The Simple Things

  We live in a life of luxury nowadays. We simply forgot the way it was when we were growing up. Some of us grew up without those things that make our lives more pleasurable and easy living.

I remember that there was electricity in our area on Guadalupe Street and Laredo Street, however, we didn’t have it at my house. To light up the house we have to use kerosene lamps which gets sooty, and we have to clean it often.

To cook we had to use a pot belly stove which had flue going through the roof  for the smoke to get out or a kerosene  stove. If it was a two or three burner, you would be able to serve more meals. One burner was what we had. Kerosene had to be gotten from our mom-and-Pop store which had a kerosene pump inside the store. I would go with my gallon container and have them pump up the gas which showed up to the gallon line and later drain it to  fill up my container.  The flue had to be cleaned occasionally and it was dirty work.

Our meals consisted of chicken,  beef, beans, tortillas, fideo and liver. My grandma would raise chicken and they would be staying in the hen house. She would let them out during the day and put them in the hen house a night. Sometimes a hen would escape under the house, and they would lay their eggs there. I would have to go under the house to pick up any eggs she laid. We would buy a large bag of beans and we would have to clean them of rocks that were picked at that time. Cooking beans was easy, but you would have to cook them with garlic because if when they were served, we wouldn’t be farting all day long.

All the vegetables like corn, peas and green beans did not come from a can. We would have to go to a market or have the market come to us. There was never a shortage of vendors that came through the neighborhood selling their ware or vegetables. We didn’t care if they were days old.  However, the meat like ground beef or any other kind of beef we had to put it in  an ice box which we had to get ice from a vendor that would bring blocks of ice to the neighborhood.

Our restrooms were shared by two or three families, and each had a key to their prospective restroom. We  took our own toilet paper if we had some. If not, there was a  sears catalogue hanging inside. Also, a shower with no hot water was used for first come first served. There was a Fawcett for every 4th  house and that too was shared.

Doing laundry work was not an easy task as it is today. Back then we had to build a fire outside in the yard. Then we had to have a big tub above the fire and fill it with water. After the water boiled, we had to shave some soap from a big bar of soap called ‘el jabon de shivo” because it had a picture of a sheep on it. Afterwards the dirty clothes would go into it and we would have to use a washboard to clean the clothes. Later the clothes would be rinsed in another tub and from there to another tub for starch if needed, then hung on the clothesline to dry.

In our barrio, we didn’t have grass to mow, however we did have dirt. On a windy day that dirt would be flying around. We tended to that by sweeping the dirt and sprinkle it with water. Sometimes we would make designs on the dirt with a leaf rake.

Our entertainment came from playing games outside in the yard during daytime, going to school with our Indian Chief tablet or listening to the radio in the evenings. The radio would be battery powered or hooked up to the light plug and then maybe we would get a better reception if we got the right frequency. We shared the programs when my father wanted to listen to Joe Louis boxing for the championship and we wanted to listen to The Lone Ranger or horror stories that we would imagine the story line with all the sound effects.

We didn’t have a car, so we had to walk wherever we wanted to go. However, the stores were nearby. Schools were farther away but we took shortcuts. Just about everybody would be walking to school so we would join up with them. The school had bus cards that we could use for a discount price if we wanted.

This was the age of innocence, and we were content with our lives as they were. We knew how the other half lived and we didn’t have the ability to aspire to reach their level of richness as we saw it. It was later when we moved from the barrio that we learned  that we could have a better life elsewhere.  

One thought on “The Simple Things

  1. Wow dad, it’s really hard to believe everything you had to endure while growing up.

    It really makes me appreciate everything you did for John, Marie and I. We had a life of luxury compared to your upbringing!

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