Prickly Heat and Licking by Jackie Villarreal Najera

When I was an infant until I turned 12 years old I had prickly heat. Those tiny bubbles all your body. I was taken by Amabuelita, my grandmother, to the beach which by the  way burned a lot. It was like putting on salt on a cut. I was then covered with corn starch to dry up the prickly heat. I don’t know if it worked because I got it every summer anyway.

One summer Amabuelita did the usual for my prickly heat. A friend of the family named Gilbert who was about my age when the incident happened.

I was sitting in the living room after a bath when Gilbert saw Grandmother put corn starch on my body. He started licking me.

You would think that he would realize that it was not powder sugar. I had already tasted the corn starch and it tasted awful.

Gilbert kept licking my body until all the corn starch was off. Since I was only 3 years old at the time I couldn’t understand why all the adult kept laughing. I didn’t know what was so funny but I laughed too.

Gilbert didn’t like people laughing at him and he got angry. The adults tried to tell him it was fine, that he had done nothing bad.

I always repeated what the adults said. I remember telling him “It alright Gilbert you didn’t do anything rong.” You have remember that at 3 years old I could not repeat exactly what the adults said.

Although the adults didn’t want Gilbert to feel bad they brought up the incident every chance they had and were always laughing at him.

I continued to have prickly heat until about 12 years old. Gilbert had decided that he didn’t want to be friends with me. Every time Gilbert’s mother saw me she laughed. For many years the adults never forgot my body being licked by Gilbert.

I am now old and until my Amabuelita and Gilbert’s mother died, they continued to laugh at Gilbert even though he was already an adult.

I really don’t know if Gilbert is still alive. I have not seen him for a long time. I’m sure he has never wanted to see me again. They never let him forget what happened when we were 3 years old.

I felt bad about what happen to Gilbert but it was not my fault!

 

 

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Texas and the Shoes by Jackie Villarreal Najera

I am a Texan. My family were here in what is now Corpus Christi since Corpus was just a rough land. It was not even a territory yet. My family have been in this place since the 1700’s. My father loved Texas and never wanted to live any place else. Most my siblings live in Texas and have never wanted to live any place else either. I do miss not living in Texas too.

One of my aunts came to California to visit a friend. She stayed and got a job there. She telephoned my dad and told him about the wonderful opportunities of jobs there.

My father always worked two jobs in Texas. As always, Dad asked my opinion on going to California. I wasn’t sure whether he wanted me to say no or he wanted to go there.

I said “If you really want to go there, it is O.K. with me.” I really didn’t mean it but it seemed as though Dad wanted to try it. I could never say no to my dad.

We began to pack for our trip to California. Dad gave away all my favorite Johnny Mathis albums and we left a big canister of our clothes behind. I called some friends to say goodbye and got in the small Rambler car and we took off.

Half way to Arizona I discovered that I had left my shoes next the telephone. The small Rambler had two small infants, my brother who was three years old, a younger sister who was 16 years old, myself and my parents. The car was so full that I was sure I couldn’t breathe.

When we finally arrived I was barefoot. A good friend from Texas who was now living in California asked us to move in until Dad found a job. He found a job in a week.

He first found a job in a flower nursery. Within a week they made him the manager. With his position he got a small house. After a month, we got a large house.

One morning while I still sleeping in bed a man was staring down at me. When I woke up I was scared. My father got very angry because his employer should not walked into our home. He talked to his employer and said he was giving him a two week notice that he was quitting.

We left and dad got a job at FMC, which stands for Food Machinery Corporation. He was not really happy so every three to four month we went to Texas. I think that Dad felt like he could breathe when we got back to Texas. The only good thing about living in California for him was that he found friends that were from Corpus. He visited those friends quite often.

I started a new high school, since we had arrived to California in late summer. I didn’t like the school. The new teacher asked what state I came from. I told her that I had come from Texas.

From then on the students called me “Texas.” It did not help that LBJ was president at the time.

