Arenas is a retired MTS bus driver and member of the Metropolis Automotive Membership and The Chicano Park Steering Committee. He lives in Metropolis Heights.
It was my brother-in-law, Andy Limon, who obtained me desirous about lowriding in 1972. We’d spend hours fixing up outdated vehicles within the storage and we’d head out to cruise. Neither of us was from Nationwide Metropolis, we had been each from southeastern San Diego, however Highland Avenue in Nationwide Metropolis was the place to be on the weekend. In actual fact, we had been there each Friday via Sunday displaying off our vehicles, listening to oldies on the radio, and simply having enjoyable.
We had been members of The Stylistics Automotive Membership. We took the title from the well-known R&B group that had fashionable songs out at the moment.
I used to be lucky that my cousin Armando Rodriguez had a physique store the place we spent hours and hours restoring our vehicles. My cousin helped me get the automotive elements and along with his assist I spent lots much less cash on restoration. I spent about $3,000 fixing up my midnight blue ’68 Mustang. Our vehicles meant all the things to us.
Even my girlfriend Elizabeth Moreno (who later grew to become my spouse) was a lowrider. She was a part of the SpecialS Automotive Membership.
However our lives modified when Andy was stabbed to demise on Aug. 15, 1979, whereas cruising in Nationwide Metropolis. Andy went right into a Jack within the Field to get one thing to eat. When he was leaving the restaurant, he noticed a gaggle of fellows hitting his ’69 Cadillac Coupe DeVille with a bat. He was nonetheless very energetic within the Stylistics Automotive Membership, and he was additionally an ex-Marine. He didn’t know these guys as a result of they weren’t lowriders. They had been bystanders. They had been guys who would present up in search of bother. Again in these days, it was frequent. There have been gang wars and silly drunken fights.
I by no means blamed the town of Nationwide Metropolis for placing within the ordinance to cease cruising on Nationwide Boulevard. What we hated was the harassment by the Nationwide Metropolis police that adopted. They’d cease us for ridiculous causes, saying our tires had been too small or the home windows had been too darkish. They knew we simply needed to cruise, they usually didn’t allow us to.
As of late, I’m a part of an even bigger effort to attempt to get cruising again. I’m 65 years outdated and retired. However I’m nonetheless a member of the Metropolis Automotive Membership with a few of my lifelong pals. We’re fathers and grandfathers. Till the pandemic got here, we used to get collectively as soon as a month. We nonetheless restore vehicles, and now our households are a part of it.
We frequently donate the funds we increase to battered ladies shelters, or to the homeless.
Nearly all of our members have been pals for over 40 years. Frank Martinez is the president, Hector Eribez is the founder and served as president for 35 years. Frank lives in Murrieta and it’s laborious for him to get down right here to San Diego generally to deal with the membership’s affairs, so I do every now and then. They name me the “ambassador.”
All these years whereas we now have been banned from cruising in Nationwide Metropolis, we’ve been touring to different cities and states to participate in cruising occasions. I’m amazed once I meet individuals who know nothing about lowriding life. They arrive as much as us and ask to take footage of our vehicles. I do the hydraulics for them, and make the automotive go up and down. I let their youngsters climb in and take a photograph. I at all times inform them, don’t consider the stereotypes. We aren’t horrible folks. We aren’t gang members or drug sellers. We’re professionals who love to do that as a interest. A few of our members are within the medical discipline, some personal development firms and a few are mechanics.
They are saying with age comes knowledge, and now the automotive golf equipment are all about having a pleasant competitors. A whole lot of the automotive golf equipment are united. We attend picnics and barbecues collectively.
In my family, I’ve 4 grown youngsters, and 7 grandkids who name me “Tata.” They’ve grown up within the lowrider tradition. My oldest grandson, Leonardo Arenas, simply purchased his personal Buick Regal, and we’re rebuilding it collectively. My 4-year-old granddaugher, Sarina Samano, who’s at all times at my aspect, inherited one in all my vehicles. It’s a pink and purple ’73 Impala, and within the again window it says, “Tata and Sarina’s toy.”
I hope all of our youngsters and grandchildren will proceed our legacy of lowriding, and assist folks perceive our ardour and why we find it irresistible.
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