“De un año, Carlos.” That’s what’s scrawled on the back of this photo I discovered for the first time in December while scanning dozens of old family photos.
I was mesmerized to see him as an infant long before the family left Salamanca, Guanajuato for south Texas where Grandpa Bartolo worked as a ranch hand. It was years before he had to leave behind his beloved Blue Boy because a dog wouldn’t fit in a station wagon crammed with three adults and seven children. It was before he would scavenge for day-old pastries in the dumpsters outside of a bakery in Stockton and before he and my tío Johnny got to work as shoeshine boys.
It was before he got to East LA and fell in love with the Dodgers. It was at least 15 years before he taught himself to play the guitar, joined the Assumption Church youth group, met my mom and several other lifelong friends. It was 24 years before he married my mom. And 25 years before his first son was born and he moved to Hacienda Heights
It was before his next three children were born and he taught them everything he’d learned about life, faith, music, and responsibility.
Of course, he made mistakes. He admitted them, made changes and beat the odds when the naysayers said it couldn’t be done. And he became someone people — not only his sentimental daughter — admire and look up to.
Of course, this couldn’t be known in 1954.
Happy birthday, Dad. Thank you for teaching me what you’ve learned in these past 56 years. I can’t wait to learn more. Love you!