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December 8, 2023

Funny Papers Again Column | A South County Scene: One Block on One Street in One Town

Some years ago, in a library in Southern California, I gave a book to a young lady in hopes she would find it a compelling story. She replied she had heard of the book but had yet to read it and thanked me for the offer. The only reason I recalled this little exchange is because the book, “My House on Mango Street,” is one of those presently on ban lists of those too small-minded to understand beyond their own limited experiences and what is not understood is, by some, feared.

The book was written back in 1984 by author Sandra Cisneros and deals with a 12-year-old Latina living in Chicago, on Mango Street, and because the young lady I gave the book to was a Latina from San Francisco with strong ties to the movie industry, I thought she might find use for the story. She said she would see what possibilities the book offered regarding film adaptation.

The young lady, actor Daphne Zuniga, was around 25 at the time we met; she is now 60 with 80-plus movies to her credits, with a couple stints as producer and director tossed in (Mel Brooks fans would remember her as Princess Vespa in “Spaceballs”). I had not gotten far into the novel when I gifted it and never got back to it; perhaps I will someday.

I did get far enough into the story that, though written by a Latina girl, there were parts I could relate to; especially a move to a new house in a new neighborhood. I had made an actual move and felt many of the things young Esperanza felt in her fictional move, and have made many moves since. The last move was to a room in a house on Seventh Street here in King City. It is a street like many streets found in our towns here in the Valley. Here’s a quick look:

On Seventh Street, which is how we are listed on maps and street signs but the United States Postal Service uses 7th Street (saves on ink, I suppose), we co-exist very nicely in an area that, some may recall, has had its share of troubles dating back a few decades. Not long prior to my advent to the neighborhood a decade ago a group of men in a garage were fired on, I do not recall if there was a death involved in that incident, but I do remember when the son of a very good friend was riddled with bullets and died when he was targeted by someone who never should have had possession of any weapons beyond rocks or sticks. But that was years ago, a different time on a three-block street with a numeral for a name; First and Second being the other two. (What happened to streets Three through Six requires research, and be my guest.)

Today there exists a shared, communal if you will, congeniality among those of us who reside in the first block of Seventh Street running north from Division Street. The block is made up of seven lots on the east side, nine on the west for a total of 16, and although the houses on the northeast and west corners of Reich Street face south, I toss them into the mix making 18 separate households.

Not unlike many streets in town, we speak English and Spanish to the best of individual ability, with enough neighbor bi-lingual enough to offer any needed translations; young Angie next door has helped with communications between her parents and I when our linguist efforts failed, and over the years this has increased all our vocabularies and made for nice exchanges. It is a typical block where some rise early for work in the fields, a couple of residents run home businesses, a few of us are retired and a few homes are multi-generational.

I can’t give a total number of residents, or any type of societal breakdowns, but I know there are at least a dozen young people ranging from pre-school age to, I believe, one high school senior. I am one of three who fall into the White group and the only one a little bit bi-lingual; the lady next door to the south is from Puerto Rico and though bi-lingual her accent is different from the Mexican-spoken Spanish I am used to; don’t ask me how it is different, it just is. However, ownership notwithstanding, all dogs bark with the same accent; and sometimes they bark a lot. Also, we have cats. I dislike cats so have nothing to say about the ones in this neighborhood, except I wish they weren’t.

And, we have music. Usually on weekends there is music either wafting or blaring throughout the area and more often than not this music is accompanied by the aromas of outdoor cooking. Some of the music I can honestly say I don’t care for, but can’t say the same of the aromas. Because I am a friendly guy and get along nicely with my neighbors, I have on occasions been gifted a plate by one of these cooking families and the food rivals anything found in a restaurant, sometimes surpasses. And not all the music is from a device; one household offers up live entertainment.

While the house in question is actually on Mildred Avenue, the garage in the backyard is home studio of a drummer who has over the past 10 years practiced enough to, finally and thankfully, become quite good at the music he and his compadres play. While much, or most, of the music is from Mexican, or Latino, musicians, the residents acting as DJs do on occasion offer up some ska and reggae or Motown and even old ’70s rock ’n’ roll; it is a nice mix often coming from the north, south and west all at the same time. I hope you live in a nice neighborhood like we do here on Seventh Street.

Take care. Peace.

Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson
King City and Greenfield columnist Steve Wilson may be reached at [email protected].

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