Laredo Street Past

When I lived with my mother, we lived at 910 S. Laredo Street (rear) in one of the barrios that sprung up during the depression. There were several advantages to the area called “Lareditos”
Laredo street ran north and south from downtown and divided at the Durango street intersection forming Santa Rosa street on west side with Laredo street going down south till it turned west toward the Cassiano homes. We lived at the intersection of Guadalupe street and S. Laredo street. Our alley now has the root Candle company. We had two entrances to our barrio. The one with gravel road and the other with no gravel. Come rain, no cars would dare go down that way due to the mud. Even walking was difficult. Our shoes would get stuck in the mud.
We knew that the street ran all the way past downtown but we didn’t venture further than Commerce street. One of the reasons is that we had everything we needed close by. There were vendors throughout the street from Durango (Now Cesar Chavez) all the way to Vera Cruz street. We really didn’t call them vendors but rather stores. We had our own mom and pop stores which catered to the neighborhood. All the reason because they lived there too. Everybody knew each other and credit was given when the money was not coming in. The people were honest and hard working. Most belong to Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic church parish though there were other denominations present.
There was a Chinese store that we could buy items that a mom and pop store didn’t have. Most of the time they stayed to themselves. We never knew where they lived. We also had a grocery store named “La Gloria” where just about everybody went. If you were hungry, you could buy gorditas from “La Guera” who always was there with her big pan. It was like a Chinese wok with an indentation in the middle to keep the oil hot. There were several mini stores that sold jewelry and other items along the way. There was a shoe repair shop close by that had a lot of business. Now if you wanted fresh meat, you’d go to Nuevo Leon Meat Market where you could buy meat for the day because most people didn’t have a refrigerator rather an ice box. So you could buy 3 wieners or have fresh ground beef grinded up. Fresh chicken was a little hard because they had live chickens in the back and when you ordered one, you could hear the squawking and a loud thump when they cut their head off. Then they submerge them in hot water to remove their feathers and viola, fresh chicken.
Of course, if you had your own chicken, then you need chicken feed from the feed store which was just next to the local barbershop where I used to get my flat top hair style.
So in essence we had a mall that we could walk through for services. A couple of gas stations at either end of the street, Guerra’s drug store for prescriptions and a doctor inside to take care of illness and injuries. There was also Berchelsmann’s medical clinic for severe ailments. We also had a furniture store on the corner of El Paso street and Laredo. There were also two bakeries for pan dulce. If we couldn’t wait for the ice man to come, we would get out little carts and get the ice down the street. If we needed things printed, we would get Gonzales Printing company and if we needed family or individual photos, we would get Gonzales Photography company. (no relations between them). All of them on Laredo street.
We also had our entertainment, a billiard hall right next to “El Goyito” who sold all kinds of vegetables at the corner of San Fernando and Laredo street. We also had family bars who invited the community to watch wrestling on Wednesday night. We would be in the back watching the television while the juke box would be blaring in front. Dancing was allowed. One of the bars my dad frequent had a juke box which played Glen Miller or Tommy Dorsey and I got interested in that kind of music when I had to go bring my father home. He would buy me a hippo size soda and set me on a stool while I listened to the music. My mom would be waiting for us with supper on the table. We were late.
There were many services offered to the population living in the barrio. If you couldn’t go to them, they would come to you. The ice man would come to your door, the panadero would bring his sweet bread, the knife sharpener would come to sharpen your scissors or kitchen knives, if you had a leaky tub, the solderer would come by to fix it. Vegetable would come in a truck for us to pick and choose. Our own mall. How I miss it!

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