The baby’s casket


OUR NEIGHBORHOOD abuts the highway down the mountain to the state capital. If you get on that highway, drive about a quarter-mile, you’ll encounter a small settlement. Turn right there and go up a block or two.

You’ll spot it on the left. That is, if it’s open at the hour you pass. It’s a small, very basic funeral parlor. Occasionally, it’s closed. I know this because I sometimes come back to the Hacienda from downtown via a back route that takes me through that small settlement that only has one major street.

When the funeral parlor is open they often put a baby’s casket in the doorway. Come here, it cries out, if your child has died, something that likely is more common in Mexico than above the Rio Bravo.

I find this small coffin’s prominent display touching, poignant and a number of like-minded adjectives. I don’t recall ever seeing such a display as this when I lived above the border, which was most of my long life. But I’ve seen it in Mexico a number of times in a number of places.

Babies should not die.

My child bride

YoungMY WIFE possesses an exotic face. Her eyes are slanty, and she is thin-lipped. I am extremely taken with her face. She feels just the opposite.

Women are goofy.

Looking through an online photo gallery of her recently, I paused at this shot. It’s a detail of a far larger photo taken when she was about 7. She is holding a baby, one of her many siblings. Daddy never kept it in his pants.

The shot was taken somewhere in the State of Michoacán where she was born, raised and educated before moving to Mexico City where she worked 14 years as a civil engineer for the federal highway department.

That ended when she met me in 2002.

totThe second shot is even earlier. She was on Mexican beach around age 3 or 4, and she looks to have a bad attitude. This too is a detail from a much larger photo, which shows that she had been playing in mud.

Her hair is no longer short, and she’s quite a few years older, but still far younger than I am, and she still looks marvelous. She was my best Christmas present this year, as she’s been the best one for the past 14 years, the greatest gift from God ever.

Joseph Street

Adan and Agate’s first home, for they were young, was on Joseph Street just south of Saint Charles.

It was a tiny apartment carved out of a clapboard building by clever carpenters, an add-on and it showed. There was, however, a porch where the puppy lived.

Agate was a dog person, so she came with a puppy which was not Adan’s preferred lifestyle, but there was the puppy in any event, pooping everywhere.

A Joseph Street plus was the proximity of Langenstein’s supermarket just a block and a half away. A source of real coonass dining.

Though they had not been married long, Agate was already with child. And Adan had a job as a secretary at a battery factory situated in the Free Trade Zone abutting the Mississippi River.

He rode every cool winter morning from the apartment a couple of miles to the battery factory on a bicycle with ape-hanger handlebars. He had bought the bike cheap somewhere. Cash was scarce.

The battery factory had hired him as secretary because, for some reason unknown to Adan to this day, there were bathroom facilities only for men in their area of the Free Trade Zone.

But he did not last long there because he was a misfit.

And Joseph Street did not last long either. Adan and Agate found another apartment, larger, but also carved from a big building, on Dryades Street not far from the corner of Napoleon and Saint Charles.

streetcarProximity to Saint Charles was a plus due to the streetcar that ran that avenue. The bike with the ape-hanger bars was poorly suited for two persons especially when one was pregnant.

And one day they were three. A beautiful baby was born.

They named her Amoretta.

By that time, Adan was selling insurance, and the bicycle had been stolen from the front yard of the apartment on Dryades Street.

Yes, it was a multicultural neighborhood.

All of this transpired nearly half a century ago. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, as they say.

Adan, long divorced from Agate, passed by the apartment on Joseph Street eight or so years ago. The porch had been sliced off. No puppies in residence.

Many things had changed.

But Langenstein’s was still there. Coonass dining never dies.