Huellas del Pasado ... Footprints from the Past

Barrio Anita: Memorias de otros Tiempos



stories of the railroad


   "My sister was here. She had three girls and I had two boys. We were in the kitchen and I heard the train. I can tell the train, the noises it makes when something is happening. And I got away from the stove and went up there in front, and the train had stopped. I don't know why. It was carrying cattle, but the gondolas were not covered, so you could see the cattle's heads. And I saw them jumping from that side. I don't know what happened.; they must have gotten scared. They were jumping away, running on Main and this street onto Oury Park, in every direction. We couldn't believe it. A friend with a pick up was here and he went after them. It was funny to see the cattle scared, and running, jumping to get away."
   "También me acuerdo cuando el tren chocó con dos tanques de aceite negro. Venía el tren y yo venía de la tienda del chino en la calle Davis with my friends. It was about twelve in the morning and I thought I was


late for my lunch. My husband used to come home for lunch. I saw the truck fast on the tracks trying to beat the train. Al pegarle el tren se reventó un tanque de aceite. Just imagine the flames! I still remember that I could see the smoke and I saw the flames rolling down Main, toda la calle Main. It burnt a whole block of houses. Then it came down on St. Mary's Rd. and the oil, when it was running, was just a ball of fire."

Student Interviewer: Nina Lara
5th Grade Photojournalism Project, 1996


   "We used to have at least three or four Chinese markets in the neighborhood, and there aren't any now. Mario's store used to be a Chinese market before it became Anita's Market."

Student Interviewers: Kenia Beltrán,
Diego Bravo, Flor Martínez,
Family Night, February, 2002


Una Casa en Barrio Anita, drawing by Martín Encinas
Una Casa en Barrio Anita      drawing by Martín Encinas

Joe Wee's market
Steve Lew as a boy
Steve Lew today

Left to right: Joe Wee's Market, Steve Lew as a boy; Steve Lew today. Courtesy of Steve Lew


   Steven J. Lew was born on June 16th, 1942. He grew up behind his father's store, which was on Main St. and St. Mary's Rd. "It's a vacant lot or a parking lot now; it's empty. It's by the arroyo, and we used to go down there and play in the water. It was slippery and slimy, and pretty dangerous, actually."
   Nosotros le preguntamos si nos podía decir algo de la tienda de su papá. "Oh, la tienda de mi papá. En el pasado, las personas no iban a la tienda una vez por semana. Iban cada día."
   Cuando preguntamos por cuántos años su papa tuvo la tienda nos dijo, "Tuvo la tienda desde los 1930s hasta el año 1955. The name of the store was Joe's Daylight Market, or Joey's Market. That was my dad's name. It went from a brick front to where they put plaster on it. People would come in and get five slices of bologna, and a little bit of lettuce, and they usually had credit with my dad, too. People would get paid once a week or once a month and they would write it down on a piece of paper, and then come in and pay you later. And, of course, you could buy soda for a nickel, and there were no canned sodas. You had to bring a bottle or pay a two-cent deposit and bring the bottle back. And candy, a penny would get you quite a bit of candy, actually. The potato chip bags were all made of wax paper. We didn't have any plastic back then, and no air conditioning."

Students Interviewers: Décio Arnot-Hopffer,
Max Layman, Anthony Moreno
Family Night, 2002

Summary and translation by Décio Arnot-Hopffer
   "One time we had five grocery stores here, just onAnita Street. We had a man who used to sell real good menudo! People would come from all over! And there was another lady who used to make tacos. She used to live across the street from Davis. We had the market, so we didn't have to go outside of the barrio, unless we went shopping to Congress Street to buy clothes."

Student Interviewer: Antonio Ortiz
5th Grade Photojournalism Project, 1996
David Lee, former Davis Student

   Mr. Lee has been a pharmacist in Tucson for many years. His parents used to own a store in Barrio Anita. "I was born here in the West side. The place was Barrio Hollywood. My mom and my father owned a grocery store so I primarily worked there. Later, after school, I would go to the grocery store and work. When we closed, we all swept the aisle , and on the weekend we would again work at the store. When I became sixteen, I was able to drive, and I started delivering groceries."

Student Interviewers: Murphy Gershman,
Ruben Torres, Andrew West
Photojournalism Project of the Chinese
Community in Barrio Anita. April 2000


   "When we first started, we had only sixty five dollars. The landlord gave us two months free rent to get us started. The tortillas were made by hand. My wife and my daughter would come at six o'clock in the morning to make the tortillas, and that was just a few dozen. We sold ten to fifteen dozen a day. Then, later, there were 20, 30, 40 dozen in a day. Then 300 dozen a day, Monday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday, more production. We worked very hard!
   "My uncles and I made a little machine and we started using it. A couple of years later, someone sold me some more equipment and I paid a little at a time, what I could, and I paid it all."

Student Interviewer: Elizabeth Beamer
4th Grade Photojournalism Project, 1996

Anita Market drawing by Cristina Acuña
Anita Market drawing by Cristina Acuña

Mario and Grace Soto, owners of Anita Street Market. Photo by Sara Bustamante
Mario and Grace Soto, owners of Anita Street Market. Photo by Sara Bustamante

   "Davis school is one of the oldest schools in Tucson. At one point, they wanted to shut Davis down, and the people in the neighborhood and in the surrounding areas didn't allow that to happen."

Student interviewer: Kenia Beltrán, Diego Bravo
Flor Marínez, Family Night, February, 2002


    "I used to go to Davis. We had no cafeteria, no elevator. We played outside and we didn't have any play areas. We just had those big trees that had a little bulb on them that you could suck and it was real kind of sweet when you chewed it. My husband was born in 1913 and he used to go to Davis too. One of the school principals committed suicide and hanged himself on the second floor. It wasn't Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis was a person who contributed money to the school but he wasn't a teacher or a principal."

Student Interviewer: Antonio Ortiz
5th Grade Photojournalism Project, 1996

   "My whole family [went] to Davis, Roskruge, and Tucson High. Four of us graduated from the University of Arizona. I came to Davis in the third grade. I had Mrs. Banks as a teacher in sixth grade. She was wonderful. Mrs. Banks was the first black teacher I ever had and she was just brilliant.
   "We used to meet in front of the school every morning. All the classes would line up and we would raise the flag and salute the flag. We had a principal by the name of Mr. Burr, who was a huge man. And we loved to hear him walk on the sand. We would throw dirt and little rocks and we'd hear crunch, crunch, crunch. He never realized we were listening to his footsteps.

   "After school, my cousin and I would take off for home, but not get home for an hour, `cause we'd go down into the arroyo and throw rocks in the water, do things which boys would do, you know, chase lizards, etc."

A younger Steve Lew and friends on the Davis school playground. Courtesy of Steve Lew
A younger Steve Lew and friends on the Davis school playground. Courtesy of Steve Lew

   "I can remember Gilbert Cota-Robles and my cousin decided they were gonna stay longer throwing rocks in the water. So I went home, and about an hour later, I opened the door, and Gilbert was being helped, being carried almost by my cousin, and he was bleeding from his head. Gilbert got hit in the side of his head.
   "We used to have apartments across the street from Davis and some of the kids lived there. They were directly across the street."
Preguntamos si había sido difícil para él aprender español y dijo, "Yo traté de aprender el español pero los niños me enseñaron cómo decir malas palabras y yo me metí en problemas."

Summary by Jacob Moeller




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