Don Juanito Gonzales 1885-1983, was born in Uruapan, Michoacan, Mexico to Maria Diaz, a thirteen year old girl living on a hacienda. Although his father was the owner of the hacienda, Maria Diaz raised him alone.
Amidst the background of the Mexican Revolution, he traveled north to the United States. His journey was done by walking from railroad stop to railroad stop, staying periodically at a town to rest and work. Once in the United States, he did a variety of labor in Pennsylvania, Alaska and the Imperial Valley. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1920.
Here he met his wife, Marina Perez. After a week, they married; something that was commemorated for fifty years until the death of his wife. He loved her very much. Together they had seven children, twelve grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren.
In Los Angeles he had a transfer business at what was once Sanchez Street located between the Fire Station and the Pico House. He operate his business side by side with his life long friend, Antonio Ramos.
When Miss Christine Sterling initiated her dream, he and other future merchants would come at night to assist the prisoners digging up the alley that would become Calle Olvera. When the project was complete, she gave him a small stand and eventually, gave him the site that is now C22.
Life on Olvera Street was a woven rebozo that thrived through solid friendships, a community of compadres, comadres, padrinos, madrinas, ahijados, and ahijadas were blessed at Placita; many of these friendships still survive. One of the pleasant memories is of Don Juanito taking the children of La Calle to the beach during the summer. Everyone on Olvera Street knew Don Juanito. He diligently tended to his business until the age of 97 when he died. The business is active and has remained in the family for three generations.
Juan and Marina labored to attain the American dream: to live in conditions where their family would have emotional security, good health, education and freedom from political and economical oppression. But, by there example, they placed in our souls the memory of where we came from: the life of the orphan, the refugee, the revolutionary, the undesirable; the passion and purpose of the journey across desert, river, and bigotry; and the love of tradition, simplicity and the least valued in society.
The result has been the Mexican Dream, familia. In gratitude for the gift of these blessed lives, we praise God.
We love you, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa.