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Little Mexico Loses Long-time Resident

By Suzanne Sprague

DALLAS – Enoch Diaz, Harwood Street resident: This kite here, my daughter, that was her first little project. I save it. I save all this little stuff from the kids, from the years back. (Laughs)

Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter (to Diaz): You're taking it with you?

Diaz: Those are all good memories.

Sprague: Enoch Diaz is packing up some 60 years of good memories, leaving behind a two-story wood frame house that, despite its weathered appearance, is a home he loves. Diaz: It was just time to go, you know? Some pressure here and there, the city, you know, repairs and stuff like that. It's just time to move on. There's a lot of mornings I wake up and hope it's just a dream that's going on. But it's reality and, you know, we've just got to face it and go on, you know? It makes me feel like, you know, a divorce or a death, you know, that I'm having to separate from this. So it's a lot of feelings for me ?cause I was born and raised here.

Sprague: The Little Mexico of Enoch's youth has changed drastically in the last five years. Two new office towers and a hotel have appeared on Harwood Street. The new sports arena is being built nearby. KERA has expanded, and soon there will be a new apartment high-rise. Enoch Diaz has watched all this growth from his front porch, but he's most nostalgic about the early years, like when Channel 8 built a broadcast tower on what is now the grounds for Channel 13.

Diaz: We were going to school, William B. Travis - we'd come home from school in the evenings, and my mother would have a lunch or drinks for us so we could see the people working on the TV tower, building it. And she used to put a quilt right here in the front yard so we could lay down and be looking up at the guys working, you know, building the tower.

Sprague: The Diaz residence on Harwood was a magnet for Enoch's extended family as they grew up and moved away. Many would gather here every Sunday for dinner after Enoch's mother died.

Diaz: She planted this tree. This tree's about 50 years old or probably older, you know. And she said, "This is for you." She said for me, you know? And she says, "Whenever you move, take it." But I don't want to take it ?cause I might dig it out and it might die on me. So I'll just leave it here planted, come by, look at it, maybe water it (laughs), but I'll never forget the tree either.

[Car door shuts.]

Diaz: That's it.

Sprague: There were no tears as Enoch Diaz packed up his SUV with the last load of Little Mexico memories he was taking to his new home. But there was a sense of both resignation and pride.

[Car starts.]

Diaz: Last of the Mohicans. Bye!

[Car drives off.]

Sprague: The new owners of Enoch's home have already repainted the house and removed much of the debris from the yard. They plan to repair it and rent it out. They've also taken down Enoch's farewell sign to the neighborhood. It had stood there like a gravestone with the epitaph, "In memory of El Barrio, Little Mexico, October 1940 to August 15th, 2000." For KERA 90.1, I'm Suzanne Sprague.