The 60’s

“60’s”

The fifties end, the sixties begin, now in High School I’m in

New books new friends, new studies, a medal I win

One year of football, we tried hard to win

My last two years, mostly a sin

A job, new clothes, money to spend

Friends get together, we pitch in

We have a few brews and go for a cruise

One party ends, another begins, they never end

Looking for the girl you’ll hold tonight

The locomotion, the swim, mash potato are in

Measuring success by who you caress

The slow dance ends the night, you hold her tight

Your friends in a fight, this ends the night

I hate to leave, I really can’t stay

The sirens are coming, they’re headed this way

I’ll write you a letter, remember this night

Words of love and devotion written on paper

On perfumed paper she replies, our love will not die

Waiting on Broadway for her to arrive

A vision of beauty walks by your side

The balcony in the theater is where you will hide

A kiss and a hug, expressions of love

Will we go all the way, I want you she smiles

We’ll be in trouble for ditching this day

I send you this letter to tell you good-bye

I’m joining the army, it may be my last

Two things I take, your love and your picture

Two things from the past, I hope it last

My son, my son what have you done

There is a war, they’ll give you a gun

My father cried for his wild son

I asked to go, the answer was no

Fort Ord it was, no further would I go

The job I was given, I did my best

My orders I followed with some regret

Sending my brothers, from Ord to hell

The look on their faces, all told a tale

Some no expression, others went pale

Some disbelief, others relief

All were but boys, to live the grief

Few I kept home, most I could not

Only the rich, controlled their lot

Rich daddy’s money found the right pockets

Gave life to their sons, away from the rockets

Men they came back, a story to tell

They tried to sleep, forget about hell

Screams of fright break the quiet of night

Sleep my brother; you’re home from the fight

My orders I followed, there seemed no end

A call to order, a medal I’d win

The nights that followed all a blur

Drinking and fighting, my self cure

Things I’ll remember and never forget

Cannery row, white sands of Carmel

The sight of Big Sur, so fresh the smell

The hippies and gurus, who hated the guns

New places, new sights, not in Boyle Heights

The mama’s and the papa’s, Bob Dillon’s words

New music, new friends, a new world begins

The faces the places, and all the sounds

New memories begin, this is how the sixties would end.

By

Roberto Juarez

 

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The 50’s

  

                                                             “Decades of Life”

                                                                 The fifties

The school day begins with a game of tag

Running and chasing the joy of the game

Words from home soon forgotten

“Don’t get dirty or I’ll spank your bottom”

The sound of the bell calls order

Lining up in rows, remember your place

Tan shirts, brown pants all in a row

Nuns in black habits, calling the roll

I started school to learn and obey

We prayed everyday for God is the way

I learned to read, I learned to write

I learned about sin, I feared the night

To mass every Sunday, I had to go

I walked with my Abuelita, her hand to hold

Hers words were firm, but not very strict

Now stand, now sit, now kneel for a bit

My Abuelita’s wish she shared with me

Someday for me, an altar boy be

Latin for mass I had to learn

Study and practice, the priest was stern

An altar boys’ vestments I did wear

I moved on the altar, Abuelita stared

I did not falter, I moved with care

I served my first mass for only her

Her eyes filled with tears, her heart with pride

She said she saw an angel stand by my side

She walked by my side and whispered

Promise me this and only this

Serve my last mass, this is my wish

Dressed in my vestments, crucifix in hand

I met my Abuelita at the door of the church

Her coffin behind me, I guided her in

The cold box held my loved one within

I wanted to cry, I wanted to weep

But my pain I would keep, her voice did speak

“A man does not cry, nor does he weep”

“A man stays on his feet, his pride he keeps”

Her coffin follows to the foot of the altar

I served her last mass, I did not falter

My first mass for you, my last one as well

A Dios Abuelita, I bid you farewell

You taught me of life with all its strife

I will not cry, nor will I bend

En Nomeni Parti until the end

The end of one life, another begins

Tan shirts, brown pants come to an end

Five pleated shirts starched khaki pants

Spit shined shoes, bleached white T-shirts

A new look, a new walk, a new talk

Pachuco, Cholo, the old women squawked

Y que mi vida, I mocked

Hanging out at the park till it got dark

The local pusher would start to bark

Reds, yellow jackets, chiva, I got

What do you say Vato, you want to get stoned?

