Saturday, February 20, 2010

February, Valentine Piñata and Birthdays

The shortest month of the year is more than half way gone now. I have always liked February because not only is it my birth month, but so many of my family also had their birthdays during this loving month.

Febrero loco, y marzo otro poco. That was often heard when I was a youngster. I think it referred to the weather, but some would tease us February children proclaiming that we were all locos, just like the weather.

To begin the month, my cousin Josie’s birthday was on the 3rd, then my Dad’s was on the 7th. My pretty cousin Esther finished the month by being born on the 28th. But before her, my cousins, Olga and Tina come in the middle of the month. Then in the younger generation, we have Rolando and Valerie being born in the 1990s. The youngest February child is my handsome grandnephew, Jerry.

The photo that I have here was one that I got from Mom’s collection, and I did not make much of it. When I was digitizing many of the old photos, I considered cropping this one because the children should be the main focus of the picture. The outer parts of the picture are blurry, out of focus. But when I studied the picture I saw what surely was the piñata. It was a Valentine piñata, and it was my second birthday! So instead of cropping it out, I decided to color it.

My sister and I have tried to identify the children, but have only been able to remember about half of them. Sadly, about 5 or 6 who are in the photo have already passed away. The place of the party was the backyard of where the family resided at the time. I do not remember the place at all. I have been told that there were several small homes on Avenue A, across from Modern Pharmacy, where there was Polanco’s Bakery for many years.

My mom would refer to living “in those shacks” when she remembered her early married life. Robstown may have changed a lot, and yet stays the same innocent little town in my memory.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Dad was a Recycler

Because of all my doctor’s appointments I had not been able to pack away all the Christmas decorations until now. I probably put too much packing in the breakables since there is little chance of them being moved before I unpack them next Christmas season. The packing material that I use primarily is old tissue paper that has been used in presents of Christmases past—the kind of paper that we used to call papél de china.
That got me to thinking of how my dad was a great recycler when it wasn’t even trendy.
The wholesale produce market was in San Antonio, and Dad and my uncle would go there about twice a week, sometimes only once a week. When my uncle was not working with Daddy anymore a driver was hired because Daddy never learned to drive. The bananas were bought by the entire stalk, not cut into bunches as you see in the produce markets today. Watermelons, cantaloupes, melons, and pineapples were also loose, not in big containers. To protect the produce in transit, especially the bananas, the material used was excelsior. Excelsior is old newspaper that has been shredded. Looks a lot like a newspaper run through the ubiquitous paper shredders in today’s offices. It was fun to play with the excelsior, but it was messy when the printer ink came off on our hands.
One other recycling that my dad practiced was the recycling of comic books. Comic books were the Nintendo of the 1940s and the 1950s. It didn’t matter if it was Superman, Katy Keene, Little Lulu, or my favorites—the love comics, the price for a new, uncirculated comic book was ten cents. Most of us could not afford to spend that much on a comic book. My dad would buy comics that were in good condition at two for a nickel, and then he would sell them at a nickel a piece. Great recycling and a great profit!
But the best recycling that I now realize was recycling was the use of used motor oil. There used to be a Texaco filling station next to our fruit stand in the early years (the early 1940s). They kept the used motor oil in a big drum and Daddy would either purchase or get the oil for free to mop the floor of our store. The first few days after the oil was applied, it was really messy. If the wooden floor did not soak up the oil after so many days, I remember that sawdust was used to soak up the excess. I never saw any other stores ever having oil-stained floors, and I never bothered to ask why he did the floors that way. But my brother has told me that he did, and that the reply was “so the bugs don’t get into the wood.” That makes sense now, since the weather of the Texas coastal bend area is friendly to termites, roaches, and other such.
Even after Dad no longer had the store, I remember he would save soda cans for my nephew to take to the recycling places.
My pretty Mom and my Daddy are on the left. My Tío is on the right. Notice the stalks of bananas way in the back, the heater in foreground by Mom, and the oil-stained floor. This photo was probably taken in the late 1940s.
My uncle was the driver of the truck. The building is the cold storage. It was elevated so that unloading could be done at the same level as the backside of the truck. During the summer months Dad and/or my uncle would send young boys into the barrio selling ice cream for a nickel a piece.
Dad liked to wear white shirts and his white apron when he was at the store. My kid brother enjoyed playing on the watermelons. Mom enjoyed soda pop—even if it ruined her teeth. This photo was taken in the mid to late 1950s.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Turkey Trotter

Busting my buttons, proud as punch and tickled pink! I could probably come up with a few other clichés, but I'll just say that Daughter never ceases to please me with her accomplishments. She is back to getting fit and what she enjoys is running. Yesterday she finished in the San Antonio Turkey Trot. Not bad for an asthmatic kid.

Here she is around two years old. Although I remember mostly a healthy child, she did have the scary moments. One that I recall now is when she was around two or three years old, and had trouble breathing. I called the doctor's office and besides ordering medication, the nurse gave me the suggestion to get in the bathroom, run the hot water in the shower so that the whole room would fill with steam. The steam should help clear the bronchial tubes.

