I’m always saying,”One of these days I’m gonna go to El Paso, Texas and retrace my family’s steps.” I want to visit the places they had (if they’re still there). I want to visit the movie theaters my grandma did when she’d pass out pictures of herself to the boys she thought were worthy. I want to check out Ft. Bliss because my grandpa told me once that he and his friends got into a fight there during the time of the Zoot Suit Riots.
This story surprised the hell outta me because I always thought my grandpa, Ignacio González was afraid of my grandma. How would this guy take part in some kind of riot? My grandma would often tell me though of how my grandpa was back in his day. She’d say “You don’t know how he was, he was a real cabrón back then.” Some people have asked how he got a nickname like “Chino” and not “Nacho” if his name is Ignacio. Well as the story goes, his uncle gave him that name as a kid because when it came to showing any kind of emotion, my grandpa wouldn’t and his uncle said he was like a Chinese statue.
Well my grandparents got married in ’51 and 5 years later packed up and moved the family to Los Angeles (Echo Park). They rented the same house on Everett St. for almost 40 yrs. Grandpa “Chino” was always quiet but I learned a lot from his actions. My grandma on the other hand was not so quiet but she loved me then and now it’s a lot easier to see. Grandpa “Chino” was that 1 person who kept the family together. He passed away in 2006 and the family (what’s left of it) will never be the same. I was trying to think of the best way I could end this post and then I remembered my grandpa would never say goodbye. He would always say, “Ay te watcho” (See you later) so I can’t think of a better ending than that. Ay te watcho.
My grandparents Ignacio & Socorro Gonzalez are standing on the right side of each picture.
- by Art Meza