In the Barrio

It was a beautiful summer day in Del Rio in 1958.  I was six.  I lived in the Chihuahua Barrio, but I was visiting my aunt and uncle, Tio Ramon and Tia Josefina Bosquez, at their house, the one with the huge yard, on West Martin Street.  Next door was Walter Block’s house and right across the street was the Del Rio Hospital.  And then next to Walter Block’s house was the Cody Wardlaw Gymnasium.  In those days, Tio Ramon owned the XERF radio station in Ciudad Acuna.

I was lying on the grass, arms under my head, leisurely enjoying all the sights and sounds--the azure blue sky, the huge pecan trees that created a canopy of shade from the midday sun, the leaves of the trees rustling softly in the gentle breeze. I could hear a soft cooing somewhere, the melancholy song of the mourning doves, and I thought, how soothing.  Many years later, ironically, I would associate their sad song with this happy moment.  I savored my carefree childhood days; I did not want to grow up.  Could I remain a child forever, I wondered.
As I lived in that delicious moment I could hear Tia Josefina’s nasal voice as she was instructing her maid, “bring the inflatable pool over here, put it under the shade, I will get Ramon to inflate it and fill it with water.”  And the maid answering, saying something--I could not quite hear them anymore, they had moved away from me.  I could hear the grackles and the chattering of the squirrels up high on the topmost limbs of the pecan trees and on the ground near me.  The squirrels were arguing with each other over the pecans.  In the distance I heard the muffled sound of two dogs barking.  Gala and Lobo were in their compound, jumping and panting, excited to hear the noise of the water hose and children laughing and running.  They wanted to run loose, to come out and play with us children.  But Tio Ramon thought they would knock us over in their enthusiasm.  We all loved the two huge German Shepherds, but a couple of my cousins were still toddlers and afraid of dogs. 

I heard a squirrel near me and I raised my head to look at it and smile at its antics.  The squirrel stopped suddenly--it seemed to look at me out of the corner of its eye while holding a pecan delicately in its paws.  For a few seconds it stood perfectly still, then it dashed off.  Suddenly my cousin Rosalinda appeared in my line of vision.  She startled me.  She was in her bathing suit already, the pink and blue ruffles on the rear bottom already dripping with water.  Her brother Armando must have splashed her with the hose.  She said, “come, on, Mina, quit your daydreaming, get out of those clothes, go put on your bathing suit, see, I already have mine on,” all in one breath.  She squealed delightedly as Armando dashed by with the hose.
I reluctantly got up from my spot under the shade and went inside to change.  I found my parents at the kitchen table, relaxing, drinking lemonade and chatting with my aunt and uncle, except my uncle was drinking whiskey.  I could tell from the amber color of the liquid in his glass.  Mom looked up and saw me come in and asked if I wanted to change.  I said yes, and she saw my reluctance and understood.  She always understood me and knew that I had been daydreaming under the shade of the tall pecan trees.  I loved doing just that.  She said, “Go have fun with your cousins” with a smile on her face.  And I thought, they are not my cousins exactly, they are the children of my first cousins, because daddy had married in his late 40s--anyway, that’s how mom explained it to me.  And she would usually impatiently answer all my questions, and daddy too, especially daddy, only he was more patient.  And so I changed and went outside to play with Rosalinda, Armando, and Sylvia De La Rosa, Lydia and Laura Bosquez, and Cristina and Mario Bosquez, my first cousins once removed, but just my cousins.  I loved them.

That fall I would be going to first grade at Garfield Elementary, with Miss Maria Flores - Along with all the other neighborhood children, those of us who didn’t speak English….. Yet...

Guillermina (Bosquez) Stover, Class of 1971

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