A few days ago, Dalinda was watching t.v. and it was talking about the scariest movie of the year. It took me back to a time when we lived at 304 E. 4th St. this was back in the forties. It was an old wood frame house and there was ten of us in this two-bedroom house. We had a big wood heater set up in the living room and when it was really cold, we would all sleep on pallets on the floor around the wood stove.
My mom would make some hot chocolate and my mom, dad, and my grandfather would tell ghost stories. One my mom told was during a time when they were chopping cedar up around Junction. She said one morning she got up and had to go to the bathroom really bad she found a caliche pit and went down in it and was just starting to use the restroom when all of a sudden, she heard this loud rattling noise. She looked up and on the wall behind her and the walls on both side of her was rattlesnakes.
She started screaming and my grandmother came and got her out of the pit. Mom said that for a long time she could not go to the bathroom alone. My grandmother had to go with her. That was before I was born and maybe that is why to this day, I am terrified of snakes.
My dad was born in 1915 and my mom was born in 1919. Then there was the story my granddad would tell about a panther. During the war my granddad was the night watchman for the old Devils river rail road bridge.
They ended up giving him an old railroad boxcar and he put it on a piece of property he had on Viesca St. it is still there today although it has almost rotted away. Behind their property was all woods. There was a duck pond way back in the rear of the property. Later on, it was owned by a gentleman named Marion Hunnicutt. Growing up all my brothers and me would go out there hunting rabbits.
But going back to the story granddad said one day his son Fred Cross went out there hunting he said later on he went out the door and heard
a scream that sounded like a woman screaming. Granddad said he recognized the scream as a panther and grabbed his gun and took off in the woods hollering for his son. He saw his son running towards him with a turkey thrown across his back, about 20 feet behind his son was a panther closing fast. Granddad hollered drop the turkey and as soon as his son did the panther grabbed the turkey and was gone back into the brush.
My uncle Fred lived on that property until he passed away but he would never go out there hunting again. My brothers and I walked and hunted that property for years and I never seen anything bigger than a bobcat out there but I did not want to say anything about my granddad story.
The story that scared us most of all was the story my dad would tell us about what I called bigfoot, this happened at the Pecos canyon on highway 90 west. my dad said that when he was thirteen or fourteen his dad had two trucks and they would haul freight and almost any thing else. Now remind you this was before they built the bridge at the Pecos canyon.
In those days you had to drive down in to the canyon and hope you had a good enough truck to handle a load going up to get out of the canyon. They were going to Van Horn or Alpine I forget which but as they started down one of the trucks broke down, when they checked it out it was determined that they would have to come back to Del Rio for parts. They left my dad there to guard the load and for a while it was, he said very exciting walking around the canyon looking and listening for all of the sounds that could be heard.
As it started to get dark, he walked back to the truck to eat some of the basket lunch my grandmother had made for them to eat. All of a sudden, he got this horrible smell coming from somewhere behind the truck and then he heard a sound that he could only call terrifying. My dad got out of the truck but could not see anything but the sound and the smell was closer than before. All of a sudden, he felt the back of the truck go down on the frame of the truck. whatever it was had gotten in the back of the truck with the freight they were hauling. After a few minutes it jumped off of the truck and the springs popped, that’s what he said.
All the while the creature or animal was making this growling sound and giving out that smell of rotten meat. My dad said there was a blanket in the front seat with him and he grabbed it and got down in the floor board of the truck and covered up with the blanket, then the smell was so strong and the growl so bad that he started praying.
About that time, he heard a car honk its horn and the sound and smell was gone. My dad uncovered his head and the food basket was gone. When my grandfather stopped behind the truck, he asks my dad who was that or what was that ran off into the brush. My dad said he was to scared to answer. They looked around and found the basket torn to shreds. What was it? I have often wondered.
These were just a few of the stories us kids were told but I still remember them. I hope you have enjoyed this story of looking back and will share it with someone, remember be proud you live in my home town Del Rio Texas GOD BLESS. Special thanks to Victor Cirilo and the Val Verde County Library.
Here we are again talking about the way things used to be in this city and around this area. Back in the early sixties my parents lived in the San Jose project in the barrio of Chihuahua.
There was my mother and my stepfather and six brothers and sisters. My stepfather was a truck driver and worked a lot of hours for seventy-five dollars a week. No tv just a radio.
