I am about 6 years old and living in our second home across from the vacant lot in Tia Juana. This is a story of a typical non-school day but with father's working.

I awake in the morning to the roosters crowing at the Anez's home down the street. Every house had a chicken coop behind it. We did and Dad had three egg-layers that survived as long as they lay. Get up and go to the bathroom and brush the sink with my toothbrush. Walk out and Mom smells my mouth and says go back and do it right this time. My brother Bill has been up.

We sit at the kitchen table and Mom sets in front of us a plate of fried eggs, platanos and goat cheese with a slice of fried spam. Hmmmm. I steal my brother's milk while he is distracted talking to Mom. (In later years I always stole my sister's milk which was made from powdered KLIM)

Dad left for work an hour earlier. Bill goes his own way as he is three years older than me. Back to the bedroom where I pull on my shorts with suspenders, slip a slingshot into my back pocket, a couple of marbles in the side pocket and a pocket knife that I have hidden from my parents.

Out the back door and whistle to Spotty, our hound, and I head out to the vacant lot where I see Jules Lang, Mike Peters, Palmer Bazemore and Magarita Anez on the swings. The gang is gathering. These are some of my best friends and Magarita was my very best girl friend as she could burp on demand as well as I could. She could make those big loud, single burps, the long drawn out burp and then burp continuously with the intake as well as exhaled air.

There are a set of swings in the lot which serves as the camp play ground. We swing as far as we can back and forth and at the apex of the forward swing; we spit a hocker and see who can reach the farthest. We take turns until we are bored. You see, to be a good hocker spitter you don't put the glob at the front of your mouth and then spit -- that's the girl's way. Boys set the glob just back front the tip of their tongue which is slightly curled back and then use a puff of air to eject the glob at a great velocity and so you get a neat sound as well as distance. We are all good at it.

We head over to the Jimmie McCormick’s house to see if the Guayabas are ripe yet. Then the mangos next door which we discover are just turning yellow inside and we climb the tree and pull and eat them in the tree. So good except that the white sap that slowly oozes from the end where pulled from the branch will cause impetigo if it gets on your cheek. (Mom always applied a pink soothing Calamine Lotion which worked to heal it) We walk down the street checking out the Coconut palms along that street because that's where the biggest and best ones are. We find some nice big ones and I shinny up the palm -- it is difficult but the coconuts are the best and I am able to twist off three or four. We don't have machetes at this age but we have found that the iron shoe scrapers that are anchored to the cement outside the entrances to the old houses on stilts have a sharp enough edge to split the husks and so we each pound away and pull the tough husk off the nuts. Now, my little pocket knife comes to use and we dig out the eyes of the nuts and drink the nice sweet milk -- oh so nice!!

We crack the hulls and using a piece of the husk as a scraper, scrape out and eat the tender coconut meat. Delicious.

The rainy season is ending and we head out to the dredge. That is what we called the undeveloped land between the homes and the office compound. The staff school and all the houses on either side of it including the new country club had have not been built at this time in. The dredge was sandy soil with razor grass and mesquite. No trees. It contained pools of water that collected from the rain and they were our objective. We waded out into the pools which came to our knees to hunt Bull-Frog tadpoles which we caught by pinning them to the bottom of the pools with our feet and then reaching down and picking them up -- they were very large.

We tired of that and someone found a pile of crap -- no restrooms for the workers in this country. We had a stick and turned over the pile and the maggots rolled out squirming and we gathered around and watched. Neat.

Back to the camp. We found some nails and placed a few out in the street and then sat in a line on the curb and watched cars drive by and every now and then they would pick up a nail and we all laughed and ran off. It is getting hot and we find a sun-blacked pan-caked body of a huge toad in the road and so does Spotty who runs over and in-spite of my protests proceeds to roll on the smelly carcass. The carcass kind of skitters across the road as it has been baked hard by the beating sun.

We stop by Jule's house and find that his mother is baking Cinnamon rolls and we beg and each of us receive one. Heaven.

It is getting on towards noon and we all split up heading home for lunch and a siesta. Dad comes home from work at noon and we all sit down at the dining room table for lunch. Its baked Red Snapper that Mom bought off the fish-truck that we heard going through camp that morning. “Camarones... Camarones...” The drivers would holler and you could see the various fish packed in ice in the back of the truck and one of the men in back would hold up a big Red Snapper for the mother's to see as they drove down the street. We also had stewed tomatoes and baked scalloped potatoes --- oh what a wonderful meal. I was able to steal more of my brother’s milk as he discussed what he had done that day. Dad jabbed me in the elbow with his fork for having my elbows on the table.

After lunch a siesta. It is hot and the ceiling fan hardly cools the bedroom. We hear Dad leave to return to work. I read comic books for a while and then my brother throws one at me which is the sign that a comic book war has been declared and so we gather up an arm full of comics and head to the bathroom shower where we roll up the comics and beat on each other. We do this in the shower so not as to disturb Mom's noon nap. But unfortunately the bathroom door snaps open and there she is her eyes glaring and she says she is going to tell Dad when he comes home from work --- oh no!!!

I am up and out again after siesta and the gang meet over at the vacant lot and we play some marbles under the big tree that dominates the lot. It is hot and we head over to one of the older homes on stilts and sit under one and pass the while. We wander around the houses and find a bee's nest hanging from the top of one of the trees (it is a big one hanging about 12 inches) and out come the sling shots and we knock it out of the tree. We scatter as it tumbles down to the ground and we can hear the angry buzz of the bees. Later we come back with a long stick and tentatively we roll the nest over away from where it fell and then pick it up, brush off the ants and split the nest and each of us gets a section which contains honey drops and we lick off the honey spitting out pieces of nest that stick to our tongues. That was good!!

It is getting on to four o'clock and we head over to the club (Tia Juana's original club was adjacent to the tennis courts next to the dike). We are not allowed in the club without our parents but we purchased a soft-drink each from the side window. I particularly liked the Fanta Orange Crush and I purchased one and we sat under the shade-tree by the front of the club and nursed our sodas. Life was good.

The street lights come on and we know it is time to head home.

I arrive at the house and Dad is already there and Mom's told him about us misbehaving and waking her from her siesta. This is not unusual and I know what is coming as Dad peels off his wide belt and folds it in half and begins to come for me (Bill got his earlier and smirks on the sidelines as the events unfold). I will not be taken easily and I head off through the house with Dad behind me swishing the belt and I beat him to my bedroom where I quickly slide under my bed and attach myself firmly to the mattress springs there under, clinging for all my life while Dad gets on his knees and swings the belt under the bed but he can't get to me and I am hollering and crying all the while. He quits -- I think because he has been outwitted for I have avoided the spanking but I learn years later that he quit because he could not stop laughing and he and Mom both laughed themselves to tears over the picture of me clinging to the bottom of the bed to avoid a spanking. Today I laugh too.

Bill and I take our showers in the hot shower water and go to the kitchen for supper which consists of left-over spaghetti that Mom has heated in a skillet and then topped with fried eggs. Hmmm. (Love it to this day). Afterwards, we go to the Parent's bedroom where they sit having their traditional evening Manhattans. We sit on their beds. They are listening to the evening news on the shortwave radio from the Voice of America and then there are the top five popular songs.
Dad gives us both a sip of his Manhattan and I get the cherry – hmmmm, good. Love em to this day.

And that’s how I remember a typical day in the life...

 

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