Picnic Time

Sunday, since it was a beautiful day, I went to the next town for their Annual Spring Picnic. Picnics are different here than they are in your area. They do not serve barbecue, beans and potato salad. They serve what is known as Picnic Stew. Each church has their own version, some of them are delicious and some of them not so much. The chunks of meat are cooked in big batches; some are made with a little thickening, so you have gravy, but mostly not, just the meat juices. They also serve German style seasoned potatoes, seasoned green beans (some use mushroom soup in theirs, others, like today were seasoned with bacon), fried chicken, sausage and sauerkraut. At this time of year, there are actually two picnics on the same day and many folks go from one to the other, I did not! The line was long, but it moved relatively quickly. The food is self-serve, other than the chicken which is served. The menu at the other church was the same except that they have cornbread dressing with their fried chicken. It was a nice day, the people were friendly and as you went through the line, you got visit a bit with friends who might be in a different part of the line. It is set up so that basically, you are making a series of esses, from start to finish.
Last week, I mentioned about Memorial Day and the flags that are placed alongside the roads, north, south, east and west entering town. I had no clue how many or anything until I received the local paper. Veterans of the American Legion Post 571 placed 160 flags along U.S. Highway 77 and State Highway 111 in a joint effort with members of the Interact Club. Veterans from DeWitt and Lavaca Counties participated. Also on Monday, American Legion Post 571 will be hosting a Memorial Day program as well as a meal for their members. Once I found out how many members of the Ladies Auxiliary I already knew, it was easy to make the decision to join the organization. Basically, all I had to do was transfer my membership, since the Post in Castroville was no longer in existence.
Now, how about a Pineapple Upside-down cake that is a little different, it is baked in a Bundt pan!
Pineapple Upside-down Bundt Cake
1 large can of sliced pineapple, (drained reserving juice)
8 maraschino cherries, drained
¾ stick butter, melted (6 Tbs.)
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 box either pineapple or yellow cake mix
Ingredients as listed on box for making cake
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Open pineapple, drain well, and cut slices in half. (You will use only 8 slices), cut cherries in half and drain well. Place melted butter in a well-sprayed Bundt pan, top with brown sugar spreading it out evenly over the butter. Place the slices of pineapple evenly around pan, resting one edge on the sugar/butter mixture; place cherries, cut side up, close to the ends of the pineapple (if you place them too far toward the sides of the pan they will be around the edge of the cake instead of on top). Mix the cake batter according to the directions on the box, using the reserved pineapple juice instead of water in the mix; gently spoon the batter over the pineapple, straightening the slices as necessary so they are nice and even. Bake according to directions on box for a Bundt Cake. Allow to stand about 5 minutes in pan and then invert over plate for serving. This makes a really pretty cake.
Cajun Style Shrimp Salad
1 pouch (4-oz) Zatarain’s® Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil
1 lb. ready to use frozen, tiny shrimp (or you can use 1 to 1½ lbs fresh, peeled and deveined small shrimp)*
1 cup uncooked white rice
½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
½ cup chopped green olives
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup frozen petit green peas
1 cup mayonnaise (do not use salad dressing)
Add 1 to 2* tablespoons of the crawfish, shrimp and crab boil to 4 cups of water, bring to boil and add the frozen shrimp and leave water over low heat for about 30 to 45 seconds, just long enough for the shrimp to completely thaw and absorb the flavor of the mixture. (If you used fresh shrimp, bring mixture to a boil, add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are done). Remove shrimp from liquid with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour uncooked rice into mixture and bring to a boil, cooking (and stirring if necessary) until rice is done and drain well and rinse with hot water if desired. Add shrimp and peas to rice and set aside to cool to room temperature. Chop onion, olives and celery, add mayonnaise and stir to mix well; add to rice/pea mixture and stir to mix.. Chill thoroughly before serving. *The amount you use will determine how spicy your salad is. If you like really spicy, use the full 2 Tbs., if not just use 1 Tbs. (I used just 1 Tbs. and found everyone liked it just fine). *Be sure to tell people that it contains shrimp, I served it at a meeting and the lady across from me had enjoyed the first bite of just rice and asked what was in it, when I said shrimp, she had to leave the table and rinse her mouth, as she was horribly allergic to shrimp!

