Wednesday, September 14, 2016

on July 24, 2016
Poignancy as well as humor. This reminded me of the book PENROD. It took me back 
to my own childhood and path to adulthood. You'll love this family and be entertained by 
the reminisces of this talented writer. What a funny and sweet story he tells of growing up 
in a wonderful time and place. It's a memoir you'll long remember and want to read again. 
Simply a beautiful and beautifully written slice of nostalgia.

Amazon's synopsis of PENROD:  Booth Tarkington was one of the greatest American 
writers of the early 20th century.  The classic novels Alice Adams and The Magnificent 
Ambersons earned Tarkington  The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and he is one of only three 
writers to ever win the award more than once. Tarkington's works are also notable for 
their Midwestern regionalism as many of his books are set in his native state of Indiana. 
Penrod, published in 1914, is a classic novel that details the adventures of a young boy 
growing up in the Midwest before World War I. Tarkington wrote two sequel novels to 
Penrod and all of them were made into films.

Monday, July 18, 2016

For those of you who have yet to see my art there are a three sites I would like to invite you to visit.
1. The Artworks from Author and Artist Gil Garcia
2. A Walk Back Home
3. The Art of Gil Garcia
I do hope you enjoy the many different styles and subject matter that I've learned from my family. A family of five artist who shared their thoughts, their techniques, and their imagination.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

I have a special favor to ask all the visitors to this site.  I would truly appreciate your help; I'm asking those of you who visit your local library to order my book 'A Walk Back Home.'  I've have found copies in my local libraries, but I know that because the book was originally printed with the wrong ISBN number, it missed being placed on the list that libraries use to order from. There are roughly 122,000 public libraries in the US, not counting schools and universities.  So you can imagine what a wonderful thing it would be to be placed on that list that the my publisher missed.

Please ask the Librarian that you would like to order A Walk Back Home  ISBN 9781495456039

With much appreciation,

Gil Garcia

Thursday, May 12, 2016

In the book I write about my parents and their love of the Ocean.  My father passed away in 1985, and my mother will turn nighty-nine years of age on May 19th, 2016.  Her greatest wish is be with him again.  So I hurried to finish this painting I titled "Together Again."  

                                                         So Mom Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I've added a video of my art set to the music of Mozart.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Do you Remember the 1940s and 50s? You are invited to take a walk back in time with author, artist & poet Gil Garcia. Who writes of a time when imagination ruled the day-to-day life of children throughout America. A time before television, when nightly radio programing nurtured a child’s imagination, and bonded the hearts and souls of families in mystery and laughter. A time before fast food restaurants, when families sat together and shared their day.  A time when our hand-me-down clothing were further antiqued by a squadron of moths, and a ride in the rumble seat of Pop’s model A Ford was a rite of passage.

Gil’s book is a memoir of his early childhood.  A humorous story. The Tom Sawyer of South Central 1940s Los Angeles is the best way to describe this little guy who manages to find himself in impossible one of a kind situations that will leave you smiling as he visualizes for you, and so descriptively beautiful, a neighborhood's panorama of life as seen through eyes of a child.
Gil's parents, his warring brothers, two sisters, a Dutch priest, and a English Sheepdog make up the cast of characters in this entertaining collection.  It's Gil's parents' love for one another that shields this family through tragedy and the hardest of times.  Memories fade, then blend into the next, and a delightful narrative begins to emerge that reminds the audience of the exuberance of youth.

Be prepared to fall in love with this boy, for these forty-four charming short stories will warm your heart and leave you laughing out loud.

This book now exist because of Gil’s beliefs that the histories of families have been shamelessly lost to their children and their grandchildren who will never know of their ancestors’ sacrifices, struggles, their loves and heartaches. Gil believes that you must jot down all your memories no matter how crude to allow your descendants to piece together who they are and where they came from. Tomorrow is always changing, and yesterday is always fading. Unless you begin to put these memories to paper now, your history and that of your family will be lost forever.  It’s never too late to start, and he begs you to try. 

Bob Hope once said, “When we recall the past, we usually find that it is the simplest things – not the great occasions – that in retrospect give off the greatest glow of happiness.”

