TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Moving to the barrio after a family divorce meant being hungry all the time.
2. A Lil’ Black Cloud always seemed to descend upon me, indicative of gloomy things about to happen.
3. The coach in grammar school was a pervert – lifting the dress of little girls.
4. A towel ruined my education.
5. I bought and pushed my first car home – it didn’t have a battery.
6. The bartender wouldn’t serve my monkey a drink.
7. While in the National Guard at camp my Sarge wrote a love letter for me to my girl and she fell in love with him.
8. When asked when I got married I’d respond “the moment my daughter was conceived.”
9. While on the ball field warming up before the game my pant zipper wouldn’t work; I discovered my pants were inside out.
10. Our wood-burning stove begged for wood. Luckily a lumber yard across the street was soon depleted of its inventory.
11. I was the only non-black student in an all-black high school.
12. I fell in love with my two-story outhouse.
13. I was arrested for selling machine guns. Some mistakenly thought I was helping the Castro Revolution.
14. Johnny Carson bummed a cigarette off me at Caesars’ Palace.
15. I coined the following “Give a gay an inch and he’ll suck a mile.”
16. Why are blacks so speedy? Tigers ate up the slow ones.
17. Blacks should use white ink for tattoos – easier to read.
18. My puppy love Margaret in grammar school had only one leg.
19. God is on my mind and heaven is in my heart . . . I don’t need the church.
20. I don’t mourn the dead – I mourn the living.
21. Congressmen should quit wearing suit and tie – wear a clown outfit.
For political articles please visit my other blog – www.barrioopinions.com – Read how the International bankers invented the socialist/communist welfare system to make lots of money and to control people (IRS). America’s monetary system is communistic and I prove it. We have a criminal unconstitutional government. Go to barrioopinions.com and read the truth about who controls America.
HUMOR IS THE LAXATIVE FOR A TROUBLED MIND
Autobiography of Frank Trejo © 2008 rev. 2015
The title to my story needs only a half-ass explanation. And that is: Simple minded people laugh at anything simple minded – that’s all. After I ran out of friends and family to sell books to, I had many left over. I dropped off a few at homeless shelters and later was told torn pages were used to roll cigarettes and joy sticks. One morning I joined the party and stayed all day smoking my story. Be forewarned I don’t believe in political correctness – it is thought control invented by those within our country to stifle dissent. College campuses are where a lot of this begins. If someone accuses you of being a racist (Anti-American favorite’s weapon) tell them to go to hell. PC is thought control. For political comments go to my other blog at www.barrioopinions.com (Gossip from the barrio) – you’ll learn things never taught in schools. An example: The Federal Reserve Board is privately owned contrary to what the Constitution says.
I repeat the following I read somewhere: “I apologize for the poverty of my vocabulary and rudeness of my style.”
My first wife passed (2002) and took my cat. It reminded me of TV commercial ads promising a 2 for 1 deal. The house was sold and I moved to a townhouse complex populated mostly by the elderly. I’ve always been sympathetic to others needing help especially old folks who begin to look like raisins after 70. Wanting to be a good-neighbor I started washing cars belonging to women living alone. My intention was sincere – no “hanky – panky” learned by reading Playboy.
The first woman I made friends with was Mabel R. Leo, a wonderful woman writer and now my wife. (Washing cars may be rewarding) When asked how we met I tell them she was horizontally accessible. So far she’s written nine books of which one became a stage play and won awards. That one has become a movie starring T0m Sizemore.
It’s the story of Jack Durant, a founder of Durant’s Restaurant in north central Phoenix. For years it was a watering-hole for many of the movers and shakers of the city. Jack was well known but many were unaware of his past until Mabel decided to investigate and wrote about it. The movie is Durant’s Never Closes is based upon Mabel’s book The Saga of Jack Durant. The title Durant’s Never Closes is misleading. It closes as soon as cockroaches get tired of eating leftovers.
After listening to my stories between car washes and reading articles I saved, that of a softball bum, Mable talked me into writing a book even though I had no experience whatsoever, it was a challenge. I got as far as a year and a half in high school and quit before developing a decent vocab – but I did preserve common sense by leaving public school. It’s often said “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Add to this: “Nothing will divide this nation more than ignorance, and nothing can bring us together better than an educated population.” (Anon) Unfortunately, it is control of education by unions and government that is used to promote socialism and communism. It’s known as social engineering and the “dumbing-down” of Americans.
When I was still single at 41, I had wandered around quite a bit. I lived in many places and even drove a cab in Las Vegas and worked at Caesars in the middle ‘60s before corporate thieves took over from the Mob. I met a few celebrities in Las Vegas – even spent a whole day with old Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), chatted with Joe Louis and Johnny Carson. Joe Louis was Caesars Hotel greeter. Stood at the entrance greeting people. At the time everybody wanted to work at Caesars it was the “in” place . . . more about Las Vegas later.
Prior to living in Las Vegas I lived in Mt. View, California in the late 60s. I worked at Fairchild Semi-Conductor under Dr. Robert Noyce, the president of the company. The reason I was there was because the company sponsored a softball team. Before he retired from Fairchild, Dr. Noyce invited me and the manager of the team to go with him to start a new business as shipping and receiving clerks but turned him down because of our ball-playing. And what was this new business of his? The beginning of Intel. He said he would take care of us. This story comes later – What a missed opportunity!
With encouragement from Mable and a friend of hers who told me “Frank, just sit on the computer and type anything.” After a few days Mable was curious how I was doing and asked her to come over and discovered I was sitting on top of the computer as instructed by her friend. Furthermore, I had the word “anything” typed a thousand times. If you believe this you’ll believe Cher, the entertainer, will make a successful comeback one of these days. Well, I got off the computer and started seriously typing (5 wpm) and within a few hours I had several words typed. I stood, scratched my head, and wondered out-loud is that all there is to it? How wrong I was. Throughout this story you’ll read of many instances, that I, misuse grammar, especially, commas, I have, nightmares, about. If it, bothers, you, go, elsewhere, and take, all these damn commas, with you.
In the beginning writing was a challenge – especially if you are computer illiterate. I read “How To” books and got intimidated. I wish a book was written about how to understand these How to Books. I finally decided I would write like I bull-shit (Like many presidents) and stopped reading about writing styles and instructional books. I wanted to write a book to prove to myself I could do it – that’s all. Never mind spelling, commas, and computer savvy. The moment the publisher put the book in/on? my hand it was a wonderful feeling that defied my self-imposed odds of not being able to. Imagine, me, a dropout turned author who couldn’t even spell rthyim without a crossword puzzle and know how to put these last words all the way to the left.
FIRST A FEW TIDBITS
My Dad had been a successful and highly respected tailor who provided comfort for the family during World War Two. We led a normal family life not needing much other than a radio with less static. Unknown to us, trouble between Mom and Dad suddenly came to a head. One Sunday morning we heard screams coming from their bedroom. We quickly rushed to see what was happening and saw Dad threatening Mom with a razor blade. Mom was lucky Dad wasn’t a carpenter who may have opted to use a saw. Gil, the oldest sibling pulled Dad away from Mom before any physical damage, and things quieted down. That was the last time I saw Dad for several years.
It was a horrible emotional experience that’s etched in my mind that remains to this day. Nevertheless, I learned an important bit of advice given to me by my oldest brother. Although young and ignorant, I understood when he said:
“Never give up. When you fail, try and fail again. Whether it’s ditch-digging, plumbing, athletics, carpentry, robbing 7-11s, no matter; work hard, be dedicated and you’ll be all right . . . maybe.” I chose to be an athlete – thanks to a broom stick, bottle caps, a Jersey number 11, a small chain and dove . . . which led to the induction to the Hall of Fame in fast-pitch softball.
When Dad abandoned us, within two-weeks we were evicted from the property. A few days later we were in a strange area called a “barrio” (Mexican ghetto)– one of seven in Phoenix, Arizona. A new man in the house in place of Dad? I didn’t understand. Later in the story you will not believe what this man was capable of doing. The divorce and exposure to poverty was the beginning of a dysfunctional family which interrupted my pursuit of the American dream; revived later when Uncle Sam called and put an over-sized naval uniform on me.
I was too busy socializing in the barrio to worry about something I didn’t understand – adult relationships. As a nine-year old and never having experienced poverty, I spent a lot of time away from the dilapidated shack, looking for food and getting acquainted in the “new” stomping grounds where dreams rarely came true . . . they were, well, just dreams. I didn’t even have a bed to dream on.
I began to suffer from hunger and the lack of discipline. I would leave home before sunrise and return late at night. No one missed me except Gato (gah-toe) my dog, who never failed to hump my leg. He became rabid when he saw me wearing a bathing suit and showering outside using a hose.
I DIDN’T HAVE TO LIE ABOUT MY BIRTHRIGHT AS SOME DO IN PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS.
I’ve got such a great memory I tell people I remember the day I was conceived: I went to a dance with my future dad and went home with my future mother the next morning. That night was a matter of stiff competition. I was in a race against millions of undocumented sperms all fighting to get into the egg (FDA approved). I saw an opening to enter and a sign which read: Wetbacks Welcome. I was in without voter ID.
Nine months later Mom had no time for the hospital; waited too long to give birth and was rested on top of the kitchen table to prepare for the coming of her “7th mistake.” By the time the doctor arrived, I was half-way out head-first like Pete Rose diving into second base. (How can I dive “into” second base. What is it, a swimming pool?)
The moment I was jerked completely out of the God-made oven, the inebriated doctor (so I was told) turned me upside-down and slapped my face instead of the buttocks to induce a sound – a way of doctors discovering whether they are losing their hearing. I experienced my first breath of the tortilla aroma-filled air in the kitchen. Mom was a little disappointed because I had a look on my face which made me look mad due to the slap by Dr. Goldberg. Grandma was present helping with whatever she could and later told others the “gringo” doctor had a reputation of slapping little Mexican babies. She said it was his way of getting revenge for his daughter eloping with Pedro, a landscaper who may become U.S. President Pedro in the future.
Delivering his daughter’s babies free made him hate taco vendors. Dr. Goldberg didn’t like pro bono work and took it out on Mexican babies. I’m only a few seconds old and already experiencing discrimination and being assaulted by a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character. Lil Black Cloud of which you’ll be reading a lot never missed an opportunity to make me miserable. Its personality was that of doom and gloom . . . making it an easy confirmation by the U.S. Senate for it to be Director of the IRS. The IRS was created to collect taxes and to keep people in fear. It’s primary purpose is to collect taxes so bankers (Fed Reserve) can get paid interest for the money they lend to government. Learn who was responsible for the crime of allowing bankers control of our monetary system by going to my other blog. (barrioopinions.com – Gossip in the barrio)
Even while in incubation I heard rumors of a mother-to-be next door that had twins in her oven awaiting birth. One impatient twin looking for an early way out, yelled at the other – “Eureka! I found an opening.” The other quickly warned – “Don’t try that one. The other day I did and a big black snake came and spit on my face.”
As mentioned before, the slap on my face made me look mad all the time. Later in job interviews I was quickly dispatched before the interview was over with no explanation other than perhaps looking mad like a Mexican on the verge of being deported. It wasn’t until I applied for a job at a mirror company that I really took notice of myself in a mirror. And for the very first time gave myself a good look and concluded I wouldn’t hire me either. It was easier blaming gringos for discrimination. I had the look of a sneering-illegal being harassed by Homeland Security bureaucrats.
During the decade of barrio living, things would happen that shaped my life and personality. Such as: My unique way of practicing ball-playing as a youngster – using a tennis ball, broom sticks, and bottle caps which in the future would get me inducted into two Hall Of Fame of fast-pitch softball. The first induction was the International Softball Hall of Fame (1990), and second – the Arizona Hispanic Sports Hall of Fame. (2002). This last event was emceed by a deaf-mute illegal alien. The only other person in attendance who knew sign language was Antonio, a waiter, who sang to the audience in rap-style sign language. He received a standing ovation because he did it with one arm.
Being a bachelor for the first 41 years of my life I accumulated quite a few stories that I shared with friends. Encouraged by Mabel to write, I finally finished this autobiography. My work needs a lot of editing – when you encounter misplaced words, sloppy writing and typos – you do the editing. I’ve been with Mabel – Mable? 10 years and still don’t know which name is correct.
“I think you must remember that a writer is a simple-minded person to begin with and go on that basis. He’s not a great mind, he’s not a great thinker, he’s not a great philosopher, he’s a story teller.” (Erskine Caldwell) . . . in other words, I’m a bullshitter.
So let’s begin with the life of Frank Trejo and his Lil Black Cloud, a fictitious character who I blamed for my troubles. My silly style of writing is that of a loose AK-47, so be on your heels. I didn’t spend time editing because it interferes with my beer drinking; so forgive me for being sloppy. It’s an easy read. My readers are school dropouts who are mentally challenged, comparable to members of the U.S. Congress. I promise you won’t need a dictionary and I don’t do research . . . “If you steal from one person, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.” (Wilson Mizner)
IMAGINARY NEMESIS ONE
Do you recall a cartoon character in an old comic strip (Lil Abner) by the name of Joe? A little black cloud would always be in the area wherever Joe went, indicative of gloomy things about to happen. In the beginning it was humorous when the barrio gang referred to me as “Lil Black Cloud.” I became paranoid because as an avid reader of the comic strip I saw similarities between Joe and myself. I still get spooked seeing little black clouds. In Arizona what are supposed to be rain clouds turn out to be nothing but dust storms; diversity in the world of Lil Black Cloud.
Vile – mean – contemptible – abusive – lowest of the low – A pervert – despicable – dishonest – petty thief – moocher – worthless – dull – oaf – cowardly – a red neck – whiner – incompetent – a sissy – narcissistic and manic-depressive – Lil Black Cloud should run for the U.S. Congress.
I started a love-hate relationship with Lil Black Cloud due to not having girlfriends until I was two. I went steady with my first babysitter at age three. Lil Black Cloud’s first setback in the barrio was discovering condoms were too big for him but became an expert at inflating condoms like balloons and hired a Gypsy to sell to gringos at the State Fair. My God . . . and to think you have close to 80,000 more words left to read.
ONE MILLION B.C. BASEBALL (It doesn’t matter this being out of context – who cares – I don’t)
Many stories are told how people in early civilizations entertained themselves. We have evidence recorded in history of the Olympics that are well covered going back centuries. Numerous games using a ball have been recorded. But I’m speaking of millions of years before. We can assume people ran and threw things except those who lost limbs to T-Rex.
Someone had to have been first to hurl something at T-Rex. Maybe when that person missed he may have been the first to run the 100 yard dash under 10 seconds; or perhaps became the first appetizer. Imagine how many millions of years passed before something round became a ball to throw and kick. Is it possible that after thousands of centuries, soccer players still haven’t learn to throw balls but just kick? Observe how much a players chest is used besides kicking. The ideal sought after player are those that have a hump on their chest – it makes a more solid rebound of the ball.
When early humans discovered inflicting pain by throwing things at each other, caveman Goldstein may have become the first entrepreneur in history by inventing spears. He was the first to develop a business plan. He seized the money-making opportunity by hawking spears. Soon, added other products. (founder of R&D)
I can see him on top of his rock-home selling spears and caps made of dinosaur hide; the first ever monopoly. A fossilized cap is on display at the London Museum. If you scrutinize it carefully you can read the label on it – MADE IN CHINA.
Creating forms of recreation by throwing and hitting something probably originated by chance. Perhaps some cave boy took his spear and tossed a stone in the air and swung at it. Another boy nearby, uttered a few sounds (sounds sometimes hard to distinguish between grunts and farts which led to fights and odors that caused to vacate the cave) and became the first pitcher by throwing rocks at other boys to swing at.
Everyone owned a cap and spear, but sales slowed. Mr. Goldstein wasn’t deterred even though he experienced the first depression. Later he thought of replacing rocks as balls (which caused a lot of physical damage) by inventing non-rock balls. He was inspired one day while bathing in the river washing his own balls. After experiencing with testicles of a dead dinosaur his R&D continued. By trial and error he discovered pitching dinosaur testicles were too hard to control – too wobbly. Later in the future it became known as a knuckle-ball in baseball.
After many tries Dr. Goldstein finally had the answer – cover the testicles with animal hide. That solved, the biggest problem left was how to cut the balls off an orphan baby dinosaur tied to a huge boulder. R&D answered the problem. (Too gory to relate) After stitching the hide to a testicle – Eureka! An authentic ball for games was invented. Ball playing began. (Eat your heart out Doubleday) In my research I paid $19.95 for a company to trace back the name Goldstein and by golly it turned out my Mr. Goldstein was the original – part of the clan rescued by Moses. (Never mind whether it makes sense or not)
Imagine this scenario: Teams of different tribes competing in the early form of baseball supported by throngs of cave fans resting in between dinosaur hunts. All of a sudden a herd of T-Rex’s show up and dragged half the ballplayers away. This led to arguments with Mr. Goldstein about fans getting their money back (reptile teeth – worth more than Federal Reserve notes)
Gor, a Nostradamus type of character and famous pitcher lost an arm to T-Rex which ruined his career and standing. His credit stopped at the cave snack bar owned by Mr. Goldstein. Gor, being clairvoyant dropped the E from Gore so he wouldn’t be identified as a relative of Al Gore in the future.
Mr. Goldstein saw another potential – a great opportunity for gambling! Arnold Rothstein – responsible for the Chicago White Sox’s scandal of 1919 might have also been a relative of Mr. Goldstein. Good old “Goldie,” probably turning in his grave wanting out to rule the gambling world via the Internet. Now you know the early story of ball playing that wasn’t tainted by drugs, perhaps only a “high” attained by arm-pit odor . . . keep on reading – you hear, my writing may improve. The best is yet to come – you won’t be disappointed.
THE BRADY AND TREJO (Trayho) ROOTS
The name of my parents were: Jose Trinidad Trejo (Dad) and Margarita Brady (Mom). Dad was an immigrant from Mexico. He came to America the legal way (Didn’t know how to swim the Rio Grande like the non-swimmer Sen. Ted Kennedy) and was photographed at the border and registered as a tailor. He was in his late 20s and quickly established himself as a very good one. No, not a cotton-picker, restaurant worker, landscaper, dishwasher, car washer, domestic helper for the Republican party members, or even part of a mob in front of a Home Depot, but a tailor.
I was too young to have had serious discussions with dad (Should I have capitalized dad?) but did learn the following: His reputation grew as a tailor and many elite soaght his work. One was Goldwater’s Department store among several other big named stores. He even made some Western shirts for Gene Autry who at the time was a popular singer and movie star. Dad was always well-dressed and quite popular within the Mexican community; always the principled gentleman. (You really believe I can’t spell soaught?)
When he worked at Goldwater’s, other duties besides tailoring was to sweep sidewalks every morning. (What else!) One morning Margarita and sister happened to be walking by. Jose, an eye for something pretty besides using the eye to thread a needle let out a Mariachi whistle at the girls. Margarita turned and with a bean-stained tongue, stuck it out instead of giving him the finger. It was love at first sight for Jose. Imagine Jose’s response when asked by friends what attracted him to Margarita . . . a bean-stained tongue?
He didn’t waste time and inquired about this beautiful girl (They’re never ugly, are they?) and learned her name and address. Her mother rented cots for overnight stays to single caballeros to supplement her income as a seamstress. The going rent was 50 cents per night. Cots without lice were 60 cents. There was a 25 cent penalty if you brought lice with you. Hardly an evening went by without having empty cots. People said it was due to Margarita’s looks and many became regular customers seeking to thread something else other than a needle like Jose. Here’s Mom posing in front of Dad’s marijuana plant
Jose quickly made his presence known and locked up a favorite spot close to Margarita’s bedroom window. This Cyrano de Bergerac strategic move cost him a months’ rent in advance but before long Jose captivated Margarita with charm and reputation as a respected tailor. ($$$)
Jose’s duties at the store began to slack off due to chasing Margarita 24/7. He was in cloud nine and was ignoring the important part of his job – fixing faulty zippers. Legend has it that men in Phoenix were walking in public with unzipped pants. Someone said that’s when the phrase “How the West was Won,” which became a Hollywood movie title in the future. Did you hear that – John Wayne and Zane Grey?
A short history of my Grandma Josefa Gomez Brady: She was typical of many starving women in the Old West who were easily bought off by gringos of means. She bore four children of a relationship with an Irishman by the name of Brady. One of those four born was my mother Margarita Brady. Her grandfather (Peter Brady) was originally from back East and had been a Texas Ranger before moving to Arizona. He must’ve been quite a guy – there is a Texas town named after him – Brady, Texas. There is even a peak at the Grand Canyon named after him.
When he arrived in Arizona, a person of means, he became the first Sheriff in Pinal County, Arizona. He was a businessman and participated in politics before Arizona became a state. He was instrumental in allocating government funds to begin what later became Arizona State University. He also spent time in charge of the Yuma territorial prison. While there, two sons were also present. One was a guard the other was an inmate who had embezzled money from somewhere . . . it doesn’t matter from where, does it?
When he passed he left everything to a son – Margarita’s dad. He was a boozer and kinda like the pervert Bill Clinton. (Can you imagine this pervert blaming Republicans for Hillary’s problems?) He lost everything in a poker game. Reduced to a bar boy status and living in a shack behind a bar and died of consumption. Grandma was left, just as many other kept women, without a dime. A cousin of mine – Gilbert Brady Jr., a retired detective did some research and put together a story of our roots. Researching the Brady’s history, my cousin concluded grandma had been a whore.
It’s typical of lonely divorced women with children – it is called survival. Grandma and women friends were all retired “ladies of the evening.” Although no more slaving on their backs for unreported income to the KGB (IRS) often times they would get together for a reunion in grandma’s yard. The local closeted pedophile Pastor filed a complaint that her property had become an embarrassment because the way women were dressed showing “too much skin.”
When city officials investigated they asked questions and the response by grandma was: “Where’s the machaca?” Nothing became of it once bureaucrats discovered many relatives of theirs in the past had been regular customers. Anyway, that was a short story of grandma’s connection to a Brady. My name is Frank Brady Trejo. – Not Frank Garcia Gomez Trujillo Lopez Sanchez Urias Olea Sandoval Salas, Rodriquez . . . I’m waiting for this war-mongering U.S. government to declare war against Mexico – names would be easier for me to pronounce instead of Middle Eastern names of camel jockeys.
I’m sorry I didn’t learn much of dad’s past other than of his work. He did show me scars suffered in support of Pancho Villa’s revolution back home in Mexico. He was 14 at the time an already involved in bankers’ wars. He had a machete scar on the forehead and a bullet wound scar on his back. I didn’t question its authenticity because many immigrants traveled across America and Jose might have been at a Mexican wedding reception in Tupelo, Mississippi and got involved in a fight with the best man and a pedophile priest.
Beginning as a Texas Ranger, the Brady line produced the following in law enforcement work. Of the four children grandma bore, one was a police officer in Phoenix who held badge 13. His son, Gilbert Jr. was a retired Detective, since passed. My brother Joe Brady Trejo, (also deceased) was an Arizona State prison parole officer and an elected Constable in Maricopa County, Arizona. There have been several young relatives in police work and this is what I’ve discovered about many police personalities:
There are many police officers that shouldn’t be. This observation and opinion is based upon asking questions of active and retired policemen. There are many psychos who hide behind the badge. Many have a quick trigger and will shoot using lame excuses why they shot. I tell people when and if stopped for whatever reason by an officer, put your hands on the wheel and freeze.
There have been instances when drivers made simple moves like reaching for the license and some officers will shoot and use the following excuse: “I thought he was reaching for something.” (As if to say a weapon) Many with warped minds are allowed to remain on the force on administrative leave with pay until the investigation is completed. So, FREEZE – DON’T MOVE! Otherwise you’ll become another newspaper clipping in some psycho’s scrapbook. Having dinner with young related officers they kept referring to the public as the “enemy.” I’d ask: Is this what you are being taught in police school? They didn’t answer. Imagine a cop getting shot or shooting a driver for a traffic violation. A policeman’s uniform has become a target. Shame on you Americans for allowing this to go on without demonstrating by the thousands against those that are tearing America down. This is what the socialist/communist welfare state has wrought upon my country.
Before I continue with Mom’s story, let me share an article of the “Great Escape” by German POW’s from a camp located almost in the center of Phoenix. It was called, and still is, Papago Park.
An uncle of mine – a police officer by the name Gilbert Brady (Mentioned earlier) was instrumental in capturing the last German officer escapee from a POW compound. The following is an article by Lloyd Clark to the Arizona Highways Magazine, July, 1988.
At about 2 A.M. on Sunday, January 28, 1945, Sgt. Gilbert Brady of the Phoenix Police Department was hailed by a street-maintenance foreman at the corner of Central Avenue and Van Buren Street. A tall, lean stranger had just asked for directions to the railroad station. Clarence Cherry (a private citizen) was suspicious. “He had a German accent,” the foreman said.
Brady caught up with the man in the yellow checked shirt at Third Avenue and Van Buren. “Sir, could I see your Selective Service registration?” the police officer asked. The man replied that he had left it at home.
“Where is home?” “Glendale.”
“Glendale, Arizona or Glendale, California?”
A pause – “Glendale – back east,” said the man.
“Come with me to the police station,” responded Brady. Thus quietly ended what has been termed the greatest escape by Axis prisoners of war from a United States compound of World War 11.
“I’m not against the police; I’m just afraid of them.” (Hitchcock)
LIFE BEFORE MOVING TO THE BARRIO
In the ‘30s, we lived comfortably in a four-bedroom house. In 1937 when I was a year old taco Phoenix had a rare inch of snow. Father made a good living as the elite’s favored tailor and sold “raspadas” (snow cones) on the side. He couldn’t understand why sales slowed during winter months.
During the Depression years relatives often stop by and staid for weeks. My kind father, never one to complain, was a compassionate and sharing person. He always wore a hat, tipping it as women walked by and arose at the table when ladies appeared or left. At times when he was alone at the table, he would still rise, practicing standing up and even leave an imaginary tip. He never spanked our bottoms. Rarely would he punish us. His way of punishment was to make us kneel. He didn’t believe in corporal punishment. His way was very gentle with touch and loving words. Lil Black Cloud hated Dad.
At five years old Dad took me to wrestling matches at the downtown Phoenix Madison Square Garden. Dad didn’t drive so we walked to the arena, him on my shoulders about a mile from home. Holding hands along the way I’ve never forgotten the warmth and security it brought from a father I loved so much. If you are watching from the cosmos, Dad – my zipper is working fine.
From the balcony I saw two people in the ring (why is it called a ring when it’s squared?) grabbing each other. People in the stands were clenching their feests and stomping their feets and yelling words I’d never heard before. Dad joined others and made scary faces. (An improvement of his real face) The scene made me nervous and I held on to his pant leg. Later in life I would utter the same words when Mom told me to go buy a box of Kotex, a terrifying moment for a nine-year-old, which I’ll explain later.
How one becomes an athlete. How does a family of 8.5 kids, (1 midget) all athletically inclined, (except for the failed midget at basketball who became a horse jockey) become good athletes? What role do genes play? – Influence by others? Running from cops? Who in the hell cares? I know you don’t.
Mom was a kleptomaniac and eluded police by running a 100 yd. dash under 10 seconds. She told stories about playing ball at school during recess, hitting home runs, but got angry when her father stopped her from playing with boys off the ball field. She suffered much ridicule in school for wearing discarded men shoes.
Her mother, “Irma La Douce” forced her to use her father’s shoes after he wore them out. But she found respect by becoming the one to kick a football the farthest at school. Her athletic ability is responsible for our success as athletes. Lil Black Cloud preferred playing checkers using Pinto beans on the board.
I recall the day as a six-year-old when I decided to be an athlete. My Dad took me to a high school basketball game to see my oldest brother play. It was my first attended game and I’d never seen so many white people gathered at one time. The gym looked like a room full of white crayolas something Redd Fox would have said.
All of a sudden band music started and players came out shooting and passing a ball. This was an influential moment: my brother dressed in a black and red silk outfit wearing number 11. From then on athletics became an obsession – I would always attempt to emulate my brother in sports. That number 11 would always be my favorite except for the union dues I had to pay in the future.
My Dad looked down at me and said “Alla esta tu hermano Gilberto.” (“Your brother, Gilbert, is over there.” – translated for you-soon-to-be minorities) I got 45 goose bumps and decided I wanted to be an athlete like my brother Gil (Didn’t I just say that?) and perhaps get a job baby-sitting 45 geese. (Sometimes I wonder if I’m taking “Humor is the sunshine of the mind,” to an extreme. Imagination and lunacy has no bounds)
Mom’s way of teaching us to be alert, to anticipate anything happening at any moment during play, was to throw breakable items at us, such as drinking glasses, (some filled with liquid) glass bowls, etc. If you didn’t catch – you caught it in the rear and I don’t mean the item.
One day in the kitchen Mom picked up a carving knife and stared at me. “Mom!” I yelled. Another time she threw a freshly made bean burrito at me. I reached for it like a first baseman and squashed it, got my face splattered with “refried beans.” (Worse than a “spit-ball.”) This was Mom’s way of sharpening our reflexes. Lil Black Cloud looked like a sissy in the kitchen wearing an apron that had written on the back: All Clouds Matter – Not Only Black Ones. How could I, a tender young boy even begin to think something was wrong with Mom, mentally? Not so much because she threw things but because she did it with either hand. I thought that was unnatural.
“Dad, how come Mom likes to throw things?”
“Hijo, (son in Arabic by way of Mexico) I first noticed that strange habit not too long after we were married. The first year she threw shoes at me. That caused me to look for my shoes in the morning and once went to work with two different shoes. Throwing shoes gave her sore arms and switched to throwing dirty shorts at me. I put a stop to that, I quit wearing shorts.”
If you believe that you’ll believe the earth is still flat like flat-chested super models.
It was around this time that I became aware of my athletic ability. I carried a small chain that I would twirl constantly. I was standing below some wires and there was a dove perched above. I took the chain and aimed it at the dove and, released it. Next thing I know the dove came crashing down in front of my feet. It didn’t move. I didn’t understand death until years later when I heard of taxpayers dying of heart attacks caused by a brown envelope from the criminal IRS (KGB). I quickly removed the chain wrapped around its neck and ran inside the house, scared. This experience taught me that practice makes perfect – just ask Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor; the more you change husbands the better you become as “a community punch-board” and real estate owner.”
BEWARE OF FAMILY FRIENDS
A friend of the family would take me downtown and ordered me to ask people for money while he hid behind a telephone pole. He’d also take me where Dad worked instructing me to ask for a quarter. Dad worked in the alteration section of the department store. Most manning the sewing machines were women and Dad was the boss. (No wonder Dad chose that field)
I told him I wanted a quarter but always gave me two – never asked what for. Never in a million years would he have suspected his four-year old boy was begging. I simply understood to follow orders from a grown up just as German citizens did for Hitler, or how the ignorant keep re-electing criminals to the U.S. Congress. One day I asked the wrong person for money; turned out to be a policeman. Don’t remember what followed but never hustled again until I became a cab driver in Las Vegas.
It was around this early age when playing with a tennis ball became an obsession. Played all day and got so tired that when I finally went to bed I didn’t have time to worry about having scary dreams and would fall asleep within seconds.
In the mornings I began wondering why my pee-pee was straight up, pointed at cucarachas, including the Lil Black Cloud staring at me from the ceiling. Learning to throw a ball came naturally. Others in the family began tossing the ball lightly to me at first until catching became relatively easy . . . practice, practice, practice.
Christmas Day was upon us. You can imagine my joy to discover my first ball glove wrapped in holiday paper. The radio was on and Christmas carols filled the air. As I opened my present, “Joy to the World” could be heard. I ran towards Dad, wrapped my arms around his legs. I didn’t need words to express my joy. I was 21. You believe that? If you do, you’ll also believe Hillary Clinton is capable of telling the truth.
Another “family friend” attempted to rape me – I was only four. While attempting to penetrate I screamed because of pain. He ran off. We are a sex-crazed society and I wouldn’t even trust the Pope with kids. Lil Black Cloud started a chain of x-rated porno shops frequented by members of both parties in Congress. Supreme Court Justices are mute about their sexual fantasies. In their private quarters though, are thoughts of humping Justice Ginsburg . . . but she has to wear a bag over her head and insist she uses mints. Ah . . . isn’t the first amendment great!
AWOL AT SIX
“Swimming is not a sport – it’s a way to keep from drowning.” (George Carlin)
As a six-year old I ran away from home. It seemed like I had gone half way around the world but it was just two-and-half blocks from home. I spent about nine hours in a dumpster in an alley with six dead chickens. To this day I can’t stand chicken wings. My unauthorized burst of freedom began on a Thursday afternoon.
Mother had warned me not to go swimming at the city park. She was concerned about the one-arm blind lifeguard – I went anyway. After a while and oblivious to time, upon getting out of the water and heading back to the diving board a sister was at the fence (Lil Black Cloud standing behind her) warning I was going to get spanked and had better go home. Not having a leash around my neck I decided not to face the Mariachi music and listen to their rendition of “Born to Lose” sung by Lil Black Cloud.
My sister didn’t wait which gave me a chance to go AWOL. (Absent Without Levi’s) All that time in the dumpster created many scary images of the Wolf Man and Frankenstein and even heard a few Three Stooges chuckles. Through the early evening I heard family members shouting my name and Dad whistling, as he always did coming home from work. We’d run to meet him because often times he would have a bag full of chili dogs.
I was tempted to surface but was scared of being spanked and didn’t fall for the lure, no matter how hungry. Second World War was being fought and many products were scarce but Dad would surprise us with a bag full of chili dogs. One day we ran to meet him and the bag was empty – it was April fool’s day. I got even though. The next day I hid the toilet paper just before he rushed to the bathroom. I heard him call Mom: “Honey, bring me the editorial pages of the Arizona Republic.”
What seem like a week gone by, the calling of my name and whistling finally became a faraway echo – the family wouldn’t miss the Green Hornet radio show – no matter if I’d been kidnapped by a pedophile priest. I got so hungry I climbed out and went home to face the Mariachi music.
The house set about two feet off the ground and easy to crawl underneath seeking shelter from a drizzle of rain. I felt more secured than in the dumpster. Suddenly the door swung open, it was grandma. She stood, getting wet, worrying whether her lover “Manuelito” would show up. I heard a loud sound; Grandma was passing “pedos.” She must have had beans for dinner and the aroma of “frijoles” made me hungrier. Only seven “the” words in this paragraph I was told not to be too wordy. (Excessive use of the word “the” makes me feel like my vocab is improving)
Nana! Nana! I yelled. “Soy yo, Francisco!” (It’s not Japanese. It means “It’s me, Frank” in Spanish and not an entree on a Chinese menu) She yelled at me to come out. Hungry and tired, I surrendered. As she walked me towards my parents’ bedroom, I asked Grandma what was that noise she was making and said “clouds rumbling.” (Lil Black Cloud’s family reunion) I thought it sounded more like violin music by Jack Benny.
As we passed the living room boarded by mice – my heart began to skip a beat or two expecting the whipping. One more room to trespass and I wanted to turn around and leave but the aroma of beans in the house made my stomach sound like a Mexican hairless dog’s growl. Entering my parents’ bedroom I gasped my last breath of freedom, accepting loss of my Bill of Rights – expecting “cruel and unusual punishment.” (No Piñata party for two years)
Nana, holding my ear with pliers led me to their bed. Dad got up and stood in front of me and put his arm on my shoulder – kissed my forehead and proceeded to stroke my filthy hair. He didn’t notice me watching him wipe his hand alongside the bed.
He spoke calmly but chastised me for worrying everyone. Mom quit snoring and began to cry and all I said was “Mom, I’m your seventh mistake, Frank – don’t you recognize me? Why did you stop looking for me?” She started snoring before I finished. Expecting the worse I’d forgotten what a great loving father I had selected before being born.
The love, compassion and understanding that my Dad demonstrated was something I’ve never forgotten. Dad never spanked me; always made me kneel. And he didn’t spank me when I let the chickens out to practice shooting with my slingshot. It took him hours to recoup them while I was doing my Tarzan thing at the public swimming pool pissing in heavy chlorinated water. “Son, I want the roll of toilet paper back.”
Through the years and observing how some parents treat children I’ve witnessed many instances of terrible abuse. Always thought how lucky I was to have had such a wonderful father but didn’t understand why other parents could be so mean. If many don’t know how to be parents how can they teach their kids to be parents? It’s a terrible cycle. There is no guaranteed way of being taught how to be a good parent unless you live by the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, the Ten Commandments have been shit-canned and are being replaced by the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto by communists in and out of government. No matter – many parents just don’t care. How can you teach a heart to think?
I believe Dad’s child-rearing philosophy – “What goes around comes around” was right on. Chances are he never read the 10 Commandments but had a heart of gold. In life he learned an important lesson: (“Chinga primero antes que te chingan a ti”) Next time you see a lawn being mowed by Roberto don’t ask him for a green card, ask Roberto to translate.
What is it with grown-ups who shake babies to death? Burning babies with cigarettes? Not feeding them properly? I believe the socialist/communist welfare state has made America a morally bankrupt and anti-family society – just ask black families and millions of others dependent on welfare. Imagine a young student being suspended from school because he used the words “God Bless” after someone in class sneezed. People are not aware of the damage American haters have done to our society. And now even our religions and U.S. flag are under attack. When I read of abuses suffered by young tots my heart aches and my eyes become teary-eyed.
How fortunate I was to have had a father with a heart full of love for his children. Dad, I believe what you demonstrated while on earth was well-rewarded by the hand of God . . . and you didn’t have to murder to be rewarded with 72 virgin senoritas waiting in the afterlife for hard-up dummies from earth.
For those who have never read the following, it is the most touching and a wake-up call for parents. It is classic. The following appeared in a book by Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People.
‘Listen, son: I am saying this, as you lay asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls sticking to your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside. These are things, I was thinking, son: I have been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.
‘At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand called, ‘Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”
‘Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive – and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!
‘Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped. ‘You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
‘Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding a fault, of reprimanding – this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
‘And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!
‘It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come.
I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: ‘He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!”
‘I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.” (By Livingston Larned)
This is very profound. If you agree, especially young parents, please tell others about this essay. Wherever you are in the cosmos Dad – Happy Father’s Day.
Thanks to Dad whenever I’m troubled by whatever, I recite the following which calms my nerves:
“God is on my mind. Heaven is in my heart.” Thanks to my immigrant father.
“To be a successful father . . . there’s one absolute rule: When you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.” (Hemingway)
With a mind like that no wonder he blew his head off.
TREJO STYLE DISCIPLINE
I raised one child and lessons Dad taught served me well. I learned from Dad never to apply physical punishment. I bought a small rocking chair and whenever Jo Ann, my only child got mischievous, was ordered to sit and not move until excused. After a week she asked if she could go to the bathroom and have something to drink and eat.
She grew up to be the most loving, decent, half-starved, respectful daughter any parent would be proud of. She was a corporate officer of the biggest loan-sharking bank in town and a mother to the only grandchild of mine. And you know what? She never laid a hand on him.
My grandson appears to be well-adjusted, a small IQ; should be in politics. If Dad had used the belt I wouldn’t have learned to be a good father to deserve the love of such a beautiful daughter and grandson – THANKS, DAD! The famous lawyer of years ago, Clarence Darrow, is attributed with the following quote of which I disagree with:
“The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents and the second half by our children.”
You have to be good parents – you are very special and important to kids. They have no one else but you. They are an extension of you. Be a good parent and you’ll be blessed with beautiful grandchildren. Remember, “What goes around comes around.” Within a few days of reading the message in the essay you’ll learn as if by divine-intervention an experience of self-worth and self-respect. It’ll make you a better person and parent. Get a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People . . . it’ll change your life.
NEW VENUE…BARRIO BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS
Because of divorce the family suffered and had no choice but to move to a barrio – a brown ghetto instead of a black one. Waiting at the door was a strange man I’d never seen before. We were told he was our step-dad. He had a dress on better than Mom’s. He was a Mexican immigrant who got stranded in Phoenix after the cotton-picking season was over.
It was a traumatic and confusing time for me. With her looks Mom could have been more selective – like picking the oriental who owned the barrio grocery store or a Mr. Gold who drove a station-wagon full of new clothing to sell to the barrio women. Unfortunately, she married a pedophile and a wannabe handyman and probably a taxi-cab driver fugitive from Tijuana.
Many years later I felt differently towards Mom, I questioned her judgment. But as I grew older I began to understand the plight of abandoned women with children who find themselves in desperation for security; just as grandma had experienced. But Mom might have held out for a better shack than the 700 sq. ft. we moved to.
No running water, no floors, (just the ground) windows without glass or screens, a two-story shit outhouse. An 800 sq. ft. shack might have better served a family of nine, a dog, a cat, and the ubiquitous 1,000,000 green card-holding flies making life miserable for 100,000 cucarachas.
Living in the barrio meant constantly being hungry and using my dog Gato for a blanket in winter and using him as a life-jacket when swimming in the cool waters of a canal in the summer. Such was part of my life for eight years until rescued later by McHale’s Navy. I begged the recruiter if I could take Gato with me in case the ship sank, but assured me I’d be furnished a life-jacket. If you believe that one you’ll believe Jesus Christ parted the sea instead of his brother-in-law, Moses.
Learning to survive the barrio was a challenge. That’s when Lil Black Cloud came around more frequently. Lil Black Cloud had found a dummy, and I, had found a lifelong nemesis. In the beginning I didn’t pay much attention to it; just another little cloud hanging around. I noticed that whenever things went wrong the damn thing would be close by, even when there were no other clouds in the sky. I quit believing in weather reports. I took my cat to the vet and mistakenly had my teeth cleaned. Damn you, Lil Black Cloud.
In the barrio meat and potato meals were a fading memory; in my new surroundings my diet consisted mostly of beans and tortillas – “breakfast of champions.” Eggs, milk and sugar were rare. One rainy day a truck delivering eggs overturned, scattering eggs all over the street. By now I’d learned the barrio way and made off with a case of eggs; made me feel grown-up bringing home the “bacon.”
Mom made omelets with beans for two weeks. Wow! We were served two entrees on one plate, to be shared by two. No utensils. A tortilla became a substitute to scoop food. Some would cheat, scooping bigger portions which led to arguments. Mom settled it: She would issue pieces of tortillas instead of a whole one. If you believe that one you’ll believe U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (now retired) was founder of the T.V. show of years passed “What’s My Line.”
Corn flakes were eaten with water, that’s all, but filling. I recall eating peanuts, including shells, plus peelings of over-ripe fruits from trash cans at the produce market to satisfy my hunger. It kept the stomach calmed down – but created louder farts. I set a record in the barrio for the most consecutive farts (21) after eating five cantaloupes, one after another. Ever try re-heating beans only to discover they’re rancid after a swallow or two? There was a mulberry tree on the school grounds that I would strip its fruit before it ripened. (A Mexican landscaper in-training)
“It is good enough to talk of God while we are sitting here after a nice breakfast and looking forward to a nicer luncheon, but how am I to talk of God to the millions who have to go without two meals a day? To them God can only appear as bread and butter.” (Mohandas K. Gandhi) Was this necessary?
Raton, (Rah-tone – means a mouse.That’s what I called my cat) ate better than most. A seasoned hunter of mice of which some didn’t run fast enough because of malnutrition. Raton and undocumented cucarachas were the healthiest in the house. I still hear the sound of cracking skulls as Raton dined on mice every night. I imagined him prancing around flossing his teeth. (Is it necessary to italicized words and put them in parenthesis?)
When Mom made tortillas on the wood burning stove I wasn’t allowed any until I came home with a bundle of deadwood. Always found a way to distract her though, I ran as fast as the roadrunner to grab a couple; an athlete in training. While Mom struggled to get the family of 8.5 kids, five boys, two girls (who hid their panties from the pedophile step-dad) and the one midget, I quickly adjusted; making friends, still chili-dreaming looking forward to the future to whatever it might have in store.
One of my sister’s daily routines at home was sprinkling water on dirt floors before sweeping. Then I’d draw a circle on the ground (indoor arena) to play marbles I’d stolen. Did you ever hear of planting cannabis in your front room?
Our only heat came from the wood burning stove that begged for wood; most of the heat escaped through huge cracks on the walls. (Training facility for barrio voyeurs) Fortunately for us there was a lumber yard across the street and we soon depleted its inventory. Trees were rare in the barrio. We’d activate the stove and left the oven door open, lying as near as we dared for its warmth. I lost sleep due to worrying all night when the fire would end. I was beginning to develop sleep apnea; perhaps triggered by attempting to keep my bare feet propped up on the oven door all night long.
Raton, with his stomach full of mice had the habit of sleeping on one corner of the open oven door to keep warm. I was often plagued with nightmares of the Wolf Man chasing me, so while asleep I might have kicked the oven door shut trying to escape the Wolf man and trapping Raton in the oven. Early one morning Mom found a roasted Raton. That night I heard a lot of squeaking. The mice were celebrating while cucarachas curiously stared from the ceiling. (The word the is driving me crazy – 10 this time. Trust me. I know how to count to 10)
Gato (My dog) didn’t do too well either. I had found him wandering the streets like Al Gore searching for customers to sell carbon credits to. At first, Gato’s tail wagged happily but got confused seeing me walking a cucaracha tied to a string as my entertainment.
Living with me meant his diet consisted of beans, flies and eggshells. Later, he began to slow down because of malnutrition. How could he have understood the significance of the Lil Black Cloud hovering above in the sky? Gato’s future was doomed the day he found me.
During cold nights a battle would ensue: who would claim Gato for warmth. One kid would be pulling his leg, another his tail and I, had a hammer lock on his neck. Next morning Gato was sore from all the pulling the night before and walked like 90-year-old George Burns pushing a walker towards the mailbox looking for his SS check to buy oatmeal and prunes. (Now I’m doing it)
BOYS CLUB – SECOND HOME
I spent a lot of time at the Boys Club, my home away from home, where my athletic ability was nurtured. Hundreds of thousands of kids have started on the right foot due to caring individuals who supervise youth activities. One member who fell by the wayside was Ernesto Miranda, the subject of the “Miranda Warning” (reading of your rights), a U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision. Another member went on to serve as a basketball ref in the NBA. His name is Tommy Nunez – now retired. Several years later Ernesto was knifed to death in downtown Phoenix. American-haters in and out of government are slowly chipping away our constitutional rights while we wait for the Super Bowl and Turner Classic Movies.
I visited barrios all day long with glove in hand, spike shoes around my neck, looking for competition and food. At home I was never asked where I had been – one less kid to worry about. I spent hours in pool halls, and Lil Black Cloud spent all day on the roof, bored, picking his nose. Because of my daily travels to barrios a friend and teammate, J.R. Verdugo, nicknamed me “Columbus” because of my wandering ways. At the park he would yell – “Alla viene el Columbus.” (Here comes Columbus)
Early on I was too young to understand life except for stinking dirty diapers. Other neighborhood tots always had clean-looking diapers and mine was made of burlap or flour sacks. Mom denied me breast-feeding because she just wanted to be a friend. She must’ve read Dale Carnegie’s book – How to Win Friends and Deny Baby Wetbacks.
Grandma would take me and her favorite grandson to the State Fair and I watched as he ate a candy apple; there wasn’t one for me. Can you imagine a grandmother choosing sides like a GOP voter choosing between an establishment Republican over a Tea Party Conservative.
I was thrown out of restaurants, barred from theaters, slapped by a 4th grade teacher in front of the class for giving her that “dirty sneer.”
“Don’t you ever look at me like that, again,” she warned, as she slapped me hard several times.
I got an F for looks – a grade that didn’t exist in school until I came along. Later I discovered Lil Black Cloud helped Mrs. Inman grade my papers.
