Joe V. Sanchez was elected mayor of Weslaco five times.
He grew up in a migrant family, and helped countless others overcome their poverty.
Now he has finished his second book, titled “Legacy of the Barrio.”
The new book begins:
“Life was a daily battle in the barrio. Without employment, buying food and supporting a family was extremely difficult.
“Changes became obvious after World War II. Returning veterans were the impetus to awaken the population.” During the Korean War era, Sanchez served as a tank commander in the Army.
Here is a sample of some of the people honored in his interesting book. Many more are mentioned. The first story in the book follows.
After 44 years of being on the radio and playing music, Chuy de Leon still resonates with radio fans. He answers to El Gallito (The early rising little rooster). Now in his 8Os, he still has thousands of fans who remember him when he hit 50 percent of all listeners in the Valley, plus more in Mexico.
“Triple Threat,” the saga of Bobby Lackey, is about a family with 10 children. Lackey became the greatest all-around athlete ever to come out of Weslaco, some would say of the entire Valley, and I am among them. His legend has done much as a Weslaco leader, plus being a great football star for The University of Texas. Just read Joe’s book and you will see why. Lackey has the longest chapter in it. His family, too, felt the problems of the depression.
Dr. Berta Gonzalez was born in Weslaco in a barrio north of the railroad tracks. She became a model student, earned a doctor’s degree and became an associate vice president of California State University at Fresno. She too has written a book, titled “A Woman, an Adventure and a Triumph.”
Sanchez tells the stories of 16 people in this book. Price is $18 but the author tends to give away some of his books, including the people who rose from the barrios they started from.
His book is available now at the Weslaco Museum, Poet’s Corner in Weslaco, Casa de Mariscos in Weslaco, Mac Newstand in McAllen, the Mission Museum and the Brownsville Museum.
Sanchez, who still lives in Weslaco, is probably one of the best people who is both a mayor and a writer. If you identify yourself as a person who grew up in the barrio, the next time you see him he definitely will be glad to see you. So if you go to buy a book at one of the six locations that carries it, encourage the bookseller to invite him to another personal visit and ask them to order another book-signing for him. I enjoyed the book as much as the others who attended his recent book-signing in Weslaco. Tell your friends about it, because this is a book really good for anyone living in the Valley, now or long ago.