Chapter 2

A Celebration

    I did not know where my dad was at this time.
He would come and visit me at my Grandmothers home in Pasadena on some weekends.  Sometimes he would take me to see my sister who was living with his parent's home in San Gabriel.
    My mother was gone during all this time. I had no clue as to why she was not here with me?  For some reason, my father did not have custody of us.
 Some time later in 1951, my father married Margie, who then became my stepmother. There was a lot of tension in the air at that time and maybe some harsh words were said between the families.  I could feel it in the air, although I never heard them discussing the situation.  I guess the courts decided to give custody of my sister and I to my father.  I left my grandmother's home first and moved in with Margie and my dad. They were living near Narden's Manufacturing Co. on Date Street. My sister Sandy stayed with my dad's mother until she (my grandmother) died in 1952.

On Date Street in Alhambra
    Being spoiled, wild, and undisciplined, it was hard for me to understand even the simplest ideas or new ways of thinking.  Harsh reality became the norm.  I was given hard work to do on a daily basis.  I was enrolled in a Catholic School where discipline was also the norm. I did learn one thing at this time, the meaning of omnipotence, which led to infinity, infinite shape, infinite size and infinite time. The first paradox was formed in my mind, adding fuel to the confusions of my  young mind. There was no more playing.  But, when I did play, I played hard. I would stay awake at night wondering why I was in the place I was in. Why me? This confusion continued until 1966 or 1967 when I started to understand my role in life.
     But, during my time with Margie and dad, it was difficult.  I was emotionally lost, never knowing who I was or why.  No answers were given to me.  Lessons were learned to work hard. I worked hard, and  I played hard.  I played with my two cousins, Ron and Gene, on my dad's side of the family who lived nearby, they would always be nearby, no matter where we lived.  We would play everywhere in Alhambra. We played tackle football at Story Park. We would go swimming every day at one of the city parks.  But, I was still lost, wondering who I was and why.  No one gave me answers.

A photo of  Ron and Dennis ( I think Margie cut my dad out of the photo.)

My dad's cars during this time (these photos are only similar)

     When my dad's mother died in 1952, Sandy came to live with us on Third Street.  She was very angry and tore at things. Sandy and I both worked hard in this household, Margie would have us practice our music every morning before breakfast. After Breakfast I would polish the floors with paste wax and Sandy would vacumn and dust. Then it was off to school. My dad built a room out next to the garage, and I was told that this would be my room as there was no more room in the house (with) Sandy was moving in.
A Celebration
  Our brother Gilbert was born Jan 1952.  I knew him only as an infant.
  Gilbert was baptized at the San Gabriel Mission. My fathers family grew up and attended this mission, those that live nearby still do. Who attended this celebration, just about everybody in San Gabriel. What I do remember is that I went to the Mission church with Margie, Sandy, Gilbert, and my dad, Tom.  Gilbert had a godfather, who I have met from time to time.  I think all my dad's family was there.  The priest went about his business, saying a prayer or two, and sprinkled holy water on Gilbert's forehead.  Everyone hugged and shook hands.  Gilbert was now saved from fire and damnation. You can place a question mark here if you like, I did.
    What I remember the most was the party held for Gilbert at my dad's father's home. I  remember going over there after the baptism.
    My grandfather's (Pablo) place was located in San Gabriel near the Mission on Pearl Street.  It seemed large at the time, my perspective that of a 10-year-old boy.  His lot measured 75 by 200 feet and consisted of 40 feet across for the building and 35 across for the garden space.  There were two gardens on the 35 x 200 feet on the East side of the lot.  Each garden measured 30 feet by 75 feet.  These were vegetable gardens, and my grandfather would be found there at most times.  This practice was carried on by my father also whenever he was able to garden.  About 20 feet of space in front of his house was devoted to a walk, flowers, and a concrete pond with a bridge over it.  My sister Sandy had her picture taken on the bridge when she was around three, dressed in a Mexican dress.  The house occupied the next area.  Behind the house was a flower garden, cactus garden, winding paths, and big urns planted with flowers.  On the West side was a dirt drive and garage.  On the other side were the vegetable gardens.  Behind all this, there was a side veranda. The veranda was not part of the house.  It was measured approximately 25 feet by 45 feet.  It was decorated with lattice work and Spanish arches, through which you could enter the veranda from any part except the vegetable garden side.  It was painted white with ivy covering most of it. Hanging baskets of flowers were placed everywhere along the sides and some in the center.  The concrete floor and Spanish tile made it ideal for entertaining.
    When we arrived at Pablo's home after Gilbert's baptism, the men were standing around a beer truck which was parked in the driveway.  They were busy carrying cases of beer to the far southern corner of the veranda.  I found all my cousins and sister on the veranda.  Sandy, my cousins Margaret Ann, Ron, Gene, and some others were there.  They were all chopping at blocks of ice with ice picks.  We were all proficient at this task.  There were tables set up along the short back side of  the veranda on the South side.  Someone had placed butcher paper on these tables.  These tables would later be used by us, the beer servers.  The chopped ice was to be placed in four or more wash tubs, and the beer boxes were stacked in the two far corners.  Our job after the ice was chopped was to fill each wash tub with beer, then cover the beer with ice to get it very cold.  I knew there was soda pop there for those who wished to have some. The smell of beer was in the air.
    As we were doing our jobs and having a good time, the band was setting up in the upper right North corner of the veranda.  I forgot to mention the band.  It was a Marimba band, with congas, violin, guitar, marimba and maybe some other instruments.
    The party slowly evolved.  As we were setting up, people would come up to our table and ask for a bottle of their favorite beer.  Our job was to get the coldest beer and open it at the table.  We would then hand them the opened beer.  We would also dispose of empty beer bottles, by putting them back in the cases.
    Other things were going on at the party.  We were totally lost in our pursuit of passing out beers.  The band was playing, people were dancing, and the young hoods were talking in the corner. Everyone was having a good time.  Throw in a couple of "Hahliskos, Oyes, Ah yebas" throughout the day, a few extra singers, people leaning on friends, and then the party moved on into the night.
 Tamales, Indian corn (our staple), rice, and beans were in the kitchen.  If I knew my grandmother, she was there in the kitchen.
 I do not remember too much more than this, but there were a lot of people there having a wonderful time.

