Grandpa And The Cat

I was asked to tell another personal story about my life. As I have said before, I grew UP in a family that was anything but normal. Don’t get me wrong, my family has a lot of love for one another, they have been good to me, well at least most of the time. But, we are definitely not the Brady Bunch. My grandfather grew up as a young man in the Roaring 20’s. His parents traveled here on a boat full of other Italian immigrants around 1900. At the time my grandfather was still a baby. At first they moved to New York City and lived with all of the other immigrant Italian and Jewish families. Grandpa also had family in Cincinnati and in South Texas, in a small town called Penitas, which sits right on the border of Mexico. I believe they had arrived there about ten years before his mother and father, my great- grandparents.

As the 1920’s began my grandfather had already married an Italian woman whose parents were also from Italy, and they started a family right away. During the 1920’s America outlawed alcohol sale and consumption in the country, which they called “Prohibition”. For all of the new immigrants in the United States, this was a dream come true. To all of the Irish, Jews and Italian people, it was like a freaking leprechaun showed up to everyone's door with a pot of endless gold. Just think about this for a moment, I am sure that everyone who is reading this is fully aware of how much Americans love alcohol. Whether it’s beer, whiskey or wine, almost everyone in this country sloshes back a little booze from time to time. So, when prohibition started it opened the door for all of these new immigrants to make millions of dollars selling illegal alcohol to the general populace. They wasted no time getting started.

Our neighboring countries Canada and Mexico were still producing alcohol, so naturally Americans were smuggling it in from both places by the truckloads. Big cities like New York, Chicago and Boston were having gun battles in the streets over who was going to control certain areas of the city. These cities were acquiring so much money due to the truckloads and convoys of booze coming in from Canada and Mexico every day. It was hard to even keep up with the supply in demand needed for these large cities. All of the new immigrants who were looking for work, or who were working for cents on the dollar, couldn’t believe how lucky they were. My grandfather told me in these days a man either worked or you and your family starved to death, because there wasn’t any welfare or government handouts at that time.

He was solely responsible for keeping a roof over his family’s heads, his wife and kids and also his mother and father, not to make the burden any less, he had to put food on the table for his family.

He told me about the time prohibition had started, he just so happened to be in Cincinnati, Ohio, which proved to be a great location he thought because he didn’t have to deal with all of the killing going on in New York. He reached out to his family members in south Texas, and before long started moving alcohol up to the northern U.S. once the money began rolling in, he bought a ranch at the border and a house in Cincinnati, and then a new life truly began for him and his family. By the 1930’s the Great Depression set in, but he stated to me that there wasn’t any need for worry over money because he had built up more than enough for him and his family to last for decades. By the time prohibition finally came to an end, he had made a lot of good friends in Mexico, so then he jumped right into the marijuana business.

As the years went by my grandfather did very well in his life. Unfortunately, he lost his oldest son in the Korean War, but his other three sons would grow up and eventually work with him in the marijuana trade. Of course a little further down the road, I came along and would work with him as well. My grandfather earned a lot of respect from everyone. He loved to cook and would feed every single person who came into our home. You would never suspect he had money, he was a simple man, who was soft spoken. Even, though he never went to college, he was still very smart. He was very articulate and had an uncanny ability to read people. I can not begin to tell everyone of the numerous things I have learned from him. He was also a no-nonsense man when it came to any of us or others associated with him, when it came down to business. I learned as a kid to never talk back to him because when he, got upset, you would not be prepared for what was about to come afterwards.

Growing up in my very unusual family, not being the most law-abiding citizens around, there were several things I was forbidden to do as a kid. One of the biggest no no’s was answering the door. They believed that someone could show up to rob or kill us, so I was always told to never under any circumstances, touch the door. When I wanted to go outside to play, I had to ask someone and they would let me out. All of the doors on our house were dead bolted so that they needed a key to unlock them, even from the inside. Another big thing in my family was weapons. There were guns in every room throughout our house. (They took security to a totally different level). As a young kid always seeing this was nothing strange to me. When I was in first or second grade, I went to one of my friend's house to spend the night. I remember they had their windows and their doors open. I asked them why they left everything open and was told they always had them open when it was cool outside. Then I noticed they had a gun rack and it had a big lock on it to keep anyone from getting ahold of one of the guns. When I asked my friend why his dad locked the gun case he said, “Because his dad didn’t want him touching them.” I thought to myself how odd his parents were, because my family always instructed me that if anyone came in through our windows, I was to get a gun and shoot them until there were no bullets left. As we went to his bedroom to go to sleep, I laid there thinking about how very weird his family was. I also had trouble sleeping, I kept wondering if someone was going to rob or kill us.

On our land in Texas we had a big problem with rattlesnakes and a friend of my grandfather suggested that he would give him two siamese cats that he had. These two cats, one male and one female, would eventually multiply into twenty or more cats. Most of these rascals were born under our barn and were so wild you couldn’t even get near them. Grandpa took a liking to the original female cat we had, and as the feline population grew he would let her in our house and feed her away from all of the other wild beasts. He fed her alone and liked her so much that he would give her special treats besides the cat food. If he was preparing dinner he would set all of the fat off of the meats and set it to the side for her. All of this special attention made her grow much bigger than the other cats.

I remember a very interesting episode with Grandpa and his feline companion. I had a friend named Danny whose dad had passed away and I had brought him into our home. Danny became like a brother to me. One particular Monday morning my mother woke me and Danny up for school, and of all the crazy situations of my childhood nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen next. Well, as Danny and I came into the kitchen to eat something before leaving for school, my mother was sitting at the table while my grandfather was cooking us something. I noticed that our siamese cat was in the kitchen rubbing against Grandpa’s leg trying to get some more food. He had set out a pack of raw liver meat and she smelled it, now she went crazy wanting some of it. As my grandfather walked back and forth trying to feed us, this damn cat was literally crying, trying to get him to give up some of this liver. When she had enough this cat jumped up on the counter and grabbed the liver. My grandfather saw her and he grabbed her by the throat. Of course the cat let go of the liver, then she jumped on his arm tearing into him with all of her razor sharp claws. For a moment he let go of her throat and she began biting his hand, he was beating her head against the hack door and punching her over and over again.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, the cat was going crazy, hissing and making all kinds of deranged sounds. My grandfather was saying all kinds of four-letter words and doing some hissing of his own. Finally, he hit her with some good shots to the head and she let go. His arm and hand looked like hell, blood was pouring from his wounds. The cat then, jumps back on the counter and grabs the liver. Well, my grandfather had enough, out comes the pistol and shoots her somewhere in the side. She jumps into the air and he shoots again. My mother is screaming, “NO POP!”, but it’s too late, he shoots again and again. Bullets are tearing into our refrigerator and cabinets, bottles and dishes are exploding. Danny and I are under the table. When it was all over, needless to say, the cat is dead. My grandfather picks up the cat by the tail, opens the back door, looks at us and then says “This ungrateful bitch!”, and slings her outside. The whole kitchen was shot to hell. My mother Danny and I could hardly hear anything for a few days. Sitting here thinking to myself... No, we are definitely not the Brady Bunch.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez