A mother and son wander aimlessly in the late 1920s through Arizona and Mexico border-town poverty; homeless, with no life direction. In the early 1930s the son, through life's happenstance, discovers a better way that people can live and exist in a loving family. Ultimately, in 1937, the state of Arizona reunites him with extended family living in Tucson. This time period and these locations provide the beginning settings for a memoir that takes the reader through this child's transition from young boyhood surviving on the streets, into early manhood; enlisting into the U.S. Army in the Fall of 1940 and with the outbreak of the second world war, being stationed in Seattle, Washington, helping his antiaircraft contingent defend Boeing's B-17 bomber production; then assuming new roles of a husband and father before going overseas for the invasion of Japan. After war's end he becomes a new civilian living with his wife and growing family in the city of Seattle, happily working several years for Seattle City Light. During the late 1950s when a family friend continues to encourage him to make a change to the profession of selling residential real estate, he succumbs and somewhat unknowingly chooses the opportunity. Unfortunately, opportunities can be a wolf in sheep's clothing, as his life changing choices take him and his family down unfamiliar roads and social influences that alter the future course of all of the family's lives.From the back cover My early childhood years that I think I remember best are from 1927 to 1933. Since there was never a home base from which to start and end, so many memories just come to mind that don't seem to fit in any particular place. These are things that I experienced during the tough years of my young life as my mother and I traveled from small town to small town for whatever reason drove her. My mother and I never had roots; she was so unsettled and alcoholism was her biggest problem. She was in her early twenties and loved a good time; being a mother was a sometime thing.These early years were the most sorrowful and impressive on my childhood because I was a street kid, probably on the loose, and most likely not seeing my mother for days at a time. I have no idea what happened to school years in my life for this span of time; mostly I didn't attend. When I really think of where I grew up, I would have to say everyplace, primarily the state of Sonora, Mexico, where our adventures took place in the towns and on the streets of Agua Prieta, Cananea, Hermosillo, Naco and Nogales. Towns and streets in Arizona included Tucson, Nogales, Douglas and Bisbee.
A posthumous debut autobiography supplemented with photographs and commentary by the author's son.
Hernandez, who died in 2012, was born in 1922, in Nogales, Arizona, one of several towns near the Mexican border that would define the early years of his life. By 1927, his father, Edmundo, had deserted his mother, Guadalupe, and she became an alcoholic. She and her son wandered through border towns, mainly in the Mexican state of Sonora. Although she had family members willing to help in Nogales, Mexico, and in Arizona, she was unwilling to stay put: "my mother did not want them meddling in her life, so she stayed as far away from them as she could." Frequently, the author was left to his own devices, sometimes for days or weeks. His life changed dramatically in 1934, when he was 12 and homeless. He met a man named Miguel Mendoza at the Agua Prieta border crossing, who brought him back to Douglas, Arizona, and had him declared a ward of the state; he and his wife raised Hernandez until 1936, when the state reassigned custody to his grandparents in Tucson. His initial experiences with instability motivated him to build a productive life as an adult. Extensive descriptions of his time in the Civilian Conservation Corps, his five years in the U.S. Army, his civilian work, marriage, and family life present unique glimpses into prewar and postwar Americana. The author's youngest child, Anthony, encouraged him to write down the secrets of his early life, which he'd carried with him in silence for decades. The resulting articulate and emotional prose is generally optimistic, but often heartbreaking: My mother and I must have been quite a sight. Here was a woman, obviously drunk, pulling a sobbing kid, maybe hungry or sick, surely scared, and in my heart embarrassed for the both of us." Although composed primarily for family members, the story offers a detailed geographical and cultural portrait of the border towns during the Great Depression.The relative ease with which one could cross back and forth between the two countries stands in poignant contrast to today's reality.
A raw, honest, and sad memoir.