Monday, January 11, 2016

To all my friends, family and loved ones. To all the people who stop by to read my page, let me say thank you. I give to you all, a gift, that you should listen to every morning before you start your day.  I ask you from the bottom of my heart to pay this message forward to all the people you know, to all the people on your mailing list. It's a wonderful message given to us so many years ago by talented singers of days long gone. The song is "We Are The World."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Tom Sawyer of South Central is the best way to describe this little guy who manages to find himself in impossible one of a kind situations that will leave you smiling as he visualizes for you, and so descriptively beautiful, a neighborhood's panorama of life as seen through eyes of a child.
Gil's parents, his warring brothers, two sisters, a Dutch priest, and a English Sheepdog make up the cast of characters in this entertaining collection.  It's Gil's parents' love for one another that shields this family through tragedy and the hardest of times.  Memories fade, then blend into the next, and a delightful narrative begins to emerge that reminds the audience of the exuberance of youth.

Be prepared to fall in love with this boy, for these forty-four charming short stories will warm your heart and leave you laughing out loud.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Visitors and fans of Artist/Author/Poet 
Gil Garcia must visit his new blog that marries 
his award winning art and his writing so beautifully it is a joy to see at:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I authored the little book that COULD, titled A Walk Back Home.  The book is about a little child. It follows him thru his early life during the 1940s and early 50s as he grows up in his south central Los Angeles Neighborhood.  This is the little book that will make you laugh out loud chapter after chapter. Read the review at Readers Favorite: and the readers reviews at

Let me take you back in time with a good read that when you finish the last page you will have that feeling of satisfaction. And please tell a friend about your experience with this little boy that made you laugh out loud.

Thank you and best wishes to you and your family.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Excerpts of A Walk Back Home

