Remembering Calle Dos

Margie Cintron

My grandparents owned a store on the corner of Second Street and Jefferson, named Lopez Grocery and Market. The people who lived around Second Street, or Calle Dos, as we called it, belonged to a very close-knit community.

Everyone knew and trusted one another.

I was small when his business thrived, but I remember the two-for-a-penny candy, the individual cookies I might get as a reward. I remember the clink of bottles advancing when I would pull a Triple XXX Root Beer out of the soda-water machine.

My grandparents often extended credit at the store to community members, knowing full well they would be paid, usually at the end of the month.

My grandparents are gone today, but in grandmother's last days, she would talk a lot about life on the Calle Dos.

I remember sitting and listening to my grandmother while she reminisced and spoke passionately, closing her eyes as if she relived the memories carved firmly in her mind.

When looking at pictures of the Calle Dos, she would place exact dates and ages, firmly discounting questions about her memory of the event or setting.

She talked about St. Francis Church and the convent of nuns who taught kindergarten through sixth grade. She often mentioned good friends: the Duron family, who had a store and barber business on Second Street; the Galindo family's snowcone and pastry business; the Navarros' tortilla store and Cruz Barber Shop.

When she talked about the outdoor dances at the Mutalista Hall across the street from my grandfather's store, it made me think she could still hear the music playing. People on Second Street seemed to walk everywhere. It was not unusual to finish dinner and sit outside watching the community pass in front of the home, friends always wanting to know how everyone was feeling, she said.

The community seemed to look out for one another. Although my grandmother would say that everyone knew your business, I got the impression that this was not always a good thing.

Both of my grandparents and most of the community of the Calle Dos spoke Spanish primarily. My grandparents spoke English well enough to buy the inventory for the store and pay bills. But they conversed in Spanish. Within the insulation of the Calle Dos community, they spoke “their” language — their mind. But in the public outside of this community, they would sometimes revert to silence, because of the language barrier.

Only now do I recognize that their silence in public, like that of their generation, forced all future generations to learn English, sometimes at the expense of Spanish.

I saw the past through their eyes. I always strived to understand the passion they showed about every- day life within the Calle Dos community.

Revisiting these things reminds me that there is a very sacred place in my heart and mind where I feel very connected and secure knowing how my grandparents and parents coped with life in another time.

Understanding the history of the Waco community through the eyes of persons who passed there gives us all a greater sense of heritage and a foundation to grasp the nature of the struggle of all members to assimilate into the system.

The opportunity to record history from first-hand experiences is limited. We are losing the generations born before 1930. Several books tell the history of Waco. However, Hispanics and other ethnic groups generally are not included.

We need to value history and the importance of all contributions, so they will be reflected accurately and will influence the curriculum in subjects such as Texas history.

Margie Cintron is Waco native, consultant and grant writer.

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