My mom would play the guitar and we would all sit around and listen to her. Our apt was right on the end and the neighbors would sit outside and listen to my mom and then my brothers boogie and Kenneth and me would sing also. Our dad would come over maybe once a month.
I had a lot of hard feelings towards my dad for leaving my mom and us for another woman. I am sorry to say that for many years I would not go around my dad. When he moved to junction my brothers boogie and Kenneth would spend the summer with him but I would not go.
Thank the lord that as I got older him and I became very close and spent most weekend together my two sisters were not into music my youngest brother Robbie was my mom pet and we did the best we could. We were never hungry and the apt. was fairly warm in the winter and with no ac if you had a fan and kept the windows open the summers were not that bad.
My mother and my grandmother would go all out preparing a meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas on thanksgiving my mom would invite any and every body to stop by eat sing, play dominos.
It was nothing to have forty to fifty people come by during the holidays my mom was a very caring person and she believed that if someone needed help and you could help them do so. I still feel that way to this day. The bad part is that now the more you try to help someone the more they expect you to do and if you can’t then they talk bad about you.
I recall that every Saturday my mom would go grocery shopping at Paniagua groc on Dignowity st. Arturo and Armando were the owners.
Very good people good food and very courteous with everyone it was a time when you knew all your neighbors and every one would do what they could to help out.
Now days when you ask someone for help they want to know what’s in it for me it is now 2019 and I miss the way things used to be. when things change they call it progress but I wonder.
Watching Radney Foster came home to be the headliner for the fourth of July is a good reminder that you should never forget where you come from and try to treat people the way you want to be treated.
I have found out recently that the people you really trust can’t be trusted at all. In closing let me say take the time to walk the streets of Del Rio walk in the barrio of Chihuahua the barrio of San Felipe.
Walk the creek walk it is a beautiful place to be. Walk down Main St. and see some of the stores that have closed and only memories remain god bless and thank the good lord up above that you live in my home town Del Rio Texas.
A special thanks to Victor Cirilo and the Val Verde County Library for their help and expertise.
It is great to be back and able to write this article about Del Rio the way it was or as my friend VICTOR CAMPOSANO says REMEMBER WHEN.
I would like to thank Mr. JAVIER MARTINEZ for the chance to do this article again. I will always focus on the way things were in Del Rio when I was growing up. From the time I lived in the San Jose project and now where I live in the San Felipe area. My comments this time will be about the barrio de San Felipe the Calle Garza has a lot of history.
I can remember Johnny’s hamburgers on the corner of Mclymont and Garza the San Felipe high school where I would go to watch the San Felipe Mustangs play their football games and to check out the cheer leaders.
Chemas tortillas and let’s not forget the white house on the corner of Broadbent and Garza street where to this day the first lady of San Felipe lives. I am referring to the grand lady a beautiful person and so loved in this area she was a teacher for some forty odd years. She is a proud San Felipe resident. I am speaking of none other than Mrs. MARIA ELENA CALDERON RAMIREZ.
If you were able to see the parade this past weekend the staff including myself were broadcasting from her house as we have done for several years.
The first lady was in the parade as she went by where we were, I could see the pride and joy on her face. she is a great lady and I call her a true friend.
I would also like to thank Ms. Bea Vallejo for her help and all of the good information she provided. This past weekend was the San Felipe ex’s reunion and they were very busy with the parade, meetings, lunches, dinners, and a dance. They also had the dedication of the arch located on Cantu street as you cross the bridge and come in to San Felipe. There was also the rededication of the Loma de la Cruz cemetery.
The Brown Plaza is also a big part of the San Felipe area and there is a story that needs to be told on a later date I am proud to say I live in the San Felipe area and I enjoy walking around or driving around to see if there has been anything new in the area.
I would invite you to enjoy the Del Rio San Felipe area from the walking trail at Moore park all the way up to the old Eagle Pass hill. A sight to behold is going up old eagle pass road or Broadbent street at night and get to the top.get out of your car and look at Del Rio at night or look over your shoulder and see Cuidad Acuña Mexico it is my hope that when you read this you will want to know more about the beautiful city of Del Rio Texas and I will take you back down memory lane and talk about the way it was.
To a time that when you met someone on the street, they did not have a cell phone up to their ear or sending text messages.