The Neighborhood

            On other nights, you might find a neighbor kid in our front yard leaning his head and forearm against the tree, counting with his eyes tightly closed as the children dispersed in all directions.
            “Twenty-four, twenty-five,” he would count. The giggles and laughter of the hiding children would subside to whispers as the neighbor boy neared the end of his count, and then…absolute silence. He would then quicken the count: “Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty; here I come!”
            Under the dim streetlight, he quickly turned to begin his search while listening for any clues as to where the children of Parmalee Avenue were hiding. It’s a scene that has been played out for many generations, in every suburb of every city throughout the United States, children sharing the hours before bedtime. For these children the reality of war was a thing of the past or a newsreel at the Saturday matinee. For these children there was only the present, moments of innocence, moments to make memories that would last a lifetime. As the evenings grew colder, the last holdouts of the streets retreated indoors to join their families for quality time around the radio to be bonded in mystery and laughter.
          Before going to bed my mother would place the empty milk bottles on the front porch, and in the morning Mr. Jennings, our milkman, would replace the empty bottles with my mother’s standing order of milk; if my mother left a note, he would leave butter and eggs as well. Food products were all sold throughout the week from the many vendors whose trucks were specially outfitted for the sale of their products. It was the Helms truck that my sisters and I grew especially fond of. It’s funny the little things I remember about that truck, such as how the drawers that were filled with donuts and other fresh-baked goods were the quietest drawers I had ever seen. I was used to the drawers in our kitchen that were hard to open, and when you did, the worn-out wood rubbing against the frame of the cabinet made it impossible to sneak out a piece of bread or any other treat before mealtime. When the Helms man slid open the truck’s drawers, the aroma of that morning’s fresh-baked goods were to die for.
            The coffee was delivered by the Dale brothers, who I thought at the time to be twins. The ice was delivered by Rudy Garcia, the fish by Vito, and the vegetables by a local Chinese family. Because you could buy a pound of tomatoes, bananas, or a loaf of bread for ten cents, I had been known to spend my allowance on a pound of tomatoes and eat the whole thing in one sitting without ruining my dinner.
          Vito the fish man always delivered on Fridays; he would park his old, powder-blue pickup truck directly in front of Father Mulden’s office. He was an Italian immigrant with a wrinkled, sun-parched face and blue eyes. Vito chose to park in front of the church because he knew that every good Catholic family dreaded the thought of going to hell for eating meat on Fridays. He would blow the loud air horns that were fastened to the roof of the truck cab, then yell at the top of his lungs in his broken English, “Fish, come a getta-you fish.”
            The truck bed was filled with ice, and an old-fashioned scale that hung from the frame above continued to sway from the braking of the truck. Mona, Martha, and I would run out to the fish truck and jump up on the running boards. Martha and I would pull little Mona up so she too could see all the dead creatures that stuck out from their icy grave. Some fish looked like monsters, with big eyes and sharp teeth. I have to say that I loved the wonderful aroma of fresh fish emanating from that truck. It was a smell you don’t find in today’s modern markets. Today one does not have a chance to smell the freshness of the product through the plastic shrink-wrapped packages marked “fresh.” These fish came from the docks of San Pedro and had been caught at sea the night before. They were not fish fillets or fish steaks that were embedded in the ice; these were whole fish that you had to take home to fillet in your own kitchen. Sometimes my mother buried the innards in her garden to enrich the soil. After completing their orders, Vito would double wrap the fish in newspaper before handing them to his costumers, tip his well-worn hat to say thank you, and then be off to the next community to save many more good Catholic families from the depths of hell.
            Then there was old Mr. Taylor, an elderly black man, and his horse named Lady. He was one of the last junkmen in Los Angeles to operate from an old western-style wagon with wooden wheels. He was not a vendor who represented a large corporation like the Helms man, but a man who discovered that one man’s trash was another’s treasure. He would rescue items that were recyclable and resell them in his establishment. In today’s world I guess he’d be called a picker. He and Lady made their rounds throughout the neighborhood before the city crews arrived to empty your trash cans. You could hear the sound of the wagon wheels and the clip-clop of Lady’s hooves coming long before they turned the corner onto Parmalee Avenue. Mr. Taylor always had a warm welcome when he saw us and would joyfully announce, “Hi yaw kids,” as he guided Lady and the old, rickety wagon closer to the curb. “Whoa, Honey, whooooa, Lady,” he would say as he pulled back on the reins until the rig came to a complete stop. Even if we had not placed items by the curb, he would stop just to say hello and let us pet Lady. Lady’s coat was chestnut red in color. Her eyes were big and brown, with long eyelashes. Her eyes were so big that they reflected our own faces as we pet her muscular cheeks. Her ears protruded from the holes in the straw hat she wore, which was similar to the one old Mr. Taylor had on his head. Mr. Taylor always wore a chocolate-brown suit jacket and a red bow tie. Lady’s red fur quivered as we pet her well-fed belly.
            He’d look down at us in jovial manner and ask, “How are you fine kids doing on this wonderful morning, are you minding your mamma?”
            His sandy voice was so naturally friendly that it was a treat to hear him speak. Little did we know at the time that Mr. Taylor and Lady would soon retire, and never again would a wagon and horse be seen doing business on the streets of South Central Los Angeles.
            Parmalee Avenue was five blocks long and extended from Gage Avenue to Sixty-Eighth Street. It dead-ended at the front doors of Miramonte Elementary School at one end and the Union Pacific tracks at the other. Our next-door neighbor was the backside of Edison Junior High School, which had a tall hurricane fence bordering two sides of our yard. Directly across the street from our house stood Presentation Catholic Church, the church rectory, and the parish hall. The church property was one city block in length. To our left was an empty lot, which we believed at the time was owned by the school, and on it sat an eight-foot-high lumber pile that gave shelter to a legion of mice.
