When it was time for lunch, my Mom would make me the best grilled ham & cheese sandwich in the world, accompanied by a bowl of Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup. Talk about culinary heaven for a little guy!
Another gourmet delight for me in the 1950's were "buttered steaks" ~ frozen and molded cheap chipped beef topped with a little pat of butter.
Served with left-over Costa Rican red beans and pimiento-infused rice, lunches were always a HUGE reward for me, after playing in our backyard as a good little John Wayne kinda cowboy.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, my father was now working as a food salesman during the day and still leading his nomadic orchestra at night, traveling all over The Bay Area.
I gleefully recall walking into our living room in my feety pajamas and being greeted by a sectional couch full of musicians.
Playing their congas, bongos and horn instruments, their practice sessions were the most extraordinary experience a young boy could ever be part of.
The glistening of their trumpets and trombones would catch the light and send mesmerizing rays across the ceiling.
Armando “Manos de Piedra” (hands of stone) Peraza would eventually tour the globe many times with Santana ~ another San Francisco artistic heavyweight, as their lead conga player and percussionist.
Joining me as a fellow spectator and a gentleman that I really admired was Tony Santiago ~ a Merchant Marine friend of my father’s.
Teaching me how to walk during the musical jams, I well remember his sea roughened ebony black catcher-mitt thick hands.
My mom would be in the kitchen preparing a full-blown “second dinner” for her newly arrived and unannounced guests.
The aromatic smell of sautéed steaks smothered with bay leaves, garlic and onions would also whet a second appetite in me.
A San Francisco GIANTS blessing for me to learn the love and appreciation of scrumptious food so early in my life.
Thank you Mom and Lita!