Don Isidro

By Diane de Anda

August 29, 2016

Don Isidro
In the lean years after WWII, soda bottles were our treasure, the two to five cent refund mine and my brother's only income for anything beyond the necessities our parents provided. Candy, bubble gum, a comic book all depended on the hunt for bottles. We'd wake up early to beat the trash truck to the metal cans where adults tossed bottles they thought weren't worth the effort to cart to the store for the quarter a few might fetch. We had perfected the puppy eyes needed to wrest a couple of empties from neighbors who had stored their own stash for return.

Don Isidro stood at the front door, gunny sack in hand. His hair fell in twisted grey strands just above his shoulders, his beard patchy and uneven across the flushed skin on his face, his nose redder, with purple lines snaked across it. His frame already bent, he leaned farther forward, opening his sack filled with a few soda bottles he had collected thus far mingled with his own larger collection of wine and whiskey bottles.

We knew the look our mother gave us. We were to give half of ours to Don Isidro, because she had told us that our luxury was his necessity. Other neighbors chased him away, but our Latino culture taught us to respect the elderly, whatever their condition. So we placed our bottles carefully into the old man's sack and waited for his blessing. His dry, cracked hand grazed our foreheads.

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