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The Granger Chronicles according to Dan Martinets

Polly Want a Galleta?

If you told Carmen that your parrot would bite,
is that a Miranda Warning?


Granger, Texas


by John Troesser

turn of the century building
The Hoxie House (Built in 1882, burned in 1934)
Photo courtesy of Dan Martinets

Dan had a Mexican Yellowhead Parrot. He ordered it from the "Snake King" who was a character whose animal importing business was just a stone's throw from the Matamoros/Brownsville Bridge. He was famous in his day, and he made millions sending animals all over the U.S. before anyone gave a thought to hygiene, disease, or animal cruelty.

Dan paid $10 for the bird and one dollar freight. He picked it up from the Railroad Express Agency car right there in Granger. The floor of the handmade cage had enough sunflower seeds to last to Chicago, if that had been necessary.

The bird was named Senor until an egg appeared one day in the cage. She then became known as Senora. Senora would perch in the tree in Dan's front yard on her swing, singing to herself and screaming at squirrels to get out of the street. She would turn somersaults in rainstorms, enjoying every minute before Dan would run out and put her in her covered cage. Local cats gave the bird wide berth, after witnessing a near evisceration of the Martinets' family cat.

Many times a little Mexican woman would come into the yard and talk to the bird. It probably reminded her of Mexico. She would pass Dan's house on her way to buy groceries and kerosene for her stove. She carried an old-fashioned round ribbed can for the kerosene, and prevented spillage by placing a raw potato over the spout. Dan remembered her in detail because of her huaraches and her salmon-colored rebozo.

A Mr. Luna later told Dan that the woman had been born in the time of the Mexican Empire of Maximilian and Carlotta. She was said to have been the head cook for one of "Poncho" Villa's Armies. If the first figure was correct, (both Max and the Empire ceased to exist in 1867), she would've been in her early 40s during the Mexican Revolutionary Period.

Her name was Carmen Antonia Miranda. Many years later after Dan had moved to Dallas, he was visiting Granger and at a party asked a Spanish-speaking group if they knew what had happened to the old woman. They weren't responsive until Dan described her outfit and the kerosene can plugged with the potato. She was the family matriarch, they said, but she had since passed away. Dan later found her headstone and did the math. She died at the age of 110.


While we're on the subject:
Mrs. Martinets passed away last year at the age of 104. She was in a nursing home, but only after her 102nd birthday. One of the home's residents (who wasn't in his right mind) slapped her face for some reason. Mrs. Martinets stood up in her wheelchair and slapped him back. Bravo! Encore!


September 2000

John Troesser

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