Saturday, January 20, 2007

Good Genes for Gene ...

I do not know if Eugene T. Corder ever knew that he was one of my heroes. But he was. “Gene” started work with the Beaumont Police Department in 1955. For several years, he drove a white traffic patrol car. There were three white traffic cars being used in the city at that time. Primarily these cars worked traffic and the black “Prowl Cars” worked criminal calls.
Gene married Ruby Alexander. They were members at the South Park Church of Christ located on Highland Ave. at Threadneedle Street. Ruby’s dad and my dad were two of the Elders in that church. Gene was a few years older than me, which made him closer to my sister’s age (my sister is older than I am). Anyway through all of this Gene and I became acquainted. When I found out he was a police officer, I placed him on a pedestal as my hero.
During that period of time, the city of Beaumont had a program in which older teenagers could ride on patrol with the white traffic cars. I rode with Gene on Friday nights as schedules permitted.
He would drive to my house in his white police cruiser to pick me up. At first I was a little self-conscious of the neighbors seeing a police car picking me up. Probably they wondered what I had done to get into trouble. Actually I didn’t mind as long as he brought me home at the end of his shift.
One night Gene and I were cruising in South Park. We were on the Port Arthur highway headed toward Lamar College. We were on a call to go check out Spindletop Park. The speed limit was 35 miles per hour in that area. Gene was driving about 45 miles per hour. He looked over at me and said, “Winston, how does it feel to speed without having to worry about a cop pulling you over?” I grunted. Did he know that there were those occasions where I might speed just a little bit? I had learned to grunt and not admit anything.
Anyway we drove out to Spindletop Park. The park was near Twin Lakes, between the highway and the Neches River. There were always some cars parked out there at night. It was a lovers’ lane if ever I saw one. Gene told me that it was not safe for couples to park out there so it was his job to get them back to a more lighted area.
We cruised the park. I was not allowed to get out of the police car but Gene would let me shine his 5-cell flashlight at the parked cars. If they did not move on he would get out and walk up to their window and tell them to get going. Gene told me he realized that the people thought he was just being a killjoy. They didn’t understand that it was for their safety.
Later Gene was promoted to Sergeant, and then to Lieutenant, and then to Captain. He served as Administrative Assistant to Chief Willie Bauer for sixteen years. Finally, Gene retired with 34 years experience on the force. He told me that he had been beat up, spit on, knocked unconscious, run over by a car and everything but getting shot.
But above all, what impressed me the most about Gene was that he remained a faithful Christian. He had a tough job and many experiences that will stay in the port folio of his memory for the remainder of his life. And his gentle Christian spirit and his leadership will stay in my memory for the remainder of my life.
It’s great to have a hero like Eugene T. Corder.

Winston Hamby
The Beaumont Enterprise
January 20, 2007


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