Asian Influence

Around the corner from my house is a now empty grocery store that was owned by a Chinese couple. My wife and I went there quite frequently to buy some products back in the 70s after I retired. I never paid too much attention to them at all and the fact that they spoke Spanish fluently didn’t surprise me.
So, it got me to thinking that I had actually went to a Chinese store in my younger days. There are certain things that you can buy in a local Mom and Pop store in those days. For example, kerosene, (fire department didn’t care) candy, pan Dulce, sodas (hippo size). What? No bottle deposit? Get a gallon jar and fill it up with different flavors. Then there’s the Chinese store where you can buy coffee beans (you have to ground it yourself), clothes, shoes and different merchandise that you actually need.
My store was a block and a half from my house. I remember that they spoke perfect Spanish because most of their clientele were Hispanics.
Now that I remember, there were a number of Chinese stores all over the west side of San Antonio that catered to the people living there because the major grocery store like Centeno was too far to go for immediate needs.
We have always wondered where those Chinese who manned the store lived. Where did they go? We never saw them riding the Guadalupe bus to and from. We have always imagined that there’s a Chinese barrio similar to ours somewhere in San Antonio. Because of our ignorance, we never found out.
Way later in life when we are now more aware of different ethnicities and current resources are at our fingertips via the internet, we can readily get the information we need.
For example, we know that there was migration of Chinese workers from China to San Francisco to work in those areas of menial labor and the railroad. After the railroad was completed, most Chinese went West for other jobs. A lot of them went to Mexico where they stayed and assimilated to a Mexican society. To this day there are colonies of Chinese families all over Mexico. The problem is that you can’t tell the difference between a Chinese and a Mexican because a lot of them generation to generation have assimilated so well into their society.
A case in point. After I retired from the military, I started going to my local church, St. Michael. While there I met quite a few families who were Hispanics of Polish ancestry. Mainly because the church was once an exclusive Polish church until it later changes to allow other ethnicities to attend Mass there. I also met a Mexican family who were also Chinese but I could not tell the difference. The only way I found out is that one day while I was visiting their home I noticed a picture of their grandfather who was Chinese. One family had a Chinese name which I thought was Spanish but turned out to be Chinese.
While I was employed by the school districts I found out that one of our distinguish city council member, Frank Wing, was Chinese. If you knew him, he didn’t look Chinese.
There is a legend of a slave Chinese woman who was brought over from China into Mexico by a merchant in the 17th century. She became very friendly with the village population and everybody loved her exotic beauty and for her generosity. She was the originator of the dress with red, white and green. To honor her, the villagers started to make copies of the dress and wore it in their festivities and it now has evolved into the national symbol of Mexico. This became the China Poblana.

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