Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Troop 421 Boy Scouts - Brownsville

 Lupe Garza

"I am from La 421 barrio; born and raised there 'til I moved in ‘89 after high school. Here is a pic of us young vatos around ‘85. We all grew up together. Went to the same elementary, middle and high school, played at East Brownsville Little League and went to Holy Family Church on Sunday. One guy, Martin Leal who also grew up there, took the initiative to form a Boy Scout Troop and asked us to select a troop number. Of course, right away we all came up the the same number, 421. That number meant so much to us as kids. Martin told us to remember what we represented: the barrio, the elementary school, the church and we were going to be the new leaders. Martin bought a big new extended van as his personal vehicle. He carried us around to camp, car washes, to the island, really anywhere. No one gave him gas money. It was all out of his pocket. I don’t think any other Troop wore their troop number prouder than us. We made sure all the other troops in Brownsville and the Valley knew who were where. We are Troop 421. Those who were in the Troop still shout our call


Monday, August 8, 2022

La 421 signage

Juan Picazo 

I made this in 1985 or 1986.

Back then there was a summer program called the "PIC Program". This program, I believe, worked with B.I.S.D. to get summer jobs for teenagers in Brownsville.

They would have a meeting at Jacob Brown Auditorium (El Civic Center) and it would get PACKED. After registering, students were sent to local participating businesses for interviews.

I ended up working at the City of Brownsville Traffic Dept. which takes me back to this picture....

I was a "Graphic Technician". This was just a fancy name for a traffic sign maker. I made this sign from trashed material. I was 15 or 16 years old then.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Longoria Elementary 1982 - 1983 team picture?


To my childhood friends, classmates and especially my 6th grade football teammates from Longoria Elementary (1982-1983), for many years I've been trying to get a copy of the football team picture that was taken outside by the cafeteria.
Unfortunately, many of us could not afford to buy the team picture. The team mainly consisted of boys from the neighborhood 4-21. Many parents lived from paycheck to paycheck and barely made ends meet.
If anyone has the football team picture from Longoria Elementary 1982 - 1983 school year, PLEASE take a picture of if and send it to me. It's been 40 years, and I've never seen that picture.
Our coach was Hector Garcia (R.I.P). Principal at the time was Mr. Vasquez.
I remember one day that the coaches took us to the Brownsville Boys Club to pick up donated football uniforms.
After I walked in, I was in total awe because I had never seen an indoor basketball court. As I saw the boys playing basketball and running from on side of the basketball court to the other, I thought to myself, " Wow, just like on television!"
They took us to a room. As soon as we walked in, we were met with a very interesting and strong odor which we quickly ignored because we saw a giant heap of very old and dirty football uniforms against the back wall. Hence, the strong odor. On another side of the room, there were also very old and beat up helmets and other equipment.
I remember some adult saying, "Go, get your uniforms!" Full of excitement and not caring for the bad smell or the condition of the uniforms, we all rushed and were quick in trying to pick the least worn out uniforms before rushing to get a helmet. We were just happy that we were getting football uniforms and didn't care for the condition they were in. Back then when one got something used, to us it felt as if is was NEW!
Our Coach.....
About five years ago, while doing online searches to see what I could find and trying to contact old teammates, I came across coach Hector Garcia's obituary from 2013. 🙁 It was sad to find out about his passing. It quickly brought back memories....(obituary link is below)
I remember in 5th grade we had ZERO wins. Coach Garcia took over as coach in 6th grade, and he turned the team around. If I recall correctly, it was his first year at Longoria Elementary. He was a motivator, he made us believe in ourselves.
"If you do this here in practice, I don't see any reason why you can't do it in a real game!" "I wish I was out there in uniform playing with you guys, but the truth is that you don't need me. This team is good enough!" That year we got 2nd place. Not bad for a football team from a low income barrio.
I remember practicing regardless the weather. To me the best practice was when it was raining. What a muddy mess! I remember taking a shower at home after practice and blowing my nose. Nothing but MUD came out of my nose. The following day at school the football players were all sharing the same story. Instead of boogers, it was MUD!
Coach Hector Garcia thank you for the great memories and for being an awesome unforgettable football coach!
To Coach Garcia's family, my most sincere and deepest condolences.🙏

