During the late 50’s and 60’s my parents got us involved in Mexican Folklorico through my Mom’s Uncle Louie’s sister-in-law Corina Valdez. The dance group was well known in L.A. apparently since Corina got us lots of work. We appeared in parades most notably the Long Beach Beauty Pageant and as one of the many parades in Disneyland which had just recently opened for which we all received ticket books; passes to get on the rides free. We also danced for the L.A. County Fair on the Mexican Village stage. We did this for a couple of years in a row and it was exciting times. We did several shows a day and so had minimal time to see the attractions until after the last show. In those days, the County Fair was less commercialized as its intent was to demonstrate the various industry’s of the state with 4H clubs participated in competitions for visiting audiences. The last time I was there, most of the animals were gone. The exposition halls are now filled with vendors selling everything from jewelry to mattresses. Worst of all, the backdrop of the stage where Mexican groups of all kinds still perform is now painted with the words Bud Lite in huge block letters where most of the performers are still under age. While in Corina’s group I started taking lessons in Flamenco from a teacher who had formerly been a dancer in the very famous Jose Greco dance troupe. This was serious Spanish dancing from Spain and was much more demanding than Mexican Folklorico and I began to really like it when our dancing careers were for whatever reason cut short.
My two sisters, Marie Elizabeth and Michele, were younger than us. Marie was closer to us two boys but Michele was left out of a lot of our early family life, coming as an unexpected development seven years after Marie. Although I got into music as a young man, and my brother had a short stint with me playing drums, my sisters developed a love for music which they are still heavily involved in today. Marie has performed in several countries abroad acting and dancing and has traveled to Spain to advance her own Flamenco dancing. She has performed in plays and developed her singing voice, still using it today where she regularly performs at her church. Marie has one daughter, Karina. Michele plays drums which fit her personality perfectly since she always was a bit of a tomboy when she was young. She plays for services at several different churches on Sundays. She has a son, Donte. Greg served two terms in Vietnam. He has two sons; Greg and Chad.
All our older relatives now gone, we try to keep in touch as much as possible with the cousins we grew up with. Most of us live in the Los Angeles and Orange County area. Who knows if the next generation of cousins will even know each other? When our Grandparents came to Los Angeles, their addresses were in the heart of downtown, before large buildings replaced their homes and businesses on Main Street. The Solano Ave neighborhood is still there. I will occasionally take a ride up there. But the smog on some days is so thick you can almost touch it. My Grandfather Daniel’s address on San Fernando Road is now a large auto dealership. Many of the houses and neighborhoods my parents and Grandparents lived in are now depressed or changed beyond recognition. We may have moved out long ago but our memories still live there. And our hearts yearn for the old times when our lives were less complicated. Our children will have different memories. Let’s hope theirs are as rich and beautiful as ours were.