I didn’t like what they called me. I started missing school. A counselor came to the house and asked why I had been absent. I lied and said I had no shoes. My dad had bought me shoes. I couldn’t come up with any other excuse for the counselor.

I had lied to my parents that I felt sick. I couldn’t keep all my lies straight. The counselor went and bought me street shoes. He told my Physical Education teacher about me not having shoes for P.E. She gave some old shoes for that class. I was so embarrassed because I had lied about my shoes.

I told my dad I needed shoes for P.E. and he bought some new shoes. I finally told him the truth of why I hated school. As always Dad consoled me and said, “Try to have fun in school.” Then he said “Be proud to a Texan, we have been Texans forever.”

I did have fun in high school. I was placed in the Advanced English class. I met a girl who became my best friend. I met boys who I had a lot of interests in common.

My dad was right like always, I did have fun in high school.

Jealousy by Jackie Villarreal Najera

In Corpus Christi there was a University with same name. I had many friends that went there. One of friend was name Joel. He happened to be best friends with my sister’s boyfriend Buddy and my older brother John.

One Saturday we went to the $1 per car drive in movies, except we went in a pickup truck.  We were too many people inside the truck so we got in the back. It was very cold that night.  All of us got under an old blanket that Buddy had in his truck. There were five people under the blanket.

Now Joel was engaged to Olga. I am not sure but I think Buddy was teasing Olga. He must said to her that only Joel and I were under the blanket. She saw red, and became very jealous of me.

I was only 16 years old at time. Joel and I were just good friends. Olga was jealous because Joel’s father really liked me. What she did not realize was that he liked me because of my red hair. He said he had red hair before his hair turned white.

That summer we went to a church’s summer camp. We studied the bible and had other activities. All the girls were in a cabin and the boys in other cabin. I had answered all the bible questions that were asked during a quiz. I had beat out everyone there.

When we returned to the cabin some girls were very excited and said to me “Is your father a minister?”

Before I could answer, Olga said “No, her father is more like the devil!” All the other girl were shocked at what she had just said. Although I think she thought the remark would have the girls ask about my father, all they did was just stop talking to her.

After that incident Olga held Joel’s arm all the time. I remember he tried to remove her from clinging to him because he was going to another class. I also know that none of the other people liked to talk to her very much.

I think the rudeness of Olga was being talked about openly. Texans don’t like to talk behind your back, they tell you to your face.

Even though she said a terrible thing about my loving father, I forgave her. I told my father what Olga had said.

Dad just said “Its O.K.”

The remark didn’t bother my dad. My dad never said anything negative about anyone ever in his life. I could never be as loving and forgiving as my dad, as much I try.

My mother had overheard my discussion with Dad. Since it didn’t bother Dad, she decided to give Olga a bridal shower. Olga received a lot of gifts.

Olga still hated me because she believed I was trying to steal her fiancé. I was a mere 16 years old and I liked high school boys. I had many college friends who liked me because I was always smiling.

The last time I saw Olga, my friend Joel had died. I felt really sad.

I am now old but I still remember my good friend Joel.

 

 

Not allowed to cry by Jackie Villarreal Najera

   The day my Amabuelita, grandmother, died was the most terrible experience of my life. It started that morning about 5:30 that day. She tried to wake me up to fix her lunch because she said she was running late.

   She worked at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. She ironed the sailors’ uniforms. She always took a bath everyday before and after work. I did not get up from bed that day. My sister Linda did get up and made her the lunch. This episode is my greatest regret.

   My dad that day took us from school very early. The kids were asking why my father had picked us so early. I was not a stupid person. I knew something terrible had happened.

   When we finally got to the house my father could hardly say the words. I noticed that there was a big black sash on the door. I knew someone had died.

