Originally published September 16, 2014
By Maria E Garcia
Editor note: San Diego historian and SDFP contributor Maria Garcia recently attended the funeral of Mrs. Carriedo, who passed away at the age of 94. Our condolences to the Carriedo family and gratitude to Maria for this intimate glimpse of Mrs. Carriedo and her family against the backdrop of Logan Heights.
Margarita and Lorenzo Carriedo lived at 1759 National Ave in one of the bungalows owned by the late Mike Amador. They, like Mike, had grown up in Logan Heights in the 1920’s and 30’s and raised their own children there. Neighborhood House figures prominently in the memories of Margarita and two of her sons— Ruben and Marcos, all of whom I had the opportunity to interview. Mrs. Carriedo, like so many of the other women I have interviewed, remembers Logan Heights as a neighborhood filled with maintained, well kept houses and lovely gardens. It was a good place to raise a family.
Mrs. Carriedo, who is now in her 90’s, didn’t attend Neighborhood House. She says she only set foot in Neighborhood House on a few occasions. Mrs. Carriedo, like many of the women of those days, worked at the cannery and as Ruben and Marcos put it: “Mom earned three times as much money as dad.” Mrs. Carriedo smiled when she told me that when she first married Mr. Carriedo, he was earning thirteen dollars per week.
Although Mrs. Carriedo says she did not go to Neighborhood House, she had a great deal of interaction with the women who provided services through Neighborhood House. She remembered that one of her boys was swollen and had a terrible rash and she was concerned as to what had caused the rash. She waited until Mrs. Brackett (a nursing assistant at Neighborhood House who was a rather large Eleanor Roosevelt type woman, and well liked in the neighborhood) came home and then took her son to be examined. The diagnosis was that it was a result of eating too many strawberries!
Mrs. Carriedo’s husband, Lorenzo, like many of the local boys and men, spent a great deal of time at Neighborhood House. Males took part in sports activities as well as the cooking class or field trips that took them to areas outside of the Logan Heights Community. Mrs. Carriedo says her late husband Lorenzo “lived” at Neighborhood House when he was a child.
Sons Ruben and Marcos remember the boys’ cooking class. Their father had taken cooking classes at Neighborhood House and now ten to fifteen years later, his sons would also participate in the cooking classes there. Ruben attributes his love for cooking to the culinary skills he learned at Neighborhood House. Sixty years later he remembers that the first thing he made was a pineapple upside down cake.
They remember the many classes offered at Neighborhood House: dance, music, even a wood shop class that was held in a garage- like structure behind Neighborhood House. This was near the alley and not part of the escuelita, which was located in the back facing Newton Ave.
Neighborhood House also offered a basic, highly utilized amenity- hot showers. Most families did not have hot water and had to heat water if a bath was to be taken at home.
Marcos remembers learning board games such as Sorry, Monopoly and Pickup Sticks in what they referred to as the game room, which in reality was the auditorium (and surgery recovery room). Marcos also remembered that sometime around 1952, the police had lined him and several of his friends up against the Neighborhood House fence and paddled them. He does not remember the infraction, but remembers being paddled.
Their father Lorenzo refused to attend the fathers’ club at Neighborhood House, because as Mr. Carriedo said: “No one was going to teach me how to be a father.” Marcos begged and pleaded to have him attend one of the father and son activities because they were given a prize if their father attended the functions. Mr. Carriedo did attend one of the activities for the sole reason of assuring that his son would receive his prize.
Neighborhood House also offered a basic, highly utilized amenity- hot showers. Most families did not have hot water and had to heat water if a bath was to be taken at home. The boys remembered taking a bath in a tina. A tub, however, is not a bathtub. Usually, it was a wash tub. As young kids their father would take them to Neighborhood House to use the shower. Ruben remembers his father showered regularly at Neighborhood House, but that the Saturday shower was reserved for walking the boys across the street and all of them showering at Neighborhood House.
In the 1940’s there were no tennis courts at Neighborhood House. The kids would place a net across the basketball court and transform it into a tennis court when needed. The playground had the basketball courts and a handball structure, but until Coach Pinkerton (director of boys’ activities at Neighborhood House from 1943 to 1970) came to Neighborhood House, tennis was for the most part an unknown sport. Both brothers agree that Coach Pinkerton brought tennis to Neighborhood House. Neighborhood boys initially regarded tennis as a “sissy game,” but they soon realized that it was one of the most difficult and skilled games to learn.
