It’s not easy to articulate in a brief editorial the impact car culture has had on individuals like myself. As a kid, I’d look forward to my parents asking my siblings and me if we would like to go for a cruise on the weekends. It usually meant candy, soda, and likely annoying my parents since the four of us were probably too rambunctious in the back seat. The evening usually ended on the corner of Somerset and Military Dr. where many families would park at what was then known as La Cometa store. Many kids played tag amongst the cars as parents sat in their vehicles or as adults huddled around and discussed their customized cars. I was too young at the time to understand why going to an arcade room or the movies on a weekend was reserved for special occasions.
Growing up during this time in the 80’s and into my teenage years in the 90’s, we lived on the south side of San Antonio just a few blocks from Military Dr. As I reflect on those years, I see how the love of customized vehicles was an everyday part of life. That stretch of Military Dr. near my house by Interstate 35 to Brooks Air Force Base was the biggest cruising spot in all of Texas. Before I turned 18, I used every dollar I earned to build a 1966 Chevrolet truck given to me by my mother. The truck was in our family many years before I became the owner. My padrino, who sold my mom the truck, helped me build the truck in the backyard of his house. I can even remember my cousin and I using the tree in our backyard to hang the motor so that we could put it back in the truck after rebuilding and painting it.
This small snippet of my life is similar to many in San Antonio. Being around cars and having tíos, primos, their friends, and others with hot rods or lowriders has been woven into the fabric of our local culture. For many people a CAR CLUB is an extension of our familia. Where City leaders see an ordinance to remove the allure of car meets and activities of car enthusiasts, many see it as an oppression of our culture, our values, and a way of life. These are just a few of the unintended consequences City leadership is not taking into consideration. My hope is that by the time my 12-year-old daughter and I finish building her 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, she’ll be able to cruise this city proud of what she and her father built without fear of receiving a fine for expressing her cultura.