Celebrating Art, Fashion & Culture of East Los Angeles


East L.A. Stories

Esparza's Christmas Eve 1961.  Ready to hang up our stocking for Santa's visit. Dad took this photo.

My first blog ever.

I'm the smiling baby in the Christmas photo of my family you see above.  Wow! 1961 was 50 years ago. We lived on top of a hill in East Los Angeles -Belevedere neighborhood- AKA El Hoyo Maravilla.  Our home was like an oasis from all the goings on at street level.  Our hill had no street access, only stairs.  100 stairs on the San Carlos St side and 97 on the Brooklyn Ave side. 

This is the first half of our family.  My parents had four more children in the subsequent years. Christmas was always a great time.  My dad would dress as Santa Claus on Christmas Day and pass out presents to all my cousins, aunts and uncles.  My dad, Amado Esparza "BOY" as he was called by his family and friends, was a big man, so he was a fitting Santa.  We always found something in our beautiful handmade stockings (bymy mom) on Christmas morning. All the gifts under the tree that were wrapped in brown butcher paper and thick red yarn were from the real Santa Claus. My most memorable gift was a talking doll.  Gee, it's been 20 years now since my father passed on just a few days before Christmas in 1991. Boy do I miss him. I guess I should post a photo of my dad here too.

I remember one Christmas when I was about fourteen, My mother gave my brother Naldo $5 to buy a Christmas tree, so off we went- Naldo, Xavi, Jackie, Lela and I,  in my dad's ford van to the railroad tracks downtown to pick out the best tree we could find.  Needless to say our choices weren't very wide.  There was a small Charlie Brown like tree that we could buy but Naldo had his eye on a larger more upright douglas  fur standing on the edge of the lot, hemmed in by a thick loose rope.  Once i knew what he had in mind, I sent the girls to the van and Xavi opened up the side doors. I lifted the rope and Naldo swooped the tree out of the lot, dashed to the van and threw it into the van.  The Van skidded out of the lot and hauled ass down the alley to Alameda.  We were all screaming, crying and then laughing all the way home.  My mom was quite impressed with the tree.  It was full and fresh. The pine scent filled the living room and made me smile.  My mom asked "how much was this?" and Naldo answered "Oh mom, it was a steel".   that was one for the books.  I love this time of year.