Here I am. In the background I can see the front of our house in El Centro, California, in the Imperial Valley. It is just a couple of miles from the Mexico/U.S. border. It was a small town back then, a crossroad somewhere between Yuma and San Diego, and Mexico and any place north. It was and still is a little bit more than that as well.
Imperial Valley is one of the richest agricultural regions in the country. It is irrigated through a complex system of canals and water ways from the Colorado River, turning what used to be desert lands into farm lands.
The canal and the Canal District is what brought my father here. He worked many years there and he also worked as a sales rep on both side of the border. The Mexico side of the valley shared the same irrigation system and when I was young cotton was grown successfully on both sides.
Back to the photo, that is my “Mommie Nellie” carrying me. My mom was in the hospital battling TB. Uncle Max is next to her. Max and Nellie Chavez were my Godparents. Nellie’s real name was Manuela and I don’t know how the name Manuela got changed to be Nellie. You can also see half a face of my cousin Max. He was also called Boy, like my brother, because he was one. Or, maybe they were both juniors and juniors were called Boy back then. However, that does not explain my other cousin called Junie, because he was a junior also. I digress, then there is my sister Chris who also seems happy to see me.
My oldest sister is named Christina, after my mother. My father called her Xochtle. He said that was Aztec for flower. That name got transformed into Satch most of my life, but now she goes by Chris. Here she is, taking care of me as usual. There was a steep cliff right behind us and she was holding me still so I wouldn’t turn around and jump.
She was twelve years older than me and she took care of me in place of my mother throughout most of my life. My dad took this picture as we drove from El Centro over the mountains to San Diego.
Maria Teresa is my other older sister. She is next to me in age, six years older. She was our father’s favorite child and I could not see why since she was always telling on me. We got along in between those times for the most part. She even let me play with her paper dolls.
Here we are at Balboa Park in San Diego. I was seven at this time. Teresa and I did a lot of things together like this through the years, including tagging along on some of her first dates.
It is hard to tell in this next picture, but Teresa and I are at our Grandma’s house in Oxnard. I can tell because we are outside, we are on the grass. Our house in El Centro kind of had grass, but the giant red ants would have been eating us up.