I love my Boyle Hts. viejitos. At least the ones who get I to sit near at a restaurant when they are in a group and I am alone and can eavesdrop in on their conversations.
I heard about how during WW2 this veterano looked at everyone in the belly of the boat he was in and it was "Pura raza. We were the first to land and more than half were dead before we even got off the boat." There was a dead silence at his table that made me feel tears well up in my eyes. I looked sideways and saw they all had their heads down.
I heard how Al & Bea's was around before 1966, even though their sign says 'since 1966.' These two went on about all the other spots they loved to eat like The Hat, Philipe's, and The Pantry. Made me hungry!
I've heard sordid stories of sex in the pre AIDS world, eating steaks for 10 cents (no hormones), dancing at the Paramount Ballroom, Carpenter's Hall, All Nations and Kennedy Hall. The real veterano/as talk about the speak-easys, during prohibition, in downtown L.A. and the jazz and pachuco music they would hear.
They had some wild times. I try not to look at them and just imagine how they must have looked back then. As I leave I look and see missing fingers, the canes, no hair, humped backs, wrinkles and crooked stands, they had a good life. If we should all be so lucky.