Bottoms Life

My mother, Jennie (seated on left with ribbon in her hair).

By Tom Rodriguez

They came to Kansas
Searching for a better life
All the way from Mexico
To escape that country’s strife

They settled in Topeka
With others of their kind
And lived in boxcar homes
But never seemed to mind

They were proud and simple people
Descendants of hard working stock
Whose only wish in life
Was but to safely raise their flock

Life was good there in the Bottoms
Growing up brown
And seeing others like me
Living all around

The 40’s were some great years
For inquisitive young boys
Just starting out to explore
The world and all its joys

Selling newspapers on the streets
And peddling Mom’s homemade pies
Picking spuds in summertime
Or sawing Grandpa’s railroad ties

It never seemed to matter much
That we never had a dime
Cause we always had enough
To pass away the time

The 50’s ushered in my teens
Spent mostly hanging out on 4th Street
Sharing bottles with the winos
And grooving to the rock n’ roll beat

My brother, Richard (top right, with outstretched arms).

In the backseat of an “Olds”
And later on, did a whole lot more
In stories still untold

Leather jackets
And switchblade knives
The “Dukes” and “Dirtydoggers”
Messing up their lives

And through it all 
Our parents stood
Behind us kids
That they barely understood

We lost the Bottoms in ’59
A neighborhood that perished
And with it also sadly went
So much that we had cherished

My folks are dead and gone now
Departed with so many of the rest
But with them also went
Some parts of me that were best

It’s been many long years since
Those sad eventful days
But still those memories sustain me
In calm and peaceful ways

So whenever I get to feeling low
I travel back to that special time
When we were young and in our prime
To that Bottoms place I still call mine