   Now my parents had been married very young. My dad was 15 and my mother was 14 years old. My grandmother had finished raising my dad. He dearly loved her as a Mom. He was so devastated that I thought he was going to cry. Instead he said to us, “Don’t cry because you mom is very upset.” I thought it was strange request.

   When my Apabuelito, grandfather, died he was place in our living area. I remember that he had ice inside his casket. There was music also. He, after all, was a Native American. By the time my great uncle Manuel died we were using a neighborhood mortuary.

     What grandmother always said to me was, “Don’t cut your hair until I die.”  At her funeral I cut my long red hair and place it in her casket.

   The year my Dad died, we all cut a piece of our hair tied in a ribbon and put in his casket. When my mom died we also cut a piece of our hair. That included Dolores who lived in the same household. She was considered by me a cousin-sister.

   If I was to guess why our immediate family cut some of our hair and place it in the casket, it’s probably because some part of us dies with that relative.

   I think now I can cry.  

 

I Hate Kids by Jackie Villarreal Najera

I really don’t like children. I never have liked them when there are of school age. Now I do feel bad because I know Christ loved children. I tried very hard to like them but I can’t lie I don’t like them.

When I first started working, it was always with adults. For quite a few years I didn’t work with children. Then one dreadful day when we were in Texas, I took a job as regular teacher of 4th and 5th grade English class. I made lesson plans for 80 students. The school had classes that alternated between math, English and science.

My Dad and my husband’s Mom got really sick so we returned to California. We got closer to our parents but we didn’t live in the same town. My husband has always been a teacher and I think he liked it. I was working as a substitute teacher. I did like the fact that I only worked when I felt like it, so I thought. I was called every day to substitute. It was as bad as teaching.

Then one day early in the school year a teacher was fired. They begged me to help them out and and teach 4th grade class. I did them this favor because my husband was teaching high school there.  I didn’t want to make him look bad so I took the job.

That job was not too bad because they were regular student who followed all my instructions.

I decided to be a school aide to my husband. The school board decided to fire all the school aides. They decided to keep me and transferred me to a special education class. I hated the kids but most of the kids loved me. What a terrible dilemma that was.

Then I was transferred to a program for blind students, now that was nice program but I had to learn braille. I had to learn to read it also. The school cancelled the program after a few years.

I went back to the special education classes. I really hated the students there.  I know that saying I hate kids is really an awful attitude.

I have a younger sister that is a grandmother. She has brought her children and grandchildren over to my house. She wants me to love her kids. My brothers adore the kids but I have no feeling for them. I have tried liking them but I find it very hard to like them. My younger brother had two daughters. He wanted me love them. It wasn’t until the girls were left with me that I got to love them. How could I not love them when I spent all my days with them and took them everywhere I went.

My nephews have month old infants. Everybody wants to hold the babies except me. I don’t have any feelings for them. I always lie and say “Isn’t she pretty.” I don’t really know why I don’t like kids I never have liked them even if they are related to me.

I wonder if it is normal not to like kids. I hope so because I really don’t like them. I guess I am more like my mom than I like to admit.

She hated kids too. My mom had a better reason than I have. My mom said she didn’t like kids because you always had to wipe their noses. I guess she babysat once too many times as preteenager.

I guess everyone has their reasons not to like kids, except me.

 

 

 

The Fighting side of Me by Jackie Villarreal Najera

   My immediate family has always been what most people call violent. All my brothers and most of my sisters and even myself have been violent at times.   

   I always thought it was because we are Native Americans that we didn’t care if other people were bigger or stronger. We fought anyway place, any time.

   My aunties, grandmother, father, my mother were not afraid to fight. My mother’s sister got into a fist fight with her neighbor. Her neighbor had said it was impossible that my parents who had dark hair could have red headed children.

   Apparently, those were fighting words. I also thought of something else, maybe it was because we were Texans, that we settle our grievances with our fists.

   In Illinois a fellow student asked me to meet her after school. She wanted to fight because I accidently put a small a dot that stained her dress with a fountain pen.