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

El Mesquiton

"Challo leads El Mesquiton circa late 1940s in Olmito, Texas.  This was an outside concrete circle with a big mesquite tree in the center which was at the time behind what is today Mels Antiques & Collectibles in Olmito.  This was a weekend activity.  Ladies would dance for a nickel a song or you could bring your own lady."  ~Mels Antiques in Olmito via Facebook

Transcribed from interview with Captain Ken Baker from Lupe Saenz' El Mesquiton II YouTube Video 

"An old story about a dance location in Olmito, Texas, a place called "El Mesquiton". The old cement slab dance floor was located next to the Lake View Inn (Bino's Beer Joint) in Olmito, Texas and built around a large mesquite tree. Thus it is the reason the descriptive Spanish name that was given to this location. It was an open air site that had numerous benches lined around the edges where hundreds of people sat and danced on the lighted dance floor at night. The gigantic mesquite tree was adored in lights. The Mexican music polka bands came there to play from near and far. Even some from as far away as San Antonio and Houston played here. The polka music flowed along with the beer that was sold there. It was many a summer night I could hear the music in the distant sitting on the front porch of my Dad’s farm/ranch. We lived a mile away on Baker road. I would sometimes go there at Bino’s Lake View Inn who owned the club and “El Mesquiton ”next to it. The huge outdoor concrete dance platform was a short cut for me walking home from school. My dad was the Deputy Constable in those days/years as well as my uncle who kept the peace there. There were always a few fights from drunks from time to time on Saturday nights but by and large a fun place. The story goes that a young girl was dancing with a handsome stranger one Saturday night. She looked at his shoes and noticed fur coming from his ankle like that of a goat. She screamed and the stranger took off running into the night with people after him. He disappeared into the night. The stories were going all over town, big news! It seems there were several young girls there that one night that had danced with him and was being seduced. I grew up here in this South Texas farming community as a kid and thus it was the talk of the town for some time. The era of those years was back in the mid/late 50's. Part of a book one day."

[thank you Timo Ruedas for sending us this vital piece of info for the blog]

Comments  from our friends on Facebook:

Ivez Barrera
My Dad tells me stories of Listening and Dancing to Freddie Gomez here at El Mesquiton back in the days

Hilda Garcia
There was also that if the young man wanted to dance with the the the young girl he would give her a bag of animal crackers and at the end of the night the girls would go home loaded with little bags of animal crackers.( Story told to us by my Grandfather)

JD Lopez
So what was the name of the place on Vermilion Road that I hear you would pay 25. For a dance back in the 60s ?

Joe Valles
Dang this is where my Dad and Mom Met in 1963/64.. she was from Los Fresnos....he.was from San Pedro....and there was no other way they would have met if it wasn't for El.Mesquiton! Haha..... because be th wre.from Ranchos and they rarely left the Rancho...save for church...or when there was a little money....to go to dances at El Mesquiton!......Chingos and I mean Chingos ...of young men and women....from... Harlingen..to San Benito..to Port Isabel...to Rio Hondo....Olmito....La Paloma...San Jose...Los Fresnos...and Brownsville and even Matamoros...Mx. met thier future sweetheart...and got Married and had families... because of El Mesquiton....From the 1940s until tye 1960s..! Amazing....I'm from San Pedro...and alot of couples...that I knew of that have passed on and or are still alive but very old met there as young people..and teens....this picture is awesome...part of RGV ..life.. Beautiful....!

Aurora Mireles
Yes El Mesquiton we stayed in car to see people dance so much fun. I think there was a tree in the middle.

