The Macias sisters, Connie and Mary Lou, have lived in their pretty cottage at 118 Daniel Street for sixty-seven years. They were teenagers in 1945 when their mother, Concepcion Hernandez Macias, widowed just the year before, paid $1,500 down payment on the house.
Concepcion was a teenager herself in 1915 when she arrived in San Antonio with her family, fleeing a pneumonia epidemic in Guatemala. She attended mass at San Fernando Cathedral for the next few years and that’s where she met Liborio Macias. While social conventions of the day kept them from actually “dating,” they took every opportunity to get to know each other during the social hour after mass. Liborio had emigrated to the U.S. from San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1905 with his mother and brother to escape political unrest at home.
After a brief courtship, nineteen year-old Concepcion and thirty year-old Liborio married and started their family. A carpenter by trade, Liborio built a house for his family at 827 S. Flores next door to the Judson Candy Factory. He and Concepcion eventually had seven children. During WWII, the three oldest sons served in the armed services: Ricky in the Air Force, Mac in the Army and Rafael in the Navy.
“During WWII, the old Katy Railroad ran between S. Flores Street and San Pedro Creek, just behind our house,” says Mary Lou. “The army moved German prisoners of war along that route to and from the detention camps. Often, the train would stop and we would feel sorry for the prisoners who were usually hot and hungry. Connie and I would take pails of water and bits of food and hand it to them through the windows. The guards would not allow most people near the trains but for some reason, they never kept us away.”
In 1944, Liborio passed away and Concepcion made the best of raising the younger children on her own. She received $37 per month for each of her sons in the military. “Mother would lift up the linoleum flooring in the kitchen and hide her allotments there for safe keeping,” remembers Connie.
Their mother’s unconventional ‘savings account’ is what made the down payment on the Daniel Street house. What a huge accomplishment for a single immigrant mother of seven in the 1940’s! Even more remarkable, by 1952, Concepcion paid off her mortgage in full and the house was theirs free and clear.
“When we moved into this house, we were the only Hispanics on the block,” says Mary Lou. “The neighborhood was all German, mostly first generation, who still spoke their native language. At first, we didn’t feel like we fit in, but we soon became friends with the kids and then we felt like we had been accepted. Our mother made extra money doing washing and ironing for a few of the wealthier neighbors.”
“My mother never learned to read or write English and always depended on me to translate the letters from our three brothers in the service,” remembers Connie. “The boys were not taught Spanish in school because the practice at that time for immigrant children was total immersion in English.”
Connie and Mary Lou are very proud of their family. Brother Ricky received a scholarship to Trinity University, which was unusual in 1948 for a Catholic Hispanic to attend a Presbyterian school. Brother Joe, who was a Master Sergeant and bombardier in the Air Force, participated in fifty bombing missions over Germany. Nephew Nathan Macias became a Texas State Representative. “We can count eleven family members who have gone to Texas A&M,” says Mary Lou.
Both Connie and Mary Lou attended Bonham Elementary School and Harris Junior High, and both of them chose to go to Fox Tech High School like their brothers before them. Connie went on to have a thirty-year career at Kelly Air Force Base. She purchased the Daniel Street house from her mother in 1965, just a year before she died. She and Mary Lou helped to raise their nephew, Larry Macias, who was born in the family home. Mary Lou especially likes to cook, and they have a long tradition of hosting a weekly family night in their home.
Both sisters are passionate volunteers. They have put in many hours at the Children’s Museum, Metro Hospital, the KWA office, the Institute of Texan Cultures and San Fernando Cathedral. Connie took her turn serving on the KW board in the 1990’s. Both Connie and Mary Lou are mainstays in staffing Ilsa’s Attic on Fair day. Mary Lou has collected Fiesta pins for 25 years and loves KW Fair and Fiesta Flambeau pins in particular.
Connie will be celebrating her 83rd birthday on December 10. Happy Birthday, Connie! Be sure to say hello to Connie and Mary Lou at Ilsa’s Attic at the 2013 King William Fair.