Insults and discrimination continued. I was admonished by a high school Spanish teacher in class for speaking Spanish to another tamale maker next to me. If you were Chicano-looking and just walking downtown chances were you’d be stopped and slammed against a wall by a wannabe J. Edgar Hoover searching for drugs and/or to meet his Mexican arrest daily quota. Black citizens were rare, mostly seen congregated in churches praying for civil rights denied to them by Democrats of the past. Who do you think were Ku Klux Klan members, used water hoses, vicious dogs, bombing churches killing four little black girls, and preventing blacks from integrating schools and voting? It was Democrats! Go to www.barrioOpinions.com (gossip in the barrio)) and get the facts. Americans are programmed to believe it was Republicans responsible for all the crimes against blacks and Mexicans – it is a lie!
Because of a towel and bullying by a “gringo” high school teacher I began disliking school. I would quit the following year. Looking back, that decision of mine ruined the possibility of going to college and pursuing a baseball career. I would become a softball bum in the future.
“The difference between a steak and fast food is the same difference between a college degree and a high school diploma. Finish college and order Filet Mignon. Quit high school and order a burrito-to-go between two jobs.”
THE BROWN BOARD JUNGLE
When 8th grade graduation neared I needed money to buy clothes. The only jobs available were field jobs. I picked onions one week earning enough for a pair of loafers which resembled dried avocado skins for $2.50, one white short-sleeve shirt $1.00, black pants $2.00. A tie wasn’t required. Thank God, that would have meant an extra quarter bag of onions to steal from others.
On the morning of graduation I poured water over my head and went to school stinking of onions. Lil’ Black Cloud was allergic to onions, it induced a lot of sweat. (rain) When the principal handed me the diploma (that I couldn’t read) he was teary-eyed.
When I started grammar school the coach had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for molesting little girls. His replacement was no better; he carried a long twig, long enough to lift dresses of little girls. The girls knew instinctively the measured distance to stay away from the coach, depending on the size of the stick he carried.
One afternoon older brothers of students came to school to teach coach a lesson. They had heard too many complaints but faculty wouldn’t respond. The brothers gathered outside in front of the coach’s office; most had knives and chains. Looking back at my grammar school experience teachers were too old and senile. Monroe school teachers were considered a step before a Senior Citizen Assisted Care-Living complex.
A teacher observed what was taking place and reported it to the principal, who called police. When they arrived the crowd quickly dispersed and a frightened coach had to be escorted to his car. Nothing came of it; the coach continued with his perverted ways. 30 years later the coach and I met again and after exchanging false pleasantries, (on my part) I wondered how many little girls he had abused and scarred emotionally. I began to worry about Lil Black Cloud, observed it leaving the coach’s office regularly.
Shoes with wholes were frowned upon by faculty. Going shoe-less was nothing knew – even shoes sole at the Salvation Army had holes in them. (See. All I did was drop the W from wholes and I stand corrected) One morning I stepped on a nail and quickly rushed to the nurse’s station. She told me to wait outside – Lil Black Cloud was trying to sell her condoms as a going away present for the ex-coach. While awaiting my turn to see the nurse a fellow student passed by with a magnet and drew the nail out. After a few minutes Lil Black Cloud walked out and gave me a thumbs’ up sign. The nurse asked me in, never asked about the nail, filled a pan with water and and washed both feet leaving the water a dark chocolate color. (If you believe this one you’ll believe Bernie Sanders is a Conservative.) Democrat Nancy Pelosi from California practiced this. Last year, to score points with illegal immigrants, she washed the dirty feet of an illegal before cameras. Delusional people in politics are everywhere, and they run governments?
When rain fell I tracked mud onto the classroom floor. The insensitive janitor (environmental engineer to the P.C. crowd) constantly sneered whenever he saw me. What, I should walk on air like the present communist Pope tries to? In the 6th grade I spotted what later would be called a “beaver shot.” My pencil dropped on the floor and upon reaching down for it I noticed the parted legs of the girl behind me, exposing tattered panties. I dropped the pencil the rest of the day. “Hey coach, at least I didn’t use a twig.”
Joann Rivers on Marie Osmond: “She is so pure even Moses couldn’t part her legs.”
A truck arrived every school morning at 11:30 o’clock to deliver hot buns and half pints of milk to the cafeteria. I never had money to eat in the cafeteria but learned to compensate and never lacked for hot buns and milk. Every school day at exactly 11 a.m. the teacher read from a book; never looked up which gave me time to plan an exit from the room.
At 11:25 I’d slip out the back door of the room, sneak to the back of the building, wait for the truck, watch as the driver loaded his hand truck and entered the building. As I ran towards the truck a damn pigeon decided to use me for target practice and laid a BM on me. Thanks Lil Black Cloud. (Yikes! nine thes, this time.)
The moment the driver entered the building I’d jump on/in (?) the truck, stuffing as many buns and milk cartons as possible in my tucked t-shirt. I was never spotted making my way back to the classroom. As I entered I’d crawl on my back to the seat but had to keep my toenails trimmed so I wouldn’t make a scratching sound like chalk does on the blackboard.
Bored at times when the teacher read, half of the classroom would be asleep. As soon as I started sharing by tossing loot around, they’d wake up. One kid even had the balls to ask for a straw! The teacher never noticed; probably daydreaming about being in the arms of a 16 year old 6th grader Anthony Quinn look-alike.
I wasn’t simply stealing something to eat, more importantly I was honing my throwing accuracy that one day would put me in the Hall of Fame of fast pitch softball. Some afternoons when lunch time came, I ran a mile home searching for tortilla scraps to eat. If I found a large piece of tortilla and, if the beans weren’t rancid, I’d make a burrito. I would eat it as I ran back to school hoping to make the softball game which began at 12:30. (Will someone please help I can’t move these words to the left)
In my path were railroad tracks. If a train had stopped, halting traffic, which happened often, I’d jump in between cars to the other side, or rolled underneath (only when the train slowed). Of all chaos in my early life it was on the ball field that I felt happy and at ease. Nothing stopped me from being on any ball field, not even being conned to go to cotton fields. Lil Black Cloud spent time during recess on the teeter totters – beginning of the sissyfication of the American male? “Give a gay an inch and he’ll suck a mile.”
My first friend in the barrio was Rudy. He came visiting one day with a sandwich in hand. Being inquisitive and always hungry, I asked what kind of sandwich he had. He opened the sandwich, revealing a glob of hog lard. With a little salt and pepper it would taste good, he said.
His body was peppered with many tattoos; letters spelling “love” and “hate” on the fingers. The ever-popular Crucifix tattooed on several spots; girly names scattered throughout and finally, the last that was the most prominent – two huge girl’s initials on the back of each hand – R G. Self made tattoos were crudely made. His black Leopard tattoo looked more like an alley cat with anorexia.
One morning he walked over to girlfriend Ruby’s house to show her his tattoos. As he raised his hand proudly showing her initials “R” and “G,” she asked, “What are those?” “Why, those are your initials,” he responded. “Rudy, the second letter is not right; my last name is Cordova. . . . with a C, you dummy.”
As he got older and forever embarrassed about his tattoos people asked what the “R” and “G” stood for. He would respond that he worked at the local newspaper – the Republic and Gazette. And yet Rudy was the only one in the barrio who graduated from college. Early in his career he worked at the welfare department interviewing new life-long moochers.
Because of his tattoos sometimes he felt like he should be the one being interviewed. He began using long-sleeved shirts and coat to hide his “Cueroffiti.” (“Cuero” – meaning skin.) That’s how Rudy dressed all the time, regardless of Arizona’s summer triple digit hot temps that forced Gila Monsters to leave town for awhile.
One day in mid-summer (115 degrees) the air-conditioning in the building stopped working. He still wouldn’t take off the coat. In filling out paperwork for illiterate voters and sweat dripping from hands and face, marred the info written in ink and had to start all over again . . . bureaucracy at its best.
Rudy just happened to be the one in the barrio that was quite endowed between his feet and stomach, but closer to the belly button in a moment of passion. His given nickname by the gang was “Pepino.” (Cucumber) One day he was hospitalized because of a car accident and was in a coma for two weeks. To make matters worst the car belong to a brother-in-law he had borrowed it from, while Rudy on leave from the service . . . see, everyone has a Lil Black Cloud.
Nurse Judy was assigned to attend to all his hygienic care – changing bandages – bathing – feeding…Everything! She shared stories of his tattoos with nurses during coffee breaks. She told them she was intrigued by a tattoo on his Pepino. She couldn’t make heads or tails of it – too hard to read like the Koran. Not embarrassed though, she kept the girls informed daily. Some got excited and just couldn’t wait for their next daily report and one by one went down to the basement with a male orderly. One morning after servicing five in a row the orderly went to emergency seeking help for heat-exhaustion. Next day the girls were told the orderly took a week off for vacation.
Later, Rudy would confess to Judy there was only one person who was able to read the tattoo in its shriveled state – a blind pedophile who could read braille. You believe that one? If you do you’ll believe that Helen Keller (The Miracle Worker movie) was a peeping Tom.
Days went by and Rudy finally snapped out of his coma. One thing led to another, and Judy, always curious and aroused by the tattoo, had to have a taste of Rudy’s Pepino. The day before being released Rudy asked for a date, Judy quickly said yes before he finished asking. The morning after the date when Judy appeared at work, nurses rushed to greet her, wanting to know more about Rudy and his Pepino. Judy looked like she had gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson. (Her ear was still intact) She related the following to the excited, foaming-at-the-mouth girls:
“Remember the tattoo on Rudy’s Pepino? Well, when I finally took a closer look it spelled Albuquerque, New Mexico.”
Two girls fainted and a third one quickly hid in a closet and after a few minutes came out with a huge smile . . . Judy changed her diet – she became a vegetarian but not disappointed upon discovering she was addicted to cucumbers.
Rudy’s last year in high school was chosen Home-Coming King. His Queen was two months pregnant. To celebrate he went to pick up Ruby and she said “Hi! Rudy, did you come to see me or is that bulge in your pocket a frozen tamale?”
The barrio gang put together a sandlot baseball team. Most didn’t have a glove nor spike shoes. We didn’t have others to play against – other gang barrios spent most of the time in the fields playing “catch” with senoritas. The bat and ball used were hand-me-downs. The bat held together with wire and the ball looked like a mushy meatball. The pitched ball, probably around 25 mph. The catcher didn’t wear a catcher’s mask – his own face was good enough. Our pitcher was a much older-looking boy. His nickname was “El Viejo” which meant “Old Man.” Here we are young little kids not too far removed from dirty diapers and El Viejo looked like a 30-year-old. Recently, after 70 years have gone by I met a son of his, a rare occasion enjoyed remembering his Dad. Unfortunately, El Viejo had already died. Memories of my youth always give me sentimental feelings so when I meet someone connected to my past it is exhilarating. (Is this the right word to use?)
PUBLIC SCHOOL HAPPENINGS
As a freshman in high school I played Jr. varsity baseball and thrilled to be participating in freshman basketball under a student coach by the name of Gil Trejo, my brother. I supposedly had a future in baseball. While in the 8th grade two coaches from a Jr. College came to the house and told Mom to be sure to keep me in school; a scholarship would be available. We were so ignorant Mom thought they wanted me to join a ship at sea because of the word scholarship. After P.E. we always showered. (A new experience) Undressed, three gringos grabbed me and shoved me outside the building. Standing outside in the nude it seemed forever knowing any minute the bell would ring; literally hundreds of students would be passing through. My two stomach ulcers became irritated when suddenly the door opened. It was one of the coaches.
“Trejo, what are you doing out here?”
“I’m waiting for a #@%* bus – you F!#@%* idiot!”
He didn’t understand – I said it in Pig-Latin.
As a freshman I was already being spoken about as a future varsity basketball player. On the freshman basketball team, I did well. Another student and I were invited by the varsity coach to travel with them to an out-of-town game as guests. What a thrill, me, a barrio kid traveling in a school bus full of white guys. I didn’t mind sitting in back of the bus like Rosa Parks of civil rights fame. That meant for sure I’d be playing varsity ball soon. I was so happy. My brother had been a star at that same school about a decade earlier. Lil Black Cloud sported a Letterman sweater with a ping pong paddle on the back. You sissy!
Being athletically inclined I tried out for the golf team. I teed off for the very first time and scored a hole-in-one. I quit the team and told the coach I couldn’t get any better. Maybe this next one won’t bomb.
Lee Trevino was on the golf course and suddenly a storm approached. When thunder and lightning began everyone ran for cover – not Trevino. He stayed on the fairway; kept the No. one iron above his head as he walked declaring “Even God can’t hit a one iron.” (Got this joke from a one-armed cross-eyed golf instructor)
I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps but couldn’t understand why I had to sneak in to watch the varsity play. Alas, something happened that would affect my interest in school and a possible future in professional baseball. At P.E. each student received one towel and on my way to return the used towel I noticed another used towel on the floor, picked it up, and returned both towels. The Athletic Director was standing by the door of the locker club.
Because I had two towels he accused me of theft and began pressing his finger against my chest causing pain and threatened to give me 31 demerits, enough to be kicked out of school. He never followed through though. Here I was, a kid from the barrio, scared to death of that man. Why so much hate? If I’d been black I might have been hung from the basketball rim. After school ended, I left that school. The dream of being a star at that school like my brother was shattered . . . Lil Black Cloud waved his diploma at me.
The following year I enrolled at St. Mary’s Catholic high school. Students were separated – separate girl and boy high schools. I’d never seen so many nuns who resembled Penguins. One day while playing basketball with the junior varsity team and playing before a packed audience of hypocrite priests, I committed two fouls in one. The shooter was dribbling around the free throw circle and as he raised the ball to shoot, I slapped it cleanly off his hand. The referee didn’t think so and blew the whistle. (first fowl) I flipped him a finger (second fowl!) The coach called time out and yanked me out of the game.
“Trejo! why in the hell did you do that?”
“Coach, I’m sorry but don’t use the word ‘hell,’ Father Bryan (school principal) is sitting behind us.”
I used the lame excuse: “Coach, I indicated it was my first fowl of the game, but used the wrong finger.”
“Frank – don’t you know the difference between foul and fowl?”
I asked – “Do you hear a difference in the pronouncement between the too?”
BLACKS AND A BROWN STUDENT
I lived only three blocks from an all-black school called Carver High School. It was named after that great American George Washington Carver. Arizona had integrated its schools a year before the nation was ordered to in 1954. Constitutional rights were finally being enforced allowing for equal access to education for ALL citizens. The Constitution didn’t fail us it was the States’ and politicians that weren’t obeying our Constitution.
Living close by I decided to quit St. Mary’s and enroll at Carver. Lo and behold, I was the only non-black to enroll. Being the only non-black student was a great experience – instant popularity. I already new other students and getting along was easy. Didn’t have to worry about my accent – even learned to say “Yessuh Boss.”
When in grammar school we competed against black grammar schools and I met a few black kids and by the time I enrolled at Carver I was known already by some brothers. (Didn’t I say that already?) Shortly after I enrolled, the principal conducted an assembly in the school’s gymnasium. In his opening he mentioned me and said “we want to welcome young Mr. Trejo.” I happened to be sitting between two future basketball greats and was in high-heaven. One of two went on to become a future star at ASU. Unfortunately, one died as a result of an operation due to a wrist injury. His name was Charles Christopher. The other was Charles Lucky – I think he’s still alive and “lucky” as ever.
Some girl students sent notes asking if I wanted to learn jitterbug dancing. I was confused – me dancing, with a bug? I was elected English class president, accent and all. In ROTC they made me a Sgt. Lil’ Black Cloud stayed in the school library fuming because he couldn’t stand good things happening to me. Not once did I experience any hostility at Carver. It was a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, radicals and communist in our institutions have made shambles of our educational system and bad race relations are increasing. Quite frankly, both parties have ruined my country. If you have black friends tell them to go to www.barrioopinions.com and learn something new.
The school was great and students and faculty made me feel like an illegal alien just granted citizenship. I only lasted a few weeks and committed the biggest blunder in my young life. With no discipline at home, I quit school.
Gone was the possibility of a future in professional baseball. No doubt in my mind I could have made professional ball, at least minor league ball. Gone would be life-long memories one is left with, such as going to school activities and saving school annuals, going steady and to a prom dance, earning a letter-man sweater and enjoying popularity.
Staying in school is more important than sports, something I learned too late. Public school education: I got A’s in spelling three letter words in my freshman year. Good thing I quit the following year – I might have become another casualty of public education and a future Democrat voter.
Parents, I have a personal message for you. The best thing you can do for your children is to keep them in school and be a good parent. Read to them while young. Assist them with homework. Praise them from the heart. Monitor their TV watching and paste the following on the door to their room, over their bed, wherever they will see it every day! I often repeat this because it’s so important.
“The difference between steak and fast food is the same as the difference between a college degree and a high school diploma. Finish college and order Filet Mignon. Quit high school and order a burrito-to-go between two jobs.”
YE OLD SHEEPHERDER
Close to the all-black Carver High School a sheepherder (El Chivero) lived peacefully in a small shack that had a corrugated tin roof. It was located outside the school fence at the end of the football field. He raised many different animals; pigs, ducks, chickens, goats, dogs, Democrats and Repussycans.
You can imagine the reaction by animals when we bombarded the tin roof with rocks. The sheepherder would come out with a slingshot as big as the one used by David fighting Goliath; rocks at least half-pound – heavy artillery! But we were too swift. He never scored a hit unlike camel jockeys in the Middle East who don’t trust their aim and use themselves as missiles. I’ve witnessed them firing missiles mounted on the rear-end of a donkey, and yet, this rotten U.S. government spends trillions in the defense of the country and still can’t stop the radical Muslims who ride camels to the mosques. We have criminals running government that are in collusion with lobbyists to enrich the owners of the military industrial-complex. And we have a government (Democrats) that are always wanting to take our guns away?
This is why America is constantly at war ($$$) . . . and why they’ve made it so difficult for third parties to win – DO NOT SPOIL THE APPLE-CART! This is why we are a war-mongering nation. But the ones who benefit most are bankers and the bastards you elect all the time back to Congress. And our sons and daughters die for this? Shame on you, Americans!
Back to the goat man: Often times when an extra point was attempted the football sailed over the fence landing on his roof top; upsetting the animals. Picture this scene: school officials desperately begging the sheepherder for the only ball while players were in the stands intercepting a kiss or two. During time outs Lil Black Cloud would jump the fence and try to score with a Ms. Ewe. Years later, home on leave from the Navy I happened to be in the area where the sheepherder lived. Up ahead who should be coming towards me? The sheepherder! Sound the ship’s general alarm! Prepare the torpedoes! Send out an S.O.S. to the barrio gang.
I frightfully thought, suppose he recognizes me? No! Impossible, it can’t happen, not in my navy uniform! I was serving my country, making it safe for his goats to roam around freely, shitting all over the neighbors’ yards and chewing what little grass was left under abandoned used cars in the barrios.
When we got closer he started reaching for his back pocket (a move I’d seen so many times in the past) to draw his humongous slingshot. My God, would you believe – no respect for the uniform – a Declaration of War! Lil Black Cloud and I left him covered in a cloud of a dust-devil.
During this time there weren’t too many black brothers in Phoenix. It was like out-of-sight-out-of-mind type of thing. I had a black friend (Roy) I would run around with. One day I took him to a brother’s home and my little 3-year old niece got scared – she’d never seen a black that close. I calmed her down by telling her he was like Uncle Frank but that he had stayed out in the sun too long. If you believe that one you’ll believe that peace in the Middle East is possible after the 2016 election.
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
WORD “CHICANO” DEFINED
The word “Chicano” has different origins. One is that Indians pronounced the word Mexicano as “Me-she-cahn-no.” Some dropped the “me” and coined the“She-khan-no” word – a short way of saying Mexicano. Another, Mexicans in Chicago dropped the Mex from Mexico and added the first few letters of Chicago to Mexicano and the word Chicano was born. The right way to pronounce is Chee-khan-no. Do not say She-khan-no . . . I’m getting confused but you know what I mean – I tink.
It was popularized in the 1960s when students began identifying themselves as Chicanos while hanging on to the coat-tails of blacks in the civil rights movement. Lil Black Cloud coined the words “Black Power” while leading rioting and looting in the Los Angeles area sensationalized by the media to sell more newspapers.
I happened to be living in the LA area during the riots of the 60s. I was delivering goods and had a stop to make in the thick of it. I didn’t realize the danger and took down the rope which was to keep people from entering the area under fire. Many buildings were on fire but I made my delivery anyway. Next morning it was reported that a delivery driver had been murdered by blacks. In the chase, he ran from building to building seeking cover and no one open the door . . . and was shot . . . it might have been me.
All the trillions (around $20 trillion) thrown at poverty by government, sometimes I ask – for what? You can throw more trillions but will always have rioting, looting, and burning. As long as you program people to be dependent upon the welfare system and brainwashed in public schools, the destruction of a former civilized society will continue.
The seed has been sown by a radical White House for race wars. Misguided ignorant black thugs are waging war against Whites.
The best tool is to arm yourselves, especially merchants. During one of the riots (a favorite pass time of failed basketball players) a Korean businessman stood on top of his store with an AK-47 – all buildings around his were on fire, except his. The answer is your 2nd Amendment. Fight for the right to keep a gun and you tell liberals, Communist, Democrats to go to hell. No one, not even police will do anything to stop rioting until everything is in flames and rioters get tired of looting until the NBA games on TV begin. This has become a favorite pass time for rioters and looters . . . we need more basketball courts in the ghettos and less pyromaniacs. I learned this word in a fire sale.
Unknown to ignorant and apathetic Americans, radicals in the early 60s began infiltrating all our institutions by co-opting the Civil Rights movement. This was the beginning of making the White race irrelevant in America. The black and browning of America; native Americans, the millions of uneducated, misguided and dependent upon government, has begun to giving credence to . . . “the meek shall inherit the earth.” Why do we allow minorities to burn and pillage our cities? It seems White America has thrown in the towel – its patriotism has been ridiculed and almost completely eradicated. The communists invented political correctness which began on college campuses known as the “free speech movement.” (Communist Mario Savio – the leader at Berkeley)
It’s been reported the first time the word Chicano appeared in print was in a book written by a Mario Suarez, a Chicano from Tucson, Arizona in 1947. The book is titled “El Hoyo” – (“Oyo” which means “The Hole.” The “H” in Hoyo is silent). Was this explanation necessary?
Personally, when asked what race I belong to, I respond by saying I’m am American citizen who knows how to make tamales and able to pronounce and spell disestablishmentarianism.
As a young teenager I would venture into town and go to the bank building to have a drink at the cold water fountain. I would walk in barefooted, wearing a soiled tee-shirt; Levi’s that were washed only when I swam in the river during the summer months. I tried not to draw attention by walking in backwards with a limp and a toothpick in my mouth. (Can you believe this?)
I’d already been thrown out once but often times a new security guard, not knowing me, would allow me the freedom to drink. At least many of us weren’t degraded and barred like our black brothers. No signs like – NO WETBACKS ALLOWED TO DRINK HERE!
Even GIs were discriminated upon. In the Navy in San Diego I saw a sign on a front lawn that read: NO DOGS OR SAILORS ON THE LAWN. Yes, discrimination is deep-rooted in our society. But I do think every home should have a landscaper hanging in the garage and we need more black waiters and black cab drivers instead of more basketball and football players. This is a terrific idea to insert into a Republican platform for the 2016 election promising more jobs.
If it wasn’t for sports just think how much more crime we’d have in America. Many black athletes have become multimillionaires and many say nothing when the less educated and poor riot and burn cities – you ungrateful rich citizens. NBA Hall of Fame Charles Barkley spoke against blacks rioting and the communist dominated information industry has been attacking him ever since. And cowardly White America trembles and does nothing. Blacks could burn all of America and whites would call 911, hangup, and proceed to watch wrestling on TV.
I was lucky at times. Other Carnales (car-nah-less – Chicano brothers) were taken downtown and had heads shaved because of their duck-style hair which was frowned upon by many in society. Many of us couldn’t even afford a lousy 50 cent barber-college haircut – so we let our hair grow. Some had their hair cut at home – worse than Barber College. Later the Beatles came around with long hair and once a trend is accepted by the middle class, it’s OK. Think of the ever-growing popularity of cannabis. Think of the problem “loco” weed-smoking in Indian casinos would cause. Instead of of three 7s you’d see three tomahawks. The “jackpot” would be a 700 lb. buffalo and a used Teepee.
Even many Tatas’ (“tah – tahs” – Grandpas) had long sideburns way before the 70s. Tattoos were mostly seen on Indians and Pachucos with the ever religious cross tattooed on the hand. I’m still waiting to see the Star of David tattooed on some Jewish comedian. Tattoos were frowned upon but now even a tattooed psychologist walks around reading like a billboard advertisement. Removal of tattoos has become a billion dollar per year industry. Think, before you get one. Same sex marriage; legalization of drugs, abortion, anything goes in Hollywood film; at one time were all taboo. But whenever the Middle Class wants something it can move mountains, except to stop corruption in government and voter fraud by Democrats. I suggested to a black friend if he was to get a tattoo to do it in white – it’s better to read. (I’m getting better – Only six the’s this time – include this one)
In high school I was terrified to speak for fear of mispronouncing words which brought much ridicule, which happened often – “How many heets deed you gut een the game – Smeeth?” I was even afraid to acknowledge roll call at the juvenile detention home – I responded in sign language.
Never mind that we were born here, if you looked like Anthony Quinn you belonged out in the fields even though many Chicanos had college degrees. A friend of mine while still in college was discouraged by the professor by telling Ruben, my friend, “Why go to school? You’re better off doing field work.“
”Sometimes you have to dig around for answers; shovel you’re way to success.” (Ruben became a teacher)
BUREAUCRACIES ARE THE SHITS
In the past I’ve worked delivering produce to restaurants. Many should have been shut down for health infractions but bureaucrat inspectors didn’t seem to care – just as today. Witness the VA scandal. Practically every phase of government is bullshit. Every federal department is run in the red; writing thousands of rules and regulations which appear to be the only thing they do right. It is sad. Congress passes laws and tells Department heads to write their own rules and regulations. This is why the IRS tax code got so huge. We have the most corrupted government in our history that has become a threat to our freedom and liberties, and we do nothing. Shame on you!
ARIZONA’S HEALTH DEPT. GETS A ZERO RATING
As a teenager I worked the fields. When I had a dollar, I stopped at a small diner and bought a hamburger steak, mashed potatoes and a bun. Several days later I read in the newspaper the cook was guilty of using horse-meat. I liked it and instead of complaining I asked how many horses he had left. None, he said, but asked if I knew anyone in the barrio that had donkeys. (Burro – in Spanish) Also, “Burro” in Chicano slang is used to describe a rolled tortilla with a filler. It is a word used also to describe a stupid person. . . . “como eres burro.”
The flour tortilla, Mexico’s answer to Wonder Bread, has been Americanized and is now called a “wrap.” Perhaps the owner of the diner coined the word “burro” as a treat in the Phoenix area. A “burrito” was on the menu for midgets at half price.
THANK GOD FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND OUR FOUNDING FATHERS
As a result of the Civil Rights legislation things became better. Middle America had suddenly awakened to the injustices suffered by many. The States were ordered to obey the Constitution (By a Republican admin) and States were federally forced to uphold our God-given rights we were born with – not given to us by government as many believe.
I later learned it was the damn Democrats who were the biggest violators of citizen rights – not only of blacks but also of Chicanos. Many a lynching occurred in the 1800s of black and Chicano brothers. The Klu Klux Klan was started by Democrats. It was Democrat sheriffs’ who used vicious dogs and water hoses to stifle dissent by blacks. Hollywood and the controlled press always leave the impression in the public mind that these atrocities were committed by Republicans. Where else are you going to learn this – from Democrats and schools? Go to barrioOpinions.com and read of all the obstructions by Democrats of many bills offered by Republicans through the early years in the attempt to help black citizens. And yet, the media, schools, and Hollywood have convinced America that it was Republicans at fault. If you know a Repussycan running for office refer him to the blog just mentioned – it may generate minority votes for the GOP.
The social injustices, the prejudice and discrimination suffered all those early years I do not harbor ill-feelings towards anyone. I met a lot of wonderful Whites who demonstrated compassion and respect for minorities. I’m so lucky to have been born an American. In my country even the poorest are rich compared to other poor in the world.
Because of inexperience in writing, I will periodically mix subject matter not having anything to do with the topic at hand. Kinda’ like a loose cannon, or to be more current – An AK-47.
Having a tendency to hold back from peeing because I’m wrapped up in my computer work, I wait until the very last moment. I rushed to the bathroom with not a nanosecond to spare and discover I had my shorts on backwards. Hey, Lil Black Cloud, can you spare a healthy prostate gland?
SHOTS FOR HOT DOGS
The city advertised free rabies shots for dogs and gave hot dogs as a reward to kids who brought dogs in – even homeless dogs qualified. I looked for signs at the entrance about the Mexican thing (Like – No Mexicans allowed – only Mexican hairless dogs) – nothing! I was in. Poor Gato, took him through the line many times; a trick learned from the boys in the barrio.
Every time he was vaccinated I got a hot dog. He didn’t seem to mind, Gato was too busy exchanging licks and smells with other dogs. Why do dogs smell each others privates? Have they no shame? Will someone please call the Reverend Billy Graham to address this before he goes to heaven to be rewarded with 72 nuns and maybe Mother Teresa.
Gato’s shoulder looked like a zipper after the last shot of the day. In dog circles it was a symbol of dog-hood. But Gato couldn’t contain himself he started humping a fancy looking rich poodle wearing a diamond studded collar, and Gato was thrown out. On the way home he never lifted his head – I couldn’t tell whether he was embarrassed or sorry because he didn’t finish his quickie and forgot to get the Poodle’s phone number. If you’re reading this to your dog the poodle’s phone number is 202-225-4965.
And what is it when dogs run loose in the neighborhood smelling urine and dog feces? Are dogs communicating something – messages they don’t want to share with humans? Or is this their way of letting other dogs in the area know what’s happening – like we do with letters to the editor. What follows are possible dog messages to each other:
“Stay away from Mitzie – she has rabies.”
“Dottie, the whore, had three babies – three different breeds.”
“There’s a Mexican vet at the mall. Stay away, he’s not licensed.”
“Did you see Fido’s new leash?”
“Be on the alert, there’s a new dogcatcher on the loose.”
“My God, who’s been eating beans?”
“Did you see the Lassie movie on channel 3?”
“How can FiFi love Bullet so much with all those ticks on him?”
“I’d much rather have a social security number than dog tags.”
“My owner had a baby and she’s not even married!”
“A Mexican Hairless must’ve moved in the area. I smell tequila.”
“Has anyone conducted a study why we used to piss on car tires?”
“I’m 14 years-old and finally got me a Maserati” to piss on.”
“Stay away from 1946 E. Cedar Ave. – the Hollywood guy practices bestiality and lures you inside the house by offering dog biscuits and promises of a cameo role in a Lassie movie.”
“Don’t you just hate it when the Vet examines your teeth and the guy has bad breath?”
“Diversity must be working. Yesterday I saw a black Labrador and a white Poodle in a car.”
Skippy:”I have a reoccurring nightmare of being reincarnated as a fire hydrant.”
A dog lover could solve the problem of understanding dogs better by inventing a canine communication code. But first: Loose feces (Shitty diet) would be recognized as pertaining to a multicultural dog neighborhood south of the tracks. A big fat turd (a good diet) meant uppity dogs north of the tracks wearing diamond collars. Bi-lingual dogs (mixed color feces) would be prized as translators for customer dogs at PetSmart
What an idea. Imagine the breakthrough in understanding dogs, unlike trying to understanding the voting public. Why not, there’s already a spray that emits an odor of dog urine to entice dogs to urinate. I even use it. I’d go to dog pounds and parks to collect dog poop and invent a way of packaging it like powdered jello and sell it to the gullible public who keep re-electing dogs to Congress. Once I found out that Jello was pulverized animal hide I quit ordering seconds. Each suburb would have their periodical named Doggy News – no crossword puzzles, perhaps a ”Dear Fido” column similar to “Dear Abby.” Ah . . . there I go chili dreaming again . . . If a guy like William Randolph Hearst was alive, he’d finance it.
SNACKS AT MIDNIGHT
Many hungry nights I’d look for tortilla chips – if cucarachas left any. That meant having to feed wood to the stove, but hunger dictates. I’d toast tortilla chips and when ready I’d take a plate that looked like it had been found at an archaeological area and filled it with chips.
What is about how well adjusted male archaeologists are in marriage – they love their mates more as they age. It’s also reported that mathematicians make better husbands because they understand the fact that number one really means number one . . . they remain number one to their wives. Whereas, Larry King, the suspender-wearing radio TV show host is just the opposite – he remarries every year – he flunked math.
I’d find a spot on the ground, plug in the radio and eat chips while listening to Rosemary Clooney sing ♫C’mon a my house, to my house, I’m gonna give you candy♫. Then I’d look for Gato for warmth but many times had a no vacancy sign on – already taken.
We had no indoor toilet or shower. The only time I bathed was either in the canal or during monsoon season. When my sisters needed to clean themselves they would sponge-bathe organically with a freshly made tortilla dripping with bacon grease. Crazy, you think? A Hollywood male actor does the same for skin-tone. No, it’s not Andy Garcia nor Jennifer Lopez . . . Benicio Del Toro would be a good guess.
Before learning about the birds and the bees whenever I saw two dogs fused together – buttock against buttock – I wondered where they learned such an acrobatic feat. A Chinese traveling troupe performing on the Ed Sullivan show came close to duplicating it but Ed refused to participate – he was constipated and feared an explosive reaction – a first for TV. I would seek answers and was told to ask Mom first.
“Mom, what keeps dogs fused together – backwards?”
“Ask your stepfather”
“Wetback, what keeps dogs fused together – backwards?”
“Ausk yoor brahder.”
“Gilbert, what keeps dogs fused together – backwards?”
“Ask your biology teacher.”
“Mrs. Inman, what keeps dogs fused together – backwards?”
After a few slaps she said –“Ask the principal.”
He: “Ask the dog-catcher.”
Mr. Dog catcher: “What keeps dogs fused together?” He responded: “Ask the dogs.”
“Fido, why do you get fused with other dogs?”
Fido: “It’s none of your fuckin’ business.”
Have you noticed how much longer dogs take smelling a dog’s feces? When my dog walks me he’ll take a second or two smelling dog urine, yet when it smells other feces he’ll take a lot longer sniffing. Do dogs write essays or novels? Make political statements? Are they well-read, more so than college graduates?
Well, you get the drift. I even wrote a letter to Dear Abby. She recommended that I should write to Hollywood. I did and received a video of Lassie in the same position with a Hollywood leading man showing Jerry Springer pouring bottle-water over them.
After 69 years of asking, no one has ever given me a concrete answer as to why dogs fuse together. Is it because they’re embarrassed to face each other while fornicating? Bad breath? I wonder how prevalent this type of dog behavior is at dog pounds. Mark my words, before many of us die bestiality may become a given in Hollywood film making. I can just see an Oscar statute for a dog, standing upright on two hind legs displaying a hard-on.
“Imagination is something Mother Nature has no control over.” (Anon)
You thought I was kidding when I titled my biography Humor is the Laxative for a Troubled Mind?
A friend, Tony, had a large piece of cardboard for a bed, no blankets. The large Westinghouse cardboard box used to ship refrigerators was a favorite in the barrio; it lasted the longest. When the print began to fade it was time to search in back of stores for a new one.
Then there was Louie. He shared a bed with three sisters and had to find elsewhere to sleep when he turned 21 and took the only blanket.
Johnny’s family lived in a carnival tent and had the only phone on that street. They charged a nickel to use it. Whenever you made a phone call all eyes and ears, including the dog’s, were staring. (Ears don’t stare Frank) Grandma sat alone, practicing writing her name readying for welfare. So, calling a girlfriend meant talking in whispers, praying the whole time she wouldn’t ask why. How in the hell could I say, “I’m calling from a carnival tent.” What if she asked for me to put the dwarf clown to the phone? Life in the barrio could be so difficult. Barrio Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
One day I called a bi-lingual girl which was stressful enough, because of my accent. Whenever I had to use a word hard to pronounce like the word “eengish,” I would resort to four-letter words easy to pronounce like love, food, date, F#!*. In Mexico, the following is often quoted. “El hombre de dos idiomas vale dos hombres.” (Ask Jose standing at the street corner of Home Depot to translate.)
When I called the girl her brother answered the phone and talked to him for a while. Everyone in the tent was listening. The dog began humping my leg (dogs dream too – I was flattered). Unknown to the twelve ears in the tent her brother had handed the phone to his sister. People in the tent thought I was still talking to the boy when I proceeded to blow kisses before hanging up. The relatives told Johnny to stay away from me. The dog’s humping stopped and started growling. Barrio Boulevard of Broken Bow Wows.
MORE BARRIO CHARACTERS
Sammy always bought an egg sandwich at the school snack bar for lunch. In the beginning I would seek him out to ask for a bite – he bit me the first time. He finally got tired of my begging for a bite and quit buying egg sandwiches and brought a hard-boiled egg for lunch. If you believe that one you’ll believe Margaret Thatcher from England was a transgender.
Art shined shoes at the barber shop where his Dad worked. Art had many regular customers; one was a lawyer, a very fussy man. He demanded Art use a matchstick to fill the holes in his wing tips with shoe paste. Art thought it unnecessary because the guy was blind, but Art did it anyway. The lawyer went on to become a judge. (true story) For those old timers in Phoenix who remember some of this – Art in this story is Art Urias, the Conservative. He’s still alive and shining shoes and has the first quarter he ever earned.
Joey was born to be a car thief. But was different, he would only steal a white Cadillac. When none was available he would resort to stealing white swamp coolers off rooftops – he was so good he was known to steal a few while in operation. When a white Cadillac was missing police would always look for Joey. Whenever you report your car stolen police will not do anything until the thief is apprehended because of a traffic violation. In other words, a thief can drive your car forever if not stopped.
One day Joey made the mistake of stealing the sheriff’s white Cadillac bought with bribes and within hours Joey was captured getting a quickie from a welfare bureaucrat behind the alley of the welfare building. At least 40 years went by and one day I ran into Joey. (Not to worry – I drove black Fords) We shared many laughs of memories. I asked what had happened to him and said he did go to prison but straightened out. Because new cars being manufactured began to look so much alike, he had trouble distinguishing the difference between a Cadillac from others. He finally gave up and became a used-car salesman. Lil Black Cloud’s favorite song is “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
KOTEX HOME DELIVERY BOY
When Mom yelled, “Whose turn is it to go to the store?” we’d all run for cover. She could be out of something not talked about but made us tremble just to hear or read the word. How confusing things were when we didn’t understand the meaning of words. I perceived the word “Kotex’ to mean something secretive, something spooky, a word hardly ever mentioned except once a month.
When buying those “things” it was very challenging. Lil Black Cloud grabbed Mom’s attention by pointing a finger at me. She selected me and wrote the word on a piece of paper and stuck it in my pant pocket. On the way to the store curiosity got the best of me, I reached in my pocket and (Man with hole in pocket feel cocky all day) as I unfolded the note, huge letters spelling K-O-T-E-X made me sweat . . . Ugh! I learned how to spell Kotex before I learned how to sign my name.
Had to wait outside the store until every customer was gone, no way in the world would I be seen ordering Kotex. I broke into a sweat, mustering enough courage to hand the note to the China-man and wait for the son-of-a-bitch to giggle, showing off his gold tooth. He had a mentally challenged son in his early 20s who resembled Mao. (Only six “the” words this time)
That posed another worry – what if the idiot saw me purchasing the box of Kotex and jumped to conclusions? My fear was right about his mental state – one day he took a huge rock and bashed the head of my sister. Her mind was scrambled forever but became a teacher and a member of The Dumbing Down of America Club . . . Better known as the NEA.
While waiting for Fu Manchu to fetch the scary blue box which was stored in back of the store out-of-sight I’d stand by the window praying Hail Mary’s hoping gang members wouldn’t appear to ask questions. When he gave me the box I’d run home, Lil Black Cloud moving right along behind me like a cyclone. I was extremely nervous that I’d be found out and a picture of me with the blue box as evidence would appear in headlines on the front page of the Wall Street Urinal newspaper:
EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! FRANK TREJO CAUGHT WITH BOX OF KOTEX!
I asked Mom what were those things for. She said I’d find out when married. For the next 30 years or so that troubled me – I didn’t get married until I was 41. One thing I learned about marriage: it is a quick way of ruining friendships. I’ve allowed my mind to wander about and it takes a long time to come back. Please don’t quit, I’m not even half-way through.
My friends and I would sneak into a theater to watch 15 minute serials starring the Three Stooges. Crowds of people already with paid tickets would stand outside waiting in line for the show to end. When the show ended the ones inside came walking out four to five abreast. To sneak in we merely walked in backwards against the outgoing crowd – worked every time.
Across the street was an old man with a popcorn stand selling popcorn crumbs at five cents a bag; two cents bought a bag of crumbs. Even that was costly for us. One of the guys said to pool our money together – we came up with a penny.
Remember when you’d flatten a popcorn box and threw it and would sail through the air in all kinds of direction? Well, as Lil Black Cloud (Yea! it’s back!) would have it, when I threw mine it went directly to the screen in a perfect straight line. I couldn’t believe it when the damn thing stuck on the screen. Soon flashlights were everywhere. Sitting in the middle row, I was trapped. I was marched to the office and barred forever. Lesson learned? No more sitting in middle rows.
SEARCHING FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM
At 14 years of age I got a night job at Coca-Cola. We loaded and unloaded 32 trucks every day. I bought my first car for $100, a ‘39 Ford without a battery. Got help pushing it home a distance of two miles. I got a ticket for no license and impeding traffic. Lil Black Cloud sat on the motorcycle scoring points learning from the officer how to shoot illegals and be placed on administrative leave – with pay. I’ve never been mechanically inclined but was content to have a car in any condition. Just four wheels and a steering wheel were good enough for me. Didn’t have the car too long, got rid of it for $25 bucks. Goddamn, Lil Black Cloud was in the used car business.
I’d learn to drive cars of others without permission. Learning to anticipate things before they occurred made me a good defensive driver; prevented a few accidents. As an adult, my driving wasn’t as good with only one eye open on my way home after tipping a few. I never caused any accidents just the ones when I didn’t reach the restroom in time.
Once I applied for a dish washing job at a hospital. I was ushered into a huge office and told to sit and wait. A few moments later a man entered and identified himself as the Director of the Hospital. After a few questions he asked me to drop my pants because he wanted to see if I was a carrier of venereal disease. He grab my Mexican sausage and started stroking it for a long time. I was in semi-shock. I was embarrassed. I just couldn’t witness him doing it and I kept looking at a chart on the wall of a man’s anatomy; you know, the ones showing all the veins and muscles. By the time we both “finished” I knew every vein in my body and he said this inspection would take place every Monday morning. I asked if we could do it on Friday’s also and I was hired without an application. If you believe this one you’ll believe Sigmund Freud went through college on a basketball scholarship and reduced to cheer leading status when blacks integrated the formerly white school.
At daybreak we went to the produce market place looking for fruit leftovers in box cars. Truckers let us help unload trucks, paying us with fruit instead of money. People would congregate in front of trucks in the mornings hoping to be selected by truckers to go work the fields. When out in the field and without lunch we resorted to stealing burritos of other pickers until we were finally 86’d by all truckers. We didn’t have a legal recourse like the ACLU out West as in New York – a suburb of Israel.
Mr. Fixit (Step dad) acquired a used truck that looked like a lettuce crate on wheels to haul people to cotton fields. That’s when Mom expected me to help. I would repeat the same cuss words Dad had screamed a few years earlier at wrestling matches.
My job involved paying workers after Mr. Fixit (Pedophile step dad) weighed the pickers cotton sacks. He would call out how much weight and I would proceed to pay them. The open glove compartment door had a chart as to how much to pay per pound. At the time 100 lbs. picked paid $3.00. It was highly improbable for people to pick 100 lbs but not impossible. There were people from Mexico known to bet against each other as to who could pick a hundred first – it rarely happened, but it was possible by some cheating; like including rubbish, empty cans and rocks. Take a cotton ball and think how many it would take to equal 100 pounds. I tried it once working at a hospital and quit weighing after 10 years. (I know, I know, that is another bad one)
Remembering what the barrio gang had taught me, when Mr. Fixit wasn’t looking, or went for a six-pack, I would drop a coin or two into my rotten stinking tennis shoes. By the time we got home my shoes were so heavy with coins that when I stepped off the truck I walked like an astronaut on the moon. Lil Black Cloud failed in the attempt to unionize pickers – he wasn’t bilingual. He only knew two words in Mexican: “Quiero coger.” Ask Jeb Bush, Rubio or Ted Cruz to translate.
I never got used to smelly tennis shoes. I’ve read some people have a fetish about smelling them. Ugh! Mom forced me to leave the shoes outside overnight. Gato, (gah-toe) my dog, would chew on them thinking it was food. After wearing them out, I never wore another pair in my life until I got married. In my wedding night I wore them to bed for speed just in case the bed caught on fire. Basketball star Jordan should make a commercial of this scene for Nike.
“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never scoring.” (Bill Copeland)
IT’S CHRISTMAS IN THE BARRIO
Don’t remember Christmas in the barrio hardly at all. It was a bleak time for many of us except for the lucky ones cheerfully shopping in downtown Phoenix. During the festive holidays down-town was loaded with shoppers. Hundreds of people crowded the sidewalks, holiday music played constantly and me standing at street corners enjoying the festive mood of people. Lil Black Cloud wore the Salvation Army uniform but looked more like an Italian POW in WW2.
We didn’t always have a tree for Christmas; sometimes I would improvise by standing up a branch and pretend it was a Christmas tree on the 4th of July, confused about holidays. Annually, social organizations gave stockings stuffed with candy and fruit at the local football stadium as a Christmas gift to all people. They understood poverty and had compassion for the poor.
I’ve always had respect for organizations that make at least one day a happy one for small kids; just as they did for us many years ago. Going through the line more than once was a no – no. This line meant something profound. The feeling of sharing brought on by holidays; you sensed it was wrong to cheat in line unlike the rabies shots for dogs. We were given a red-stocking full of candy which I used as socks afterward. I suppose it might have worked better if I’d taken some of the candy out. How lucky Lil Black Cloud was – it didn’t have to worry about shoes and socks only whether to be able to produce rain and shade for Arizona’s hot summers . . . and of course making my life miserable.
Often times after holidays we would venture out to gringo-land to search for discarded items thrown away to make room for their new purchases. Items thrown away in alleys would bring in some good money at antique shops and garage sales today. Old bikes you’d find in alleys but were still able to be ridden. Many single records, record albums and clothing were big thrown items. Old comic books that are a rarity today could be found. So in a sense that was my Christmas shopping. It was a way of life in the Barrio Boulevard of Broken Holiday Dreams.
Shooting doves with a slingshot, I could never do. In fact, I don’t recall ever killing anything except the little dove I killed with a chain when I was little. A way to keep entertained was to utilize Manuela and her five sisters (I’ll explain later). I’d spend time catching flies and shaking my fist then released them. The flies flew away like celebrity drunk drivers on Rodeo Drive in Hollywood on New Year’s Eve. Before the hula hoop, I used a brother’s big belt in place of the yet-to-be-invented toy and learned gyrations that someday in the future made me a winner en la cama, or like a rodeo bronco buster riding out the bull. I often spent time running around the shack all the way around to see how fast I could circle it to see myself leaving. Humor is the Laxative for a Troubled Mind???
CHICANO’S ANSWER TO EINSTEIN
My friend Garcia was the Thomas Edison of the barrio. He was secretly working on a Mexican formula to create energy at home to bypass the utility company. His formula was called MM=mc2. (Mexican/Machaca/medium cup of 2 secret spices.) It enhanced the flavor of food so much he swallowed without chewing. He ate it with such gusto that he developed a lot of gas. His stomach became upset and started farting non-stop. After more farts he rushed to the outhouse and while sitting on the commode he accidentally thought of a possible way of manufacturing homemade gas. This would lead to solving the energy problem in the world and most importantly, to finally get rid of Al Gore’s and the Pope’s bullshit about Global Warming.
