Forward II — Andy Porras, Free Lance Writer
Like Mario’s barrio nationally known high school museum (and only one of a handful), and it’s dicho that reminds its residents, present and former that, “Some things go on forever, like the sea, the wind and the spirit of San Felipe . . . “ - his book’s contents will go on forever.
No matter where ‘forever’ finds you. Abroad. In a different barrio. A far away borough, or in another chapter in the story of San Felipe, its people and icons. Mario’s ship, and its stories, has left the harbor and has set sail for eternity.
Mario, along with other fellow San Felipians, has given us one more mirror where our life is reflected. (Granted, some of the images were non-flattering, like the ones stating No Mexicans Allowed.) While not all of us former barrio dwellers ever saw those racist rotulos suffice to say that our parents and grandparents were the ones who helped tear them down by serving “their” country or taking on city halls that reflected no love for Hispanics and certainly by educating their children in one of the most unique school districts in the history of education in the U.S. of A. It was here we honed our activism skills and learned to care for our fellow human beings. It was here, within about a dozen streets square area that our envied Spirit of San Felipe first saw the light. And, and as this volume reflects, that light has never gone out!
Del Rio’s barrio folk, in many cases, were not even aware they fell below the poverty line or considered themselves depressed. There were much better things to plan or execute. Take the truck rides to the Golden State, at $25 a pop? What a bargain! And the great friendships forged along the way. Not to mention road romances! Consider Mario’s travels, all on Uncle Sam’s dime. More than likely, our boys and girls in uniform did not return to the U.S. of A. as monoglots. Not when you’re born with a Spanish language “chip” in your cabeza.
La Loma de la Cruz, La Plaza, El Sifón, La Piedra, etc. all memories ingrained in our bilingual brain come to life again. Mario’s bicultural brush paints San Felipe’s icons and offers them for us to enjoy and live some exciting moments again – like the danger of diving into very deep water or trespassing terrenos once belonging to our ancestors now known as Rancher White’s spread or Farmer Fred’s orchards.
Mario’s entries seem more like a trip down familiar lanes filled with friendly faces from the Bay Area to our beloved barrio. When he features a family (i.e. the Guardias, Calderones, etc.) your wannabe digital brain also rewinds and goes back in time to another era and soon recalls those same families and you begin repeat that time-honored phrase, “I wonder what ever happened to so and so?”
Mario opens the door to his life in this book. A life filled with both excitement and an education for many of us. Facts about an early San Felipe and its s/heroes are priceless. I guarantee that once you begin this literary excursion, you will be eager to turn page after page. It’s San Felipe-Friendly, Raza. It’s life in the barrio as lived by nuestra gente. In their own time. In their own way. Welcome aboard.
!Viva Mario! ¡Viva San Felipe!