By Duane Preimsberger


Each month, on a Thursday morning except during the heat of the summer, forty or so elderly characters gather outside of Maggie’s Pub in Santa Fe Springs for lunch. There is good natured banter as the group members kid one another about being geezerly, bald, deaf, homely, or having dressed this morning from the Goodwill Store’s bargain rack. There are a few who are approaching ninety and a few in their fifties but most are in between.


The bond that brings them there and holds them together is that at one time or another they worked at Firestone Station and this lunch gathering is an opportunity to share memories and discuss with old, old friends the events of the past, the present and the future. Their ties to the first patrol station in the history of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has created a permanent bond and these now retired veterans of Firestone Station take pride filled with nostalgia, humor and sometimes pathos as they discuss their recent experiences as well as the days of old.


This monthly ritual of friends takes place not by whim but because of the consistent and ongoing efforts of two old partners. The duo, Jack Boberg and John Spiller met in June of 1956 when Academy Class #58 formed up on the grinder at Biscailuz Center. It was the beginning of a memorable friendship that continues today and their wives and children have maintained longstanding friendships as well. After six weeks of training both of them somehow or another missed going to the Jail and were assigned to Firestone Station. Jack Boberg was there as a Deputy and when he made Sergeant he stayed in place until his transfer to Narcotics Bureau in 1966. Heart problems caused him to take an early retirement in 1977. John Spiller was a Firestone Patrol Deputy and worked the Firestone Station night car as a Detective until he transferred to the Arson/Explosives Detail in 1963. He made Sergeant there and remained until his retirement in 1988 as the Departments “Senior” Detective with 29 years of experience in the Division.


 In 1988 Jack and John decided to get together with a couple of other retired Firestone people and meet for breakfast at Knotts Berry Farm. They had so much fun that they continued doing it and slowly the group of attendees at these breakfasts grew. The “founders” were soon calling and inviting anyone they could think of who had worked at Firestone Station. They switched the event from breakfast to lunch and changed locations several times. They utilized the facilities at the Sheriff’s Relief Association Gold Star Restaurant until it closed in 1999 and they moved to Maggies Pub.


Through the last fifteen years over 450 individuals have attended the affairs, some have passed away and others have moved or experience difficulty in making the drive. Today there is a list of regular participants that numbers about 110. Each month John and Jack send these individuals either an e-mail or U.S. Mail notice of the upcoming lunch. And each month a group gathers outside Maggie’s Pub at 11:00AM, they range in rank from retired Deputy to Undersheriff only now there is no pecking order; the friendship the camaraderie and caring cemented in the past bind these men together today.

For some retirees the lunch is something that they look forward to as a highpoint of their month. Retired Deputy Sheriff Kenny Wegner, a Firestone Station plank holder, who spent most of his career there passed a while ago. Kenny rarely missed a lunch and as time and illness began tolling the end, Kenny remarked that one of the few things he had to look forward to anymore was the lunch and the chance to see and enjoy old friends. One of his last wishes was to buy lunch for his friends after his passing. When this was announced to the group, unexpectedly, one Thursday there seemed to be a moment of stunned silence, then a round of applause for our departed brother and even a few teary eyes. Although Kenny was gone in a physical sense that day and now his memory and spirit is very much present with his friends. Firestone Old-timers remember those who are gone.


Boberg and Spiller pull this event off every month, nobody asks them to do it. They simply decided that it was the thing to do and they were right. Those who show up for this familiar ritual go away with smiles on their faces because of the efforts of these two men. Some might think that their effort is unusual, I don’t. What they do seems to fit into the unique brotherhood that comes from having been a member of the Firestone Station family. However, their efforts still deserve a salute and I’m certain as we leave the get togethers that Jack and John host monthly, all of the Firestone Old Timers who enjoy these meetings stop and think for a moment, “Thanks! Thanks for the Memories!”


Thanks again Jack and John, all of us former Firestone Geezers appreciate what you do for us. As we used to say in days gone by: Firestone Eleven, One, One is 10-7.