Stories from La Quatro y Viente Uno

 by Juan Picazo via our Facebook pagina

Image courtesy El Rrun Rrun blog 

1953 Brownsville Compress and E Jackson homes

My mother's old brick home on Van Buren St. (2 houses from Saldañas food store back then) still has the bullet holes shot by a rival neighborhood gang.
I was probably 5 years old around 1975-1976 when several drive-by shootings were directed at my house.
My older brother, R.I.P, and some of his friends, 4-21 FoodPackers, (I guess there was a connection with that name and Saldaña Food Store which was in the same block 🤔🤷‍♂️) had a rivalry.
Unfortunately, one new year's night, they were ambushed right in the front yard of my parent's yard.
Precisely at 12 midnight, when all the fireworks and gunshots were going on, the rival group did another drive-by, fatally shooting a young man right in our front yard.

I always remember rushing to the floor and taking cover under the dining room wooden table.
I'm guessing it was traumatic for me just being 5 years old. Maybe that's why I still remember at the age of 51. I also remember walking home from the downtown bus station. My Mom and I were coming back from Amigoland Mall. Police were at my house because another drive-by had just happened.
What I remember the most from listening to all the adults and the neighbors talking was that my father ran out of the house in his underwear and chased a car while shooting at it down Van Buren St. all the way to "La Dieciocho" (International Blvd.) It was referred to "La Diechiocho" because 18th Street next to Saldaña Food Store continued for a ½ block and connected to International Blvd.
That ½ block is now part of where Pizza Hut is. There was also a group of girls from 4-21 called the "4-21 something Dolls". They all had a black, little, round tattoo on their face close to their cheek. It resembled more a birthmark. I know 2 of my friend's Mom's had that tattoo. That's why I know because one of them told us. We were in 6th grade at the time at Longoria Elementary.
Wow. I had no idea I was going to write so much and on my phone!
I guess nostalgic episodes can really have an impact when one reminiscences.
Editor's birthplace at 2354 1/2 E Jackson St.
~ Juan Picazo

The following comments are shared from the Facebook page:

Guera N Boly D
My neighbor for long time was willy El chueco

  • MaLou Matamoros
    I lived on 14th street and Tyler and that’s one of the reasons my parents didn’t let us go out, but I do remember my sister going to Cummings and she got beat up by a gang and after that they moved her to another school. Very sad situation

Rey David Robledo
I grew up on Van Buren and 24th/25th 2 houses from the compress’ fence ‘67-‘85. I remember my parents telling us to be careful when we would go to Saldaña but never knew why.

Lizz Ramirez
La 4 21

Esther Jaimes
Wow, thanks for sharing! Yup, it was, la 4-21, La morlla, La 12, La Villa Nueva, And others! It was sure very scary!

Je Lo
My deepest sympathy; I had some cousins (3rd) and el puerto guys jump me almost everyday of my jr. high and high school life. They must have seen West Side Story?? I often wonder why they picked me. Pinches montoneros. because of that I realized why so many of us have a below U.S. income margin. We can't work together because we watched to much T.V. violence.

Rey Ybarra
My mom’s neighborhood. We practically grew up at my grandparent’s the Rochas home on Jackson St and 20th St along with our cousins the Cano’s and the Martinez’s a few blocks down

elipe Martinez
East side 4-21 BCV 4ever 2gether as 

Maria De Los Reyes
I lived on Van Buren by the Brownsville Herald!

Lourdes-Miguel Aguilar
My father grew up in La Muralla and he said it was tough back in the days (1930s-50s)

Van Vaughn
My office was at 4th and E. Washington from'75-96 where I worked with federal inmates. I was aware of La Parra and Las Prietas gangs but was oblivious of the gang activity in 4-21. Thank you for sharing your story

Estella Pineda
I moved to thar neighborhood back on 77-78. why I do I remember my sister was born in 1978 at the house we lived in
1915 E. Van Buren.
We lived there for abt 3 years.
I met the Picassos, The Boards, The Zepedas, n sum people u can't remember.
I went to Longoria Elementary 4th, 5th and 6th grade.
I remember walking to Saldańa, but was a bit scared, cuz there was some girls that would like to bully whoever they thought was a target. Until one day, I had to put on my big girl panties n fight them back. I had to.
Over all I had good memories from my childhood neighborhood ❤.