   I waited for her after school but she never showed up. I really was kind of scared but I figured I could throw some punches even though she was probably a better fighter than me.   I didn’t think she would chicken out. I was actually really surprised.

   The next day she pretended as though nothing happened. I was relieved because the girl was much taller than me and much tougher looking.

   I had never backed down from a fight which is really nothing to brag about now that I’m old. That was the truth back when I was young.

   My younger sister recently had an argument with her landlord. From what she told me, she started yelling, stating that she almost hit him. She was so mad that the landlord had to call her husband, he really was afraid that she would beat him up.

   I was not really surprised at her attitude because like I said we are a violent family. Her children don’t take bad language or stuff from anyone.

   I also have relatives that probably never fought or gotten angry. Of course, they are not my immediate family.  What is strange about these relatives that we have the same Native American grandfather. These relatives are also Texans.

   I don’t know why there is a difference between them and our family.

   What is so very funny is that my parents have always said to us children that is not alright to fight.

   My Dad would always say.  “Don’t start the fight but also don’t get beat up.”

   When I would start the fight all I had to say to my Dad was, “They started it.”

    Dad would say, “O.K. then.”

   I never got into trouble when I got into fights. Now that I’m old all the trouble I caused makes me feel kind of  . . . well alright I’m not sorry.

 

 

 

 

  

Joseph and the Stalkers by Jackie Villarreal Najera

This not a romantic story as stories go.

I don’t remember but I don’t think I was ever proposed to by my husband. What I do recall is getting a ring for my engagement. He never formally asked me to marry him. Most girls remember that special moment all their lives. I don’t because it never happened to me.

Of the many dates we had, we had chaperons with us.  What I do remember is him hiding the ring in the glove compartment of his car. He later just gave it to me. I was very disappointed. He laughed, thinking that hiding the ring was a great gag.

Our meeting was strange enough. I think I already mentioned that we actually met in a poetry class. He was a graduate student, helping his professor Jorge Acevedo with this class.

The professor was in not class at this time. My husband mentioned that everybody can write poetry. I disagreed with him. The professor came to teach the English part of the class. My husband had no place to sit but next to me. I touched his cheek because I going to restate that not everyone can write poetry.

I didn’t say anything because he turned bright red.  I had a lot male friends and we always argued and I even touch them and none of them ever turned red.

After that class I saw him everywhere I went. I would go the library and he was outside of there.

I was member of a club called M.E.C.H.A. The club was for Mexican Americans students. He sat next to me and started pulling my long hair. I was very surprised and I gave him a stern look.

I always wore blue jeans but that day my aunt, Tia Vika had made me a long skirt with some left over cloth. The material was bright and I hated it. I loved my aunt and would never hurt her feelings. I always wanted to please my favorite aunt, Tia Vika.

I felt very self-conscious wearing something that I was not use to wearing. Some male friends said not to feel self- conscious about my clothes. I had good friends at college.

No one ever said I was pretty but since childhood I was always just cute. I hate that phrase because it never really meant anything. To me it meant I was ugly.

I also had a stalker at college. He followed me everywhere I went. He even bought a new car just to take me out. I told him I would never in a million years go out with him. The same day his parents came to our campus and he introduced me as his girlfriend.

I was shocked, needless to say. I didn’t want to embarrass his parents so I didn’t say anything. I got so tired of trying to ditch him that I said I had a boyfriend. He didn’t believe me so I said his name was Joseph.

I started to talk to Joseph, and we soon became friends. My stalker was so sad but I didn’t care at first. I was taught by my Ama Abuelita never to make other people feel bad. If I explained it to her I think she would agree with me. Being a Texan, I’m not to make people sad even if I don’t like them. I felt bad about my stalker for a long time though.

I had other male students that waited for me after class. Once I mentioned I had a boyfriend, they stopped waiting for me after my class.

Now Joseph was not really my boyfriend but using his name gave me a lot of protection from students who followed me around.

