Here’s to You 17E23

601

I saw on my Facebook tonight that a few friends have posted regarding the upcoming execution of Edgar Tamayo on 01/22/14. This is 20 years after he killed my friend Guy Gaddis. Dave Bush and I were riding the unit 17E14 that night. I later went on to ride with Craig Hensarling on 17E10 for a little over a year but I stayed in that beat because I loved the officers I worked with. 17 district was broken up into 4 beats; 10’s, 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s….hence 17 E (identifying Beechnut substation) and whatever beat, early side or late side. Early side units were even numbers and odd numbers were late side.

Guy Gaddis was one of the hardest working officers I ever knew. Just like the rest of us, at the end of every shift, his boots had mud on them and his uniform that had been clean at 11pm looked like he’d rolled around on the ground a couple times. I haven’t been a police officer since 1998 and even though it’s been 15 years, I have the fondest memories of my fellow officers from the time I spent chasing crooks in 17 district with Dave Bush, Craig Hensarling, Mike Flores, Garri Solano, Sid Veliz, Eddie Parodi, Chris Slyman, and Guy Gaddis. There were a ton of other officers I looked up to also, guys that had been on the street a while longer than the rest of us, Rayne, Rypien, Falhaber, Overstreet, May, Manriquez, Hubbard, Harbison, and all of Rico Garcia’s tac team guys that we wanted to be like and the list goes on and on. All of us worked in 10’s beat except for Guy and I remember always telling him that he was poaching in 10’s beat because he knew all the hard working officers were there and that’s where he belonged. Of course, we were all rookies and between running calls, we were walking through apartment complexes, sitting up on stolen cars, hoping and praying for a herd of bald headed little gangsters would pull out onto the street in one of them.

The night we lost Guy, I remember Dave Bush and I had pulled out of The Topaz parking lot right after we told Guy we’d meet up with him at Denny’s on 59 later that night. We knew it was going to take him a while to process these two turds that he had just picked up. There were several of us in that parking lot and every one of the officers there were close. We pulled a drunk over as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot. He was headed North on Chimneyrock and didn’t have his headlights on. As we were filling out the tow slip, we heard Bellaire PD come on the air to let us know that one of our units had just crashed into a  home in Bellaire on Chimneyrock. We jumped in our shop and headed that way immediately. Our gut feeling told us it was Guy. We all thought we were tough….. I thought I was tough. That feeling changed in that front yard looking at my friend. We were all in our early 20’s and in every situation, we were in control. It was a different feeling that night. It felt like no one was in control and the chaos that was in the air was permeated with the overwhelming sadness of about 20 or more officers that were on that scene.

We were blocking off Chimneyrock and making room for the helicopter that was going to come take Guy (although we had already lost him) and at one point, I stopped and couldn’t bare my emotions any longer and I went to the back seat of a patrol car that had the back door open. I sat down and without permission, the tears just started flowing. I don’t remember his first name but I think he was a 16 district officer. His last name was Poe. We always called each other by our last names. Poe pulled up close to the car I was sitting in and rolled his window down and said, “You alright Barrera?” It was a simple question. I said, “yeah, i’m alright.” I pulled myself together and stepped out of the back seat. I wasn’t alright but I appreciated him at that brief moment.

The following week, Dave Bush and I went to inquire about a headstone for a monument that we wanted to put on Chimneyrock where the tragedy happened. The owner of the headstone business only charged us for the stone and he put the wording on it for free. We put the cross in the Beechnut substation with an envelope and within a couple days, the officers of the station had paid for the cross. The upsetting part about it was that there was a group of us from 17 district that wanted to put the cross out on Chimneyrock but the chief at the time, Sam Nuchia took it upon himself to take a moment to shine with the media and made a big “to do” on TV. After coming back to Houston from a visit to Corpus Christi, Dave and I noticed that the cross was gone and we realized that the time and energy we spent to get this thing together for our close friend, had been done without us. Regardless, I’m glad the cross is still there.

My hat goes off to the men and women working in law enforcement. In that line of work, you develop relationships that are closer than the regular co-worker relationships and when something tragic happens, it cuts just a little deeper than normal. Guy was definitely one of the good guys. I’m sure there are some people, family, friends, that can describe him better than I can in the brief time that I knew him. He was kind. He knew how to talk to kids on different scenes. He was funny. He got an alarm call at the Toys-R-Us on 59 and he put a foot chase out on the air and he was chasing a 9 foot subject named Geoffrey. He was professional. He was brave. I remember the night he saved a girl from getting raped by two guys (and probably worse) behind a empty building on Bissonnet. Everyone that knew him, instantly liked him. As they say…he was “good people” and we were all fortunate for knowing him and working with him.  You’ll never be forgotten 17E23.

To the Residents of 1103 NW 12th St.

I heard a song earlier today, The House that Built Me, and it desperately made me want to visit my childhood home. I thought that the least I could do was ask so I wrote this letter to the current resident of the home I grew up in. I also had this idea that it would be so cool to hear about other people’s experiences that did the same thing. I was fortunate that my childhood home was full of love and attention. Sometimes the attention came in the form of discipline I thought I could have lived without but it was good for me and shaped me into who I am today. If you haven’t visited your childhood home and this entry leads you to ask to do it, please, let me know how it went. i’ll keep you updated if I hear a response. Here is the letter I wrote to the people living in the House that Built Me.