                It was not unusual for a mouse or two to pay a weekly visit to our home. Many times we found my mom in the kitchen getting her daily exercise chasing those furry critters with a broom in hand. The mice turned on a dime at high speeds, trying to outwit her as she did her best to corner the pests and send them on their way to the hereafter. Those straw brooms were veterans of many battles and were retired early, one after the other. Sometimes, in complete frustration, my mother would instinctively grab a dish from the countertop and throw it at the critter. Luckily the Dale Brothers Coffee Company sold dishes from their trucks with the same pattern.
            Beyond the empty lot were three small, Spanish-style, white stucco apartments. Large poinsettia bushes graced their white walls, and in late fall the deep red flowers signaled us that Christmas was soon to arrive. The corner unit belonged to George, his wife, Margi, and their two daughters, Malinda and Sharon (my Brother Tim’s nemesis). Directly behind their apartment lived Steven, a young man who had just returned from the war in the Pacific. His bedroom was filled with war mementos, including a Japanese rifle, bayonet, a grenade, and a few medals he had earned in battle. He spent his days doing push-ups on a blanket laid out in the empty lot, hoping someday to hold the Guinness World Record, which at the time was over a thousand. We would sit beside him on his blanket trying to keep count as he struggled to accomplish his goal. He would correct our count when we made a mistake. I’m sure we did more harm than good in helping him break that record. He had a large, beautiful, long-haired collie dog that he kept outdoors in a large chicken-wire enclosure. One day while petting it, that dog let me know he had had enough and bit me on the right cheek. That would be the first of three episodes of dog bites that I would soon experience.
            In that same empty lot, adjacent to the huge lumber pile, was a set of what we thought were monkey bars made of three-quarter-inch galvanized pipes that stuck up out of the ground at a height of about three feet and then ran horizontal to the ground for about three feet before rising up six inches at a center post and running another three feet before returning to the ground. These so-called monkey bars separated the empty lot from the driveway that led to three parking garages belonging to the three tenants of the apartments. Throughout those early years, I spent many hours with my sisters hanging upside down on those bars from our knees.
            Across the street on the next block, just north of Sixty-Fourth Street on the corner of Gage Avenue and Parmalee, lived the Troy family. There were twelve kids, and in many ways they were much like the characters of the Joad family in the movie The Grapes of Wrath. The twelve children and two adults somehow managed to sanely coexist in their three-bedroom, one-thousand-square-foot, 1920s, wood-frame bungalow. The clotheslines behind the house could always be found stretched beyond their limits, supporting the weight of the many wet diapers required for this brigade of toddlers.
            Mr. and Mrs. Troy were both devoted parents, and I believe that they were both employees at a local hospital. Mrs. Troy had returned to work to make ends meet. This left the older girls to give up their childhood, shouldering the responsibilities of feeding, bathing, and diapering the young ones. They became reluctant adults long before their time. For weekend breakfasts each of the older children was poured one mason jar of milk and received one large pancake with jam and butter smeared all over. The younger ones were spoon-fed pabulum cooked with a little milk and butter. There were only four chairs at the table, and they used vegetable crates to seat the rest of the clan. I remember sitting on their front porch waiting for one of them to come out and play, hoping they would bring me a pancake, too.
            Sometimes while their parents were at work, we’d find ourselves sitting around in the front bedroom of their home listening to their windup phonograph. The dusty, old Edison seventy-eight vinyl records would start off slowly, dragging the voice of the great opera singer Mario Lanza or the great Caruso. One day we had ourselves a pea-shooting war inside their home, launching a thousand or so peas throughout. Of course, we had planned to retrieve all the projectiles, but it didn’t quite work out that way, so Mrs. Troy was so enraged that she banished us from their inner sanctum from that day on.
            Being banished from the house and being as creative as we were, we discovered that the empty cardboard boxes at the loading platform adjacent to the Union Pacific tracks across the street from the Troys home were perfect for constructing cardboard mazes in their backyard. There could be as many as fifteen of us in the dark passageways trying to pass each other as we explored other avenues. It was only the little ones who were still in diapers who could put a damper on our fun. I guess that’s why in the old days miners took canaries into the mines. Just one mishap in the young ones’ diapers would start an immediate exodus as we broke out through new openings, gasping for fresh air.
            One day we had heard that two rival gangs of the neighborhood were going to meet up at the corner of Parmalee and Gage Avenues, the same corner where the Troy family lived. When the gang members started arriving, we climbed a ladder to the top of the garage roof, squatted down, and watched the brutal fight. Knives were flashing, and when it was over there were three young men lying in the streets. The police and ambulances filled the street, and of course, there were none of the other members around to answer questions. I only wish that we might have stayed in touch somehow with those Troy children, for they were a big part of our memories of those early years on Parmalee Avenue. I later heard that most of those children grew up to be highly educated professionals.
            At the opposite end of Parmalee Avenue, five blocks away, lived the Gomez family, with thirteen kids. It seemed that the smaller three kids were always in tow, with sagging diapers that dispersed insect-killing fumes behind them. The children of Parmalee Avenue were accustomed to walking one to five blocks to find playmates for the day. Because our yard was the largest of the three families, it became a destination for many on those long summer days. The older kids, including my brothers, would play basketball at the courts near the entry to the backside of Edison Junior High. Only the bike racks and the high hurricane fence separated our yard and the basketball courts.
            One day my mother grew tired of children knocking on the back screen door and interrupting her housework to ask for a glass of water or permission to use our bathroom. Hell, there were over twenty kids in this daily migration who could easily dirty every glass, canning jar, and cup in the kitchen in just one round of thirst. They could easily go through a roll of toilet paper in less than an hour. Sometimes the younger ones would exit the bathroom butt-naked, asking my mom to wipe. Having enough of this, my mother summoned all the kids to the back porch to lay down the law: “If you are thirsty, drink from the garden hose; if you need to use the bathroom,
 go home, and if you have brothers or sisters in diapers…STAY HOME!”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Official Review: A Walk Back Home by Gil Garcia