Chale carnal, I’ll leave it alone

“Hey vato what do you say, you want in”

“You can be in our Barrio, we’ll jump you in”

Chale carnal with all due respect, I’ll be from nowhere

And not in your debt

Ta suave carnal we still call you friend

Respect given, respect received, that’s how it was back then

Dressed like a vato, I learned many things

Dancing a slow one was one of those things

In the still of the night, I held her so tight

Turn off the lights ese, let me kiss her tonight

Decisions I made away from home

I made for me and me alone

I learned to survive the streets of scorn

No fear no shame, all part of the game

Becoming a man did come with pain

By

Roberto Juarez

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“A Special Day”

“A special day”

What advice can I give?

What can I say?

On that glorious day

What will I say?

So much I’ve learned up to this day

That little has changed from days gone by

So, this I say, for this I know

Give your child the room to grow

Be slow to anger and quick to forgive

Remember, you too were once a kid

Be full of praise and full of love

This child is here because of love

Always a hug, always a kiss

And never miss the chance to say

I love you for all and everyday                                

By

Roberto Juarez

 

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“The Sitting Giants”

                                                         “The Sitting Giants”

By

Roberto Juarez

The little six-year-old sat huddled next to his father.  Through the opening of their tent he could look out and see the nearby mountains.  He watched as dark menacing clouds rolled over the top of the mountains.  Suddenly there was a flash of lighting that lit up the side of the mountain.  The little boy gasped just as the thunder roared.  “Dad did you see that?” the boy shouted.  “See what”, asked the boys’ dad.  “There on the side of the mountain, a face”, said the little boy, almost yelling.

The boys’ father peered out of the tent opening just as another flash of lighting hit the side of the mountain; follow by the deafening sound of thunder.  The little camper drew closer to his dad as the thunder seemed to shake the very ground that they were on.  “Did you see it dad”, asked the boy, his voice trembling just a little bit.  “No but that does not mean that its not there, it’s probably the face of one of the giants”, replied the dad.  “Giants!”, exclaimed the boy, “what giants?”.  “Why the giants that formed the mountains”, answered the dad.  “The thunder and lighting are what the Great Spirit uses to talk to the giants”, said the dad.  “What giants and who is the Great Spirit, and why is he talking to the giants?” the little boy asked in one long breath?”

The boys’ dad smiled, “Hey slow down, I will answer all your questions”, he told his son.  “I will tell you the story, that I heard on how the mountains came to be, and why the Great Spirit talks to them” The boys dad began his story…. Once upon a time a long, long time ago, giants roamed over the land.  The land was beautiful.  There were dense forests, filled with wild game.  There were clear rushing rivers and lakes, overflowing with fish.  It was a beautiful place to live in.  The giants were happy in this land.  The giants shared this land with the little people, “Indios” (Indians), is what the giants called them.  The Indios called the giants “Mountains”, because they were so huge.

The Indios and the Mountains got along very well together, because they needed each other.  The Mountains, despite their great size and strength, had very poor eyesight.  The mountains were always bumping into something or into each other.  The Indios on the other hand had keen eyesight, so a bound was formed.  The Indios became the guides for the Mountains.  The Indios would sit on the massive shoulders of the Mountains and guide them so they would not have to worry about bumping into each other or into one of the Indios, or worse, walking through one of the villages that the Indios lived in.  When it came time for the Indios to travel across the land to another village, or to a hunting camp, the Mountains would carry them and their belongings on their massive backs, making a three day journey in one day, because the Mountains were so big, they could walk vast distances in a very short time.  The indios (Indians) and Mountains were the best of friends and neighbors.

One day, “Cima” (Cee-ma, peak), the biggest of the mountains, was waking up from a nap he had been taking by the river.  Cimas’ friend and guide, “Gentile Wind”, had been fishing in the icy cold river, while his friend napped.  Still a little groggy from his nap, Cima started to sit up and as he did he accidentally bumped Gentile Wind, with the big toe of his huge foot.  Gentile Wind was knocked into the icy cold river.  “Help me”, shouted Gentile Wind.  Cima heard his friends cry for help and reaching into the river with his long and powerful arm he pulled his guide out and set him on the bank.  Gentile Wind stood on the bank of the river, a pitiful sight to behold.  All wet and cold, he stood there shivering.  “You got me all wet and you scared me”, shouted Gentile Wind at Cima.

At first Cima felt very bad about what he had done.  He stood there staring down at Gentile Wind.  Suddenly Cima began to laugh, it was not a kind laugh, but a mean, mocking roar.  “Why are you laughing”, asked Gentile Wind.  Cima stopped his roar and glared down at the little Indio.  “Because, you look so silly and weak, standing there, wet and cold and shaking from fear”, he replied.  “You should feel bad about what you did, you could have hurt me”, said Gentile Wind.  “It was an accident”, roared Cima, “But that’s what you deserve for being so small and weak”, said Cima.