The gas industry would be ruined forever. His MM=mc2 secret formula would create all the homemade gas to supply homes – as long as there was beans to eat. He sat on the commode and farts kept coming and while shooing flies – he coined the following: “A small fart for the barrio and a giant fart for mankind.” This was way before the astronaut did his farting on the moon. Imagine what Garcia’s Mexican formula could mean. And all it would take was a few cents for ingredients (Beans at 69 cents per bag) I never looked at a bean burrito the same way. As a matter-of-fact I learned not to eat beans prior to going on a date. In making conversation with my date I asked – “What did you have for dinner?” I cut short the evening when she replied “beans.” Listen up – if you have a dentist that doesn’t smile, leave immediately. Same applies at the Doctor’s office. If the plants in the waiting room are dried-up or dead – leave!
I would throw a stick for Gato to fetch, but he was too weak because of hunger and I always beat him to it. One day I picked up the stuck and stick it in my mouth just like a dog to make Gato feel like I was a dog, too. The neighbor watched me as I ran by – I yelled out that Gato taught me how to do it. You really believe the line about the stuck and stick? You should see the lines I’ve eliminated.
BARRIO SPRING TRAINING
Recently I ran into Jesse Sanchez (MLB Online Services, Inc.) and he told me how much young kids in the Dominican Republic played with bottle caps and swung at with broom sticks. This has been a recent development first reported in the 70s. The following is my version of playing with caps and a broom stick beginning in the late forties. Nowhere in my ball travels did I ever hear of such a thing except once by Hank Aaron being interviewed on TV. He said he also played with caps as a young lad. What I would do is visit most beer joints to pick up caps saved for me. By the end of the day I had hundreds. This bottle cap game is perhaps one of the reasons Latin-American players are such great hitters. What follows is a short version of my young experience with caps:
Lacking toys and balls to play with I learned how to toss bottle-caps. I could throw curves, drops – just like in baseball; even rise-balls like in fast-pitch softball. I even learned how to pitch a knuckle-ball like in baseball. Pitching bottle-caps was hard enough, but learning to hit them with a broomstick required a lot of practice. That led to inventing a game for the family to enjoy; a game based on just hitting pitched bottle caps. There were no outs, no base hits, no farts in the dugout, no running, scoring, or snack bars. To bat, one only had to catch a batted bottle cap in the air as it floated back down.
After a while it dawned on me that being one of the smallest I couldn’t compete with others. Lil Black Cloud kept giggling because I wasn’t getting to bat. Everyone caught caps and batted except me – the inventor of the game. What to do? What to do? It didn’t take long for me to figure that one out. I noticed when others were reaching to grab the bottle cap as it came floating back, it wasn’t easy making a clean grasp because of many hands reaching for it at the same time. Often the bottle cap would fall to the sides. Guess who was there waiting? – Me, whistling ♫Take me out to the ball game♫. Why do we sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” when we’re there already?
For base-running practice I even practiced running backward as fast as running forward in case I was caught in a run-down. Lesson learned? Anticipate things happening before they did; a lesson I’d later utilize when opposing a team’s strategy in sports. I’ve always been ready for any surprise, including a brown envelope from the IRS (KGB).
In the beginning of ball playing I envied others who had regular baseball shoes. I either played barefooted or when able to I wore regular shoes with holes and rocks that had a way of working their way into the shoes. In the old days a batter would tap his spikes to clear the mud accumulated between cleats, and I, while in the batter’s box, would take off my shoes to empty out rocks. Lil Black Cloud sat behind the back-stop, legs crossed, showing his brand new black-shining spike shoes. You asshole!
Ahead I will cover my career in fast-pitch softball. I was an All-American All Star third baseman but still looked like I’d just stepped out of the barrio – soiled uniform, shoes not shined, and a glove that resembled a tortilla. The one thing I was obsessed with was the dedication and commitment to be the best I could be.
Years ago there were pin-ball machines that paid a nickel for each game won. (Later outlawed) I became well-known as the best player in the Phoenix area. I was so good I was 86ed from playing in many bars and restaurants. A brother and his friend operated a beer joint where most of us hung around. There was a pinball machine in the place. I would run a tab all week and on the weekend I’d show up with a quarter and win enough to pay the tab. My brother’s partner cringed when I walked in. Lil Black Cloud was never around when good things happened to me.
All the years I played ball I never bought a bat or glove. Even when I played in the best leagues in the country I was always handed a used glove – never did like to “break in” a glove. They were too stiff. I liked the old ones already broken in, that wrapped around like a tortilla Mother used to make. I wore size 9 shoes and even played one year with size 11. The extra inches helped in stealing bases. That was Ty Cobb’s base-stealing secret. Last I read Cobb still holds the record for a lifetime-batting average of .366. In my career of softball playing in world tournaments my batting average was .357
“Trying to have sex at 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a noodle.” (George Burns) (Was this necessary? I couldn’t find another place for it)
LITTLE LEAGUE PLAY
A way of practicing playing ball was catching baseballs thrown by older brothers. The huge catcher’s mitt used resembled a 13-inch pizza pie. At times the ball bounced in front striking me, making me cry, but I wouldn’t give up – no matter what. It didn’t matter how hard they threw the ball, I would not be intimidated.
At nine years of age as a fourth grader I was good enough to play with eighth graders. Little did I know players such as Ted Williams and Hank Aaron also played with tennis balls. Hank, interviewed on TV said he also hit bottle caps when young. He was the only other person I heard that hit bottle caps besides me. (Up ahead is a short newspaper story about this)
In the years to come a young Tiger Woods was asked while being interviewed on television as to what he attributed his skill to and replied, “PRACTICE!” With one word this young boy captured the essence of what it takes to become good in any endeavor in life. Commitment, dedication, and hard work most of the time results in success, if not – maybe welfare.
At the age of 10 I played on my first little-league organized ball team. There were three levels of play; Class A-B-C; I started at B. In my first year I made the All-Star Team at third base. The All-Star Game was played at night. Not having played a game at night I misjudged a pop fly hit close to third base; I called for it and the ball that landed about five feet behind me.
For the next two weeks, I went to the park at night and threw the ball up in the air until closing time to get used to the lights; never dropped another fly ball in my career, day or night. Little did I know that all the hard work and love for the game would one day put me in the Fast-pitch Softball Hall of Fame; twice, one Gringo (International Softball Congress 1990) and the Arizona Hispanic Sports Hall of Fame – in 2002.
In little league each team member received a red jersey. I was overcome with emotion, not so much because I made the team but because I had a new T-shirt to wear. The old one had holes in holes. I wore the new T-shirt constantly on and off the field. Margaret, my one-leg girlfriend saw the jersey before flies made it a favorite rest area on their way to the outhouse.
The season ended and coach held a team party at his home. The hot dogs, pop, and cake were like a rich kid’s birthday party across the tracks where people were living true dreams. I had five hot dogs, three pop, and many pieces of cake. The coach made it official: he allowed me to keep the T-shirt for being one of the better hitters. My first trophy!
As time passed and many hours of play with a tennis ball and swinging at bottle caps, I was ready for any caliber of ball. By the time I reached 14 and 15 years of age (and a school dropout) I played the highest caliber of ball in town, Fast-pitch softball and semi-pro baseball. Lil Black Cloud was stuck in the minor leagues.
Getting back to Cobb in an article about him the writer noted Cobb’s way of holding the bat – split hands. When I was 10 I would take a bat and tennis ball and hit it against a wall and hit it right back before it hit the ground. This took a lot of practice and the best I could do was three times – never four. I, like Cobb, developed bat-control by holding the bat with hands apart. It paid-off, I was playing semi-pro baseball at 14 years old.
How important lessons are by those who dedicate time, tutoring and coaching of the young. My brother Gil spent three decades as a high school baseball coach and many hundreds of athletic students he indoctrinated with patriotism and what it takes to be an upright citizen…thanks to the likes of Gil as a role model.
A FRIEND OF THE PAST
Recently I made contact with an old softball friend. He was a high school baseball coach. I want to share a letter he sent. My point being…how good it makes me feel knowing there are many out there who try their best in indoctrinating our youth to the old American way. It gives me hope. I haven’t seen this friend since 1973.
Yes, I totally agree with the socialism point you make. Respect has gone by the wayside. One thing I taught while coaching baseball was that we all had to show respect…respect our coaches and teammates, the umpires, our opponents, and of course the game itself. We all were to wear our uniforms correctly. And HUSTLE at all times.
The kids really bought into this…and many times would point out players on other teams who failed to do things that good players need to do regarding hustle and showing respect in one way or another…know what I mean, Frank?
I put the American flag up at our baseball field at the beginning of each season and it stayed up until the last game. All 50-60 boys in the program would accompany me to the flag pole in center field and after I would say a few words about what the flag truly represents, we would all say the “pledge”. This might sound “corny” but you know what? The kids all loved it.
One other thing, Frank (and I know this sounds weird, but I did have a reason for my madness)…I had the team go into a room and sit down quietly and listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony…you know the one…Da-Da-Da-Daaaaaaaaaa. Anyway, they would always ask why they had to do this, because most of them hated this kind of music. I would always answer…”This is probably the most famous piece of music ever written and it was written by a true genius…if you can’t spend 12 minutes listening to a genius…you won’t listen to me this spring.
I had a boy on the team who had been a problem to coaches and teachers throughout his high school career. He and I locked horns many times over the years…he was a four year starter for us…and a very good baseball player. Respect was something he rarely had shown to anyone however.
One night at practice I was standing in the dugout watching the boys stretch and warm up. Suddenly Seth (the boy I am telling you about) left the practice area and sprinted to the fence in center field. The flag had become tangled and wound around the pole…he straightened it out! Frank, I can’t tell you how much this meant to me. I called Seth into the dugout and privately told him what a great thing he had just done.
Later that spring we won the right to become the first baseball team from our school to make it to the Illinois state tourney and “Elite Eight”…Seth went around to the team and had them sign the game ball for me; another turning point and one that I will never forget.
I might add that in that game Seth pitched against Cody Adams, the Milwaukee Brewers third pick in that springs baseball draft. He hit a two run home run and pitched a complete game victory winning 2-1 in one of the best performances by any player I’ve ever had.
I know how lucky I am at this point in my life to be healthy and active. They have asked me to return to the head coaching job at Rockridge but I am not going to do it…at least not at this time…they need a young man to lead the boys…not an old one. If they can’t find one by December I will take the job.
Anyway, I feel the same about your friendship, Frank. As for Richie, please tell him how often I think of him. He is without doubt one of the greatest pitchers and athletes ever to compete in mans fast-pitch softball. He will never know what an honor it was for someone such as me to play against him. His change up is without doubt the best ever…including Bryan Voight’s which was excellent. I have always felt we never got to see Richie in his prime…he was, I feel at his best in the mid to late 50’s. Still, he was as good as anyone who pitched during my playing days. The pitchers at this summer’s event weren’t close to anyone like him.
As for you Frank, all I can say is that there is only one Frank Trejo. No one was better. EVER!
HE’S JUST A LITTLE BOY
He stands at the plate with his heart pounding fast.
The bases are loaded, the die has been cast.
Mom and Dad cannot help him, he stands all alone.
A hit at this moment, would send the team home.
The ball meets the plate, he swings and he misses.
There’s a groan from the crowd, with some boos and some hisses.
A thoughtless voice cries, strike out the bum.
Tears fill his eyes the games’ no longer fun.
So open your heart and give him a break.
For its moments like this, a man you can make.
Please keep this in mind, when you hear someone forget, he is just a little boy, and not a man yet.
I had much talent – never sat on the bench. I always made first team in basketball and baseball. Except when I tried out for the freshmen football team. At 5’4” and only 104 pounds the well fed gringos bounced me around like a Veteran applying for help from the VA. The helmet given to me was so big it spun around my head and I kept running onto the goal posts. Do you recall the movie “Lucas”? That’s me trying to make the team. When I was cut, I took it in stride – went to my favorite tree and practiced the sport of Manuela and her five sisters. That one put me in the Hall of Shame. The following appeared in the Arizona Republic Sports page by Steve Wilson.
SOUTH PHOENIX NATIVE GOES TO BAT FOR POOR KIDS
When I first met Frank Trejo in 1967, we played against each other in a fast-pitch softball tournament in Illinois. He was a vacuum cleaner at third base and one of the best hitters I ever saw. His team won the game and went on to become the national champs that year. We met again by chance last month at the Boys & Girls Club dinner in Paradise Valley. He’s 63 now, and, as I soon found out, he can still swing a bat.
Trejo grew up in south Phoenix, and money was tight in his family. When the city’s first Boys Club opened at ninth and Van Buren streets in 1946, he became a regular.
“We couldn’t afford things like movie tickets,” he said. “When we went to the Strand Theater downtown, we got in by walking backwards just as people were leaving, it worked every time.” He also wasn’t able to buy balls or bats, so he and his pals hit bottle caps with broomsticks in vacant lots. They learned tricky pitches, making the caps curve, rise or drop, which sharpened eyes and reflexes.
“By the time I started playing baseball, it looked like I was hitting a basketball,” he recalled. After four years in the Navy, Trejo came back to Phoenix and began playing softball. He joined Arizona’s best team, Hays Roofing, and his reputation as a hitter grew. He was recruited by the Pomona Bombers (Calif.) and led them to the national title with a batting average of .565. He later was inducted into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame.
When his playing days were over, Trejo operated a catering business and later worked as a purchasing agent for Phoenix Greyhound Park. Today, he serves as co-chairman of the Phoenix Boys Club Alumni Association, which supports the clubs and awards scholarships. (Not active anymore)
But his biggest passion is still baseball. Several years ago, after Taiwan again won the Little League World Championship, he thought about why American Kids weren’t better hitters. Not enough practice, he decided. Remembering the hours he spent hitting bottle caps, and later baseballs, he came up with an idea to help kids get more swings.
He designed a low-priced batting cage, and his alumni group chipped in $1,000 to buy a pitching machine, piping and netting. Plastic balls are used so young kids won’t fear being hit.
The first “Bat N Cage” was donated to the Tolleson Boys and Girls Club, and a second one was given this year to the I.G. Homes Club in south Phoenix. Trejo took me to have a look. When he stepped in to take his cuts, he stroked one line drive after another, just as he had 30 years ago.
The alumni association is working to raise $9,000 to build cages for more clubs. “The kids really love it,” said Steve Beekman, program director at the I.G. Homes Club. It’s fun for all ages.”
Trejo says it’s better than swinging at bottle caps, though he has fond memories of those days.
“I saw a TV interview a while ago with a guy who said he hit bottle caps as a kid, too,” Trejo said. “He developed a pretty fair swing. It was Hank Aaron.”
MLB SPRING TRAINING IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA
During the early 50s I started attending major league spring training exhibition games in Phoenix. The Yankees came to town. Joe DiMaggio was on the verge of retirement and Mickey Mantle, the heir apparent, was ready to throw his lollipops away and become a man by drinking booze with Billy Martin.
Many teams traveled to Arizona for spring training exhibition games. The first MLB team to spring train in Arizona was Detroit in 1929. In the early 50s, what a thrill watching Hank Aaron with Milwaukee at the time, taking batting practice. Out of ten swings I witnessed eight balls went out of the park and two hit the wall. What a display of power and wrist action and timing. Timing, that’s all it is, like Monsoon weather predictions according to Lil Black Cloud.
Several years ago during a TV interview, Hank Aaron said he and a friend did the same thing as kids. I wrote to him about how much I enjoyed the interview and that I, too, had practiced by hitting bottle caps. I asked for an autograph but never heard from him. I should’ve sent Lil Black Cloud after him.
But I’m glad I didn’t. It may have been misconstrued by the NAACP, and the thought police (political correctness crowd) as being racist. What! I should change Lil Black Cloud’s birth certificate to read Lil White Cloud? As you can tell, political correctness, I don’t believe in . . . it is a communist plot to silence dissent. It is practiced a lot at college campuses. If PC had been with us in my barrio days I would’ve been labeled a racist and reported to the EPA for denying cucarachas and mice a clean place to live.
Some of you may remember in the early sixties when students on college campuses waved Mao’s (China) little red book – in it explained PC. That’s when political correctness began to spread throughout campuses. There were many Communists in academia but now it is brazenly out in the open. PC is used very effectively – it stifles free expression – it’s thought control. Thanks, Progressives! (Communists in our country) Incidentally, in the 2008 campaign Hillary proudly announced she was a Progressive. Many of the ignorant didn’t understand what she meant, and still don’t. And now Bernie Sanders is in the mix. He is an avowed socialist/communist and millions of the ignorant have no clue. Political ignorance rules America. And to think this ignorance may elect Sanders or Hillary as president in 2016.
I’m sure you know many Democrats. Ask them why in the world would they vote for the Clintons again. They are despicable and greedy people. Government agents were asked what guarding assignment was the most awful. Most responded: working in the White House when the Clintons were in office. Agents were treated like shit, many have said. The Clinton’s loathe the military. Bill Clinton conned a general of the Arkansas State national guard to get him a deferment so he could get out of the draft during the Vietnam War. They are the darlings of the socialist/communist welfare state. And the smartest woman in the world? She worked in the committee that was investigating Nixon (Watergate) and was kicked off the committee because of her lies. “What difference at this point does it make!” Human life means nothing to these demagogues. And I’m called a wacko?
Back to baseball . . . during spring training an infield circle was drawn about 15 feet in front of the plate along the third base line. Yankee Billy Martin would practice bunting the ball within the circle. The circle was probably five feet in diameter. He was consistent in placing the ball within. I took it one step further. In softball I would practice bunting the ball with a backward spin making the ball come back away from the fielder. Very difficult to do but it’s possible. But in a regulation game situation I wouldn’t try it, only in batting practice games against kids on wheel chairs.
At the baseball stadium we’d walk into the clubhouse and talk to major league players. No one ever complained. Baseball team owners would sit at the bleachers and carry on conversations with fans. When the park overflowed with people, management would rope off the outfield and allow people to stand in front of the fence like back in its early years of baseball parks. Imagine, me, a few feet away from outfielders Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. I would’ve bet them I could hit bottle caps better.
I saw DiMaggio walk into a theater with a blond (Marilyn Monroe maybe?) at his side. I went outside and used a pay phone to call the theater and identified myself as Mgr. Casey Stengel and that I wanted to talk to Joe. They called him and when he said, “Hello,” I choked and hung up. I wish I could have said something like, “Hey, Joe, how about hitting bottle caps when you get done practicing with Monroe?”
At the ball park a Polish vendor selling ice cream sandwich bars would shout “ice cream sanvervich”, sure sounded like, “ice cream son-of-a-bitch.” An Italian vendor with a horrible accent sold Schlitz Beer that sounded like he was saying, “Shits Beer.” Because people complained, those vendors were told to sell other items. The Polish vendor didn’t have trouble selling Polish Dogs but the Italian vendor failed; tried the ice cream sandwich but it sounded like – “sonbeesh” and got fired.
A lifetime friend, Jerry Green, was in charge of the scoreboard and sometimes filled in as bat boy. His father was the grounds-keeper and they lived on the property. (GI barrack) Jerry would allow me to sit at the scoreboard with him. What a thrill that was! Wow! My first gringo friend. We remain friends to this day. Another quest was chasing foul balls outside the park that were worth a quarter if returned. I had to race Lil Black Cloud for them.
My brother, my childhood idol is now on the verge of being “thrown out.” He’s in his late eighties and has slowed down between bases. He’s going around third base and headed “home.” The ump (God) at home plate is waiting and be rest assured my brother will be called safe by God with open arms.
BROTHER’S SHORT BASEBALL CAREER
Prior to playing with the Yankees, Billy Martin played third base for the local team – the Phoenix Senators. Billy showed early signs of being combative. I wonder if he grew up in a barrio. After Billy Martin left, my brother Gil, belonging to the Yankee farm system (plantation mentality) played shortstop for the same club. After that season Gil was sent to Quincy, Illinois to the Three-I League. He did great for a shortstop batting over .300 and always the good glove. One day a bonus baby ($50,000) showed up and Gil was benched.
Gil started reading eight pagers (ask grandpa about these) and comic books in the dugout. The bonus baby became a great player, proved management right. He went on to fame with the Yankees. What about my brother, Gil? They wanted to ship him to Boise, Idaho without his eight pagers, but he said thanks, but no thanks, and resumed his education at ASU and read socialist college books. He went on to become a very successful high school baseball coach.
Watching a game from behind the scoreboard with Jerry, the excitement of it made me more determined that someday I’d be just as good as my brother. The opportunity to play pro-ball had passed. But whatever caliber amateur game I played, I would still try to be one of the best. In the past, infielders like a Marty Marion (St. Louis Cardinals), Chico Carrasquel, (Chicago White Sox) both shortstops, were some of the best. But I saw my brother Gil diving for a ball behind second base, in a prone position, flipping the ball to the second baseman to force a runner out. Many players make that play, but he was my brother. I was impressed—so there!
Jerry’s family accepted me as a friend of the family. Every time I visited, his mother would welcome me with open arms. She would ask for me to wait until Jerry woke up. I would quietly sneak into his room and sit, awaiting for him to wake up and to enjoy the coolness of the swamp cooler in his room. Quite different from the triple degree weather I suffered at home. Our way, at times to seek relief, was to put a wet cloth in front of a fan to create the same effect as a swamp cooler. But summers were so hot indoors many of us slept outside.
EARLY TALENT DISPLAYED
Before pursuing a fast-pitch softball career I began playing semi-pro baseball and most players were at least ten years older than me. Our team played the Arizona State champions, the Casa Grande Cotton Kings considered the best semi-pro baseball team in Arizona. Their roster consisted of ex-professional baseball players with my brother as their shortstop.
They had top ex-college pitchers. Our pitchers were mostly Chicanos that included at least one Mexican from Mexico visiting under the “Bracero Program.” Casa Grande had beautiful uniforms while ours were donated by our sponsor – the Salvation Army. Lil Black Cloud sat in the opposition’s dugout reading the weather report.
“Chito,” our pitcher (Not the Founder of Frito-Lay) was being the best ever with “junk” he was throwing, plus the fact that our defense was spectacular. At the beginning of the 7th inning the score was 0-0. Moraga, the opposing pitcher, an All-American college star baseball pitcher from the University of Arizona had a no-hitter in the making for the first seven innings. Something different was about to happen. Up to bat I intentionally crowded the plate as much as I could. By crowding the plate I knew the catcher would call for inside pitches. I would dictate what kind of pitch – why not? I believe this to be the first of many different tactics I’d use in my career. ( Yikes! 15 the this time.)
As expected the first pitch was an inside pitch. Sure enough, the ump yelled “Strike one!” – I didn’t move. The next pitch, also inside, “Strike too!” I still didn’t move but misspelled “two.” The ump called time out and felt my pulse. If you believe that one you’ll believe all illegals will be deported except the criminal ones.
When Moraga delivered the third pitch, I stepped away from the plate with a couple of mambo moves. Another inside pitch for the third time and the ball became a good pitch to swing at. I got a double, breaking up his no-hitter. By now Chito had run out of gas just as we did going home. Their hitting became a display of missiles and beat us 12 – 0. The Salvation Army quit sponsoring us and recommended that we go to Planned Parenthood and asked them to sponsor. They said they would get rid of lousy players before being born.
Just a few years ago 99 cent stores were almost empty. Now, whenever I shop, the parking lot is loaded with cars. This is happening because the International Bankers who own the Federal Reserve and the criminal U.S government are squeezing the shit out of the middle class. America’s middle class is being wiped out. The 99 cent stores will become the J.C. Penny’s and Woolworth’s of the 21st century. How to recognize inflation: Shopping with a basket instead of a shopping cart – less items purchased. Was this paragraph necessary?
In the game described I learned an important lesson: I would never ever be a stationary target again. Think about it, hitting instructors. Why should a batter stand in one spot giving the catcher and pitcher the advantage of spotting pitches? The game allows a batter three strikes. How many times have you see a batter not swing at pitches right over the plate? Was he fooled? Is he waiting for his “pitch”? When that happens batters are now down to one strike. That’s when at times they strikeout chasing a bad pitch, to “protect the plate.”
My point being, as long as the ball is around the strike zone – swing! Don’t allow the catcher and pitcher to reduce your chances. Also, remember the ump; his calls are judgment calls. Johnny Bench, a Hall of Fame catcher reported in his book that sometimes the ball would be outside the strike zone by at least six inches and the ump would call it a strike. When you swing at balls outside the strike zone it is very hard to defend – you don’t know where the hit-ball will go. Whereas, batted balls in the strike zone are easier to defend against. If you can reach – swing!
As a teenager I quit playing baseball and began to play fast-pitch softball. I played against a softball pitching legend, Eddie Feigner. The name of his team was “The King and His Court.” A team that played exhibition games alike the Globetrotters in basketball. In MLB games prior to game time Feigner would be invited to exhibit his skill against the best hitters in baseball. They couldn’t touch his pitches. He struck out some of the best major league baseball hitters in a row.
When Eddie competed, he only fielded three other players. He was the pitcher, had a catcher, shortstop, and first baseman. No outfielders. Even blindfolded he could strike out all three batters – and said so! He could strike out batters from second base and was known to have struck out batters from center field, although I didn’t witness it. But I did witness him demonstrating pitching a ball towards the third base dugout from center field. What a beauty watching the ball headed towards the third-base dugout and curve around close to the batters’ box. He was the King of softball and Elvis was King of fast food hamburgers and fries. Not only did Eddie excel in softball, he was known to bowl blindfolded and consistently scored 200.
The first time I played against him I couldn’t help but be an excited 15 year-old against one of the greatest in the world. Like the same feeling a rookie ball player may have experienced facing a Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson. I noticed one of my stockings on sideways; too late to fix, I’m already on the field. They didn’t score that first inning. Lil’ Black Cloud was on top of the scoreboard dodging flying bats. (The live ones)
We’re up to bat. I’m third in line and he’s already struck out the first two. My God, all I see is a blur. My big moment is here. I’m on the deck circle warming up with three bats and ready for action – when the ump yells “next batter” – twice. I didn’t hear the first time I’d been distracted when one-legged girlfriend Margaret caught my attention being helped up the bleachers by Lil’ Black Cloud. I stepped up to the plate, not intimidated, thrilled facing the greatest. The ump said I couldn’t use three bats. Shucks!
Didn’t swing at the first pitch; a ball speeding by like an illegal alien being chased away from the food stamp office by Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona. Prior to the next pitch I decided to swing, no matter what. Here came that blur again, I swung as hard as I could but didn’t pivot my feet. My upper torso locked; I’d pulled a groin. Upon falling to the ground, time was called; a couple of players dragged me to the dugout. Lil’ Black Cloud was jumping with joy and hugging Margaret’s only leg. Lil Black Cloud began waving one of Margaret’s crutches at me.
When players got me to the dugout one of the guys mentioned the twisted stocking, “Frank, your stocking is on wrong.” I’m in horrible pain and this guy wants me to fix my dirty crooked stocking? Nevertheless, I pointed my finger towards the stands knowing he wouldn’t understand. Lil Black Cloud had settled down, sharing a beer and a hot dog with Margaret. Margaret had her arm around Lil Black Cloud. Umm? It would be a decade later before I faced Feigner again. He was still great but I’d also matured in the sport. In the meantime my teen years were being filled with life-long memories, including the ever growling stomach. No wonder I was a good base runner – no food in my stomach to slow me down.
“If I’d had Trejo on my ball team I would have finished my career legitimately.” (Shoeless Joe Jackson)
ONE MILLION B.C. BASEBALL
This is a repeat – the first was incomplete – so what?
Many stories are written how people in early civilizations entertained themselves. We have recorded history of the Olympics, well covered going back centuries. Numerous games using a ball have been recorded. But I’m speaking of millions of years before. We can assume people with arms ran and threw things. (That’s a safe bet in Las Vegas.)
Someone had to be the first to hurl something at T-Rex. When that person missed he may have been the first to run a 100 yard dash under 10 seconds; or perhaps became the first appetizer. Imagine how long before something round became a ball to throw and kick? Is it possible in today’s world that centuries of soccer, ball players still haven’t learned to throw balls? Has there ever been an arm-less-one-leg-soccer player with a hump chest? Why not – we have wheel-bound basketball players who can’t dunk and it wouldn’t surprise me if contestants, with down-syndrome, would participate in Jeopardy’s TV game show. This game would last five hours. The contestant would take 15 minutes to answer how much is 2 + 2.
When early humans discovered pain could be inflicted by throwing things at each other, caveman Goldstein may have become the first entrepreneur in history to invent spears. He was also the first to develop a business plan along with the first marketing program. He seized the opportunity and started hawking spears.
Soon he added other products. (founder of R&D) I can see him on top of his rock-home selling spears and caps made of dinosaur hide; the first ever monopoly. The first fossilized cap is on display at the London Museum. If scrutinized carefully you can read the label on it – MADE IN CHINA.
Creating recreation by throwing and hitting rocks, was probably invented by accident. Perhaps a cave boy took his spear, tossed a stone in the air, and swung at it. Another boy, nearby, uttered a few sounds, sounds sometimes hard to distinguish between grunts and farts, (which stunk the cave and led to fights,) and became the first pitcher by throwing rocks at the other boy, who, to avoid getting hit, swung at it. Eureka! the game of baseball had its beginning. The NY Mets are still trying to learn the game.
Everyone owned a cap and spear and when sales slowed, Goldstein began experiencing the first depression in history. The inventive, intelligent Mr. Goldstein wasn’t deterred. He sought to replace rocks as balls which caused a lot of injuries and fights by inventing something else to use as a ball.
After experiencing with reptile eggs that broke too easy when hit, making a mess, he discovered dinosaur testicles didn’t break as easy. He got this idea one day while bathing in the river – washing his own balls. But throwing a testicle was too hard to control – too wobbly, like a baseball knuckle-ball. In the future the NY Mets relied on the knuckle-ball to win their 1st game of the season by the 4th of July break.
One thing led to another and Goldstein finally had the right idea. But had one more problem to solve – how to cut the balls off T-Rex tied to a boulder. R and D solved the problem. (Too gory to relate) He stitched animal hide to the testicle and a ball was invented and the game of baseball began (Eat your heart out, Doubleday)
Imagine this scenario: Teams of different cave tribes competing in the early form of a rock-ball game supported by throngs of cave fans resting between dinosaur hunts. One day the Rockville 9 was playing against the Yellowstones. All of a sudden a herd of T-Rex’s show up and dragged half the ballplayers away. This led to arguments with Mr. Goldstein from fans wanting their money back (reptile teeth – worth more than today’s Federal Reserve notes)
Gore, a Nostradamus type of a character and famous pitcher, lost an arm to T-Rex which ruined his career and standing. His credit stopped at the cave snack bar owned by Mr. Goldstein. Gor, being clairvoyant had dropped the E from Gore so he wouldn’t be identified as a relative of Al Gore in the future.
Arnold Rothstein – responsible for the Chicago White Sox baseball scandal of 1919 might have been a descendant of Mr. Goldstein. Good old “Goldie,” probably turning in his grave wanting out to rule the gambling world via the internet.
In the beginning of rock-ball it was free of drugs, lousy hot dogs, blind umpires, no bleachers for perverts to take a peek at women from under the bleachers. The game began as a very clean sport until unions got involved. Most all sports go through changes. What I find amazing about baseball is the 90 foot distance between bases – it’s never been changed even though shoe sizes have gone from seven and nine inches long to size 13 to 20. How lucky – Lil Black Cloud didn’t worry about baseball shoes, only of weather reports.
NY Yankee Mickey Mantle at one time held the record for speed from home plate to first base. (From the left-side of the plate) I hold the record for the fastest time running to 3rd base instead of first. Took me 5 minutes to get there – I stopped at the snack bar to pay for Lil Black Cloud’s goddamn beer tab. If you believe this one you’ll also believe Republican Carly Fiorina may be debating Hillary as to who will be the first cross-dresser in the White House.
I take the time every morning to do editing and it appears I’ll be reducing my work from 82 thousand words to 10 thousand. Of the 82k words I have in my story I’m afraid to count the “the’s,” – if I erase a few, I may end up with a skinny book like a skinny 90lb model modeling new dresses.
In future chapters you’ll read what led me to being inducted into two Hall of Fame of Fast Pitch Softball. When asked how I became a feared hitter in world tournaments my answer was simple: I practiced hitting bottle caps with a broom stick. Later when playing baseball or softball swinging at balls was like swinging at basketballs. You believe that? I do, just type in Frank Trejo – ISC Softball on/in? the Internet.
CHICANO DRESS STYLE
Fads come and go. I remember the “Pachucos” (often called Zoot-Suiters) walking the streets of Phoenix. They would be stopped by police and frisked for contraband. The Pachuco girlfriends hid knives in huge pompadours they wore then. Pachucos wore baggy pants (cuffed at the bottom) worn high waist, a coat with wide lapels and big hats. I caught the end of the Pachuco craze in the late ‘40s and by the early ‘50s you hardly ever saw one, or at least I didn’t. There are stories of how the style of dress by Pachucos started and you may find the following interesting.
Here’s a better definition: The standard male garb of America’s hepcats was the zoot suit. It consisted of a long, one-button jacket for men, with broad, padded shoulders and peaked lapels, high- waisted-trousers that balloon at the knees and gripped the ankles, a wide silk tie worn against a colored or striped shirt, a knee-length key chain, and a broad-brim hat. The Jitterbug was the most popular dance of the year. (This from a book of Facts)
Back in the ‘30s, many Spanish Gypsies migrated from Spain down to Juarez, Mexico. They wore pantaloons, a pant made of silk, cuffed tightly at the bottom of the pant-leg. The male citizen, (Chicanos) in El Paso copied the style, not made of silk but of different cloth for their pants. The Chicanos became dregs of town (for being different) and paid the price. The duck-tail hair style they had made matters worse. The gringo citizens couldn’t stand it and kicked the Pachucos out of town – citizens, yet!
Society didn’t know many of us couldn’t afford haircuts. In Phoenix some were taken downtown by police and had their heads shaved. I was walking in town and an unmarked police car went by and the driver stared at me. He made a U-turn and came to a screeching stop as if to announce he had arrived; jumped out and slammed me against a wall. I didn’t say anything – my eyes were upon a girl going by.
I was frisked and nothing was found. One pocket had a hole and he stopped after discovering I wasn’t wearing shorts. Embarrassed, he apologized and left. Didn’t get my hair clipped. Ran for two blocks and caught up with the girl. I quickly forgot the incident of Phoenix’s finest; but by accident I discovered the thrill of going short-less and being frisked. “Man with hole in pocket feel cocky all day.” Have I used this line before?
Another version of how the fad got started may have come from field workers looking for relief from insects climbing up through the bottom of their pants. They tied the bottom of their trousers with the same ties used to tie carrots, some used string. Perhaps a field worker after work, stopped at the American Legion Post 41 on his way home, stayed for the dance and another liked how his pants were cuffed, and bingo! – the fad started.
How awful it must have been to be kicked out of your own town (El Paso) where you were born and grew up. Many Chicanos moved (by freight) to New Mexico, Arizona, California, Texas and elsewhere. Soon Filipinos and black men adopted the style. It was not them who started that fad as reported by writers, it was my Chicano brothers in “El Chuco, Texas.” Before the fad disappeared the city of Los Angeles was to experience Pachuco vs. U.S Armed Service wars.
The blame (by the media) fell on Pachucos because of their dress and gangland style behavior. Others say it was because Pachucos were dating white girls (It took two to tango) while the girls White boyfriends were screwing starving Oriental, Italian, French and German girls overseas.
Meanwhile Marines and Sailors would create their own war maneuvers here at home and attacked not only Pachucos but also any Mexican-looking people riding buses. During this era a Mexican legend was born. Because of his speed of eluding the U.S. Army his nick-name was “Speedy Gonzales.” I tried copying the dress style with dirty Levis’, “Huaraches” (Mexican sandals) and a stolen sombrero but I just couldn’t make myself look like a “Pachuquito.”
As a Pachuco would say – “Chinga su madre el gobierno.” (Ask pro-amnesty Jeb Bush’s wife to translate)
MY ONE-LEG PUPPY LOVE
Finally, the story about Margaret. The one-leg girl I’ve been referring to was the most beautiful girl (they’re never ugly) in school. She only had one leg. The other was left in the womb on a botched abortion attempt. She was riding with me on a bike stolen that day. As I pedaled on the way to the park with her on the handle bars, the one leg straight out looked like a hood ornament; suddenly it began to rain. I smelled Lil Black Cloud in the air hovering somewhere close by. Margaret’s hair got wet, weaving into curls like Shirley Temple’s, and I asked, “Margaret, will you go steady with me?” When I heard her say “Yes,” I got so excited I almost crashed against a palm tree, and didn’t hear the rest of her answer.
We got to the park and took cover underneath a shed in the shuffle-board area. I was on cloud nine enjoying that tantalizing feeling of puppy love. Who can ever forget their first love and first kiss? Raindrops on the tin roof created a vibration that my mind translated into music. ♫Singing in the Rain♫. Raindrops trickled down her cheeks as drops do on a crystal-clear window pane. The drizzle became a thunderous storm – Lil Black Cloud had arrived. We had to hurry home and agreed to meet again the following day. Damn it! I had to steal another bike. The one I’d stolen was stolen from me. Damn you! Lil Black Cloud
Next day we returned to the park. Margaret and I attempted to play shuffleboard. One of her dreams had been to play shuffleboard but couldn’t balance and kept falling. But she tried. After several falls the last one did it – she stumbled into a huge trash can and we quit. But the one game she mastered was hop-scotch, using a pogo stick. Her eyes were beautiful like the shiny hubcaps I “borrowed” from someone’s new car. The next morning someone told me he’d read in the morning paper that someone had stolen the hubcaps of the Mayor’s new car.
Having a steady girlfriend made me aware of the lousy clothing I wore. This was the first time I’d been embarrassed by holes in my t-shirt. That evening when I got home I asked a sister to sew the holes – all eight of them. Later I would have a better t-shirt even if I had to wear my bigger brother’s soiled ones. (He kept the clean ones locked up.) On the way home I asked Margaret about going steady again and she replied, “Yes, but don’t tell anyone.” Not tell anyone? How many guys had a beautiful one-leg girl?
I wanted to announce it to the world; maybe get a contract with a company that manufactured crutches. Word did get out and it was like ♫Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you’re young at heart.♫ Thought of doing a tattoo but couldn’t spell Margaret.
I was hesitant to write this next episode. I describe how some teenagers having the urge for sexual gratification learn to use a broom differently instead of sweeping or grandma using it to go for a ride a la “witch of the barrio.” Margaret lived in a duplex separated by a path in between. One night after the Boys Club closed, I went by her house and as I walked between units I looked through a window and saw Margaret and a girlfriend in a position (on top of each other) I didn’t understand. They didn’t appear to be fighting. Both of them were giggling. Wow! I thought – that must be fun – how neat.
Her friend, with a broom in between her legs was on top of Margaret. I thought what the hell could she be sweeping? I’d never seen two people on the floor sweeping with one broom. All the way home I kept thinking about it and couldn’t figure it out. I should have asked grandma, she may have done the same thing.
I thought using a broom was only for sweeping floors or mom chasing me with a broom for being mischievous. I couldn’t understand what was happening between the girls. At home I grabbed a broom; removed the cobwebs and put it in between my legs and laid there wondering – what was the big deel? How can anyone swip this way? Later whenever I heard the phrase “swept under the rug” I couldn’t help but think of those girls as being responsible for that saying. One night as Margaret and I were sitting in her brother’s car, our tongues going a mile-a-minute, in my naivete about sex I didn’t recognize that she wanted something else – instead, I was cleaning her teeth for two hours with what I thought was having sex. Later as a grown-up every time I had my teeth cleaned I always thought of her. Years passed and I heard Margaret had been impregnated at the age of 15. The mailman was the one . . . “through snow and sleet” . . .
MORE BARRIO LIFE
In the early ‘50s my step-dad (Mr. Fixit, the cross dresser) gave the shack a much needed face lift. He installed linoleum on the kitchen floor and used chicken wire as screens for windows, thus reducing the bigger flies and yellow jacket population inside the house by 15%. He even installed an indoor toilet and I bet it wouldn’t work. Of course I won.
We had leased the outhouse to a neighbor. (On Tuesdays only) Breaking the lease was easy – “go shit somewhere else!” The two-story outhouse looked as good as a teepee on the Indian reservation except we used newspapers for toilet paper instead of buffalo hide. I saved the comic section to read to practice English in the outhouse. Thank you, Dick Tracy, Little Lulu, Sluggo, Superman, and Gordo.
One night I went looking for tortilla scraps left by cucarachas. When I turned the kitchen light on a mouse got startled. He began to run but his legs didn’t get traction because of the new linoleum; reminded me of a New York Met’s baseball player running bases. The mouse finally ran off. Not one tortilla chip was to be found. Cucarachas and mice are very selfish.
Mr. Fixit was not good at building things. In constructing an outside shower stall next to the chicken coop I wondered how he’d do it. He placed the point of the pencil in his mouth, contemplating the next move, pretending to be a unionized carpenter. Lil Black Cloud wore a cap with a whole bunch of union buttons.
Mr. Fixit never used a measuring tape. His saw had several broken teeth. The first lumber slat he nailed in crooked, causing others that followed to have huge gaps apart. Could it have been amateur carpentry or done intentionally? I had to wait until finished. When finished the stall resembled a Picasso abstract painting with slats too far apart exposing a view to the inside. (3-D)
A visiting teenage female cousin curious about the new shower stall, decided to use it for her monthly shower. My testosterone by now is on high alert, I quickly made my move. Both Lil Black Cloud and I went inside the chicken coop and quickly got us a ringside seat. A rooster sat between us. What a tantalizing view! Mr. Fixit had done a wonderful job. About the only time praised for his work.
What a body! Her breasts were like those on the sculpture of Venus. Down below looked like black cotton candy. She held her breasts, slowly massaging in a circular motion. My eyes followed like Ping-Pong balls in a lottery game. When she started soaping her bottom all three of us began to squirm. Lil Black Cloud was making rumbling noises like a thundering cloud.
Then it happened, what I feared most – she stared at me. I panicked. What if she tells Mom? What if she screams? What if the chickens cluck on me? What if she winks? And then again, what if she simply keeps on soaping? Ummm. Not being a gambler to take a chance of “scoring” of which I didn’t understand other than scoring in a ball game, I grabbed the rooster by its neck, twirled it around to distract causing chickens into an uproar. If asked, I’d claim to be egg-hunting for Easter even though it had passed weeks before.
Meanwhile I fell down, breaking many fresh eggs. Amid the chaos Lil Black Cloud was captivated; eyes fixated on my cousin without thundering, again. I’d sweated for nothing. She never screamed nor reported me to mother. I swore that if she ever showered again, even if I had to wait a month, I’d start my gambling career. After she left I quickly got in the shower and caressed the piece of soap while singing ♫THAT’S AMORE♫
A bit later Mom handed me my usual dinner – a bean burrito – and complimented me on how clean my hands looked. The next in line to use the shower stall let out a scream heard all the way inside the four room shack “Where’s the Goddamn soap!” Afterward, when the Rooster saw me coming he would hide behind Ms. Chick-a-Dee – his chicken girlfriend – she had a chicken-shit personality. (Even Milton Berle, known to steal others material, wouldn’t touch this one)
I don’t recall anyone using the shower stall during winter months. No heat. As a matter of fact, personally, I never remember using the damn thing hardly at all even in summer. I’ve reported the only time I wet myself was either when it rained, swimming at the City park, or at a local river. Now as I pass where the old cottonwood trees flourished along the banks of the river they are all gone. People dump their “borrowed” shopping carts (Mexican mode of transportation) in the river to be replaced with the latest models from Wal-Mart.
MR. FIXIT’S EXCAVATION CO.
Though improvements were made to the shack, something always went wrong. If it wasn’t discarded plumbing and leaks, electricity was the problem – couldn’t afford light bulbs. Candles, I got from the parish while the pervert priest was eyeballing the altar boy.
The outhouse (a misnomer) should have been named Ass-Hole. What could possibly go wrong with a hole? (Oops! I forgot about Raton, the cat, falling in). We didn’t have a sink. We’d run a hose from outside into the kitchen. It was quite embarrassing offering visitors a drink of water using a hose inside instead of a glass. It remained as such until Mr. Fixit lived up to his nickname who finally installed a faucet. He completed the job by placing a tub on the floor as a sink underneath the faucet. We kept the hose in the kitchen as an emergency knowing something would go wrong with the faucet.
Even the washing machine, full of cobwebs, got in the act. It shook like a jackhammer and had to be secured, otherwise it would end up visiting the neighbor. No wonder I’d leave the house at sunrise not to return until late at night only to be booed by a bunch of union radical mice. Lil Black Cloud would never stand up for me.
One day in the middle-of-the-night, I was surprised again by a mouse in the kitchen that was looking for seconds.The mouse and I competed for whatever scraps of food left, if any. Startled, it scurried hastily to one of the 15 exit holes in the walls. Raton, my cat, was on top of the wood stove feeding on scraps of food-droppings. My God. And I have hopes of becoming a comedy writer?
When another outhouse had to be built we nevertheless kept an eye on Mr. Fixit, otherwise we were sure to end up with another work of art like the shower stall. Mr. Fixit, as always, misunderstood and thought we needed a new outhouse for the whole barrio. We didn’t pay too much attention to him and 200 shovels and 500 kegs of beer later the following shows what he did. Afterward, he was hired by a mining company that promptly laid-off all its workers to cut labor cost. He was the one who built the first two-story outhouse in America.
MR. FIXIT BECOMES A CELEB
If there were exhibits for Mr. Fixit’s work of art – the outhouse and shower stall – it may have earned him a blue ribbon, including an interview by Playboy Magazine as follows:
“Good morning, Frank Trejo. I am here from Playboy Magazine. My name is Bart. I’m here to interview Juan Marquez.” (Mr. Fixit)
“Good morning, Bart. Juan had a bad start this morning. He’s not in a good mood. Raton, the cat, fell down the outhouse hole; took two hours to pull him out. This happened at 3 a.m., the flashlight had no batteries and we ran out of matches.
“The hole was 6 feet deep, not even half full. (the bigger the family, the deeper the hole.) Luckily, Mr. Fixit weighed only 130 pounds (133 with a sombrero on). He was small and easily fit through the hole. I held his legs as he tried grabbing Raton but the stinking cat kept sloshing around in circles. He finally succeeded in catching the four-legged pussy.”
Even though Mr. Fixit didn’t feel good, he put on his new khaki shirt and trimmed his pencil thin mustache – one side shorter than the other. Not feeling well, but excited about the interview. He only had one sandal on, made of used tire rubber. Lil’ Black Cloud kept returning to the shower stall hoping to see my cousin again.
Mr. Fixit had hanging from his shoulder a construction worker’s belt, holding several tools including a pair of unmatched gloves, a newly found tape measure with a rusty spring and a foot of the tape dangling to the side – the tape couldn’t rewind and also had an old screwdriver without a handle. He didn’t understand why no one would hire him. He asked was it because he was Mexican? He had stumbled onto a thought for affirmative action but no one understood the meaning except for a grammar school dropout who said – “You want to be first before a gringo?” and started laughing.
With a new sharpened pencil on his laugh ear, and a chorizo and egg burrito in hand, he waited to be interviewed. The rep from Playboy Magazine kept shooing my dog away because he kept sniffing the back of his pants – I apologized. I told him the female dog next door eloped and Gato suffered from a broken heart, lonely…and horny. He had never smelled a Jew before and it was love at first sight.
I had to find a place to sit while Bart conducted the interview. I considered taking him inside the shack but Mom waved not to. She was making tortillas and shooing flies and stepping on cucarachas at the same time and sister was sweeping dirt floors as flies were having an aeronautical convention. The scene reminded me of the play “You Can’t Take It With You.” We decided to sit outside on a lettuce crate Mr. Fixit had found to be used as “new” furniture.