I followed the instructions, and Daughter and I sat in there. I knew she was scared because I could feel her little body shaking. I thought it was because she was having a difficult time breathing. I just held her in my lap, trying to comfort her. Maybe it was the medications and/or the steam treatment, but she did recuperate from that asthmatic attack. It was not until many years later, when she and I were recalling that episode that she told me the reason she was so scared was not because she had trouble breathing. She thought I was going to make her take a steaming hot shower! A good lesson to always communicate with your children.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Beach Scene

Although summer is almost over, we are still experiencing warm days and sometimes even scorching days.
Last July when our grandson came to visit, he was treated with a day at the beach by my niece who lives walking distance from the Pacific Ocean. By report, I learned that he enjoyed the water, but not the sand. 
Then a few weeks ago, hubby and I attended a talk by a doctor on the subject of skin cancer. The doc gave us the message we all know. Protect yourself from the sun. Lather yourself in sunscreen, etc. He said that even if we protect ourselves now, the non-protection we experienced in our childhood could come back to haunt us.
That statement brought memories of marvelous days at North Beach in Corpus Christi. More than a handful of times we went there as children, and played in the sun and water. In the days before surfboards, one could rent those floating devices. I don’t recall that we did much play in the sand, although we did like to collect shells. As a matter of fact I never liked the feel of sand between your toes. The main thing we looked out for were the Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish. We were really scared of them. We heard stories that the sting from the jellyfish brought great pain and/or death.
Still, many happy hours were spent in sun. The picture below was taken in 1947.
In the photo we find Rosita from Tampico on the left. She was probably in her late teens or early twenties. She came to visit us one summer and delighted in telling my sister and me fantastic stories. One that I remember to this day was that there was a girl she knew who had a bug crawl inside her body and there the bug grew and grew in the poor girl’s belly. Sis and I (she was 8 and I was 6 ½) never questioned any of her tales.
Next to Rosita is Daddy. The beauty next to him in that two-piece swimsuit is yours truly (didn't fill out that bra then, and still don't). The baby is Sammy who passed away in 1987. He was around a year old. Sis is the one holding on to him. She adored that baby (foretelling what a great mom and grandma she grew up to be). Sis has her eyes closed—don’t know if she got saltwater or the sun was too bright, but she did not let go of the baby. Last one on the right is my pretty mom.  I don’t remember that her hair was that long or that she wore it down.I don't remember who took that picture.
Those were sweet, carefree days of summer and of my childhood.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lady of Spain Comes to Visit

What a delightful surprise! Our Lady of Spain hits this area with a day’s announcement, and is here for only three days. We were lucky to get together for lunch.

Back in the 1990s, Assumpta came for a one-year program to teach mathematics at the same school where hubby was teaching. He and other members of the math department provided Assumpta assistance, and she has many times expressed her gratitude. She is a lovely lady.

Outside the restaurant we paused for a photo before saying, “Hasta la vista.”

The memories part for me goes back to January 1998 and a marvelous trip that my daughter and I took to parts of Europe. One of our favorite cities was Barcelona. That is the place we still want to keep going back to. Although we were very cold, we enjoyed the sights, particularly with Assumpta as our personal guide.

That is me and Assumpta on the roof level of the Gaudi Museum, and on the right, are daughter and Assumpta in the same place.

Assumpta showed us her apartment in Olot.

We were warmly greeted by her own family.

But daughter and I could not leave Barcelona without visiting the monumental church of the Holy Family, begun by Antoni Gaudi so many years ago. Hubby and I had visited Barcelona some 30 something years earlier. At that time the church was a mere shell and the laborers were skilled but their tools were "low tech" in comparison to what we observed in 1998. I would like to return to see the progress during this century.

This is one of the many, many pictures we took of the spires. Believe it or not, I actually climbed one of those spires, but did not attempt to go to the highest point allowed for tourist--but daughter did. The view from up there is breathtaking, literally.

This last picture is one that I took because I saw the box with numbers. I was thinking of hubby and daughter and how they are mathematicians. At the time I was in too much of a hurry to figure out what the numbers meant, but have since figured them out. Can you?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Special Olympians Say Thank you, Eunice Shriver, RIP.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver started the Special Olympics in 1968. Our son was born the year before, but we did not know then what a big part Special Olympics would play in his life. In those turbulent years of the 1960 decade there is at least this one lady who made a big difference in our young family.

One of the best obits is this one from the LATimes.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Holy Redeemer Church, Laredo, Texas

Surfing around some of my old bookmarks I ran into this photo. It brought memories of my sweet Tía and Tío who opened their home to me so that I might attend Laredo Junior College. After I graduated from high school in Robstown, Dad told me very simply and very true—we just did not have the money for me to continue my education. I had not had much counseling in high school regarding opportunities to go to college. So, I went to work as a secretary for almost a year. My Tía encouraged my parents to allow me to go to live with them in Laredo so that I might attend the very affordable Laredo Junior College. So I became part of their family.
This is the church that we attended when I lived in Laredo for a couple of years. We referred to it as Redentor, however. My Tío worked with the church credit union. Having him attending to the CU’s business was part of the Sunday ritual. I think that he was there from its onset. However, I do not know when that was. I don’t recall that I ever saw any of the students from LJC at the mass that my prima and I attended. My cousin sometimes opted to attend Sunday Mass at San Agustín because that was where she had attended high school.
I guess most of the students from LJC were from another neighborhood. I can’t imagine anyone in Laredo at that time skipping Sunday mass. It may still be a more cultural/social thing to do than religious. Although some of the Laredo friends I have stayed in touch still have deep religious convictions and very conservative politics. Not so like me!