we remember that the Savior descended below all things in His incomparable suffering in our behalf, as He bore the burden of our sins. Indeed He “poured out His soul unto death,” (1) literally dying of a broken heart in His love for us.

Thus it is that unto him or her who willingly submits to the Lord, comfort will come only after the tears have served their purpose, having filled the sufferer’s soul with humility and tender compassion, for He has in mind the sanctification of the soul, in keeping with His decree that, “whom I love I chasten.” Then and only then will he “bind up the brokenhearted…” (2) and bestow upon them that which is “sweet above all that is sweet…and pure above all that is pure.” (3)

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go, The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow, For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee, And sanctify to thee they deepest distress

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume, Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”

(How Firm a Foundation)

(1)Isaiah 53:12 (2) Isaiah 61:1 (3) Alma 32:42, The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ

The ingratitude of the NFL protests

In light of the heartbreaking picture above, I speak to those who would bend a knee rather than stand to honor our Flag and our Anthem. There are few sins so foul as the sin of ingratitude. That you have the right to protest no one disputes. But you have befouled your protests with your lack of appreciation for the great blessings which are yours. There are few sins so despicable as the sin of ingratitude. You return the richness of your many blessings with scorn for that country which made your blessings possible. The sin is particularly grievous because given your fallacious status of “heroes” it reaches out to infect and inflame the ignorant.

I speak to the owners of the teams which are “united” in protest. The folly of appeasement ranks not far behind the sin of ingratitude. You have sacrificed your principles to appease those who cannot be appeased. With an eye unto the almighty dollar, you sell your integrity and have relinquished any claim to possessing a backbone. You have not learned the lessons of history. Appeasement is a hungry animal, the more you feed it, the more it wants.

There is a God in Heaven and He has deigned to bless this nation above all others. No nation in the history of the world has given more, nor is any better able than these United States of America to give of its monies to bless the poor and deprived of other nations. But that which is precious above all it has also given, and that beyond the mark, even the lifeblood of our young men and women. You may protest in the manner that you choose for that is your right. In so doing you spurn the sacrifice of those who have given their all and continue so to do that you might exercise that right, and that is nigh unforgivable.

In return may you kneel in protest to empty stadiums.

Our Father’s Love

Do I love my children and grandchildren? To the point of adoration! If this be so, I move forward in the faith that my love for them is but in small measure a similitude of my Heavenly Father’s love for me. One day I shall have the privilege of again beholding his face, and He will be very familiar to me. He will take me into his arms and I would fain melt in the warmth of his love, as He welcomes me home. I shall then behold my Redeemer, at whose feet I will fall weeping tears of gratitude, in the knowledge that only through his atoning sacrifice in my behalf was I able to return Home. I shall love Him forever, and it shall not be enough!

Violent Men Don’t Scare Easily

Austin Police Chief Robert A. Miles had a tough decision to make, strangely enough about a type of crime which would not normally put him in the spotlight. It was about so simple a matter as putting a stop to a rash of car burglaries. Only this wasn’t so simple as supposed, for it involved young Black men from the other side of IH 35, East Austin. As I recall, it was the early Fall in 1967, and things were handled differently back then, although Chief Miles was trying to bring about changes.

The perpetrators were breaking into cars in the city parking lot on the west side of the expressway, at 12th and 35, and doing so brazenly in broad daylight. What drew the Chief into the imbroglio was that the perpetrators were turning violent, and in the past few instances, people had gotten hurt, for when the owners of the vehicles confronted the perpetrators they had been set upon and beaten, some even needing hospital care. With strong armed tactics added to the mix, it was just a matter of time before someone got killed.

Adding to the chief’s embarrassment was the fact that the police station was only four blocks away, and still the thugs could not be apprehended. The chief put out a public warning to the perpetrators reminding them of the possible consequences of their actions if caught, but to no avail. It was as if they knew when units were dispatched to their location, for by the time officers arrived, they were gone. This went on for two more weeks, and the public clamor could no longer be ignored.

It was decided to put snipers armed with high powered rifles atop the Austin Municipal Credit Union Building. Two detectives volunteered to do the job. That is as I recall it. I remember that I had gone in service from the station one afternoon when the radio came alive. It was the two detectives calling into the portable squawk box they carried with them. “We got two of them! A third guy got away, and he’s headed back over the expressway on foot!”

It was beginning to get dark when another call came over the air. “A man on 14th Street just east of the expressway reports noises coming from under his house.” Officer Ronnie Boatright was assigned the call. I volunteered as back up and headed in that direction. Ronnie, at age 22 was a year my senior. He had come out of the police academy two classes before mine, with the 32nd Academy Class. His older brother Bob was already a seasoned veteran, working with the Narcotics squad. Big and rawboned, and of quiet temperament, Bob would one evening take a .45 caliber bullet in the upper leg during a raid. His leg shattered, he crawled into a corner of the room he was in, while his companions took out the shooter.

We located the house. It fronted the expressway, and it was one of those old houses standing a couple of feet off the ground. The homeowner, came running out to the street. “I think there is someone under my house,” he exclaimed excitedly. We followed him to the back of the house which was higher off the ground then the rest of the house. Ron pointed his flashlight under the house and we saw him, far to the back, where the front of the house rested on the ground. He wasn’t coming out.

