Johnny’s Truckin’ years

  Johnny began truck driving from a young age, probably 16-17 years. 

 Johnny would ride shotgun learning the ropes from career truckers, some which were our father’s aquaintances or friends.

 Old school Truckers who used their monikers instead of their actual names.

 Handles such as: El Pepino & La Chalupa. Pablo Garcia used his.

 Whenever people heard their handles,they usually knew which truckers.

 Johnny often spoke about his learning experiences, travels, & places he’d been.

 Also talked about the harrowing, dangerous highways & interstates throughout the U.S.

 The mountains & passes he went through.

  Johnny would say the only way he learned was by actual experience.

 He drove all types of eighteen wheelers. Johnny drove for many trucking companies.

 

 

 

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Stuff Johnny & I did part #2

  Life in the 60’s livin’ in a housing project had its good & bad, ups & downs.

  After kids grew into teens, they felt they needed to branch out & leave their environs.

  At that time, everybody knew everybody & watched out for each other.

  Basically, the Albores was a safe place. People could actually leave doors unlocked.

  I remember even our uncle Lalo would leave his key in his car’s ignition.

 What to do on a weekend, we’d always wonder.

  The usual chores by ever creative parents who didn’t want their kids to get into any trouble with too much time on their hands. Come on! 

 “Can’t we have some fun?”

 Well, we could go get some oranges across the canal. Every kid would tuck their tee shirt in their pants & filled it with nice sweet oranges or navels. 

  Or,we could hitch a ride from the back of a pickup with our bicycle.

  The neighborhood kids from the project would gather across the street on an empty lot to play softball, usually or bigger guys, hardball.

 After a while, even this form of recreation became monotonous. 

 So,the bad influence guys, those wanting some excitement or cheap thrills began to put ideas in our heads.Hmm!

  

  Why don’t we go steal hubcaps? After a while, that got boring.

 So we started to switch people’s car hubcaps to other cars!

 Anything for laughs.

  Then the older kids got bolder. They heard that there was different colored tapes @ a local packing shed.The window on second level was open.

 What are small brothers for, but being volunteered to be the acrobatic monkey to climb through the window.

 Devil may care. 

 I climbed through it & began to ask the guys below what color did they want? Being a kid, I didnt know what I was doing & it didnt matter.

 To me, it was all about having fun.

 The guys below were having a fit.”Just grab as many as you can!” “Doesn’t matter!”

 So I did.Flung the thin rolls of tape out the window.

 Next thing you know, everybody’s bicycle rims were all taped in various colors. OMGawsh!

 Johnny & I used to attend Sacred Heart Catholic church for Sunday mass.

 I didn’t like the fact that our mother forced us to.

 I resisted as much as possible.

 Since we came from NO income(as opposed to “low income) every Sunday, our Mother placed her/our “limosna”(a monetary offering to the church)in a small envelope, courtesy of the church.

 Johnny & me always wondered about this.

 Me,always being the culprit, would tell Johnny I was not pleased with this setup.

 ” Why are we going hungry while these bozos live it up?”Something to that effect.

 So next Sunday when Johnny & I went to church, guess what we did?

 We tore the envelope, took the money, bought goodies & snacks for us.

 Didnt help the fact that the store was conveniently located by the church.

 Candy, cokes, gum, cinnamon rolls,chips.

 We got so bad that when there was a dollar in the envelope, we would actually get change from it.

 “How much today, Johnny?”.50¢ he’d tell his little bro.

 Next time. ” How much today, Johnny?”.75¢ for us. We’d have a feast & laugh about it.


Stuff Johnny & I did

  Johnny & me were your typical brothers, together & sometimes clashing.

  Being four years older than me really didnt matter to me.

  Johnny always one to hustle to make some money,ordered all kinds of stuff to sell.

  In the 60’s there were money making opportunities in comic magazines & young Johnny did his part to cash in.

  Some kids in the neighborhood were selling Bell salve & making quarters on each one. 

  Many of them began to actually compete who could sell more & faster.

  Never to be outdone, Johnny ordered some. Obviously being his kid brother, he “volunteered” me to help him sell.

  “Why do I have to sell this crap! YOU ordered it!” I’d tell him.

  Johnny would answer, “cause we need to help Mom, & need money”.

  This guy went overboard.

  Next, he ordered seeds of flowers for planting.

  OMGaw$h! I’d wonder, is this guy losin’ his marbles.”?

  Johnny also ordered a small newspaper called ‘Grit’.

  Of course there was the familiar Columbia record club. 

  Johnny ordered some l.p.albums 12″(vinyl) 

  Once, he ordered some of the good ones. He asked which ones should he order. I made some suggestions.

  We were bursting glad & beside ourselves when we received the dozen record albums.

  Guess what he did next?

  Some dummy in the housing project(Johnny’s aquaintance) had heard of the 12 albums & offered to BUY all of them. 

  One day, little ol’ Mario felt like listenin’ to the afore mentioned stash of hot tunes, & could NOT find the record albums.

  Don’t remember if this was after school(Travis) or on a Saturday.

