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The Virgin of Guadalupe on Guadalupe Street. hood, interestingly, concern the stuff of culture: the things I saw and the places I went on the Westside. On Saturdays, I would join a neighborhood brigade of children aged five to ten in a long walk up Guadalupe Street \(in the direction of Guadalupe Theater. The Guadalupe Street area was a major commercial and social center on the Westside. Businesses, such as barbershops, boticas cantinas panaderias each other. Theaters, pool halls, and social clubs invited the thrill of Saturday afternoon escape. Since we were too young to ride the city buses, our parents would let us walk the two miles to the Guadalupe Theater, which featured the latest movies from Mexico and thus served as the Westside’s entertainment center. The Guadalupe Theater and the Progreso Drug Store across the street had a stately presence. The drug store, with its glittering blue and yellow tile, stood as a monument to the Moorish influences of Spain. High above the street, craftsmen from an earlier age, perhaps during the “Roaring Twenties,” had placed painted tiles depicting scenes from the Mexican colonial past. It was on these walks that I was first aware of the look and feel of my neighborhood surroundings. Not surprisingly, we were influenced culturally by the movies. We laughed at Tin Tan and Cantinflas, two of Mexico’s most famous comedians indeed, some of us also attempted to imitate them in dress and behavior. We learned Cabo, a version of “cool” Spanish. For instance, we called the movies, “el mono.” In Spanish, mono means cute, but for us mono stood for the little figures which one saw on the screen. We lengthened the word sr’ to simon; “no” could either be nogales, narajas, or just plain chale. We called our house our canton or chante. \(Chante is quite close to shanty, but the origin were juras, perros, or chotas, whereas chavas and chavos was the way we referred to ourselves. While Saturdays were spent with friends at movies or other entertainments, the remainder of the week was dedicated to school. It was tough to keep up the “cool” we had adopted on the weekends when much of our time was spent in classrooms working on multiplication tables and spelling exercises. But even school had an impact on my sense of membership in the Westside community. I remember as a sixth grader that I joined with all other members of the class to raise funds for a hand-carved capilla and a statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception. When our school and church building was torn down to make room for a parking lot \(a new Sacred Heart Church was placed in our old baseball place. Today, we can still see her as we travel west on Commerce Street. She stands stoically in a shaded grove. She is a religious symbol, no doubt, but she is also a small reminder of our past. The Westside community was economically depressed during the ’50s and ’60s, as it is now. Nevertheless, our neighborhood on Guadalupe Street was full of friendly interchanges and economic activity. For example, our neighborhood had its own ice cream company, the Creamy Way on El Paso Street street vendors from Creamy Way pedaled their small ice cream wagons through our block several times a day, and somehow we managed to find a nickel or dime to spend on the colorful iced goods. Around the corner and down the block was the Segovia Candy Company. In earlier times, they too had simply sent their street vendors into the neighborhood with packets of sandia candy in the color of the Mexican flag. By the ’50s, however, the Segovia’s packaged sandia and pecan candy bars were sold in many restaurants and stores outside the Westside barrio. Nearly every Mexicano barrio in San Antonio had its bakery. We took pride in ours La Superior, one of the best on the Westside. Located only half a block from our house, this bakery was the first business to open in the mornings. The bakers began work at 3 a.m., and their doors were open for business from 6 in the morning until 10 at night. They offered a striking variety of Mexican pastries, such as pan de huevo empanadas Many of the varieties came in shapes made completely recognizable by their names: marranitos gusanos cuernos stant stream of customers passed through their doors in search of fresh coffee and pan duke in the mornings. On special occasions, Superior filled orders for birthday and wedding cakes. Of course, many of the workers in the Westside community had already arrived at work hours before la Superior opened its doors. These were the workers from the packing houses and farmers’ market located south of Guadalupe Street. I worked at the Swift Meat packing house during the summers of my college days. Most of the local kids already had held numerous jobs by the time they entered high school. My brother Henry and I, along with a few friends, hustled shoeshine jobs on Guadalupe Street. We went into many of the cantinas and restaurants of the neighborhood looking for scuffy shoes. Shining shoes also gave us our first exposure to the area outside our barrio. In the ’50s and ’60s, the downtown area was filled by soldiers on weekend leave, and dollars could be earned by serving up a good “spit” shine. Our parents objected to our street jobs, and my parents showed great relief when I took a “regular” part-time job killing and dressing chickens at my uncle’s poultry and egg business. Many of the neighborhood kids were unable to find jobs locally and they joined the large army of farmworkers, who migrated for six months of the year to the Midwest. On their long journeys north, they passed the time playing the guitar and learning new corridos the cotton migrant workers, recalled the THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11