In the mid 1980’s when I first got married, I would often visit my wife’s grandfather who lived on San Antonio’s west side, north of Kelly AFB (now, KellyUSA) in an old neighborhood off of Castroville Road and General McMullin. His age and a hard life had left him partially blind and always in need of something to be done around the house, but mostly just someone to visit and talk with. More often than not, visits ended up with long, boisterous conversations fueled by beer we’d purchased from a now defunct grocery store called La Concordia, next door to the best Church’s Chicken in San Antonio, a walk-up stand on Castroville and Balboa.
That neighborhood had a cast of characters who would pass by and offer their greetings to us. One neighbor, Richie Cammarillo (may he rest in peace), would often join in to help us with our yard beautification projects, knowing well that he would benefit from any beer or chicken runs we made.
It reminds me that, there was a beer brand that I had never heard of before and haven’t seen since, Jax. You could get this beer for 68 cents a Quart at La Concordia, and I thought that was a pretty good deal until I actually had a swig once.
So the other day, I was driving by that area near Las Palmas Community Center and the San Fernando cemetery when I was reminded of one Sunday morning that my brother-in-law and I were in the old neighborhood. We had gotten to the house on Balboa fairly early to enjoy some barbacoa before starting a project in the yard. Around 9:30 in the morning, we decided to take a drive to a lumber store to pick up some materials when we drove up upon a bus stop near a stop light on Gen. McMullen. There was a fairly dapper looking gentlemen fully decked out in his Sunday’s best, no doubt waiting for a ride to church or perhaps the flea market, sipping on a quart kept cool by a brown paper bag. He had on more gold jewelry than I had seen on a man in my life. And keep in mind, this was before Rap Stars and wannabees wore their big huge gold chains. This guy had a Rolex (or perhaps it was Rol-lex) watch, bracelets, rings and his pointy-toed cowboy boots even had what appeared to be some sort of gold polished toe guard.
As we drove up to the stoplight looking the man over, you could sense his uneasiness. My brother-in-law and I looked at each other, and with almost jinx-like precision, both asked, “Where did he get a beer before noon on Sunday?”
As it turns out, and I only have this on rumor from a man who has now sadly passed, there was a lady in the neighborhood who would go to La Concordia on Saturday nights and purchase an ice chest full of quart bottles of beer, then sell them to the drunks prior to noon on Sunday for quite a substantial profit.But he never would give me the address of this lady. Took it to his grave.