Gentile Wind could sense that Cimas heart was turning to stone; he was becoming mean and aggressive.  Gentile Wind lowered his voice and said, “Yes I am smaller than you, but I have keen eyes and you need me”.  “No!” bellowed Cima, “I don’t need you, why would someone as big and powerful as me, need a little ant like you”, yelled Cima.  Gentile Wind was getting scared by the minute he answered Cimas question, almost in a whisper, “Because I keep you from bumping into things”.  “From now on I don’t care what I bump into or step on” roared Cima, “I am not the one who will get hurt, I am bigger and stronger than you little Indios”,” Now go and tell the other little people to stay out of my way and out of the way of all the other Mountains, we rule this land”. Cima roared as loud as thunder and started to walk away, he laughed as he crushed stones and trees with his huge feet.  He no longer cared if he hurt anyone or destroyed anything in his path.

Gentile Wind ran to his village to tell everyone about Cima and how he had warned him to have everyone stay out of his way and out of the way of the other Mountains. The people of the village became frightened.  These giants could wander into our village and destroy it with their huge feet and bodies”, said one of the elders.  “Yes and we have no way of stopping them, they will scare off all the game that we hunt”, said another of the elders.  The Indio’s” began to pray to the Great Spirit for protection.

While the Indios prayed, Cima was telling all the other Mountains to do away with their guides that they did not have to worry about hurting anyone.  He told them that it was the small and weak that had to watch out for them and to stay out of their way.  He told them about Gentle Wind being bumped into the river and how pitiful he looked.  The other Mountains laughed and chased away their little guides. “We rule the land,” roared the Mountains, “The small and weak Indios have no business living with us,” shouted Cima.

All of the Mountains became cruel and heartless, there were many times when one or two of the giants would wander into an Indios’ village, crushing their homes and chasing away all of their animals.  The Indios lived in constant fear, if it were not for their keen eyes that helped them see the giants long before they reached the village, many of the Indios would be hurt.  Another problem for the Indios was a shortage of food.  The Mountains were also driving away all the game that the Indios would hunt for food.

After many months of putting up with the heartless and careless Mountains, Gentile Wind and some of the other villagers decided to travel east.  They felt that maybe there they could find peace and safety.  Maybe there wouldn’t be as many Mountains to worry about.  “The journey will be long and difficult”, said one of the elders.  “Without the help of the Mountains, it will take many months to make the crossing”, added Gentile Wind.  The group of Indios prayed to the Great Spirit, asking for a safe trip and protection from the Mountains.  The Indios then gathered their belongings, bid farewell to their friends and started their journey to the east.

After walking for many days and enduring many hardships, the small band of travelers reached a place that is now called “Colorado”.  When the Indios arrived, they could not believe their eyes, there directly in front of their path sat Cima and on either side of him sat other Mountains.  The Indios were frightened, “What will we do now?” cried one of the Indios.  “I will talk to Cima”, replied Gentile Wind.  Gentile Wind stepped forward and spoke to Cima.  “We were once friends, and I ask you to remember that, and for that reason I ask you to move out of our way that we may pass”.  “No”, bellowed Cima, “Mountains move when they are ready, and we don’t want to move, so go around us”.  Gentile Wind looked down the line of sitting giants.  The line stretched for miles.  “To go around you would take many days and all of us are tired and hungry and we have little children with us”, said Gentile Wind.  Cima glared at Gentile Wind and responded, “That is of no concern to us, it is not our fault that the Great Spirit chose to make you small and weak, that was the Spirits mistake and not ours, now go around”.

Gentile Wind knew that the mountains would not move, so he and the other Indios walked for three days to reach the end of the line of sitting giants.  Just as the Indios were about to go around the last of the Mountains, more Mountains walked up and blocked the path of the Indios, each time the Mountains blocked the path of the Indios, they would let out a loud and wicked laugh.  Gentile Wind pleaded with the giants, “Why have your hearts turned to stone, why must you block our path,” he said.  Cima responded to Gentile Wind, “We are the strongest and biggest in this land, if we decide to sit here in front of you little ants, who of you is strong enough to move us.  If we choose, we will sit here forever, now go around”.

