I spent my youthful days in the small town of Orange Grove in South Texas. Nothing much happened at Orange Grove.

Felix Alvarado




I recall the two biggest events Baptisms and Burials. We did not have any of the playgrounds or public parks that you see today everywhere. For entertainment we had to be creative. When it rained, we created mud slides. With a round 12-inch rim and hanger we rolled it everywhere. There was always playing marbles for keeps. And the most challenging one was trying to split a someone else’s spinning top right in the middle of the top. 


Orange Grove was a classical small Texas town. It had railroad tracks running through the middle of town. On one side lived the Whites and on the other side lived us Tejano-Mexicanos. We lived in the wrong side of the tracks. I never saw any type of law enforcement officer in Orange Grove. If there was crime, I did not see it. Life in Orange Grove could be described as very tranquil. 


There was a Catholic Church. Most of us were Catholics. The church was available for baptisms. I was baptized at the church. We never attended mass at the church, there was no mass for us. There were no other religions. The only place we saw Whites was at school. 


Downtown Orange Grove consisted of a short Main Street with a theater and a café. My brother told me that we could go into the theater for free once the movie had started. The restaurant apparently was for Whites only. 


There were no Blacks, just a lady that everyone called “La Cuarterona.”  It meant that the lady was one quarter Black. We were racist, just ignorant of racism. 

For being Tejano-Mexicano, Orange Grove was not a friendly place for what we called “Mojados.” Mojado was the Spanish version of Wetback. Rumors spread quickly when one was crossing town. I do not believe a Mexican could walk through Orange Grove without someone calling the Border Patrol. I have no idea why the people of Orange Grove had such disdain for Mexicans. My mother did not have a birth certificate. She lived in fear of being picked up and deported by the “Migra.” Being baptized in a Catholic Church in Hebbronville, Texas was not sufficient to prove American birth. 


Orange Grove today is not the town I was born in. There are many immigrants from Mexico and Central America. I notice that the families that I knew growing up were not there anymore. Besides us Alvarado’s our relative also left Orange Grove. My relatives were part of the Tejano-Mexicano migration to West/North Texas at the end of the cotton-picking season.


J read that Latinos in South Texas had voted in record numbers for Trump. The reason was immigration. These Latinos became single issue voters, just like those that vote for guns and abortion. They cannot see the big picture. They are not knowledgeable of the immigration issue. Certainly, Trump’s immigration policy focused on deporting immigrants and closing the border to all immigrants. He went after the two M’s, Mexicans, and Muslims. With Trump it was never about a real policy on immigration but about blatant racism against non-Whites. Unfortunately, the Latinos in South Texas were blinded so much that they could not see the real Trump.


If you grow around racism, as I did, you become blind to it. I wonder why it is that we turn against our own self-interest?


Blind discrimination is like drinking Kool-Aid.

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