At first I really didn’t know if Joseph liked me. I had been using his name to get rid of some students that made me feel uncomfortable.

There was a nice student named Ron who ask me out to a party. I had been using Joseph as my boyfriend just as a pretense. Poor Ron went to Joseph for permission to take me out. I told him he didn’t need Joseph’s permission to take me out.

He looked pretty nervous, he tried to hold my hand. I had to make the first move. He seemed relieved to have me hold his hand. I will always remember that nice student. It has been over 45 years since that date but, I still remember Ron.

Later Joseph did become my boyfriend. He was a shy person, everyone kept saying to me. I would ask “Why do think he is shy? I can’t get him to shut up.”

They were surprised because he was shy with other students.

I have been married to Joseph for almost 43 years and I still can’t shut him up.

 

 

Date Night and Love by Jackie Villarreal Najera

My parents had a date night. It was always on Fridays when they would go by themselves. I knew that my parents really loved each other. They would hold hands when they thought we were not watching.

What they would do on date night was to go dancing, see a Spanish movie, or visit friends from Texas. Since we are Texans living in California, I think they were homesick. We did visit Texas at least every three months for many years.  My Dad getting sick made that impossible. We could not to visit Texas as often as we had been doing.

Being sick did not stop my Dad from going on date night with my mom.  I once saw my parents dancing at a wedding. They were dancing to Spanish music. While they dancing they would lift their leg slightly at the same time. It was a great sight to see!

While my parents went out on Fridays, we were allowed to date on Saturdays. I didn’t start dating until I was 20 years old.   In our family every day had something special attached to it. On Sunday no one was allowed to go out. Sunday was a family day. We went to church then we might play baseball or all go out to a restaurant as a family.

We also might visit friends of my parents. On Sundays we did everything together. I actually hated family Sundays. Going to church was something I liked but I hated visiting my parent’s friends.

If I could turn the clock back I think I would enjoy visiting with my parent’s friends or playing baseball with my family.

When I told my husband about my parents having date night he was not surprised. He knew my parents. He knew my dad was funny and loving even to him. When I asked about his parents going out on a date night he said, “No.”

I also knew my husband’s parents. I did love them and I knew they also loved me. What I found amusing was they would raise their voices to each other. My parents never fought or raised their voices to each other or even to us.

In comparison, even one of my husband’s older sister yelled at her father.  I knew she was yelling at him to take him to a doctor. When she and her father were yelling I hid in the closet. I was not use to people yelling at each other.

In my family you get punished for what seemed like forever for even speaking rudely to an adult. We would get also get a lecture every day. Yelling at an adult was a crime in my family, even to take them to a doctor.  If they want to go to their doctor we respected their wishes.

I actually never heard of a child yelling at parents or even getting mad at them. Even when I told my husband I thought his parent did love each other very much. They did nice things for each other when no one was watching them.

I know every parent is different but you can tell the love they feel for each other by the way they treat and love their children.

 

 

 

 

My Allowance by Jackie Villarreal Najera

When I was about 8 years old I started receiving an allowance from my Dad. I received 5 cents every payday. Now 5 cents was a lot of money when I was young. I could buy two pieces of candy for a penny. The one cent candy was not large but for 5 cents that was a lot of candy.

My dad said to us, “You can spend the money any way you want.”

Sometimes I would spend my money on pickles from a barrel, potato chips or ice cream. I didn’t buy ice cream a lot because my siblings always wanted a taste of the treat. I was left with very little ice cream.

My grandmother who we lived with, didn’t like us getting an allowance. She knew we would buy candy and other bad treats. She said that candy was bad for your teeth and too much sweet makes you fat, and can lead to diabetes and other bad things.

My dad continued to give us an allowance. He spoiled us all the time. That is not to say that we didn’t get spanked when we did wrong things. In general he really spoiled us. When we went to eat with Dad, he would let us order anything we wanted. If we only just ordered French fries and nothing else it was O.K. with him.

