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A parent’s nightmare — recalling the accident
Frank Louis Castro sits in the driver’s seat of the motorcycle he used to deliver papers. His friend, Eddie Estrada, is behind him.
Apple Pie and SalsaMay 14, 2014 3,604 views 2 comments
He was only 12 years old when his life was abruptly snuffed out. He was attending Sacred Heart School at the time and had just made his Solemn Communion on May 1. At that time Catholic children made their first Holy Communion at 6 or 7 years of age and then their Solemn Communion at 12, He had turned 12 in February.
Henry had just gotten home in January from serving two years in the U.S. Army. By then his youngest brother was helping their dad deliver the San Antonio Light. His name was Frank Louis. Family members called him “Junior” -- others called him Frankie. I will refer to his dad as Popó because that is what the daughters-in-law and the grandkids called him, and the mom as Momó. Their kids of course called them Daddy and Mom, and so did Henry.
Popó had bought a motorcycle so Junior could help him deliver the papers. I don’t know if Popó did part of the route with the car and Junior did the rest or if Junior did it all. He always had one of his friends helping him. Only 12 years old and already had a job! Our memories fail us. We don’t know if that day he was still doing the route or not. Most likely not. The Sunday paper has always gone out early.
Anyway, it was shortly after noon on Sunday, May 15, at the intersection of A and Fourth streets, when the accident happened. An elderly couple had just left services at the Floresville Methodist Church and were heading home. A write-up in the Floresville Chronicle Journal related that as they approached the intersection, a car in front of them kept the driver, a male, from seeing the oncoming motorcycle driven by Junior, with 13-year-old Daniel Dominguez riding with him. The report stated that the car and motorcycle collided. What they did not report was that the driver failed to give a left turn signal and hit the motorcycle driving south on the opposite lane. Junior really had the right of way. Daniel was uninjured, but Junior suffered head and body injuries. He was small in stature. He was rushed to the Floresville hospital.
Henry says that he was told Dr. John W. Blake Jr. was first on the scene and that he himself took him to the hospital. Dr. Blake and his family attended the same church as the couple, which was just a short block away. We know that he worked on Junior the rest of the day. Here again the paper contradicts what the family knew. The paper reported that Junior had passed away at 7 p.m. at the Floresville hospital. Dr. Blake did what he could but he knew that the hospital was not equipped for that kind of trauma. There were no ambulances in Floresville at that time, so he contacted Hope Ambulance Services in San Antonio.
In an old family album there is a receipt from such a business, which acknowledges payment from Frank Castro Jr. for transporting the injured boy to the Robert B. Green Hospital in San Antonio. The charge was $25. Henry says that they were transporting him but Junior lost his fight on the way and they returned with his body to the Floresville hospital. I suppose that it was then that the hospital released the news of his passing. Henry says that he remembers Dr. Blake putting his hand on Popó’s shoulder and saying in a broken voice, “I’m sorry, Frank, I did all I could for him.” (Dear, wonderful Dr. Blake)
It was such a shock, not only to the family, but to the whole community. The outpouring of love and support was incredible. I have seen many very large funerals in my lifetime, but it was the first one for me at that time. The services were held at Palacios Funeral Home on Second Street. The paper stated, “Many lovely flowers covered his last resting place.” It was an understatement. The chapel was overflowing with floral arrangements and, of course, with people. A rosary was recited for two consecutive nights with the Requiem High Mass taking place on Wednesday morning at Sacred Heart Church celebrated by Father John J. Gerbermann and his assistant, Father Lambert Laskowski. Junior had served his church as an altar server. He was also a member of the Boy Scouts. A group of them walked behind the casket and the pallbearers. Perhaps they were serving as escorts or maybe even as honorary pallbearers.
There is so much that we can’t remember. We were all walking around in a fog. Like I said, the whole town came together for the family. Every single business owner sent flowers and most visited during the vigil. The paper reported, “Hundreds of school children and adults of all faiths, creeds, and color attended the religious rites.” That was true, and the family needed that. Letters and sympathy cards poured in. Those were very traumatic days. Afterwards, Momó went into a deep depression. She would sit in one of the bedrooms in a rocking chair and rock back and forth for hours. We would all gather there on Sundays for the noon meal, but Bertha and Alice would take over in the kitchen.
Eventually Momó snapped out of it and resumed her duties. The girls still helped out a lot in the kitchen. She tended to the yard and her flower garden. Perhaps that was therapy for her.
Junior was the first of four sons that she lived to see buried before passing away at the age of 92.
“Blessed are they who mourn; they shall be comforted.”
When our first son was born, we named him Henry Louis in honor of Frank Louis. Junior was a gentle, loving, and thoughtful boy who never left the house without kissing his mom on the cheek.
Of Junior’s siblings, only Bertha, Henry, and Norma now survive.
Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Opinions and Comments
Henry G and Julia Castro
May 20, 2014 8:04pm
san antonio, TX
May 20, 2014 12:03pm
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