They pulled the plug on “Pops” the other day at Huntington Memorial Hospital.
He was brain dead and his family members called the last shot for Pops, that’s the way he would have wanted it. According to the other winito’s Pops was dragging his leg and arm around totally limp for three weeks, his mouth was twisting at the corner and his headaches were increasing in intensity. The winito’s said that even though they were begging Pops too go to the hospital he wouldn’t budge and finally went into convulsions and someone called 911.
Pops was one of the local neighborhood winitos, they usually consist of between half a dozen and a dozen alcoholics depending on who is busted or in detox or has gotten religion. Pops was the undisputed “mero chingon”of the local bottle gang, a well-liked, well-spoken, very respectable gentleman callejero, who everybody in the neighborhood (except the LAPD) was fond of.
Pops was in his late forties and an old vato loco from Big Hazard who had lived la vida loca and who was finally worn down and given a ten count by life. He had a brother who was also an ex pinto and street person, he also has a brother who is a detective with the LAPD and a sister who is a attorney for the LA County Prosecutors Office, a not too uncommon family dynamic in the LA Eastside.
Over the years his family tried to get help for Pops but to no avail, some might say his life was his choice and maybe they are right, but I don’t think so. Sometimes no matter how a family tries, no matter how intelligent and street smart a person is, no matter how evident the outcome is, the demons inside a person decide. Was it a woman? Was it a childhood trauma? Was it a biological disorder?
Who’s to say, except there by the grace of God go I.
There are many neighborhoods that have a local wino group, if you live on the LA Eastside it’s a given that you have some local winito’s down at the corner.
Pops and his callejero homies were all good vato’s who would watch your house and report any funny business, they were also more up on the chisme and pedo going on than any newpaper or news source.
Hey Pops, what’s up with all the shooting and cars peeling out and sirens I been hearing all night lately? Pops, “ hang tight and stay low for awhile cause it’s the Avenues and Highland Park gangsters who are on the prowl and looking for each other”. Pops, “Hey last night there was a shooting and fight down on Figueroa, it’s Avenue 43 and Clover lately”, or, “Oh the new gavachos who moved into Tito’s old house are both teachers at the Montessori school in Eagle Rock, they got no kids but have two Cocker Spaniel dogs”, or,
“Hey did you hear? Rocky and Chencha broke up, he moved in with a young mojadita over in South Gate”.
All the news fit or unfit to hear could be gleaned from Pops or the other winito’s.
I used to let Pops or his homies park there bikes in the backyard, I’ll buy one of them a burrito sometimes, at times I or the people in the neighborhood will give them some money for a tall boy or a short dog when they are broke and crudo and have the shakes and hurting in the morning.
Sometimes these unfortunates are despised and abused by people as undesirables, dirty, drunk, and insane. I’ve seen many of these poor souls after being beaten to a pulp, stabbed, bleeding, incoherent, not wanting a doctor but a drink. The LAPD constantly hassling them and threatening them. telling them to move on.
Pops was a good guy, all his winito homies are in a terrible state of sadness and mourning over Pops death, they blame themselves for not doing something more for him.
RIP Pops and May the Lord, or whoever is in charge, protect the winito’s from harm.
Diego Rivera. The Day of the Dead. 1924. Fresco. Ministry of Education, Mexico City, Mexico.