THE GRAPE TRELLIS INCIDENT OF 1956 by Jackie Villarreal Najera

In the summer of 1956 when I was 8 years old I remember having a grape trellis in our side yard. My older brother John, who everybody called Boy found dad’s spare tire under the house. Boy placed the tire under the trellis.

He said, “If you’re not a big chicken jump with me.” My younger siblings Linda, Frankie and I did not want to be chicken so we jumped into the tire. We jump a lease 20 times following Boy’s lead.

Suddenly my dad came home. My dad said to us

“Don’t jump any more you’re going to break your legs.”

My brother would say “O.K Dad.”

My father came back from work and caught us a second time.  He said “Stop jumping into the tire. You’re going to break your legs.”

Boy always say “O. K. Dad.”

As soon as my father left.

Boy would say “Let’s jump.”

My dad came back from work early one day and surprised us. Again he warned “Don’t jump into the tire. You’re going to break your legs.”

“Yes Dad.” Boy said.

My father was a very fair man. He had warned us three times not to jump into the tire. My dad had a habit of lecturing before the spanking us.

When my dad got to half the word punish…. I ran as fast I could and hid. My dad looked very surprised. All he could say was “Huh?”

Linda, Frankie and Boy got punished. They protested   “It’s not fair she ran away!”

Dad said to them. “Just you wait! She’s going to get double the punishment.”

Dad always knew where  I hid but he pretended not to know. As he headed toward the house I saw him smiling and holding his hand over mouth so not laugh,

I hid so long that I fell asleep. When I woke up I was on my bed.

I never got punished for running away.

Years later I heard my dad talking to my uncles. He would brag “You should have seen her she run! “She did a Jessie Owens. Can that girl run!”

All my uncles laughed as my dad told them about the Grape Trellis Incident of 1956.




I Remember My Father By Jackie Villarreal Najera

My father was a loving, protective and funny man. When I was young my dad always held my hand.  I was always afraid of caterpillars, mice, bugs, and low fog.

“It’s OK.”  He would say. “Your dad is here.”

I was especially afraid of the carousel. I remember not wanting to get on what seem like a very high horse. My dad would get on the carousel holding my  waist and always saying,

“It’s O.K. Your dad is here.”

He’d  hold my hand whenever I’d be afraid. After I got married, my husband took us to Great America, The rides there were still scary. My dad got on the rides with us and said,

“Go Ahead, get on, your dad here.”

When I was young I would jump on my dad.  One day  he came home from work covered with lime. I am allergic to lime.  After picking me up I started to get hives all over my body. He cried every time he told me the story.

My father hated to see his children cry. When my older brother John was young he had a goldfish. When his fish died my brother cried. My father took us to a creek and threw the fish over. He told my brother, “Don’t worry the creek has fish doctors, they will take care of your fish.” My brother believed my dad and he was very excited the following day to see his goldfish better and  in his fishbowl,

Every summer we would traveled from our home in Corpus Christi, Texas to Chicago, Illinois to visit my grandparents.

The journey was long and tiring so my dad would try to entertain us.  My Dad was very funny he’d say “Look at that cow that’s brown and white. When you shake, shake, shake it, the cow will give you cholate milk” My younger brother Frankie would be amazed.  “Really dad is that where chocolate milk really comes from?”

My father was funny talking about cows.  He would say, “Look at the cows on the hill. You see how one leg is shorter than the other? If the cows turn to go the other way they will fall off the hill.” It crack me up!

My brother Frankie was only 5 years old at the time.  He’d say “We better hurry before they fall down.” My father would laugh.  He had this wonderful laugh when Frankie would believe him.

My dad liked to play the guitar to entertain us when we were too tired after traveling to  go to sleep. He made it worse by singing silly songs.  I loved one particular song my dad sang to us:

“Yo tiengo una vaca lechera.      No es una vaca  qualquiera.    Hay que vaca retarda      que da  leche condesensda,       telingilín tilingueló”

I have a milking cow    it’s not a regular cow    this cow is quiet retarted

it only  gives condense milk     telingin   tinlingo

My dad was  a very compassionate person toward bugs, ants and animals. As we traveled to Chicago every summer we often  took food for the kids.   Usually the food was salami and fruit and water. While in the desert dad stopped to let the kids rest. My father went outside with slice of salami and a grape. I followed my dad. I was curious to see what he was doing. I saw him cut the salami into small pieces.

“Dad what are you doing?”

“I’m feeding the ants.

“Why?” I asked.

“Ants need food too. “he said

Then he squeezed a grape.

“What are you doing now?” I asked.

“They need water too.”  He said.

All I could say was “Oh.”

My father was always on our side against our teachers and everybody  else. It was very obvious  when Markie did silly things.

My youngest brother Mark had a habit of putting his shoes on the wrong feet. My Dad would walk with legs outstretch walking half silly half monster. He’d tell my brother that’s what happens when you put your shoes backward. My brother would laugh at my dad being silly. My father didn’t really care that my brother put on his backward.  He knew Mark would learn

Mark also had habit of putting on socks that didn’t match and sometimes different shoes. While I was concern because he was in kindergarten. My dad was not. “Let him be ” Dad would say.

His teacher called to let my dad know that Mark was wearing different shoes, My dad told the teacher he knew and it was O.K.

The teacher visited the house once. She saw the other shoe Mark had had not worn. I think it made her laugh.

That was my funny dad.