La Feria News

Slim Green

CentennialSeal

The city of La Feria is celebrating its 100th year anniversary and to commemorate the occasion we are digging deep into our archives each week to bring you images and stories from La Feria’s colorful past.

The following is part of a series of historical articles written by Michael Lamm that originally ran in the La Feria News in 2003. They are being reprinted with the author’s permission.

La-Feria-Main-Street

La Feria back in the 1940s and ‘50s was filled with characters. I remember one night as a little kid, maybe six or seven, waking up and discovering my parents aren’t at home. At that time we’re living on Main Street in a house that did double duty as my folks’ medical offices.

It’s around nine in the evening, and my folks are probably out making housecalls. Anyway, I wake up, discover they’re gone and start to cry. I run out of the house looking for them, run up Main Street past the Wander Inn. There, sitting on a wooden bench, are three or four grizzled old codgers in bib overalls. They yell at me to stop, which I do, and one of the men takes out his dentures and clacks them at me. Scares the heck out of me.

I let out a yelp and run back home as fast as I can. And there, thank goodness, is my mother, who takes me in her arms and carries me back to my bed. This was not a dream, and I remember those teeth as clearly as if they’d been captured on film.

A few months later, I’m walking around town one afternoon and I discover who clacked those teeth at me that night. It’s an old La Feria character named Slim Green. Slim Green rented a room a few blocks away and made a living, such as it was, by fishing in the La Feria main canal. The canal contained alligator gars, and Slim Green would catch them and take them to the rear of his boarding house and slice them up and sell the meat.

So on this particular afternoon a couple of friends and I are playing cowboys and come across Slim Green slicing up a huge gar on a wooden table. The gar’s maybe six feet long, or so it seems to us. We’re fascinated: the blood, the scales, the knife, somebody’s dog anxious for scraps. And in the midst of our mesmerization, Slim Green takes out his dentures with this dirty, bloody hand and clacks them at us… and he laughs this toothless laugh. Again, it scares the heck out of me; in fact, out of all of us poor kids, and we scatter and run for home. Then I realize at last that it was Slim Green who clacked his teeth at me in front of the Wander Inn, and that memory all floods back.

Later, when I’m a teenager, I happen across Slim Green on a hot afternoon when some friends and I are swimming in the La Feria main canal, and I ask him about gars. Slim Green is a tall man, painfully thin, with stubble growing out of a tan, leathery face and eyes as blue as a glacier.

There aren’t many gars left, he tells me. The “Meskins” (his word) have caught them all. And without provocation, he launches into his life story… this old man pouring out his soul to a teen that he’d scared witless several times.

Turns out Slim Green has no family and no money to pay the rent. And then poor old Slim Green disappears, leaves La Feria, never comes back, is never heard from again.

No idea what ever happened to him. Today we’d probably call him a homeless person. But except for his teeth, he was never a threat, never sinister, no one to fear as we might fear a homeless person today. He was just a character who happened to live in La Feria for a time, same as me.

MichaelLamm2ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Lamm’s family moved to La Feria in 1939, when Mike was three. Both his parents practiced medicine in La Feria. Mike grew up here and went away to college in 1954, first in Oregon and then in New York. He and his wife, JoAnne, and their three sons live in California, where Mike publishes books about cars. His company website – www.LammMorada.com.


Do YOU have any photos, books, or stories that might help us piece together La Feria’s storied history? If so please email us or call our office at 956-797-9920 and let us know!

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