  Some of the 12 albums were: the Everly Brothers greatest hits, The Ventures ‘Telstar’, Ricky Nelson, possibly Johnny Rivers.Maybe Roy Orbison. Don’t remember the rest.

  I went to Johnny & told him I could not find the albums.”Where are they?”

  Johnny replied that he “doesn’t know”.

  “Maybe they were stolen, Johnny.”

  “No, I sold them.”

  “You did what?”

  OMGaw$h!!!

  Little Mario just about had a cow & 10 monkey babies. Smoke started to come out of his ears, he was madder than a wet rooster.

  Johnny said he had $OLD them for ca$h.

  “That’s good, Johnny. You’ll $pend the money, & WE won’t have ANY music, Thank You.”

  Geez.

  Johnny laughed it off.

  {Insert little league baseball uniform here} lol

  As Johnny was growin’ into his teenage years, he seemed to revel in wild antics, pulling pranks on people & friends alike. Wild abandon to have fun.

  And did the kids in the housing project have fun to release the BOREdom.

  

 

  

 Johnny leaves to Viet Nam

  The day arrived when our brother Johnny had to report for duty in South Viet Nam.Pleiku to be exact.

  Ma, me, Arnie, & Xavier went with Johnny to the local airport, Miller Int.

  At the time,1968, Miller airport had one airline.It was named Trans-Texas air.

  The planes they used were propeller type.Two giant propellers,two engines, one on each side. 

  The scheduled time for departure came.We said our goodbyes, not realizing the very dangerous situation, Ma’s son,our brother,was going into.

  Johnny grabs his duffle bag, & leaves to board the plane.He left his duffle bag & deplanes,to spend more time with us,while the rest of the passengers were boarding.

  Johnny says goodbye again,& boards the plane the second time.

  It might have been a case of nervousness, Johnny exits the plane once more.

  The pilot somewhat understood.The hour of departure was there. Johnny delayed the plane to the limit,the pilot began to rev up the engines,slides the small window, & beckons, waving to Johnny to come on board.

  One of the stewards comes off & pleads with Johnny to come on board or be left behind. By that time, all of us were in tears, flowing like water from the Rio Grande river.

  Johnny finally boarded the plane, crying also. 

  We did not know whether we would ever see our loved family member again.

  It was a cold,wet,rainy day that morning.

  As the plane began to taxi to the runway, its big engines roaring, in the middle of our crying & biting our lip,as it turned, the draft from the propellers sprayed us with a mist of cold rain.

  Our family waited for the plane to come speeding down the runway.

  As it gained momentum & thrust, we saw Johnny sitting by the window waving goodbye.

  We cried all the way home.

  

  

Juan A Ruiz-the truth comes out part #2

  The Viet Nam war was probably the first to be televised. Video was shown every single day by all 3 major networks, including casualties, killed & wounded.

  The war was in everybody’s living room. I’d returned from 7th grade junior high school & sit to watch ol’ Walter Cronkite report this.

  It became a routine & common news until I didnt care. Big deal.

  Some Edinburg soldiers had died in combat by then.

  When our parents returned with Johnny from visits with the relatives & eating out, Ma asked,“Are you going to Viet Nam, mi hijo?” 

   “No Im not,” Johnny replied.

  Even at 14 I was opposed to the war & was becoming more socially active.

  At school we had discussions, & more than likely, I’d be on the opposing side.

  Ma asked again.”Please tell me you’re not going Mi hijo.”  Johnny, ever mindful & not wanting to hurt our Mom’s feelings, again said he wasn’t.

  Little bullish Mario, being against the war, angry, & outspoken, debated on whether to bring out what he had found out(the viet nam phrase book) or not.

  I came to a crossing point. What do I do? I believe our Mother could see something in my sad face. 

  She asked me, “What’s the matter, Mario?”

  I could not deceive our Mother & told her the truth.

  “Mom, Johnny is going to Viet Nam.”

  I remember Mom letting out a panicked “Oh No!”

  “Tell me it isn’t true, mi hijo,” Ma said to Johnny

  I stirred up quite a commotion & emotional storm.

  I was immediately put on the hot seat by pa. Threatened for knowing too much. 

  Brother Johnny didn’t want to hurt our parents.

  I kept quiet waiting for him to bring it out & tell them.We looked at each other.

  I gave him my ‘it’s on you’ stare.

  Then, the questioning began. 

  “How do you know?” I kept silent.”Come on Johnny, tell them” I said.

  Johnny didn’t say anything.

  Both parents about to chew my tail, & provide some corporeal punishment.

  Holy sh*t what did I do wrong, I wondered.

  Emotions ran high.

  Johnny kept quiet.

  “Mario, you’re gonna be spanked,”Ma said.“Why are you making stuff up?” 

  Well, push came to shove. A clash of wills.

  Both parents pissed this little Taurus boy off for knowing what he shouldn’t have known.

  “How the heck do you know”(but in Spanish colloquial language).

  I stuck my hand into the Army green duffle bag again & pulled the Vietnamese phrase booklet out.

  Here’s the proof.

  Johnny gave me a ” I’m gonna have your hide’ look.

  Don’t remember if I got the spanking, probably did. Everybody had tears in their eyes.