“Do you mind, Bart?”
“Of course not, Frank. I’ve sat on boxes before.”
“Care for a drink of water, Bart?”
Mr. Fixit went and grabbed the hose and handed it to Bart.
MR. FIXIT’S BIG MOMENT
“Juan, este es Bartholomew.”
(Juan, this is Bartholomew.)
“Se llama Bartholomew. “
(His name is Bartholomew)
(Is he queer?)
“Por favor, respeto Juan.” (Please, respect, Juan)
Playboy: “Mr. Fixit, how did you accomplish such a great piece of ass – oops I mean art? Which Architecture School did you go to?”
Mr. Fixit: “No comprendo madafucka!”
Playboy: “Do you know you built a structure that looks like a painting by Picasso?”
Mr. Fixit: “¿Picasso? Si.”
Playboy: “Mr. Fixit, what is your next project?”
Mr. Fixit: “Sí”
Playboy: “Have you heard of Playboy Magazine?”(Shows him a copy of the centerfold)
Mr. Fixit: “I tink…peeshers muy buenos. Pechos grandes. (Big breasts) Geeve me muchos pesos.”
Playboy: “We don’t pay money to wetbacks.”
“Juan, el no paga a los braceros.” (“Juan, he doesn’t pay wetbacks”)
Mr. Fixit: “Pues chinga su madre!”
Playboy: “What does that mean?”
Mr. Fixit: “Fookie yo mama.”
Playboy: “One last question, Mr. Fixit. Why did you make the slats so far apart? Did you do that on purpose? Are you a voyeur?”
Mr. Fixit: “No comprendo.”
After the family breakup due to the divorce and new neighborhood and friends to meet, there was a community center in the barrio. The barrio had many shacks made up of discarded lumber from construction sites and some had roofs made of rusted corrugated tin sheets. Outhouses were a-plenty. You could tell a home had a big family because of two outhouses Those without outhouses faced health issues – were either starving or suffered life-long constipation.
A favorite pastime was to scrounge around alleyways to pick up thrown-away furniture for home improvements in the barrio.
Nowadays, competition at alleys is becoming crowded – the disappearing middle class is getting involved. A country that was rich and prosperous is gradually becoming a nationwide barrio looking for discarded objects with a Made in China label.
This is why 99 cent, Thrifty Stores, and the Salvation Army are stores of the future. Wait until hyperinflation rears its ugly head – people are in for a surprise of something many are ignorant of, inflation – its beginning . . . almost a dollar for an onion, a bell pepper, or 90 cents for a lemon? Even food stamps are losing purchasing power.
How my barrio began was the result of a railroad being built in Phoenix. The work was done mostly by Mexican and Chinese labor. They were restricted from venturing into downtown gringo land in Phoenix which was only a few blocks away. They were told to remain “this side of the tracks.” Originally the barrio was a hobo’s camp made up of tents underneath mesquite trees. The first name of this area was “Hooverville,” one of many scattered throughout the land, named after a president who was blamed for the depression.
Many who write history are bullshitting you. It was bankers who created the depression to begin the conversion to the socialist/communist welfare state. It was Roosevelt who did the dirty work for the bankers by centralizing ALL government programs in Washington D.C. Do some research of all the socialistic/communistic programs he implemented. Remember, the bigger government the more money bankers make . . . and this is what we get from both parties in Washington. They don’t give a shit about you. We have a criminal government. Am I a wacko? A right-wing extremist? For proof all you have to do is read the Constitution and you’ll be able to tell how much “they” have subverted our laws. But then again this is understandable – 90% of our people have never read the Constitution so how can people tell when government is violating our laws? This is part of the reason why there is no accountability – ignorance.
“Marriage is like a bank account. You put it in, you take it out – you lose interest.” (Irwin Corey)
FOR WANT OF A HOT DOG
The area morphed into one of seven barrios in Phoenix. With a federal grant of $5000 and $2500 from the city, a community center was built. It was a magnet for social activities. Across the street of the community center lived a retired county worker who had been a professional boxer in the ‘30s and ‘40s. He was a role model who volunteered as a recreational supervisor. He had a boxing ring built and taught many the art of defending ourselves because of warring barrio gangs. Why are boxing rings square but named rings?
He was a story teller and kept us amused. One day he told us the following: He said after work he walked into a diner and ordered a hot dog. (Perro caliente) They wouldn’t sell him one because he was Mexican. After some bickering he pulled out a knife and got his hot dog.
After walking a few blocks he observed a police car headed his way and quickly threw the knife in the bushes. The car stopped and police began asking questions. He admitted he threatened the cook but used the hot dog, not a knife, in a threatening manner. He was frisked and turned loose.
This wasn’t unusual to be stopped by police whether warranted or not. Many of us were always suspected of criminal behavior – because of our dress and/or skin-color. All this happened because he was a Mexican in want of a lousy hot dog.
Our story teller in the barrio was nicknamed Nino. (Nee-no – “Godfather”) As an ex-professional boxer he wasn’t famous, only a journeyman; similar to being a utility player – a substitute. He fought many times but there was one fight he considered his best. He fought one of the greatest in boxing history. His name was Henry Armstrong who at one time held three world titles.
The fight was stopped in the fourth round because Nino had broken Armstrong’s jaw. It was a great upset by a journeyman. What makes this unique is that at seven years of age Nino had an accident which left him legally blind in one eye for the rest of his life. To have been a boxer with that handicap was something but to have beaten Henry Armstrong with one eye was a miracle.
We were happy to have such a man as a role model. Not so much because of his stories but because he was kind and gentle and gave many what we lacked – parental guidance and discipline at home.
There were many instances of discrimination which often led to confrontation and this hot dog story is just one of many we had experienced. For this story’s authenticity about Nino’s” boxing upset, I can only go by what a family member related. They showed me an old clipping of the fight. I checked the Internet and didn’t find the name “Nino Pimentel.” Even if not true it’s a good story – don’t you think?
Nonetheless, no matter what anyone says, no matter how much money is thrown at education and programs to force people to get along, there will always be racial animosities brought on by prejudice and discrimination due to ignorance and the race baiters who make a living at it. “Ignorance is not inherited, it is learned in public schools where students are not taught to think.”
FOR WANT OF A LEMON
One of my buddy’s father’s cure for a hangover was a lemon. No matter how bad the hangover, once he sucked on a lemon everything would be all right. One day he was hauled to jail again for being drunk and spent hours screaming and begging for a lemon. He desperately tried to explain his cure for the hangover. He was constantly turned down and in the morning he was found dead. A coincidence brought on by discrimination? Who knows, a little bit of compassion and understanding may have prevented an unnecessary death. All for want of a lemon – go figure. Today, because of inflation he may have looked for another cure – lemons are becoming too expensive.
Teaching a heart to love can only be done with faith in God and by fundamental truths written in the Ten Commandments. Our country is morally bankrupt brought on by secularism – a belief in man and not in our Creator. This is what our young are being taught in public schools “We learn the establishment way.” The establishment’s way is to erase God from the minds of the American people by brainwashing through academia and the entertainment industry by America haters. Did you know there are around 70 communists in Congress? Of course you don’t . . . you’re too busy being distracted by Reality TV and Super Bowls on TV.
This happens in a socialist/communist society when God and the Ten Commandments are attacked constantly. Unknown to many parents schools teach other lifestyles. Our children are taught morals at home and the communists-led teachers unions indoctrinate children differently. Everyone born after the sixties has been under the indoctrination of the “evil isms” for too long. This is all they’ve ever known. This brainwashing and ignorance is a reason why America has become a lawless nation. You must understand this is one reason why politicians in Congress don’t worry about accountability – many people are too stupid and ignorant to care. You’ve been brainwashed and programmed to look down upon people like me who “are extreme.” For decades Democrats have used class warfare and the race card to gain favor. Listen to Hillary and the rest, all they talk about is poor against the rich, that Republicans want to destroy SS and hate women . . etc., . . . elected Democrats are delusional people. They mostly promote bigger government and higher taxes. – prove me wrong!
“Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right, and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” (Gandhi)
BARRIO DIET CONSEQUENCE
I rarely took time out to sit on the commode, constantly on the go, so many things to do, steal, to learn or not. This led to constipation and hemorrhoids (family jewels) in future years. I can count on one hand the times I’ve asked to use the toilet at someone’s home for a good reason, as you will find out.
When visiting my brother and feeling an urge for a BM, I waited until they left to shop. First, checked outside to make sure Lil Black Cloud wasn’t there. The coast (desert) seemed clear. I suffered through an inducing-sweat-by-the-bucket horrendous stool. It resembled a fire log sold at 7-11’s. I stood up and with fingers crossed, flushed the toilet. Ay-Ay-Ay! The damn thing would not go down! I sensed Lil Black Cloud’s presence.
After much stress the log kept changing in appearance, now it looked like a giant Baby Ruth candy bar at food shows. I tried flushing again but it didn’t budge. Not even a Rosary prayer would help. Panic time! What to do? Taking a photo for the record book crossed my mind. Leave it there? My sister-in-law could not have manufactured such a monstrosity. Brother had been regular. There was only one suspect – no possible alibi – I was trapped. I felt like an illegal alien working at a car wash and an immigration officer in a government car pulls in to be washed.
I wouldn’t dare reach in to squeeze it by hand. There was no rubber gloves in the house, only rubbers applied in a moment of passion. I had a Trojan in my pocket but used it as a balloon, didn’t know what else it was good for. I tried fitting it in my hand but the robber busted. I ran to the closet, grabbed a coat hanger and beat the shit (pardon the pun) out of what had looked like a canoe without oars. (You really believe I don’t know how to spell robber?)
I made things worse – I forgot to take off my brother’s dress pants from the hangar. Damn you! Lil Black Cloud. Mission accomplished though, just in time. They returned a few minutes later. Whew! I left. I looked for Lil Black Cloud; the SOB was hiding behind a car smoking a joint.
That same evening a friend invited me over for some menudo (Mexican Won-Ton soup) he had saved from the weekend. Stupidly, he sprayed roach killer earlier and by the time we sat down to eat, roaches were all over; some falling down from the ceiling landing on top of the table; some fell in my salad – I thought they were croutons. Didn’t bother me, I got upset because I didn’t have my bat to swing at some.
♫ I FOUND MY THRILL ON A BLUEBERRY TREE♫
The gang often climbed trees; each one finding a branch strong enough to support his weight. We’d all evoke the “Manuela and her five sisters” routine. This was before we were able to produce “the nectar of the gods.” Our efforts created lots of tingling sensations. We did have a few rules: We had to be two feet apart. (Elbow room) We couldn’t be ambidextrous, no peeking, no talking, and definitely no groaning, too feminine. The goal, of course, was to see who would reach excitement first. ♫“Take my hand I’m a stranger in paradise”♫
Once the tingling sensation started nothing in the world could distract us, not even birds wanting their tree back. Lil Black Cloud was ineligible (no hands) but got excited by the event.
One day Tony fell off the branch just before the “tingling,” he broke his arm and was disqualified. Even monkeys fall off trees occasionally. How do you explain to Mom how it happened without lying? And if you believed in confession to a priest, you knew damn well he would relish every word and squirm.
The next time we climbed the tree some birds didn’t want to leave. I had to go home and get Raton (Cat) for guard duty to do the job of chasing them away. By now the gang had approved participation by the boy who broke his arm – he was allowed to use the other hand while the injured one healed. He had no rhythm; a la right-handed fork holder trying to eat with his left. But within a few tries he was just as good – practice makes perfect . . . tell that to the Chicago Cubs.
As we got older we left the trees proving that at one time Tarzan’s Cheetah discovered a safer venue for playing with Manuela and her five sisters by moving away from trees. Millions of years passed and monkeys evolved into what we now call the Teachers Union.
There wasn’t much to do at night after the park closed; so we became Peeping Toms with planned routes. Committing this kind of activity in gringo-land, we never tried in the barrio. At the barrio, voyeurism was more like watching horror movies. In gringo land one favorite house always had the Venetian blinds lowered except for an inch or two. Did someone in the house leave it like that intentionally? Voyeurism in reverse?
The show always started the same. Harry would be sitting on a sofa chair reading a book. The wife wore a negligee, wide open, sitting on a sofa with her legs propped up in the attempt to arouse Harry. She didn’t wear panties; exposing her bare bottom. This “beaver-shot” resembled a fluffy black house slipper.
“Harry,” she’d call out, hoping to arouse him. Harry wouldn’t respond. Picture a scene: us glued to the window like puppies struggling to breast feed, Manuela along with her five sisters going a mile a minute and us together repeating “Come on, Harry! Come on, Harry!”
It must have been a good book, Harry never put it down. Lil Black Cloud was holding a pair of binoculars across the street. If captured on film, the whole scene would have made a good entry to those programs on television that pay for home videos. However I don’t think it would be possible to round up the original guys to recreate the episodes. Besides, by now Manuela and her five sisters would’ve deserted them due to prostate problems and the high cost of Viagra.
Raton (the cat) had gotten too old to climb the tree and now rested at the base hoping a dead bird would fall. Lil Black Cloud tried Viagra once. It went from being a Cumulus to a Mammatus cloud in appearance. OK! OK! Mammatus clouds are those huge ones that create thunder, cyclones and tornadoes.
Am I carrying this silly humor a bit too far? Should I change the title of my bio – Humor is the Laxative for a Troubled Mind to: To Whom the Balls Toll? Am I giving humor a bad name? I wonder what Lenny Bruce and George Carlin would have thought. I heard both of them spent a whole weekend with Joan Rivers. They claimed they were making a movie but there were no cameras. It was Carlin who said “swimming was not a sport but a way to keep from drowning.”
BARRIO BOULEVARD OF USED XMAS TREES
Christmas holidays in the barrio could be very bleak at times. Many holidays came and went without celebrating. Don’t remember in-home festivities after the family moved to the barrio. Christmas presents and candy canes were free – when dreaming.
“Mom, how come Santa never stops in the barrio?”
“Hijito, (A Latino midget) people say the last time Santa was here one deer ended on someone’s kitchen table; he had to use a barrio dog as a sub to finish the route.” And she added, “The time before he ate tamales and spent the next few days on the commode and was still delivering presents December the 29th.” Another neighbor said the last time seen around this area he zoomed by at 50 mph.
With discarded holiday wrapping paper and an empty box I found, I made my own make-believe Christmas gift. I asked Lil Black Cloud to wrap it, place it underneath the tree overnight until morning. He signed it – “To Frank from Santa” – COD.” Ahhh Lil Black Cloud – you never quit, do you? Does all this make sense? . . . if not go read the Quran.
A CITY GROWING UP
During rainy season in Phoenix we’d have rain for days, drizzling and pouring all day long. Afterward every plant was greener than before. Many years later I learned that tap water lacked oxygen, whereas rainfall water hadn’t been depleted of its oxygen needed for plants to thrive. I learned that from a botanist marijuana grower in between puffs. It made “loco weed” sense to me.
When El Nino farted (thunder and lightning), mother nature’s way of letting us know who the boss is I would spend at least two hours hiking to South Mountain Park, south of downtown Phoenix. I’d climb to the highest apex (found the word by mistake while looking for the word ape-shit) then sat and watched in awe, fascinated by images of downtown Phoenix brought on by flashes of lightning. It was Mother Nature’s artistic talent of illuminating the sky like a painting without a canvas. Stick it in your only ear – Van Gogh. In between flashes I would get a glimpse of a star or two, and now extract the following thought:
“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels”… (Longfellow)
It was time spent in solitude, observing nature at its finest; alleviating my thoughts of hunger and despair while growing up in the Barrio Boulevard of Broken Dreams. The borders of the city exposed by lightning showed a small town waiting to grow like a baby learning to piss upright.
Gone are the rainy days that have become dust storms. Gone are the days of assisting people stuck in cars in the middle of a flooded street, and having a nickel or two tossed my way for helping. Buying a Baby Ruth candy bar, the size of a hoagie bun for a nickel was my reward for the fruits of my labor. (Tax-free – even then as a boy I felt the IRS . . . the KGB . . . didn’t have a right to tax my labor)
Gone are the fields of flowers whose fragrance filled the air – a present from Mother Nature – a scent of her femininity. All flower fields have disappeared now, replaced by rows of “cajas,” called homes. Gone is a beautiful cottonwood tree that we use to tie a gunny sack full of watermelons to dip, to keep cool in the canal. After playing Tarzan we would feast on melons but first we’d fight over the hearts of the fruit. (Gone is this writer to the bathroom)
Down memory lane . . .
“All to myself I think of you, Think of the things we used to do, Think of the things we used to say, Think of each happy bygone day. Sometimes I sigh, and sometimes I smile, but I keep each olden, golden while all to myself.” (W.J. Nesbit )
There is a small river in South Phoenix, (not the Salt River) this one we called “Baseline.” That’s where I went swimming regularly with my clothes on to wash. On the north side of the river were seven barrios – whose infrastructure was ignored by city government. Today, most barrios have lost recognition by name. Mine, El Campito, wasn’t incorporated until 1959 has almost disappeared.
Occasionally in the past the Salt River (the bigger one) would overflow, causing a lot of damage until dams were built and better bridges to cross over. Many years ago there was a zoo on the north side of the river and in one flood the whole zoo disappeared. This is the only time in recorded fishing history that an elephant was hooked by a fisherman. Later, at that same spot a ballroom was built, named Riverside Ballroom. They had an “Okie” night. A “Wetback” night and a “Sambo” night. (Signs of the time)
Years later when attitudes changed and integration began, we could attend the ballroom no matter what night it was. It was odd seeing a black brother doing a mambo with Lolita, or a Mexican dressed in western clothing trying to score with a red-neck shit-kicking girl.
Many Chicanos in town had a routine on Saturday nights – which consisted first of going to the American Legion Post 41 dance. From there we would go to the Riverside Ballroom and when that ended, and after fights, we would finish the night-out at the Old Calderon Ballroom nightspot. This one lasted until 4 am. Many memories remain of this time in my life. Unfortunately, many barrios have changed due to the city’s growth. But outhouses like the one in which I learned to read are now non-existent except the one called the U.S. Congress.
ALMOST LOST MY INNOCENCE IN THE MOUNTAINS
One cool evening my gringo friend Marv, (19 years old) and I, (14 years) played basketball at one of the parks. When through, we found a note left on the windshield of his car from a woman admirer that lived across the park… “Please be at my house (address) at 7 p.m. tonight, I want to see you.” A second note might have been for me …“Please be at my house at 7 a.m. to cut my grass.” (MOM, I GOT A JOB!)
My friend was big and strong . . . no gang member bothered me. The woman must have been turned on watching him play without a shirt and ignored my t-shirt full of holes. He asked me to come with him that evening. I really didn’t understand what they had in mind, he didn’t bother to explain. I would go for the joy ride.
She had instructed him to meet her at the rear of the house. She got in the car and Marv introduced us:
“Frank, this is Helen.”
“Hi! Ma’am. Washew dooink?”
“Helen, this is Frank.”
“Marv, did you have to bring him? My mother has warned me about these people. They never take a bath and if and when they do it’s in the canal with dead chickens.”
Me: “Marv, how does her mother know – I’ve never cut her grass.”
“Frank is different, Helen. He doesn’t wear tennis shoes. His dog ate the last ones. He knows a little sign language and is teaching me how to make ‘frijolitos con mucho queso y poquito arroz con pedasos de gallina.’ (Way to go Marv!)
“Frank, don’t you have another tee-shirt?” she asked.
“Dis oily wun,” I responded with a quivering voice.
She asked – “Do you know how to cut grass?”
“Dunno, I jost smokat.”
“Marv, when we get home I’ll give him a couple of shirts,” (no, I’m not going to add “she said.” It’s a waste of typing.)
My English sounded like Swahili when conversing with gringos. The English language became scrambled in my head like the content of a Campbell’s Alphabet Soup.
She wanted me in the back seat (I know how Rosa Parks must have felt) and couldn’t hear their conversation very well. I wanted out – too late though – we were almost at the mountains. (Will someone please tell me why I use italics in parenthesis?)
My stomach growled. (She thought it was radio static and asked Marv to adjust the radio) The only food in my stomach was cornflakes I had in the morning with water and no sugar. How lucky I thought, others in the world didn’t have cornflakes – only the ones in government, of course. They’re also served $100 lb steaks in the White House – thanks to your taxes.
Marv found a secluded place, parked and asked me to step outside until he finished. Though confused why he wanted me out, didn’t ask, I obeyed but still wondered what he needed to finish without tools. Sometimes I didn’t understand gringos. I stepped out, sat on the car roof and within seconds the car started shaking. What the hell . . . what’s going on!
The night was dark and couldn’t see what was happening. It was then I reasoned (the difference between me and apes? – they’re your F#!&%* cousins, not mine) that something mysterious was going on – whatever that meant. By now the shaking of the car felt like a 8.5 earthquake. Barrio Boulevard of Broken Bed Springs.
As I’ve said before, you have to remember this was way before those “how to” yellow and black instructional books sold for “Dummies” or the orange ones for “Idiots.” We were so ignorant we would wonder how a girl could have a baby and not be married? The books mentioned became best-sellers in an ignorant society.
The only formal sex education I had until then was Manuela and her five sisters. And the only written sexual material known to me were called “Eight pagers,” a booklet of eight pages of explicit sexual caricatures in compromising positions. I mistook it to be a couple in/on? the bed practicing yoga. That might have been where Hugh Hefner and Guccione got ideas for their magazines, or from the bible.
Anyway, to make a short story long, I sat on top of the hood, enjoying the car’s vibrations when suddenly I spotted Lil Black Cloud on top of a cactus close by. Oh! Oh! Here we go! I didn’t understand sexual encounters but Lil Black Cloud’s doings, I did.
The car door opened and my friend stepped out and told me to go in. I was shocked – didn’t expect this other than just going for a rare joy ride with a couple of perverted gringos.
At that moment I kept quiet so it would appear I understood what was going on. Stepped in, shaking like the car moments earlier and saw her on her back wiggling and pulling up her panties. Thinking she was pulling her panties off and wanting to be helpful, I started pulling them down. For a moment she was pulling up and I was pulling down. Instantly, I got wet down below, (Had left my shorts in the canal tied to a string to be washed) getting excited, when all of a sudden she opened up with a right cross to my face. The shock rendered me helpless, almost fell out of the car. (“Can I still cut the grass, ma’am?”)
My friend understood right away what happened and gave her a scolding. When he got done he turned to see me on the other side of the car throwing rocks at Lil’ Black Cloud. She paid the price though. My friend left her in the mountains with Lil’ Black Cloud who had pimping experience in the red light district on Second street and Madison in downtown Phoenix. As we pulled away I used my favorite sign language and flipped a middle finger (grammar school diploma) to her and Lil Black Cloud.
For a few minutes after we left we were silent. I felt sorry – it might have been someone’s grandmother. I had questions to ask Marv and finally did, as the skyline of Phoenix grew bigger and bigger.
“Marv, what made the car shake?”
“Are you kidding, Frank?”
“Of course I’m kidding, Marv, you think I don’t know what was happening. I was concerned about the brakes not being on.”
“Frank, what did you say to her when you went inside?”
“As we struggled with her panties, I asked if she came out to the mountains often and if she always had a problem with her panties – that’s when she turned into Mike Tyson”
A few minutes later we were having a coke at one of those famous drive-in-50-ish drive-in. We didn’t talk about the joy ride, or about my puffed lip again. Next time I would wear a better t-shirt when we played basketball and if a ride like that occurred again, I would wear a boxer’s headgear.
Next time we played basketball Marv finally gave me a crash course about sex. It was difficult for me to understand what he was telling me and score points at the same time. I was skunked. That was the only time I got a hard-on in a basketball game thinking the basketball was Dolly Parton’s you know what. Barrio Boulevard of Inflated Basketballs.
Later that day I went to get my shorts out of the river and found a fish – entangled and struggling to free itself. I had a difficult time explaining to some this new way of fishing. Just the label on the shorts – “Fruit of the Loom” was what the fish were attracted to. If you believe this one you’ll believe Rep. Nancy Pelosi is the secret lover to Jesse Jackson.
“I never go to movies where the hero’s tits are bigger than the Heroine’s.” (Groucho Marx about Vic Mature)
CALIFORNIA HERE I COME
At 14, a friend and I made plans to visit my AWOL father in San Francisco. We decided to go by freight car, as if we had a choice. We went to the train depot and found out which train went to Los Angeles, our first stop . . . The day of departure finally arrived. We had one small suitcase. There was not much in it, just a few socks, tattered shorts and a dried-dead cucaracha upside-down, feet straight-up, wearing Jordan sneakers. Why do you always see dead cucarachas on their back? Someone told me the reason is: if you mix sugar with baking powder and feed the roaches the following occurs:
Scientific studies subsidized by an ear-mark from a criminal in Congress proved why cucarachas ended upside down. After spending $2,196,000.13 in tax money studies showed cucarachas couldn’t fart because of the mixture they were fed. It created lots of gas. Because of this, cucarachas blew up and landed on their backs. If you believe that one you’ll believe a conservative will always be the moderator at presidential debates.
The next day we were in Los Angeles, dirtier and starving. Mexicans riding boxcars looked cleaner than us. We did what we knew best when hungry – went to the Greyhound Bus Depot; had a huge breakfast and ran without paying but left the suitcase unintentionally as a tip. Didn’t have to explain to my friend, he knew about Lil’ Black Cloud. No problem though, father would furnish clothing if needed. Every time I wore new clothing I would itch.
It took a whole day to find the right railroad train in the yard for the final leg of the trip – the San Francisco-Bay area. I don’t know nowadays but field workers and immigrants traveled by freight and it didn’t take long for us to learn routes from them. We had our own travel agent at the age of 14.
After boarding our private car, somewhere appeared a long tunnel about seven miles long, so read a sign. We got excited about going through like the anticipation you feel when going through spooky rides at the State Fair. We were in an open car, the ones that haul scrap iron or coal. As we approached the tunnel within seconds, smoke filled the tunnel.
What seemed forever and after much coughing and running out of breath, we suddenly saw the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Lil Black Cloud rode in the engine car making smoke rings.
We passed many agriculture areas and saw field workers waving at people on the train in hopes of enticing those aboard to jump off – jobs were available. As we observed many jumping we could see puffs of dust as people hit the ground.
A young immigrant rode in the same car we were riding. He believed Captain Marvel (comic hero) really existed. He kept repeating the name “Jasam! Jasam!” (Shazam!) We shook hands and as he jumped he yelled, “Jasam!” He might have been the future father of the Mayor of Los Angeles.
Along the way the train stopped in small towns for whatever reason, giving immigrants time to pool their few cents together for cigarettes. My friend, being the smallest hobo was chosen to be the runner. The train finally began moving with my friend nowhere in sight. What to do? Should I forget him?
Didn’t have to decide, someone spotted him coming and soon all of us began yelling, “Amigo! Amigo!” I screamed, “C’mon buddy, you can do it! Hurry up!” Like a scene from a movie, him reaching for my hand; mine stretching to the limit, we made contact.
With help from others he was lifted aboard. Every one started cheering and clapping. It didn’t last long. The jubilation came to a stop when asked about the matches – he had forgotten them. I poked my head out looking toward the front of the train and sure enough – Lil’ Black Cloud was blowing bigger smoke rings shaped like question marks. Eres un bastardo! (You are a bastard!)
Upon arriving, way past midnight I knocked on the door where Dad lived. “Son, what are you doing here?” I hadn’t warned him. “Dad, should I go back home and write a letter and send it via a homing pigeon?” I had written to him previously about other matters and he understood one my philosophy in life – “Humor is the sunshine of the mind.”
He had remarried and lived in a one bedroom apartment. My friend and I slept on the floor. It felt like back home. Dad’s fifteenth wife kept a paper bag next to the bed and cleared her throat all through the night; more sleepless nights. Apparently Lil’ Black Cloud didn’t stay behind working the fields, instead he was busy thinking of ways to make my life more miserable.
Dad, still the wonderful father, took time off, took us all over San Francisco and the Oakland area. After returning to work we visited Dad where he worked. He bought us a few things. Watched him work and delegate even though he could hardly speak English, he was the boss making me so proud of my immigrant father.
My friend became homesick and returned to Phoenix after two weeks. He hadn’t told his parents about the trip to San Francisco. I stayed for six months, enrolled in school, and quickly got into fights. The student who sat behind me in class kept poking me with his pencil and making fun of me because I was known as the “Mexican cowboy” from Arizona. We both stood up to fight but the teacher interceded. In between buildings on my way to another class he came towards me. We scuffled and were separated by others. When the school day ended he and four other students surrounded me. I thought, how am I to get out of this one. (Lil Black Cloud – I wish a hurricane or Tsunami would blow you away. Why don’t you go live in the Philippines)
Hoping to distract them I asked if they had ever swung at bottle caps with a broomstick. It didn’t help, got the shit kicked out of me. It had all been a racial thing. Lil’ Black Cloud ran around with white students and was known as “Lil’ White Cloud.” (You Benedict Arnold!)
After a while things settled down. I was able to sleep better by wearing earmuffs to drown out noise created by the woman’s spitting at night.
I, too, began to get homesick and finally told Dad I was going back. He had been liberalized in California – he gave me a bunch of food stamps to pay for the bus ticket. I left and rode first class, via Greyhound. Lil’ Black Cloud was glad to go back home in time for monsoon season. His family reunions always brought rains that benefited the agriculture industry. Arizona Cotton Association sponsored the reunions.
In the future Dad became single again and moved back to Phoenix. He opened a tailor shop in downtown Phoenix. Within weeks he developed a steady clientele – people hadn’t forgotten him – he was a master tailor. He died at 88 years of age. I have a spot in my heart reserved for Dad. He really didn’t have fifteen wives, only two, my mother and the spitting machine in Oakland. I shall always remember him.
“Oh my papa, to me he was so wonderful . . . Gone are the days when he would take me on his knee and with a smile he’d change my tears to laughter … . . . ” a song that reminds me of Dad .
TWO WEEKS AT CAMP: I SURRENDERED MY VIRGINITY IN MEXICO
Although you had to be 18 years of age to join the National Guard Reserve, I was able to join at the age of 15, thanks to the slap on the face at birth by the doctor who delivered me making me look much older.
A friend told me that once a month the National Guard Reserve went out for target practice and gave members fried chicken for lunch – a good enlistment lure. Some took pieces of chicken home to share with 4F family members. Monday meetings were not attended too well, because no food was offered.
Once a year we went to camp for two weeks of maneuvers that had 100% attendance because we were paid; on top of that we were fed gringo food. I ate like a bear fattening up for the rest of the year. Our National Guard Company looked like Pancho Villa’s Army. The company had one Anglo – the Officer in charge, of course. Some of the guardsmen may have been AWOL from the Mexican Army.
At camp we went out at night to practice maneuvers and were given orientation on (in or on folks?) all kinds of warfare. Some got carried away and went to extremes making believe we were commandos of WW II. Some were camouflaged with twigs and branches. Others had faces covered with paint.
“Sarge, how do I look?”
“Frank! It’s only August and already you look like a Picasso painting.”
We were ordered to demonstrate firing numerous weapons for the top brass inspecting troops. A Sgt., in demonstrating a 60 millimeter weapon placed the projectile inside upside down. It couldn’t be activated that way, it didn’t come out. Another WW II Sgt. took over and miscalculated the distance and the round exploded a mere 100 yards in front of us. A little closer and taps would have been played for visiting generals. The Sgt. wanted to practice shooting at buffalo at the base of the mountain but a private talked him out of it, reverse chain of command. These guys were in WW2 – no wonder U.S. wars last so long.
Today, Afghanistan’s war is our longest. ($$$$) Bankers are the ones who benefit the most while the arms merchants enrich themselves at the expense of American lives. . . . fighting for freedom – right? We have criminals running our government who don’t give a shit about how many die . . . how shallow the words “protecting our freedom and liberties” have become. Remember, to repeat, the only ones who benefit from wars are bankers and the elite who own the military industrial-complex. Imagine. Thousands of men and women in uniform all over the world stationed at close to 1,000 bases throughout the world. It is the U.S. Congress who is responsible. They could stop any president from being a war-monger but both parties are beholden to the elite. The powers who control the two-parties in Congress have altered our Constitution to allow one person (President) to take us into conflict as he sees fit. It is easier to control one person than it is to control 545 in the U.S. Congress. Hooray for the military industrial-complex. And our sons and daughters overseas die for this? We have a criminal government. Shame on you, Americans.
The whole company sat at a knoll under a moonlit sky listening to boring lectures by officers; confirmed by snores five minutes into the presentation. I enjoyed listening to crickets chirping away – sounding like shit-kicking music from Hee Haw.
One night, during a lecture on how to avoid being captured and how to fool the enemy, someone yelled, “rattlesnake!” It was right in the middle of the group. My God, all in unison we stood, and ran like cockroaches running away from Mr. Raid. Had the snake been Admiral Tojo he could have captured all of us.
No matter how I tried looking like John Wayne in a war movie, I always felt uneasy wearing a uniform that fit like a burlap sack. Everyone was good in keeping their shoes shined; this being a result of them shining shoes in downtown Phoenix. They were experienced.
Back home my brother Gil never wanted me shining shoes. I did his once and ruined his favorite argyle style socks with black shoe paste. But he was a high school basketball and baseball star and was embarrassed at the thought of someone in the family shining shoes in downtown Phoenix. I tried explaining about Lil’ Black Cloud, how it always caused bad things to happen around me and he said I was reading too many Lil’ Abner comic books. If you believe that one you’ll believe Reagan and Thatcher had an affair going.
I wanted to write a letter to a girl as if the two weeks we were at camp was like years. I had these loving thoughts inside but didn’t know words to express how I felt. Finding words to convey what my heart felt were nowhere to be found. Didn’t I just say this already?
“Sarge I told this girl I would write and I need some help.”
“Frank, what do you want to say?”
“Sarge our favorite song is ♫ P.S. I LOVE YOU♫ by the Hill-Toppers.”
“I haven’t heard that one yet, Frank, I know mostly Les Brown and his Orchestra.”
“Sarge, it’s about a guy that’s away from home and cries the blues because he misses her and is writing a letter telling her so.
“Frank, how old is this girl?”
“She’s going on nine but looks 16. Is that a problem?”
Sarge had the letter written the next morning. It brought joy to my heart when I read it but it had words I didn’t understand like “Do you want to fornicate?”
I placed the stamp on it upside down. (Damn you Lil’ Black Cloud!) In the letter I confessed that the Sgt. helped with the letter. Within a few days mail call was announced. “Trejo!” yelled the Sgt. at mail call.
I fantasized myself being in Germany, cigarette dangling, removing my helmet, wiping my brow and finding a foxhole all to myself away from others, making sure a rattle snake was not in back reading over my shoulder invading my privacy. (Like today’s IRS and NSA)
“Dear Frank…” Towards the end of the letter my eyes became teary, hands shaking. She wanted to know more about the Sgt. Lil’ Black Cloud insisted wanting to read it but it was in Spanish and was stuck on the first four words – “…yo amo al Sgt.”…Barrio Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
I lost my virginity – ♫South of The Border down Mexico Way♫ – on my first camp trip. The Mexican border wasn’t too far away and when given time off most would rush to the Mexican drive-by whorehouses to live out fantasies. Wow! No wooing.
A physical encounter with a woman was the most stressful event that I would experience – next to my stool that looked like a 7-11 fire log. My Sgt., my Cyrano De Bergerac, had schooled me how to conduct myself in/on bed. (?) He told me to leave the rifle behind in the barrack. “Aw, shit! Do I have to Sarge?”
The day arrived; probably the first time I didn’t have food on my mind. I was fully dressed in my G.I. uniform and thinking of being somewhere in Italy during World War II visiting a drive-by wop whorehouse. The Sgt. assured me that everything would be OK. He was a war veteran and knew about such matters. He gave me a lesson about venereal disease but I thought he was talking about Montezuma’s revenge.
I entered the whorehouse giving the best image of a macho man that I could. She was cleaning herself with a sponge after her last customer, I thought how clean, just like a hospital worker. She had trouble understanding me, as I spoke English – accent and all. I was embarrassed to explain I was still a virgin, thought I could confuse her with English in case she asked. She quickly noticed my accent and asked “¿Que Pasa?” (Has nothing to do with pasta.) She recognized my naiveté when I confessed my virginity.
“Relax,” she said in Navajo, “I have much experience in conquering privates and generals enough to form my own army battalion. My prize catch was a famous General who made me work double overtime. Did you ever hear the name Ike?”
She said her own maneuvers were twice as good as the Pentagon’s and ordered me to take off my uniform. I quickly surrendered and said, “Yes Sir! Mi Senora Capitan!” In Spanish the “I” letter is pronounced like an “E” so – “Mi” is pronounced like “Me” not “my.” It is not “jalapeeno” it is jala(peh)no. What – all of a sudden I’m an export of werds?
It all happened so quick like watching a Gypsy working a crowd in front of a police station. The stress might have been why I didn’t experience the ecstasy Sgt. promised.
In going through Jack LaLanne moves in/on? the bed the sensation wasn’t as good as “Manuela and her five sisters” when taking matters into my own hand. Yet, I walked out the door feeling like John Wayne – a macho man! And I didn’t have a horse like John always did.
The next day I ran into Sgt., he asked, how did it go? The analogy he had given of a woman’s orifice sounded to me like the difference between the Grand Canyon and the opening of a pop bottle or an earlobe. I didn’t carry a measuring tape but told him it felt more like when you slid down one of those water slides at the swimming pool. Good thing I kept my shoes on; I might have fallen in and been charged with going AWOL. The Sgt. said not to worry it’ll come with practice. There’s that word again – practice, practice, practice! I asked, “With who Sarge – Manuela?”
Tom Arnold: “She (Roseanne Barr) went on Saturday Night Live and said I had a three inch penis. Well, even a 747 looks small if it’s landing in the Grand Canyon.”
A little more about the guard and soon we’ll take a four year cruise in the Navy aboard the destroyer U.S.S Laws DD558. (1954 – 1958) That’s when I learned the wonderful world of showering, cleanliness and the $2 overnight stay with Geisha girls in Japan.
“Success can only be measured how well you elude the Sheriff from Arizona and ICE.” (Speedy Gonzales)
In the 1950’s before ungrateful Americans began hating our men in uniform, billboards advertised the Arizona National Guard. The billboards read, SLEEP WELL YOUR NATIONAL GUARD IS AWAKE PROTECTING YOUR LIBERTIES. As a unit I don’t think we could have snuffed out a revolt in grammar school. Some guard members were still in grammar school.
While in camp I didn’t have a BM for two weeks. The barracks had open latrines and people sat too close. On my first and last attempt my next door neighbor passed gas that sounded like a bankrupt Amtrak going by. I didn’t succeed in having a BM. I missed my outhouse and the routine of lighting newspapers to shoo flies away. Lil’ Black Cloud hung around the barracks selling laxatives.
I was sent to the dispensary and given dynamite laxative pills which I ate like M&Ms but they didn’t work. Towards the end of the camp outing, I would blow breath on my palm to test for bad breath. Good thing one-legged Margaret wasn’t visiting.
While visiting Mexico and before I spent the afternoon losing my virginity, I went shopping seeking a gift for Margaret. I had a hell of a time convincing the vendor I just wanted one shoe. When I got home and saw Margaret that same night, I handed her the gift. As she opened the gift her smile turned into one of disappointment, she was already wearing the same side shoe . . . lay it on, Lil Black Cloud . . .
OUTHOUSE TO THE RESCUE
When I got home – HALLEUJAH! I didn’t bother to light a newspaper and in a few seconds of shittin’ I felt I could run the 100 yd. dash in 9.5 seconds. Kind of like a caveman running from T-Rex, or Mom, the kleptomaniac, eluding retail store detectives.
A few years later when in the Navy, my ship had a latrine that had a trough about 5 to 6 feet long. You never wanted the spot at the end because water swished and splashed with the ship’s rolling movement. You had to rise and roll with the ship; otherwise the turds in the trough resembling Baby Ruth candies, and a few Tootsie Rolls, would autograph your bottom passing through.
My rank in the National Guard known as the constipated one, paid $27.00 for the two week period at camp. Before leaving, many poker games were played. I lost all my pay. Lil’ Black Cloud dealt.
I had some explaining to do when I got home without money. I told Mom about my constipation and she felt sorry for me and she warned me about eating gringo food. She didn’t make an issue of the gambling loss because she was used to being broke. The second trip to camp was the same: Ay caramba! I lost my pay again. Lil Black Cloud wouldn’t lend me money. This time I was punished at home. I couldn’t use Gato (My dog in case you’ve forgotten) to keep warm for two weeks.
Later, back home from encampment I began to itch horribly down below. While shooting the breeze with friends I crossed my legs constantly seeking relief and finally had to stand, hoping for relief. Now I started shifting from one foot to the other. Eureka! I learned mambo dancing accidentally. Back home at our National Guard meeting I told Sgt. my problem and he quickly recognized it as crustaceans.
“Crustaceans, what the hell are those?”
“Frank,” those are better known as crabs.”
“Are they edible and if not, how do I get them off?”
“There are many ways. Try rubbing alcohol, or better still, go to a beauty salon. And if that still doesn’t work go to the zoo and have a monkey groom your hair for a quick meal.”
The problem persisted. I developed a neck pain bending down, searching for the little critters. Besides, I ended up drinking the alcohol. The critters were too hard to detect because of nature’s natural protection; our skin color was a perfect match.
A method of getting rid of crabs, of many recommended, I found the following smart: was told to shave off half of one side and set the other unshaven half on fire. When the inferno grew, crabs would run to the shaved side and for me to take an ice pick and stab them to death. One try was all I could take. Lil’ Black Cloud furnished the ice pick and a used Band Aid. Barrio Boulevard of Stabbed Crabs.
“Gracias, cabron.” I told Lil’ Black Cloud.
He replied, “De nada, stupid.”
When we readied to leave camp three of us decided not to go back with the convoy. We wanted to go to Tombstone, the famed western town. As we hitchhiked and spotted military vehicles coming our way we quickly used tactics and hid alongside the road just like we’d been taught the last two weeks.
In Tombstone, our filthy looking and wrinkled uniforms led people to mistake us for visiting Federales from Mexico. At the next Guard meeting at home we expected the worse as punishment for going AWOL. Instead we were promoted to Corporals. A little longer in that company I might have made General. I’ve never ordered crabs on Red Lobster’s menu.
Much later in life I had another encounter at the same mountain location where Marv and I had been. I was surprised by a barmaid that had most customers goo-goo-eyed, by accepting my invitation for a lover’s rendezvous. As I approached the same spot in the mountains the damn Lil’ Black Cloud was sitting on top of the same cactus as before. Again, I said Oh! Oh! – anticipating a disaster. As I turned off the engine Sinatra was singing – “Luck be a lady tonight.” (If these words aren’t correct – so what?)
My God! My zipper got stuck! (Dad, where are you?) It was dark and couldn’t see too well. For this kind of emergency it would take at least a dozen matches. I had only one match and couldn’t use the car’s lighter. After a struggle and a burned fingertip we fixed it and by now my chorizo sausage was rising like today’s inflation caused by Federal Reserve notes in your pocket.
As we got ready she asked “What about the rubber, Frank?” I was shocked! I didn’t expect that. I couldn’t think of anything to say other than “oops! – I forgot it, will my spare tire do?” She laughed so hard she didn’t notice me taking her pants off. What a macho feeling, I scored without getting slapped. When I took her home she didn’t say anything – she laughed all the way to the door. I didn’t think it was funny I left the spare tire behind. Several days later I went to the bar and was told she had found another job – selling tires and fixing flats.
POPEYE THE WETBACK SAILOR
At the age of 16 and a school dropout I quit playing ball completely. Two years later (1954) I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. The years in the Navy were a wonderful experience – most of the time. I had never tasted some of the food served. I showered every day with a rarely used substance, soap. I didn’t have to wait for monsoon season to wash my clothes. I had the whole Pacific as a washing machine.
Things went well at boot camp in San Diego. Lil’ Black Cloud must have taken a leave of absence. After boot camp and a short visit home I reported to the San Diego shipyard where ships were lifted out of the water to be worked on; referred to as “being in dry dock.”
Aboard ship wasn’t a pretty sight; soldering irons and hoses scattered throughout, torches blaring all over. People hurrying back and forth, total chaos; you’d think we were still at war. Or maybe the Captain wanted to hurry back to his Geisha girlfriend in Japan. I thought of transferring out the first day.
The honoring of the U.S. flag was practiced at every U.S. military installation precisely at 8:00 a.m. daily around the world. At 8:00 a.m. everyone is expected to honor the flag by standing for a moment at an assigned station. I frolicked around and failed to heed the raising of the flag and the moment of silence. I was too busy looking into the kitchen enjoying the aroma of food, oblivious of being observed by an Officer. After the ceremony the officer came after me and proceeded to give me a tongue-lashing, the first of many. Lil’ Black Cloud had returned.
It was my first day aboard and already given extra duty as punishment. It consisted of chipping paint and mopping floors. I wasn’t given time to unpack my bag. After finishing scraping I found myself storing things in my locker at midnight which bothered sleepers. I’m in a compartment full of white guys and one yells, “Quit making noise, Pancho Villa!”… Shipmates? My God, I’m aboard this ship for the next three years. For the next few weeks, hoping to stop the abuse, I would let everyone know that I was part Irish.
“Are you Mexican?”
“Yes, but I am part Irish,” became my routine response.
Never having been ashamed of my quart of Mexican blood within, I had to adjust to rampant discrimination. Many of us in the military experienced discrimination and the civil rights legislation were still a decade away. I started playing softball to get off the ship and things turned out all right. More often than not there is harmony between races in athletics. If I were king, I’d order all citizens to play in some kind of a game every day. Manuela and her five sisters would be banned (waste of energy for distant runners) along with Lil’ Black Cloud.
The department I belonged to was called “the deck force,” where most so-called dummies ended up based upon results of IQ tests taken in boot camp. To this day I’m still sorry copying off the wrong guy – another dummy. We were the maintenance crew, basically janitors. Because of screwing up the first day, I was labeled a troublemaker. Extra duty was given to me constantly with much disrespect, (spic, greaser, cockroach, Speedy Gonzales . . . signs of the times.) I told them I didn’t mind – just put Mr. in front.
I had to think of a way to stop this disrespectful behavior by those in uniform who had become my enemies thousands of miles from Korea (Although that war had ended) I volunteered to work as a dishwasher. It was rewarding: One, got out of extra duty, and two, had all the leftovers my stomach desired.
A supervisor who made my life miserable aboard ship was a half-breed – Chicano and Indian, from Colorado. How lucky, my first Compadre. Wanting to be friendly, my first words to him were “Buenos Dias! Amigo!” He yelled back and said he didn’t want me using Spanish words aboard ship. Not even San Diego or San Francisco, I asked? He reminded me of the teacher who taught Spanish class in high school; she admonished me for speaking Spanish to the student next to me. It was confusing to understand – she was oriental.
I asked my “Tio-Taco” (a Chicano Uncle Tom) as to why not (use Spanish) and gave me extra duty just for asking. This person, besides having a nasty attitude was also a terrible drunkard. We might have become good drinking pals. Most men aboard ship feared him. When coming back to the ship from a night of drinking he always threatened people. Guess which one he would ask for first? I’d hear him coming; got off of my rack and put my shoes on in case of a fight, and climbed back on the rack
When he entered the compartment screaming, I noticed some sailors in bed had blankets over their heads. He’d approach at the foot of my rack and unleash obscenities. He never touched me though. That was a serious offense, and that – he understood. He made my life miserable (just like commas do) for the next three years. Lil’ Black Cloud was seen in town having a beer with him.
After my first game with the ship’s ball team, the officer in charge realized that I had much playing experience and made me team captain. The officer (first baseman) was in charge of the department I was trapped in. All supervisors were under his jurisdiction. Yippee!