Felipe Martinez
Lucho Potuano

Guillermo Escorcia
Next to my street, 21 and Jackson

Elena Resendez Zorola
When my dad delivered Kerosene back in the late 1940s, he’d tell my mother: today we have “el 421 area, “la moralla” area, El Barrillo Mexicano, las Prietas,el Southmost, los tendajos, la Fronton y llenar el tanque en Velvorene ( not sure if that was the name where he filled up the huge tank on the truck. The company was on East Fronton and maybe 2nd. I loved to watch them fill up the tank.

Grew in this barrio till I was 17 and moved. Great memories. We were the original 421 Boy Scout Troop in the 80’s based at Holy Family Church. Our chant was 4 Scouting 2gether as 1. The other troops in Brownsville and the Valley did not like us cause we kicked their @$& all the time in competition

Raul Silguero
I grew up at 2234 E Jackson.

Marisol Hinojosa
I used to work near by back in early 2000's I used to walk to UtB to and from work. Never again. I was targeted and I noticed right away guy was walking behind me I ran in the gas station and told the cashier. She hid me behind the counter for almost 30min till the guy left. I called my now husband boyfriend at the time he escorted me to class

Raul Silguero
Born and raised 2234 E. Jackson. By the compress. 1946 -
[born 1965 at 2354 E Jackson - see photo above - house is still there today 7/27/2022]
Mata Carlos
Mi Barrio never muerto..4-21 c/

Juan Picazo
How I wish the true origins of the name "La 4-21" were recorded somewhere.
I remember going to a Brownsville museum downtown, and they told me that there was no records of a 421 calvary during World War II.🤷‍♂️
My father, Samuel Picazo, was born in 1925. I remember him telling me that when he was a little boy around the age of 12 the neighborhood was already called 4-21. That would make the year 1937 or 1938.
World War II was from 1939 to 1947.🤔
Like I mentioned, I wish the neighborhood's name true origins were recorded somewhere because the individuals that were alive when the name "421" came to be have already passed away unless there are some 100 plus year-olds still alive. It would be so interesting to speak to someone from that era/age.
I guess we'll never know or pinpoint the exact origins of the name "La 4-21"

421 Family -- Eloisa Chavarria

Ponch Gmz
Born and raised 2234E Van Buren St
Will NEVER forget my barrio...and my awesome childhood... 4-21 papa
Childhood days with John Taylor  [who responded] great memories in the barrio !

Rudy Carr
Puro West side! La West Levee! We grew up in barrios, not colonias.

Rudy Carr
Puro West side! La West Levee! We grew up in barrios, not colonias
     Juan Picazo
Rudy Carr LOL..true!
I thought it was so funny and weird when people would ask me , "De que colonia eres?" / "Which colonia are you from?"
Juan Picazo yes!! Colonias en Mexico, not here. I remember, La Muralla, La 421,La 802, La Parra, La Riverside, La Southmost, El Puerto. Do you remember any others?
     Juan Picazo
Rudy Carr the original Brownsville neighborhoods!
Umm...yes..others are El Ramireño, La Hayes and you can't forget the neighborhood projects. La Buena Vida, La Villa Verde, etc. there are more but they don't come to mind at the moment.
     Rudy Carr
Juan Picazo Simon!! La bougainvillea!
     Rudy Carr
Juan Picazo I think I had Camaradas in all of them. Great memories.

Garza Captain
I grew up on Riverside in-between El Ramireño and El West. It was neutral territory back then you couldn't travel to other neighbors unless you knew someone that lived there. It wasn't until I went to Central Jr High that I made friends with other people from La Muralla, La Para, El 4-21, and El Puerto. Like I mentioned before, you couldn't go into their neighbors unless you knew someone from there. This was in the mid 70's.
     Ponch Gmz
Garza Captain when I'd ride my bike to el disco de oro I was shittin brick... but hell...we were rebels brotha....awesome times

Frances García Mata
I grew up in La 4-21 in the early 60s, and it was a peaceful neighborhood! We knew all our neighbors, and I remember playing outside, walking to elementary school, walking to the corner store, visiting our friends, and many more wonderful memories!