The Cantinas Leopard & Staples 1100 block South.

Ok, I have NO NUMBER assigned to these little cantinas that dotted the south side of Leopard street in 1960s in my youth. So first find #81 Guzman's Restaurant on corner of Staples, and just east #80 Braslaus Fine Furniture and you in the zone. So between #80 & #81

So 1100 block SOUTH side of Leopard between Staples & Waco. After the Nixon Building built 1926-27 Leopard Street was pulled into the downtown shopping area, which was exploding. Leopard stree was full of small Anglo and Mexican businesses and thrived. The population of Corpus Christi tripled between 1920-30 from 10,522 to 27,741. Uptown was born. And besides Nixon building as anchor, Corpus Christi Bank & Trust, Perkins Brothers department store & Plaza Hotel followed. The Nixon Building was on Leopard and Upper Broadway on the bluff, so sort of linked downtown and uptown but few the building boom.

Most of the Mexican owned businesses with exception of some barbers, some grocery stores and restaurants, pushed west of Waco street though. Still, they and Leopard street continued to thrive into the late 1950s, and early 1960s, but changes coming with new Six Points, and Parkdale Plaza opening up in burbs. Compare it to many brick and mortar stores closing down with many people changing shopping habits to online.

So in the 1960s, the little block 1100 Leopard, from Waco to Staples on SOUTH side, was still there, but the buildings starting to show age and time. Guzman's on corner of Staples & Leopard, and a small insurance company on opposite end Waco & Leopard. Between them? CANTINAS. These Cantinas of which I do not remember names of, when I rode bike home from Cathedral (when I rode bike) would slowly look inside them, sometimes stop and poke head in.

Most times the back doors were open, and front doors, so even on a warm day you had a breeze blowing thru them to blow out smell of stale beer, sometimes previous nights vomit ha ha...yuck! There were three that I recall, and each of them had dart boards, pool tables and small bar straight bar against wall, with dozen or less chairs for the borrachos. Ashtrays too as you could smoke in bars then. Some of them had small round tables and chairs, that looked like they had bought from a hotel or motel liquidation.

They all had cement floors. Why do I remember that? Several reasons, had never really seen place with cement floors except inside of Coca Cola plant next door to our house on Antelope. Everything else had carpet, tiles or stick on something.

There were some neon signs like Hamms, Schlitz, Pabst, Jax, Falstaff & Lone Star to light up the place, and long beer signs above the pool tables which looked cool. A friend dared me to 'walk thru' from alley which was at the time, Mestina street, to front on Leopard. Ok, walked thru, everyone sort of started at the dumb kid in Cathedral clothes, and came out front. Momma would have pounded my ass with a orange Hot Wheels track if she knew I did that as she had NO GO ZONES, or "Forbidden Zones" as she called them.

Violate momma's rules, get read hinie like monkeys at Houston Zoo. sometimes not Hot Wheels track which would leave twin racing stripes on butt, but go all Adrian Peterson on you, make you go outside while crying and 'pick your own shillelagh' off tree!

Regardless, I do not remember these after 1970s except when I drove down to brother Tommy's wedding across street at La Terraza, and by now, like many places in Corpus Christi, by mid 1980s the whole strip center was boarded up, and some had big locks with chains on them, thought that odd as I parked rental car in front. What was there to steal, and my girlfriend said 'they probably being used for storage now' which made sense.

Now...the whole block is GONE, some new building there, so here is all I got memory wise to share with anyone who takes a moment of their time to read.

PHOTOS: Photo #1. Where "the cantinas" eventually would be, this is 1948 showing a number of Mexican folks in front of popular Jalisco Restaurant, and Grande Café next door. Farther down El Patio Buccaneer. Note the shoe shine boys, and also colorful pinatas (at least they appear to be pinatas) hanging from a overhang.

cc-leopard-staples-10.jpg (142285 bytes)

Photo #2. If you look closely, you can see on the right of photo where photo #1 taken, including Grande Café sign. Below it has Pickles, but can't see if this was a little store or Grande also sold pickles, really popular back then get out of huge barrel.

cc-leopard-staples-11.jpg (115155 bytes)

Photo #3. 1100 Leopard block looking SouthEast. All this stuff GONE now. From on the right with small V shaped sign, to yellow front, these were The Three Cantinas in 1960s. Leave door open in back, Corpus Christi constant breeze south to north blow thru places, and on a hot day, even a warm Schlitz would have tasted good. Ok, no beer tases good hot, barf. But nice breeze. Wonder what they did with The North Wind, northers came calling with cold wind whistling from north?

cc-leopard-staples-12.jpg (111358 bytes)

Photo #4. 1100 block SOUTH side of street between Staples & Waco, all GONE, looking SouthWest this angle. Staples is where stop light is. The huge Sears was where the huge city building is now in background. There were other shops here besides The Three Cantinas, but nomadic in nature when I was a kid, they came and went. Sorry no numbers were assigned to many of these small places when I was putting together thisa huge file.

cc-leopard-staples-13.jpg (99137 bytes)