For information on how you may obtain a valuable Downtowner Motor Inn Franchise, write the Downtowner Corporation, F r an c hi se DepartmentHA, 202 Union, MemEverything you need is downtown and at the Downtowneryou’re there FAA.A.A.49 In the center et thinp It was after one of those famous matches, and somehow the largest in the group walking ahead provoked a fight with my brother. Immediately the circle of brotherhood formed around the combatants, each group cheering its man. It was a dirty trick of the Mexican-Americans to post a tiny one of their number on all fours behind an opponent to cause him to trip. Of course, we made sure to warn my brother of this and shoo them away. He was fighting Maximo, a fierce looking Indian type every bit his size. My brother was a good boxer and he succeeded in landing a punch, on Maximo’s mouth, Which bled profusely. He had won his fight! Maximo didn’t cry. I wondered what it felt like to have a bloody lip. We were drunk with victory. My younger friend, whose name was also “Max,” but was not a good fighter., was so drunk that he provoked a fight with another of the Mexican-Americans, In a very short time my friend was nursing a bloody lip of his own. Enraged at his defeat, filled with pride at my brother’s victory; and wanting to imitate him and win’ his admiration, I felt “an: irrepressible urge to fight. I descended , on ‘one about two-thirds my size, a Stbcky, broadfated fellow my age., -It was their’ custom to carry their bcibks sniffed into their overalls and thus have both hands free forming a frontal papoose’, also shield over the chest. A punch or two in the ‘books and the fight was ‘Yott’ve gbt the reach on him!” my brother shouted. I remember only a feW more ‘good Jabs in his text books. Then ; I ;noticed one Of thein crouching behind me and looked baCk to get out Of the ‘-way. As T was turning around I felt is hot unpleasantness welling up’ in my mouth. I was spitting blood and had lost my first, fight the only one I ever started. I knew what it felt like to have a bloody lip. As I inspected the wound later on, I Wondered whether or not this would make me hate them. I tried to remember that . it was 1 who started’ the fight but had he hot had those books I might have beat him anyway. IT STRUCK ME as unjust that Ariglo kids would not allow MexicanAftlericari ‘kids to play with them. Yet when I came through a fluke, to be a leader of my own gang, the Latinos had a gang of their own, larger than any of ours, and they had a champion a Goliath, Tomas, who was larger than us because he was high school age. Him we had to defeat; I forget why now. I talked to my older brother. “You can beat him! We need you!” He hesitated; after all, why should he, a grade above, intervene in an affair that wasn’t his business. He agreed finally, on the grounds that he should help his ‘brother out of a jam. I bragged to everybody to be sure and come see the ‘downfall of Tor/4.s. My brother, a greater boxer than myself, would show him. I arranged the formalities; after all, no leader can refuse a challenge to a fight. The date was set. A large crowd gathered as two half-hearted fighters who had never met each other put on the gloves. My brother dodged and punched, used all his skill, and got nowhere. Every now and then a calm Toms landed a good punch. This clearly was not a reenactment of the battle of David and Goliath. We shouted encouragement, but no use. No blood was drawn, but it was clear my brother had lost. I told him he was still a better boxer technically, but he waved his hand in disgust at the mention of a re-match. The idea of .outcasts, class distinctions, and snobbery even at that time repelled me. I made innovations in gangland. No more initiations, no discrimination because of race and there would be free elections of leaders. I had picked up Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms.” I approached the Mexican-American gang and told them we ought to play together. They agreed to join us. To cement the new relationship I appoirited one of them second only to myself in rank and gave him the additional honor of being my ‘personal bodyguard. He was none other than TornSs. Any Anglo kids who didn’t like the idea were perfectly . free to quit the largest, strongest gang in school. DURING THESE years my father started without thinking about it, what may well have been the first inte wasn’t proving anything or running for any office. Whenever it rained he drove us to school in the old Ford panel truck we used at the store to deliver packages. A basic goodness caused him to reason that if he didn’t like his kids walking to school in the rain, then other parents might not like their kids walking in the rain. As xve came alongside a bunch on their way to school, the truck would stop. Startled dark faces peered up at us, the doors in front and back flew open. No, they were not going to, get fussed at. They got in. No one was bypassed, no one left behind. Anglo kids would come to get in, catch sight of all the Mexicans and with a puzzled look registered as a flash on their faces, make the first moral compromise of their. lives. They got in. Dad always made either my ‘brother or me get in the back of the truck as other kids entered the front door and also to open the back door. So when the truck stopped at schoOl it was never his kids in front and all the others in back. Maybe Dad was proving something. Regardless of who had fought who the day before, who teased or hated each other, as long as we were in the truck ‘everyone knew he was under the rule of an tinspo ‘ken Pax Romano. I still remember kids stopping in the middle of their play and staring as a mixed host of Anglo and Mexican kids exploded from both ends of the old ‘ Ford. 15 grated transportation in the South. He March 31, 1967
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