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South Texas Living


Experiencing the frailties of life


Experiencing the frailties of life
Reynaldo “el Rey” Muñiz with his sister Gloria


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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
July 23, 2014
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Lately Henry and I have been attending so many funerals. We are losing so many friends. We lost two of our high school classmates within days of each other. It makes one reflect and meditate on our own mortality.

I have been present when people who were close to me passed on the next life. Others left moments after I left their side. I was reflecting on that the other day and I started trying to recall the earliest death in our family that I can remember.

I was 9 years old, living with my family in what I continue to call “the Spruce house,” across from the courthouse. My brother, Raul, had moved his family to Saspamco where he had gotten a job at the Dickey Clay Manufacturing Company. It was he, his wife Beatrice, and five young children, the oldest boy being 10 years old. Another child, a fourth girl, was born over there during the summer. I consulted with my niece Lola to help me with details that I didn’t remember. She remembers more than I do! We came to the conclusion that they had moved after school was out because she doesn’t remember attending school in Saspamco. It was August and Reynaldo, the third child, had taken ill. They all came to “our” house so “el Rey,” as we called him, could be seen by a doctor. Lola and I don’t understand why he was not hospitalized. Perhaps the disease was too far gone. He had diphtheria. Lola and I both remember being marched to Dr. Archer’s office right there in town to get vaccinated. All except the baby, who was 15 days old.

Lola says that this memory is still so vivid in her mind. Beatrice was outside hanging diapers on the line and she left Lola watching “el Rey” and the baby. Mamá went to check on them and told Lola to go get their mother. Beatrice came in and must have seen him in distress, so she picked him up and held him as he took his last breath. What a tragic sight for Lola at 8 years of age to witness. The rest of us kids were not allowed in that room. We thought it was so Reynaldo could get rest, or perhaps because they knew that diphtheria is contagious. Of course, there was a lot of crying. I remember wondering if we were all going to die. I remember Beatrice’s mother coming to the house and the moment she stepped on the porch she let out a loud cry. She was almost inconsolable.

Lola showed me a yellowed funeral notice, all in Spanish, which read that Reynaldo had passed away at the age of 6 years, 10 months, and 9 days. It also stated that he had died at the home of D.P. Muñiz. There is no mention of a funeral home but surely Palacios Funeral Home handled the arrangements. A service was held at the Methodist Church, now known as El Mesias, the day after he passed away. It is dated Aug. 18, 1942. Lola remembers two of the songs that were sung at the service: “Nitido Rayo por Cristo” (I’ll Be a Sunbeam) and “Jesus Loves Me” (Cristo Me Ama). Such beautiful words -- so appropriate for an angel like “el Rey.” He was a good quiet boy not prone to getting into mischief. He was laid to rest at the Floresville City Cemetery.

The family grew by two more girls and then came another boy, the baby of the family. They gave him the name Reynaldo.

“El Rey” had been baptized Dec. 1, 1935, by Brother E.D. Dresch at La Iglesia Evangelica Mexicana of Picoso, Wilson County, Texas. His padrinos were Enrique Treviño and Jesusa Muñoz.

Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry. Her email is castrojulia022@gmail.com.
 

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