Octopus and the Catfish

Tucker and I went out in the paddle boat with Cousin Adalyn at her ranch this weekend. It was a relaxing sunset cruise filled with colorful toddler conversations. One of them was particularly entertaining. The funniest thing was the serious tone they had.
“So, do you have any octopus in this pond?” Tucker asked his cousin.
Without any funny faces or hesitation, she replied, “Nope, we don’t, but we have catfish.”
Somehow, the fact that they had catfish surprised him.
I tried my best to contain my deep hearted laugh and not disrupt their conversation. Lucky I didn’t fall out of the boat. It was definitely the comment of the day that’s for sure.
Tucker had a lot of fun with his cousins that day, and I did too. We sat on the front porch enjoying the post-rain waterfront views. Our fishing ponds sure do look pretty when they are full.
Sure is nice to have so many cousins. There’s nothing more fun than hanging out with family and talking about old stories. Someday when they are older, Adalyn will be sitting on a front porch with Tucker, saying “Hey Tucker remember that time you thought you saw an octopus in our fishing pond?”

Name that blind

Over my many decades of hunting and ranch brokering in La Brasada, I have been fascinated with the variety of names folks give to their hunting blinds. And in my own circle we are no different. From my younger days, we had one called The Hog Blind. It was nothing more than a bunch of big mesquite posts crisscrossed into a more or less square. Someone left a partial sack of corn inside it one night, and the wild hogs tore that blind all up getting to those golden kernels. Another one we call The Pond Blind. Not because it sat by an impounded body of water, but because it sat in a low spot that was full of “pot holes and hog wallers” that filled up whenever we received a good rain.
We have Chris’s Castle named after my Godson, Dr. Christopher Pursch. And his Dad, John, has the Pursch Palace. Then there is The Cabin Blind, due to its proximity to an old weekend Cabin John and I built in our younger days. It was set up so our young children (back then) could walk back to the Cabin if they got tired of sitting in the blind and we could watch their every step coming or going. We have one called The Corner, because it sits in the intersection of two different pastures, allowing for a couple of long views down the roads.
We name blinds after neighbors and structures like the Gammage, Windmill , or the Tank Blind. Some folks put numbers on theirs. The approaches vary but the common goal is to clearly identify which one is being spoken about. After all, at least to me, that sounds better than saying go 22degrees S for 1282 feet and then turn 57 degrees W for 2942 feet to arrive at your destination. I hear enough of that trying to get around in the city!

June Sadler Ehlinger – Devine High School graduate of 1948

(Submitted by Nancy Ehlinger Saathoff, June’s daughter)
Back in 1948, when June Sadler graduated, the graduation ceremony was held at night on the lighted football field behind the school. (The former Devine school is now the Devine VFW and the football field is now a housing area behind it.) June recalls in her own words:
“We had 37 graduates and wore heavy maroon robes which were kept by the school and reused each year. They set up a wooden stage on the field with a canvas top where we came up to get our diplomas and the people in the audience sat in the old wooden stands.
“I was only 15 years old when I graduated and was the Salutatorian of my class. I gave a speech at graduation, which my teacher, Mrs. Whitfield, had helped me prepare.

“We later went on our Senior Trip to Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon where we went down in the canyon on mules! My mule’s name was Dot and she kept trying to bite my feet. The walkway down in the canyon was narrow, but I don’t remember ever being scared. I think being scared grows on you as you age and worry about your kids!
“Later that year I attended Draughon’s Business College where I earned my diploma before attending Texas A & I in Kingsville. In 1950 I married Arthur Ehlinger, also a Devine graduate, and raised our four children, who are all Devine High School graduates.”

News that you can use, maybe?

