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One of the Ashertonians who migrated to Oregon in 1952 and is son to one of the original members of the first caravan to leave Asherton, Texas for St. Paul Oregon is Jesse Villarreal.  Jesse’s early beginning in St. Paul was a bit different than the rest of the migrants who arrived to St. Paul.  Although Jesse would spend some time in the fields working, his natural abilities, bilingualism and education landed him a job working at the local general store, the owner was known as “Pumpkin.”  One can only imagine why this affectionate name for a man whose head was a bit large, belly was a bit round and he was as playful and social with all the patrons.  Jesse would be the first Tejano to work in the store.  This access to the main general store in St. Paul meant that he would meet almost everyone in town, hear and see things that no one from the migrant community ever did; a social setting where Jesse’s skills would be tested by the merchants and enjoyed by the Tejanada.  For these reasons Jesse is essentially a telescope to our migrant past; he would always have the option of being a “fly on the wall” and thus observe, learn and retain many of the things that happened more than 50 years ago. 

Ese Jesse, vamos a dar la vuelta a San Pablo”…(Hey Jesse let’s go for a ride to St. Paul)… in summer of 2008 we went for a half day ride to many of the places we knew and stopped by and talked with the people.  With my camera running and my recording device we decided to make Horseshoe Lake our first place to visit.   While there, we would both remember living in the Lawrence Bunning Camp in the early 50’s.  The buildings which once stood and were supported by a concrete slab that swelled by the moister and the tree roots were now gone.  There were a few remnants from the past but we decided not to disturb; looking back we should have as any item that we would have found would be a relique to treasure, and show to others as evidence.  Our family including my mom and dad came to the site to remember old times in the mid 1980’s a segment of this video will be posted later to hear a few words from a veteran who came to St. Paul in the early 1940’s; Arturo Salinas.  Elaine Smith who appears in this great (this claim is to excuse my ability-I hope you understand the conditions and opportunity) video production J by yours truly will recall some of the facts. 

While in route to St. Paul and from the I-5 Exit, Jesse and I began to describe the landscape, talk about the various places, families and events that we both remember from our UNIQUE PAST! Yes, we are both descendants of the original Pioneros de Oregon from Asherton, Texas.  His dad Juan and my dad Arturo were about the same age and like 90% of the Ashertonians they followed the agricultural cycles to make a living. 

Within a few minutes like explorers we arrived to Horseshoe Lake.  It is well known that one of the most popular landmarks and recreational sites in St. Paul next to the St. Paul Rodeo has to be this area which one finds at the end of the road.  The Lake is located ahead of Blanchet Rd.  No need to follow signs as the Lake is the only destination at the end of the road.  While there, we visited the old camp site, talked constantly about relevant and things not so relevant it was borage of stories, words and laughter as we enjoyed “UN PASEO” a TOUR of our past. 

Once we arrived to this OASIS by St. Paul we found little change.  The dirt road, vegetation and boat landing had not changed.  At a distance were a few people fishing.  We also remembered some of the tragic events that took place in this area namely drownings.  As we made the turn around the bend and were heading back to town we saw a pickup truck and Jesse recognized the person driving..”That’s Elaine Smith”…  We stopped, greeted her and a short time later, here comes Harold Brentano.  And with his red pickup still running, I try to take advantage of this human encyclopedia who knows St. Paul like the palm of his hand.  I did not want to appear like a camera man shooting a movie but did have my equipment running to capture the natural voice and not create a camera-shy environment for those who I was trying to capture with my lens or voice-recorder.  There are now three cars in this gravel, dirt, road and we are parked a few yards away from the old town unofficial dump and our old camp about 50 yards away.  The exchange of stories and greetings went on for minutes and it started to rain; yes believe it or not rain something that all Tejanos remembered about Oregon and the reason why a handful of Tejanos never came back such as Ponchito Benavides who celebrated his “100” birthday on 2.12.2012!  A few moments later another truck easily recognizable by the two locals…”here comes Sam Smith,” Elaine said. There are now five people, Harold’s dog, and four cars in this historical area of St. Paul, Oregon blocking the entire narrow road.  Three local sources who took us back to a time like only locals can.  Using mostly the first person singular i.e., “I remember”…”I was there.”  Moreover, each other cross referencing their account and thus lending more credibility to the various subjects; to me, was nothing less than a “Miracle at Horseshoe Lake” starring Elaine, Harold and Sam!

This is the introduction regarding an unplanned event at Horseshoe Lake, in St. Paul, Oregon. 

THANKS-GRACIAS Elaine, Harold, Sam and the dog for being a voluntary cast to this humble video production.  A conversation that even if planned could not have produced the natural human interaction about a special place, a special time and recalling some of the folks from years past!

I took a lot of valuable information from this four way conversation.  The memory that surprised me the most was the contribution by Elaine; YES, I must be partial as it involved a memory about my dad.  “Arturo used to come often and bring tamales to our home.”  A silent inner cry was present as I listened to a testimony of my dad’s favorite dollar-making weekend ritual!…”Tamales and Barbacoa.”  No surprise here as half of the Tejanada knew my dad’s home food order business.  The tamales he would sell by the dozen..and the barbacoa he would sell by the pound.  The large container in the trunk of his car sat next to the scale…for precision selling.  My dad had picked up a few skills from his parents according to Raquel Zavala Cortez..mi prima (my cousin) who lives in Houston, Texas.  “Todos los Salinas eran buenos cocineros”… “All the Salinas were hard workers and good cooks.”  The stories about my dad’s good cooking explained to me why he was competitive in the kitchen.  The best meal I had at home is when both my mom and dad were involved in the cooking.  THANKS Elaine for triggering a good memory about one of the “Cuatro Hombres Solos” my dad-Arturo…

POSTSCRIPT what happens in an area that is far away from residents, with little or no supervision and is at the end of the road?…I will leave it up to your imagination.
soymiguel  3.10.2013

Starting today on this 9th day of March 2013...I will challenge myself to do the “Right Thing”…and like my dad respect everything and everyone…but fear nothing and no one.   This is the only way I will approach the stories which I anticipate to finish by my “50th wedding Anniversary”…Jan. 19, 2018 :-)  GOD WILLING!

When I can, I will use the Bible to guide some of my writing.  The wise men who wrote the Bible no doubt had expansive experience and with humility I use their language to supplement my thinking and approach.

“Si no fuera por esta demora estaríamos ya otra vez de vuelta.” Had I not encountered a challenge along the way, I would be on my way back.”
When one is involved in a journey or a project there are things that sometimes get in the way and prevents completion of the Project and/or represent additional challenges.  From the view point of GREAT MEN and my interpretation of the aforementioned quotation of the BIBLE, I interpret that our journey or approach to life sometimes takes more than one TRY.  Thus we need to try again and not give up; when we do this and with a positive spirit we become stronger.