“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do.” (Teddy Roosevelt)
HAPPENINGS ABOARD SHIP
Whenever I got off ship to play softball, my department supervisors hated me even more, especially the Tio Taco Chicano supervisor. I was the only one from the department to get off to play ball during working hours. I walked around the ship like Babe Ruth, but with a smaller waist. If you believe this one you’ll believe the Babe was allergic to hot dogs.
One day as I was leaving the ship to play, the Chicano supervisor was watching me. Whenever you leave the ship or board it, you salute the flag. I grabbed my crotch with one hand and saluted him with the other instead of the flag. That got him mad as hell. Ah, but I had juice. My first baseman officer was his boss. I felt superior and didn’t even go to the Naval Academy.
We carried bats and bases in two equipment bags. When we finished playing, we stuffed can beer in the bags and carried ball equipment by hand to make room. No one aboard suspected; the officer (first baseman) ignored it. Two players were cooks and hid the beer in kitchen walk-in coolers. I had beer at sea whenever I wanted. Not bad for a sailor who mopped floors while serving his country. My Chicano Tio Taco would’ve shined my shoes for a beer when out at sea. Lil Black Cloud tried exposing this. Went to the ship’s captain but was disappointed: No one believed a talking cloud – only in cartoons and by me.
When a ship pulled into port and there was not enough room at the pier, (Is this comma right?) the ship was tied to a buoy to keep from leaving on its own. Sailors were picked at random to go to the buoy in a small boat to do the tying. “Garcia! Trejo! Rodriquez! Get on the boat and go to the buoy and tie the line!” (Rope)
We went out and I got an uneasy feeling. I noticed Lil’ Black Cloud on top of the ship’s mast waving a rope. The buoys were huge enough for two people to stand on. Two of us got on the buoy, grabbed the line and began going through the motion of tying knots we supposedly learned in boot camp. None worked.
Someone yelled, “What the hell is the holdup?”
By now Lil’ Black Cloud had shaped the rope into a noose. A few more minutes of trying got us nothing. By now supervisors were fuming and yelling for us to return. Climbing back aboard the ship we heard a supervisor yell, “Sunberg! Smith! Jones! Go out there!”
Afterwards, a little ashamed and disappointed, I told others that I didn’t learn to tie my shoes until I was 14. Also, I let it be known if called upon next time that I wanted Sunberg and Smith with me. Lil’ Black Cloud joined others and led the booing. Someone yelled “Didn’t you wetbacks learned back home how to tie bunches of carrots and cilantro in the fields and can’t even tie to a buoy?” I yelled back- “It’s not my ship!”
Some players on the softball team were radiomen. I was determined to get away under the jurisdiction of my Chicano supervisor. I spent hours learning Morse code that would one day qualify me to transfer to the radio shack. A few months later with help of the officer (first baseman), I became a radioman. “Libre finalmente, gracias a dios, estoy libre.”
It was almost verbatim to the quote of Martin Luther King’s speech, only in Spanish. My friends popularized that phrase back home in the early 1950s when they were released from prison. Could this have been one of the charges against MLK of committing plagiarism?
My transfer didn’t stop the Chicano supervisor from busting my “albondigas.” When coming back to the ship drunk, now he’d yell “Where’s that pussy radioman, Trejo?” When my duty at sea was about to end, Tio Taco was talking to another and as I walked by I heard him say, “There goes that pussy radioman.” (Everyone was a “pussy” to him – even Chaplin Jones and the Captain of the ship)
I pulled out a pocketknife, walked right up to him and said, “Next time I hear you say that, I’m going to cut your F#&! throat!” Of course I was bluffing. He turned to his friend and said, ”Golly, can’t he take a joke?” I should have done that my first day aboard ship. Almost three years aboard ship and Tio Taco turned out to be the pussy. The coward had made life miserable for me. Salazar, from Colorado, if you’re still alive, I hope you can’t pee.
My first trip overseas (1954) was to Japan where a friend from Phoenix happened to be there at the same time. We got together and spent a night in downtown Yokosuka. I well remember how American cameras were sought after by the Japanese. Many sailors sold their Polaroid cameras for $20. Little did we know the Japanese would copy them, like China does today with America’s hi-tech. After the war Japan started exporting goods to America. In the beginning we made fun of their plastic toys as if we were the only ones able to make better goods.
We visited a house-of-ill-repute, (to put it mildly) and negotiated with a Mama-san for the fee. She lined up the girls for us to select. I selected mine right away (before Lil’ Black Cloud got horny; its color went from black to red.) Mama-san asked my friend which one he wanted. He pointed to a picture of a gold toothed General Tojo. Mama-san puzzled for a moment, caught on to the humor and busted out laughing.
Both of us were directed to a one room (minimizing her cost) and our squeaky twin beds were separated by a very thin see-through veil. It was like a ringside seat at a porno movie. One of the girls wanted to switch but told her I was a “one woman man,” learned that line from shit-kicking music by Slim Whitman, Hank Williams, Bud Abbot and Lou Costello. That’s right. Bud and Lou recorded the “Who’s on First” routine with hillbilly guitar music in the background. If you believe that one you’ll believe Peewee Herman dated Hillary in 1979.
When working alone in the radio shack I would pipe Mexican music throughout the ship to create a fuss. The music only lasted a few minutes before “Rednecks” began fuming. A future liberal wanted me court-martial. We compromised – I started piping Beethoven’s classical music accompanied by a Mexican guitar in the background.
In 1955 we went to Hong Kong. Thought I understood poverty experienced in the barrio but people in Hong Kong were worse off. People would urinate and defecate in the streets. (Like in today’s San Francisco) Children suffering from malnutrition, infested with ring-worm, begged for food. Thousands of people were living on small boats and starving. The following may be one reason why the world started calling us the “Ugly American.”
Every day after a meal sailors working in the kitchen would take big drums full of leftovers, dumped them on top of families waiting in boats behind the ship begging for food. Sailors laughed and seemed to enjoy watching the starving grabbing food off their heads. I even witnessed an elderly couple forced to have oral-sex for discarded food. Their hunger brought back memories of my starving days as a youngster and to witness such cruelty my eyes filled with tears. I couldn’t interfere – I might have been rear-ended by the same mentality who favors same-sex marriage in today’s America. Same-sex marriage should be a State issue and not of the federal criminal government
The on-going issue of same-sex marriage being forced upon us by the federal government is unconstitutional. Federal judges and law professors are lying to the American people that states’ have no legal right to supersede federal law. They are wrong! Congress has limited powers called “enumerated powers.” There are 18 of them and none of them have anything to do with abortion, education, health, and same-sex marriage. Your Constitution says anything not listed in the enumerated powers is left to the states to decide what to do. The only legal way those issues may come under federal jurisdiction is for the Constitution to be amended – that has never happened. The states have a legal constitutional right to tell the feds to go to hell . . . we have a subverted three branches of government.
The problem is that the establishment controls education and the American people have been dumb-downed for decades. 90% of the American people have never read the Constitution and have no idea when the elected are committing constitutional crimes. There is no accountability . . . we allow a criminal government based upon ignorance. So remember, government has no business shoving these issues down our throats unless the Constitution is amended – BY YOU!
I finally got off the ship and was stationed at a naval base 17 miles outside of Phoenix, my hometown, upon which time I received an honorable discharge in 1958 and ten pounds of beans as mustering out pay.
“Good thing Trejo and his Lil’ Black Cloud weren’t on my staff – I’d still be fighting WWII.” (General Eisenhower)
The following picture says it all about my health deteriorating because of Lil’ Black Cloud. I joined the Army and somehow ended up in the Navy chipping paint. The last day before discharge the Military Police from the Army picked me up for being AWOL. Lil’ Black Cloud – where are you, you dirty *%^#&^!
Sailor at the bar next to an oriental: “My name is Sailor Jones,” what’s your name?” “I am a Kamikaze pilot.” Wait a minute replied the sailor, “I thought Kamikaze pilots were supposed to be dead? He answered: “My name Chicken Chow Mein.”
After becoming a civilian and out of work, I had no choice but to return to the same shack in the barrio I had left four years earlier. The first thing I did after learning cleanliness in the Navy was to scrub all the piss stains off the outhouse commode. (It was my study hall as a kid) I hung a roll of toilet paper and erased all the graffiti off the Mexican termite eaten walls. The last one to erase was DON’T BE A STAR – USE BOTH HANDS! Ah . . . what memories.
By now I’m 22 years old and tried junior college but not having discipline for schooling, trying to adjust to higher education was a failure.
I didn’t have transportation, no job. I had become embarrassed where I lived. I took my first GI check for school and went to the local beer joint “La Siete” (7th St. hangout) and paid my tab. How sad, but thanks anyway taxpayers!
Before resuming my athletic softball (Fast Pitch) career at 27 I worked at odd jobs and was finally able to sever ties with my childhood barrio stomping grounds and rented an apartment. Wow, an indoor toilet! No cucarachas, plenty of toilet paper instead of newspapers. I felt like the Jefferson’s of TV fame.
Spooky characters frequented “La Siete” all day long, including yours truly. A book could be written about their lives. Isn’t that what you’re doing, Frank? “Well, it’s really not a book – just a bunch of notes I’ve carried in my wallet since the ‘50s.”)
In our circle of friends a nutty whacked-out character nicknamed “Psycho” could never be trusted. You always had to face him, never give him your back. One night two strangers were enjoying a beer when Psycho came up from behind and broke a bottle on each head to satisfy his warped personality. The bartender, being just as loony, insisted they pay for their beers and asked them to leave because blood on the floor didn’t match the linoleum. I bought the bartender a book for Christmas, Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It didn’t help, he was eventually fired for recycling left-over beer in used glasses for only 15 cents.
MOVE OVER ELSIE
As a home-delivery milkman for Borden’s Milk Company I delivered to a house where Psycho was shacked up. One morning I saw the woman of the house with a cast on her arm, I asked what happened. She said Psycho broke her arm while arm wrestling. She was so scared of him she didn’t say anything when he used both arms to arm wrestle. Numerous times he showed up at the bar beaten to a pulp, proudly announcing he hadn’t been knocked out. Later he took a rifle and committed suicide. What a shame, his mental state may have been ruined by the local priest. “Pedophile priests – angels without wings.”
I was the first Chicano milk delivery person in Phoenix hired by Borden’s. Of course, being bilingual I got the shittiest route – a welfare route in the crime-ridden section. They figured knowing Spanish would be advantageous. It back-fired. Most of my customers were black and didn’t even understand what the word “adios” meant. I gave half my products to starving kids – mostly half pints of chocolate and regular milk. Others I gave eggs to and many mothers didn’t pay. I was running a deficit route. That should have qualified me to go work in Congress.
Normally it would take three weeks to break in as a home delivery milkman. I had to learn where some left house keys so I could enter the house to get to the refrigerator. I had to be able to tell the difference between an outhouse and a shack – at times they appeared similar in appearance.
One customer worked the graveyard shift and would leave the house key on top of a tree branch. I had to look for a ladder at 4 a.m? After one week on the job, the driver who was teaching me suddenly quit. Asked by management if I could handle it; said yes, but really, wasn’t ready. Barrio Boulevard of Broken Bottles.
I started at 3:30 a.m. and found myself delivering milk at 9:00 p.m. Poor babies, crying for breakfast late at night. Not being able to communicate yet, a baby would rub his stomach with one hand and the other pretending sticking food in its mouth. It didn’t help losing the book that had addresses listed and what customers ordered. Damn Lil’ Black Cloud.
In the beginning days were hectic. But like everything else – the more I worked, the better I became. So, as not to lose the new routing book I sat on it as I drove. So there! – Lil Black Cloud.
At one of two whorehouses I delivered to a beautiful mulatto working girl covered with freckles, always answered the door. She never failed to have her negligee wide open wearing nothing else underneath – a way of trying to entice me to barter. This was a first – didn’t have to pay for the porno show.
“Good morning, Frank!”
“Hi Dolores,” covering my eyes a bit by scratching my forehead and looking down at something more appealing than a Picasso sketch.
“I’ve got a new girl, Frank. Her name is Lily.”
Lily stood close by. I said hello – she didn’t respond. Dolores told me Lily was a deaf-mute. Lily pointed her finger to her Pinata down below.
I misunderstood her signal and commented how nice her slippers were. Lily appeared puzzled. I pointed down to my shoes and she made a laughing sound. Have you ever heard a deaf-mute laugh? Almost identical to Hillary’s.
I was making only $300 per month and turned my pockets inside out – zero! The milk bill was due once a month and Dolores was forever trying to barter. It took a lot of bean power not to. Dolores became over confident and smelled victory when she noticed a small bump on my trousers. But no, I had left the truck motor running and my next stop was the local parish. How could I accept Dolores’ invitation and the next moment being greeted by a Pedophile at the church? Life could be difficult at times. Decisions, decisions, decisions. My employment at Borden’s didn’t last long. My route was eliminated due to running in the red all of the time.
A GROWN UP BARRIO KID VS. GREATNESS
Not having played top notch ball since 1952, (I quit around 16 years-old) I started playing again (27 years-old) for the best fast-pitch softball team in Arizona in 1963. I had competed against this team before and did well. When their third baseman suffered a broken leg the team asked me to play for them. I accepted and began my march to the Hall of Fame; twice, one gringo and one wetback Hall of Fame.
I met up with Eddie Feigner again, of the “King and His Court” fame. It had been 11 or 12 years since I’d faced him. This time I was ready with my sock on properly. The bleachers were loaded with the unemployed and illegal aliens who had just left the polling place having voted for Democrats. Many in the stands were relatives sharing one hot dog – cheering me on. (Hey Frank! Your shoes are on backwards) An uncle of mine was under the bleachers taking pictures; something he learned as an expelled student from the seminary.
We had a classic situation in the game. The “King” is ahead 4 to 2; bases are loaded, full count, and there are two outs, bottom of the 7th inning. I’m at the plate and already have a single and a four bagger. Eddie calls time out, motions the catcher to join him to discuss what pitch to throw. I surmised they’re saying the following:
“This wetback already has two hits. Should we call the immigration office?” – Eddie asks the catcher.
Catcher: “Let’s do a drop ball. If he connects at least we have a chance of a ground ball. Any high pitch if hit may go over our heads. Calling immigration is also a good thing but it is always busy at congressional committee hearings explaining their ineptness and asking for more money.”
Catcher goes back to his position. Lil’ Black Cloud is behind him as the ump. The crowd was anticipating something exciting about to happen. Eddie always put on a show for the crowd. He might throw from between his legs; he might pitch beginning with his arm behind his back. The pitch people always enjoyed is when Eddie went through the pitching motion (but not releasing the ball) and the catcher slamming his glove as if the ball was so fast no one saw it. No matter what, my gut feeling was, it would be a drop ball.
Eddie is set, begins his windup. I plan my own show and considered dropping down on my knees to get a better shot at the drop. Remember when in Rome do as the Romans do? Eddie goes into his stretch, here comes the pitch! …and…and…that’s all I’m going to say …Bye, Bye!
SOFTBALL BUM FOR TEN YEARS
1963 was my first trip to a world tournament. (Rock Island, Ill.) It was directed by the International Softball Congress (ISC); an organization that’s kept men’s fast pitch softball alive (A dying sport except for girls softball)) along with the American Softball Association (ASA). Both support kids throughout the U.S. – wonderful organizations.
In my first world tournament I already had three hits in the first two ball games. The third game was a disaster. Lil’ Black Cloud in the stands was wearing a t-shirt promoting “Black Power.” In chasing a bad throw to third base from an outfielder the base ump had his eyes on the ball and didn’t see me coming towards him after the ball. I ran into him; broke my collar bone and was out the rest of the tournament. I spent the remaining days at the snack bar drinking beer. Barrio Boulevard of Broken Bones. Lil’ Black Cloud was jubilant.
The team placed 4th in the tourney and Lil Black Cloud spent the rest of the tournament drinking beer on my credit. Two weeks later I went with another team to Clearwater, Florida for an ASA world tournament all bandaged up. Needless to say, but I will anyway, I played right field because I couldn’t move to the sides quickly, and to play third base would have been a disaster. Didn’t field a ball at all in RF, got one base hit, and one RBI. The team didn’t do well.
The round trip to Florida was horrendous. There were seven of us in the car. We traveled 2,100 miles one way, ate hamburgers and fries all the time. The car muffler gave up in New Orleans but we escaped getting a ticket. Our body “mufflers” stunk the car but I couldn’t be blamed… mine had a reputation of stinking of rancid beans. The following year, (’64) still with Phoenix Hays Roofing, we were invited to a 4th of July tournament (four days) in El Paso, Texas.
Years before, my oldest brother Gil and a friend, Paul Lopez, moved to El Paso (1949) to play softball. My brother left after one year while Paul stayed and became one of the greats in the game as a pitcher. Through the years I always kept informed as to how Paul was doing. My dream as a kid had always been to bat against him. At last I was going to play against a man who cradled me in his arms and now a living legend. But before I continue . . . I offer this:
The manager of the home team, El Paso, had previously been a city Mayor. Sharing a few beers I asked about his life. He was a veteran of WW2. He had won a battlefield commission because of his heroic deeds in combat and made Captain and was assigned his own company to lead. His company was mainly composed of Chicano brothers from his hometown. He was wounded and hospitalized. Recuperating in the hospital he got werd that his company was being sent to a dangerous area and was concerned about their safety. He begged the higher ups not to go through with the dangerous mission – he was ignored.
The whole company was wiped out and when he got word what happened he left the hospital. He got himself a rifle and went looking for the general responsible for the disaster. He was stopped and detained. Because of his valor and courage he had been nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor. But because of his reaction to the tragedy suffered by his “carnales” his recommendation for the highest award was denied. . . . back to softball . . .
The first time at bat against Paul, I tripled. The second time, doubled, and the third time he called out, “You little son-of-a-bitch!” Kidding, of course, – or maybe not! The third time he fanned me with three change-ups. Lil Black Cloud was leading a cheering section for him. I stood there briefly, honoring Paul by tipping my hat. I had expected him to do the same when I tripled but he didn’t wear a hat. All throughout his career he rarely wore a hat or a glove. His hands were as big as gloves. His team only had 8 caps – one more and the sponsor would have to file for bankruptcy.
The crowd at the park were mostly Chicanos taking time out from cleaning offices and mowing grass. I gained popularity and friendships because many thought I was my older brother who had played there years earlier. In between games I would visit cars in the parking lot – most had tubs of bottle beer. By the time I mooched off the last car Lil Black Cloud was attempting to sell my glove. I scolded it because it was willing to accept pesos instead of dollars. It was a continuation of the love-hate relationship we’d developed.
Today, El Paso, Texas may as well be a city of Mexico. Many cities in the Southwest are being converted into Hispanic cities. You can kiss California goodbye. It is a one-party (communist) State just as the U.S. Congress has been subverted into one club that does the bidding of the elite. America is a communist/socialist welfare fascists country. We’ve lost government and now are desperately attempting to save our country. It may be irreversible – the communists in and out of government have been programming the American people to accept their ideology since the early 1960s.We have a Democrat communist (Sanders) running for office and millions who favor him have no clue.
90% of Americans have never read the Constitution; a reason why criminals in all levels of government get away with political crimes – people don’t know that we’re being enslaved. Small wonder then that Americans are so ignorant and stupid. Mark my words, Hillary and Obama will get away with their constitutional crimes. We have a criminal government and the Republican bastards have betrayed its voters. Remember – they were going to do this and that to stop Obama and didn’t. Aw shit, go back and watch sports and soap operas . . . back to my story . . .
In the El Paso tournament I played exceptionally well against California teams and was asked if I’d consider moving to California to play. I thought, why not instead of going there to pick grapes like many families in Phoenix did. I quickly accepted but explained about Lil Black Cloud in case we came in last. The year was 1964 when I left Phoenix to barnstorm playing ball. California ball clubs were dominant and considered the strongest teams in the country. I wanted to play with and against the best. I also decided to play until I turned 37. I was 27 at the time. I started my run for the Hall of Fame . . . it only took 10 years of playing “big time” ball to accomplish my dream.
Around this time I did things on the ball field others didn’t dare try. One day I swung the bat from the opposite end. In another game without calling time out, I walked out to the mound and said a few words to the pitcher just to see who would ask. Went back to the batter’s box, the ump asked what was that all about; I told him “the pitcher said you were a lousy ump.” The ump didn’t give the pitcher a called strike for the rest of the game. If you believe that one you’ll believe the Clinton’s are not greedy but honest politicians.
The measurement of the batter’s box in fast-pitch softball is 3 feet wide and 7 feet long. There is no rule in the book that says a batter has to stand still like in slow pitch. I had a play that I tried not very often but it worked once. With me at bat and a runner on third I would stand way up in front of the box. Depending where you stand, the catcher will move along too. When I stood way up in front, the catcher moved forward almost on top of the plate.
On a given signal by me to the runner on turd, after the windup by the pitcher, I quickly moved all the way back of the batter’s box. This startled the catcher and in his attempt to move backwards, he lost his balance and felled backwards and the ball would be up against the back screen and the runner scored. I couldn’t get a patent on it.
Never was a classy dressed player. Hardly ever kept my shoes shined. My uniform lacked ironing. My sanitary white socks that I wore under my uniform stockings were always soiled. (I should have rented a misfit from the NOW organization to do my laundry) And yet I thought spitting on your hands to get a better grip on the bat was “dirty.”
The back strap on the glove is there to adjust support how the glove fits. One year I played the whole tournament with the strap torn apart. It felt like a folded cheese-crisp tortilla, but I still managed not to let it interfere with my defensive play.
FAST N FURIOUS – CHICANO STYLE
A few years before and in-between jobs I became a onetime criminal. Being unemployed and broke, an old friend happened by and through the conversation said he had two friends who wanted to sell machine guns they had acquired. He asked if I knew anyone that would be interested in purchasing them. I did ask around and found another partner-in-crime dummy to help me look. I didn’t understand possession of that type of firearms was illegal and a felony, to boot. Lil Black Cloud failed in a business he invested in – a shooting gallery using sling shots.
One thing led to another and we found a buyer who asked for the machine guns delivered to his house. Unknown to us the guy was a snitch for government. Also unknown to us was a bunch of agents hiding in the area ready to pounce on us. Another person driving by was wanted by the police in California and was spotted by one of the agents as a wanted suspect for murder. He was nabbed right on the spot. (He had his own Lil Black Cloud) . . .
That evening the head-line newspaper read “Five Men Held – One for Murder.” We had nothing to do with the murder suspect but leave it to the news media’s sensationalism. Others thought we were helping the Castro revolution by supplying him with guns for cigars. If you believe that one you’ll believe the new dope, oops I mean Pope, will order all priests in the world to refrain from practicing pedophilia and to go to confession on Sundays.
Somehow the other dummy and I were able to slip away from Elliot Ness and his goons. We escaped and left the car behind. When we returned to get the car, it wasn’t there – it had been confiscated. I decided to turn myself in. At the time a brother (Barney Fife) was a Lt. with the Sheriff’s Department. I related the problem and he convinced me I was not a hardened criminal and the best thing to do was to give up. He would deny we were related unless I paid back the 10 bucks I owed him and mowed his lawn.
Can you imagine – the whole police force is looking for me and I’m in the Sheriff’s office. As I’m confessing to my brother, Lil’ Black Cloud is outside by the window waving hand-cuffs and giving me a Nazi salute. The end result was five years’ probation and a $500 fine. When you commit a felony you lose many rights. Today, it may have changed – the black-robed thugs on the bench and politicians have relaxed the rules by turning the legal system upside down in favor of liberalism.
Several years later I asked for a presidential pardon that was approved. Many are never able to get pardons because of the stringent set of rules that have to be followed. Many rules are broken and parolees are returned to keep the labor force working for the private industries who use slave-labor wages to make products that return millions of dollars in profit. To qualify for a pardon the following is investigated – employment record – friends – neighbors – moral conduct…etc. You must show good behavior since the crime. All my rights were restored and whenever applying for work I didn’t have to disclose the only bad mark in my life. Thank God, for my ball playing to keep me out of trouble. The only stealing I attempted was 2nd base in ball playing.
My nightlife during this time was typical, or so I thought. When dating I’d borrow a brother’s car and got in the habit of leaving keys on the floorboard. My dress pants had holes in them.
One night I picked up my date, (Boy! she was heavy) went to the American Legion Post 41 for dancing. Approaching the front door I spotted a brother outside handcuffed to a pole. Embarrassed, I had no choice but to introduce him and he had the nerve to ask for money. I winked and nodded, meaning, ask her. He had created a commotion inside the dance hall and police were called. That spoiled my evening, I couldn’t wait for the evening to end.
When it did, the girl and I held hands and skipped to the lot to find the car missing! (I wondered if the machine gun agents were carrying their duty a bit too far.) My brother hadn’t bothered to tell me he was picking up the car. Lil’ Black Cloud must’ve gotten a ride with my brother. Good riddance – you little bastard!
It was a slow, quiet, and tiring walk to her house – three miles away. What an embarrassing evening. I felt like re-enlisting in the Navy and putting up with the Tio Taco supervisor aboard ship. Gossip got around that girls would have to walk home after a date with me and I became a non-tostada in the dating scene. I’ve called E-harmony and they promised to get back at me soon. I’ve been waiting two years. And when it did I was set up with a blind date. Sure enough, Lil Black Cloud got involved – the girl was really blind. Imagine, me, on a date with a blind girl, a seeing-eye dog as chaperone and me carrying a box of dog biscuits.
I was chosen to be the best man at a wedding. A week before at the bachelor party I made the statement that I’d be at the wedding even if I had to hop to it. Sure enough, a few days before the wedding I broke a toe playing basketball, (guarded by Lil Black Cloud) and had a cast on my leg all the way up my thigh. The doctor wanted to go higher but the priest said No, No, No! it’ll cause an obstruction.
During the wedding ceremony I was extremely uncomfortable with the cast. A priest blessed it and sign it, including his phone number in Morse code. At the wedding reception dance after a few drinks I was going a mile a minute. Danced all night, doing mambos, cha-cha-chas, and corridos (Mexican polkas). My leg in a cast looked like a baton being swung by a drinking orchestra conductor. In between every dance I did pirouette moves on my way to the bar. I had been told to keep the cast on for six weeks but took it off after the dance in the back seat of the car while my date fixed a flat. I told Lil’ Black Cloud to go find another dummy for the evening.
Later in another dance after a few drinks I began to doze while on the dance floor. Opening one eye I discovered I’d been deserted and was the only one left on the floor; all eyes were upon me. As I left the floor, embarrassed as hell, some in the audience began clapping in jest. Lil’ Black Cloud was the only one booing. More embarrassing moments were when a girl refused your invitation to dance and on the way back to join the guys they’d start laughing before I reached the booth. I used the following strategy to arouse the curiosity of good looking girls. There is always a fat ugly looking girl with the group. I never asked the “pretty one” for a dance – I ignored them. I always asked the ugly one first. In due time the pretty one began to wonder – “Why not me?” I knew that would arouse curiosity and when I asked the pretty one for a dance, I was never refused. If you believe that one you’ll believe Jerry Lewis and Dean Marin had a gay relationship going.
At another dance a girl I wanted to meet sat at a huge round table accompanied by her two sisters and their dates. I went to the car, chug-a-lugged bad whiskey, (For courage) and went back in and waited for the right song to come along – something like Sentimental Journey. It didn’t play for another half hour. By then, whiskey got the best of me. I started seeing two bands, hearing two different songs being played at the same time. Try dancing to swing and a slow piece at the same time – I tried it once alone but . . . if you believe that one you’ll believe a Latino will win the presidency in 2016. Tell Jeb Bush not even a bilingual can win. Observe the media how it manipulates the voting process by pushing for “another” Bush.
The song I had been waiting for started. I walked across the dance floor towards my target and as I neared, the ballroom began to spin like the Spin-doctors of editorial boards. I rested my trembling hand on the table for balance and applied too much pressure, the table tipped over, drinks scattered, and I did too. I lived out the title of the song. Never saw that girl again. Lil’ Black Cloud was the drummer in the band. Barrio Boulevard of Broken Drums.
On the way home that night (in reverse) a strange thing occurred. I kept passing my apartment but couldn’t stop the car. After a few turns and attempts to stop I just couldn’t. While stopped at an intersection, a car pulled up alongside. “Hey buddy! What street is this?” I asked. “You’re in Tucson, Arizona,” he replied. My God, that’s 125 miles from home. What’s happening to me??? I thought I was still in Phoenix. I never drank tequila again.
GREEN FELT BARRIO
In between ball season I lived in Las Vegas and had a job working at Caesars Palace taking care of liquor inventory. The pay was $12.45 per eight-hour shift. I lived across the street in a studio apartment complex where the Imperial Palace used to be. The rent was $17 per week, linen service included. And no cockroaches!
Working in Las Vegas on the Strip was a wonderful and exciting experience. Being single, I spent most of the day at Caesars. Had access to most areas of the hotel and was allowed to stand behind the curtain of the stage watching performers entertain. Many people witnessed the Rat Pack (Sinatra, Martin, Davis, et al) come in and would take over the lounge show in the wee hours of the morning. Most lounge shows on the Strip closed by 2:30 a.m. but Caesars remained opened until sunrise.
Caesars was the classiest hotel on the Strip; the most beautiful girls, service personnel at their best, and as far as I could tell good relations existed between hotel management (The mob lapdogs) and labor bosses. Sitting next to celebrities at the bar occurred often. One late night while sitting alone at the bar, Johnny Carson sat next to me.
“Where did the bartender go?” (He wanted to buy cigarettes) “In the back,” I responded. I lit a cigarette and Carson asked if I could spare one. I offered the whole pack but he refused, one was enough, he said. Maybe it was the one which triggered his cancer?
Joe Louis was the hotel greeter at Caesars at the time, and spent time shooting the breeze with him and gave him my autograph. Every day was full of surprises. You never knew what famous people you’d run into. Lil’ Black Cloud collected autographs of parking lot attendants.
My job as an inventory clerk was to keep the bars stocked. I never did bartending. Having access to all liquor I would keep cooks happy by taking pitchers full of cold beer to the kitchens and I ate the best food available. The beans and tortillas were a fading memory. Lil Black Cloud was in charge of bathrooms; constantly eating chicken wings while flirting with cocktail waitresses on a pee run. Baccarat, a very popular game in Europe, didn’t seem as popular in Las Vegas, so it appeared to me at the time. Every time I passed an empty Baccarat table the dealers, dressed in tuxedos looked like a gathering of morticians waiting for bodies.
One day the Baccarat table was surprisingly busy. The minimum bet was $20. Some were betting the max, $2,000. A game took very little time; around two to three minutes or less. One person playing $2,000 each time had the most chips in front of him, each worth $500. Each stack of chips appeared to be about five inches high and he had more than a dozen stacks. I left the hotel that evening and by the next, they were still at it.
I found out later the person holding most chips was the Chief of Police of Mexico City. No wonder millions of Mexican people have left their country; the rich have all the money and there’s not enough to go around. Mexican citizens are forced to abandon families and country to seek work elsewhere because of government corruption.
Immigrants would remarry in our country to seek legal status. This leads to the destruction of the family left behind in Mexico. How sad. Mexican citizens should pick up machetes and march to Mexico City and clean their corrupted government house. Socialism strips people of their self-respect, pride, dignity, incentive, individualism, and much more. Does that ring a bell? We are experiencing the same thing. Millions of illegals from around the world send billions of dollars every year to their countries. You think those governments are going to work with our rotten government to close our borders? They are not stupid like Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Why should we ask Mexico to extradite “El Chapo” to our country for a trial? Why should we spend millions locking him up forever? We have a corrupt, criminal government – thanks Demos and Repussycans for open borders – you bastards!
Having been plagued by ulcers at an early age; working at Coca-Cola in Phoenix and drinking coke all day didn’t help. This caused the following problem in the future. One night after work at Caesars, I stayed at the bar drinking a few Black Russians. (bartenders were communizing us) I was approached by a “working” girl or two, peddling their trade.
I couldn’t afford $100. Why should I, when Manuela and her five sisters were always an arm-length away. I got to know several cocktail waitresses – girls from all over the world. Many of them had millionaire boyfriends whether the girls were married or not. When in Rome (Caesars Palace) do as the Romans do – welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah, Nevada.
Returning to my apartment across the street, I felt nauseous. I rushed to the bathroom, got down on my knees, hugged the bowl and vomited blood. Weakened quite a bit; I barely made it outside to hail a cab. A few cabs ignored me . . . I was wearing jockey shorts . . .
Upon arriving at the hospital, and by the time I got to the assigned room, I could hold off vomiting no longer. Rushed to the toilet but before I entered, I vomited and splattered blood on the bathroom door. I fainted and woke up the next day being fed intravenously; lost 10 pounds overnight. (Discovered a new diet to lose weight)
A few people attended to me while Lil’ Black Cloud stood by the doorway everyday with a stethoscope around his neck. I went home (Phoenix) to recuperate. Lil’ Black Cloud remained at the hospital working on his internship. I would return to LV in the early ‘70s.
“If the soup had been as warm as the wine; if the wine had been as old as the turkey; and if the turkey had had a breast like the waitress; it would have been a swell dinner.” (Pope the Dope John)
POMONA BOMBERS CALIFORNIA
After the El Paso tournament I did accept the invitation to move to California. I chose the Pomona, California Bombers. They were in fifth place in league standings when I arrived. The competition was so great that whoever won league play would get an automatic invite to the ISC World Softball Tournament in Rock Island, Ill. As it turned out we tied for first place against the famed Long Beach Nitehawks, (winner of a record ten-world tournaments) which necessitated a playoff game.
The home field of the Long Beach Nitehawks was huge, all dirt, and the fence on the property a good 350 feet if not more, quite large for fast-pitch softball. They had a small portable fence to enclose the field to make the distance to right field shorter from home plate as an advantage to their home-run-hitting player Bomar – he was a left handed hitter.
Bomar was 6 ft. 7 inch and weighed 275. I was 5’9’ and weighed 155 – 156, after a bean dinner. The bat Bomar used was the heaviest in softball. There was only one other person I ever saw use that same bat – me. I tried getting others to try but it was too heavy, they said. Well, game time came and we noticed the right field fence, how close it was, again. Leave it to the Nitehawks – a home field advantage. I’d never hit two home runs in a game as a lead-off hitter (Left-handed) but I did that night. Bob Bomar had one and I had the two. We beat them 2 – 1.
I could use any bat light as a feather, or the heavy bottle bat I speak of, the weight didn’t matter. There have been many batters with awkward batting stances and bat grips. Many still became excellent hitters – it is the timing and rhythm that counts, not so much the bat size like in XXX-rated movies. (Aw, c’mon, don’t be a prude.)
Lil Black Cloud used home-made slugs at batting cages. The worst hitter ever, Lil Black Cloud struck out three times in a row, in slow pitch softball. He came to me once and asked for batting tips. I told it to go to Democratic headquarters where he would learn how to cheat. Next time he went to the batting cage he used a tennis racquet. If you believe that one you’ll believe the imperialistic U.S. government will stop destroying towns in the Middle East and elsewhere in the name of democracy.
My first game in league play in California (1964) was against the defending world champions, Gardena, Calif. I had a good game, doubled and singled. We won the game 4 to 2. We won 21 out of 22 games and qualified for the world tournament.
A point to be made is how much a ball team may benefit by just adding one player at a given position; unlike in politics where one crook replaces another. The person I replaced at third base was an All-American five times and ended up in the Hall of Fame. He was getting old and his time was up. I would experience the same 10 years later.
Rock Island, Illinois was a great supporter of the International Softball Congress (ISC) world tournament during the 1960s. Without the support of the people there the ISC may have folded. Mr. Carrol Forbes (founder of the ISC) paced up and down behind the bleachers, worrying if the League would survive. Thank God for a wonderful lady by the name Sarah Calhoun.
If anyone other than Carrol Forbes should be credited with saving the ISC, it was certainly Sarah. It was because of her support financially that the ISC was able to entertain people in the Quad-Cities for many years. The fans and morning paper (The ARGUS) made it a success. Fans of the game averaged in the thousands at times. We had first class radio and media coverage. The morning newspaper devoted a lot of space and people were laid-back and wonderful – Mid-west hospitality at its best, unlike weirdos in Hollywood and at California’s college faculties.
A rumor had it a man related to the owners of the local newspaper in Rock Island had a reputation of tipping a few, and I don’t mean tipping at restaurants. Story has it that he complained about his arm feeling numb. After being flown to the Rochester Mayo Hospital in NY for a checkup, it turned out to be that his wrist watch was on too tight.
Another humorous story about him was when his St. Bernard dogs were walking him with leashes wrapped around his neck when suddenly a rabbit crossed their path. When last seen the dogs were dragging him through a wooded area, bouncing from tree to tree like a ball on a pinball machine.
Because we won the tough California League, we were the favorite to win the world tournament in Rock Island in ’64. It only took five games to win the title. After having won the first four games, we needed one more win to become champions.
Over-confident we would win, we had a great time in town the night before. As we walked in downtown Rock Island I noticed a live bat clinging to a brick wall. I took my glove off my belt loop (u believe that? – I do) and captured it.
Took it back to the hotel, cracked open the door of a suite where seven players were sleeping and let it loose. As we peeked from the doorway, they woke up; the next few minutes were pure bedlam. Finally, someone trapped it with a bed sheet and flung it outside.
The final night of the tourney we faced another California team for the title. We had beaten them every time we played them back home. But that night they beat us twice and won the title. Ugh! Returning to the hotel in defeat, (Lil’ Black Cloud wouldn’t stop laughing) a buffet had been set up to celebrate our anticipated victory – or so we thought. Because of the defeat no one had an appetite – except me. Every bite that I took was in memory of all the hunger I suffered in the barrio.
The sponsor attempting to cheer us up lit a filter-tip cigarette and proceeded with a pep talk about the coming year. He had lit the filter-tip end and when he held it to the side it had a flame an inch long. For a moment no one moved. I quickly ran up to him, snatched the flaming cigarette, took a couple of puffs from and extinguished it.
I was first at the buffet spread. A flashback in time, rancid beans and cucarachas crossed my mind with visions of starvation in the barrio. Filled my plate to the max, stood by the door, cracked it a bit and pointed my middle finger outside hoping Lil’ Black Cloud spotted it. Unfortunately, tragedy occurred the following day. The sponsor and his wife died in a car accident on their way back to California. Perhaps if we would’ve won the championship things may have turned out differently.
PILE PILE FELT LIKE TILE
Living in Rock Island and having suffered with hemorrhoids for years, I decided to do something about it. Mr. Harrelson (team sponsor – Harrelson Motors) told me he’d had an operation for the same thing. He assured me that it was no big deal. He spent only four days in the hospital and suffered minor discomfort . . . interesting I thought. “What do you think – Lil’ Black Cloud?” . . . and it replied: “Go for it you constipated F^%&$#in’ Mexican.”
I consulted with a Dr. Quack and he reiterated what Mr. Harrelson had said, that it was no big deal, just one big bill. Arrangement was made by the hospital to integrate the surgery room. That day’s schedule for surgery read: One Mexican with hemorrhoids (could be an obstruction by a stuck beans) One illegal Chinese for removal of 36 gold teeth. One Jew to be circumcised at a discount. An artificial arm for a one-arm Mexican woman tamale maker. (Don’t you ever quit Frank?)
The day of surgery was scheduled for noon time. I couldn’t help but think of not surviving. I had heard many stories of people dying in hospitals and I began to panic at 11:46 the night before. I didn’t sleep very well thinking what if something went wrong, what would happen to my bat and glove and if the corpse would be shipped back home via another open box car like my trip, as a 14-year old, to San Francisco.
Here I am, faced with an asshole operation by an asshole, I’m waiting to be butchered and I’m feeding my ulcer with thoughts to worry about – an ulcer on top of another. The time had arrived; I was wheeled down the corridor, smiling as people passed by, and me flashing the V sign, as if I wasn’t worried about a thing other than passing gas for the last time for a few days.
As we passed the waiting room Lil’ Black Cloud was there dressed in black. I lifted my head to read the small lettering of the room up ahead but it was too small to read. A few seconds more and the lettering became visible – SURGERY ROOM – GOOD LUCK!
Would you believe they parked the four-wheel coffin outside the door of the butcher shop at 11:59.15 a.m. and went to class for more instructions on how to excavate the “family jewels.” As I waited outside the butcher shop a thousand things ran through my mind in case I didn’t make it. God was first, regardless what the Communist ACLU says. I asked forgiveness for the hub caps and bikes I had stolen as a kid and of the $5 IOU note I left in the alms basket in church and withdrew $4 back.
Jesus was next. I apologized for thousands of exercises with Manuela and her five sisters; J.C. dispelled the myth of onions growing on palms that a priest had warned us about for masturbating. J.C. advised me to slow down with Manuela and her five sisters and not to do it in the trees when birds were present.
Next in line was a priest for communion or confession; I forgot which, but covered myself tightly with the sheet and held onto my crouch while saying a Hail Mary and asked the priest if he ever went to confession.
I was thinking of many things, when suddenly I felt a jerk; an intern started to push my cab into the butcher shop. I noticed an outdated privilege license on the wall. By now I’m being administered the coup de grace and the last thing I remember is the butcher holding a metal tube (to probe) that appeared to be the size of my bottle bat. Can you imagine – one minute before he starts cutting and he’s looking for a route to take? I told him to call AAA to monitor the event.
I woke up hearing those famous words of Dr. Frankenstein, “He’s alive! He’s alive!” I looked towards the window and Lil’ Black Cloud was at the window holding an enema bag, but looking terribly disappointed.
Back in the room afterward, I was scared to touch my bottom and the side effects would begin the second day. All of a sudden I experienced the most horrifying pain this side of childbirth explained to me by grandma years earlier. I began to suffer horrific muscle spasms. (Healing process, said Dr. Quack. Your piles were as thick as a bunch of grapes)
For the next six days I would experience horrible spasms, one every minute for 24 hours without fail. At the end of the spasms I managed to stand and pee into a bed pan. My pee-pee was so small I’d have to use tweezers to hold and aim. I didn’t dare walk to the bathroom. I thought about calling a cab driven by camel jockeys from the Middle East but they were too busy committing suicide in anticipation of scoring with 72 virgins awaiting them in Allah Land.
By the 10th day I felt much batter. I walked down the corridor, very, very slowly, putting one foot in front of the other. Didn’t know my gown had untied in the back and there I was exposing my rear end looking like a cynocephalus (In the beginning I promised I would use simple words but this one is for a Librarian, should it be reading this. Aw, don’t be lazy, look it up).
That evening while recuperating and resting comfortably alone in my room, the other empty bed was about ready to be occupied. I heard a loud commotion in the hall getting closer and closer. Suddenly four male nurses’ appeared, dragging a raving maniac into the room. It took them forever to strap him onto the bed and when they did, I asked for assurance that there was no way he could free himself. I learned later the guy had given away a winning lottery ticket worth a million bucks the day before the drawing.
This guy played the same numbers all the time and one day as he walked out of a convenient store, a homeless person approached him for money. In a moment of sympathy, instead of a few coins, he gave the homeless person the ticket. If you believe this one you’ll believe amnesty for millions of illegals will make America a safer, richer, more prosperous and an educated country.
I was told not to worry about this guy. Umm – tell that to Alfred E. Neuman (“What me worry?” MAD comic fame) I’ve read too many stories that some people will demonstrate super human strength when faced with danger. It brought back the memory of the woman who slugged me once in the back seat of a car parked at the mountains – remember? That night, years ago, as I exited the car after being slapped, I slammed the door as hard as I could – so there! I said, that’ll teach you . . . what a man . . . Does this make sense?
Meanwhile, the maniac is screaming his numbers and wanting to break free. And I’m deciding whether to get off the bed just in case I need to start running, — in slow motion. If I don’t, and he succeeds, my only chance to escape is the door or jump out the window hoping Lil’ Black Cloud catches me on the way down (wanna bet?) He was finally medicated and calmed down. Whew! My next dilemma was to have a bowel movement before being released. I had to have a bowel movement? No way! … Mom! Where are you!
“Mr. Trejo, it is hospital policy and doctor’s orders that a BM is required before being discharged. We don’t care how often you’ve made the All American team, you understand?”… I put my scrapbook away.
I tried my best for a BM but was scared shit-less (pardon the pun). The next time, I succeeded. Yippee! A few BB’s or little balls that resembled goat shit, but to me they were like little pearls. Won my freedom on the 13th day because of a bowel movement, go figure!
I went back to my rented room and had to climb – I counted – 20 damn steps! I stayed in/on the bed (Am I in or on the bed, folks? – I have a problem with that one) I was told if I became constipated to call the butcher’s office.
Lil’ Black Cloud had a used enema bag ready. I did get constipated. A visiting nurse came over and gave me an enema. What a great job, I told her. I asked how long she’d been doing this kind of work and she said for five years. Having pumped gas into a doctor’s car at her Dad’s service station the doctor liked her efficiency and offered her an enema pumper job. My God, and I thought Milton Berle was bad.
Neighbors next door had a Great Dane that could have passed for War Admiral, one of the greatest in horse racing history. The dog was always tied to a tree. The ball team sponsor Harrelson Motors, where I hung out, was only a block and a half away. I felt much better by now and decided to walk, gingerly placing one foot in front of the other. I wanted to see the people at work and listen to them feel sorry for me. I left the house and walked a good 25 feet and saw the Great Dane – he was loose!
I looked around for Lil’ Black Cloud and sure enough it was across the street waving the leash at me. I stopped – didn’t move for a few seconds worrying that the dog would run up to me, paws on my chest, and me tumbling backwards and landing on my ass with him on top of me. (“Go to hell you *%.#@%! Lil’ Black Cloud “) Luckily, a stray cat got the Dane’s attention and spared me having to think of a finish to this story . . . I hate to make things up . . . really, Frank?
About a week after the operation the team sponsor had a party at a historical plantation converted into a dinner house – plus dancing. Getting off the car at the dinner house meant walking with much caution. After a few drinks it didn’t take long for me to become a Fred Astaire, James Brown (the king of soul) and the great Gene Kelly. I started doing moonwalks, splits and shuffling feet a la Brown at the same time.
The food tab was $200 and the bar tab was $800; 10% of that was mine. I looked for Lil Black Cloud – nowhere in sight, what a relief. Later, I discovered him in the parking lot with a pitcher’s wife in the back seat of a car; a “cloudy situation,” indeed.
Many years later, I got one pile back when driving a cab. Another cabbie suggested I take an enema. Me? . . . a macho man – an enema?? – you gotta be crazy! You know what folks, after years of suppositories and other medications for piles, I tried an enema. It was the best advice, ever. I would strongly recommend it for those who suffer from piles and constipation. When you use the enema it all comes out so smoothly. Use coke instead of water – “it’s refreshing.”
The day after the operation the doctor’s office called and asked if I’d seen the proctoscope.
TOURNAMENT IN ROCK ISLAND
As a young boy, my brothers said never look back at defeat; swing at any ball within reach; keep running the bases and you’ll eventually score; use a glove to catch flies instead of honey. Practice, do the best you can, and you’ll do fine. At the time Lil’ Black Cloud didn’t understand the honey bit – I didn’t either. It never bothered me when we lost. While others moaned about losing the championship game in 1964 I never did. My bigger battles off the field were against my nemesis – Lil Black Cloud.
One ball season in California I went 0 for 32 at the plate. That didn’t deter me at all, didn’t strike out once; yet won two ball games just by moving the ball. It wasn’t easy getting hits. Several pitchers in that league would be elected to the Hall of Fame in the future.
I’m still with the California team in 1965 and won the league again and qualified for the world tournament in Rock Island. In the semi-final game it is the 13th inning with no score. We are playing against the defending champions, the team that beat us twice the year before. The outcome of this game would almost guarantee a world championship – again – less one ball player that flew away with the live bat. (What do I mean by this? I don’t know, ask someone else)
I’m in contention to win the batting title; having the best tournament of my career and being touted as a possible tournament MVP by sports writers’ in the morning paper. I still have the clipping in my wallet. Because of the little bit of Irish luck (Brady) I was experiencing, it seemed I couldn’t do anything wrong. Even standing awaiting my turn at bat, people would be cheering me on – anticipating something exciting to happen. I delivered. Of many great feats I experienced in ball-playing the following was one of many.