Just as Cima finished talking, the sky began to grow gray.  Dark menacing clouds began to form above the giants.  Suddenly a powerful, thundering voice came from within the clouds.  As the voice spoke, flashes of lighting lit up the dark sky.  “You Mountains have displeased me”.  The Indios and the Mountains looked up at the sky in total disbelief and fear, it was the Great Spirit speaking.  The Great Spirit continued to speak.  “I created you and the Indios, I wanted you to live in peace and to help one another in all things.  You Mountains used your size and strength that I gave you, to scare and take advantage of those who were much smaller than you.  You used my gift for evil.  As for you Cima, I make no mistakes in what I give and who I give it too.  The mistake was yours when you thought that I would not hear the prayers of the Indios and not see how you mistreated them”.

Cima and the other Mountains sat motionless, they were feeling something that they had never felt before, they were feeling fear.  They wanted to get up and run, but they could not move, their giant bodies seemed to be frozen in place.  The Great Spirit continued to speak to them,” Since you Mountains have decided not to move for the sake of someone smaller than you, then there you will sit for all time, because your hearts have turned to stone, so will the rest of your body be turned to stone.  Because your feelings for others turned cold, you will be the first to feel the cold and snow of winter and the last to feel the warmth of spring and summer.  Cima you will feel the cold the longest.  I will cover all of you with brush, trees and soil, so that your faces will not be seen”.

The Indios watched in amazement as the Mountains turned to stone, right before their very eyes.  Dense brush and trees began to cover them and within moments Cima and the other Mountains were just a huge rock formation, covered in a blanket of green.  The Indios started back to their village, they no longer had to fear the Mountains, these great Giants would never move again.

Much time has passed since the Mountains were turned into stone.  They say that from time to time the Mountains cry out to the Great Spirit to let them roam the land again.  The Great Spirit answers them and that’s when you see the lighting and hear the thunder over the giant Mountains, and the answer is always no.  Cima the tallest of the Mountains is always the last to lose the snow of winter and sometimes when the sun is bright, a cloud hangs over Cima, blocking the rays of sunshine.  It is also said that when the rains come and wash away some of the soil and the brush, that if you look very closely at the Mountains, you can just make out the part of a sad face, a hand or a huge foot of the sitting Giants.

“Dad”, “Yes son”, “I will never be mean to anyone that is smaller than me and I will always try to help everyone that I can”, said the little camper.  “That’s good son, we are all dependent on someone for things that we are not able to do for ourselves, and we must return a kindness for a kindness and never take advantage of anyone”, said the boys’ dad.  “Oh, one other thing dad”, “What’s that son”, “The next time we come to camp out, can we try to come when the Great Spirit is not talking to the Sitting Giants”, said the boy.  The boys’ dad laughed, well son the Great Spirit is done for tonight and yes next time we will try to come when He is not scolding the Sitting Giants”, replied the boy’s dad.

 

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“We Never Said, Goodbye”

“We Never Said, Goodbye”

 

The strong sense of certainty that comes with youth.  The knowing that when the school day would end, that the very next day you would see your friends again, not the slightest doubt would enter your mind.  Even at the end of a Friday it was always “I’ll see you at the party,” or “I’ll be by your pad on Saturday.”  But it was never “goodbye.”  At worst it was “I will see you on Monday.”

 

When in the sixties so many of us enlisted or were drafted for Vietnam, we never said “goodbye” to each other.  It was, “I’ll see you later, be careful” or “Don’t go and get married when you’re over there,” which always ended in a laugh. But we never said “goodbye.”

 

There was always that certainty that we would see each other again.  Now the certainty of time and illness have begun to call on friends.  Visiting them in the hospital is always with words of “get better,” “stay strong,” or “see you later, but never “goodbye.”

 

Friends are like family.  We never say “goodbye” to family because we have that knowing, that certainty, that faith, that no matter what separates us, we will see each other again.  We never say “goodbye.”  “I’ll see you later” or “save me a place so we can sit and talk, while we wait for the rest of the family and friends to show up.”  But never “goodbye,” because you never let go of someone that is good and that is a part of your life.  So I’ll never say “goodbye,” it’s too final, instead I’ll say,   “see you later,” God willing.

 

Roberto Juarez

 

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“Remembering Dad”

“Remembering  Dad”

You spoke so seldom

Your words were measured

Your timing priceless

Your wisdom shared

Your cautions given

You spoke so seldom

You said so much

How did you measure? How did you time?

Those chosen words

I heard from time to time

The years have shown me what I must know

To listen more that I may know

The time and measure of wisdom given

The cautious words from time to time

To help them grow, these sons’ of mine

Your voice I still hear, from time to time

 

Roberto juarez

 

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