Post Number:#1  Postby Jesska6029 » 04 Apr 2015, 16:33
[Following is the official review of "A Walk Back Home" by Gil Garcia.]

3 out of 4 stars

Review by Jesska6029

Share This Review

A Walk Back Home: A Humorous Family Saga is a non-fiction book, which details the childhood of the author, Gil Garcia. The book is a compilation of forty-four short stories. Garcia takes readers through the 1940s to the mid-1950s, describing his life while he lived in the Florence District in Los Angeles. Garcia writes down the events of the past so that they can never be forgotten in the future. The book shows the good, the bad, and the downright hilarious goings on of one family and shows the true strength of family bonds. Garcia will have readers laughing with each of his stories. 

Anytime I read non-fiction, I always question how reliable the author of the work is. Garcia earned a lot of respect from me, because in the beginning of his book, he puts a disclaimer out there to readers. He explains that he writes his stories from memory. As a result, the stories and conversations may not be 100% word-for-word, but the "spirit of those conversations is 100% true." In a way, this serving of honesty built my trust toward Garcia. While reading, I felt more at ease, because I did not have to question the authenticity of everything he claims happened.

The writing style of this book is absolutely beautiful. The diction in the book makes me believe Garcia is actually a poet. The words flow together marvelously; they will entrance readers. The wording is never dry or dull. There is a great level of detail. The way the scenes are described made me think I was actually there with him, because I could picture every story like it was my own memory.

The book is divided into sections based on the years the stories took place. At the beginning of each section, Garcia includes lists of hit music, big headlines, and major motion pictures of the years. He gives readers a feel for the times, which is a really smart move. My favorite thing Garcia does is include actual family photographs. I felt more connected to the people he writes about, and as a result, I became more invested in their stories. 

I do have a couple of criticisms. Garcia includes quotes between paragraphs, and the quotes are a serious distraction. They took me right out of the section I was reading. I spent far too much time considering the relevance of the quotes. Also, the sections do not follow a linear timeline. For example, the first section is about 1949, but the next is about 1942. I kept having to go back to figure out how old Garcia was during certain events. There are a few grammatical mistakes. For example, "pop" is not capitalized in one place, and it is meant to be a proper noun. In one instance there is no space after a comma: "4,my".

I give A Walk Back Home 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys non-fiction and to anyone who enjoys really funny stories. Readers will connect with the stories and the dynamics of the Garcia family, and possibly even say, "Garcia's stories remind me of a few of my own." I know I thought it many times. It is a truly lovely compilation of non-fiction short stories, and it breaks my heart to give it less than 4 stars, but I must based upon the errors and the distracting quotes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Excerpts First Chapter
“Let God See You Fight”

                                                                                                                                             One Saturday my sisters and I were sitting in the middle of the theater among the three hundred or so other kids whose parents were thankful for the timeout the Saturday matinee afforded them. As usual, a bike would be raffled off at intermission, a yo-yo contest would be held, and a wannabe doo-wop group would perform live on stage. At the end of the performance, the impatient kids yelled at the announcer as they threw their empty, flattened popcorn boxes at the poor man, trying to force him off the stage.           The theater’s overhead lights began to dim, signaling that the second half of the matinee was about to begin. Then the movie screen began to flicker from the stream of lights that came from the secret room high on the back wall. First the newsreels played, then the coming attractions: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and One Summer of Happiness. HOLD IT. Wait! What the heck was One Summer of Happiness? All of a sudden, we were watching on the big screen_in big, living color_a man and a woman kissing at the top of the stairs. The camera panned down slowly and moved in for a close-up of the man’s hand moving up the woman’s blouse; it then wrapped around the woman’s right breast.                                                                                                                          Oh…ooooh my gosh! You could hear hundreds of kids in the theater gasp at the same time: “Ewww! Aaah!” Then silence. It was as if time stood still. The kids sat there wide-eyed, confused, and in shock. Thanks to that projectionist, those boys (including yours truly) would never again look at girls with the same innocence. We all sat there, our mouths gaping for the longest moment; then it happened, the silence ended, and all hell broke loose. The theater erupted with howling and screaming that went off the charts. All the popcorn boxes that had not been thrown and those that landed nearby from the first volley were launched again. I will always remember seeing the shadows of those spinning missiles reflecting off the screen as they passed through the streaming projector light.  It took that projectionist only seconds to turn a hundred or so young and innocent boys into breast men, or should I say breast boys? I don’t know why he did it, but I swear it was his fault for the transformation that overcame me that day. I was a young, innocent boy when I walked into the theater, and I walked out a craven, shallow, skinny, eight-and-half-year-old, fifty-pound monster of a kid with an overactive imagination turned loose on the world. I now thought for sure that I was forever doomed and was going straight to hell for something that wasn’t even my fault. 
            The following Saturday morning, I was in the front of the church changing out the candles at the base of the statue of the Virgin Mary. My brother Paul was in the back of the church buffing the center aisle with the large buffing machine, and Tim was in the choir loft sweeping the floor. All was quiet except for the occasional sound of the buffing machine knocking against the aisle-side face of the pew as the powerful machine tried to control its own direction.

Madonna of the Harpies, originally painted by Florentine artist Andrea del Sarto in 1517.
Revised oil painting painted by author

                I remember looking up at the Virgin’s image wondering if she knew I was already a breast man. I truly felt guilty believing that she knew all as Jesus did. After all, she was the mother of Christ! I wanted to ask her to intercede on my behalf, something my own mother always believed in; she would say, “Ask Mary to intercede on your behalf and the Lord will grant your wish.” So I continued my mental confession: “I’m sorry, but it’s not my fault; it’s the projectionist’s fault.” I really did try not to look at a woman’s chiches (which is what we called breasts in those days), but it was no use. No matter how much I tried, my brain wanted to do what it wanted to do, and that was that. I just wanted it to end, and I wanted God to forgive me. I stood there looking up at the image, pleading for help, truly terrified of my own imagination and the trouble it would get me into.

            Hearing an odd noise, I turned to the back of the church just in time to see my brother Tim standing on the outside of the spindled railing of the choir loft directly above Paul. He immediately jumped down onto Paul, knocking him to the floor. Then all hell broke loose. Right there in the church, just as my mother had asked them to do when she’d said, “Let God see you fight.” I stood there in a moment of disbelief at what I was seeing. In a panic I ran out of the church and across the street to tell my mother what had happened, and upon hearing the news, my mother’s shoulders slumped over as if her energy was zapped right out of her. After a moment she gathered herself and ran out of the house, across the street, and into the church. There she found my brother Paul sitting on Tim’s chest, punching him in the face with one brutal blow after another. With each punch Paul uttered a sound that emphasized the extreme energy he was expelling with every punch. Tim’s arms were pinned under Paul’s knees, and that rendered him helpless as Paul took out his revenge. For a fleeting moment, my mother fought off the effects of an oncoming fainting spell. She stood there, shocked and mortified at this shameful sight of her sons fighting in the holiest place she knew.

The Moment of Atonementoil painting by author, Gil Garcia.

