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South Texas Living

Memorable photos show history can repeat itself

Memorable photos show history can repeat itself
D.P. Muñiz with daughters (from left) Tabita, Jovita, Rebecca, Julia, and Dalila

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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
November 14, 2012
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I have often reflected on the fact that Papá fathered 10 children -- five boys and five girls. I have already written about how he and his first wife, Anita, had three boys and three girls before she passed away at the tender age of 32. Two years later he married Mamá and they had two boys and two girls, I being the youngest. How likely would it be that I would have the same number of children and equal number of sons and daughters.

I have been taking more of the color slides that Henry took many years ago and having prints made from them. I came across one of Papá taken with his five daughters at his house. It was taken during one of my sister Tabita’s visits to Texas in the summer of 1955. Henry was right there with his camera.

Tabita had married what we called a “white boy” from Michigan during World War II. He was stationed at Fort Sam. They met, fell in love, and were married before he was shipped overseas. We teasingly called Raymond “the Yankee.” He retaliated by telling us that northerners believed Texans used cactuses for chairs. Was he serious? Tabita went to live with his parents in Flushing during his tour overseas. She would send us pictures of herself ankle deep in snow. I thought she was so lucky to live where there was always snow in the winter. We didn’t see her again until the war was over. Then they would try to come down every two or three years. One summer, Papá and I went to visit them. She was about to have her third child. I went to help with the kids and the housework. Papá stayed about a week, long enough to see his grandson, Richard Frank Reed, born. They claimed to have named him after Papá because the customers and Mr. Clay at the Red & White Store called him Frank. I stayed about six weeks altogether. Papá and I left here in late May after school was out. We took the Greyhound bus. Of course, it was very hot here, but when we got to Chicago, it was freezing. We had light jackets, but we were not really prepared for the weather.

Tabita went on to have another boy. Now they had three boys and one girl. Tabita and Raymond eventually separated when the kids were older. She stayed up north and stayed in touch for a while. Then she quit calling and writing. It went on for a long time. It was an anxious time for all of us. Out of desperation, Papá contacted the Red Cross. They were able to get in touch with her. She called and reassured Papá that she was all right. She never explained why she had not stayed in touch. She stayed in touch occasionally after that. Then she wrote to let us know she was coming home. Her oldest son, Raymond Jr., was bringing her. We were not prepared for what we saw. She had never mentioned that she was sick. She had some form of debilitating illness that left her unable to walk, and she was so thin. She stayed with my sister, Dalila, for a while. Mamá was there but not able to care for her. Dalila would give her breakfast before she went to work. I would get off work at 1:30 and go over to tend to her other needs. She would stretch out her arms to me and call me her “angel.” If the roles had been reversed, I’m sure she would have done the same for me.

Eventually she was able to walk again and do for herself. She moved in with one of our cousins in San Antonio. She was all right for a while, but then got sick again. She went to a nursing home, where she died in August 1983, at the age of 67. She was laid to rest here in the Floresville City Cemetery. She is home. Raymond Jr. was the only one to come to Texas occasionally to visit his relatives. The others have never come as adults. My niece, Lillie, tries to stay in touch with Raymond and Beverly via the Internet. We believe that the other two have passed away.

We were blessed that all our other siblings stayed close to home.

And history has a way of repeating itself. On our 50th wedding anniversary celebration, someone in the family took a picture of Henry with our five daughters. I thought it was appropriate to make the connection of the two generations. That’s why I’m happy to share these two photos with you.

And I’m so grateful to Henry for being the photographer and preserving such beautiful memories for me. I’m not forgetting the men in the family, but we could never get all five sons together at the same time. The photo of us girls was not really planned. It just happened.

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