There is a lot of good memories to share and we invite you to be a part of it thank you for your attention god bless god bless the United States of America and Del Rio Texas.
In the past articles I have told you about the project on Main St. But this time I would like to talk about where we used to go to have a good time, relax or go swimming. In the summer time almost everyday you would find us at what we called the pump house, where we would swim and just hang out. When we could, we would take some sandwiches and maybe a soda. If we were not able to take food, we would go to the golf course and dive for golf balls and sell them to whoever was around. We used that money to eat on. We would then walk along side of the river down to what we called the pig pen.
You could, at that time, pull your car into the water and wash it. We did not have a car but we would watch the people when they would wash theirs. When it was a good looking girl or woman we would volunteer to help. I remember some of the guys that were part of our little group; Robert Diaz, Danny Meza, Salvador Torres sometimes Victor Ortiz, Maurie Renovato and Wayne Law. Robert Diaz, Salvador Tobie Torres have passed away and Danny Meza lives in San Jose, Ca. Maurie Renovato is in very bad health but I call his wife to check up on him. I speak on the telephone with Danny Meza on a regular basis. Looking back now, they really were fun times spent with good friends, no trouble, just being young teenagers having fun, enjoying life. Back then there was no overpass at Gibbs and Ave F. There was a small cafe on the left, just before you crossed the railroad tracks, called the Best Cafe. As you crossed the tracks, the wool house was on the left. As soon as you crossed the tracks, Jap Lowe’s place was on the right. Sometimes we would ride all the way down Main St to Caesar’s Steakhouse for an ice cold cherry coke. Now going north at the railroad tracks, at GIbbs and Ave F, there were four service stations.
One on the every corner, a Texaco station owned and operated by Pop Word, then there was a Gulf station, a Phillips 66 and a Mobil station. Where Stripes is today, on 1st and Ave F, as we called it back then was the Royal Cafe owned by Mr. Galamore. Across the street was a service station where I worked for a while, owned by Mr. Rudy Cortinas. A very nice and understanding man. It was a pleasure to work there. Across the street was a small grocery store, where Robert Diaz worked, owned by Mr. Walter Goodman. Next to Mr. Cortinas’ service station was Jack Rhodes Drive-In with carhops and even an outdoor movie screen which showed mostly cartoons. Farther up the street, at the corner of 7th and Ave F, was the Jacala Drive-In, where Sherwin Williams is today. Give thanks to the Lord for every day in your life.
Enjoy life, spend time with your wife, your children, your grandchildren and if your parents are still alive, spend time with them. Take a walk down San Felipe Creek, it is so beautiful and very relaxing. If you are lucky, you might see our former Mayor, Ms. Dora Alcala. Remember, do something good for someone, it will make you feel good. I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day. I was hoping that someone would remember that I love dark chocolate. God Bless.
In almost every store you go into, you see Halloween articles, for that reason this time I will write about things that I saw first hand and things that have been told to me. Do you believe in ghosts? Or maybe I should be saying do you believe in things that are hard to understand or believe? During the years that we lived in the San Jose Projects, there were several things that took place that were hard to describe or believe.
Now, in the apartment where we lived, the living room and kitchen were downstairs and upstairs were the bedrooms and the bathroom. There was a light as you started down the stairs but one night my older brother, Kenneth, wanted a glass of water, so he started downstairs. He did not turn on the light because it would shine right into my parents’ bedroom and he knew if he woke up my stepfather there would be hell to pay, so he just leaned against the wall and started down the stairs. About half way down, something or somebody grabbed him and threw him down the stairs. He ended up with a big knot on his head and a black eye. My brother started screaming and my stepfather and mother got up to see what was going on. Now mind you, it was raining and the door was locked, but they found footprints that measured thirteen and a half inches and whatever or whoever it was, wasn’t wearing any shoes, it was barefooted. Outside on the ground, there were no footprints and again I say it was raining and had been for hours, what was it? Only God knows.
