From the mailbag

The columns I most enjoy writing are those that include reader comments. A few recent columns have generated some reaction and response, some of which appear here.

People reacted to last week’s column on menudo and squash. I’m happy to say that most of the comments agree with my stance that I’d request neither item as my last meal. What would be preferable? That’s easy. Cocoa Puffs smothered in Velveeta Cheese.

But on a slightly more serious note, a large combination plate like my neighbor, Carmen Vigil, used to make, would be fine.

Now to the mailbag:

• A former Immaculate Conception Schoolmate, Sylvia Korte, wrote, in part:

“Loved your article on menudo. I, myself, never even heard about menudo until I moved to California. None of my neighbors or friends ever mentioned menudo in Old Town. When I did try it at my Texas-born Auntie-in-law’s house in California, I thought it was disgusting. Recently, a member of our church brought it for an ethnic dinner.

“I didn’t know what it was and it tasted pretty good with the red chile hiding what was underneath. When word leaked out what the goo was, you could have heard the collective gasp.

“You will never see me serving it. It’s as bad as Grandma Marina’s goat’s head with the eyes still looking at you.”

• Tony Lucero, a childhood neighbor and playmate, whom I’ve praised for his baseball abilities, sent an e-mail that thanked me for reminding people of games we used to play.

In addition to recalling sports in the ‘50s, Tony made a comment about the Fourth of July parade. He wrote, in part, “The only disappointment that I experienced at the Plaza for the 4th is that I didn’t hear some good ole patriotic songs like we used to when we were younger.

“More representation from our marching bands from our local schools and Highlands would have been wonderful. Singing out and ringing out the sounds of freedom would have added so much more to the festivities.”

Let’s not forget that this year’s parade featured no marching bands.

• The column on menudo and squash mentioned that people defending the taste of either generally list a plethora of ingredients to be cooked with the tripe or squash. The suggestion I made was that it might be best simply to omit menudo and squash and enjoy the other stuff.

My friend Alice Chambers promised to provide me with a recipe for squash “and you won’t even be able to tell it contains squash.” Hmmm. Sounds interesting.

• In a recent column, “It’s Miller time,” I mentioned not knowing for sure how the moth got called the miller. Henry Rodgers e-mailed an explanation that the wings of some moths are speckled and have the appearance of the flour-coated clothes worn by real millers — men who worked in mills.

• My brother-in-law, who visits Las Vegas only infrequently, was here last month and invited me to “go eat at that place — you know — that place where they serve such good Mexican food.”

“That place” could be one of several in town. Ha! Got it! He was referring to “that place” some of us called “Tranquelino’s,” on the 500-block of Sixth Street. Sorry to disappoint you, Frank, but “that place” doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t remember exactly when it closed, but it was a great loss. The owners, Tranquelino and Carmen Vigil, have passed on, and the place is closed. Has been for years.

It seems everybody remembers the place. Tranquelino “Junior” Vigil said it was originally “Meadow City Coffee Shop,” but never bore a sign, which became part of yet another name some people gave it: “The Place Without a Sign.”

The plot thickens. The second-oldest, David, who worked alongside his parents for years, said most people called it “Tranquelino’s,” but “one customer called it ‘The Burned Sopaipilla.’” And Vigil Jr. said it was also called “The Hole in the Wall.”

But regardless of the name, “That Place” drew a large following, and very few Saturday mornings went by without my family’s appearance there. The food was delicious and economical. It makes one wish a younger generation of the Tranquelino Vigil family would resurrect that place.

• Optic La Gente editor Lee Einer responded to a column on the many euphemisms we conjure up for “drunk.” Lee certainly did his homework, as he demonstrated the hunting ground for the aftermath of drunkenness is indeed fertile. He provided a litany of terms, “not just the crudo in general, but the explosive after-effects: Hurling, chumming, blowing chunks, singing to the toilet, singing to one’s shoes, serenading the porcelain god, the Technicolor burp, losing one’s lunch, yakking, barfing, vomiting, regurgitating, puking, and (sorry Ralph) ralphing.”

While I enjoy my colleague’s copious research, I can only respond with an apt acronym: M.I.T.I.N., which I hope readers recognize.


Finally, not an e-mail but a genuine concern. We pay monthly fees for the operation of the transfer station in our neighborhood at Camp Luna. The charge applies regardless of frequency or amount of use.

When it comes to dumping building material, there’s a whopping extra charge. To dump a cubic yard of material, we paid $61. We’re happy — I suppose — to pay that fee for just one load that took seconds to dispose of.

But as we drove away, we passed areas that have served as dumping grounds for refrigerators, tires, microwave ovens, computers, couches and broken cinder blocks.

We know it’s our civic duty to pay our share for the disposal of things, but we wonder if there’s a connection between the extra fees and the amount of material that’s often strewn across our roadsides, ravines and rivers.

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