On Sunday, Rose and Yuki recorded at the Casa de Cuentes, a small shotgun house owned by the Esperanza Center for Peace and Justice in San Antonio’s historically Hispanic and Latino Westside neighborhood. The house is also called Casa de la Misericordia because the woman who lived there during the Depression gave food to impoverished people who passed by. Back then, people in the neighborhood ran businesses from their front porches. “The neighborhood was self-sufficient,” explained Amanda, our contact from Esperanza, and it’s this kind of community spirit that Esperanza is reviving in the Westside.
The Casa had a warm, comforting feeling, and participants often stayed late after their interviews or came early to sit and talk in the kitchen. Old black and white blow-ups of beloved places and people from the community hung in each room of the house.
Esperanza is piecing together the history of the Westside by speaking with elders and recording their experiences. Through word of mouth, they found that Ruben’s Ice House next door to the Casa (pictured in the last two slides) was once a popular gathering ground. Esperanza plans to use the now abandoned building to house the oral histories it has collected, including those recorded by StoryCorps. One of the organization’s missions is to preserve historical landmarks, like Ruben’s, from demolition by the city. “Just because they are poor people’s monuments or they’re not big monuments doesn’t mean they’re not important,” said Amanda.