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Back Home in the Old Neighborhood Again

A true tale of brown from da 'hood

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: August 27, 2012


Back Home in the Old Neighborhood Again


Recently, we all got together to celebrate a milestone in my family's life, my Father's 85th birthday.

With my Mother, older brother, and many close family members and friends being gone for more than 6 years, the losses had weakened my father's & family's penchant for large family neighborhood-type gatherings we used to throw at the family home on Siesta Avenue in Bassett, California.

Everybody in the family and old neighborhood kind of slowly drifted apart in different directions as we all became parents, tios, tias, and grandparents ourselves over the years…and it seems the parties of the 1960's, 70's & 80's and up until my Mom passed in 2006 were a century ago

But on this special day, my sisters, nephews, and nieces decided it was time for a long overdue family bash, so it was on! An 85th birthday is NOTHING to jive or downbeat about, and the guy turning 85 wasn't just anybody.

My father, born in El Paso, Texas, raised in Juarez & El Paso, and a life long Pachuco, came to East Los Angeles in the mid 1940's during World War II. Well known as "El vato sabe el rollo" amongst old friends, he was always kind of a hard ass, stern disciplinarian… but he married a great Lady from East L.A. , and together they raised 7 good kids that turned out 13 grand kids and 14 great grand kids (so far)…add about 6 or 7 tios y tias, 20-25 cousins who also married, had kids & grandkids, and all of our friends put together… and you can imagine the beautiful big clan of Brown folks we all made!

Along with the large extended family and lot's of [i]compadres, comadres,]/i] and neighborhood friends, they helped build a big network of love & friendship that has spanned generations, and still surprisingly exists today.

Well, on this special Saturday, everybody came together like back in the good old days. I hadn't been to a family gig in the old neighborhood in years, so I really looked forward to this one. Living far apart these days, it was a dream to see my adult son, his wife and 2 kids along with my beautiful adult daughter and her 3 kids amongst the many other family members and homies…it wasn't smoggy, but my eyes still watered a little at the start of the occasion, as my love for familia and old friends is one of the biggest gifts of life I've been blessed with.

Old friends that I hadn't seen in over 25 years showed up. Some family members I hadn't seen in just as long showed up, bringing with them new loved ones I had never met. It was a memorable feeling & experience. Everybody looked and sounded so good… Damn! But I sure missed everybody!

Initially, as we all talked, hugged, shook hands, laughed, introduced, and reminisced, the talk was of the many who were no longer with us, and the memories we all shared living east of the L.A. river " back in the day ".

Then the talked evolved, as we all shared new stories, and EVERYBODY started busting out pictures from wallets and cell phones as the delicious aroma of cooking carne asada, chicken, carnitas, beans & rice filled the air while familiar music played. The laughter was as warm as the summer breeze that caressed us all on this afternoon in Aztlan... and I was HOME again !

There was plenty of food and drink, the family dogs and happy little children nosily ran around my Mom & Dad's backyard amongst everybody, and it was like a scene out of a good movie, as almost everybody took out cell phones and began snapping pictures of each other. Then there was the obligatory tour of my parent's house, as we all laughed, joked, and commented on almost every picture hanging on the walls of the family home, the average statement being "how young" everybody was, starting with the 1940's & 50's black & white pictures of my parents, and the 1920's & 30's pictures of my grand parents.

As the sun set, and the tons of home-made desserts were brought out and served, another family tradition began… the music and the dancing!

Like a counter culture shock lesson, my friends, brothers, sisters, and cousins all sat back and watched in wonderment as our kids and grand kids took the floor and happily danced & sang along together to some of today's modern music, like SOCIAL DISTORTION and others, while we waited for our chance of some Oldies and Chicano Rock & Roll.

… and the smiling, unanimous agreement among us "old folk" was that "that was us" over 35-40 years ago, as we danced to then new music like THEE MIDNITERS, TOWER OF POWER, MALO, TIERRA and others… while OUR parents, tios & tias watched us in wonderment, waiting for their chance of some Mariachi, Tejano, and Glenn Miller tunes.

Sounds almost beautifully tribal, know what I mean ?

Like all good rides and all good songs, the party eventually came to the end, as many adults, bearing tired & sleeping young children strung over their shoulders, hugged and said goodbye to each other, and another "Fiesta on Siesta" came to a memorable end around 2 am… and we finally got to hear some Oldies towards the end of the night , LOL !

Of course, we all promised to "keep in touch"… but who knows, verdad?

Times like these makes me glad that I have lived life in Aztlan as I have, with good family, friends, and memories that have existed over my lifetime…

… and I can only hope & wish that many of you reading this today have as many happy yesterdays as me & my family and friends have… and that our children have just as many happy tomorrows!

Happy 85th Birthday, Pops!... thanks for starting it all!

About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is originally from East L.A. and is a regular contributor to this fine web magazine. Check out his radio show at: www.eastLArevue.com
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