Time for some Lytle PD news that you can use, maybe? Last week your officers handled 47 calls for service and conducted 123 traffic stops. The result of those stops was 94 citations and 29 warnings.
Property Crimes: We had two property crimes reported last week. #1 – Lytle Loft Storage reported a burglary of a storage unit, the event occurred on May 20th. Attempts are still being made to contact the owner of the contents. #2 – H.E.B. Plus reported a theft of approx. $40 worth of snacks. In today’s world that could be a couple of candy bars and a soft drink.
Arrests: We only had one arrest last week. A 20-year-old male was taken in on a warrant for criminal trespass. He was given a trespass notice at H.E.B. and decided to return. Video placed him in the store and a warrant was obtained. He was located when officers responded to a report of squatters in an abandoned house.
The city’s surplus auction will be this Saturday (June 3rd) at the Lytle Police Station. Lots of stuff, including 5 retired city vehicles. Two of those are police SUVs. The event will run from 9 AM–Noon. It will be a silent auction with bid sheets, we did this a few years ago and it was very successful. I might even throw in a cool certificate of authenticity certifying that the police vehicle was used to “stop speeders, haul people to jail, and pick up fast food” But, maybe not in that order. If you are a taxpayer, you most likely already helped pay for some of these items, you just didn’t get to keep them at your house. Now this is your chance to bring it home!

Celebrate with your Mother!

This past week was abyssmal. I wasn’t unusually busy as my weeks go, but on Tuesday I came home from the Gift Shop not feeling totally well and with some back pain. After relaxing for a while in my new recliner with a couple of ibuprofen for the discomfort, I was home free, I thought. Wednesday and Thursday I felt horrible and a nighttime of severe chills on Wednesday added to my misery. Yikes, I haven’t felt that bad in many years. (Yep, there’s a bug going around, and he got me good, shook me around like a rag doll and threw down and stomped on me!). My sweet sister brought me soup, Imodium and Gator Ade! She knew the cure and it helped. All day Friday and Saturday, my energy level was nil, (thank you family for the new recliner, it works well), but I had no more symptoms, and by Saturday evening, I felt well enough to go to church with her in town. Sunday my energy level was up a bit (not normal, believe me), but up and by Monday morning, I feel nearly normal!
Now, let’s talk about this coming weekend! Sunday, May 14, is Mother’s Day, and the time to specially honor our Mothers on their very own day.
Do you know the origins of this special day honoring our Mothers?
It was first observed in Grafton, West Virginia and in the churches of Philadelphia on May 10, 1908, on a suggestion by Miss Anna Jarvis to honor her mother, a Sunday school teacher. Because of her Mother’s fondness of flowers, especially carnations, Miss Jarvis gave a carnation to each person present in her honor.
According to an article that I read sometime during this past week, even though Anna Jarvis never married, she continually worked toward more attention being paid to Mother’s during her entire lifetime.
Mother’s Day International Association was incorporated in December 1912 to encourage a greater observation of the day.
In 1913, by a unanimous vote, The House of Representatives passed a resolution commending the observance of Mother’s Day and calling upon the president, his Cabinet, the Senators and Federal Government Employees to wear a white carnation on the second Sunday of the month to observe Mother’s Day.
President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, issued a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day and directed that the American Flag be displayed on all public buildings on that day.
A holiday called “Mothering Sunday,” an old English custom, antedated the present observance by many years. The name was derived from the custom of the faithful attending the mother church in which they had been baptized on Mid-Lent Sunday. At this time they offered gifts at the altar to the church, and also to their mothers, as tokens of love and gratitude.
Some of the earliest Mother’s Day celebrations on record can be traced back to ancient Greece. The celebrations were held in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. The Roman equivalent was a religious celebration known as Hilaria that lasted from March 15 to 18.
The observance of Mother’s Day has spread to many other countries, including England, Sweden, Denmark, India and Mexico.
In parts of Yugoslavia, Mother’s Day is called “Materice” by the Serbian people and is observed two weeks before Christmas.
It has become the custom to wear white flowers if your mother is deceased, and red flowers if she is still living. The flower most usually associated with Mother’s Day then and now has been the carnation.
Do you remember the verse that you may have learned, or that was printed on a mimeographed sheet, with a carnation for you to color for your mother, when you were in grade school? It was called simply “Mother”. I have no idea as to the source, because the first time I saw it and colored it, I was in third grade! It has been around for a very long time and is still as beautiful now as it was then.
M – is for the million things she gave me.
O – is only that she is growing old.
T – is for the tears she shed to save me.
H – is for her heart of purest gold.
E – is for her eyes with love light shining.
R – is right, and right she’ll always be.
Put them all together and they spell “Mother”, a word that means the world to me.
In case you’re celebrating, having a big meal and all the trimmings, here’s a truly delicious dessert for you to try. We had this numerous times when the family was all together in Devine and it was strawberry season. The original recipe was from my Mother and she served it to her bunco ladies as well as her family!
Strawberry Pie
1 baked pie shell, or a vanilla ready-to-use crust
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
6 teaspoons cornstarch
7 teaspoons strawberry gelatin (or 2 teaspoons sugar-free gelatin)
1 pound, cleaned, hulled, fresh strawberries (divided usage)
Whipped topping
Bake pie shell according to directions on package and set aside to cool. Mix together, sugar, water and cornstarch in pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly until thick and clear. Add gelatin, stir well until gelatin is thoroughly dissolves and set aside to cool.
Cut strawberries into quarters or slice (save 8 of the nicest strawberries and leave whole for garnish) and place sliced berries into the prepared pie shell. Pour cooled cooked mixture over berries and chill thoroughly. Serve slices with whipped topping; garnish each serving with a whole cleaned berry with the stem on. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
The following is delicious also, and my granddaughter sent it to me several years ago.
Strawberry Jell-O Cake
1 box strawberry flavored gelatin
1 box white cake mix + 2 Tbs. flour
4 eggs
½ water
1 package frozen strawberries (minus ¼ cup for frosting)
Mix gelatin, cake mix and flour; add oil, water and eggs; mix well, add strawberries and stir to mix in; pour into 9×13 pan and bake as per package instructions. Cool completely before frosting.
Frost with:
1 box powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
¼ cup butter
¼ cup strawberries
Mix all together until of spreading consistency and spread on cooled cake.

