Pedro A. Gonzales, Dad
July 12, 2013
“Que Dios Los Vendiga
May God Bless You”
One year after the beginning of World War 1, Dad was born on March 3, 1915 in San Antonio Texas. He was born in a small house on San Sabas y Guadalupe.
Dads life would span 98 years. He would live through WW I and WW II, a great depression and many other world events.
Leonides Rocha, Dad's mother , Died in 1928 when dad was 13 years old. She worked with Grandpa Pedro in the bakery. Brothers Tio Fito and Dad worked there as well. The bakery was located in Campos and Laredo Street. It was named La India.
In 1928 dad left the third grade and went to live with Tia Chata. At age 13 Dad began working at a bakery called La Libertad.
At age 16 dad's father re-married Maria Jimenez. Dad returned to live with them and moved to Beeville to live. Grandpa Pedro and Dad made brick and mud ovens and made his own pans out of buckets of lard.
In 1931 at 16 years of age Dad met some Americans in Beeville. This was the time of Prohibition and Elliot Ness. It was at this point that Dad became a microbrewer, otherwise referred to as a bootlegger. Dad started making beer and started his own on beer joint. He would carry a Nickle plateted 38 Smith & Wesson.
Dad sold lots of beer and had barrels and barrels of it. He would fill bottles by hand with a small capping machine.
Becoming good friends with the local judges and law enforcement, Dad would be forewarned of any impending prohibition raids. It was all good, at least until the day that the feds came down without having forewarned the local officials. Dad said he barely had enough time to hide his 38 in the rafters. All were arrested including Dad. He was quickly let go when it was found out that he was 16 years old. They didn't know he was the owner of the joint.
1931 Dad and Grandpa Pedro went to Corpus Christi where they lived for two years.
In 1933 Dad returned to San Antonio and it was then that he first saw our mother Febe. He was 18 years old.
Mom lived on Elvira street. Dad saw Mom from across the neighbors fence. He sent her a note. Mom torn up the note. Not to be rejected, Dad persisted.
The neighbor lady told Mom that she should marry Dad because, it was rumored Dad owed not one but three (3) suits ! The game was on and suddenly Dad’s prospects were looking up.
(On a side note) Let me add that Mom had lost her mother at age 2 and had taken charge of the children. She and her father lived in a house with no refrigerator, a dirt floor and no roof. She would travel with her Dad for errands on the back of her fathers bicycle.
Now back to the romance.
Mom would tell us that Dad was persistent and secretly, she would run to the neighbors to hear what Dad had said and ask if he would return.
In 1935, after a whirlwind courtship of nine months, at the age of 19 years old (Mom was 23), he and mom were married.
Score DAD !
Mom got a refrigerator, a floor, a roof and ten (10) children of her own thrown in de pilon (extra).
In 1936 Dad really became a Dad with the birth of their first child, Pete. Pete was delivered at our house by the neighbor lady (remember her?) . He as well as all the rest of us were born in the living room/bed room of our house. All of us that is except our sister Gloria who was the first to be born in a high falotin “clinic”.
Mom called Dad, “Prieto” (dark one). For the next 63 years, Dad called Mom, “Mujer”.
Things looked up ever since for the Gonzales clad.
In 1950 we were the first to get TV. It was a Sylvania Black and White consol TV. We would put it on the porch so the entire west side neighborhood could come and watch.
In the next coming years, Dad, Mom and all of us would experience the loss of our Brother Rudy.
Dad kept us together through it all.
Dad would later share with us that the happiest days of his life were when mom was alive.
With a new wife, Dad left bootlegging and returned to the bakery business.
At that time dad rented bakery equipment and would pay $25 per month to begin to develop his own bakery. The bakery was named Las Colmennas and was located on Zaramora and Colima Street.
Dad immediately begins delivering bread two small stores. He would also deliver bread to outlying towns like New Bruanfeld, Sequine, Gonzales, Poteet, Calaveras and many others. We would travel with him to help. When ever we got to wherever, we would get “an entire soda to ourselves”. This was pure heaven.
As the rent went up all the way to $100 per month Dad decided it was time to go on his own again. He found and bought an old church located Tampico and Zarzamora street. He converted it into a bakery and named it Las Colmenas.
