When the weather warms up in the spring and the sun seems to take forever to drop below the horizon, John would get into a happy mood and want to go visit his relatives. I said before that he had lots of cousins and uncles and nephews and nieces because his grandfather had twenty-two children and almost all of their families live nearby.
One evening, John and Roberto hitched up the wagon and helped everybody up. We had our sweaters with us but also each one of us had a blanket. The evening air was often damp from being very close to the ocean and it could feel quite chilly. We were on our way to visit a family that lived out in the country. Oxnard was still a small town back then, so it did not take long to leave town.
We were going to see his cousin Pito. A lot of John’s people had nick names. I never learned why they called him that. Pito means whistle. My brother henry was called Pini. I never knew why. He had another brother called Pote. I have no idea what that means either. There was a cousin called Borrego because his hair was woolly like a sheep.
Some of the nicknames are easy to figure out. My name is Carlos but here in town everybody called me Charlie. In later years a lot of people know me us Carl. My sister Virginia was called Jenny. Natalia was called Nellie. Roberto was Bobby. My mother, Maria Concepción was known around town as Concha.
Eventually we arrived at the ranch house and there was nobody home. It was dark inside so John and my mother went inside. They made us all stay on the wagon and wait. It grew late and Pito and his family had not arrived. I must have said something because my mama went into the kitchen and started cooking something to eat.
We had a real nice meal, then mama and the girls cleaned the dishes and the kitchen then and put everything away. She left a note thanking them for the meal. It’s the way people did things in those days. Nobody locked their doors. There really was no point, nobody had anything worth stealing, and everyone would know did it anyways.
There was also a more basic reason why doors were not locked, almost all the doors in town could be opened with the same key.