In preparation for Ray Davila Boot and Shoe Shop’s 70th anniversary celebration, I asked their daughter Bertha Alicia Davila to share some memories of her parents. Here are his memories.
By Bertha Alicia Davila, daughter of Ray and Tina Davila
Ray and Tina Davila stopped in Port Lavaca to visit Tina’s parents. They came from Mexico with three children ages 3, 4 and 5, $50, a green card and a job offer from an uncle in Richmond. Tina had relatives working at Alcoa who encouraged them to stay in Port Lavaca, and they would help them find work. Ray didn’t speak English, Tina did.
Ray was a skilled leather craftsman. In Mexico, his father taught him how to make and repair shoes, boots, saddles, wallets, gun holsters and belts, and more. He started working at a local shoe repair shop and Tina started working at a shrimp packing company. Ray was fired from the shoe repair shop because he didn’t speak English. He started working several part-time jobs, cleaning shrimp packing equipment, fixing radiators in an auto repair shop. While working at these jobs, he rented a small space to start mending boots and shoes and making belts.
Russell, that would fill a book to cover all of mom and dad’s contributions to community, family and friends.
Mom was promoted to a clerical position in the shrimp company. She then took a job at Vela’s Groceries as a cashier and was promoted to office manager. When Vela’s owners discovered “thefts,” they hired a security firm to monitor customers and perform lie detector tests on all employees. Security personnel communicated test results for all employees. The test administrator reported that Mom (Tina) had the highest honesty score they had seen. According to the test administrator, “She can show these results at the Gates of Heaven. God and the angels will welcome her.
Russell, during Hurricane Carla, the local Port Lavaca radio station was asked to help the Red Cross and other disaster management agencies make emergency announcements in Spanish. The Spanish-speaking Port Lavaca radio station had left town because of the hurricane. Dad made many emergency announcements regarding Hurricane Carla. The station received positive feedback from everyone. The Port Lavaca station offered him a daily program of Spanish music and news.
Ray worked for the station for 10 years. Its Spanish program has become #1 in popularity for the southern Gulf Coast of Texas. Dad turned down a permanent job on the radio and a job as a singer in a band. He preferred to use his leathercraft skills taught by his father in Mexico and enjoyed satisfying customers and friends with his leathercraft skills.
Dad jokes, “I didn’t take the permanent radio or band job offers because his mom said NO! NO! No to traveling with bands. No to alcohol abuse and No to women! Boot and shoe store working hours are nine hours a day, six days a week, plus yard work, plus home repair projects, plus parenting hours, three children, a dog, a chat, plus family hours.
Dad credits the success of his business to Mom’s support and love and God’s blessings. In these daily prayers, he praises and thanks God for the many blessings in his life. Mom “My Angel”, Family and Health.
A public reception celebrating 70 years of Ray Davila Boot and Shoe Shop in business and community service from 4-6 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Bauer Community Center.
Russell Cain has been a resident of Calhoun County for 67 years and a real estate agent for 48 years. Watch for her future columns to appear here each month.