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.