Two Large Birds

Here is your Lytle P.D. news for the week ending Sunday, May 7th: Officers responded to 53 calls for service and conducted 58 traffic stops. The breakdown was: 43 resulted in citations and 15 were warnings.
The biggest event last week was a rare (thankfully I can say that) armed robbery. It went down on Monday, May 1st at approx. 2:30 AM. A male had been hanging around the small shopping strip on Main St. that includes the Lytle Super Stop (Exxon). He entered the Cricket Wireless store, hung out in there for a while, and looked at a few phones. He got his courage up, pulled out a pocketknife (which we believe he shoplifted from the resale shop next door), and demanded phones and money. He made off with 2 phones and $140 in cash. He didn’t even take all the money from the register, and he apologized to the clerk for what he was doing. So, our armed robber was at least polite and thoughtful. He fled in a white Nissan Altima that had been taken in a carjacking in San Antonio the previous day. I’m glad no one was injured; this is an active investigation.
Only one property crime was reported this week!
H.E.B. Plus reported that a female attempted to make off with a box of diapers valued at $46. The diapers were recovered. I’m hoping the lady was going to sell them and didn’t have a baby at home that needed diapers. My wife and I have one in diapers and one on the way so I know firsthand how expensive it can be.
Your officers made 5 arrests last week: #1 – Officers were dispatched to a disturbance on S. Prairie St. It was a mother-son disturbance and officers determined the son had a felony dope warrant out of Medina Co. He was arrested on the warrant, which ended the disturbance. He was booked into the Medina Co. Jail in Hondo. #2 – Officers responded to a three-vehicle collision at the intersection of Main St. and FM 2790 N. The driver of one of the vehicles was upset so he ran up and pushed the other driver down! I certainly hope that doesn’t become a trend. So, not only did we have a collision to investigate, but we had an assault as well. The roadway was cleared, and a citation for assault by contact was issued. #3 & #4 were both from traffic stops about 15 minutes apart. Both drivers were cited and released for possession of drug paraphernalia. #5 – Our officers were on the way to assist Atascosa Sheriff’s Deputies with a disturbance in Los Palomas (off FM 3175). They located the vehicle that fled the scene on the access road. They determined the driver had 3 active felony warrants (2 out of Bexar Co. and 1 out of Wilson Co.). He was booked into the Atascosa Co. Jail.
In other news…. sometime, most likely, early Sunday morning thieves struck a friend of mine that lives out on FM 2790 near Lucky Rd. Two large birds, a Military macaw, and an African Grey, were taken from their outside birdhouse. They have had the birds for 20 years, so they are devastated. The Atascosa Co. Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.
What’s coming up? Get ready for a city auction! The date will be Saturday, June 3rd. I think it will be held in the police station parking lot, I know there will be several vehicles and lots of other junk items too. Our surplus items might be your dream purchase. We will be sending out more information in the future. Hopefully, you took advantage of the community clean-up this past Saturday. That means you now have some room in the garage to fill up with auction items. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Devine ISD $32.3 Million Propositions fall short

