Sunday, October 31, 2010

Invest Some of the Profit

The last time I sat down to a well-done 16-ounce T-bone steak at Frank's Cafe was in May of 1991. Back in those days my wife and I used to tout the food and ambiance of this Hebbronville eatery to friends and family. Way back then, we treated a couple of friends of ours to steaks on that last visit. The four of us left disappointed. My jaw ached for three days from the savage mastication. That beef was tough.

Before last night's visit, I had not stepped foot in Frank's Cafe in nineteen years. On this occasion the food was palatable. The decor had faded somewhat over the years, but little of the interior had changed.  However, gone were the many witticisms scrawled by ol' Paco himself. Paco owned the place. He used a black Magic Marker to pen bold block lettering on 16 by 20 inch poster boards; tacking the finished product to the restaurant/beer joint's walls. Reading them helped pass the time while your order was prepared. Most probably, the old posters had succumbed to the years, the humidity and the silverfish. Sadly, somewhere in that 19-year time span, Paco had succumbed to old age.

Business was booming on this Saturday night. With the food and beer sales alone, that cash register drawer popped in and out like trick-or-treaters' little hands. The management would do well to invest some of the profits on the restroom facilities. We're talking third world conditions here. What the present proprietor tried to pass off as a urinal for the male patrons proved something of a minor challenge in the pissing arts for my five-foot-six frame. I almost had to employ the soda crate conveniently set on the floor to deliver the necessary angle of deposit. This was one nasty setup. These folks need to spend some money. Guys can rough it, but the ladies are an all-too-delicate matter all together.

On a more positive note, the live music was outstanding. The Palacios Brothers are one talented trio.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Classics in Concepcion

An undulating population center for over 130 years, Concepcion, Texas is fixed in the South Texas brush country like a grass burr on a blanket. Its name is all that remains of the Santa Cruz de Concepción land grant deeded to the haciendero Francisco Cordente by the Spanish Crown in another age so long ago. According to the census, when my father was a five-year old, 500 souls called this hamlet home. These days, a count of 60 would be optimistic.

My oldest brother first attended school there nearly sixty years ago. Sorting through bits and scraps of childhood memory, he can just piece together a role he performed in a school play organized by the small staff there. The details have faded like an old photo, but he can recall being driven 30 miles to San Diego for music lessons to prep for the performance. That was his first exposure to classical music. It made an impression. His admiration of the great composers took seed and remains with him to this day.

The little school in the white building? No more. As my dad used to say, "solo quedan los recuerdos."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Star

Atilano and Maria were fortunate to have their children attend the schools in Benavides, Texas. Mrs. Peña, the music teacher, was on the faculty to teach, enlighten and make a child's world more wonderful than they could imagine. In the Christmas season of 1955, Mrs. Hector Peña would stage a costume-fested Christmas program extraordinaire: and she continued to do so to the joy and benefit of all of Atilano and Maria's children. In this photo a beaming Gloria is constumed as a Christmas Star for her second grade class number in the program. She primps for the camera by the front screen door of her childhood home that stands only as a memory 55 years later.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Parents

Of Easter Sunday, April 5, 1942, Mom says that she fell in love with Dad as soon as she set eyes on him. They spent that day together at an Easter outing. In those days the ranch communities around Concepcion, Texas customarily congregated in the shady mottes of elms along Concepcion Creek for holiday gatherings and such. The natural settings were ideal as cool picnic areas and for young romance.

My mother was 15 and my dad was 19.