The Wild West Of My Dreams

El Paso, Texas is a brown town, the brown of mountains, the brown of desert, the brown of skin and earth and muddy river.  When I arrived in El Paso as a five-year-old in the summer of 1959, I wanted to see that river, the famous Rio Grande.  I’d seen it in movies, glorious cowboy movies with majestic vistas and mighty, rushing rivers, silver water sparkling in the sun.  I wanted to see the river and the mountains and the horses and the cowboys.  I wanted to see the Wild West of my dreams.

On The Road

I  always associate being on the road with escape, with going some distance or journeying to an unusual destination.  I don’t think of going to a local place as being on the road.

Adam – a memory

My memories of Adam remain strong even now, for he brought the war into our family. As I recall, Adam came to us when he was thirteen, from a displaced persons’ camp in Europe, to our large extended family in a central California valley town. We were four families, living less than a mile apart—three older cousins, seven cousins all about the same age—and then Adam. The war with Germany had just ended and the horrors of the concentration camps were just being unveiled; those places that had names which sounded so harsh and strange: Buchenwald, Auschwitz. It was from one such camp that Adam emerged a survivor.

Puppy Love

You know how they say that some people start to look like their dogs, or maybe it’s vice versa, that the dogs look like their owners? There was once a whole advertising campaign for dog food, I think, showing dogs and their owners almost looking like twins. You know what I mean; the tall, thin woman with lanky long hair and her afghan hound, the small woman with short blond, curly hair, lots of jewelry, and her blond toy poodle with its rhinestone collar and maybe a fur coat, Winston Churchill and a bull dog. I think you get the idea.

Mother Tongue

Growing up, I heard a lot of Spanish spoken. My mother, the oldest of seven children moved from Quito, Ecuador to Los Angeles when she was almost fifteen. My grandmother, who until very recently I had never appreciated for the brave woman she was, came by boat to the United States with her seven children, one niece, two maids, and speaking no English. My grandfather remained in Quito to work, coming to Los Angeles twice a year to visit his family. This always struck me as a rather unconventional arrangement, but apparently it worked for them as they were married until they died, a year apart, in their eighties. At the time the family moved from Ecuador it was customary if one could afford it, to send your children to the United States or England for high school. With seven children to educate, my grandfather thought it was a better idea to move the family to the United States so all the children could learn English. The plan was to follow that move with a move to France so they could learn French as well, but World War II intervened and they never made it across the Atlantic.

Wigged Out

Seated backstage with 5 other 10- year old classmates, each of our faces had been whitewashed by Mrs. Sato, our Japanese dance instructor as she prepared us for our recital. I could feel the wet sponge as it covered my cheeks, forehead, chin and my neck. Although none of our families relocated by the US government during WWII was allowed personal cameras, shortwave radios or teaching a Japanese language class, cultural endeavors such as flower arrangements or teaching Japanese odori (formal dance) was permitted.