On another occasion, as I said in another article, I would sit out in the swings late at night and swing back and forth singing. I got tired and decided that I would go to sleep, I went inside and up the stairs and into my bedroom, I cut off the light and started to take off my shirt and remember my window was facing the playground and when you looked out the window you could see the swings. In the same swing that I had been using was a little person making some kind of noise and I hollered at him and he turned and you could see the face because of the are light at the playground. He was swinging real high and he turned and looked at me and his eyes were like two red hot coals of fire and he had long fingers and black finger nails and he pointed at me and shook his head. I ran back down the stairs and the swing was swinging as hard and as fast as it could but it was empty. I grabbed the swing and stopped it and sat down in it and it was ice cold. I felt a tingling in my whole body so I stopped it and got the swing next to the one I was using and tied them in a knot. I went back upstairs and looked out the window and there he was again in the same swing. This time when he looked at me he shook his finger at me and let out a sound that sounded like a laugh or some kind of animal. I went back downstairs and the swings were tied together but not moving and they were empty. I went back to my room and watched until I fell asleep and my mom woke me up and asked why I had slept in my clothes. I told her what I had seen and as usual, she did not believe me. It was about a month later when the deal with my brother took place and I told my mom I think he was coming for me, they all had a good laugh, Now mind you, my neighbors would sit by the window in bed and listen to me singing, and I talked to everyone that had a window facing the playground and no one saw or head anything.
Another time, I had been on the other side of the projects, at Gloria’s house, and we were all sitting out on the grass singing and playing the guitar, as I started walking home, I heard footsteps behind me, when I turned around, there was no one there. All of a sudden, something grabbed a hold of my guitar and tried to pull it from my hands. There was no one there, but I believe, due to the fact that the guitar had a strap on it and was around my neck, I did not let it go. I hollered and then there was a strong wind that hit me that lasted just a few seconds and then it was quiet and still. Again I ask, what was it?
During the time that I was asking my neighbors if they heard or saw anything at the swings, they told me about a neighbor that had woke up during the night and saw a woman dressed in white was at the foot of her bed. It floated through the wall and she watched it until it reached the small bridge that separated the projects, I believe it was an irrigation ditch. In the middle of the bridge, it disappeared. Later on she said she was walking home and she saw the woman again on the little bridge and again it disappeared. She looked at her watch and it was midnight. I decided I would check it out, so I ask my friend, Robbie Diaz, to stand there with me on the little bridge and see what would happen. He stood off to one side and at midnight there was a strong wind that blew across the bridge so hard that it would almost knock you down. It only lasted for about thirty seconds but it was scary. Again I asked, what was it?
When I made up my mind to write about the things I have seen and heard, I asked my friend, Victor Camposano, if he had heard anything or had he seen anything around that time in the projects that was strange. He told me the following story. While the project was under construction, Victor lived on Chestnut St, a side street off of W Martin St, he was around seven years old. It was in the early 50’s and they were just about to finish up the project, Victor said he was outside because there was a fire in one of the two story buildings that was still under construction. All of a sudden, he saw what looked like a man run out of the building and climb up a tree like a monkey and disappear. When the police and the fire department arrived, he told them what he had seen and they looked in the tree but found nothing. What was it that he saw and how did it disappear so fast? In closing, let me say, some things are not as they seem and some are hard to explain.
There are a lot of more stories that I have seen or heard of around town, maybe at a later date I will write about them, but remember you live in one of the best little cities, so get out and enjoy yourself with your family in this beautiful city of ours, Del Rio Texas.
This week I turned seventy-four years old. I give thanks to God everyday but looking back to the way things used to be, it is really scary compared to the way things are today in 2016.
I was raised in the barrio of Chihuahua. We lived at San Jose housing project Apt 25-6. Before that we lived on Ware St. and on Rio Grande St. Some of my close friends then were Hector Trevino, Robert Diaz, Victor Ortiz, Salvador Torres and Danny Meza. The Diaz family turned me on to menudo.
Almost every night you would find me in the playground at the housing project on the swings, singing as loud as I could.
We never worried about robbers, thieves or things like that. We would all go to the Club Café on the corner of Main St. and Odgen St. and order chili con carne and ice cold sodas of all kinds.
I remember one night we were sitting there and a black man walked in and we said hello. He ignored us and walked to the kitchen to eat, I could not believe it. It was really embarrassing to see that happen, that was the first time I heard about racism. People would call me a Mexican lover and I would say they were, right especially the Mexican women.
Next to the Club Café was the pool hall and we would watch the older men play and it was a fun time. On the corner of Main and Broadway was the Del Rio News Herald. In the next block was Warren Studio where everyone went to when they needed any kind of pictures taken, back then and still today there us a lady that has worked at Warrens Studio for over 50 years, her name is Mrs. Rosantina S. Calvetti. Mrs. Calvetti is now the owner of Warrens Studio.
