By: Xavier De La Fuente
Special to the NEWS
San Benito native and Vietnam Veteran, Beto Conde, recently held a book reading for his latest work, America Down By The River. The book was published in 2011 but still resonated with the large crowd in attendance.
Mr. Conde grew up in the San Benito neighborhood known as El Jardin. He wrote the book to record personal history and stories he heard passed down from generation to generation by his parents and the elders from the neighborhood community.
According to Conde, his fondest childhood memory was that of Pancho Loya.
Pancho and his muscular horse trotted around the neighborhood selling pork rinds and fresh tripas out of saddlebags.
Conde continued reading excerpts from his book, going on to talk about attending grade school. He attended Frank Roberts Elementary School. It was during the era when speaking Spanish in school was not tolerated. A time when instruction was all English based and speaking Spanish would be grounds for immediate punishment.
Conde concluded the book reading by sharing his memories of “cruising for love.” The respect his friends and he had for “the pachuco.” Pachucos were young men who went against the grain of what was socially acceptable. “The pachucos were the “perfect role model for us potential social outcasts,” Conde said with pride.
Finally, to the delight of the attendees, Conde announced that his second book, We Were Raza, would soon be published by Floricanto Press.