Both of the Devine ISD Bond Election Propositions failed this past Saturday, May 6, 2023, one by only 39 votes.
Proposition A
Proposition A was for $31 Million and included improvement projects at each campus. It failed by only 39 votes. Totals were 362 For and 401 Against. While 474 Early voted, 289 voted on election day. (Totals include Medina and Frio County polls).
Proposition B
Proposition B $1.2 Million was for four new tennis courts. It failed by 172 votes. Totals were 294 for and 466 against. Early voters 472 and 288 voted on election day. (Includes Medina and Frio County polls).
“Although the bond did not pass, and while, yes, we are disappointed, we know there was much support during the process of making decisions and the process to call for a bond election. We recognize that the decision to vote for a bond is a difficult one and not made easily. Throughout this process, we have been humbled by the participation and support from the community”, said Todd Grandjean, Superintendent of Devine ISD Schools.
“We certainly want to express our gratitude to our staff and community members who served on the Facilities Committee who spent many hours studying the many needs of our district and prioritized what we felt were the most important ones. As we move forward, we will continue to work to find critical funding and make improvements to our facilities, and to ensure students’ academic success.”

A letter by Superintendent Grandjean follows.

Thank you for your participation and support
Dear Community Members,
All of us at Devine ISD would like to express our sincere gratitude for your participation in the recent school bond election. We want to tell you that we truly appreciate your investment in our students and our school district. We believe that the community of Devine is deeply invested in our schools and students.
Although the bond did not pass, and while, yes, we are disappointed, we know there was much support during the process of making decisions and the process to call for a bond election. We recognize that the decision to vote for a bond is a difficult one and not made easily. Throughout this process, we have been humbled by the participation and support from the community.
We certainly want to express our gratitude to our staff and community members who served on the Facilities Committee who spent many hours studying the many needs of our district and prioritized what we felt were the most important ones.
As we move forward, we will continue to work to find critical funding and make improvements to our facilities, and to ensure students’ academic success.
We have a dedicated school board and school staff and know that with a supportive community, we will continue to work together to provide solutions and opportunities that will benefit our students and our community.
Again, thank you for your support and participation in the bond election, and we look forward to working together with you for the future of our students in Devine ISD.
Dr. Todd Grandjean
Devine ISD

Porch pirates

You have hit the jackpot if you are wanting to know what Lytle P.D. did last week. Though, I will admit it would be a small jackpot. It’s time for some numbers: Officers handled 70 service calls (that’s a busy week) and conducted 70 traffic stops (46 of those resulted in a citation and 24 were warnings).
Arrests: Officers had three arrests last week, all were cited and released. So, no long trips to the county jail. #1 & #2 – Two females (ages 24 & 25) were cited and released for class C theft (shoplifting). #3 – A traffic stop resulted in a cite and release of a 47-year-old male for possession of drug paraphernalia.
Property Crimes: Two property crimes were reported last week. #1 –H.E.B. Plus theft from above. The two females tried to make off with…. a 12 oz HEB Sweet Tea, Pringles chips (unknown flavor, but I prefer the salt & vinegar), Hot Fries, Blue Gatorade, 3 Donuts, and a 12 pack of Malibu Seltzers. If it had been me, I would have left off the seltzers and increased the donut count. #2 – One of those “porch pirates” (not to be confused with a Lytle Pirate) struck at a residence on Main St. The package that had been delivered was stolen; the contents included a $600 cell phone. Surprisingly, we don’t have more of these thefts reported to us.
We were busy assisting with “bailouts,” we had five that ended here in town. Fortunately, there were no injuries, and property damage was minimal. I’m still not sure why our community is such a good place for human smugglers to decide to stop running from the police and “bailout.” I’m looking into buying a lot of full-sized cardboard cuts of myself and placing them all along the interstate. When the smugglers see that it may encourage them to keep going, the downside is that it might have the same impact on everyone.
On Saturday, May 6th, from 9 AM – 12 PM, Keep Lytle Beautiful, in collaboration with the City of Lytle and Waste Management will be walking the streets picking up trash and accepting any bulky waste from City residents. There will be 2 drop-off locations for residents to bring their bulky waste. Residents should also bring a Lytle city utility bill. The first location will be the City Hall (14916 Main St.) and the second at Lytle High School (18975 FM 2790 N.). Contact city hall or visit the city website for more information (www.lytletx.org).
If you haven’t checked out the truck stop being built on IH-35 at FM 3175, construction is quickly moving along. I can already see myself hitting the pancakes at IHOP.