                They were trying to kill each other under the life-size crucifix mounted high above the altar. Trembling, she mumbled to herself, “What was I thinking?” Then in a sudden burst of energy, she pounced on them like a tiger attacking its prey, and as she had done so many times before, she tried to find the strength one more time to pull them apart. Her voice now wavering, she screamed, “Stop it! Stop it now! Shame on you,” repeating it over and over again with tears streaming down both cheeks. She tried to grab Paul’s arm before he rained down the next blow on Tim. He was hell-bent on teaching Tim a lesson. My mother’s sudden collapse to the floor brought the fight to an abrupt end. It was only then that Paul realized that Mom had tried to stop him, but it was too late. Mom lay there helpless. Tim immediately got to his feet and hurried over to the holy water as blood dripped from his nose. Filling his cupped hands from the marble basin, he walked back carefully to my mom and dropped to his knees alongside Paul, asking him to dab the water onto my mom’s face. Mom woke abruptly from the cold water, only to find all three sons hovering over her. She cried out again, “How could you? In God’s house. I am so ashamed.” She continued to cry as she sat there on the floor with her face buried in her hands, “You promised. You promised me,” she said.
            For the first time, my two brothers were without words.
            For the first time they were both ashamed at what they had done to her.
            They tried to help her up, but she shook off their attempt in disgust.
            That evening, my father’s belt found its target with more velocity than it ever had before. Pop went beyond a belt whipping; he grounded them until further notice.
            It was over a month before they were allowed to leave the house for anything but school. You would think that that would be the end of it, but it did not stop there. In 1951 I too became an apprentice altar boy, and this gave my mother new hope that she still had a chance to see one of her sons become a priest, or even the pope.
            Father Mulden had become our alarm clock. He would cross the street every morning with Patches, his trusty, horny, little wire-haired terrier, trailing behind him. That dog was being blamed for the sudden rise in pregnancies among the bitches throughout the parish. Father would abruptly knock three times, then quickly open our unlocked front door, peek around it as he removed his Cuban cigar from his mouth, and in his heavy Dutch-accented voice bellow out, “Wake up, you bums; it’s time for Mass!”
            With his cigar back in his mouth, dressed in his black tunic, his hands cupped behind his back, and his trusty dog in close pursuit, he made his way back to the rectory.
            Since we were not allowed to have breakfast before Mass, we quickly washed, dressed, and ran across the street. With only minutes to spare, we dressed quickly in our vestments, prepared the water and wine beakers, and placed them on the altar. We were then ready to begin. We lined up at the vestibule door to make our entrance onto the altar; I was first, followed by Tim, Father Mulden, and then Paul. As we approached the altar, I quickly scanned the congregation in search of my parents. I found them two rows back near the front exit, close to an open window. Mom’s eyes made contact with me, and at that moment I knew she believed I was going to be the priest she always wanted. When we reached the center of the altar, Father Mulden went up the three steps and we took our positions. Now, because I was an apprentice and had not yet studied the Latin responses, I faked it. I tried to mumble sounds that sounded similar to what my brothers were saying. The only words I could clearly voice came when Father prayed aloud: “Dominus vobiscum” (the Lord be with you), and our response was, “Et cum spiritu tuo” (and also with you). At the time I didn’t know what it meant, but I could pronounce it, and that was saying a lot.

            All was going well_that is, until it was time to re-position the missal and the offerings to the opposite sides of the altar. My brothers stood up and met at the center of the altar before ascending the three steps, Paul to the right and Tim to the left. They were supposed to come back down the stairs, turn to face the altar, and genuflect again, at which point Paul would crisscross Tim’s path to place the missal on the opposite side of the altar. But Tim had a different idea. He stuck out his foot and tripped Paul. At that moment I could not believe my eyes. Paul and the missal went flying across the carpeted steps. In only a second, Paul was up off the steps charging Tim, and for the second time, all hell broke loose right there in God’s church. I could hear all the parishioners throughout the church gasping in shock and disbelief. They must have thought the worst; this had to be the first church they had attended that needed a bouncer.

An impressionistic painting of Christ looking down on my two brothers fighting.
Oil painting by author

                These were my brothers, in their altar boy vestments, not the knights of the Holy Crusade doing battle for the honor of the church. The holy book and the offerings were sprawled out across the steps. The water and the wine beakers were dribbling their fluids onto the carpeted steps. When the commotion started, Father Mulden had turned with the utmost shock on his face as his bottom lip fluttered in Dutch. He looked up desperately into the congregation in search of my parents, while still babbling to himself. My mom almost fainted in the pew as my father rose to his feet, left the pew, and headed for the side exit on his way to the vestibule. Father Mulden appeared at the vestibule door with vise-like grips on each of my two brothers’ arms. Father Mulden’s long, Brylcreemed hair, once neatly combed straight back, was now in his face. His eyes looked as if Satan himself had taken possession of his body. Upon seeing my father, Father Mulden exploded in anger as he shouted out, “In the house of God! For Christ’s sake! Take them home. I don’t want to see them again.”