I led off in the 13th inning (no score) by lining a base hit over the pitcher’s head. And as I’m reaching first base, I noticed the centerfielder lackadaisically fielding the ball (first mistake) so I decided to try for an extra base. The element of surprise worked. I slid into second base safely because of a bad throw to second base. (Second mistake) On second base with no outs and the sacrifice on to advance me to third, the ball was bunted toward the third baseman; he picked up the ball and started the motion to throw to first base.
Observing the play developing on my way to third, I had guessed right, the third baseman ignored me as a runner (third mistake). My manager, coaching at third base, had his arms in the air (like the Italian army practicing surrendering) indicating it was safe going to third base – didn’t have to slide. My legs thought differently – I kept running at fool speed.
Many athletes in sports often try a move out of the ordinary. It’s that gut feeling one gets occasionally when competing – I decided to try for home plate. I hit the corner of the third base bag at full speed. My coach had his mouth wide open in disbelief because I kept running. (Didn’t I just say that?) As I’m rounding third on my way home I noticed the second baseman covering first base, pumping his arm twice to get an accurate throw to the plate. I was out by a mile, so he thought. (Fourth mistake). Nearing home plate I saw the catcher leaning towards first to catch the ball (fifth mistake). Threw my body sideways and slid my hand over home plate. It was a close call – I was safe! 35 years later, the ump behind the plate; (who made the call) he and I were inducted into the International Softball Hall of Fame the same day.
Many near-death experiences by people relate stories flashing through the mind at the moment of near death, all within seconds. As I rounded 3rd base on my way home, less a guarantee I would arrive safe at the plate, I experienced flashing images that reminded me of my childhood as a juvenile delinquent in the barrio.
Eluding anyone with authority i.e., immigration, juvenile officers, probation officers, police officers, Mom with a knife . . . etc., at times required escapes normally not in my itinerary. A flash came to mind at 6 feet and 10 inches from the plate. This flash had to do as a nine year-old on my way home from the Boy’s Club under a moon-lit sky and noticed a man directly across the street. He had an open knife which appeared to be the size of a samurai sword by the moonlit reflection. He started to cross the street and that’s all I needed. I fired up my back-burners, aided by stinking tennis shoes and left a cloud of dust behind – my legs did the talking.
My next flash three feet and two inches from the plate: Curfew for minors at the time was 10 p.m. It didn’t matter, we couldn’t afford watches. I tried carrying an hour glass in my pocket but my “albondigas” kept hitting the hour glass and lost track of time. (If you believe that one you’ll believe Lil Black Cloud was a hero during the Katrina disaster) What did worry us was being apprehended and perhaps rough-up a bit and had your head-shaved because the cops didn’t like zoot-suit hair styles. Again, to repeat, they didn’t understand we couldn’t afford haircuts. Is it possible that when the Beatles started they couldn’t afford haircuts either?
I don’t remember what delinquent act triggered the chase by a cop. What I do remember was cutting corners by running through a stranger’s home and witnessing a grandma using a bed pan. How lucky, I thought, we couldn’t afford bed pans just the old outhouse 35 steps from the back door by the time you sat . . . How awful it was having to go outside in the cold to the outhouse just to pee. In the summer months even the flies in the outhouse were sweating.
As I began my slide to home plate I saw the catcher leaning towards first to catch the ball. I threw my body sideways and slid my hand over home plate. The catcher didn’t have a chance. Didn’t I say this already? So what, President Pinocchio blames Bush (the great phony Conservative) for the same thing over and over again.
I looked up and the ump had signaled safe. The important game was over! Take just one mistake out of the equation and perhaps I would not have scored. Pandemonium broke out and I was mobbed at the plate. After the dust settled I had someone’s wallet. Just think, I scored from second base on a bunted ball that wasn’t dropped. How’s that for speed and quick thinking? That night in bed I started shaking in amazement as to how I had done that – scoring from second base without the ball being mishandled. Shaking, because there were no outs and I could have been thrown out and would have been the goat and gotten much derision from teammates. Got out of bed, went and bought a six-pack and began “celebrating” with Manuela and her five sisters as a reward for a job well done.
I finished the World Tournament going 13 for 23 at the plate and won the batting title .565. The MVP was awarded to two others who placed 4th and 5th in the standing. (I was robbed!) People were disappointed that I didn’t win the MVP. But I was content being a World Champ, batting title winner, and being selected to the All-American team for the first time. I stopped calling myself a Mexican-American. I was an ALL-AMERICAN! (Eat your heart-out – you radical Latino American-hating groups)
World Champion, think about it. It’s the pinnacle of anyone’s aspirations. How I arrived at the top was the result of hard work and dedication as a youngster. The tennis balls, bottle caps, and broomsticks, the result of many things really, but the most important motivation was the desire to succeed and be as good as my brothers.
Lil Black Cloud had nightmares (lightning bolts) for a week afterward because I did better than expected . . . you smarmy little bastard.
Perhaps I should have done the following chapter earlier . . . the flow isn’t right. It’s all right though, many of my readers can’t tell the difference.
After award presentations of the ‘65 tournament, a local sponsor asked if I’d consider moving there – Moline, Rock Island, Davenport, Bettendorf; (the Quad Cities – Illinois) and gave me his personal phone number. I told him about Lil’ Black Cloud and that we’d think it over. That got a chuckle from him and he said he’d weathered many storms himself – we became friends.
Having decided to move I started putting my affairs (bar tab) in order and calculated how much it would cost him to move me. I also got a verbal agreement he would pay my tab at 20 bars in the Quad cities. I called him and answered in the affirmative, that I would go. I learned the word affirmative in the Navy in response if I was Mexican. When he sent the money he asked how I’d travel, I replied by cab. Changed my mind; made the mistake of traveling by train. What a boring trip! I counted 5 million clicks of the train’s wheels.
But I traveled in style, not in an open box car like my trip to San Francisco as a 14-year old. Upon arriving I felt like a celebrity; could have anything I wanted! He had a new car dealership business and I received a new car to drive, free grass; oops, I meant free gas. He compensated me with cash every week . . . “I’ve got the world on a string shitting on a rainbow . . .”
Some players joked about Trejo not working at the dealership; never sold a car. Truth be told, I wasn’t there to sell, I was there to build a championship team – nothing else. My time was spent talking ball with the sponsor and being paid for it – not bad for a barrio product that learned good times in trees. I hadn’t outgrown Manuela and her five sisters.
In discussions about the upcoming ’66 season, he asked what would it take to win a championship. Told him he couldn’t win just by adding me to the team. New players were needed. I made him understand that no team east of the Mississippi had ever won an ISC championship; West Coast teams were too strong and dominating.
I promised a championship title within two years if we had stronger players. The answer, I suggested, could be to recruit players from the championship team I’d just left; all All-Americans. When assured they were interested, I told the sponsor he would have to handle negotiating the money. I would handle the beer joints in the Quad-Cities.
Negotiations went well without a hitch. The catcher, Dick Zuccato, became the team’s manager – a future Hall of Famer. The other two were pitcher Richie Stephen, (also Hall of Fame) and Bobby Hunter, an All-American outfielder. The sponsor got what he wanted. The ball players were happy. I had a beginning towards fulfilling a promise. But more importantly, my bar tab would be taken care of. Lil black Cloud preferred tequila at topless joints. The only time I saw it wear glasses.
“I was potty-trained at gun point.” (NRA founder)
In 1966 we placed third in the tournament and I made the All-American team again. How great it felt sliding without piles . . . never did find the proctoscope.
With an additional pitcher we won it all in 1967. We lost only three games that year; one to my friend in El Paso, Paul Lopez, another two to a pitcher we had cut (in two?) – each one of the two beat us once each (figure that one out)… you never know in the twilight zone. Five players on that team (’67) were inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame after their career was over.
Manager Zuccato did a superb job. Both he and the pitcher were elected to the All-American Team. I could not have lived up to the promise I made to Mr. Harrelson without Zuccato, for whom I have the utmost regard. We’ve remained friends all these years. What I find sad, though, is that as we age, friendships begin to wither away. I miss reminiscing of the past with fellow ball players.
Mr. Harrelson, the team’s sponsor, had the first team east of the Mississippi to win an ISC world tournament, just as I had promised. He never sponsored again. Lil’ Black Cloud was voted the worse dressed in the tournament and went to Tempe, Arizona to recover from T.B.
At the car dealership that sponsored our team worked a sales manager shaped like the Governor of NJ. He always came out to the games, and being friends, he was my biggest heckler. Always putting me down and everyone enjoyed the humor – so did I.
I’m slightly bow-legged and one evening at the park, my friend was in/at/on? the stands. I’m at third base close to the stands when I heard him say – “Trejo! You couldn’t catch a pig in a ditch.” I yelled back – “Start running, you S.O.B!”
I left the Quad-Cities shortly after the tournament and ended up in La Mesa, California for the ’68 season. That team wasn’t as strong as the one I left but always assured myself to be with a team with a chance of qualifying for the world tournament – which we did. We came in third that year; made All-American for the fourth straight year; that would be my last.
My interest in the game and the bumming around was beginning to be tiresome. Many players play all their lives, and never go to world tournaments. I’d already played in ’63, ’64, ‘65, ‘66, ‘67, ’68, ’69, ’70. I was so lucky… “Lil Black Cloud – put that in your wind and smoke it!”
DIDN’T WANT TO BE RICH
In 1969 I was in Mountain View, California working and playing ball for a company by the name of Fairchild Semi-Conductor. The person in charge of the company was a wonderful man who would attend some games. The relationship the manager of the team and I had with him was a friendly one. We could walk into his office unannounced as long as he didn’t have a meeting. Hanging on the wall behind his office desk was a picture of a group of boyish-looking executives. They were the ones who supposedly started Silicone Valley.
The manager of the ball team and I worked in the shipping and receiving department. The manager had an idea for a side business and said we would ask our friend, the president of the company, for a loan to get started. After the manager explained the business plan (we need money boss) the president asked how much money we needed. My friend asked for $5,000. The president opened his desk drawer, pulled out his check book, and wrote a check for $6,000.
The type of business was recycling used wheel weights for tires. We’d collect used ones from service stations and brake shops and worked with an outfit that employed handicapped people who would refurbish the weights to be resold. It didn’t last long; the handicapped went on strike after listening to Lil’ Black Cloud pitching unionization. The president never asked for his money back. He confided that he was going to start his own business; said he wanted us to go with him . . . that he would take care of us and not to worry – everything would be all right.
Though having shipping and receiving experience, (grunts) we had no understanding of the computer chip industry which was about ready to explode. We didn’t understand the opportunity he was offering. We were intimidated by the technology when in reality he just wanted us to help with the inventory, not to be department heads. When explaining what he had in mind, we failed to grasp the significance. All I understood were signals given at third base by the coach – sometimes.
The ball season was about to begin and we stood a good chance of winning the world championship so we politely refused his offer and stayed at Fairchild Semi-Conductor. The president finally quit the company to start his new business. The president at Motorola (Dr. Hogan) in Phoenix replaced our “friend” at Fairchild and right away created bad feelings between him and Motorola because he had taken a few engineers with him to Fairchild Semi-Conductor.
Dr. Robert Noyce, the ex-president of Fairchild I’ve been writing about became co-founder of Intel, the biggest computer chip maker in the industry. What a missed opportunity for us. Lil Black Cloud had another notch. What might have been should we have accepted his invitation, of course, we’ll never know…ah Lil Black Cloud.
Novelist Tom Wolfe’s book titled “Hooking Up,” a book with several stories of which one tells the story (Two Young Men Went West) of how Silicone Valley had its start. It also includes the story of Dr. Robert Noyce rise to fame and how he came to be an inventor and co-founder of Intel. Many have labeled Mr. Noyce a modern day Thomas Edison. This book came out in 2000. I don’t know if it’s still in print. Nevertheless, true or not – to think, me, a kid from the barrio got to know him personally. Take that! Lil Black Cloud, you shitty looking cloud.
An Indian was lying on the ground and a man walked up and asked:
“Say Chief, what are you doing on the ground?”
“59 black Ford. One Mexican. One dog. Three kids. License AZ 000.”
“You mean you’re getting all that information from the ground?”
“No. That son-of-a-bitch ran over me.”
Beginning the ’69 season as hourly employees instead of future millionaires with Intel, I suffered a leg injury at first practice. Didn’t play again until the final week when the team participated in a state tournament. The winner would go to the world tournament in Illinois.
My leg was bandaged tightly and couldn’t play my regular position at third base and played right field. Despite not having played all year, I did well enough and was chosen MVP of the California State tournament. Our next game would be in Springfield, Illinois in the world ASA tournament.
We won the first game but lost the second which put us in the loser’s bracket forcing us to play another nine games or so. Lil’ Black Cloud always sat in the opposing team’s dugout. The final night we beat the only undefeated team left (champs the year before) and it came down to the final game that same night.
Our manager had made a crucial mistake. He brought only one pitcher. After pitching all the games our only pitcher ran out of gas. (Where were you Eyestein Garcia when I needed you for gas?) We lost, but our pitcher won MVP honors.
That team from Mt. View, California, the Fairchild Falcons, was the best hitting team I ever played with. But the pitcher from Florida surprised us and struck out 17 in the champion ship game. That was a great pitching performance against a great hitting team. For having played so little all year I was satisfied with my performance. I was considered for honors but another player was selected. He had a great tournament and rightfully deserved the honor.
The next year, 1970, my desire for the game was beginning to wane. Now, I found myself in southern California, and didn’t play at all except the final week at the state tournament. The winner would go to the world tournament in Kermit, California. By then my leg had healed and was recruited by a team from Hawthorne, California for the California state tournament.
When batting, I could punch the ball over the infield; could hit line drives; drag bunt and had the speed to go with it. Some studied how I handled the bat. If they saw me choking on the bat, they’d play closer in (outfielders). If I didn’t choke on the bat they’d play back. A cat and mouse game learned from Raton, my cat in the barrio.
In the state championship game and me up to bat, I exaggerated my choke on the bat (about four inches). The center fielder came in shallow; and at the last moment I slid my hands down and hit a line drive over his head. Home run! That run was the deciding factor. We qualified for the world tournament. I believe I was chosen MVP of the state tournament.
The sponsor of the team we defeated for the title had been asked by his ball players to recruit me for the tournament. He decided not to ask me. He was a producer of xxx-rated films in Hollywood. Maybe my “bat” was too small. Maybe I, and Lil Black Cloud didn’t fit the mold of porn stars.
Imagine sparks flying in a love scene between Lil Black Cloud and a lightning bolt. Is it possible that lightning is really orgasms being experienced by Mother Nature? After the game we shook hands with the losers and as I shook hands with their sponsor he had tears in his eyes. (Where else can you have them?) I’m glad he didn’t ask me to play for him, at the time I don’t think xxx-rated films was ready for a porn Mexican actor. By the way why do mosquitoes always buzz around your ears? I’ve asked people this question all my life and you should hear the answers. There is only one answer. It is so simple, and yet, rarely, will one give you the right answer. I spent years trying to find the answer and it finally came . . . but I shall not disclose – I’m embarrassed to.
Having won the State tournament we went to Kermit, California, the site of the world tournament. (1970) The last night of the tourney we played for the title against the team I started with years earlier – Phoenix, Arizona.
At the plate in that game I did well. Tripled my first time and died on third with no outs. The second time up I hit a line drive over the head of the center fielder who made a spectacular behind-the-back catch. For not having played but 25 games in the last two years, (’69-’70) I did pretty well. No honors for me, I was on my way out – my green card was expiring. In the bottom of the 7th inning their pitcher hit a home run to win the title game 1 to 0.
HAVE GLOVE WILL TRAVEL
When my team wasn’t scheduled to play I played in weekend tournaments with other teams, compensation and expenses paid. My roommate and I (lived in San Diego) were invited to play in a tournament in Las Vegas. Our flight was late and the game was delayed until we got there. We quickly dressed, rushed out of the barracks at Nellis Air Force Base, tucking in our shirts as we ran, the crowd cheering us on. As we were crossing the street, I struggled to zip up my zipper. (Dad, where are you!) People were watching me grabbing my crouch, as if I couldn’t hold peeing any longer. Once on the field I walked to the mound where the pitcher was warming up and discovered it wasn’t a faulty zipper – I had my pants on inside out! I motioned to the umpire, “Time out, Ump!”
“Frank, the game hasn’t started yet.”
A circle of players formed around the mound as I quickly took off my pants and put them back on – properly. An All-American, All-Star, a future Hall of Fame player, putting my pants on inside out and calling time out before the game starts? Lil Black Cloud sat at the bleachers holding a sign that read – GO PLAY BALL IN MEXICO AND RETURN YOUR FOOD STAMPS.
A team, (from Texas) was participating in a world tournament play in Rock Island and had chartered a bus for the trip; their only means of transportation. As they drove through town people mistook it for an immigration bus picking up wetbacks. When not scheduled to play the players used the bus to run around town visiting bars and turning it into a drive-by house of ill repute on wheels.
One night cruising around they pulled into a cul-de-sac by mistake and in attempting to turn the bus around got stuck on a lawn. While waiting for the tow truck one took the opportunity and made a few bucks cutting a neighbor’s grass. The next morning the bus was pictured in the morning newspaper showing ball players holding a sign – WILL MOW LAWNS BETWEEN BALL GAMES.
I’ll never forget an incident playing a game in Las Vegas. One day a cocktail waitress or hooker, or both, sat on the bleachers right behind the backstop. In most softball parks the bleachers are very close to home plate, some even as close as 10 to 15 feet.
You can imagine trying to concentrate when the bat boy brought it to our attention that she was sitting with legs wide open and no panties. “Oh! God!” I heard the umpire mumble. For several innings batters would step out of the box after every pitch to get a glimpse or two. The umpire dusted the plate after each swing and whispered to the catcher not to block his view.
As next batter in line I got alongside the fence and told her it was a great show but very distracting to my players . . . and me. Most of them were striking out. Being aroused and forgetting the game for a moment I asked what she was doing after the game.
She responded, “I’ve already scored in my game, my husband is pitching against you.”
I took the bat boy aside after the game and told him he would make a good scout someday. “You’ve got a good eye, son,” I said. He thanked me and left the ball field with the opposing pitcher and his mother. …you little voyeur with an Oedipus complex – shame!
“I could prove God statistically. Take the human body alone – the chance that all the functions of the individual would just happen is a statistical monstrosity.” (Speedy Gonzales) Evolution or creationism? . . . makes you think – doesn’t it?
Enough of ball playing for a while . . .
♫I COULD HAVE DANCED ALL NIGHT♫
During the time in Mountain View, California that I wasn’t playing ball, my roommate and I often went to dances seeking lady friends. (C’mon prudes, even chickens get laid) At a cocktail lounge my roommate met a girl and within 15 minutes of our arrival and I asked, “Where’s mine?” . . . quit picking your nose, he said.
I spotted a single woman at the entrance. She was a beautiful blonde dressed very elegantly. I went after her, grabbed her hand, and roughly pulled her to the dance floor. Along the way I took her mink coat off and flung it towards the booth 15 feet away. She must have been in shock, she hadn’t uttered a word. Maybe she hadn’t danced before with a brown-skinned Chicano with Pancho Villa’s DNA.
When the dance ended we joined the others at the booth. My new friend offered to take me to my apartment and after a few drinks we said goodbye to the others. When I saw her Cadillac it appeared to be a mile-long. A beautiful woman with money! (A bachelor’s dream) She was a business woman. She had businesses tied to the beauty industry, and a half million dollar home; had been widowed a few years and now 52 years old. She owned a wig manufacturing company and part owner of a gold mine, several beauty salons. It was an ideal situation for a single-32-year-old, but it wasn’t for me. I had a moral obligation back home and didn’t want to involve myself in a relationship.
As we got to my apartment I asked her to stop for a minute or two; wanted to talk. After a while, I asked for a date. She agreed. At that moment I said, “And you better be here at exactly 7:30 p.m., you son-of-a-bitch!” “Yes, Frank.” (Do I have to add “she said”?)
I’ve never been a misogynist but some women, for an unexplained reason, to me anyway, like to be talked to that way. Years before I tried the same thing on a dyke, but got punched. The next night at exactly 7:32 p.m. I heard a beep-beep outside. It was Donna. I like people that are on time but asked why was she late two minutes. I noticed Lil Black Cloud retrieving mail from the mailbox. That S.O.B. had moved into an apartment next to mine.
I was never late to games, except one time when playing in a fast-pitch world tournament. When too many teams are accepted in a tournament, more ballparks are used. I showed up at the wrong park and got back to the right one in the bottom of the second inning. I got officials to 86 Lil Black Cloud from working in the snack bars. After it left, the snack bar showed a profit.
One weekend to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, my lady friend and I went to Reno. Although she urged me to gamble – I didn’t. Donna was a wonderful person; showering me with gifts; shaving lotions, colognes, and toothpaste. Was she trying to tell me something?
She offered to buy me expensive things, but I didn’t accept. Coming from a poor background I didn’t understand what “opulence” meant (My God, I’m learning new words. Now I have to learning how too properly using them) She had a beautiful townhouse at Lake Tahoe and a credit line at a casino worth $50,000. I didn’t abuse the opportunity nor took advantage.
I was content having a lady friend with two legs, unlike Margaret, my childhood sweetheart with one-leg and crutches, one shorter than the other. I spent time looking for discarded crutches and found some. They were rather big, not adjustable, consequently when Margaret used them she looked, from a distance, as if she had been crucified by Donald Trump’s answer to anchor babies.
Donna hobnobbed with the elite of Northern California and was invited to a social gathering at a home in Lake Tahoe, twice the size of hers. What a blast it would have been to have some barrio friends there with me. I asked myself, “What’s this little boy from the barrio doing here?” I imagined my barrio gang; Rudy (of Pepino fame) and Art (shoeshine boy) “El Viejo” (the older-looking one) at the buffet table eating caviar; and “Psycho” outside going through glove compartments and throwing rocks at squirrels.
Before leaving the townhouse for the party, I drank several screwdrivers and by the time we got to the party I’d had a personality change; like my Chicano friends at a wedding reception. What little accent remained, my type of dress, slurred speech, whether I would impress or not, “didn’t make-me-no-never-mind.” My guess was that there were 100 people in the house. (I counted my fingers 10 times) It didn’t take long to attract attention, started telling jokes. Pretty soon I had a crowd. The first was a sure winner. It went like this:
Bill went visiting a wartime friend he hadn’t seen in years. When Bill approached the door, he noticed a pig to the left of the house that had a wooden leg. Hmmm, that’s rather strange, Bill thought. He knocked on the door and Joe answered, hugged Bill and led him inside.
“It’s been a long time, Bill. Good to see you” Joe said. (See what I mean about this “said” business)
They spent the rest of the day reminiscing about their Army days. But Bill couldn’t forget the pig with a peg leg. When Bill got ready to leave he asked Joe about the pig with a wooden leg.
“Bill, that’s a very, very special pig. Two years ago the house caught on fire and if that special pig hadn’t banged the door with his nose, there is no doubt we would have burned.”
“Last year I was out in the field on my tractor, working the land and the thing flipped and I got pinned. I was so far out no one could hear me screaming, thought for sure, this was it.”
“After several hours, and no more voice left, I heard some snorts and just as heroic, I saw the special pig coming towards the tractor. He began digging around me, grabbed my shirt collar, and dragged me out. Bill, a very special pig like that you don’t eat all at once!”
As expected, the crowd roared, except for Lil’ Black Cloud – started to barf. I finally ran out of jokes but had a finale.
I took my old snotty stained handkerchief, unfolded it, and draped it over one fist. I began reciting an abracadabra like a political third party seeking recognition. I slowly made a complete turn around as I continued chanting the abracadabra bullshit. People were spellbound, all except Donna, who had seen the joke back home. Poor thing, she was probably thinking, “Please, Frank, don’t DO IT!” Removing my stained, previously white handkerchief and flipped them a bird. That brought the house down. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed it.
Upon leaving on our way to a dance people stood on the balcony waving for us to return. It’s then I understood the phrase “Talk about gluttons for punishment.”
By the time we got to the dance I felt like a boxer shadow-boxing in a dark room – try it, there are no winners and losers. The crowd was elderly, conservative types, no hippies, music slow and easy. The atmosphere reminded me of a bingo parlor in Sun City, Arizona with an ER emergency vehicle doubled-parked outside (A cat under one wheel) – waiting for the next social security recipient to have heart attack after a winning card.
Asked Donna to dance and what followed was very embarrassing; not for me but for Donna. I was in orbit. After a couple of steps to a slow piece I let loose with movements like a puppet on a string. We were the only ones on the floor; people were staring. Donna, embarrassed as hell, went to the table, picked up her coat and stormed out.
Though very drunk, I recognized my immediate problem, how to get back to the townhouse. Who would dare give this Chicano drunk a ride? Furthermore, it was like 29 degrees with snow on the ground. (Mom, Help! Help me, Mom!)
I quickly ran outside but she had locked the car doors. When she started to drive off I jumped on top of the hood. She stopped the car, and after a while she had no choice. People were staring, so she let me in. Lil Black Cloud was sitting in the back reading a Penthouse Magazine.
When we got back to the townhouse she rushed upstairs, tried locking me out but failed. I fell in or on (?) the bed and passed out. The next morning when we were preparing to go home it was quiet, and I thought, what an asshole Lil Black Cloud had been! It was a good 200 mile trip back to Sfran with little conversation. I counted 100 hundred billboards and 25 Islamic suicidal birds on the road.
When she pulled up to my apartment I was full of shame. I apologized and thanked her for the wonderful times she had given me. Believe it, or not, the next day she came back to the apartment. Lil Black Cloud was chauffeuring.
“It is God that makes woman beautiful; it is the devil who makes her pretty.” (Vic Hugo)
After a few more nights I told her I was leaving for Las Vegas. Had to ask what she found in me that attracted her. She said it was the first night we met, and the way I talked to her. Maybe, if I had stayed a while longer I’d have met Lenny Bruce, the foul-mouth comic or Robin Leach of “Rich and Famous” fame. More importantly, though, I kept my word to my little girl and her mother back home. Lil Black Cloud began to thunder and storm in protest – wanted to go to Tahoe again. Pampered mooching brat!
SEATTLE MONKEY (Bill Gates cousin)
Between ball seasons I found myself in Seattle. After several bar stops, somehow, I ended up with a monkey in my car. At my next stop I asked the bartender if I could bring a politician’s cousin in. Once in with the monkey and being the only customer at the bar, he approved. I attempted to buy the monkey a drink but the bartender said no. I said, “Why not, the monkey’s over 21.” The bartender served him a Shirley Temple.
After a while the bar became busy and the monkey became the focus of attention. Same old questions – “How old is he?” “Where did you get him?”- “Can he do tricks?”- “Does he drink?” I answered, “He’s old enough to be at the bar.” “He was hitchhiking.” “He can hold his middle finger up and smokes grass.” Why don’t you ask him questions in Spanish – he’s bi-lingual. I finally said, “Enough,” and tied him to the leg of the pinball machine so I could finish the paid-for drinks in front of me.
The noise of the pinball flippers and balls bouncing scared the monkey and it began squealing. It sounded like the high-pitched voice of Dolly Parton coming from the juke box. The monkey became restless, agitated, and started squealing louder because his Shirley Temple had dried up and wasn’t being refilled – the bartender asked us to leave. “The monkey or me,” I asked.
I had a problem, but not the monkey, the many free drinks. By now my mind and vision were playing tricks. I gazed around the bar, spotted Lil’ Black Cloud in a booth, humming the tune – “Born to Lose,” while gulping down a Tequila Sunrise.
I grabbed the monkey who gave me a strange look and damn if he didn’t resemble President Carter. As we walked away and stopped at the doorway, the monkey turned and gave the bartender the middle finger. I don’t remember the ending of this experience; I don’t know who drove home. The only trace of the monkey was the silly hat monkeys wear when hustling with a cup in one hand and the other in your pocket. Allow me to share a monkey joke.
A monkey frolicking around the jungle was having a great time at the base of a tree. Suddenly, without a warning a tiger pounced on him and flipped the monkey around like a rag doll. After a few seconds the tiger dropped it and left. The monkey was still breathing! He slowly climbed the tree and perched himself on a branch. Licking his wounds he heard laughter from afar. The laughter became louder as a laughing Hyena got closer.
When it rested under the tree the monkey attempted to warn it about the tiger. That didn’t faze the Hyena a bit, but it did ask the monkey in between chuckles if he would help, if needed. Monkey just nodded, answering in the affirmative. Sure enough the tiger reappeared, got hold of the laughing Hyena and proceeded with the same treatment he gave the monkey. (What am I to think when one attempts to kill another and laughs while doing it?) . . . where are you Freud and Darwin?
What seemed like a long time of clawing, biting and tossing, actually only took a few seconds. The tiger left leaving the Hyena for dead. Suddenly the Hyena moved! – It was still alive! It looked up the tree, screamed at the monkey, “Say, I thought you were going to help me!” The monkey responded “You were laughing so hard, I thought you were winning!”
YEARS OF TOURNAMENT PLAY
1963 – Third place – Phoenix, Arizona team. I broke my collar bone during third game. (Ran into an ump, built like a tank)
1964 – 2nd place – Pomona, California. Got beat twice in final night (Lil’ Black Cloud was the scorekeeper)
1965 – World Champs – Pomona, California. All-American honor – Batting Champion .565 average. (13 for 23)
1966 – Third place – Harrelson Motors – Moline, Illinois (Quad-Cities). All-American honor.
1967 – World Champs – Harrelson Motors – Moline, Illinois. All-American honor. Second in batting – .467. First team east of the Mississippi to win the tournament – just as I had promised the sponsor.
1968 – Third place – La Mesa, California – All-American honor – RBI Champ.
1969 – 2nd place – Fairchild Falcons – Mt. View, California. Played only 13 games that year, suffered a year-long leg injury but still managed to win MVP honors in a regional tourney.
1970 – 2nd place – Hawthorne, California Played only 12 games all year. No honors.
1971 – Broke hand during season – no tournament play. Set record at the bar – most consecutive drinking days. Lil’ Black Cloud bartended.
1972 – Idle … I don’t remember why … probably hung over from all the drinking the year before.
1973 – 4th place – Las Vegas, Nevada. No honors. Lil’ Black Cloud didn’t attend many games – got addicted to slot machines. (My last year of play)
“Trejo was a pain in the ass – always questioning my balls and strikes.” (Umpire Helen Keller)
In my early years (15 years old) I played one year of top ball. This was the first time I played against “The King and His Court.” No world tournament play that year. The following year I quit playing ball; didn’t begin to play again (top-notch ball) until the age of 27. What might have been had I continued playing instead of wasting my prime years. What I accomplished in those short years of world tournament play was rewarding. I had lived out my dream of being good enough to be recognized as one of the best in my era.
“Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.” (Lou Holtz)
INTRO TO HALL OF FAME – TWICE
Many players never get to go to world tournaments, I was fortunate. In 1990, I was inducted into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame. In 2002, upon being inducted into the Arizona Hispanic Sports Hall of Fame, and while the emcee was reading my intro, I remembered a Latin player in the Yankee dugout in World Series play the year the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series. (2001)
The camera lens would zoom to the dugout throughout the game showing a Latino player shaping a glove pocket out of an empty milk carton. I would’ve tried the same but milk cartons were rare at my barrio home. The piece of carton shaped like a glove helped him learn to catch a ball as a youngster that started him on the road to MLB.
It happens often, especially in countries where kids don’t have other means. When watching world events on the tube notice in the background you’ll most always see kids kicking something round. This is a reason why soccer is the number one sport in the world because millions of poor kids have no other sport to learn as cheap as soccer. I, too, improvised as a kid. A broomstick, bottle caps, and a tennis ball helped make my Hall of Fame dream come true.
It took a while getting accustomed to hitting caps with a broomstick but once I did, it was so easy hitting baseballs and softballs. Lil’ Black Cloud had a smirk on his face the day of my induction to the Hall of Fame.
A couple of oddities in ball play: In a Little League game a team scored 22 runs in one inning. The same kid of the losing team made all three outs – by striking out three times. No matter the level of play, this was a rarity. Another time in a MLB a batter hit a foul ball that struck a woman. The game was delayed until she was being taken away on a stretcher. The game was resumed, and believe it or not, on their way out the same batter hit another foul that hit her again.
A player played 19 years for one ball club and in all those years only had one homerun – an inside the park homerun. Mickey Mantle, the great Yankee outfielder was clocked running to first from the left side of the plate in 3.7 seconds. Folks, that’s a distance of 90 feet. He did it with only one shoe – the other went to third. My God, even people in insane asylums aren’t capable of such garbage.
TIPS TO HELP YOUR CHILD IN BALLPLAYING
Should your child show interest in baseball or softball, the following type of practice at home with a tennis ball will do more good than a practice conducted by a coach. There is not enough time for a coach to teach an individual when the team practices together. The following tips with a tennis or rubber ball is for beginners in ball playing. A baseball will not do. You need a bouncing ball.
Take a tennis or rubber ball, find a wall, (here wall, here wall) could be the side of house or garage door. Have the kid stand about 5 to 6 feet away from the wall; throw the ball at the wall about waist high. The ball will bounce back as a one hopper. After a while, picking up the ball with ease will become routine.
Next. Stand back from the wall about 10 to 12 feet, throw the ball a little below waist high and it’ll bounce back as a routine ground ball. The distances are not exact. The beginner will adjust to his/her liking. To practice fielding balls to either side, throw the ball at a slant and the return ball will bounce away to the side (L or R) from you. This type of practice is always excellent for infielders; teaches fielding by moving to either side. The harder you throw the ball, the quicker you have to move.
Throw the ball hard on the ground first about 6 to 8 feet in front of the wall. The ball will bounce up, striking the wall, and will carom upwards over the head of the kid; upon which time the kid will turn around and catch the ball behind his back. In the beginning the kid will have trouble adjusting but in a few days it will become routine.
For fly balls, the following is basic; take the tennis ball or baseball and throw it high; just learn to catch. Then practice catching the ball coming down behind your back. You won’t do this in a regular game but what it does is build confidence to catch any fly ball. This type of practice with thrown balls teaches speed, timing, depth perception. Kids won’t be running into dugouts or running into fences like many in pro ball. Fly balls are too often misjudged by young players.
I’ve watched many young players attempt to catch balls and at the last moment reach out awkwardly. They miss because of poor judgment. The reason – not enough practice. The only flies Lil’ Black Cloud could catch were ones with wings.
Once the kid feels good catching any ball in the air, the next type of practice should be catching and throwing in a continuous run. Observe how outfielders catch a ball with less than two outs with runners on base. Do not attempt to catch a ball flatfooted unless it is for the third out or you are close to the infield and runners won’t try to advance. Learn by watching outfielders on TV.
Practicing at a wall and catching the ball thrown high in the air will make the kid a good ball player. The kids will be fielding and catching balls with ease, building the confidence needed.
As an outfielder, you won’t be attempting to catch balls that are clearly beyond reach, like some multi-millionaire major league fielders climbing walls when the ball lands deep in the stands. They should have practiced with a tennis ball when they were young. If children enjoy this type of practice, they are the ones who will demonstrate their love for the game and do well.
“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never scoring.” (Bill Copeland) . . . practice is the answer.
I went to see my grandson play a Little League game and noticed a team member outside the dugout practicing his swing. Before they went out to the field I got my grandson’s attention to look at his teammate taking swings and I said, “While you and the rest of the team are having fun in the dugout, your teammate is practicing his swing. I’ll bet you he will be playing college ball in the future.” My point is clear.
If I were coaching a Little League team I would take the team to a high school to utilize the racquet ball courts or walls, and have them practice throwing a tennis ball. This is an excellent way for a coach to determine who the infielders may be without wasting too much time teaching fielding. It is also an opportune time to correct flaws in the kids’ fielding. After practice the coach should instruct players to practice at home with a tennis ball. The ones that do will make the team. Trust me – the tennis ball helped me become a Hall of Famer – twice.
Another form of practice which I created had to do with hitting. (I don’t recommend this one because it’s hard and it may discourage youngsters). I would hit a tennis ball with a bat up against a wall. The trick was to hit the tennis ball right back to the wall as much as I could, before it hit the ground – very hard to do. The most I did was hit the return ball three times and learned good bat control.
Because of this practice routine I was playing semipro baseball at 14 years old. While still in grammar school two college baseball coaches came to my shack in the barrio and told Mom to keep me in school – there would be a scholarship. Stupid and withoutdiscipline I quit school in my sophomore year – so I ended up making tamales. I make good ones – it took a lot of practice.
“WE ARE WHAT WE REPEATEDLY DO, EXCELLENCE, THEN, IS NOT AN ACT, BUT A HABIT.”… Aristotle
This next one is pretty sloppy but maybe Mel Brooks or George Will will answer my call for help.
THE GAME OF FREEDOM ©
“The Game of Freedom” is an on-going event demonstrating how much faith and belief, or not, people have in preserving freedom and liberty.
Early Americans had a tough time playing a game ruled by dictates of the King of England and his men. The colonists in America were struggling in their new land and weren’t given much freedom (before the U.S. Constitution) and were taxed heavily. They didn’t like the game being played by the King with his paper money. The people decided to change the rules. The King and his men were exiled to the minor leagues in England forever.
Early Americans announced it to the world by stating in the Declaration of Independence that hence forth America would be a sovereign nation with liberty and justice for all. Because of new rules (Articles of Confederation) the playing field was leveled and every citizen in the country was free to participate. Some in society had been excluded but after much turmoil new rules were designed giving birth to the U.S. Constitution by amending the Articles of Confederation. Americans found in their hearts the right thing to do and corrected the injustices. Although slavery was abolished . . . it continued . . . by Democrats like the Ku Klux Klan, democrat dogs, obese southern sheriffs and the ever present water hoses. Go to barrioopinions.com and learn something new.
Because of new found liberties and time for recreation, the game of baseball was invented. (Dinosaur eggs used as balls had disappeared millions of years earlier) They decided to name the game “The Game of Freedom,” because it represented a new way of orderly life based upon law and justice for all with time honored fundamental principles of the Declaration of Independence.
The first team was appropriately named the U.S. Constitution Team. After many trials and tribulations, and others forming teams, the game began to blossom. But lo and behold, people let their guard down by ignoring the rule book. (U.S. Constitution) Teams became caught up by greed (corruption) and players violated rules. The elite subverted the rules and once again citizens were being denied rights under their Constitution.
The rogue players (paid by the money interests) were finally kicked out because of greed but formed their own team named the Anti-America Team sponsored by the bankers. The corrupt legal system ruled they could also participate in the Game of Freedom.
An early pitcher on the U.S. Constitution Team by the name of Abe had beaten the bankers favorite ball team, consistently, but couldn’t be bribed and was murdered by Booth, who was indirectly associated with the bankers – some say.
The International Bankers bought the Anti-America Team and by 1913 had corrupted those entrusted to “obey and preserve” the Constitution and took control of the monetary system illegally. The rules of the game, the Constitution, had been subverted by criminal representatives. Americans didn’t understand; they were kept ignorant by academia and the controlled press.
Players and fans were dumb-down thus making it easier for bankers to tighten the grip. Some players on the U.S. Constitution Team were bought off by bankers thus weakening the U.S. team and the Game of Freedom suffered as a result of players “throwing” the World Series in 1919.
Bankers dominated the game and called the shots that affected the well-being of the country; now they controlled practically everything. Bankers interrupted the game by creating and subsidizing wars. Afterward, concerned citizens once again began recruiting players who showed interest in playing by the rule book and fielded a better U.S. Constitution team. Faith had been restored and citizens became involved in the Game of Freedom once again.
In the past, two-bits could get you in the ball park. But because of bankers’ continued use of inflationary paper money, fans were now paying $1.00. Hot dogs went from twenty-five cents to seventy-five cents. A beer now cost $1.00 instead of fifty-cents. Because of this inflation, poor kids couldn’t afford a ticket and began making holes in the fences which gave birth to the Knothole Club. A guy by the name of Trump made his own holes and charged half price which enabled him to send his kid to college . . . isn’t America great!
Many didn’t understand what was going on in our country. Government controlled schools kept people from learning the importance of the monetary system and what the function of government was supposed to be. Even today, 90% of the people have never read the rule book – the U.S. Constitution. This is why criminals in government do as they please – the game of freedom is corrupted and people have no clue.
Anti-America Team players complained because players on the U.S. Constitution Team were paid in gold and silver coin. (Lawful money) It took more Federal Reserve Notes (I.O.U. paper) to buy the same things the Constitution Team players were paying. The Bankers became worried but because they controlled things, took gold and silver out of circulation and left us with fiat paper called money. Educate yourself by purchasing F. Tupper Saussy’s book “The Miracle on Main Street.” It is a book about how our Founding Fathers arrived at the decision of what kind of monetary system we would be under. Like everything else in our beloved Constitution this has also been subverted by the America haters. Once you read this book you will never ever scratch your head again about what is wrong in our country – follow the money!
THE GAME OF THE CENTURY – GOOD VS. EVIL
THE ANTI-AMERICA TEAM
Team sponsor – International Bankers
Team managers – U.S. Congress/White House
1. Catcher – IBM
2. Pitcher – Bill Gates Microsoft (open borders)
3. First Base – IRS (cousin of the KGB)
4. Second Base – Socialism
5. Shortstop – Federal Reserve (privately owned)
6. Third Base – ACLU – (A communist front)
7. LF – Networks – (puppets of the Bankers)
8. RF – NAFTA – The destroyer of our sovereignty. (One world government.)
9. CF – Liberalism– (A mental disorder – like me)
Pee Wee Herman (closet pervert)
Osama Bin Laden (Director of fireworks)
U.S. CONSTITUTION TEAM
Team Sponsor – Uncle Sam
Team Mgr. – George Washington
1. Catcher – Walt Disney (no cheating)
2. Pitching staff – JFK and ABE (no spitballs)
3. First Base – President Reagan (“Government is not the solution to the problem – government is the problem.”)
4. Second Base – Groucho Marx – (“ask not what you can do for your team – ask what your team can do for you”)
5. Shortstop – Babe Zaharias – (Greatest female athlete)
6. Third Base – Speedy Gonzales (for stolen bases)
7. LF – Martin Luther King – Team spiritual leader.
8. CF – Joe DiMaggio/Willie Mays – (Gentlemen on and off the field.)
9. RF – Roberto Clemente – (role model for all athletes)
Snow White and 7 Midgets
GAME TIME – PLAY BALL!
The time came for the final game to decide the future of the country – freedom or slavery? It was a beautiful day at the park. It was a clear day, not a cloud in the sky, except Lil’ Black Cloud. The American Flag in center-field, waving in all its splendor, the smell of popcorn in the air. A near-sighted pervert was seen under the bleachers with a telescope, enjoying his version of the game of hide and peek.
Helen Keller of The Miracle Worker movie dusting home plate and getting ready to ump her guessing game. A dust-cropper flown by a college graduate flew over the park with a banner that read WHERE ARE THE JOBS – PRESIDENT PINOCCHIO? There’s a gypsy wearing rainbow colored clothing in the middle of the crowd, reading palms for a bag of popcorn.
The game, with a win, the U.S. Constitution team would break the shackles of the International Bankers. America has done it twice in history. But, of course, you didn’t learn that in public school, only how frogs procreate.
It is the bottom of the ninth inning and the U.S. Constitution Team is batting. The game is tied. There is excitement in the air. The camera scans towards the first base bleachers focusing on fans of the Anti-America Team.
This is a diverse crowd (half paid with food stamps) consisting of Socialist/Communist organizations, such as the ACLU, Black Panthers, La Raza, Unions, Democratic Party – Communists, Liberal Professors, Progressives, Planned Parenthood (dispensing condoms full of holes to ensure more abortions for their multi-billion dollar industry. (Half of a billion subsidized by you)
Others wave flags sporting a hammer and sickle. Fidel Castro is an usher. Michael Moore selling Che Guevara t-shirts. Dimwit Sean Penn, running late, dressed like a Muslim on top of a three-legged camel approaching the parking lot. TV/Radio show-host Larry King along with 20 ex-wives, selling used suspenders. Trial lawyers waiting outside the park for accidents to happen and a blind man with ulcers in line at the snack bar lifting someone’s wallet. The socialist/communist Pope wearing a mini-skirt is busy washing feet for donations. Its not enough that the Vatican owns 20% of Italy . . . the rich and the Congress always want more . . . never satisfied.
Hypocrite Democrat Congressional leaders Senator Reid and House Speaker Pelosi, passing flyers announcing pro-amnesty and anti-gun literature. Sen. Reid referred to Tea Party people as “terrorists.” Pelosi said the Democrat’s Affordable Care Act had to be passed first to find out what’s in it. And these are people entrusted with the U.S. government? Further proof that our government is being run by mentally disturbed people. Our government has been stolen and now we must fight to save our country’s sovereignty. If you don’t wise-up, the borders will be erased in the future. (I may repeat some things. I’m too lazy to check back)
On the U.S. Constitution team side, sitting at the bleachers is an organization representing the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The International Red Cross with hundreds of nurses in attendance. Two documented workers, Pedro and Jose working the snack bars. Many freedom-loving fans are reading the Constitution in between innings and saluting the flag.
Rush Limbaugh, Excellence in Broadcasting (EIB) network is the game’s announcer – has been talking non-stop for two days (not even to pee) and before the game starts selling Tea for Two bottled tea outside the park. A shivering Florence Nightingale nursing a bad cold. Fallen Alcoholic Anonymous members disguised as crossing school guards having a beer in Pepsi cups. An atoned former governor Spitzer of New York, dressed like a monk handing out free Bibles and business cards advertising pre-fab confessional booths. Donald Trump, the great builder, is almost finished constructing one of his finest – outdoor bathrooms. (This is before baseball modern-day parks)
As the camera returns to the Anti-America Team dugout . . . Whoa . . . what the hell are the U.S. President and Vice-President doing in the dugout with the opposition? And how in the hell did the U.S. Constitution Team get snookered into allowing Paulson, the former Federal Reserve Chairman to call bases? The nationwide TV audience (zombies) are complaining because the Jerry Springer TV show was pre-empted because of the game.
Bankers have always played dirty. Ex-Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan umpiring behind the catcher has been unfair throughout the game but it’s almost over – too late to appeal.
The batter (Groucho Marx), using a cigar as a bat has a full count with two outs and bases loaded. The crowd is going wild like a group of whores awaiting a defrocked priest visiting the Mustang Ranch in Nevada. A hot dog vendor is so excited he’s munching on his third hot dog in 36 seconds. One fan has two lit cigarettes. Has anybody seen Lil Black Cloud?
Bill Gates is on a cell call with Mexico’s President discussing open borders. He’s recruiting brains from other countries, but his main goal is brown-skin labor from Mexico to clean the offices of Microsoft of fast-food trash thrown on floors by pampered nerds.
A conservative chimpanzee recommended by PETA taking care of the scoreboard at jungle minimum wage. (And what might that be, Frank? I don’t know I just got here) A jolly, sleepy-eyed, Loony Tune Libertarian groundskeeper oblivious to the game is watering his favorite marijuana plant situated behind the scoreboard. What a country!
The pitcher is getting ready to deliver the final pitch. Once and for all the outcome will decide if Americans are finally mad enough to have the U.S. Constitution enforced; to be self-governed again and not be second-rate players or economic slaves but to be under a Constitutional Republic and not a cabal of elected thieves in Washington, D.C. Our U.S. Constitution team needs patriotic support. Demand that elected politicians obey the oath of office and to play by the rules of America’s pastime . . . the Game of Freedom.
