Just completed day one of a 10-day tour in S. Texas, which will involve author assemblies at alll 11 elementary schools in the town of Weslaco. The S. Texas-isms started before I left California. On a drizzly, bone-chilling morning in Santa Rosa, I was talking on the phone to Library Coordinator Maria Elena Ovalle who works at the Region One office in the TX town of Edinburg. “So how’s the weather there this time of year?” I asked. I vaguely recalled that in Florida, for instance, November can be rife with hurricanes. “A cold front just came in,” said Maria Elena. “The temperature dropped to 80 degrees.” Incredulous, I checked out weather.com while packing my suitcase before my flight. The “cold front” must have passed because by then the highs were 88.
This morning, at my first school, Sam Houston Elementary, I addressed the very bilingual student body in Spanish, just for fun and to get their attention. I also wanted to impress upon them that I had flown in all the way from California for the assembly. So I trotted out my best Spanish language D.J. voice, intoning, “No soy de aqui. No soy de alla. Soy de…Soy de…” A young boy, speaking English, completed the guessing game. “You’re from Mexico!”
Here’s what I’ve learned over the course of many trips in recent years to Harlingen, Edinburg, Mission, La Feria, South Padre Island, San Benito and now Weslaco, TX. There are 3 ways to address people here in the Rio Grande Valley: “Sir,” “Ma’m,” and “Momma.” You use “momma” if you’re talking to a little girl (!)