Category: Growing Up Latino

World’s Finest

I can smell those white, cardboard boxes filled with chocolate & almond bars now. It’s a scent like no other. The white box with cut out carrying handles was also like no other. The prizes for the students who sold the most candy bars were like no other: 1st place was a brand new banana seat bike with tassels on the handlebars, there was basketballs, footballs, earphones and last place was always a nifty, battery-operated, handheld radio. About a month before the crates of boxes of candy bars arrived, we would be given these glossy order forms to get...

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Fall 1983 (Part 1)

This past weekend my attention was once again brought back to 1983. I read that the US Supreme Court nominee graduated from high school, a well-heeled prep school, in 1983. When images of him out of his high school yearbook appeared along with photos of him at the beach, and in a group photo with friends, the same images shot up for me . . . high school year book, photos from time spent at the beach with friends and so many group photos with friends at school or at parties, times that for me are some of the...

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Summer Skies

Most kids I speak to nowadays have no concept of only watching three television networks on TV, much less watching TV in only black & white, no color, P.C. era (pre-cable). Today, we are overwhelmed with the number of stations available on ATT, U-verse, Spectrum, satellite disc . . . but despite the broad selection, I still tend to get stuck on one or two stations on the weekends I get to stay home to watch cable television or Netflix. Yup, I’m one of those people who gets stuck on Law & Order or Ancient Alien Astronauts. I probably...

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Annual Field Trip to the Zoo (Part 2)

Continued from volume 2 issue 5… The permission slips were signed and the parents and teachers of Rosie’s 4th grade class got everything prepared for the much anticipated zoo field trip. Continue reading about Rosie’s childhood Zoo adventure. On Zoo day, the campus was buzzing with excitement and enthusiasm. Mr. Villarreal was the master of announcements and coordination over his “P.A.” system. Shortly after the teachers called Roll, we knew his voice would soon come over the speaker. And it did, classroom by classroom he would call us out and direct us where to line-up. We knew we had...

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Annual Field Trip to the Zoo (Part 1)

The bell marking the end of the school day is ringing. We are all sitting at our desks ready to bolt as fast as we can walk through campus, on the sidewalk… no running . . . past the water fountains . . . no running . . . under the awnings . . . no running . . . past Mr. Guzman swinging his paddle . . . no running . . . through the dragonfly filled playground . . . no running . . . over the bridge crosswalk . . . now, RUN!!!! Get home and...

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First Memories (Continued)

I just knew Phillip was different from anyone I had ever met before and he was the man I would see whenever Mom dropped me off early to my piano lessons. I knew when he was happy and when he was not. I was never afraid of Phillip, but I was curious about him as I sat and watched him from the sofa where I waited for my turn at my lessons on those Thursdays I arrived early. I never ever saw who picked Phillip up from his lessons. By the time that happened, I was usually at the...

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First Memories

Flashbacks of my ten- der years include walking through a subtropical back- yard in the dead of night in the arms of a pleasant man from Mexico that Mr. Gutierrez wanted my Dad to meet . . . sitting on the regal and throne-like lap of Mrs. Gutierrez, the original pro- prietor of Tiny Tot Daycare, with the bright red lipstick she wore and kissed us with . . . watching my mother leave to the hospital in her steel blue Chevy Impala as she carried a green small suitcase in her right hand, the evening of my brother’s...

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I’ll Wait for You on the Train

“Aya los espero en el tren!.” That’s what ‘Buelita would say to us when she started to get tired in downtown Brownsville while we watched the Charro Days parade. The train she spoke about was the black train those of us who are from Brownsville remember . . . the train that greeted everyone heading into Brownsville from “El Puente”, the bridge joining us to Matamoros across el Rio Grande . . . the train that sat near Jacob Brown Auditorium and a couple of blocks from the Friendship Gardens . . . the train that was painted red,...

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Charro Days

For just about every single Brownsville native, “Charro Days” is part of our annual February vernacular. According to Wikipedia, “Charro Days, also known as Charro Days Fiesta or Charro Days Festival, is a two-nation fiesta and an annual four-day pre-Lenten celebration held in Brownsville, Texas, United States in cooperation with Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. The grito—a joyous Mexican shout—opens the festivities every year. This festival is a shared heritage celebration between the two border cities of Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Tamaulipas. The Charro Days festivals usually have about 50,000 attendants each year. This celebration includes the Sombrero Festival as well...

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My Mother’s Memory

This infant headstone marks my sister’s gravesite. Her name was Laura Alicia and she was born on March 12, 1963. She passed on March 12, 1963. I first learned about Laura Alicia after I stumbled upon a set of old, faded photographs of my Mother’s. The photos were of her standing next to the tiniest pink casket I had ever seen. Granted I hadn’t seen many caskets at that young age of about 7 or 8. When I asked my Mother about the photos, I recall she was taken a bit aback but despite what was evidently a painful...

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It was about this time of year every year that Mom would pull out the box that contained the totality of all the Christmas decorations she put out every year. Our experience did not include fresh pine trees, or snow, and most years, not even a freeze (which worked out just fine because balmy Decembers meant we all got to ride our new bikes, Big Wheels, use our skates, ride our skateboards, whatever was left under the tree either on Christmas day or the day after because the weather always came through for us). No fresh cut Christmas trees...

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Have you ever been stopped dead in your tracks and warped back in time with a flash of a memory that takes you by surprise? Well it happened to me this morning. Today, San Antonians were greeted by damp cold winds, 39° temperatures, with wind gusts that put the wind chill temperature at about 30° . . . cold enough to have one bundle up with coats, scarves, and gloves, maybe even a hat. My Dad collected a number of things on any given day, week, month, year . . . cars, watches, shoes, pens, rare coins and hats....

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