Day 2 of a Work in Progress by Joseph Najera

To make the “arrow points” I need to cut 24 pieces of steel 2 inches long. I use this measuring instrument. Once set it is faster than using a ruler.


I grind them then bend them out. They are ready for rivets.


I use a center punch to mark where I want to drill a hole. Punching it keeps the drill bit fro wandering all over the place.


The hole is drilled. Now to drill through the other 2 pieces. The trick is to get the holes to line up.


The holes are drilled. I am ready to push the rivet through then hammer it tight.


This one looks good. It doesn’t always work out. Sometimes I have to cut new pieces and start all over again.


It’s not over yet. I need to grind the corners.


There we go. Not perfect, but close enough to be acceptable.


Next step: repeat 11 more times.

End of day 2.

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My Latest Work In Progress by Joseph Nájera


I really like this project:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

It reminds me of my New Mexico Heritage, so I decided to make a variation of this design.


I had an idea about what I wanted to do. So far I am just thinking.


I can see right away that the circle I made is too small. I need to figure out how to make a circle large enough to adapt my design.


My 15 inch circumference was too small. 20 inches seems to work. I am looking at the arrows on the grid.
I won’t know for certain until I shape the pieces and put them into place.


So far so good.


The iron bars are 13 inches before I started shaping them. So now I am thinking this is going to work.
The circle looks too big now. I think I am going to do something about it. It will have to wait. I am out of acetylene for my torch.

End of day one.

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The Living Waters by Carlos Najera

I don’t know what set off this memory, but I started remembering stories I heard about the Cucapah and the Yuma people. They were the people that lived here in the Imperial Valley and along the Colorado River before the Europeans came.  They were basically the same tribe. They spoke the same language and had the same customs.

   In those old days, the Cucapah and the Yuma were in a constant state of war. As you can guess, the Yumas lived to the East around the Colorado River and the delta. The Cucapah lived in the Imperial Valley where there was very little water.

   The real reason for the disputes was water rights. That Yuma had lots of water, being near the Colorado River. The Cucapah lived in the Imperial Valley where there was very little water. There were natural springs such as places now called Palm Springs, Cane Springs, and several others. The Cucapah had to fight the Yuma in order to keep to the water.

   One very dry year the Cucapah were at the place where they often had water. It is now called Rio Nuevo. This is where Mexicali is and the river is still there. That Yumas came down and declared war for the water and they were winning the battle against the Cucapah.

   The women were shouting at their men, “¡Sin agua nos vamos a morir todos!” That is to say without water we’re all going to die! So the men got excited and beat up the Yuma tribe. 


   I just imagine what it was like to be there and fight over a few desperate drops of water especially in the Rio Nuevo. Today it gets all the leached salts of the soil, the chemical runoff from farms, the fertilizers, insecticides, and defoliants. Sometimes the water gets the color of red and it has an oily film on it. I have often seen a sudsy froth also floating on it.

   I have never seen it welcome thirsty drinkers.


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Lone Star by Joseph Najera


You can see the word Maverick in the highlighted portion of this map. That is the name of this particular county. You can find the Rio Grande and the small town called Eagle Pass. Across the river is Mexico.

You also can see the small town of Piedras Negras. That is where my father was born.

There is another small town, which you can see on the map, called Crystal City. Milady and I taught for a year there. We liked it there and considered staying but circumstances brought us back to California.

Just north of Crystal City is an even smaller town called La Pryor. There are many families there who share my last name. I may never know if we are related.

One more thing concerning this map of West Texas is towards the top a small town called Bracketville. The town of Del Rio, Texas is off to the left and San Antonio this to the right over a hundred miles east.


Bracketville is where John Wayne shot his movie of The Alamo. We took some time to visit that movie set. It was pretty complete back then, in the 1970’s. I heard that it has been abandoned for many years now.

That brings me back to the map of Maverick County. It was created in 1856 and named for a man. His name was Samuel Maverick. He was a politician and land baron and a cattleman.

maverick                                                                  (1803-1870)

He was born in Pendleton, South Carolina. He grew up and attended Yale University, graduating in 1825. He became a lawyer.

Ten years later his life led him to Texas. It was a land of opportunity and he joined the many who were seeking to make a fortune.

He participated in the Siege of the Alamo until Travis sent him out to get reinforcements from the men meeting at theTexas Convention. As we know he returned to late.

Throughout the remainder of his life he continued to invest in land and participate in the politics of the state. For a time he was the mayor of San Antonio.

He was a cattleman. One curious thing was his lack of interest in branding is cattle. Eventually any cow or steer found without a brand was called a Maverick.

His descendents continued to live in the San Antonio area. One of them owned a dairy away from the center of town on Babcock Road. The dairy is gone now the farm house is still there.


Here’s the front of the house. The walls are made of stone. It’s in pretty good shape for being over 100 years old.


This is a closer look at the front of the house. That is a guest bedroom on the left. Milady and I have spent many nights there visiting the owner.


There are chairs on the veranda. It makes a nice place to sit in the shade and do some bird watching.


There is a deck in the back. It is covered and makes some nice shade for visiting and for meals.


The screen door leads into the kitchen. There’s a room to the left with comfortable seats and a big screen TV.


There’s a formal dining room next to the kitchen. We have only dined there once. It makes sense since I am not very formal.


The living room gets plenty of use. It is used on Sundays for a Christian service.


That’s Crissy Villarreal on the left. She organized a family reunion for her husband’s birthday. We see two of the three caterers who are setting up the food.

DSCN2384 (2)

It is hard to beat Texas brisket.


We live in California so my wife does not get to see her family very often. There’s Milady, AKA Jackie with the red hair. One of her sisters, Joan is sitting across from her.


   More family were there.

DSCN2401 (2)

There’s the Man of the Day, and the Man of the House, The Reverend Johnny Villarreal, Milady’s older brother. He married my wife and I.

   (There has to be a better way to phrase that.)



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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.



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Teamwork by Carlos Najera

Wagons were used to transport goods and supplies. Trains were around, just not here. Horses were often used to pull the wagons. Mules were better. A lot of the old timers would say they were smarter that horses.


When traders took a load and the teams were of horses, they would take along a mule.   Whenever they would reach a water hole, the mule would drink first. If the mule would not drink then no one, not even the horses were allowed to drink.

Those Desert folks considered the mules Blessed animals.   They would say that if the water hole was poisoned the mule would see the Devil dancing around it and it would not drink.

If the teams were mules they would take a mare along for the ride.   They would say that the mules respected the mother instinct of the mare and behave.

In this part of the country, Coyotes howl and the winds run free, and when the winds run “free” they kick up a terrific sand storm.

When you are caught in one of these storms you cannot see more than four or five feet away.    I have seen these storms destroy homes, wagons and campers.

When a wagon and team was caught in one of these storms, the driver would stop, unhitch the team and tie the animals with their tails toward the wind, then he would wrap himself in a blanket, lie down and wait for the storm to wane.


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4X4 by Carlos Najera

The Rail Road had not yet reached the Imperial Valley when we first started living there. The people got around on horseback or wagons. Many people simply walked.

There were the Butterfield Stagecoaches. They used to run through here years ago. After the Transcontinental railroad was completed, it put an end to the long-distance stagecoaches.aaaaaa

The last time I checked, the ruins of a Butterfield stagecoach station was still visible outside of El Centro. That was around 1968.

bbbbbbbbbbI wonder if it’s still there after all this time.

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