By my 6th grade teacher recommendation, my father took me to an optometrist and he ordered a set of eyeglasses for me. When I have it for the first time, I discovered a whole new world, I was able to read on the distance, the colors were brighter, and I really loved my new eyeglasses. It make me feel security and I liked the way I looked. The other kids at school and at my neighborhood made fun calling me “Mr. Magoo”, “Four Eyes” and some other names that I never cared about it. I never used to play with other kids, so it was irrelevant to me.
My older sister concluded her middle school and she had the dream to study Oceanography, and she wanted to go to a high school to prepare for University, by that time, my dad’s diabetes was on a bad season, and he concluded that my older sister needed to become a school teacher, just like my grandmother and he ordered my sister to go to the “Normal Superior”, the school for teachers, because he though that if he died, my sister will take the lead at home. I remember the discussion between my dad and my sister, it was really bad. When my sister walked out my dad’s room, with tear she told me, I’ll go to the school, but I’ll never work as teacher. With that action, all my sister dreams for the Oceans were vanished like a wave on the shore. She applied to the school and she was accepted. Four years later, she concluded the school with honors and high notes, and she fulfilled her promise. After the interim year, she never worked again as school teacher.
When I concluded 6th grade (elementary) I got excellent notes, except on behavior, because the average I got from the previous five years, even with the good notes I got from the six grade, but I got enough to go to Middle School. So my mother registered me at the 80th Public Middle School so I was ready for the Fall, because of my high academic grades, I didn’t needed to have a test for admission, they just signed me in, and I had all summer for me…
A the beginning of summer, I felt in bed with some high fever, and after that, when I recovered, something happened with my clothes, my pants were shorter, as well as my shirts… and I noticed my sisters not so tall as before… I was growing… My sisters used to called me “Dwarf” but in just few weeks I was taller than they. The funny part of this, it was that my sisters never stopped calling me dwarf even today.
After the fever, I was able to work now full time on the Car Shop learning how to do a tune up, how to fix breaks, how to replace a clutch and I started learning about car electricity also, It was so natural for me to learn, understand and repeat what I learned. After few weeks the owner of the shop trusted me to do some complete works… wow! He was really strict on the repairs. He inspected every work, and he threaded anyone who made a mistake; he will hit him on the fingers with a screwdriver, so I was really careful, because I saw others experiencing the hit, Thanks God I learned so well, that I never was punished and he started paying me almost the same than an adult Mechanic, after I negotiated with him about what I was capable to do; no more cleaning boy and… I got promoted! I liked the precision. I was good and fast and he liked that. I was able to bring some real money to my mother! I liked to be early at the shop, to prepare my set of tools, and to practice on some old parts, reading also some cars manuals to learn about the specs for different brands, and so for. It was a lot of fun, and I got paid for that… I didn’t know that you can get real money for having fun. The shop closed at 5, so after a good hot shower, I ride my bike back home to practice guitar and to sing.
A funny story, one day I was watching Top Cat, and Benny was singing on the alley and some top producer hear his singing and stopped to hire him to sing at Carnegie Hall, so I took a chair and I started practicing my guitar and singing on the parking of the house, close to the street door, waiting for a producer to discover me, dreaming to have a public performance. I remember singing and playing outloud for several months just waiting…
There is something about the way my brain is wired, since I was a little kid, when I got a present, like a car, or a toy, I never played with it as a regular toy, I always wanted to know how it was made, how it works, and most of the time the toy ended on pieces. With the years I was able to rebuild or modify the toys from its original design in to something else. A couple of years earlier, my dad bought a Silvertone Console with AM/FM/SW and Automatic Turntable. He also bought a lot of Classic Music Records, Ray Connif, Frank Sinatra, and one record of Chava Flores, a Mexican composer with funny songs, so when I was at home, I played first the funny song of “The widowed Cat” and “Saturday at Mexico City” from Chava Flores and then I listen to all of the beautiful music of the classical and the great orchestras… THAT was my favorite music. I never realized how that odd mixture between classical, orchestral and popular music will influence my life.
One day, something happened to the console, It looks like my dad was upset with something and he hit the controls, and the console was silent after that. He tried to fix it, he went on the back of the console, he opened and tried to repair it, but after a big explosion and a lot of smoke, something happened that make it worst. So he disassembled the console, and took out the internal parts and took it to Sears. I followed all the disassembling process (anything related to disassembling attracted me as the honey to the ants) and I went with him, he told me “This is the FM Receiver, and this one is the AM/SW”. When he was on good mood he used to called me “Don Arturo” and it looks like the electrical shock made him to be on good mood, so he told me “I believe you’ll repair something like this some day, Don Arturo, you are really smart. This is just wires, tubes and parts… so everything it is reparable”. I like him when he talked to me like that… but on this particular case, I wanted to learn everything about electronics… It was fascinating. Finally the console was fixed, and he allowed me to help him to put it back, inside, connecting the speakers, the turntable and the special tube “The Magic Eye”.
That was a Summer full of memories, learning experiences and with some peace at home. My mother continued making sweaters my father was working all day long on the cab, my older sisters where with their friends everyone was immersed on its own reality. I believe this summer was crucial on my future development. The Summer ended, and the classes started, so good bye to my full time work… well not really, because I planned to start my own business at middle school… but that is another chapter.