By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now
Newton resident Louis Carrion remembers some of the nicknames of children growing up in the Newton ranchitos.
He said everyone who lived there had nicknames.
“We didn’t know our names for a long time,” the 75-year-old said, joking.
There was Sidewinder, Ceilo the Pig and Carrion’s nickname, Wecho, which means Louie.
Carrion said their father named him, his three brothers and two sisters after saints and that he was born and raised in the ranchitos, which were housing units on the southwest part of Newton for Mexicans.
Carrion was at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church Festival: Remembering the Ranchito on Saturday at the local church. He stood by the ranchito display indoors on Saturday, where it was cool, with daughter Casandra Carrion, telling her about the ranchito.
“Well, they got the camp around the church,” he said to his daughter. “They actually lived in boxcars before those so-called houses.”
Carrion said his older brother and a younger sister have passed away, but he still has a brother in town.
“We lived in these camps,” Carrion said. “I really miss it, I’ll tell you the truth.”
He said there was no television there and that the kids always played.
“They wouldn’t allow us to go downtown,” he added, saying there was only one store at which the Mexicans shopped: Farrell’s.
“He took care of all the people that lived in the camp,” Carrion said.
While going down Memory Lane looking at the ranchitos and photos from Mexican-American Newton’s past, Carrion said he thought his grandma, Juanita Arellano, was the last queen of the 16th of September Celebration. That was in the ’60s.
When Carrion started grade school, he said his family was told they had to leave the camp. He said his dad never was a citizen, but his mom was born and raised in Newton. He also said there used to be health clinics for children who lived there at the ranchito.
“We’d line up there, and they’d take our temperatures,” he said, looking at a photo of children in the ranchito.
Part of the fiesta was outside, like some of the vendors, the grito contest and a demonstration by Ranchos los Arados from near Furley and Benton.
Javier Martinez with the Ranchos group, which put on a roping demo, said they do demonstrations, like at Exploration Place and for Cinco de Mayo in downtown Wichita.
The winner of the grito contest, which is where people yell in a happy way like when a song comes on, was Jennifer Duran of Goessel. She said she didn’t practice for the event.
Cindy Reyes, who was in charge of the event, was happy with the early turnout, as the event was from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.
“Not too bad so far,” she said around 1 p.m., adding there was a taco and burrito sale inside and that there would be a dance that night.
She also said there would be a mariachi band performing and then dancers later. At one point, children gathered to pound the heck out of a piñata.
Reyes said this is the first time in a long time they’ve had a fiesta.
“Used to have it years ago, and we’re trying to bring it back a little bit,” she said.