The Wages of Sin by Carlos Najera

We had been living in Oxnard for the past few years.  For a time we moved back to Calexico.  My mama didn’t tell us why. It was 1920, I was twelve years old.

Most of the time the work was so hard, and the wages were so little. That satisfied feeling in your stomach was so terribly rare.

Bobby got a job down there working for the lumber company.  He did well there because he knew Spanish and English.  He could work with customers on both sides of the border.  Maybe that’s why my mama moved us back there.  I don’t know, I was just a kid and nobody wanted to explain things to me.

Calexico was still a very small town.  Entertainment was a luxury.   The silent movie theater was still there. The silent movie theatre was still there.  There was no sound, of course so throughout the movie it was interrupted with captions that showed the dialogue and explained the situation.  That was good for me since I knew how to read by then.  Talking pictures were about ten years in the future.

This was the time of Prohibition and Calexico went all the way. They outlawed pool halls, cantinas, beer joints in general. There was not much else to do here in the realm of entertainment. On the other hand, Mexicali which was in another country and about a three minute walk away, had no such restrictions. It had it all the good stuff and even the bad.

There was dancing. There were cardrooms. There was music and drinking in the cantinas. There was a municipal band playing in the Plaza de Cuatemóc every Wednesday and Saturday night.

But there is no satisfying the people, they worked very hard there in the heat and at night they looked for a way to rest and enjoy themselves. . Sometimes my mama took us to this German restaurant that was near the border crossing, good food.


We lived on the corner, about four blocks from the border crossing. Our house there was made of wood and on the shady side of the house there was a large veranda. At night we would take out the phonograph and began to play records. There were still no automobiles nor any other mechanical noises that absorbed the music we played. And the music could be heard from very far away.

The neighbors would come over to visit. Pretty soon we had a dance going. And around midnight everybody went home and once again we had a silent world.



About jedwardnajera

I am an artist and a Poet. I live the life of a poet. I published several novels. Nena the Fairy and the Iron Rose, Dust of the Moon are among them, available through Amazon Books. I have spent over thirty five years in a classroom. I am now retired from that profession. My father kept a living record of his lifetime as he lived through the Twentieth Century. He was born in 1908 and almost lived long enough to see us enter the new millennium. He entrusted to me nearly 400 pages that he wrote through the years. Now I am continuing the tradition by posting my own stories and misadventures. I am trying to post a new entry or chapter each Friday. Check in on us at least once a week for the latest post.
This entry was posted in autobiography, California History, Family History, Mexicali and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s