On Third Street in Alhambra
    Shaboom and Earth Angel were playing on the am radio stations.
Our next door neighbor had a boxer (dog) running free in his back yard.
Their son had a small record collection of early rhythm and blues and he constantly listened to the static filled am radio station.
    We were enrolled in a new school, Garfield School in Alhambra. Two things happened I will always remember there. During recess one day the bell sounded, time to come back to class children. As I was making a mad dash back to my class first, I ran into mighty "Casey at the Bat".
You have all seen the famous baseball swing of a batter after a home run. Just picture a young man  with his mouth smack against the bat behind the batter. Yes that's me. It split my good tooth length-wise. It was gone the next day. So now next to the snagggle tooth was empty space. I was about to remove one of thr G's in snaggle, I will keep it as a reminder of how cruel people can be to a rare snaggle toothed mexican.
    I  had a young friend his name was Richard Rodgers and we played together at school and at home at times. He lived a couple of blocks from us, toward the school. Every day at lunch I would come home for lunch. One day as I was going back to school, I saw a police car in front of his house. When I got to school I told him there was a police car in front of his house. He said, " He finally did it!" and ran home. The next day I learned that his dad had shot his mother dead and then killed himself. I saw Richard one other time after that, he was selling newspapers at a newsstand some five years later on one of the corners of Alhambra. I remember you Richard, you have a space in time.

My sister and I were swimming at Long Beach when I got hit on the back of my head by a big wave (7 or 8 foot) and went toppling backwards like a cartwheel (with my knees in my chest) and lost my bearing as to what was up or down until I felt the sand. The pull back to the next wave was so strong that it took every once of my energy to fight my way back to shore.

I searched the Internet for Long Beach and I found this picture postcard of where I got caught up in the undertow. The photo is exactly where dad and Margie took Sandy and I to the beach. We stayed out too long and the tide came in while we were swimming.
On the other side of that pier was a rock breakwater and a rainbow pier to keep the waves off the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium and on the other side of the auditorium was the Pike Amusement Park.

One thing the photo did was to show how volatile the waves were at Long Beach in this area. I have told a lot of people what happened to me that day at that point in time. I did see one high school student at Temple City High School later on in my Freshman year that had a neck brace for a broken neck where a wave hit him just as it hit me
( I was maybe in the sixth or seventh grade when it hit me).

       Chapter 2

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