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South Texas Living


Reminiscing: ‘For sale’ sign triggers many pleasant memories




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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
April 11, 2012 | 2,466 views | Post a comment

Henry and I passed through downtown last weekend and we saw a large “for sale” sign on the outside of a building on the corner of C and Third streets. I turned to Henry and said, “To me that will always be the bank.” It was the only bank in town all the years I was growing up. I had no dealings with the bank until I started working and getting paid with a check by Miss Marie Vela -- $12 a week minus deductions. I would then go cash it at the bank.

Then I went to work for Ina Compton next to the bank. I was really “wet behind the ears,” an old saying when a person still has a lot to learn. In my case, I wasn’t smart in business and didn’t know the lingo. One day, Mrs. Compton handed me a $20 bill and told me, “Go to the bank and get me $20 worth of silver.” So, I went and asked Miss Lallah Warren, one of the bank tellers, for 20 silver dollars. Without batting an eye, she counted out 20 silver dollars. When I got back to the shop and handed them to Mrs. Compton, she was very kind and didn’t laugh in my face. She simply said, “I wanted small change.” Sometime later I saw her slip out. She must have gone back to exchange the silver dollars for the silver that she needed. My problem was that I took everything literally. I didn’t know how to read between the lines. Like the time she sent me to Wright’s Café for a hamburger. Her last words to me were, “and tell them to cut the onion.” And that’s exactly what I told them at the restaurant. When she took the first bite, she said, “I wanted them to cut the onion.” I replied, “I told them that.” Then I saw her picking out the pieces of onion. Now, if she had said, “Tell them no onion” or “cut out the onion,” I would have told them that.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m going to be like that for the rest of my life. At times, I still have trouble processing something my husband tells me. I may do just the opposite of what he says later that he told me. As long as we have been married, we should be thinking more alike. Then again, they say men and women don’t think alike.

Having mentioned Miss Lallah, I started remembering how I had first met her. She was my seventh-grade math teacher. I don’t know how long after that she taught, but when I started working after graduation, she was already working at the bank. Miss Lallah was a patron of Compton’s Beauty Shop. So were her sisters, Anna (Mrs. Tom Johnson; he was superintendent of city of Floresville water and sewer systems for many years.), and Louise (Mrs. Edwin Johnson; he operated a service station and garage.). They all had standing appointments -- same time, same day, every week. They used this time to visit with each other. Once in a while, Ada, another sister, came into the shop while her sisters were there. Miss Lallah would get her hair done and go back to work at the bank. The others waited around until the last one was done, and then they would leave together. They would walk down the street to Cale’s Variety Store, where yet another sister ran the store with her husband, Bill. I don’t remember her by any other name except Mrs. Cale.

My niece, Lola, at one time worked for the Cales. She remembers that on Fridays, the sisters would gather at the store. Some of their conversations were pretty private because Lola says that if she got too close to them, they would lower their voices almost to a whisper. Later they would all leave, leaving Mr. Cale and Lola to run the store. They would make their way to the drug store down the street, where their brother, Hal V. Warren, would sometimes join them. He was the county clerk when he passed away unexpectedly. His wife finished out his term.

Miss Lallah never married. She had a beau at one time, Mr. Murray from the funeral home, but nothing came of it. She was a very sweet and gentle lady.

As for the building that was once the First National Bank, it was a restaurant at least twice after the bank moved to its present location. The last occupant was the U.S. Postal Service. I don’t remember what other businesses there might have been there.

The bank has undergone several name changes, now being Wells Fargo. And there are many more banks in the area. This is not the Floresville I grew up in.

Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry.
 

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