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.