Friday, August 1, 2014

Riding Shotgun with Angie in Downtown El Paso

The beginning of a transcription of a conversation I had with my sister driving around downtown El Paso.


Y: Ita never lived this far did she?
A: No, she didn’t.
Y: I remember parking at that place right here… to go to Juarez [point at parking lot off of South El Paso Street]
A: Uh huh… to go to Juarez
Y: I haven’t been down here since I don’t even know when, man. [pause] This does look nicer though.
[car blinker clicks in the background]
A: Yeah, they’re cleaned it up quite a bit.
Y: Then when I was a kid.  So, when you would go with grandma would you go—well yeah, it was this bridge, right?
A: We’d go through both bridges.  But, most of the time we’d go through this one.
Y: Okay.
A: Which is uh, PDN. Paso del Norte.
Y: Isn’t this the Santa Fe Bridge, though? Or am I…? Oh, I used to park here and cross!
A: Mmm hmm. That girl walks funny, like she’s a washing machine [points at pedestrian].
[both laugh loudly]
A: Yeah, this is Santa Fe Bridge. It’s on Santa Fe Street. So, we’d walk over both of them, but back in the day, one of them and I don’t know which one, was only a one way. It might be this one.
Y: I think it’s the other one, no? ‘Cause that street is a one way.
A: Look at the Christmas trees!
Y: Man, that’s a lot of stuff.
A: I didn’t go back far enough did I?
Y: No, but I think it’s because the bridge gets in the way, though.
A: I think this is as far down as we can go.
Y: Where’s Silva’s?
A: Silva’s is like behind [points to the other side of International Bridge] on that side isn’t it?
Y:  “Chavela’s Restaurant”? [points at building]
A: Ay, Chavela’s. It says Ay! [both laugh]
Y: You know what’s funny is Daniel and I went to one of these stores here [points to store just before Santa Fe bridge], and they had a cute ring, and I asked the lady how much it was, and she asked me if in dollars or pesos. And I was like—but it’s—okay [shrugged]. I mean it makes sense, but it’s funny that when you get right here they ask you that. ‘Cause she would take pesos. And of course since I said dollars the ring was more expensive, so I told her never mind.
A: How much was it?
Y: I don’t know. It was like $30 for this little silver ring. She said, “Pero es plata Mexicana,” and I was like pfffff well you can keep your “Plata Mexicana”. Sell it to another Mexicana.
A: Or buy it over there [Juarez] for cheaper. That building wasn’t there, and that building definitely wasn’t there.
Y: No, but it was a smaller building that was a casa de cambio, right?
A: I think so, or it might have been Manifiesto’s.
Y: What’s that? What’s Manifiesto’s?
 A: That’s where they turn in their shit that they buy and they get the tax off.  And actually right here where it says “Available” [points] there was a little restaurant and one time that I went to Juarez partying with Ruben and his brother and his brother got pissed off and left us down there we walked across and waited for Mom to come pick us up there.
[both laugh]
A: All of this has changed so much though. Look at that building right there [points] that been gentrified. “La Esquina”.  Ayi por la esquina. [speaks in a high voice]
Y: Okay, we’re on El Paso Street, right?
A: Yeah, El Paso, and somewhere around here, um. Let’s see if they haven’t knocked it down are all the theaters I would go to would Ita. There was the Carpri Theater that, um, all they showed was Spanish movies, and then of course there was The Palace Theater which was a XXX, um—
Y: And grandma worked there, right?
A: She worked there as a ticket operator, and I would sit there. There was a little raised platform in the ticket booth and I would sit there on the floor and wait for her.
Y: So grandma didn’t at least let you watch the porn? [starts laughing]
A: No! [laughs loudly]But I could hear [imitates loud moaning]. I was like four years old and Mom would pick me up or whatever, and back then they had the cops that were on the foot patrol, and that’s how Ita knew all the cops. Like Cortinas and—which always cracked me up ‘cause of his last name—you know cortinas, curtains.
Y: Yeah.
A: Um, and she knew Lujan, which is funny cause it happens to be Gabe’s cousin (Angie’s husband).
Y: Oh, really?
A: Yeah, he was at my wedding. I was like “Hey!”—So, and then what she would do [Ita] is she had this guy that she would send back—El Colon is the other one.
Y: Where’s that?
A: Right here coming up on Third and El Paso. See where it says “Colon” now it says “Casa Asia”? That used to be a theater, and it was just Spanish movies.
Y: Did grandma work there too?
A: No.
Y: But you would go there.
A: Yeah we used to go there all the time. Now it’s a store. Anyway, when she worked at The Palace Theater she was really good buddies with the cops that were on foot patrol and she used to send somebody back when the Sergeant would come by and check up on them to make sure that they were patrolling and she would send somebody back to tell them, “Hey your Sergeant’s looking for you,” and they would exit out the back doors of the theater, and that’s how they became good friends—
Y: Friends, because grandma would—
A: Would hook them up or whatever. [keeps driving down El Paso Street] I wonder what was here. I can’t remember.
Y: I don’t really remember being on this street very much.
A: Really?
Y: [shakes head] I remember more the streets where The Who’s is. Was.

A: Oh yeah, because most of the time you were with her it was probably at night when Mom was working or whatever. 

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