Dad worked tirelessly yet at noon, he would listen to the Catholic Rosary on the radio without fail. He remained devoted to the Virgin de Guadalupe.
Many years later, with the bakery business struggling Dad began to work for civil service at Kelly Air Force Base. He worked for the Nonappropriated Funds Bakery, followed by a move to a kitchen complex to bake more there.
Dad worked until he was 71 years old.
You could say that Dad helped feed the world, granted it was with empanadas, marranitos, compechanas and pan de llevo (egg).
Our father was and is a wonderful man, He gave us so much.
Pete – He was a great father, he was a great example (to all of us), every every day.
Irene – a very unique man even though he wasn’t educated.. He did a lot of things. He learned everything.
Eleanor – Giving, my dad was such a giving person. Among our happiest memories were yearly weekend trips to Corpus Christi where we would stay at the magical Wave View Courts.
Luis – Wonderful Dad, he was my wonderful birthday buddy. One March the 3rd, our brother Luis was Dad’s birthday gift.
Vangie – Dad would always say no, no, no, but in the end, Daddy was always there for us. He always came through for us.
Rosalinda – He was a Dad who changed with the times to fit the times.
Robert – The hardest working man I’ve ever known and the greatest provider for his family.
Gilbert – Dad was the first Mexican Buddhist I ever met, I just didn’t know it and neither did he. He accepted things as they were. He dealt with life straight on. He was in the present moment.
Gloria – Dad was strength in mind and body, always putting his children first with his loving and generous heart.
There were many sides to this beautiful man.
Dad the story teller:
• 1. The Mexican General dies – during the Mexican Revolucion of 1910 Dad tells the story of his grandmother killing a Mexican general after improper advances
• 2. Villas gold en La Cienda de Canotillo – Dad tells the story of Pacho Villas gold being buried by a detail of men, his grandfather being one of them. While down in the cave where the gold was being buried, shots rang out. Great Grandfather played dead and survived.
• 3. La Llorona – who hasn’t heard this Mexican classic. Story is that if you are very quiet you will see and hear a woman crying for her children floating down the street
Dad the comedian:
• The stroke and the lawn mower; (note, I had gotten a very very short haircut). I had gotten a call saying that Dad had a stroke. We all were in the recovery room waiting. After some time and after having had a stroke and coming to consciousness in the emergency room Dad says, “What happened to the lawnmower? I say what lawnmower?, Dad says “the lawnmower that ran over your head”.
• The death bed, three months ago, Dramatic scene, Dad says “I’m ready”; we ask ready for what (thinking death); Dad says “ready for coffee”
Dad was old school, in fact, he was so old school that if you looked up old school in the dictionary, his picture is there.
Dad the connoisseur
• of water, hose water that is. (aqua de la pompa)
• of beer, My sisters will tell you that Dad didn’t drink, my brothers will tell you Dad loved his beer. He warned us against drinking Pearl beer because it was the cheapest beer and would give you diarrhea.
• of Pan de Dulce and coffee: Dad knew his sweet bread. Dad loved his coffee, his pan de dulce (sweetbread). An insulin injecting diabetic, Dad would say, “what, I’m going to die,? give me sweetbread”
Dad the loan company
• At Kelly, he would lend his friends $20 dollars mid week and collect $25 on payday. He had lots of friends.
Dad the philosopher:
• No te apures pa que dures, (don’t worry so you can last)
• Viejo el viento perro todavia sopla (old is the wind but it still blows)
• Es la bola, asi es (it’s the ball of years that weighs on you as you get old, that’s the way it is). He would tell the doctors, there’s nothing wrong with me, es la bola.
Dad the Humanitarian:
• Small acts of love, feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. Dad would leave with plates of food and if you noticed he would give them to our neighbors who did not have food.
• He would house the homeless with a place to sleep in our garage.
• On his food delivery trips, there wasn’t a dog on Elvira street that didn’t love our Father. He was kind to all creatures.
On a final note,
• Dad discovered the fountain of youth and the secret to life all at once– eat pan de dulce and drink coffee every day.
Nostalgia is a Greek word meaning, “longing for home”. It is memories, emotional connections to our past that supports, lifts us, and makes us stronger. Today we honor our Father with these memories and pass on our family’s history.
“Que Dios Los Vendiga
May God Bless You”
(We invite all come forward and share your special memories with Dad)