Sometimes we would go further on sown Main St and go to Walgreens Drug Store for milkshakes and ice cream sodas. Later on that same building became Charlie Ledbetter Firestone Stone Store. Next to that building was the Princess Theatre and they would show cowboy movies on the weekend, I was there almost every weekend.
Now at that time, my dad drove a truck and made $75.00 a week. The rent at the project was $39.00 a month plus bills, so there was hardly any money for all six of my brothers and sisters. So if I wanted money, I would cut peoples lawn, sell soda pop bottles, I also had a newspaper route selling grit newspapers every week. Later on, Robert Diaz and I worked at the drive in movies for a dollar a week and free admission to the movies. Every morning we would go to the drive in movies and pick up the trash. Later on I went to work at a service station on the corner of Ave F and First St., the owner was Mr. Rudy Cortinas. Robert Diaz went to work at Ross Drug Store delivering prescriptions on a bike. We rode
bikes everywhere we went and enjoyed life.
Farther down Main St. was what is now the Del Rio Loan Co., next to that was John Rowland clothing store across the street was the Guarantee clothing store then the Kress Building. Also, on that side if the street was Rita Theatre, where I spent a lot of good times and saw some great movies. Across the street was a small café, I believe it was called the City Café, the owner was Mr. Pierce. On the next block was Seegers Bakery and the doughnuts were the best I ever tasted. Next door was the Spanish newspaper, Las Noviedades, and right next door was the Texas Theatre where they allowed all Mexican movies. That was where I learned to love Ranchera music. My favorite movie star was Lola Beltran, a very pretty woman, good actress and a fantastic singer.
I could go on but what I am trying to say that back then life was hard but fun. Everybody that I knew had to work for what they wanted unlike today. Now days, it is welfare, Lonestar cards, cell phones, text messages, Facebook, etc. So much family violence, thefts, assaults and more. Now days, you hardly ever see a teenager on a bike or walking, they all have cars.
So here is a tip, next time life throws you a curve ball and it seems everybody is against you, walk to the corner of Ogden and Main St. and walk all the way down Main St to where it hits Nicholson St. It will calm you down and get a chance to walk a great street in a great city, my hometown, Del Rio, TX.
If you are a faithful listener to KWMC Radio then I know that you have listened to Town Talk Live with Mr. Javier Martinez. On every program you will hear Mr. Martinez say lets try to do something good for somebody today. What does that mean? Well let me break it down for you. If your next door neighbor is not able to cut the grass you do it. If someone you know is ill and needs someone to run some errands volunteer, go to the store for them, to a dr. appointment, to the pharmacy, to pay a bill for them.
Take them some food, maybe just go to their house and spend some time with them, pray for them. If you know someone that needs a little financial help an you can afford it, offer them the help. If you do some of these things without expecting anything in return then you are doing something good for someone.
There is a gentleman named Juan who listens to Town Talk Live every time it is on the air and he stated that his wife cuts his next door neighbors grass. Why? Just to help out. She does it out of the goodness of her heart not expecting anything in return. Another gentleman named Jimmy retired goes and does simple repairs for people from his church. He always calls me to see if I can donate the material that is needed. My friend Tom was in line at a local store and found out he was a couple of dollars short. Someone he had never met paid the amount owed and when Tom tried to pay back the money the person said no. Don't worry about it. I can remember when people would go out of their way to help someone. Nowadays the first thing they want to know is how much can you pay me.
If you are driving down the street and you see someone trying to change a tire do you just look aways and drive on or do you stop and offer assistance. Do you text and dial your cell phone while driving down the road? There are so many of us me included that sometimes do that. Then sometimes you honk at the person and say hello with the middle finger. Now is that called human nature or just being ignorant.
If you hear about one of your friends who is gravely ill take some time out of your busy day and visit with them as moral support. As the saying goes do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Visit the nursing homes and just speak to some of the people that are there. Some of the people that are there in the nursing home never have anyone visit them very often or ever.
So remember the next time you listen to KWMC 1490AM radio and hear Town Talk Live and you hear Mr. Martinez say lets try to do something good for someone today know that it comes from the heart and we hope you will do something good for someone and when you wake up in the morning give thanks to God for another day because tomorrow is not promised to anyone.