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Memories of joys, sorrows remain intense for Lewis and Greenan

Memories of joys, sorrows remain intense for Lewis and Greenan

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MASON CITY - Myron "Lefty" Lewis, 74, and Wes Greenan, 75, have great respect for each other. The two worked together for 29 years.

Lewis, whose nickname came from his shooting skill on the basketball court, worked for six police chiefs.

"Wes was the best chief I worked for," Lewis said of his 38-year career. "A couple others were real good, too, but I really liked working for Wes."

Greenan, who was chief for eight years, has words of praise for Lewis.

"Lefty worked the north end and did a very good job," Greenan said. "Everybody knew him and they listened to him. They had a lot of respect for him and he was good to them."

But it wasn't all easy, according to Lewis, who now spends much of his time fishing.

One accident remains vivid in his memory.

"When I started driving on the midnight to 8 a.m. shift, I responded to a bad accident on 12th Street by the car wash. A car had hit the Winnebago River bridge. Four people were in the car and all went through the windshield and were in the water."

Lewis said three boys, all of whom had died, were on the riverbank when police arrived.

"There was a guy, who was in the water, who kept saying, 'My brother is in here, my brother's down there.' "

Lewis was in the water up to his chest and fellow officer Rudy Alman also was in the river.

"We were all looking and he kept going under water," Lewis said, declining to give the name of the individual, which he still remembers. "Then all of a sudden, the guy came up with his brother. He was hurt pretty bad, but he found him."

Once brought to the bank, Lewis said, Alman did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

"I remember looking over and seeing the boy spit up water and it flowed from him like a faucet, but he came around and wound up surviving."

Lewis said he and Alman were later invited to the young man's graduation ceremony.

Lewis smiles while talking about the north end.

"There were 1,200 people working at the packing plant and another 300 to 400 at the cement plants," he said. "They worked hard and they played hard. We got to know each other."

One of the more tense moments for Lewis came while responding to a domestic case involving man with a shotgun.

"When I went in, all I could feel was that shotgun pointed at me," he said. "The guy was sitting there, two little boys by his side. I had been there on calls before and he said, 'Lefty, I ain't going this time.'

Lewis told the man he would leave, but only if he could take the bolt of the gun with him.

"I knew I had to negotiate and that without the bolt, he couldn't fire the gun," Lewis said. "He pulled a deer slug out of the chamber and handed over the bolt. That was probably the most scared moment I experienced."

Lewis said he got along with 99 percent of the people he dealt with. "I love it," he said of police work. "I loved the people and I still have a soft heart for the people in the north end."

Greenan said people issues often were the hardest to deal with.

"I hated the accidents, or when people where hurt," he said. "I answered one call where when we went in the mother, dad and a little girl were dead."

Greenan said the mother had killed her husband and one of the children before taking her own life.

"There was a little boy there, who was wounded, taking care of a little baby. When we talked to him, he said, 'daddy's got an owie.' "

Greenan, who retired in 1982, took FBI training and started a private detective agency, said he enjoyed the fellowship of the officers.

His fonder memories include regular visits to the station by former officer Jim Buchanan, who is now deceased. Buchanan holds a special place in Mason City police history.

"He was the one behind the rock when Dillinger robbed the bank," Greenan said. "He knew the history of the whole Dillinger gang. He'd come over and sit with me on Sunday nights and we'd talk. Police work was his life."

Two unsolved cases remain on Greenan's mind.

"The Andy Hatges case is vividly in my mind," he said. "It was horrendous. We interviewed so many people and the investigation went as far as Greece to get information.

"I don't think it's over yet," he said of the 1968 case. "I think somebody still knows something. I've been to the police department a couple times to go over cold cases. It's always good to re-interview."

Greenan also talks about the case of Elgin Straight, murdered in his basement.

"Some success had been found in working with a psychic by the name of Gretta Alexander," he said. "So after we talked about it, I said, let's give her a call and find out if she has any idea where the weapon is."

Alexander suggested investigators go to a specific mile marker along Interstate 35 and then east. She said they should go a mile or so and find children playing near a windmill. It would be near there that the murder weapon would be located.

Greenan sent detectives on the search. And they found the kids playing in a yard near an ornamental windmill.

"When they started checking, they looked across the road and there was a landfill," said Greenan. "So it sounded like she was legit."

Reach Bob Link at 421-0538 or bob.link@globegazette.com.

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