Goodbye, Brother...and Thanks for the Ride

Another soul leaves the Land of 1000 Dances for Heaven ... Sam Arzaga

By Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: June 28, 2013

Goodbye, Brother...and Thanks for the Ride

Once again...the warm winds blow softly across the Land of 1000 Dances that is Aztlan, carrying another CHICANO warrior to heaven on a well earned cloud of love and respect....

...and I painfully say goodbye to the last of my big brothers in this lifetime, my beloved brother Sammy...

A physically large and imposing man known to everybody else as Sam or "Yogi," my earliest childhood memory of him will always be my last...and he will forever be "Sammy" to me.

Along with my father, my previously deceased big brother Bobby, and some influential uncles who have left this world, Sammy was one of the men responsible for who and what I am today.

A gentle and generous giant to my mother, my sisters, and others who knew him in the neighborhood while we were growing up, he was also one of the best street scrappers ever to come out of the old neighborhood of Bassett Grande, when face to face chingasos meant something on the block.

My childhood and teenage memories of hanging out with him in the streets of East L.A. and Bassett are many and fond...and my eyes water as I write this, as I hurt ever so bad...and I miss him ever so deeply.

Like Bobby, Sammy took care of, and watched over, me and my 4 younger siblings as both my parents had to work long hours to support a large family in the 1960s, when being Brown in L.A. wasn't easy & popular....and he took care of his kids when being a single father wasn't in vogue yet...and he watched out for family 'till the end.

And like Bobby, Sammy always took the first chingasos in life on the street so me & my younger brother wouldn't have to...but being a large muscular guy, he could also give an ass whupping like nobody's business...I was witness to that. ALL the chingasos I've been in, and I've been in a lot...I SWEAR nobody ever hit me as hard as Sam did when he & I locked asses a couple of times as young men...but I never held it against him, and he would always laugh afterwards that I "probably deserved it"....( probably did, LOL!)...and I never was able to whup him.

He was always there, watching my back, with a kind supportive word, or a stern lecture, or some helpful advice all my life....and for that, I shall be eternally grateful.

Like Bobby, he taught me how to drive, how to fight, how to fix things, how to iron & starch khakis & levi's, how to work on cars, basically how to "walk the walk, and talk the talk" of life as a young man while instilling family loyalty & love to the very end...and I always admired how he could become violently protective of family & friends...not because of the violence, but because of the love of others that motivated him, even when he & I disagreed....and loving brothers do that sometimes.

I will always remember him as one of the student leaders of the Chicano Movimiento at Cal State L.A., circa 1970, and some of the fiery speeches he gave.

Parties & dancing in the 'hoods of Bassett & La Puente, the El Monte Legion Stadium, East LA. and beyond....

I will always remember cruising the streets & boulevards in his '52 Chevy truck with him and the homeboys like Mongo, Lefty, Largo, Smiley, Bosco, Benny Serna, "Joe Mama" and others now lost to my memory from "back in the day"...

Most of all...I will always remember that he was my brother, and I loved him all my life...and there ain't no better love a man can ever experience in life for another man than that.

He was one of my first and most ardent fans, and he deservedly took credit for being one of my influences, along with my Mother and Brother Bobby, for my love of music and dancing that shall be with me to the grave...

"Brothers to the end," he and Bobby always told me...something me and my remaining brother will always cherish.

R.I.P. I told Mom & Bobby, save us some seats up gonna need a lot of them!

Siempre tu Carnal,


About Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme & the entire Arzaga Family thank you all from across the Land of 1000 Dances for the generous outpouring of love, condolences, and support at this time of grief.
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