Dad’s philosophy was if you go out to dinner, eat what you desire. We never had to eat good food like at home with grandmother.

As I grew older Dad increased my allowance quite a lot. I started to feel bad that I was still getting an allowance when I started high school. I had to walk a long way to Roy Miller High School. I really didn’t have time to stop to buy anything. The following year I went to Carrol High school on a bus. I had less time to buy anything but Dad continued giving me an allowance.

I thought when I started college Dad would no longer give me an allowance anymore. He actually increased it even more. He would give me $20 and he would say, “Just in case.”

I’d respond, “Just in case of what?” He would always say, “You never know.”

I thought it was a strange thing to say because I had a car and Dad would fill it with gas anyway. Once I caught Dad watching me from across the street. I got home and asked him why he had been watching me. He said that because it was my first weeks at college and he was worried about me.

What could I say, that was what my dad was like. He continued to give me an allowance. I hadn’t spent the first $20 dollars that he had originally given me when he would give another $20.

I started working at a residential camp. Dad didn’t like for us to work. He said, “You need to have fun when you are young, there is plenty of time to work when you’re older.”

I told him that camping isn’t work it’s fun. He would say “are you sure it’s fun?”

“Yes Dad it’s fun.” I didn’t know that I was getting paid to have fun. I sent the money home. He came to visit me at camp to make sure I was alright. He brought me my favorite food and took me out for my birthday that summer.

My dad has been gone a long time now but being spoiled and getting an allowance, I remember.

 

 

 

 

Taking Care of the Girls by Jackie Villarreal Najera

When I was in high school my older brother John did not allow anyone to eat with me.  Whenever any of my friends tried to join me, John would scare them away.   Afterword, he would buy me sunflower seeds or dried shrimp to make up for that.

My best friend, Mary, came to eat lunch at home with me. I was showing her our piano when John walked in and yelled, “Get out!”   Mary ran out of our house in complete panic and she never came to our house again.

I use to get into a fight when John got home. He would just laugh which made me mad. I would say “I promise I will do the same to your girlfriend.”

He’d say, “Go ahead.”

I had actually already gotten even with her family. I knew that John’s girlfriend Chrissy loved her brothers. I also knew that her younger brother had a crush on me.

Every day as I walked home he would run inside to get me a glass of water. I would always say, “No thanks.” And he would always look so disappointed.

The truth was that I was not allowed to accept anything from anyone even water.

I thought John was just being weird to me but, that was not the case. We were in San Francisco on summer when a young man looked at my sister Linda. Now Linda is a pretty girl with long black hair and large eyes. The young man just turned his head and looked at Linda. John took the man aside and spoke to him. I saw the man‘s face turn red. I couldn’t understand what had just happened.

Now I am not a “shrinking violet” by any means. I also don’t have any filters either. I always thought my family was very violent, that also included me.

That is not to say my feeling don’t get hurt when people cuss at me or say awful things that I cannot respond to. That is possibly the time I cry. (I am not counting death in the family). There have been those occasions too. In general, I am not that fragile.

When I was senior in high school, my younger Frank was a freshman at the same school. Frank always said he was told by my dad to take care of the girls in the family. My dad had already been very sick about 3 years.

I told Frank that taking care of me was not necessary. In actually I should be taking of him, as his elder. I also told him there was no need because I was no longer fighting and I had matured.

He mentioned he was still going to take of me. One day Frank was hanging around in a corner of the school. I heard some of teachers saying that they were afraid to go to that corner because a scary boy hangs out there. I was very curious who that scary boy was so I went to look. It was Frank! I told Frank “Get out of the corner now!”

His response was “O.K.”

I knew Frank was looking for me and he didn’t know the teacher were afraid of him.

If people only knew what kind and pussy cats Frank and John were.  My brother Frank has died and I miss his constant trying to take care of me and my sisters.