The green truck in Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez’ driveway is old but beautiful – like a grandmother whose beauty has mostly faded, as some features still remain.
It’s the family heirloom. A gift from her father. But, Tzintzun Ramirez says the gift came with strings attached.
“This is his most precious and valuable thing [my father] owns,” she says. “And so, he made me sign a contract that I was never allowed to sell it, that it had to stay in the family, that I had to keep it the color green and that I was never allowed to change its name. And so, it’s going to be passed down to my son.”
The 1961 F-100 Ford pickup truck is named La Luna Verde de Esperanza (the Green Moon of Hope) and those words are stenciled above its windshield.
There are other details that make the truck unique. Tzintzun Ramirez’ father had the Mexican Farm Workers Union logo painted on the side. He also had the center circle of the steering wheel embellished with an image of mountains and nature that was handcrafted from wood and shell.
“[My father] traveled back and forth from Austin to southern Mexico to the state of Morelos in the 1970s,” Tzintzun Ramirez said. “And he felt like it was kind of like a shot of green across the picturesque landscapes and that it was like a shot of hope, I guess. My dad met my mom in this truck because she’s from Mexico.”
Tzintzun Ramirez’ father financed his months-long trips to Mexico by buying stuff out of garage sales in Texas and re-selling those items in Mexico.
“And the funny story about that is that he would pay like an old Volkswagen in the town to go around and say: “El Gringo Loco ya llegó! – the crazy gringo is here and he’s going to sell all of his products at precios muy locos – at really crazy [cheap] prices!””
There is a lot of history that surrounds La Luna Verde de Esperanza and a lot of memories. The truck is not in running condition at the moment. But, the plan is to fully restore it to its former beauty. It’s a great gift Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez got from her father. But not the greatest.
“My grandpa would always say my siblings and I were purebred Irish, Mexican Americans – which is hilarious, but it’s quintessentially Texan,” she said. “And I feel very much like it’s the American story. My parents always said the greatest gift isn’t being necessarily born in the United States. It’s being able to know two languages, two people, two cultures. That’s the greatest gift. I loved growing up that way. And I want my son to grow up that way.”