You have the best tool available – your cherished vote – especially in the jury box. As a juror, and understanding the law, it is your fundamental right to vote not guilty for any unconstitutional law. There is no one – no judges, no elected officials, no one in government that can tell you how to vote. As jurors (players) you are the Kings and Queens in the United States and all politicians, judges and lawyers are your servants.
We have criminals, once again, running the Game of Freedom. We’re rapidly getting close to being in the cellar in world standings. And now we’re on the verge of losing the America we grew up in. Don’t let it happen fans, renew your patriotic passion once more. Win the Game of Freedom for your kids and future grand kids to enjoy. C’mon, Groucho, you can do it!
To qualify for the Game of Freedom you must go through the box office (voting booth) to be a player. C’mon citizens, it’s the bottom of the ninth, never mind party affiliation; your country and Constitution are waiting for you to get a base hit to win the game. Good luck, citizen fans, the game is in your hands. I love you, America….
This is the best I could do with this one. It’s been said a high school graduate commands a vocabulary of between 10,000 and 15,000 words. Being that I dropped out of high school after my first year that means my dictionary is missing three-quarters of its pages. If I live another few years maybe I’ll find the missing pages to improve my writing. I’m seeing improvement already though – I’ve learned how to spell rhythm without my wetback dictionary. Any comedy script writers interested in making this garbage better? Call 480-299-9568
VIVA VIAGRA IN LAS VEGAS
I moved to Las Vegas when I retired from ball in 1973. With a resume that was too long and embarrassing (as proven below), I opted to drive a cab. I was the best cab driver; I even delivered people without a cab.
In the past I was a field worker. (watermelon-cantaloupe-onion-carrots-potatoes-cotton-marijuana), dishwasher, milkman, linen delivery, produce delivery, recreational aide, hotel elevator operator, loader and un-loader at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, roofer, Teamster Union member, handyman (trailer court), scoreboard keeper, car engine detailer, shoe salesman, dice table shill at the Flamingo and liquor clerk at Caesars in Las Vegas, bartender, cab driver, construction worker in California . . . I’m just getting started . .
Membership sales, assisted in building a coffee processing machine, food caterer, kitchen worker, a purchasing agent, inventor (batting cage, unpatented), founded first Boys Club Alumni Association in the country, bread delivery driver, shipping and receiving, inventory clerk, one- time-only- actor, aspiring author, professional softball player, showing blind turkeys where to shit. (Lil Black Cloud supervised.) . . . Piss call
I operated an information booth at the dog track for dogs seeking the finish line. As a nine-year old I sold watermelons in the barrio. It didn’t work too well; had no wagon and kept dropping the melons while knocking on doors. I was a waiter at a homeless shelter. I should have been a guest on the old TV show “What’s My Line.”
Most cab companies have notorious hiring practices, due to the shortage of drivers because of a continual turn over. They hire anything that walks, even ex-ball players. Occasionally, when people are rejected by cab companies they become policemen, hiding their warped personalities behind a badge. I should know – there have been many relatives of mine in police work.
The company I went to work for had two divisions; Ace cab, red and white, and Union cab, black and white. Driving a cab in Las Vegas was a wonderful experience. Driving in traffic wasn’t too bad. Back then (early ’70s) tourism topped about 13 million visitors per year. Now tourism has grown to a terrible 40 million per year. Imagine driving a cab now with all that traffic.
In the early ‘70s Las Vegas began to lose its friendly personality due to the takeover by the corporate world. In times past, people in the casino industry were friendlier. The “Mob’” had a better handle at customer relations. Not like bottom-line driven corporations. It was great walking into lounge shows and feast on free snacks. Many future stars in the entertainment field worked lounge shows – especially in the hotel casinos on Fremont street. One of them was Wayne Newton who did five to six shows daily.
Being a workaholic I drove a cab 12 to 16 hours a day, averaged above normal trips per day, and had the reputation of a “good booker” (making money for the company). Couldn’t help working with hookers. Most cab drivers kept a list of phone numbers of hookers to supply the ever demanding requests by hard-up tourists. It was part of the job. The going rate was $100 per customer, with a kickback of $40.00 from the hookers. (Many bored California housewives working weekends to help support the apron-wearing-husband back home)
The most passengers you could carry in the cab were five. The “grand-slam” was when you got all five guys in your cab “serviced.” That earned $200 in kickbacks from the hookers plus the tip from passengers. Grand-slams were rare, but it happens. You gave out personal business cards. Mine read: CALL BOOKER FOR A HOOKER.
Working so many hours I would stop at a coffee shop for a quick cup of coffee. Within minutes I would leave. Getting in the cab one day . . . Hey! Wait a second! – what happened to the steering wheel – it’s missing! . . . I had climbed onto the back seat.
Later, when Aids began to spread, many ignorant men carried the disease back home. Periodically, police would round up hookers and test them for Aids. It was reported in the morning paper after a weekend roundup that out of a 100 tested, 47 were positive. How sad for those seeking pleasure. I should have had a booklet printed describing: How to do Manuela and her five sisters while in Vegas. There was a homosexual that had a “good thing” going. He wore a wig and makeup to look feminine and approached customers while driving his car asking if they wanted a blowjob for $20. What did he look like? Think Mick Jagger with long hair.
As a cab driver when business was slow, a lot of us frequented the airport hoping to get a long trip to town. One day while in the cab line a couple waved at me and climbed in the cab. On our way, within a few minutes the woman passenger asked, “Have you heard of Rosemary Clooney?” I responded – “Have I heard of Rosemary Clooney – of course!” She identified herself as Betty Clooney, Rosemary’s sister.
She introduced her male friend whose name I’ve forgotten, and asked if I could take them downtown because they were to be married and asked if I would be their best man. “I’d be delighted.” That type of fare usually meant a big tip because of the mood people are in.
In a moment of silence I started whistling one of Rosemary’s greatest hits – Hey There. Betty sang a few notes.
On the way downtown I began to fantasize receiving an invitation to visit them wherever they came from. (I believe NJ) And in the process I would meet Rosemary and tell her about me eating tortilla chips and listening to her sing on the radio as a kid; using Gato as a pillow. A blast of a horn rattled me to discover I had overshot my destination – we were 5 miles out of town.
As we stood before the judge, who appeared like he had just been visited by his loan shark for payment of monies borrowed to support his slot machine addiction, both bride and groom were a bundle of joy. They tipped well.
Betty Clooney passed in 1976 and just recently I discovered she was the mother of actor George Clooney. “Hey George, I was the best man to your mother’s marriage!” . . . Hire me as your driver and confidant and I’ll advise you how not to end up like Rock Hudson.
Speaking of couples visiting Las Vegas, I witnessed many couples fighting in the cab over money lost. Some arguments got very nasty, so much so, that often times the male would beat the woman. I wouldn’t interfere. Once, the tables were turned. A woman slugged the man and I almost asked if he needed help.
One night a dispatcher (Lil Black Cloud) announced someone had left a coat in a cab and we were to check our seats. Well, I did find the coat in my cab. Instinctively, drivers will search pockets (I tried it on first.) I did search and discovered a wallet. It had 10 $100 bills. It was at that moment my moral code was put to test. Should I or shouldn’t I? All I had to do was keep the wallet and throw the coat out the window. I was smarter this time: Last time this happened I threw the wallet out and kept the coat. Someone spotted Lil Black Cloud at a street corner handing out flyers advertising massage parlors.
The dispatcher announced, “If you find the coat the customer will be waiting at the front entrance of Caesars Palace.”
I didn’t hesitate because of my moral upbringing, other than stealing in the barrio, like Mom’s tortillas, a bike or two, hubcaps, lumber, clothes off clothes lines, and apples from the Chinese store – not much, really. I proceeded to Caesars Palace.
When I handed him the coat he quickly pulled out the wallet, counted the money, and accused me of taking a $50 bill! I never saw a $50 bill. He was inebriated which explained his attitude. He didn’t tip me and when others heard about it, some said it was stupid of me. Well, if I had to do it over again, I would have stopped for a steak dinner and filled the gas tank first.
If you’ve lived with a moral code as I have, you can’t compromise. That’s why I’d never do well in politics. Think Nixon and a Kennedy (The non-swimmer). During this era the Mob still had a lot of influence in Las Vegas. The Stardust had a scandal that was made into a movie. The present day mayor (Goodman 2009) was a lawyer to some of the “shady characters” in the ’70s.
Tony Spilotro, known as “the Ant,” a character in a movie played by Joe Pesci, was raising hell then. The “Ant” and others were vicious hoodlums that committed many crimes. A few years later “the Ant” and brother were beaten and buried alive somewhere in Iowa to stop the bad publicity of the mob.
In the ‘70s, when Sinatra and Presley were in town at the same time, most hotel rooms were sold out. You’d see people standing on street corners, baggage in hand, because there were no rooms available. Entertainers disliked by many workers were Jerry Lewis and Sinatra – very demanding and disrespectful. Dean Martin and Sammy Davis were most popular.
It’s back! Lil Black Cloud hated cabbies. Where have you been, you asshole?
A roommate of mine worked at the Hilton where Presley entertained. The whole top floor of the hotel was reserved for Elvis. My friend’s job as a security guard was to remain outside the elevator door of that floor. When it opened, he announced to the crowd that it was a private floor and off limits. He worked the night shift, and said the floor was like a Greyhound Bus Depot, girls coming and going all night long. Elvis? He was “punching tickets” until sunrise. You may recall an incident when Elvis was entertaining a handful of people interrupted him by climbing onto the stage. Another friend of mine (security) quickly rushed and escorted them off the stage. For this, Elvis gave him a ring. He had it appraised and it was valued at $15,000, at the time.
“Elvis was pretty far gone by the first time I saw him. It made sense when women threw bras at him. Obviously he needed them.” (Tom Kenny)
Because of honesty and hard work, I was promoted to supervisor at the cab company. The owner’s nephew took a liking to me and we developed a friendship of mutual respect. I left the company in ’77 to go into the food business. Twenty some years later the cab company would rehire me to help run the business. This is an example of not “burning bridges” behind.
Had I taken time to ask questions concerning the food business and learned the difficulties of working in a food establishment I would’ve stayed at the cab company. Of all the jobs I had in life, this was the hardest. I didn’t know then, but the failure rate for food establishments is very high. I went in blind and didn’t have one iota of business sense. I had never heard Location! Location! Location! Such things as profit and gain, bottom line, and inventory control, I was ignorant of.
I thought the only one that understood that mumbo jumbo was the oriental store owner who sold the box of Kotex to me in the barrio. This new chapter in my life started by chance on a flight from Phoenix to Las Vegas. There was a person on board I had previously met through softball. He frequented Las Vegas due to being a compulsive gambler.
I knew people in Phoenix who sold portable tamale making machines. I got interested because there was only one small business in Las Vegas supplying tamales. I had a business idea and took a crash course learning how to operate the machine but had no money, no plan or experience.
When I met the person on/in? the plane I told him about it and he must’ve thought about cash flow (skimming) to play the tables in Vegas. He became very interested, put up 30k and said he wanted to be a silent partner. Even that I didn’t understand, I thought he meant he had a sore throat and couldn’t talk. We started a corporation – Mama Tina’s Inc.
Tried explaining my imaginary Lil Black Cloud to him but he seemed indifferent thinking Lil’ Black Cloud was an Indian character in a Lash Larue movie. A conniving Sicilian roommate of mine, also a cab driver, considered himself a super salesman. He did such a job of bull-shitting me I made him a full partner. Why? I don’t know. (I told you people I didn’t know what I was doing!) The silent partner said nothing. I was a little disappointed because this money guy at the time was the Director of Employment for Motorola in Phoenix. With his experience he could have at least interviewed and hired a kitchen dishwasher. I was solely responsible for everything.
First things first. We looked for a place to set up and finally settled in an unpopulated area, about four miles from downtown Las Vegas. The space, in a mini-mall, needed a lot of work. No air conditioning to begin with. Because it was to be an eating establishment, I was told I had to have a grease trap. A grease trap? I’d never heard of that before. At first I mistook it to mean a holding tank for those in our country illegally.
I learned later from the Health Department that it was where used grease was deposited and then sucked out by a vacuum. That cost $1,000 to build. I spent a lot of money buying extra equipment not needed. In the meantime the Sicilian and I were drawing a pay check. Before long the 30k was disappearing. The silent partner kicked in 10k more because I’d gone 6 months beyond opening day. I missed my bat.
During this time I’m sleeping 47 minutes per day without a clock, used an hour glass and waited till the sand emptied so I could turn it over – again and again and again and again… I was developing sleep apnea and didn’t know it. As opening day neared, the three of us came up with a Mexican menu that looked like a horse racing program from Santa Anita Race Track. It was too big and none of us even knew how to make a taco. All I wanted to do was make and sell tamales.
I hadn’t thought about advertising. When we opened for business I had 10 employees and no business. After a while one person came in just out of curiosity. There I stood, next to the cash register ready for action; the great restaurateur along with 10 employees, standing around with only one customer. He ordered two tacos – I had to rush to the store and buy corn tortillas to make the tacos. Because of the wait the customer lost a pound due to the heat. Lil’ Black Cloud had a thriving business next door selling hand fans.
My super salesman deserted me. He went back to driving a cab. When I asked him to sign a legal paper returning the stock to the corporation, he didn’t want to sign, he wanted money first. I grabbed his throat and threatened to have him fired at the cab company if he didn’t sign. He did. Lil’ Black Cloud shot a couple of bolts at him. Frank. You mean Lil Black Cloud did this for you? Surprised? Not really. This is why I had a hate-love relationship with the little bastard.
Things got bad. Things went from worse to worst or worst to worse? Someone please help. I was down to a cook and his wife. The others had quit because it was too hot in the store and not because of a smart business move by me. Not having hiring experience I hired the man and his wife with only home-cooking experience. Their last job had been cleaning offices. I sold the cleanest tacos and burritos in Las Vegas.
The lack of business was awful. I’d stand in the middle of a two-lane street in front of the store with a sign that read TURN AROUND! 3 BURRITOS FOR 99 CENTS. (Oblivious of food cost) That generated a customer every half hour and ten near misses getting hit by a car. I even considered hiring someone to make silhouettes of human figures to place by the window so people passing by would think the place was busy. Never did much with the tamale machine.
The tamale machine was collecting cobwebs and I finally sold it to a Macayo’s in Las Vegas. I took the monies from the sale and bought more food product – beans and tortillas. My God, I had come full circle – I was back on a barrio diet! I finally abandoned the Mexican menu and started making pizzas and spare ribs; made a few bucks and had air-conditioning installed. Lil’ Black Cloud had expanded – had two spaces.
It got so bad I called my wife in Phoenix to help and got rid of the cook and his wife. It was just the two of us now. Lil Black Cloud, disguised, came in for a pizza to go. I would have confronted it but I needed the money. Even though I finally had air-conditioning, that didn’t mean I was making money. Often we’d work 15 to 18 hours and not make $50 per day. Didn’t starve though – ate leftovers mistakes.
Even though my wife helped, ( English worse than Henry Kissinger’s) I still had to answer the phone, return calls, make the pizzas and deliver. The oven was too hot for my wife and she couldn’t do too much, I wondered how many sales were lost because when answering the phone she kept repeating her favorite word she’d mastered – “Hi.” She spent most of the day cooling her feet half-way in the freezer.
For deliveries I used my station wagon that ran hot all the time (kept pizzas warm). Had a routine when I was able to have pizzas in the oven and not be gone too long and by the time I got back, pizzas in the oven were just about ready. It was very hectic and fast-paced. “Tina! Get your goddamn feet over here!”
Business usually picked up after 4 p.m. and lasted until about 9 p.m. Once I had four pizzas to deliver and placed the pizzas on top of the car roof while I unlocked the door. When I got to the house I didn’t have any pizzas – I had left them on top of the car. On the way back to the store, I passed birds on the street feasting on pizza and Lil Black Cloud standing there with a grin on his sauce-smothered face.
I delivered a pizza to a single woman customer and asked me to step inside – she was lonely. She asked me to sit; I had to, she hadn’t paid yet. She began to cry and I ignored her hinting for me to stay. All this time I’m thinking about pizzas baking and my wife nervously biting her toe nails, hoping for no phone calls. (Wow! No thes)
I noticed a dog in the room that didn’t move; kept staring at me. He didn’t even wag his tail once nor blinked an eye. “Ma’am, what is it with your dog – how come he doesn’t move?” She said she was in mourning because of her dog’s death and had called a taxidermist. She got doubly upset when she got the dog back with no tail and only one ear.
“The covers of this book are too far apart.” (Thanks – H.L. Mencken)
MORE SNACK BAR
I could have quit the business but couldn’t let my silent partner down. We were buried to the tune of 40k and I was determined to succeed and pay back the debt. One morning in downtown Las Vegas I walked into a small casino next to the Golden Nugget called the Friendly Club Casino; I noticed the snack bar was closed.
I introduced myself to the owner as a food and beverage man – (Oh yeah!) Asked if I could work the snack bar and he said yes; said I didn’t have to pay rent, nor pay utilities. Now I had two places for my ulcers to worry about . . . this time I had more help.
Operating the snack bar and the pizza place gave me the opportunity to wipe out the debt incurred. My silent partner picked up a few grand each month which he quickly dropped at the dice table. Business was booming and lo and behold I got a third place. It was a cubbyhole where I sold tacos and burritos from a drive-through window. Lil Black Cloud kept calling the Health Department to keep an eye on my food establishment. (Not bad – only 7 thes this time)
It became too much for me, lost weight and looked like the bat I used a few years earlier. Shut down both the pizza place and taco drive thru. It was a terrible mistake. But at the time I thought the snack bar was enough. The debt was paid and my wife was happy wearing new work shoes and bought a nail-clipper. My partner was happy and I started gaining a little wait back.
Sometimes when things got busy at the snack bar I’d jump in to help. I was working the grill one day making hamburgers when a customer yelled, “Frank, my bun doesn’t have meat on it!” I replied: “I don’t either. I’m down to 135 pounds.”… Lil’ Black Cloud held its nose.
Just because things were better it didn’t mean my problems went away. One night at midnight the casino boss called me and wanted to know why the snack bar was closed. I rushed downtown and discovered the employee had run off with the cash. That son-of-a-bitch didn’t even punch out! Lil’ Black Cloud had dressed as a security guard (without pay) but had fallen asleep. Another employee borrowed my station wagon and I’m still waiting (40 years) for it to come back. I found out later he was a Muslim who went back to the Middle East and started a chain of Jihadists Taco franchises. If you believe this one you’ll believe FedEx and UPS will merge and the new name will be FED-UP INC.
A counter girl was selling drugs while working and (over-the-counter drugs) it got so bad someone tipped me off that the snack bar had a reputation of being a pharmacy. I watched her doing it and walked right up to her, grabbed her by the collar and the seat of her jeans, and just like John Wayne in the movies, I threw her out in the alley.
Because my wagon was stolen I bought a Toyota pickup. I sent an illegal using my truck on an errand and he also left town. I called the Highway Patrol and the illegal cockroach was stopped at the state line. A week later he was on the streets of Vegas again. Un-enforced immigration law by government I hold responsible for 9-11. Think about it, folks – we have an incompetent criminal government that is burying us in debt, spending trillions on nothing but BULLSHIT! We destroy cities worldwide and then spend billions rebuilding them. And our infrastructure is falling apart? Both political parties belong to the elite . . . we’ve lost government and now we could lose our country to American haters from within our country. The immigration system is not broken – the bastards don’t enforce our laws and thousands died in NY because of this.
One day my silent partner had bad news. He said the owner had a friend that wanted to run the snack bar. Because all the equipment belonged to us, my partner worked out a deal with them and he was able to stay as a partner. I was still a legal half owner, but they thought differently, and I was kicked out and got zero in return… Barrio Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
Remember when I said I could have quit a thousand times, but never did out of respect for my partner? I told my ex-partner I needed a few days because the truck was my only transportation and needed time to buy my own. He wanted it now. How’s that for gratitude. I parked the truck in the alley and threw the keys at him, never saw him again.
Several months later the Golden Nugget bought out the Friendly Club Casino to expand the hotel and my ex-partner and his new partner were history. Lil’ Black Cloud went to dealers’ school and flunked. And so, this ended my short career as self-employed in the food business.
Growing up in the barrio next door to me lived a girl by the name of Tina, built better than my cousin of Picasso shower stall fame. She had a ponytail that resembled the one on Sea Biscuit. She showered every evening between 5 and 6 o’clock. Their shower stall outside looked like the work of Frank L. Wright compared to my step-father’s shower stall which we called pedophile’s 3-D cinema . . .
How neighbors showered outside in the winter (If at all) without a heater I’ll never know – maybe they wore clothes while showering. Showering in the winter for me was as foreign as a U.S. Congress balancing the budget or obeying the Constitution. Barrio Boulevard of Broken Oaths.
I was fourteen years old, and she, in her early twenties, a widow with a son being raised by a grandmother. A few years later in 1954 I joined the Navy and didn’t see her again until 1960 when I ran into her at a dance. (How in the hell do you run into someone at a dance hall? Are cars permitted?) She was still single and also horizontally accessible and I asked for a dance. Lil’ Black Cloud was close by collecting tickets at the door but keeping an eye on me.
Tina said, “Yes,” when I asked for a dance. The fragrance of her perfume always reminded me of that moment. I couldn’t help but ask: Tina, did you have a heater in your outside shower stall?
We dated often and in a moment of passion conceived our daughter, Jo Ann – my biggest reward in life. Through the years when asked, “When did you get married, Frank?” I would reply, “The moment my daughter was conceived.” I became morally bound to the mother of my baby girl. Despite one night stands as a bachelor in my travels, I was committed to marry my daughter’s mother upon quitting ball. I never had a serious relationship with other women. Lil’ Black Cloud ran a bordello on Van Buren St. in downtown Phoenix.
Jo Ann was born in 1961 and was three years old when I left Phoenix. I knew her mother was a good mother, making it easier for me to leave, fulfilling my dream of being one of the best of my era in softball; selfishly on an ego trip. I returned home every year after ball season, and left again for another season of ball. This went on for ten years but I never abandoned the family.
Through the years Tina baby-sat for working mothers. When I was home, I never saw a baby with a snotty nose or soiled diapers. She cared for Blacks, Orientals, Gringos, Hispanics, Indians, Midgets, and on top of the heap was her greatest gift to me – my daughter, Jo Ann. Tina loved them all. She could have qualified for Secretary General of the United Nations.
In 1977 we married and settled in Las Vegas. Jo Ann stayed with an uncle in Phoenix so that she could finish high school with friends. In 1981 we moved back to Phoenix to unite with Jo Ann, together, as it should’ve been.
Jo Ann continued her education by taking night courses; became a Corporate Officer at a local major bank. She married a lawyer, Joe Silence, who reminds me of the gentle father I once had. She has sons, Justin, and two step-children, Jeff and Corey (both graduates of the U of A in Tucson, Arizona) – a wonderful family.
TREJO’S CAREGIVER MORSE CODE
Thinking of my future upon retiring, looking ahead to the Golden Years, I began to think of possible life threatening illnesses. I wanted to have a plan in case I was left incapacitated. I thought of this after visiting a friend who had suffered a stroke. Seeing him paralyzed and wheelchair bound put fear in me. He couldn’t talk, just blinked his eyes to communicate. His wife told me a side effect of this illness brought sleepless nights due to blinking all night brought on by nightmares. This triggered an idea of creating a form of communication between Tina and me by blinking of the eyes as a Morse code in communicating in case of a stroke.
For example: A blink by the left eye meant “Yes.” A blink by the right eye meant “No.”
Two blinks (both eyes) meant Hell No!
“Frank, do you want breakfast?” Blink a left eye. (Yes)
“Sugar and cream in your coffee, Frank?” Again. One L blink. (Yes)
“How about chorizo con huevos? (A Mexican breakfast) One L blink. (is a “yes” necessary now?)
“Do you want a side of frijoles with your breakfast?” One R eye blink (No!)
“Do you want the enema after breakfast?” One L eye blink
“Frank, do you want to shower – its been a week? Two blinks (both eyes – Hell No!)
“Frank, do you want menudo” ( A cow’s intestines made into a soup) Ugh! Two blinks – Hell no!
“Frank, let’s go visit my mother.” Two blinks and the “finger” – A big Hell no!
She rattled off meals as though reading from a Denney’s breakfast menu. Thousands of possibilities that posed a problem – I only have two eyes. The vocabulary grew very rapidly. By now blinking had become faster like when some guy is bitten on his penis head by an ant.
The latest addition to the code were four blinks by the left eye: I’m itchy down under.
5 lightning-speed blinks by both eyes meant: the urgency for a bowel movement.
10 blinks by both eyes in slow motion meant: “too late.”
“Frank, Goddamn you! Next time I want to give you an enema and you blink a no, you’ll have to clean up the mess yourself.”
Shutting both eyes for three seconds meant: “I’m sorry but “I love you.”
Tina’s response would be: she would sit and close her eyes for two minutes which meant those words didn’t mean much anymore . . . they made her sleepy.
One eye closed for five seconds: “you’re a beautiful woman and a good mother.” (Goddammit! It doesn’t matter which eye)
Both my eyes shut for one minute in silent prayer with fingers crossed: “Did the Mets win?”
And finally, if she wanted blinks repeated: she would stick her tongue out five times.
You get the drift – now?
I prayed I lived long enough to receive social security checks worth three times of what I put in – the only Ponzi scheme I approve of. I must tell you of an incident that occurred that always made us laugh:
Once in a loving mood, exchanging caresses and kisses, Mother Nature began shaking the squeaky bed. While in the missionary position I suddenly developed an excruciating pain on my side around the rib cage. (You’ve experienced that – haven’t you, guys?) I tried getting off Tina but it hurt more. A few seconds went by and we began laughing. When we realized how serious it was the laughter died die.
“Tina, I can’t move, I’ve got this pain. We’re both in the nude and what if this doesn’t go away? What if we have to call in our daughter Jo Ann?”
Tina wouldn’t stop laughing. Beads of sweat poured from my forehead and began to irrigate my eyes. My God, I can’t even wipe my eyes.
“Tina – can you reach a tissue for me?”
“How can I Frank, you’re on top. I can’t move either.”
“Do you think you can reach the Kleenex box with your toes?”
“I already tried but knocked the box to the floor.”
“Perhaps if you would trim your nails more often that wouldn’t have happened.”
“Tina, if I yell for Jo Ann to call 911 and she comes to the door and I yell ‘Don’t open the door!’ what is she to think?” I imagined the following:
“JO ANN! CALL 911!”
“DADDY, WHATS HAPPENING? WHAT’S WRONG?”
“JO ANN! DON’T OPEN THE DOOR!”
“BUT DAD, WHAT’S HAPPENING?”
“IF YOU OPEN THE DOOR YOU CAN’T USE THE CAR TONIGHT!”
“NEVER MIND THE CAR, DAD, HOW’S MOM?”
“SHE CAN’T MOVE!”
“MOOTTHEERRR! TALK TO ME!”
Tina laughing loudly: “DON’T OPEN THE DOOR! HURRY! CALL 911!” (We heard a thud – Jo Ann had fainted.)
My God, friends are coming by in half an hour. Dinner is in the oven overcooking. I left the water running in the bath tub. UPS is at the door delivering Trojans I had ordered and I wanted to receive them myself. Art, my friend, called earlier wanting me to go to the casino to collect a 99 cent slot machine ticket. He’s due any moment. The dog’s routine to go shit outside is to scratch the door non-stop to let him out.
Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! (Can you believe this?)
“Hold on Fido – maybe a half-hour more.”
‘Tina! Please stop laughing. I think Jo Ann has passed out on the floor. What are we going to do?”
“What do you mean, we. I can’t even move my arms, only my hands. And how come you didn’t brush your teeth?”
Now panic is setting in. Suppose I have to get a rescue team out here and the only way to get me out of the entanglement is with a crane to lift me out the window . . . (Help! Mom, where are you!)
“JO ANN! ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?” I yelled.
“YES!! BUT DAD, WHAT ABOUT MOM? HOW COME YOU WON’T OPEN THE DOOR?”
“JO ANN! PLEASE CALL THE TRUMP CRANE COMPANY! IT’S AN EMERGENCY!”
Another thud; it was much louder this time – she fell to the first floor. Several minutes later, recovered, Jo Ann does make the phone call. I didn’t hear anymore scratching on the door by Fido, but it sure smelled.
By now neighbors are standing in front of the house, curious about the huge crane, waiting to see what was happening. As I’m being hauled out, naked and strapped, everyone begins to cheer.
“JO ANN. WHY WAS THE CAT MEOWING?”
“DAD, I LANDED ON TOP OF THE CAT AND SMOTHERED IT. IT WAS TIME, THOUGH, YOU HAD ALREADY RAN OVER HIM EIGHT TIMES AND IT HAD ONE MORE TO GO.”
This was a real life experience. Absent, of course, the crane, neighbors, Jo Ann, Art, my friend, full tub of water, over-cooked dinner, no UPS, no friends over for dinner. This real painful experience only took about three minutes and then it stopped. Amazing how the brain panics even during a quickie. I became paranoid about quickies – I practiced celibacy for 30 minutes until the pain eased and then continued . . .
When I die, my daughter is instructed to have the stone at the grave to read: THIS MUST BE A GOOD PLACE. EVERY ONE IS DYING TO GET IN. I gotta go now, someone is scratching on the door again.
♫ MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS♫
I had promised Tina a sea cruise but she took ill one week before the trip and we had to cancel. Her illness was cancer and the doctor gave her six months to live. She lived 13 months. Barrio Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
I had paid $3,000 for the cruise but didn’t insure it. I couldn’t get any of the money back, which was all right because of my stupidity but what really teed me off was Lil’ Black Cloud whistling Row Row Row Your Boat. “Chinga tu madre, hijo de la chingada!” Ask Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida to translate.
As things worsen, Hospice got involved. It was then I discovered Tina’s strength and courage I had failed to recognize all those years. She never complained about my travels – not once. She looked forward to her chemo-therapy sessions because she had developed friendship with others. She stared death in the eye as if to say, “come on you F*^&#kin’ deadbeat, I’m ready!”
Time was running out and for the next few months I would whisper how much I loved her and held her tightly. Holding her in my arms I would thank her for the wonderful job she had done raising our daughter. As I pulled away, our eyes were teary…somewhere years ago I read tears were “the words of the soul” – how true.
I don’t think I could have done as much playing ball if I hadn’t had her patience and understanding. Tina remains in my heart. Even typing this I become emotional.
Several years ago I had brought her flowers. As I gave them to her, she said, “I can’t eat those.” Never offered her flowers again, now I regret it. What woman doesn’t like flowers . . . unless you’re a feminist. Do you think anyone dares to give Gloria Steinem, flowers? Just think how much the flower industry has been growing as a result of same-sex marriage.
“Hey Carnale, dale una flor a tu reina no seas tan malagradecido!” (Hey, brother, give your queen a flower, don’t be so ungrateful!)
After Tina passed, several mothers she had baby-sat for were at the church service paying their respect.
“There is none, in all this cold and hollow world, no fount of deep strong, deathless love, save that within a mother’s heart.” (Felicia Hemans)
I miss her caress, her comfort, her closeness, the warmth and tenderness of love she shared. What more did I need. My life was fulfilled because of her love and the pride and joy she gave me – my daughter.
Listen to me machos, improve your attitude, if it needs improving, and maybe, for once in a long time take your sweetheart somewhere and before you leave the house present a rose, hug her, and tell her how much you love her. Not only will it make her feel loved it’ll make you feel like the man she richly deserves.
In the final days of her life I would go to her room every 15 minutes. When the time came I wanted to be close, holding her in the moment of death. One morning at exactly 5:00 I peeked in, she was breathing very heavily. A sure sign of the end but couldn’t tell precisely when, of course.
I left to do something and returned a few minutes later – she was still, no breathing, no heartbeat. My Tina was gone. I caressed her forehead and it was cold, lifeless. I missed the opportunity of holding her till the very last and wishing I could have gone with her. Barrio Boulevard of an Empty Coffin.
But she lives in the image of our daughter. There will always be a reserved spot in my heart for Tina. A memory secured in my mind that shall remain forever. In just a few years I will join you, Tina. I hope you haven’t forgotten the blinking code.
MY ONLY GRANDCHILD
Being a klutz with tools, I was concerned about my grandchild’s (Justin) safety when he was around. We were together the first eight years of his life. I considered taking out a separate liability insurance policy for him because of Lil’ Black Cloud’s personality.
One day we went to the store to fill a gallon container of gas for the lawn mower. At the pump, he stood between my legs (three yrs. old), assisting in squeezing the handle to activate the pump. It was a small funnel and as the gas gushed out it splashed up, splattering his face with gasoline. Luckily there was a water faucet nearby. I quickly held him upside down and turned on the water. He told me he wasn’t thirsty. “Tata, no wa wa” He inherited my humor.
Another time struggling to put back the curtains of his bedroom windows and having a hard time with the rods, as I struggled and cussed, Justin, standing behind asked, “Tata (grandpa), can I help?” Imagine, a Tata being asked by a three year old if I need help. I said, “Maybe.”
The word Tata reminded me of two funny stories:
A young Jewish couple excited because baby was about to utter his first word – kept repeating “ma” over and over. When the baby started again the mother yelled for Joseph “Honey! Hurry! I think the baby is ready to say mommy.” He rushed into the room as the baby began “ma…ma…ma…money!” Joseph – “That’s my banker boy!”
Justin kept mumbling “ta…ta…ta…” I also got excited thinking his first uttered word would be “Tata.” “Tina! JoAnn! Justin is going to talk!” “Come on! Justin. You can do it!” “ta…ta…ta…Tamale!”… – that’s my boy – the tamale maker!
When unloading groceries from the cart into the car with Justin standing in the cart (some people’s mode of transportation) he fell, landing on his back. That was too close. He may have landed on his head and I would have been stuck with a grandson with a crooked neck and eventually on food stamps.
Comedian Paul Rodriquez told a joke about shopping carts. In his comedy routine he often talked about immigrants “borrowing” shopping carts from shopping centers as a mode for their transportation.
One morning he was pushing a K-Mart cart, and alongside was his seven year old son. He looked down and pointing at the cart, said, “Just think, son, one of these days it is going to be all yours.” (I saw a picture in a Mexican magazine that showed a street vendor in Acapulco pushing a K-mart shopping cart.)
The kitchen cabinets were in need of a paint job. I had to use paint thinner I’d never worked with. Got the paint tray, the brush, the thinner – I was ready. The wife and daughter had left the house to shop and it was just him and me. (A three year old supervisor!)
When I started to apply thinner to remove the old paint, I noticed the thinner disappearing from the tray too quickly. “Tata, more paint,” said Justin.
Actually, what was happening, he had gotten a plastic paint tray and the thinner ate right through it; leaked onto the vinyl tile ruining two pieces and panic time once more. There’s still plenty of time to correct Justin’s mistake before the girls got back. Lil Black Cloud was at the doorway holding the two ruined pieces and wouldn’t stop laughing.
“Justin, see what you did. How are we going to fix it?”
“Tata, I want to watch cartoons.”
Luckily, I had tile left of the same pattern. Whew! When the girls arrived we were both watching cartoons.
Very klutzy with tools, I still maintained a few; a hammer, screwdriver (a reminder of my drinking days), a tape measure, sandpaper (seldom used except to scratch when itchy), bent nails, a paint brush used only once to apply butter on a tortilla. Most all tools had cobwebs. One day I activated the brush, this time for painting.
I was busy painting the bathroom ceiling, and had the tray of paint on the floor. I stood on top of the commode; stepping down (saw this coming didn’t you) my foot went right in. “Justin! Justin!” didn’t answer – had fallen asleep.
Another time, nailing a calendar to the wall the head of the hammer kept flying off. I laid down the hammer; Justin grabbed it, and went to strike it. The head flew off and hit me on the ankle. You should have seen me tap dancing on one leg. Reminded me of a one-leg man runner-up in a boogie-woogie dancing contest. Lil Black Cloud came in last at a “Dancing With the Stars” program on the radio before television did. One was forced to use imagination unlike in today’s voting process.
Such was my life every day in attempting to maintain the upkeep and maintenance of my home. One day Justin referred to me as the “destroyer.” I didn’t say anything, he was only four – and wright.
The one shore I enjoyed the most was mowing the grass and smoking some from Acapulco. But it took time mowing under Loony Tune time. I didn’t mind doing it twice under the influence. There were many other incidents too numerous to go into. I’m happy to report Justin escaped with his life and has no physical damage. He is learning to be a community organizer. Maybe someday he’ll become a president of something. Justin finished college and now works for a bank just as his mother did. I am a proud “Papa Grande.”
TOO BIG FOR ME
Years’ later living in Phoenix, the owner of the Las Vegas cab company I had worked for suffered a stroke and had to relinquish the day-to-day operation of the business to his nephew. One of George’s first acts, besides calling his sons to help, was to call and ask if I would consider moving back to Las Vegas to help him. This is about 29 years after I had left the company. I was flattered and accepted.
George told me he wanted a team of people of integrity to reverse the bad image most cab companies are accused of being. He offered me the job to help improve the company’s image.
I asked if he wasn’t confusing me with someone else. He said things couldn’t get (worse or worst?) like having Lil Black Cloud around. I stared at Lil’ Black Cloud resting on top of a cab with its chest puffed out like a popcorn ball.
The companies are not at fault; it is the drivers. They create friction between customers; thus giving cab companies a bad reputation. I got George to declare Lil’ Black Cloud persona non grata and I’d worry about retaliation later. The business had grown from two cab companies, (now five) and around 75 drivers, to 2,500 drivers. It also increased to 500 cabs, many limousines. New technology (computers) had passed me by.
The owner of the cab company is an interesting story. He worked at a base close to Las Vegas (Nellis Air Force Base) and when he was discharged he stayed in LV and became a cab driver. (Around the middle 50s)
An elderly couple owned the company and when the man died the widow was left alone to run the company. He helped her in all aspects of the business and she finally sold the company to him. He took care of her for the rest of her life. He had several partners (about five) and when I went to work for him he had just paid off the last one. His hard work paid off – he became very wealthy. He invested in a lot of property when the city was booming. The owner had had a drinking problem and often someone would have to go fetch him at a secluded night club a few miles SW of the Strip and take him home.
As a supervisor, one evening I was instructed to go to the secluded night club to pick him up. As I walked in I noticed him at the bar drunk as a skunk. As everyone in the bar were staring they observed me tapping his shoulder and said “Charlie, it’s time to go home.” He turned around and in a loud voice said: “What the fuck do you want, you fuckin’ Mexican.” I responded by grabbing him – carried him out to the cab. That was the last time he got drunk – he quit and lived peacefully until the early 2000s when he died. Read about him – Google his name – Charlie Frias – Las Vegas, Nevada . . . and remember – he started out as a cab driver and became a billionaire. Why don’t we elect cab drivers and barbers to Congress, they seem to know every thing.
HOW TIME FLYS
At 68 years of age, I was thinking “younger” but it was too much. I didn’t stay at the cab company. I experienced the same kind of problem like grandma had been confronted with years earlier. In the early ‘50s she was visiting and the phone rang. I mentioned that Grandma was here at home with us; did they want to say hello to her? The person said, “Put her on.”
“Grandma, it’s for you.” She was in her 80s and quickly responded, “Oh, No!” She was afraid of the phone.
Years later she was in an institution for the crazies. I was home between ball seasons and decided to visit, expecting the worse because I’d been told she was blind with a faulty memory. As I walked through the long hall way towards her room, many women “out of it” reminded me of the movie “Snake Pit.” As I walked passed them none looked at me. Perhaps they had this “thing” about Mexicans and couldn’t stand to look at. As I entered the room she was sitting upright on the edge of the bed. I had expected a loony. I stood in front of her and said, “Nana, it’s me, Francisco,” She responded, “How is the ball player?” I was overtaken by emotion and started crying as I hugged her. Isn’t it odd how we know our mother’s side of the family and not so much of Dad’s? I even met my great-grand mother on mother’s side.
In Northern California I shared an apartment with a friend who was also a ball player and he stuttered horribly. Poor guy, just trying to score with a girl was an exercise in futility. It took a good 15 seconds to say hello. When he got more than one word out it sounded like a machine gun in an old movie featuring the Foreign Legion.
He danced a lot because he didn’t have to open his mouth to ask. He learned from a silent movie that by extending his hand was the invitation to the girls for a dance without asking.
Whenever we were having a few beers amongst friends, and he wanted to join in, it became hilarious. The moment he opened his mouth and nothing came out, in unison we would all stomp our feet while clapping to get a rhythm going for him.
He never had a problem singing along with music on the radio. No 15 second I’s, nor 1.25 minute “I love you” talking on the phone. He was perfect singing! But conversing, he was extremely limited. I didn’t mind – I dominated conversations.
We moved to Las Vegas and lived separately. We found a team to play with, and in the meantime, I bartended at a beer joint and he was a security guard. Lil’ Black Cloud ran with the mob.
This friend was staying at the team sponsor’s house before the ball season began. He became embroiled in an affair with the wife and didn’t have to even open his mouth. Things got bad. Her husband got wind of it and my buddy had to leave and asked if he could room with me. Of course. Two weeks later he disappeared. I finally heard from him via a letter.
“Dddeeeaaarrr Fffrrraaannnkkk, (Hand also stuttered) two guys knocked on the apartment door. When I opened it they shoved me back, put a gun to my head and said, ‘If you’re still in town tomorrow I will kill you.’ Even if I could have talked I decided not to for fear of getting shot by them thinking my stuttering was wasting time intentionally. I left town immediately. I was so nervous at the bus depot, they had followed me and it took me a while to purchase a ticket – couldn’t get the word Massachusetts out.”
It was apparent that he had not severed his affair with the sponsor’s wife. I never saw him again. “Gregg Wynn, if you’re still alive, where’s the 10 bucks you owe me!”
SALT LAKE CITY FANS
In researching information for this story, I conversed by phone with a couple of reps from the International Softball Congress (ISC). They told me of an individual living in Salt Lake City, Utah by the name of Scott Simons, an ex-ball player who had created a “Trejo Legend,” in Utah’s softball circles. Trejo, a legend in Salt Lake City? I’ve never robbed 7-11s in Utah!
I contacted Scott and what he had to say was very flattering. He had heard from a friend that saw a hitter (me) in Phoenix get 4 hits in a game who handled the bat differently each time.
Later Scott traveled to California to see me play and decided to switch from being a right-handed batter to a left-hander. He developed the same type of swing and taped a demonstration to teach others.
Scott attributes this “Trejo style” to his being selected to the ASA All-American team in ’76 and the ISC in ’80. This became known as the “Trejo Swing” in the Salt Lake area. What an honor even if it’s not true.
After my conversation with Scott – “Wow!” you can imagine the thrill I felt when he said he even had tree license plates with TREJO 1, TREJO 2, and TREJO 3 written on them. I knew a meeting with Scott had to be for a possible addition to my story; Lil’ Black Cloud or not.
My wife Mabel accompanied me on a trip to Salt Lake City a month later. I talked her into hopping a freight train from Phoenix to Salt Lake City to re-experience the adventure I took as a 14-year old to San Francisco. Two miles out of Phoenix she threatened to destroy my manuscript if we didn’t fly. Two clouds of dust sprang up as we jumped off the train. (you rewrite this sentence – it doesn’t read right) If you believe that one, you’ll believe IRS employees will begin obeying our Constitution and start going to confession on Sundays.
I had never been to Salt Lake City and what a beautiful place. It reminds me of how most of our cities used to look, clean, before socialism. Socialism is what dirties everything. (No pride) Look around your city and witness how many city streets are un-swept and look dirty.
When I started playing fast-pitch softball I had heard of some left-handed hitters swinging down on the ball and making it hit the ground and bounce up in front of the pitching area allowing enough time for the runner to beat the throw to first. I witnessed this in the early ‘50s, and tried it. It was easy for me; especially swinging down against drop balls.
As a youth, my type of entertainment hitting a tennis ball against a wall and swinging at bottle caps, plus playing a lot of pepper (hitting the ball back to a row of fielders in front of you) helped develop eye coordination and timing (bat control). I learned hitting balls over the infield to both sides of the infield.
By choking up on the bat, thus giving me bat control needed, I was able to execute the swing while running forward and towards first before making contact. You see this in women’s softball – most left-handed batters do this. This made sense to me. It got me that much closer running to first after hitting the ball. This type of swing confused the defense.
The swing gave the pitcher and catcher a new challenge. How to pitch to Trejo? Outfielders played in when they saw me choking up on the bat. And many times at the very last moment I’d slide my hands on the bat and take a regular swing and hit the ball over their heads – often. OK OK so I’ve said this before – so what!
When I was in a bunt situation I’d “slap” (swinging bunt) the ball passed the infielders. If they played back, expecting me to “slap,” I just laid the ball down. It was a cat and mouse game taught to me by Raton. (My cat) This is why I loved the game so much. I could be unlike others but still be a team player. Lil’ Black Cloud was unimpressed.
Don’t recall seeing anyone using my style of swing. When I started playing again in ’63, I began to develop the “Trejo Swing.” I left Phoenix and started playing ball against the best in California; that swing became permanent. Others may have used the same swing but I never witnessed it. I attended both world tournaments (ISC and ASA) and never saw anyone use it.
I started noticing some of the players using the slap swing. Due to, I believe, when I played too close to the batter anticipating a sacrifice. As long as the bunter just laid the ball down, 99.9% of the time I threw him out – easy pickings for me.
Prior to Scott developing and spreading the “Trejo Swing”, no one had seen that type of swing in the area. They said women’s softball began to execute the swing later on, and credit the “Trejo Swing” as being responsible. What can I say other than . . . it was good to hear.
While Scott was demonstrating the swing, Lil Black Cloud got jealous, and rained out some practices.
True or false about the “Trejo Swing” revolutionizing the hitting game, really, who cares. After all, it’s just a stick and a ball. If anyone has a better story, please contact me. Frankly, I found swinging a broom at bottle caps more challenging.
I’d like to express my gratitude to Scott Simons for the work he did in promoting something he believed in. I saw his videos demonstrating his new-found swing, and by golly, it sure looked like mine. He wanted me to demonstrate the swing, but I wasn’t up to it. I’ve told others that at this age if I ever took a swing at a ball, I would have to call a cab to get to first. Thank you, Scott for taking an interest in my ability.
After our visit ended and Scott took us to the airport I surprised him with a gift. As we parted I called him back and handed him a lined purple-velvet tiny ring container. It was my Hall of Fame ring given to me when I was inducted into the Hall of Fame of fast-pitch softball. He was shocked not knowing how to react other than saying thanks. He later told me he had a little wooden display case made on which he has the ring mounted and displays it in his office desk. I was just as thrilled of the license plate he gave me (TREJO 2) as he was of the ring.
All my life I’ve been that type of personality that just can’t “wait.” As a young kid I don’t remember awakening to day light – I would be off and running before the sun said buenos dias. Later in life aboard the ship in the Navy the alarm to get out of the sleeping rack would sound off at 6:00 a.m. I was aboard that ship for three years and never found myself still in/on? the bed when the alarm went off.
In my working days I would always be the first one at work. When I played ball I was always the first at the park. When I drove a cab in Las Vegas I’d drive off the yard before my shift started. At social gatherings I was always first at the table. Always in a hurry as if I didn’t want to be left behind or miss anything.
I found humor in my loony imagination. At my funeral services I’ll be waiting at the cemetery for the procession. Or at the crematorium my daughter would show up with an empty bag for my ashes and ask for a discount. And of course you remember me telling you about going to a dance with my future father and going home with my future mother the next morning – I just couldn’t wait . . . always on the go.
Larry Miller, (Now deceased) of Toyota Miller; owner of the Utah Jazz and a great sponsor of softball teams in Utah, I never met. But through a mutual friend (Tom Nunez ex-NBA official) he had heard of my ball-playing career. In 1969 I played in a world tournament and Larry was there.