It’s hard to believe, but the year is already one-third over. Easter was a little late this year, so the feeling that we have just celebrated it is a logical one! And since then, both the Poteet Strawberry Festival and Fiesta San Antonio have been celebrated. I didn’t get to watch any of the parades on TV this year, mostly because they were being broadcast when I was having bad weather and the TV was off!
My recent trip to Devine was uneventful, all the bad weather waited until I was safely home before it came in. Saturday and Sunday were both relatively quiet for me. Saturday, I went on a small “road trip”. I had seen an ad in our paper for a garage sale and decided to try to find it. Guess, what? It was one of those placed that “you can’t get there from here”. Meaning I wasted nearly an hour trying to get there before I turned around, came back to town and went the way I thought was simplest to begin with! The lady turned out to be someone I knew; however, she didn’t have much that I could use. I found a game with a chapter book for children to read here at my house and a couple of books for myself.
This next week is going to be a busy one, as I have Pokeno on Monday afternoon and in the evening, there is visitation and a rosary for one of our locals. I know the family; his wife is a lady who knows how to stay busy! She is our ringleader when it comes time to make noodles for our various fundraisers and is totally pleasant to be around. I’ve gotten to know him a little bit, as he was a member of the American Legion post that I attend the Ladies Auxiliary. Tuesday, I have the monthly meeting of our Hospital Auxiliary and the in the afternoon, a turn in the gift shop. Wednesday will find me back in Victoria once again with my new hearing aids. I think sometimes it’s like Pat Dubose used to tell me, when I had a computer problem “operator error”! Truthfully, I’m doing very well with them, just a couple of little glitches.
May is a month with more holidays/celebrations than many of our other months. First, we have May Day on May 1. It is not celebrated in our country as much as it is in other countries. In some, it is celebrated with parties, May poles and May baskets. In my grade school days, we made a May basket out of woven strips of construction paper for our mothers. When I was working at the nursing home, one of the aides, made each of us a May basket filled with tiny flowers and hung them on the doorknob of our office.

