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A Memory of Tampico in 1948 by an 18-year-old American

In 1948 or 1949 I went to Tampico on a Naval Reserve cruise. Back then it was like in our movies at the time. A young Mexican fellow attached himself to our group and acted like an interpreter. He told us that out in the countryside the Indian Villagers would sell you a teenage girl for something like a chicken or two. He also mentioned that it was against Mexican law but it was still done. There were street vendors with tables of a variety of wares, knives, leather and other things that I cannot remember. At one table were some very interesting and efficient looking knives. As I was examining his wares, the vendor, a young fellow just older than myself, with swiftness that I have never since seen, had the point of a narrow-blade dagger at my throat. He said, "Your money or your life!". My first flush of anger subsided when his eyes told me that he was having a joke. I told him, with equal mock seriousness, "My life!"

I remember the city as being very clean. There were few if any street lights and the streets themselves were in most part very narrow. At night the rich boys would tear down these streets without lights, never slowing down for dog or person, whether old or young. The first time that this occurred I thought "this guy is drunk," but by the third time I saw elder civilians barely making it across the street, then I recognized that this was a common occurrence.

--Frank E. Olschner, Jr.