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Calexico honors its pioneers

April 06, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Dolores Martinez yelled, "Fight, fight, fight!" and pumped her fist during the last bars of the Calexico High School fight song.

The former Bulldog cheerleader and Calexico "pioneer" evoked memories of glory on the football field, last-second shots at the buzzer and forbidden kisses behind the bleachers with her spontaneous act.

That was the point.

The city of Calexico kicked off its 93rd anniversary celebration by saluting the past and future glory days of Martinez and 135 Calexico "pioneers" at the Hotel De Anza Thursday night.

The marching band of the Collegio de Bachilleres de Baja California started the three-day anniversary celebration by marching from City Hall to the Hotel De Anza as Mexicali Mayor Victor Hermosillo and members of the Calexico City Council walked side by side behind the band.


At the ceremony for the pioneers, Hermosillo said since the pioneers of Mexicali and Calexico were born together they share the same memories as siblings.

Mexicali celebrated its 98th anniversary this year.

"The Mexicali Brewing Co., the Owens hamburger stand or Hollies Fiesta Room are all part of our past. Even though those places are no longer here, it is good to see that we are," Hermosillo said.

Mayor Victor Carrillo thanked the "pioneers" for "contributing to the city in the present and the past."

"We have grown from a city of 500 to 6,000 in 1930 to more than 30,000 now because of the pioneers here," Carrillo said.

In addition to the fight song, the assembled "pioneers" and city leaders listened to the United States and Mexican national anthems before launching 93 red, white and blue balloons.

After the launching attendees filed into the Hotel De Anza reception hall, where they honored the memory of well-known Calexico resident Pete Padilla, pausing with heads bowed during a moment of silence.

Martinez, of the Calexico High class of 1952, said she came to the reception because she was looking forward to "seeing people that she hadn't seen for years."

One of those was Padilla.

After the moment of silence, pioneers shared memories of the photographer with the quick wit who had taken their prom pictures or been a friend for as long as they could remember.

As the hors d'oeuvres table was opened and the ceremonial cake was cut, Calexico High graduates, war buddies, friends and neighbors mingled and reminisced about the past that they helped write and the pleasure of being around to enjoy the future.

"We were at a National Guard ‘summer camp'," said Calexico "pioneer" Ray Claverie.

"We" is Claverie and fellow "pioneer" Jack Lorenz. The story from their years of carousing was just one shared from hundreds told Thursday evening.

"I had been through a day of physical training in the middle of a Salinas summer. I came back to the barracks with my tongue wagging and tired to the bone. Jack tells me there is a meeting in 20 minutes that I'm going to be late for.

"I took a quick shower, threw on my uniform and ran across base to find out … there was no meeting."

"I came back and Jack had a bottle of beer waiting for me. That's the only reason he's able to make it tonight," Claverie said.

Jack and Celeste Williams said the reception hall of the Hotel De Anza had been the place where many senior and junior proms were staged.

Jack Williams went to his Calexico High School junior and senior proms but not with Celeste.

The two met on a blind date after World War II.

"I got lucky," Jack said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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