When I published my book I sent him a copy. He’s secretary sent me an e-mail and wanted my address because Mr. Miller wanted to send something to me. A few days later a CD arrived. (Caramba! I was expecting a new Toyota) I quickly played it, not knowing what to expect. It was a video he had taped of me playing a game in the ’69 tournament. What a thrill – a multi-millionaire taking such an interest in my ball playing.
By now my wife Mabel Leo, understands my personality traits. As we were watching the tape she had never seen me swing a bat and when she saw me running forward before swinging she remarked that I couldn’t wait for the ball to get there. I had never stopped to think why I was like that. And when Mabel pointed it out – it convinced me of the old adage – a picture is worth a thousand words. I have to go now I’ve got an appointment at the pearly gates – I’ve got a reservation to make. Lil Black Cloud I hope you’re not in charge of reservations.
PURCHASE EL CAMPITO BARRIO
Even today I still haven’t outgrown silly thoughts. I enjoyed every minute remembering those early years of life in the barrio. For a long time I had a reoccurring dream of coming into a bit of money and buying all the property of a dying barrio to preserve it and converting it into a tourist attraction. An idea for future generations to witness what it was like living in poverty in a barrio.
In the past unpaved streets (In the barrio) became small rivers when El Nino vacationed in Phoenix. Some outhouses were built better than shacks called homes. Many skinny dogs would be loose in search of food and a home.
It would require some money to preserve it like Tombstone, Arizona has done. A western town made famous by a shooting spree between malcontents. Whereas, my barrio was dying not because of bullets to make it famous, but by corporate greed fed by corrupted city officials to use that area for airport expansion that has never happened. There are just a few shacks left.
There were many barrios scattered about in the Phoenix area. Mine was called “El Campito.” (Little Camp) Initially was called “Hooverville” named by history revisionists in our country that laid blame for the depression on President Hoover, when in reality it was the bankers who own the Federal Reserve that were responsible. This started the socialist/communist welfare state in America. President Roosevelt was their stooge to carry out the hidden agenda. The Roosevelt dynasty made its wealth in the banking business. You’ll never read this in the mainstream press.
One of the most popular sites in a barrio was Grant Park, which still exists. Every Thursday evening families from other barrios would congregate for entertainment and to spread gossip. There was a platform for those with the courage to sing, dance, and play the piano or guitar. There was even a guitar player with a singer singing in sign language.
The other type of entertainment for people consisted of a pig rubbed with hog lard; turned loose and the one able to hold on could take the pig home as the reward and use it to make tamales or claim it as a dependent – accepted by an incompetent IRS. A round pole about 12 feet high, also greased, had a bundle of $1.00 bills on top as a prize. Although many failed, eventually some succeeded. It was a great feeling being able to socialize with others. Unfortunately, like everything else good about society and country, has gone by the wayside. The socialist/welfare state has doomed yesterday’s America.The American dream is history, it has become a nightmare. We have criminals running our government and the American people have thrown in the towel . . . it may be impossible to reverse. A radical constitutional criminal in OUR White House and now a Communist (Sanders) running for the Democrat nomination?????
Whenever I’m in the area of my former barrio I’ll pull in and cruise the few streets that remain and look at the shacks still standing – occupied. Through the years I imagined earning a lot of money to purchase all of the properties left to convert it into a tourist attraction. This is a repeat just in case you’re suffering with amnesia. Future generations could get a glimpse of how it used to be. Poor people would get a free pass after emptying shit-cans.
Once I became rich I would execute my plan: Future generations would pay a fee to tour the barrio. A Mother Teresa look-a-like would be the gate keeper. The following would define the operation. I have a tendency of repeating things I am developing Alzheimer’s and just live with it – OK?
1. Renovate all outhouses. Use recycled toilet paper instead of the editorial pages. Have a special outhouse for flies only.
2. Bar corrupt EPA government officials from participation for fear of having the barrio declared “Historical Property” and lose control.
3. Make sure animals are well-fed and fattened to prevent union communists from unionizing chickens and pigs.
4. Snack Bars operated by 75 different races of people to comply with Nixon’s Affirmative Action.
5. Import naked Iranian cab drivers from New York to ride tourists around in Wal-mart shopping carts. (No need to frisk.)
6. Photographic rights to a pardoned Hispanic pornographer from Hollywood.
7. A tourist guide with a blind dog.
8. A welcoming committee: A Gypsy. (hang on to your wallets) Juan, the landscaper. Rosita, a retired masseuse with Parkinson. A hippie food stamp recipient proudly displaying the first issued food stamp in America.
9. A one-arm-four-finger expert in sign language in charge of Human Resources.
10. Special consent to Lil’ Black Cloud for a cotton candy stand producing “fluffy cotton candy” balls.
11. An information booth distributing fliers with instructions how to qualify for welfare. Don’t laugh, that is what the U.S. government is advertising in Mexico – How to qualify for food stamps in America.
12. A booth to rent a “gringo” by the hour to walk around to demonstrate unity.
13. A tamale-making demonstration booth by a blind one-arm Nana.
14. Entertainment stage: Americanized Mariachis playing big band music. A musical concert by a group from the school of deaf and mute in sign language. Two Asian comedians doing the Abbott and Costello who’s on first bit in Chinese.
It wasn’t meant to be, though. I checked with an accountant/cook (money-launderer Mexican food operator) and told me it would take several Trejo life times of work at minimum wages to pull it off…Oh well, Barrio Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
NUMERO UNO FAN
I cannot begin to end this story without saying a few more words about my daughter, Jo Ann. During the years I was on my ego trip (softball career), we never failed to communicate. Before her schooling, she already knew the map of California because of my travels.
Towns I played in California: San Francisco, Oakland, Redwood City, Mountain View, Bell Gardens, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, West Covina, Pomona, Etiwanda, La Mesa, Santee, Palm Springs, Oxnard, San Bernardino, Hawthorne, Santa Clara, Ontario, Hayward, San Leandro, Lakewood, San Jose, Cypress, Gardena, Bakersfield, Oceanside, San Diego, Buena Park, Redwood City, Redwood City, Redwood City, (lived there 3 times) Planets Uranus and Saturn …. Enough already! She must have gotten A’s in geography.
She graduated from high school and went to work for a local bank beginning as a bank teller. I imagined her being robbed by a “Willie Sutton” type character. She had set a goal and continued her schooling at night.
I’ll never forget the day of her appointment at the main office for a promotion. She worried much that morning, she showed up without shoes. She had heard the interviewer had a fetish for female feet and got the promotion. That was the beginning of a career that one day she would become a Corporate Officer and be able to afford as many shoes as Mrs. Marcos from the Philippines.
She has always been my biggest supporter. Even now, she never fails to encourage, compliment, and tell me that she loves me.
She’ll say, “Dad, look for a woman; you are a very handsome man for your age.”
After I hang up I look in the mirror and question whether she needs glasses. How can I not love and admire such a wonderful “little girl” my wife gave me?
No trophy, no championships, no plaques, no accolades, no Hall of Fame awards will ever match the swell of emotion I feel when she just says “Hello” and “I love you, Dad.”
“I love you, too, sweetheart, till the Chicago Cubs win a world series.”
IN THE END – IT ENDS
My mother died in a rest home at 96. When visiting, at times I’d be the only visitor. The rest of the elderly stared constantly, perhaps thinking how lucky Margarita was, having a visitor.
I asked a staff member if patients were visited often and replied, “Many aren’t. Remember, out of sight out of mind?” I am not to die other than on my own bed. Rest homes have become too expensive – it costs too much to die. There will be no rest home for me.
My grandmother and great-grandmother lived together, raising a cousin who had been abandoned. He and I were the same age (4 years old) but he was a very mean one. Great-grandma was an invalid spending most of her dying days sitting on a rocking chair. Every day my cousin, Peter, asked for ice cream and if he didn’t get it he’d fling a little stool at her.
When she passed, the services were conducted at home and I vividly recall Mom lifting Peter up so he could get a last look at great-grandma. He screamed for a long time. Guilt feelings or no more ice cream? I don’t know. So what’s the moral of this story…? I don’t know – you tell me.
Another cousin was murdered by four brothers who accused him of raping their mother. He took her home from a local beer joint and upon getting out of the car she started screaming that she’d been raped. All four brothers were home and came out and beat my cousin to death. They broke most all his bones and that wasn’t enough – they castrated him – and were not even Muslims. They got light sentences even though proven in court that she had a history of accusing others of the same.
If ever you find yourself in the same circumstance as my cousin, when you drive a woman home don’t stop, slow down and have her jump. Had I been in the same situation, just my luck, Lil Black Cloud would have seen to it I’d run out of gas half a block away. Better still, stay home with the wife under the covers where you belong and keep on practicing the art of manufacturing babies with a MADE IN USA LABEL.
The socialist/communist welfare state we’re under has turned the judicial system upside down. Lawyers help make laws. (Congress) Lawyers enforce laws. (Executive – DOJ) Lawyers rule the court system. (Judicial branch) This is a blatant conflict of interest. Do not vote for a lawyer to Congress. It is an unconstitutional criminal system. Folks, we don’t have representative government – it is all bullshit to serve the elite. Observe how the two parties in Congress help each other. What further proof needed when you see Repussycans in Congress caving in to Democrats even though people responsible for the historic election results had wanted the GOP to stop the socialist/communist Jew-hating, America-hating ex-street thug from ruling like a dictator? Many citizens have been brainwashed who don’t understand the difference between the socialist/communist welfare state and a constitutional government. Trillions spent on education – for what? Some reading this will be turned off – the truth in America escapes many . . . this paragraph belongs elsewhere . . . you find a place for it.
Speaking of running out of gas one day driving a cab in Las Vegas, I had four men in my cab headed towards the Strip. We were about a block short when the cab started sputtering – out of gas! Luckily, they were in the car rental business and were used to such problems. All five of us proceeded to push the cab to a casino – I ended up tipping them. (You believe this? I don’t either)
Of experiences in life (off the ball-field) the one most enjoyable of many, and nerve wracking, was a small part I was asked to do in a stage play in Phoenix. I did it as a favor for a friend at the time – Mabel Leo – a published author who has become my playmate. (20/7 – we have to rest)
The name of the play which is being made into a movie is based upon a book “The Saga of Jack Durant” by Mabel Leo. It is about a person whose background was not well known until now. For instance he had ties to the underworld. He owned a popular dining restaurant in Phoenix. Mabel wrote a sequel – “Mob Mole.” Jack Durant, the real-life character in both stories worked for Bugsy Siegel in the 1940s at the Flamingo Hotel/Casino. The name of the upcoming movie is DURANT’S NEVER CLOSES starring Ted Sizemore as Jack Durant.
In the play there are four characters; the owner, the bartender, a waitress, and a drunk passed out at the bar, head on counter top; instructed not to move or even raise his head the hole time.
As a surprise for the audience, a celebrity (different every night) played the role of the drunk and was not introduced until after the show, when actors took their bows. Guess what character I played? I experienced stage fright briefly even though I had played that part all my life. One of the actors told me not to worry, that I would do great. Told her I did my best when drunk but she reminded me I couldn’t move – to leave the beer bottle alone. Shucks!
The play lasted one hour. What could possibly go wrong? But at my age, I was beginning to pee often. I made sure I didn’t drink liquids for a day and a half. By the time of the event, I was beginning to dehydrate. I visualize peeing in my pants and when the play ended and we took a bow, one pant leg would be all wet. As I sat still at the bar I had a gastric attack and started passing gas through the nostrils so not to make noise. If you believe that one you’ll believe the Vatican is free of homosexuals.
When the show ended and actors began to take a bow; I had been left behind. I still hadn’t moved. Someone called out about the drunk and I was quickly summoned to join the cast. The person introducing me forgot my name and screwed up the introduction. No, I didn’t wet my pants.
“Treeho” – he said, instead of the correct pronunciation of Trejo, (“Trayho”) and added erroneously about me playing in a Mexican League, in reference to my ball playing. Lil’ Black Cloud was in the audience. Even Laurence Olivier, the great English could not have outshone Lil’ Black Cloud reciting a few lines of a Shakespeare play during a break.
If you want to read about my wife’s work go to her web site firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s not crude like me.
Walking the streets of downtown Salt Lake City, Mabel and I decided to try a Chinese Buffet. As we entered, right away we noticed the diversity of people in the restaurant. The cashier was an Anglo girl. The floor supervisor was oriental. The tables were being cleaned by Antonio and Luis. The waiters were oriental and the party next to us was a black family enjoying ribs. Suddenly five construction trucks pulled onto the parking lot full of Mexican construction workers to have lunch without food stamps. Although I didn’t see cooks, chances are they were ex-Taco bell workers. This gave the place a semblance of a United Nations cafeteria. Standing close to our booth two orientals appeared to be arguing . . . of course we couldn’t understand what they were saying. As they raised their voices, bothering us, I called out: “Hey, speak Spanish, you’re in America!”
BACK TO ROCK ISLAND, ILL
When I lived in the Quad-Cities (Moline) my next door neighbor had an only daughter who worked as a hairdresser. One evening I started a conversation by asking if she also cut hair – “Mexican’s?” She said she would if I didn’t mind her wearing gloves. I said I understood and that I also wore gloves in my profession. That conversation led to a date.
The day before the date, I, and a friend, went on a drinking spree. We must have visited all the beer joints in the Quad-Cities and ended up in a small town about 100 miles away from home. I walked out of the beer joint to fart and to get fresh air and didn’t recognize the surroundings. Its then I realized I was far away from home at 5pm and remembered my date was at 7pm that evening.
As I climbed in my ’67 Buick Electra (thanks to my sponsor) Lil’ Black Cloud was across the street thumbing a ride. As I sped down a lonely road at 100 mph I noticed Lil’ Black Cloud in the rear seat covering its eyes. I kept looking in the mirror in case I spotted a patrol car and all I saw was dust being kicked up by tires hitting the road shoulder
By the time I got to my apartment, showered and shaved as fast as I could, at exactly 7pm I was knocking on her door. The wild ride had sobered me up. Lil’ Black Cloud was outside vomiting because of car sickness. The girl greeted me at the door without a glove on, and asked me in.
Her parents were an elderly couple, nice as could be. A few months later the father was killed in a car wreck and the Mrs. died in her sleep three days later. Must be a lot of truth to the saying “Died of a broken heart.” Boulevard of Broken Dreams…
Carol and I went to a dinner-house that included dancing. After dinner I asked to dance. I looked around and didn’t spot Lil’ Black Cloud. When dancing we didn’t say a word to each other. Something didn’t seem right. We went back to the table and just sat quietly. It’s then that I decided to cut it short and we left.
I spotted Lil’ Black Cloud dressed as a parking lot attendant and I knew, just new, that there was an explanation for the horrible evening . . . Dios mio! (Dios mio means “My God.” What is yours – “Dios Obama?”)
All the way home she kept quiet, I wondered whether she’d had second thoughts of continuing with the relationship. When we got home, I walked her to the door, a good night kiss was out of the question and just thanked her and that was it.
As I started undressing I looked at the mirror (mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest of them all) and discovered dried blood on both cheeks; above the lip, on the tip of the nose and three centimeters to the East next to a mole – brownish looking – but more black looking like a raisin. (Someone told me I should be more descriptive when I write and I’m just practicing.)
What happened was that in my rush to get ready for the date, (I had only 10 minutes before 7pm) – to shower and shave and forgot to look in the mirror. If I had I would have noticed the numerous cuts. No wonder I didn’t get a kiss. I thought it was because of bad breath. I looked out the window and Lil’ Black Cloud was mimicking shaving. The next time I saw Carol outdoors I told her I had thrown my razor away and bought an electric shaver. It didn’t do good – We never dated again.
STANDUP COMEDY FAILURE
Continuing with my notes in my wallet . . .
Several years ago a friend worked with handicapped people and invited me to entertain his group one afternoon. We had exchanged many stories and he was impressed with my background, thought it would go over great in class. I accepted. When I walked into the recreation hall he greeted me; introduced me to the crowd and asked me to proceed. I stood in front and before I opened my mouth he called and asked to go to the hallway – I had my zipper down – Ahh . . . Lil’ Black Cloud.
Returning to the class –“Good Morning, everybody!” No response. Thought it was odd. “What a fine looking bunch of students and you are so lucky to have my friend as your teacher.” Still no response. I thought I’d try something aggressive like. “What are you – a bunch of dummies?” Nothing! . . . I heard a few indescribable sounds. What a way to start. Oh well, can’t back out. In the meantime Lil Black Cloud is in the cloak-room going through coat pockets…well, here goes.
I started with barrio stories, talked about my athletic experiences as a youngster. Thought the story about one-leg Margaret would go over well because it could induce an emotional reaction. After about half an hour there hadn’t been any reaction whatsoever.
In other words – quiet and no laughter – I was bombing… (♫Born to lose, I’ve lived my life in vain♫) I looked towards Lil Black Cloud who was holding a poster board that read “Bums Away!” instead of Bombs Away.
I looked at my teacher friend as if to ask should I continue. He gave me the A-OK sign so I kept on. After a few more minutes I’d had enough. I thanked the people and that’s when he confessed that the class was for deaf mutes. They were privy to the practical joke and started laughing. I joined in the laughter making no sound – just moving my lips and showing my teeth.
Well, I wasn’t threw. I showed them I new a little sign language…. I tuke out my booger-stained hanky, draped it over my fist, moved my lips with no sound and exposed my middle finger – just like in Reno a few years earlier. The whole class erupted in sounds of laughter which reminded me of garbled Shaquille O’Neal TV commercials.
Moving right along . . .
Lil Black Cloud talked me into investing in a cemetery and as luck would have it, people quit dying.
I happened to be in the cemetery area where my wife’s ashes are preserved and decided to stop for a moment of silence and respect. It was 6:00 am and the gate was locked. It had always been open 24/7. Nevertheless, I climbed the fence and proceeded to the space where the urns containing ashes were stored.
As I climbed the fence to leave, I lost my balance and began to fall. Luckily a piece of wire caught my pant leg which kept me from falling head first. I’m hanging upside down, as if doing chin-ups the wrong way, and my weight caused the pant-leg to begin ripping and I began to slide down – slowly, inch by inch.
As I neared the bottom and my head about a foot from the ground; the cuff of my pant leg stopped the fall. My newly purchased glasses were right under my head. I’m hanging upside down unable to lift my body so I can unhook myself – I couldn’t.
I rested a few minutes, catching my breath, and looked to see if any ghosts were watching. I spotted Lil Black Cloud across the way, waving, riding a lawn mower with Speedy Gonzales riding shotgun. (Phew!)
I finally managed enough strength to pull up to unhook the pant leg and sure enough, I destroyed the glasses when I fell to the ground. My God, why don’t you pick on someone your size. Sometimes I don’t even want to leave the house.
Being limited in vocabulary, acccept what I learned in grammar school, I believe an experienced comedy writer could turn this story into a better piece. A sitcom? A cartoon streep? A movie starring Jim Carey? The last movie perhaps directed by Woody Allen or Mel Brooks from a rest home? Anyone out there who can translate it into Mandarin? Swahili? Write it in sign language for all the dummies of the world? Read my story to Muslims before being blown up on their way to meet 72 promised virgins for their terrorist acts on earth.
“Either he’s dead or my watch has stopped Emily, I’ve a little confession to make. I really am a horse doctor. But marry me, and I’ll never look at another horse.” (Groucho)
Folks, I left out a sad part of my life. I spent several years in and out of head-shrink offices and I must confess – everything I wrote never happened. What I don’t understand is the time it takes many writers, many years for some, to write stories. Imagine the use of the old typewriters and crumbled pieces of paper thrown on the floor in disgust only to start over again. What the great writers of the past could accomplish today . . . think of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Tolstoy, and the famous Bard.
I heard Osama bin Laden started working on his memoirs 10 years ago when he quit fornicating with camels. I started mine at 7:00 p.m. one evening and by 2:00 am next morning I was through and by 2:15.13 a.m. I began to experience sleep apnea.
Lil Black Cloud was really a kite. I tied a long string to it and then to my belt loop and it followed me wherever I went. Gato and Raton were two cartoon characters of a Mexican cartoon “streep.” The characters of the barrio were other patients I met in a shrink’s office. I was an orphan abandoned at a welfare office. The first couple I had as parents traded me for food stamps.
No one adopted me again until I was sixteen. The only work I ever did was working for ACORN. Sometimes I don’t know who I am. Things are looking up though. I got me a job at a farm I used to work at. I’d done so good they called me back. Doing what? Showing blind Turkeys where to shit – remember?
ADIOS LIL BLACK CLOUD
My imaginary relationship with Lil’ Black Cloud played a central role in my story to help with a bit of humor. Well, Lil’ Black Cloud finally began to lose its H2O. Last time together I noticed a bit of gray around its edges, as I am experiencing.
Whenever things go wrong in your life, whether it’s a stubbed toe, a rejection by your soul mate, a visit by the IRS, a pimple on your nose, a failed U.S. foreign policy, a “no-hitter” in bed – anything! Look around, somewhere in the vicinity you’ll spot a devious looking imaginary black little cloud.
I recall the time in a restaurant having dinner with my wife Mabel and her brother John and wife Sharon. Suddenly one side of my glasses was getting wet. I didn’t panic. I looked around the dining room, looking for Lil’ Black Cloud. The ceiling was leaking! It was a huge restaurant with only one leak in the whole joint – right above me! Sure enough, I spotted Lil Black Cloud ducking behind the coffee station.
Adopt your own little black cloud that way you can you can blame it for your stupidity. You’ll have a wonderful time with friends if and when you screw up; you’ll have someone to blame. Impress your landscaper, learn to say the following – “Nuve Negrita,” (Noo-veh Neh-gree-tah – it means Lil’ Black Cloud in the world of Speedy Gonzales.
At the end, picture me with arm around Lil’ Black Cloud, like Humphrey Bogart’s “Casablanca” movie with his arm around “Louie,” and me imitating Bogie by saying, “Lil’ Black Cloud, this is the end of a wonderful storm.”
One day, during monsoon season, a strong wind came by and Lil’ Black Cloud was ♫GONE WITH THE WIND♫
After all these years I welcome any problem with a smile, knowing the cause of it just may be a grandson of my Lil’ Black Cloud lingering close by. If so, I look forward to a continuing relationship like I had with its grandpa, who gave me so much company in my make believe world.
All kidding aside, (really?) I had a wonderful time doing this. Not having any experience whatsoever I’m proud of my attempt at writing, especially about my dysfunctional life with added humor to enjoy. And to think we have our own software program between our ears. In life you can do anything you want – even quit voting for criminals to Congress, smoking and drinking – all you have to do is listen to what your computer in your head tells you and follow its advice. It’s as simple as that. If you have a dummy in the family recommend this blog – he/she may commit suicide and you’ll have less worries in life.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
This poem was plagiarized by Lil Black Cloud at a reform school speech contest. But it’s by the great poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. Oh well, I hope you enjoyed Humor is the Laxative for a Troubled Mind. I love you, America.
Oops – I forgot this one. I had posted it earlier but took it off to revise. Maybe I should have titled my autobiography HOW NOT TO WRITE A BOOK.
The following I’d written before as a separate story but took it out to revise it. Now I’m inserting it back – what difference does it make whether it belongs here at this point in the story or not.
Most characters I write about are gone but I’m still here. Somehow my parent’s genes allowed me to survive longer. My Dad died at 84 and Mom at 96. I had numerous “close calls” in automobile accidents. I cheated death at least three times driving a car. Another had to do with drinking too much at once: I drank a pint of whiskey and then drank a half-pint.
The next morning I awoke, dying of thirst. I sipped a drink and the water wouldn’t go down – it gushed right out. I took a tea-spoon with water and it was also rejected. I was reduced to wetting the spoon, licking it, anything to quench the horrible hangover. I was on the verge of over-dozing with liquor and didn’t recognize the danger. I survived once again. Lesson learned? Next time mix it with coke. I dwell too much in the past and as I’m reaching my 80s, I often wonder where time went. I’m amazed how quick time flies. Years become months and months become weeks – so it seems.
I think you’ll find my style of humor a little far out. As you read along remember this: “Humor is the sunshine of the mind.” As for my faith the following words are what I live by: God is on my mind and heaven is in my heart . . . So let’s begin with this short one that’s fiction and non-fiction.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE – YESTERDAY? (How can time fly without wings?)
I first established my personality as a “hustler” within my circle of friends by an idea I had and executed in my early years. The idea was to approach a bank drive-thru and send a note in the vacuum tube demanding $25,000. Planning for this I had to familiarize myself with the bank teller at the window; where she lived, what shift she worked and where a son went to school. The plan was to obtain part of the son’s clothing, easily recognizable by the mother as his own. The day had arrived.
I had to work fast that morning. Obtaining the clothing was easy. I approached the boy on his way to school – a video game for his jacket – he quickly obliged. I was in a stolen car and wore a wig and dark shades and headed for the bank branch. It was a stormy day, dark clouds, thundering, and a lot of rain. The weather made the situation more adrenaline-charged like the music in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” movie when Bates is about to murder the girl taking a shower.
In line to be serviced at the bank’s drive-thru, I began to sweat. The goddamn car gas tank was almost empty and I was still two cars behind. I lowered the car window to breathe fresh air and it felt good when drops of rain blew in giving me some relief. The note to send read “I have your son I want $25,000.” As I inched closer to the drive-thru the song playing on the radio was “Born to Lose” by singer Ray Charles. Were the song’s lyrics trying to tell me something? I quickly changed stations to classical music to calm me down. I almost aborted the attempt.
“What is it you want sir, there is nothing in the tube”? . . . Was I nervous or what?
I sent the note and waited a few seconds to observe her reaction. She lifted her head and looked at me in shock and disbelief as I waved her son’s recognizable jacket. She immediately complied. As I sped away I removed the wig and glasses and dumped the car a few blocks away and walked to my own. That evening the news showed the video of me carrying out the plan. I had pulled off the job I had dreamed of doing. It worked beautifully; I didn’t even recognize myself on the video as it went viral.
Having a bundle of cash I decided to go to Las Vegas. I called a friend who ran a security business that dealt with casinos and slot cheaters. He and another (A policeman who had access to police records) designed a book with hundreds of pictures of slot cheats who had been arrested in the past. Selling the idea to casinos of pictures of slot cheaters that security guards could use was an easy sell. One of my buddy’s accounts was the old Hilton Hotel (Different name now).
The security company was paid 50 cents per day for every slot in the casino. What a great concept, it was all legitimate . . . no selling, no advertising, just a bunch of pictures for security personnel to recognize.
This buddy and partner frequented a cocktail lounge several blocks from the strip. In the course of several afternoons, sharing drinks, I discovered both were friends to a slot-cheating gang in Las Vegas. The arrangement with the thieves (who offered a kickback) was not to post pictures of them in the book. The scam was very successful and lucrative for all involved until new slot machine technology made it almost impossible to cheat the slots. The slot-cheating gang finally disbanded and disappeared like many of our freedoms and liberties.
Getting “comps” was easy, especially when you set up an account at the cashiers’ window approved by a casino boss. The casino boss happened to be a friend of my buddy. Of the $5,000 I had deposited at the cage I still left with $4,000. But in the long run the “house” always wins. You think multi-billion dollar hotel/casinos are built to lose? After a few days I went back home and by now my scam had faded from the news.
The news media had abandoned the story of my bank scam due to a renewed interest of a famous murder case that happened many years ago in Phoenix. The crime was a brutal murder committed by a medical secretary. She butchered a couple of girls and sent body chunks in a trunk to Los Angeles that was quickly discovered due to the stench.
At her trial she had been declared insane. She had escaped several times in the past and this last time was what created a renewed interest. The story lingered for a while in the morning papers. The name of this insane person was Winnie Ruth Judd – google it.
In the 1960s that amount of money was a lot. I had to figure a way to spend it without raising suspicion. I lived alone and had a criminal background due to an illegal firearms charge. The felony was possession of illegal machine guns. Luckily, I was placed on probation but no jail time. The sensationalism by the media accused me of aiding and abetting the Castro revolution in Cuba, which wasn’t true.
I remember the socialist/communist New York Times anointing Castro as the “George Washington of Cuba.” Castro’s revolution reportedly had approximately 1800 anti-government rebels. President Batista of Cuba had 22,000 soldiers and yet, lost to Castro. And here we are decades later, and practically the whole North American continent is becoming communistic.
This is no accident. It’s been a long-term goal by the powers of the world to destroy the middle class, especially in America. Pay attention to what the Congress and presidents’ (All of them) are doing. We get to vote them in but once elected the money interests take over. They are beholden to the elite – not you. The Supreme Court saw to it that bribery (donations) became legalized . . . how ignorant and naïve we are.
Being a nostalgic person I would take some of the money left from the bank scam to invite as many friends I grew up with and have a reunion at our old watering-hole known as “Mac’s Place.” That corner bar would be razed in the future to build a parking garage for the new baseball stadium of the Diamondbacks. Prior to this ballpark the area had been a bunch of produce houses which supplied Phoenix its produce needs.This was like an employment office for Latinos seeking work.
Early in the morning field-workers would stand in groups before truck drivers who picked and transported workers to the fields. Many of us were passed-over because all we did was play and no work. We had a reputation of eating the burritos in the trucks that belong to others while they worked. The one act that got us all 86th was when we bore a hole in watermelons and stuck our “dicks” in them. Picture us holding the melon with two hands, walking around, talking to people.
“Say, why are you walking around with that melon and not working”? A trucker asked.
“I’m going to the bathroom.”
“With a watermelon?”
What would you have done, especially when he reached to take the melon away?
Mac’s Place was a dilapidated building not more than 1,000 sq. feet, a U-shaped counter, a few stools, a pay phone, a penny weighing machine and an old type of pinball machine that paid a nickel for every game won. It was our watering-hole, along with a few thousand unionized “cucarachas.”
Benny played the guitar and sang Mexican songs. He tried American popular songs but couldn’t pronounce English words properly. After much booing at his rendition of popular songs he resorted to singing “La Cucaracha.” The first few words said it all: “La cucaracha, la cucaracha, ya no quiere caminar. Porque le falta, porque le falta, marijuana que fumar.”
This is loosely translated for those of you who will become a minority in the future: “The cockroach, the cockroach, doesn’t want to travel anymore. Because it needs, because it needs, marijuana to smoke.” (Was this necessary? Who cares – I don’t, do you?)
Psycho was the gang’s, well, psycho. He was a very troubled youth. He ended his life by shooting himself with a shot gun . . . more about him later.
CJ had graduated from being a stock clerk at a neighborhood grocery store to the Maitre d’ of the city’s prestige’s Country Club.
Cruz, the Porta Rican, was a pick-pocket. He was also the one in the gang noted for his “plumbing” down below.
Peter Goon was schizoid.
El Chulo (The good-looking one) was the hustler – drugs, women . . . a pimp as a teenager.
“Speedy Gonzales” liked relieving 7-11s of the day’s cash.
Tony was an addicted bartender who worked at a cocktail lounge in downtown Phoenix and was murdered in a failed drug deal.
Rosa was the proprietor and bartender at Mac’s Place. She overdid it with much makeup like many over-the-hill movie starlets and always wore a red rose (hence the name Rosa, the name for flower in Spanish) on top of her head. She’d been better off wearing a hood.
La Llorona (The crier) was the bar fly and ‘community punchboard,’ ala Taylor and Gabor. She was forever relating her problems; always sobbing. I was told she even cried while being laid. Incidentally, La Llorona is a story handed down through the years by mothers and grandmothers of a mother whose baby was kidnapped and she spent the rest of her life crying in search of her baby. As kids, mothers and grandmas would warn us that “La Llorona” would come and get us if we misbehaved. I quit being afraid of La Llorona in my early twenties when I began reading Playboy magazine in the 1950s.
Moocher was the cartoonists. In grammar school he would draw caricatures of shapely built girls and student girls begged for theirs to be drawn. The boys were jealous of him. I had a friend who was the Director of Employment for a major company in town. The Moocher was working for a State agency at the time and I got my friend to employ him at the company. He created a new position for him having to do with the Mexican community. He went from a $9,000 a year salary to $20,000 per year.
Things went well until a day of drinking he crashed a party of big shots of the company and was soon fired. He ended his working life as a bus driver and now looks like a dried prune owing half the town money. He sketched a picture of Mother Teresa and sent two of them to her along with a $50 check. He asked for the pictures to be autographed. Lo and behold, several months later he received a response: She autographed both pictures and also sent back the check asking that he donated it to the poor. He also possesses a newspaper picture of both Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, both autographed. That’s got to be worth something – wouldn’t you say?
Mac’s Place was like a Greyhound Bus station, characters came and went. The ones who became regulars like the above mentioned is what this short story is about.
In the past every Sunday morning instead of going to church the gang would meet at Mac’s Place and played craps behind the beer joint which could have been mistaken for a stable, absent the horses. The bets were mostly pennies, nickels and dimes. These were times when a penny could buy you some kind of candy. Another game was tossing coins to a wall and the closest to it would win. The pinball machine – I was the best at it. With a nickel I would win enough games to pay for my beer tab for the week. The pay was a nickel for every game won. “Rosa” finally refused to pay me – she was going broke and couldn’t afford more mascara. I offered $5 to anyone in the bar who could finish a crossword puzzle. After 25 years I’m still waiting.
One Sunday morning while playing craps a policeman surprised us. Luckily, he was an uncle of mine. He wore badge 13 which made him an old pro in the department. His 15-seconds of fame came when he was instrumental in capturing an escaped World War 2 German POW in downtown Phoenix. Google the German POW escape at Papago Park. He said for us to keep the game quiet, and left.
Psycho went “bananas” because we wouldn’t let him use a rabbit’s foot to bet with. He didn’t understand why . . . we simply told him he could at least have wiped the rabbit’s foot clean of blood.
Always looking for a scam to try, one day while reading a newspaper I read an advertisement selling wristwatches. The ad caught my curiosity and I started thinking: A potential for a scam by advertising? I wouldn’t have to steal a car nor anyone’s clothing, just an ad in a tabloid. Within a few days I created the following ad.
CUT YOUR ENERGY BILL BY 75%. USE A SOLAR METHOD OF DRYING CLOTHES. ONLY $20! GUARANTEED!
I learned that in advertising you will always have some who may respond – no matter what. I chose a tabloid that sold at supermarkets, tabloids that sell sensationalism. Millions of copies are sold every day throughout the land. Many uneducated, uninformed, (like today’s voters) become addicted to sensational stories true or not; ignorance that keeps programs like the Jerry Springer show going.
It didn’t cost much to advertise. I received 1,000 orders before authorities shut it down because of false advertising. It wasn’t illegal and I wasn’t arrested. 1,000 X $20.00 = $20,000 not bad for a month’s work. And what was the deal? I sent the people a 20 ft. rope to hang their clothes. It worked so well I tried another scam on a different tabloid.
This time the ad read . . . CUT YOU’RE YOUR UTILITY BILLS IN TWO . . . plus the guarantee thing. I asked $3.45 for this one. Anticipating being shut down again I advertised only once. The response was tremendous: I had 5,000 orders. And what did they get for $3.45? I sent the people small plastic scissors. You do the math – I went to a public school.
This morning with a pocketful of easy money, I entered Mac’s Place nursing a slight hangover from the night before. There was no one in except Rosa.
“Good Morning, Rosa. Where is everybody?”
“I don’t know. I left early with Cruz (The well-endowed Puerto Rican) and what I remember is falling out of bed due to the intensity of a ride he gave me. While in bed he had an odd-request: He wanted me to write to my congressman to ask if he would consider making Puerto Rico the 51st state of America.”
We may as well. Almost 75% are on some kind of the U.S. government dole. My country is also becoming a basket case. Let’s hear it for the banking industry! They are the ones who rule – not the government.
I ordered a draft beer. A glass, probably a 7 ounce, cost only 15 cents. A-1 and Coors beer were the most popular. A friend delivered the less popular, Budweiser at the time. Once a week he would deliver a small keg of Budweiser beer. As he walked in pushing a hand truck with the keg on it the gang started booing.
Within a few years Budweiser would become the most popular, surpassing all others in sales due to a marketing program that was very successful. It was a wagon being pulled by horses which also included a caricature called “Budman.” Amazing what commercials will do for marketing.
One of the best billboard advertisements I ever saw was the one that showed a bottle of Canadian Club. The message read:
JOIN THE GREATEST CLUB IN THE WORLD.
After a while CJ showed up. At Mac’s Place he always stood out because of his sporty dress purchased from one of the better stores in town. In his early 20s working as a stock boy in a neighborhood store, one day a woman asked him for some help. After a few shopping dates she took a liking and asked him to go with her. Things went well. She was an owner of a popular eating establishment frequented by the elite in North Phoenix. She gave him a job as a dishwasher and soon made him a waiter.
She then opened an account at a clothing store for him for a new wardrobe – he must’ve passed the test in bed. After a few months as a waiter and learning the business well, she made him the floor manager. He had a nice personality and became quite popular with some of the elite in town. After a few years he lucked out and was offered the position of Maitre “d at the country club where all the city’s thieves belong to. He held that position for 20 years.
“Hey! CJ, what’s up? Where have you been?”
“Frank. My social life has been very full due to “new” friends at the Club. I was at a party last night and got to meet some professional golf players participating in one of the more popular golf tourney in America. So, here I am. Once in a while I show-up to mix it with the gang. I need a beer. By the way, Frank, where is everybody? Haven’t they paid their bar bill yet?”
“It’s great to see you, CJ. They’ll be coming in soon . . . as always.”
“CJ whatever became of that woman that was your sugar-mommy for those early years?”
“My relationship with her came to an end when I left her restaurant to go work at the country club. I’m glad I did because her husband had suspected her of chipping around and I was the suspect. They sold the business. I never saw her again but I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity she offered me. What my life would have been like before her, I’ll never know. Thank God for whoring housewives.”
“Rosa, serve CJ a beer and would you please quit putting makeup on and pay more attention to the goddamn cockroaches on top of the bar!”
“Yes siree, Con man!”
Within an hour the place began to fill up. Most of the gang was here. It was sad to learn that Psycho had taken a rifle and blown his head off. He always prided himself when he showed up beaten to a pulp but proud to say he was never knocked out. A few in the bar I didn’t recognize. The place became very rowdy. I told CJ that within the next hour a fight would start. Sure enough, two strangers came in and became abusive with Rosa. Cruz got upset and started fighting the two. Within minutes others join the melee and threw the strangers out. We didn’t need Friday night fights on the tube; we staged our own.
Cruz, the pick-pocket was very sly. Whenever Cruz shook hands with someone wearing a watch, if you were distracted he may slip your watch off. About two blocks away from Mac’s was another sleazy beer joint run by “gringos.” Cruz, El Chulo and I, stopped by at the place to have a drink. The woman bartender was at the other end talking with customers and we were being ignored. After a few minutes and upset, Cruz knelt on the stool, pulled out his Puerto Rican made cannon and started banging the counter with it. We were asked to leave but she wanted Cruz to stay. If you believe this one you’ll believe Israel and Palestine will sign a peace treaty before the elections in 2016.
El Chulo was quite a character. He was always hustling as a teenager. He parked cars, he worked at restaurants. He was employed at a restaurant with architecture of medieval days and had a Knight in Armor outside on a horse. That was his job for several months. He had girls working the streets. He became addicted while pushing drugs. He left town and went to Las Vegas. He quickly got jobs in casinos in all positions of the gambling and restaurant departments.
Because of his dealing with drugs he met a son (Also an addict) of the owner of the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Las Vegas. El Chulo loved anything having to do with horses. He even dressed often like a Hollywood cowboy. My buddy found out that the owner of the Horseshoe had a 10,000 acre farm somewhere in Montana where he raised cows to supply meat for the hotel’s restaurant. The Horseshoe had the best reputation for steak dinners.
El Chulo got the son to arrange for him to go to Montana with the old man for the yearly cow roundup. My buddy wanted to experience a life-long dream of being an actual cowboy doing the cowboy thing and this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Within a few weeks he found himself among cowboys at the ranch . . . the dream come true.
El Chulo, having experience in gourmet cooking, the old man asked if he would cook for a group of people coming from Las Vegas for a meeting. He quickly obliged. Unknown to him, at the time, these were the type of people who ran Las Vegas gambling. We’ll never know the influence they had with other crooks that ran the State’s Gambling Commission. His cooking was so impressive the old man and others raved about it. When back home the casino owner made my buddy a supervisor at the restaurant. Whenever I felt like it I would go to the restaurant and ate all I wanted and not pay.
The following year, again he went. This time he fucked up. A day after work while sipping beer with cowboys he boasted how much he was getting paid every day. Their pay was half of what he was getting. They had been at the ranch for years and here was a Mexican getting paid twice the amount? When they got back to Las Vegas the owner fired him, or else, said the cowboys.
Still, running around with the owner’s son because of the drugs, one day the son took him to the hotel-casino basement and showed him millions of dollars in silver dollars – all in bags. After the father died the son took all the silver and buried it in the desert. His girlfriend and an accomplice of hers were with him at the buried site and murdered him for the silver. Judas could have bought Rome with all that silver. (Yikes! 11 thes this time)
Google the name Teddy Binion – Las Vegas and get the full story of this character.
I happen to be visiting Las Vegas and stopped at El Chulo’s apartment to say hello. I knocked on the door and no one answered. I heard a commotion coming from the pool area. He and another were attempting to pull out his live-in girl from the pool. He yelled at me to help. Have you ever tried picking up someone that’s about to die on an overdose? We finally did. Took her inside and her lips were turning kinda blue in color. She was dying and he quickly got a syringe; mixed salt with water; quickly injected a vein and within minutes she recovered. Whew! I’d never experienced a life threatening moment like this. My friend El Chulo got burned out after years of a fast life, came back home and died of aids. I visited the hospital once but he was in a comma and finally died
Even though several of my friends sold drugs, I never did. I had a career in fast-pitch softball (Inducted to the Hall of Fame) and I never would jeopardize my standing in softball circles. I didn’t do drugs in all the years of play. And now as my light of life begins to flicker, I smoke a joint periodically to help me sleep if and when needed because of sleep apnea.
La Llorona came in and some of the guys were ashamed to be seen talking with her. (What hypocrites!) Once in a while the bar would become x-rated. Rosa would lock the door and a guy would strip and La Llorona would take off her clothes and they would dance, stark naked. Another forced her to give him a blow-job in front of the crowd and she bit him. He let out a loud scream and dragged her out to the parking lot; got in his car and attempted to run over her.
Of course, we interceded and stopped him. In a rare moment La Llorona didn’t cry, she had a big smile on her face. He never came back in. His next problem was going home and just his luck, his wife was horny. Might he have used the excuse that night in bed by telling the wife he had a “head-ache”? Is this corny, or what? I should ask Milton Berle.
Once in a while we’d call upon Benny, the crooner, to go serenade the girls. This would happen late at night after the bar closed. We got to the house, hardly any lights on along the row of homes. One moon-lit night we stood outside the bedroom window. We started to sing and the father opened the window and asked what we were doing here. We had the wrong bedroom. Another time we’re at another house (This time with floor plan in hand) and Benny was leaning on a tree while strumming and singing. He was humped over and I told him to straighten up. He did. After that song and beginning the next, he decided to lean against the tree again but missed, and landed on his back . . . didn’t miss a note, though. While in the prone position he kept playing and singing. Freddie Fender would have been proud of him.
Because of his singing, Benny had several girlfriends. One of those was a drug dealer. Her husband had passed and she took over the business. They hooked-up and she refined him and he took up golf and now dressed and looked like a different person. Another friend operated a produce business who also dealt in drugs. Over a weekend Benny and his girlfriend were sent to Los Angeles to pick up a load of 100 lb. sacks of potatoes to bring back to Phoenix. On their way back they decided to stop in Las Vegas.
After they left Las Vegas, and on the road on top of the Hoover Dam the brakes of the truck stopped working. There is a winding part of the road that’s shaped like a horseshoe and a sign that reads SLOW – 15 Mi. Benny, an inexperience truck driver was riding it out. When he approached the deadly curve the truck had picked-up too much speed. As he tried maneuvering the curve the truck’s load shifted to one side and jacked-knife the truck over the side about a 300 ft. drop. He died at the scene, but she survived.
I happened to be living in Las Vegas at the time and while listening to the radio the news came on and reported the accident. At first mention of his name, it didn’t register that it was the Benny I knew. But it was. Adios! Benny. If ever I could, I would send your guitar to you – COD!
Tony, the addicted bartender would always stop at Mac’s on his way downtown to bar tend at a popular cocktail lounge.
“Hey Tony, how you doing this morning,”
“Frank. I’m glad it’s Saturday. It’s the night I make most of my tips. Besides, they hired a cocktail waitress I’m having an affair with. She’s fabulous.”
Right on cue, he started sweating due to his addiction.
“You all right, Tony?”
“Frank, I need a quick fix. Would you keep Rosa entertained while I go in the back to take a hit.”?
“Sure, Tony, go ahead. All I have to do is compliment Rosa how nice she looks this morning and that she must have been a beautiful baby. That will keep her mouth going for at least 15 minutes.”
Within minutes Tony was back, fresh looking, finished his beer and went on his way.
I left town and learned later that Tony had been murdered by two drug dealers in town. One of them I knew personally – he lived across from me in the late 1940s. My Dad was a tailor in town and made tailor-made suits for him. The story told is that the two dealers took him out to the desert and shot him due to money, of course. He didn’t die immediately so they finished him off with the car jack. They were apprehended and a lawyer by the name of Val (First Hispanic federal judge in Arizona) saved them from the death penalty. While in prison, one of them had a bit part in a movie starring Jim Brown, the NFL Hall of Famer. Instead of being punished for the gruesome murder, the State made the dealer a onetime movie star – go figure!
I abhor what liberals have done to our justice system. Look at the Muslim soldier who murdered over a dozen soldiers at the Army Base and that rotten bastard is still alive enjoying the comforts of what liberals give murderers . . . a life of leisure and three squares a day in prison. My country has the most incarcerated people in the world thanks to corrupted politicians, lawyers and judges.
“Peter Goon” nicknamed after a character in a TV program by the name of Peter Gun, was fittingly given this moniker. He’d show-up at a dance hall and would expose two guns in holsters underneath his coat. Often times he would pull out a joint and start smoking it in public. Because of this irrational behavior he lost his job as a bail bonds man. He also dealt in drugs and served time in prison. When he got out he had no choice but to sell tamales. He and the wife made hundreds of dozens to sell during the Christmas holidays. His customers were bureaucrats he had known while working in the bail bonds business.
I hadn’t been to Mac’s for a while and the next time Goon happen to be there drinking a beer and playing the pinball machine. I was the “pro” that would always beat the machine until Rosa stopped paying me money. But sometimes Rosa was too busy involved in conversations and didn’t pay attention when Peter Goon asked me to play one game for him. I did and won $5 for him.
“Thanks, Frank. The $5 will come in handy. I needed money to buy corn husks. Making tamales is a grind and sometimes I wish I was back in prison – three meals a day, television, a library, conjugal rights . . . what more could one ask for. Thanks! Tax payers!”
“Pete, did you attend Benny’s funeral services”?
He said yes and replied . . . “Having numerous friends in the legal industry downtown, I uncovered the real reason why Benny drove the truck to Los Angeles. I found out his girlfriend had made a purchase of heroin in LA and they had it hidden in the truck along with the potato sacks.”
I never went to the services. But Goon told me the crowd was great. They even had a Mariachi band in the procession to pay tribute to the one that always entertained us in our beer drinking days. I’d quit trying to learn new scams and decided to stay in Vegas a while and began driving a cab. In real life, many friends and drinking buddies were never dealers or addicts. Some were clean and grammar school educated and made great landscapers or 100 Lb. horse jockeys . . .
Please refer friends to this. I’d love to hear from old friends should they happen to read this. Hey! Mel Brooks – give me a call – if you can still think. I’d like to share what Lil Black Cloud thinks of you. If Frank and me made just one person laugh – we’ve succeeded. (LBC)
Frank Trejo 602-359-5229 or email@example.com
BARRIO BOULEVARD OF CRUSHED DREAMS.