            My father felt as if his heart had been ripped from his body. He tried to apologize, but he knew there was nothing he could say to make up for the shame my brothers had brought to the church. Within moments the despairing look on my father’s face turned to instant rage as he took my brothers, still in their vestments, by the arms and disappeared out the door. Needless to say, those two would hear my father’s belt break the sound barrier that night and continue to suffer the consequences in the weeks to come.
            Paul was again punished for the actions of Tim. At this point I am sure that my mother would have given anything to take back those words she had uttered earlier: “Let God see you fight!”
            Still flustered, Father Mulden returned to the altar as he slicked back his hair. He stopped in the middle of the altar and apologized to the congregation for my brothers’ actions. He then announced that the mass would proceed as soon as the offerings were refilled. He picked up the holy book, kissed it before placing it on the altar, and asked me to take the offering flasks to the vestibule, where he would join me to refill them with water and wine. I said nothing to him, for he was still clearly disturbed and continued to babble to himself in Dutch. As I walked back to the vestibule, I glanced up at my mother, who was sitting with tears rolling down her face as Mona and Martha were again trying to comfort her.
            On our return and before ascending the stairs, Father Mulden looked at me and announced, “We can do this without them.” My greatest fears were about to come true. He pointed to the bells at the right of the altar, saying, “You’re the lead altar boy now. Take the position.” A moment ago I was a novice. A moment ago I couldn't speak Latin. And now because of my brothers, a miracle had taken place. I was now the lead altar boy; what was Father Mulden thinking?
            I couldn't speak Latin, and I didn't know what to do or when to do it. My mind began to run a mile a minute. I was frightened, so frightened that I was sure I would soil my pants right then and there on the altar in front of the congregation, and worse yet, my fluids would mix with the water and wine already spilled on the carpeted steps. “Help me Lord!” was the sum of my anguish.

            After the offertory, Father Mulden bowed toward the altar, turning slightly to give me my next instruction, but I nervously presumed the next step and rang the bells. He abruptly straightened up a bit flustered and pointed to the credence table asking me to fetch the flasks of water and wine. Nervously I stood up and went directly to the table without genuflecting, grabbed both flasks without removing the glass stoppers, and met him at the top of steps. When he asked me to remove the stoppers I dropped one that rolled down the stairs to the altar floor. Before Father could say anything I was racing down the stairs to recover it. Upon my return, he tried to calm me down and reassure me that it would soon be over and that I should relax. I was so embarrassed. This mass could not end fast enough.
        .    Father Mulden, tiring of my attempts to reinvent the Latin language, realized that he would have to recite both the prayers and the altar boy’s responses. It was bad enough that my brothers had made fools of themselves and were now banished from the altar, but now, everyone in church knew that the Latin language was Greek to me.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

5.0 out of 5 starsTina: From a bookworm!, March 19, 2015
By Tina
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: 
A Walk Back Home: A Humorous Family Saga (Paperback)
A lovely and refreshing look at a family's history written through
the eyes of a child. Gil Garcia's "first book"
is a joyful experience for any reader! LOVED it!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Excerpt from a story titled:
Sleep Learning

(A story based on a First Grade stage play)

In the first-grade play, I was to be a pint-sized pirate like the rest of my class.  We had newspapers folded on the tops of our heads like Napoleon hats.  I was to wear black pants, a loose white shirt, and some kind of red scarf around my skinny waist, which was where my sword would be stuffed.  My father made the sword out of wood and painted the blade silver just for the play.  When the day finally came, I was so terrified as we walked out onto the stage.  When we reached the center of the stage, the prerecorded music to a play called H.M.S. Pinafore began to play.  We were to turn and face the audience and hold onto our waists with our left hands while rocking our bodies back and forth, shifting from one foot to the other while mouthing the words to the music and clenching our right fists as we swung them back and forth to the beat.  Well I did no such thing; instead I searched and searched the auditorium looking for my parents. All the other kids were rocking back and forth while I stood there like a rock in a windy field of tall grass, and when I spotted my parents, I brought the auditorium into a bout of roaring laughter as I raised both my hands and yelled, "Hi, Mom!"

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By brenda gutierrez on February 22, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book made me vividly relive the 1940's, so it's on my top five books ever read. It described the upside of a 
family, and even a generation, of having less, so creating more. There are some hilarious situations that are one 
of a kind.
The wise, good-natured parents you can enjoy vicariously or remember your own.
I'll never forget little sensitive Gil and his warring brothers.
This is a book club's dream for discussing values and how they have evolved .
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By Jenny on March 3, 2015
Format: Paperback
I spent this indulgent morning reading my copy, laughing & smiling the whole way through; I even christened it with
joyful tears. Thank you Gil for sharing your beautiful memories of your whimsical childhood with the world! 
This is such a treasure families everywhere can share always.