With a name as sweet as Dulces, one might believe my grandfather to have quite the sweet-tooth. Such an assumption is correct because Dulces Rubio “Candy” Castillo is a man who loves his desserts, however, he understood that life couldn’t always be as sweet as the treats that he so enjoys indulging in.
The year was 1964 and in his little town of Dell City, Texas, the high school had invited other high schools from around the state to participate in the basketball tournament. Now, it should be noted that because my grandfather was able work on airplanes and had the personality of a payaso, he was loved by all regardless of their skin color. Make no mistake, it was because of his fair skin and usefulness that he was not looked down upon by the townspeople. Though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended all segregation that year, it did not stop one diner owner (on the outskirts of the city) from asking an African American basketball team to leave the premise. Being the kind-hearted man that he still is today, Dulces felt that it was not only cruel to do so, but, that it reflected poorly upon his town. Because he knew the owner of the dive in diner, he asked if he might have a word with him outside of his establishment because he happened to hear the basketball team’s disappointment over being unable to sit inside of a relatively empty diner. This wasn’t upholding the promise that the town had made to accept all basketball players from far and wide into their establishments to honor the spirit of the event. According to my PawPaw , the conversation with the owner (Mr.Hunter) went something like this.
Owner: Is something the matter, Candy? Dulces: Well, sir, it’s not right what you’re doing. Owner: What? Dulces: The way I figure, we’re supposed to welcome everyone here with open arms. Dulces: Don’t you agree, Mr.Hunter? Owner: Hell, Candy that was my wife who said that. Not me. I’ll go talk to the misses. Dulces: Thank you, sir.
Mr.Hunter allowed the entire basketball team to eat at his establishment free of charge thanks to my PawPaw, but it left a bitter taste in his mouth. He was familiar with discrimination, certainly. But he is the sort of man who only wishes to see the good in people. In his mind, he truly believed that due to the town making the promise that all teams from across the state were welcome to come to the town that this meant that people would act accordingly. This memory stirred something within him that led to an even more interesting discovery about his childhood.
You see, my grandfather was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, but his family moved to Dell City, Texas in 1953, when he was just seven years old. He was used to speaking Spanish at home, and so it wasn’t abnormal that he should speak Spanish amongst his friends at school who also immigrated to the United States with their parents. While he was a bit of a Punchinello he knew that there was a time and a place for his jokes. One day when his class has let out for recess, he began speaking to his friends in his native tongue. It was something that he often did, but he had never had an adult within hearing distance before. The teacher in charge warned him, saying, “we don’t allow Spanish to be spoken in this school.” At the time, many schools wanted children to speak English in order for the immigrant children to assimilate into society.
Supposedly the woman was relieved of her job soon after, but my grandfather said that he didn’t believe that it was due to that incident that she was fired. Throughout his life, my grandfather has experienced humanity at its worst as well as at its best. Regardless of the discrimination that he faced in his childhood, and the discrimination that he witnessed in his late adolescence, he told me that he was happy in Dell City, Texas and that it led to him wanting to come to San Antonio, Texas where he met my grandmother. My Paw Paw’s life was filled with many unsavory moments, but that didn’t stop him from finding a little bit of sweetness wherever he went.
I feel as though I ought to begin by quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald, “in my younger and more vulnerable years,” and so on and so forth.