My information about this date was gleaned from the internet several years ago.
It was on this day in 1862, that the Mexican army, for the first time, defeated the most feared French army of Napoleon III. He had been planning to take unconditional control over Mexico. Napoleon III observed how the Spaniards had controlled the land in colonial times and how they lost it. He had also seen the northern part of Mexico was later of great interest to the United States Emancipation plan. It was through the treaty of Guadalupe Hildago that Mexico lost one half of its territory. The government was split, headed by Zuloaga and another headed by Benito Juarez. Under these conditions, Napoleon III wanted the land even more. He, therefore, sent the Austrian, Ferdinand Maximilian, to take control (under Napoleon IIIs orders) as Emperor of Mexico.
Mexico was not willing to have any more colonizing and ruling from other Empires settling in the land. It was a time to fight back and be respected. All their gold and silver were under the Spanish power when they had first colonized the land.
President Juarez decreed that no man between the ages of 20 and 60 would be excused from taking up arms. He was determined not to lose his people’s land. He made it clear to the citizens that any traitors would be taken prisoner, and have his possessions confiscated by the State. He guaranteed to protect the lives and property of French citizens who lived in Mexico.
The French proclaimed General Almonte as president of the Republic of Mexico. Not all of the citizens of Mexico accepted him as President. Those who were loyal to their country still depended on their only president, Benito Juarez.
Juarez sent a warning to Napoleon III, who later denied receiving it. In it Juarez indicated that the citizens did not want a monarchy and did not want to be controlled by the French Empire. He also warned Napoleon III that if the nation’s sovereignty were attacked, the citizens would resist, and sooner or later freedom and justice would win. Napoleon took all of this as a joke because he did not recall his army back to France but continued his aggression into Mexico City. On April 12, 1862, President Juarez had no other choice but to make his nation aware of the French invasion. He asked the people to support the Mexican army in the impending battle and to defend their independence. He reminded them that, in war, everyone suffered, but no type of misfortune was greater than the loss of freedom.
General Ignacio Zaragoza was appointed to gather forces at Puebla to defend Mexico City. Zaragoza and Juarez, as well as the French, knew that the only way to Mexico City was through Puebla. If the French were able to gain control of Puebla, Mexico would be in their hands. General Lorencez was put in charge of taking Puebla. IN many instances he was informed that the citizens of Mexico were willing to accept the French in their land and that there was not going to be any combat at all once he reached Puebla. Lorencez had no idea that the inhabitants of Puebla were actually waiting for him.
Puebla had over 80,000 inhabitants and over 150 churches and was surrounded by a chain of five forts. Zaragoza had an army of about 6,000 men who were placed in the forts. The others were held in reserve in the city, where he had erected barricades in most of the streets.
He knew that at this time of the year, showers were to be expected frequently. The rains made the roads almost impossible to use, causing heavy cannons to get stuck on mountain roads. The hailstorms would also make life miserable for the soldiers, and if there was an outbreak of disease, such as smallpox or typhoid fever, this would also wreak havoc. The Mexicans knew their territory, which gave them a great advantage, in spite of the fact that they were short on supplies and weapons.
On May3, 1862, Zaragoza arrived at Puebla and discussed with the citizens the possible tactics that the French would use. On May 4, Lorencez arrived at the village of Amozoc, a few miles north of Puebla. He did not know where to attack. Almonte advised him to attack from the west and added that Puebla had never been taken from the north. Others advised Lorencez to attack from the north. The French army arrived near Puebla at 9:00 a.m., on May 5, 1862. Once there, Lorencez’s army was attacked by a small group of Mexicans. The French took a stand and realized that they were not going to be as welcome as they thought they would be. At 11:00 a.m., the battle of Cinco de Mayo began.
To get into the city of Puebla, the French army had to bring down the Fort of Guadalupe and also Fort Loreto, which was about half a mile away. For hours they kept advancing closer to the fort’s walls and did not seem to be doing any damage. After about an hour and a half of fighting, they had spent nearly half their ammunition, and the French infantry was sent in to capture the fort. They were under strong musket fire from the Mexicans in the fort, and from others sheltered by rising ground halfway between the two forts. The Mexican artillery in Fort Loreto was also turned on them.
Acting on orders from Zaragoza, Porfirio Diaz led a charge against the French infantry in front of the fort. That afternoon a heavy thunderstorm drenched the combatants, obscured visibility and made the ground slippery. Lorencez did not have a chance and he knew it. He was running out of weapons and losing soldiers. To save his army, he knew he had to retreat. At around 7:00 p.m., the French army retreated from Fort Guadalupe to a position at the foot of the hill and waited for a Mexican counterattack. The French erected their tents and spent the light listening to the Mexicans cheering and celebrating their victory by singing Mexican songs and the “Marseillaise”, which to the French was “our Marseillaise”. Lorencez waited for Zaragoza to make the next move, staying for two days in the city of Puebla. But, after seeing that Zaragoza was not coming, Napoleon’s army had to walk through the silent mountains, defeated, with 462 men and eight of their prisoners taken.
President Juarez decided to make the Battle of Puebla a holiday, along with Mexican Independence Day (September 16). The battle came to be known as the “Batalla de Puebla”, in which civilians of the poor Pueblo de Puebla defeated the great French army of Napoleon III.
Chicken Fajitas
2 pounds chicken, thighs or breasts, de-boned and cut into 2-inch strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
Juice of 2 limes
1 bottle dark beer
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
½ tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
Cilantro, cut up
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
Place chicken and next eleven ingredients into plastic or glass bowl and marinate at least 18 to 24 hours in fridge. Heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan, drain meat and sear in hot pan, adding the bell pepper. Cook until done, about 4 to 6 minutes. Serve in hot tortillas with salsa.