Ruben remembers being mistaken as one of the servers and being asked by some of the guests to “bring them a coke.”
Coach Pinkerton looms large in the memory of virtually every man I have interviewed for this series. Ruben and Marcos remember Coach Pinkerton eating lunch out of a black lunch pail at his desk. Above all, they remember him as the coach who introduced tennis to Neighborhood House. Tennis took them to different parts of the city and away from the Logan Heights neighborhood they were not only familiar with but extremely comfortable in. They attended tournaments in Santa Ana, Los Angeles and as far away as Seattle.
They remember playing in a tennis tournament on the courts at Bishop School in La Jolla. After winning a game against Bill Bond, Bond’s father invited them to play another game and drove them to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Marcos’ comment was: “That’s when I realized how poor we were.”
Ruben remembers being mistaken as one of the servers and being asked by some of the guests to “bring them a coke.” They faced prejudice, not only for their ethnicity, but because poverty prevented them from dressing as the players from other clubs dressed.
All three of the Carriedo boys–Ruben, Marcos and Carlos (whom I didn’t interview) were constantly winning tournaments throughout San Diego, and later they competed and won tournaments in Southern California. At the age of eleven, Carlos caused an upset when he won a first-seeded player from La Mesa. Marcos won the title in his class for three straight years and Ruben was on the Saint Augustine net team that won the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) in 1959.
When young tennis players were talked about, you could bet that one of the Carriedo brothers would be mentioned. Mrs. Carriedo remembered how at that time Fred Kinne, a newspaper editor at the Evening Tribune, provided a free tennis clinic at Morley Field. As the boys progressed in their tennis skills it became very clear that they needed more advanced training than Coach Pinkerton could provide and they started playing tennis at Morley Field. The boys decided to switch from Neighborhood House to the Morley Field club. To this day both boys regret hurting Coach Pinkerton’s feeling. He saw them as Neighborhood House kids, his kids, and now they were playing for another club.
Mrs. Carriedo remembered how in an interview she mentioned Mr. Kinne’s contributions to her sons’ tennis accomplishments and failed to mention Coach Pinkerton. Even today says she is so sorry she forgot to recognize the contributions Coach Pinkerton made to her boys’ success.
Mrs. Carriedo thinks Carlos was around six years old when he started hitting tennis balls at Neighborhood House. Mrs. Carriedo was very proud that all three of her boys played tennis for Saints and even prouder of the fact that she never missed a tennis tournament. The three boys, Ruben, Carlos, and Marcos all attended Saint Augustine Catholic High School on scholarships. She is equally proud of her daughters and their accomplishments. However, because they are younger, they did not attend Neighborhood House.
Marcos remembered the Christmas trips to the Navy ships as a highlight of the Christmas season. Kids from Neighborhood House were taken by bus to one of the ships docked across the bay in Coronado. On that field trip he had a tour of the ship, a wonderful lunch with the sailors and received a Christmas present. He uses his hands to show me the size of the Christmas stockings they received. To be honest, Hercules could not have had a stocking as long as he remembered; however, through the eyes of a little boy, I am sure that the stocking looked huge.
Like the others that have been interviewed, Mrs. Carriedo’s memories of Neighborhood House are all very positive. When WWII broke out she remembers that Victor Negrete, Leonard Fierro, and Lorenzo Carriedo all came to say good bye. After Lorenzo and Margarita married, Lorenzo became a charter member of the Toltec Club. Thus, like the other Toltecas, he laid the foundation for the social changes that would follow in the 50’s and the 60’s.
The Carriedo’s family life in Logan Heights came to an end. Miss Lupe “Lupita” Evers worked as an office girl at Neighborhood House. Lupita was a little person and was a neighborhood fixture. Lupita came to Mrs. Carriedo with a concern. Lupita explained to Mrs. Carriedo that the local gang had tried to recruit Marcos into their gang. Marcos refused to join it. As a result, the gang beat him up for his refusal. Mrs. Carriedo told her husband that it was time to move. They moved to Beta Street near Balboa School and left Neighborhood House behind.
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The complete History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights series is available here.