Ron quickly commented, “I not going in there. If I do, and he resists, I’m liable to have to shoot him!” I looked at him for a minute, and then volunteered. “Guess I have to do it.” He quickly responded, “Chris, if you get into to trouble under there, I’ll have no way of getting to you in time to be of any help.” Indeed, I almost regretted having volunteered to go in after the perp, because it was filthy under that house, and I had on a clean uniform! Further, given the limited space between the ground and the floor support boards, there was little to do but to low crawl in face down, and the further in I got, given the slope of the ground, the less space there was for me to crawl in. The fact that I was wearing my gun belt and gear only added to the difficulty of traversing toward the perp. In addition to the added drag factor, with the exertion induced heat I began dripping sweat, which mixed well with the dust I was stirring up.

When I was almost within hand reach I told the perp to come out, or, I added, I would take him out by force. (Man, how I hoped he would agree to come with me! I dreaded having to fight him in such limited space!) In retrospect I realize the poor fellow was scared, having just seen, I suppose, his compatriots shot. A big no! He wasn’t budging. I would have to come in after him.

I did a lot of dumb things back then. In the years since then, I’ve developed some good sense, and have come to realize that I have always been looked after by a Higher Power, for I was aggressive, and mine was a penchant for finding trouble that others shied away from. I was more fortunate than most, for I had a mother who prayed fervently for me. And fortunately I was in top physical condition. During an era of large cops, at 147 pounds I was one of the smallest men on the force, but I can say by way of fact that pound for pound there were few, if any, on the force who could hang with me. An exception to that fact would have been my mentor on the force, big Tom Graham, a 2nd Dan in Judo. He was tough, but he wasn’t under that house with me, and he would probably have resorted to shooting the perp.

I latched on to him, and the fight was on. I quickly realized the danger I was in. Under that house with little room to move in, I had lost any advantage I would have had outside standing up. And there was the problem presented by my holstered pistol, which I had no inclination to use on him. But if I exposed my right side to him, he would certainly have access to it, and he was strong. For just a second I hesitated…and then I went after him. We whaled away at each other, and oh my, did we stir up dirt and dust, breathing it in and tasting it. Putting forth all my effort, I managed to turn him on his face, but oh, he was hard to hold down! Then I was on his back, and with the top of my head bumping against the floor boards above me, as I steadied myself with my left, I put everything I had into right hand punches to the back of his neck and side of his jaw, and it did the job, until that last punch caught his head as he lifted it up.

I can remember the awful pain, for it felt as if I had punched a bowling ball full force! He stopped moving, apparently out cold, and I was glad of it, for looking down at my hand I saw that my right thumb had flopped backward, completely broken, and was lying almost on my wrist. Oh, the pain! I couldn’t bear to look at the thumb, and how it hurt!

Taking the collar of his coat in my left hand, and hold my damaged right hand against my chest, I scooted backward and out, pulling him with me, slowly making my way toward where Ronnie Boatwright was waiting. Ronnie reached in and took him from me. It was at this moment that the guy came to, and almost immediately Ron had his hands full. Ronnie was stout, but he was in trouble, and hurt as I was, I could not now offer much help. It was at this moment that the homeowner, an Hispanic guy, jumped into the fray, and together the two of them were able to subdue and handcuff the guy.

Ronnie took the prisoner in. I believe he got two years, and sometime after he got out of the pen, I arrested him on another offense, and can remember feeling pity for the man, for he had not much to look forward to, as he was likely headed back to the pen. There was no fight in him then, for he was a beaten man, and I could only feel compassion for him.

I headed over to the hospital to see Doc Dryden, who was to stitch me up, mend me up, and pronounce me fit for duty several times during the eight years I spent with APD. On this occasion, with my right hand now in a cast, I was threatened with office duty, because, the brass informed me, “Your gun hand is out of commission.” In response, I spent a week at home dry firing at selected spots on the wall with an empty pistol in my left hand, and when I was satisfied I could shoot left handed, I drove down to the police pistol range on Bee Caves Road and qualified, shooting as well with the pistol in my left hand, as I had with my pistol in my right. The brass had no recourse but to give in to my entreaties, and I went back to the street with my right hand in a cast and my pistol in a brand new holster on my left hip.

The Chief’s decision in the case was unduly harsh, but it had the desired effect. The several weeks run of car burglaries and assaults of innocent people at 12th and the Expressway came to an abrupt halt. Violence prone men do not scare easily. Words will not do it. When dealing with such men, one does not draw a red line in the sand and then fail to act when that line is crossed.

When We Have Known Heartache


When we have known deep heartache, are we not, (if we will lend ourselves to it,) given the balm to help the healing of others whose hearts are a breaking? With spirit anguished and broken, can we not tenderly receive the grief stricken, that we too may be healed?

Herein do we tender and demonstrate the pure love of Christ, and there is divine precedence for service so rendered, for in the meridian of times Jesus of Nazareth “poured out His soul unto death.” (1) With spirit anguished and with a heart breaking in His love for us, He suffered, “descending below all things” (2) in our behalf.

Ought we not love Him? Ought not our hearts break in gratitude for His great love and sacrifice in our behalf? In our own moments of grief, ought we not reach out to others, even those with broken hearts? Shall we not love Him all the more in so doing?

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

(1) Isaiah 53:12
(2) Doctrine and Covenants 88: 6
(3) “I Stand All Amazed” Charles H. Gabriel