Monthly Archives: August 2016

What’s so funny?

I almost got my lights punched out, as a child over something that I swear was unintentional and unexpected.

You see, my barrio on the upper end of Railroad Avenue was also named Tough Street. It seemed to me, as about a 10-year-old, that the boys in each house got progressively meaner and tougher as one walked along the ascending house numbers.

An oversimplification was that the boys on the 100- and 200-blocks of Tough Street were wimps; the boys in the 300s and 400s a little tougher; boys who lived in the 500s and 600s generally ran away from trouble, and by the time we reached the 1000-block and beyond, there was only fear and trembling on the menu.

Remember, I said my perception of boys’ level of anger was an oversimplification. Our block, a place I often drive past now in my dotage, was special to me, my having lived there more than 20 years. Continue reading

Too much punnishment

When people laugh at a pun, they’re really just being polite, and it’s possible the ones who laughed didn’t catch the word play. But when someone groans, well, that’s the sign of a clever pun with the added message that the groaner “got it,” as in caught on.

A pun, according to the dictionary, is “a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings.”

While in an elementary grade at Immaculate Conception School, we actually had a nun with a sense of humor. She had opened the door by uttering a pun, a play on words. She said something like “Egyptian history lies in runes.” Only the brighter pupils caught it, usually the girls, the teacher’s pets. The nun, Sister Mary Mucha Risa, had used “runes,” ancient carvings alongside “ruins,” related to disintegration.

I still have no doubt the nun’s play on words came by accident. She seemed surprised when she received a raucous reaction from the class and then took it upun herself to let the contagion spread around. Continue reading

We could hear a pin drop

It was about 15 years ago when, with my grandson and namesake, Arthur, I drove from our home in Camp Luna to the 900 block of Railroad Avenue, aka Tough Street, there to visit my childhood haunt.

I wanted to give my oldest grandchild a close-up look at the neighborhood and do some reminiscing.

We discussed how the barrio once teemed with activity: kids batted balls, skipped rope, rode bikes, roller skated, played hopscotch and baseball. There was a constant game, despite the condition of the road. The streets numbered above 600 were not paved. Our baseball games were played in a block-long section of the easternmost part of Columbia, ending at the tracks. That was our Yankee Stadium.

What I really wanted to do that day was show Arthur how impressive our little field was. This time it seemed much smaller than I remembered.

We took baseball equipment on our mini-excursion. Having Arthur pitch to me, I knocked the horsehide w-a-y over the tracks the first two times I batted. I was in my mid-fifties at the time. Why is it that while in my teens, knocking the ball that far would have been a dream? Continue reading

23 to 2: What a thriller!

You take the lead, then you go into a stall, and you pray that you win the jump three more times.

We’re not referring to heavy molten metal, entering a corral, being in a church service or what grasshoppers do. No, we mean sports, old style.

Let me explain:

In 1933, in what was dubbed “The Game to Remember,” the East Las Vegas’ Cardinals beat the Santa Fe Demons 23-2. But that reads more like a football score (yes, it’s possible to score two points, but not just one, in a football game) or even a baseball score. But this was basketball.

So how does a team hold another team to a mere two points? The source doesn’t specify whether the losing team scored a real basket or a couple of free throws. The above-mentioned stall was a big part of the game, which must have had lots of people yawning after the Cardinals’ best ball-handlers kept the ball away from the Santa Fe team for close to 30 minutes.

Back in 1933, there was no three-point score. Today, when a player shoots and scores from outside a half circle, that counts for three. The lack of the three-pointer in those days may account for the relatively low score — even for the winners. Today, a team that scores only 23 points usually loses. There was no shot clock for high school teams, which may also be true today. Continue reading

New-fangled car fails

The Entire History of Automobiles in Western Civilization probably could have been based on and written in the Trujillo household where I grew up, on Railroad Avenue, or what we called Tough Street.

It’s not that we had an abundance of cars (Dad bought the first one, a 1942 Plymouth in the early ‘50s).

It’s not that we possessed great knowledge of cars (when the dial pointed to empty, we surmised it was time for a fill-up or a ring job, an expensive procedure at the time and a word foreign to my grandkids.

It’s not that we could even afford anti-freeze. In cold weather, my brother and I took turns draining the water from the radiator each night and sometimes remembering to refill it the next morning.

And it’s not that we traveled enough to learn much about how cars operate (Dad often took out a loaner from B.M. Werley Auto Company, where he worked). Continue reading