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South Texas Living

My idea of a real hero — my father

My idea of a real hero — my father
Alfred “Fred” Q. Gonzales (right) with this dad, Alfredo A. Gonzales, at age 90

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June 19, 2013
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By Alfred “Fred” Q. Gonzales

I found the publisher’s article, “Remembering our fathers; valuable lessons learned,” June 12, very inspiring. So much so that I decided to write about my dad.

My dad, at least a second-generation American, was born in 1899 and died in 1994. So one can imagine what this man saw and lived through in his lifetime. His name was Alfredo A. Gonzales.

In his much later years, he was affectionately known as “Champ” (because of his skills with the cue stick). But to me, his significance was in the quality of man that he was as a father, provider, and role model. He never had a chance to attend school, yet his natural ability to reason, communicate (in Spanish), and interact with people was superb.

He too was raised in an agricultural environment. In his early years (one of 13 years), he traveled extensively as a migrant worker. Later, he became a sharecropper and remained one until 1944. We moved around a lot. A year before, my oldest brother (who was the only one old enough to help substantially) was drafted into World War II. Thus we moved to Floresville (Lodi area) where he would take whatever job was available. No matter how difficult, he always worked and never, never failed to provide. Oh, he was out of work once in a while, but not for long.

Just to give an idea of what his work ethic was like, I’ll tell a short story here.

Once he heard that this man could get him a job at Kelly Air Force Base. He asked me to go with him to talk to this man. When we got there, we were asked to wait outside. My dad noticed the man’s yard was weedy and grassy. So right away he tells me, “Let’s cut his grass while we’re waiting.” This was a Sunday morning, mind you. So you can imagine my teenage reaction to that! The man got him the job as a janitor. And I had to go home to change clothes before going to church! This incidentally was the best paying job he ever had. And he held it until mandatorily retired at age 70. He actually held a job (physical work) until his mid-80s.

He still remains my idea of a hero. He literally never got sick (other than the usual passing maladies) and never used any medication other than Pepto Bismol and Visine (good for shooting pool). He walked on his own until a month before he died and did not know how to complain. Other than my mother (that’s another story), he was the most honest, caring person that I have known.

While poor, I never felt deprived. Before you go on to think I never got spanked -- forget it!

Alfred “Fred” Q. Gonzales is a resident of Floresville.

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