Do you ever get the feeling that you were born at the wrong time or place? How about what you do? I ask these questions because I often find myself in a situation where a little prior knowledge of a subject would have surely made my life easier.
I was born in Wasco, Calif. Wasco is a town not much different than Gonzales, where I now hang my sword. Since money was really short and I always lived on the outskirts of town due to my dad’s occupation at the time, I didn’t know that we were broke. I never missed a meal and I knew I was loved, so I actually lived pretty high on the hog compared to many boys my age. I don’t think I ever met a rich man or family until many years had passed after my birth.
Since I have asked you these questions, I may as well ask if your life and mine were so different. Where were you born? I don’t mean the actual place, but whether it was in a hospital or maternity ward. I happened to have been born in a maternity ward that was on the main street of town. I don’t think a hospital or a maternity are very different. The doctor that delivered me was the same doctor that administered all the shots that children have to have when you are an infant.
Her name was Doctor Mary. She was the wife of another doctor that usually administered to the grownups. I don’t think I ever knew his name. If you didn’t cry when your parents took you to town to get your shots, she would give you a lollipop. I do not remember any being offered to me, but then I was pretty sure that when she came at me with a needle that I did not fit the rules about the tears.
My mother was not unlike any other parent that held a crying young man, she didn’t like it. I could easily get out of getting a shot simply by being the loudest kid in the doctor’s office. I remember one time when I had grown up a little and was not particularly afraid, I pulled a joke on Doctor Mary. I looked the other way when she approached with the syringe lying on a snow white cotton pad and stood like I thought a man should do. I can still remember that it didn’t hurt as much as I was trying to make everyone think it did.
Then, when she gave me the shot, I looked at her and rolled my eyes back and fell on the floor. I thought that was really funny. Unfortunately, Doctor Mary was not as receptive as I thought she should have been. In fact, she was really upset with me. Doctor Mary didn’t have children of her own, and so she didn’t have the pleasure of raising four boys and didn’t know we did things like that all the time.
I didn’t get the lollipop and was pretty lucky that my dad didn’t go with us to the doctor because I knew that I would really have been crying. I always thought my pop was a little uninformed about things because when we did something that had to be dealt with, he would tell us to go get a belt. Since he was crippled, he would have us bring the belt to him and then he would sit on the side of the bed and tell us, “This is going to hurt me more than you.” You know I tried that with my boys and they just laughed at me. Did your father have any little inconsistent habits like that?
I was sitting here writing about my dad and the fact that we are soon to celebrate the birth of our Savior, and I just got to thinking about how my folks had raised their kids. I do that a lot because I’m pretty sure that his method was better than my method. I tried the old spare the rod and spoil the child gambit. To be honest, my method lacked a little in the command, “Go get the belt.” I love my kids so much that I don’t think I ever struck one. Oh, they knew how far they could go before I told them to “go get the paddle.”
It’s funny how a few words can bring forth memories that still bring tears to my eyes. To this day I think my pop was just about the best man that has ever said, “Go get the belt.” He never struck one of us no matter how much we deserved it.
He never got to see my kids and I am so sad about that. Just sitting here trying to explain his relationship with his boys, I can’t see the keys on the keyboard because of the tears. The fact that Christmas will be here soon brings forth such poignant memories. He would give each of his boys a certain amount of money to buy presents and then take us to Guadalupe.
Guadalupe is still a little town near Santa Maria. Because of all the Japanese and Mexican workers who worked in the fields, things were a little less expensive than Santa Maria. We lived almost exactly half way between Guadalupe and Santa Maria.
When I have the opportunity, I always go by where we lived. The house is gone and Bonita School, where my next older brother and I went to school from third to eighth grades. Bonita School looks like a university now. I loved living there because we were old enough to be trusted with guns and where we could go down to what we called the swamp and shoot cans.
I have tried to raise my children as my folks did their sons. I am so proud that Gonzales is now my home and has been the home of my kids while they were growing up. I don’t think I would want to live anywhere else, and I have been around the world.