Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Justino Waits for the Spring

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Justino Waits for the Spring

Article excerpt

Justino William Sanchez was expected to be given to the light early last week, but he resisted and waited until spring. He was born at 1:25 a.m. Saturday at Mercy Hospital.

And why should he have entered this world in the winter? On his father's side, he traces his roots to the Nicaraguan town of El Viejo. It is almost always warm in El Viejo. When it is not warm, it is hot.

On both the warm days and the hot days, you will find an old man sitting on a rocking chair in the front room of his home which opens on to the street. His name is Justino Antonio Montes Zavala. He is 98 years old. He is Justino's great-grandfather.

The younger residents call him and his friends "palomas caidas." Fallen doves. I like to consider myself an honorary paloma caida, and on my two trips to El Viejo, I have spent some time sitting next to Justino. We rock together as the world goes by. My Spanish is good enough that I can say things, but not good enough that I can understand much, so I often begin our conversation with a question and then rock back and forth while Justino responds at length. At least I think he responds. Maybe he has changed the subject without me knowing.

Now there is a child who carries our names. I will have to ask him what he thinks about that when next I see him.

I will, of course, first tell him what I think. I think it is the story of America, this coming together of two great waves of immigration the Irish wave of more than a century ago, and the Latino wave of today.

I remember when my daughter got married in California. The ceremony was in the backyard of one of my wife's sisters. The groom set up a computer so that relatives in Nicaragua could watch the ceremony. The young men and young women could have come from Central Casting. Latinos, whites, a black and a Jew made up the wedding party. A young man from India conducted the ceremony. The people watching in Nicaragua must have thought the beer commercials were true. People in the U.S. do get along.

It's true. For the most part, we do.

We are not bequeathing a perfect society to young Justino, but it's not nearly as bad as you'd think if you just read newspapers or watch the news on television. …

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