Dear residents of 1103 NW 12th St.,

This may be the most bizarre letter you have ever received at your home. My name is David Barrera. I was born and raised in Andrews, TX. In fact, I was brought home from the hospital to your home and lived there until I left home after my graduation from high school. Like most 17-year-old kids from Andrews, TX, I couldn’t wait to spread my wings and fly and get away from that small town. I literally left Andrews, TX the morning after my high school graduation and moved to Corpus Christi. That was in 1988. I drove away and saw my parents standing in the front yard near the three trees that they had planted for each one of us; my mother in tears and my father with a somber look on his face. I didn’t realize how difficult this was for them until I became a parent. I have three children now.

My parents sold the house in 1991 and moved to Corpus Christi. Shortly after my parents moved to Corpus Christi, I moved to Houston. I remember when my parents got to Corpus Christi, my mother was very depressed. She cried for several days because she missed the home that she had raised me and my two older siblings in. I know the house has changed but I remember my brother and I helping my dad as he built on to the back of the house. As a child, my brother and shared the bedroom at the end and to the left of the hallway. My parents bedroom was right across the hallway, the one with the bathroom in it. My sister’s bedroom was right across from the hallway bathroom, close to the living room. The layout of the house may be very different now, I don’t know. As we got older, my father built a playroom at the back of the house. He had a small study attached to the playroom and there was a small bedroom at the very back of the house with a door that led to the back yard. That little room with the bathroom in it became my brothers room and later, that playroom became my parents master bedroom and my brothers little room became their walk in closet/bathroom. I could go on and on describing the house the way it was back then.

I did not go back to Andrews until July 2010. I still have some friends there that I connected with on Facebook and I went to see them and to see the little town that I had left behind back in 1988. I walked through the neighborhood, stopped and visited Mrs. Clark, next door to your house, and Billie Jones, catty-corner from your house. While I was at Billie Jones’ house, I told her that I would have loved to see the house but I didn’t have the nerve to ask to walk through. I thought it would have been inappropriate.

I’m a therapist in Corpus Christi now. After I left Houston, I moved back to Corpus Christi with my wife and children. Today, I was driving back to Corpus Christi from visiting two families in Laredo. I do assessments of people’s homes that are adopting children. As I was driving a song came on the radio called “The House that Built Me.” I got emotional when I heard this song and I remembered standing in front of your house, taking a picture, and remembering playing in the front yard. I so wanted to knock on the door and ask to see the house but I kept walking. Here is the picture I took.

home1

I was sad to see that the big mulberry tree in the back was gone but I was happy to see that the house was kept up. It looks like a really nice house and I’m thinking that if the walls could talk, they’d say that a happy family was raised in this house and that there are many happy memories stored in those walls. The hallway in your house has heard hours upon hours of children’s laughter when me and my siblings would pile pillows on top of each other and take a running leap to plunge down on each other. For some weird reason, we called this game, “Mr. Bambino”. That hallway also was our entry way to the dining room whenever we came out with our hair messed up or pillows stuffed up our shirts as we surprised our parents and their friends/relatives at the dinner table with whatever comedic acts we had planned. The living room is full of memories of Christmas gifts being opened with surprised faces seeing toys or disappointed faces seeing shirts and socks.

christmas andrews 2

We spent tons of time in the playroom, challenging friends to ping pong and my father used to have his orchestra concerts in the back yard. He was the orchestra teacher for all the schools. My mother spent much of her time in her sewing room that was just behind the den and I remember peaking in on my dad having his bible studies in his office by the playroom. We were a dog family and my dad had two weimeraners when we were growing up. Maggie and Fonzie. We later got two muts; Sylvester and Stallone. Those dogs would get out and we’d be walking up and down the street, yelling, “SYLVESTER!!! STALLONEY!!!”. I’m sure people thought we were crazy at first. We spent a lot of time on your front porch, waiting for the rain to stop so we could continue playing. My sister played jacks on your front porch and I played with hotwheels there and dug up doodle-bugs under the shrubs just to the left of the front door.

It was a wonderful place to grow up. It was a good neighborhood and it looks like it still is. We were constantly outside with all of the neighborhood kids and we played in the neighbors yards as much as played in our own.

martha david snowmen

I have my 25th reunion coming up in xxxx. I would like to ask you a favor. I apologize because I know it may be overstepping some boundaries but I have to ask. It would be So greatly appreciated if I can come and see the house that I grew up in. I’m 43 years old now. I have been shaped by my childhood experiences in your house. I now know what my mother went through back in 1991. My family has so many good memories in your house. A marriage got stronger and three children learned life’s important lessons from parents that loved them in your house. My father is 80 now. My mother is 76. They are still going strong. I completely understand if you don’t feel comfortable allowing a total stranger into your house. My wife and I will be coming to Andrews in xxxx and it would mean a great deal to me if I could spend 5 or 10 minutes walking through your home. It was the House that Built Me….and my brother and sister.

3 kids front of house

Please feel free to ignore this letter if you don’t feel comfortable with this request. If you do feel comfortable, I will be coming into town on xx/xx and will be leaving on xx/xx. My phone number is 361-xxx-xxxx. My email is xxxxxxx@hotmail.com. If you feel comfortable allowing me and my wife into your home for a brief time, it would mean the world to me. Thanks and God Bless.