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South Texas Living

A medley of memories

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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
August 6, 2014 | 3,632 views | Post a comment

Recently a family member had the misfortune of twisting an ankle, which resulted in a bad sprain. She has been struggling with it for more than three weeks. I told her that I knew how she felt. Sometimes people say that just to make others feel good. But in this case I really do know how she feels. I suffered a bad sprain many years ago. I remember well how it happened.

I wonder how many remember the milk carton-dispensing machine that sat next to the Martinez Gulf Service Station? It was on the side of the street in front of where the First Baptist Church property is now. The service station was on the corner of B and Third streets. The machine sat on a cement slab, which was several inches above ground level. I had to stand on the slab to insert the coins and take out the half-gallon cartons. Back then, there were not all the different varieties of milk as there are now. It was simply homogenized pasteurized whole milk. You could also get chocolate milk. I don’t remember exactly what they cost but I want to say it was a quarter. It was a lot cheaper than at the stores, and a gallon of milk at that time cost 95 cents. As for the brand, I believe it was Metzger’s because Metzger’s also made home deliveries using glass bottles. Henry says Mr. Bill Donaho owned the machine. Mr. Donaho operated a dairy farm not far from where Henry grew up on the Blake farm. It was where the Rhew family operates Rhew Orchards now.

That particular day I turned my left ankle when I stepped off the slab. Luckily, I did not fall down, but I “saw stars”! I managed to drive home and I started putting cold packs on it. When Henry got home from work and saw that I was hurting, he said he knew someone in Stockdale who was supposed to be real good at massaging sprains. So we went to this curandero. He worked on my foot for a long time because that’s where it hurt. The top of my foot was really swollen by then. It was around 9 o’clock at night when we got home. I didn’t feel any relief at all and by past midnight I couldn’t stand the pain anymore. I had Henry drive me to the emergency room at Wilson Memorial Hospital. They took X-rays and concluded that there was no fracture, just a badly sprained ligament, which is what they have told my niece. I was told to stay off my foot.

Easier said than done! With nine kids, the youngest not quite 7 months old. He had to be carried. My late sister-in-law, Alice, heard about my mishap and offered to help. Henry borrowed a pair of crutches from his brother, Eligio, and adjusted them for me. The next day Alice went to our house and stayed most of the day -- cooking, cleaning, and looking after the little ones, while I hobbled around on crutches, doing what little I could. Luckily, six of the kids were off at school. But by the end of the day, Alice suffered an asthma attack. She suffered from asthma for most of her adult life. It would take her several days to recover from an attack because it left her very weak. I felt guilty because I felt that her attack had been brought on by overexerting herself. (She was used to one child!) So I called on my faithful off-and-on babysitter, Lilly Bo. She helped me from then on.

Little by little I started feeling better. I had to get well because there was going to be a wedding in the family. A niece was getting married and our Loretta had been chosen to be the flower girl. (The groom-to-be was one of the lucky ones to return from the Vietnam War. He was coming home to marry his high school sweetheart.) I don’t remember sewing Loretta’s little dress, but I do remember that I sewed a two-piece navy blue outfit for myself. (How did I manage that when I don’t seem to find time to sew now?) My foot healed enough for me to wear my dress pumps for the wedding.

But for many years afterwards, every time we had cold weather, my foot would hurt as if I had just sprained it. And the young couple? Well, they have been happily married for 46 years. These days they spend a lot of time traveling. You might know them -- they own JC’s Super Burger. And the flower girl has been married to husband Bob for 35 years. They married very young.

Another time that I sprained the same foot was three days before Lia and Gilbert’s wedding. I thought, oh, no! What kind of shoe am I going to have to wear? My new comadre-to-be, Betty, told me to apply volcanico (volcanic oil) and rub it well. I did that and prayed fervently for healing. By the second day my foot was fine! For years I have kept a bottle of that “wonder” medicine in my medicine cabinet. Recently I cleaned out the cabinet and threw away a very old bottle of it. Need to get me a new one, just in case.

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

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