Todo Se Olvida – Everything Gets Forgotten

Riverside Casa Blanca 4Out in Riverside the other day, I took a trip with police through Casa Blanca, just off the 91 Freeway.

Casa Blanca is one of the classic Mexican-American barrios of Southern California, named for a large white mansion on a hill a half-mile east of it and a brand of oranges. The area is still bordered by some orange groves.

It has fascinated me for many years, ever since the great Calvin Trillin wrote a masterful piece about it for the New Yorker, which he later included in his book, Killings. This is probably the best volume of crime reporting in American journalism. I’ve read Killings four times, I think.

Anyway, “Todo Se Paga” – Everything Gets Paid – told the story of the feud between the Ahumada and Lozano families in the insulated barrio that was itself like a small town, quite apart from the rest of Riverside. Police, in particular, were unwelcome. Only a few years ago, officers who went there still risked being hit with rocks, and neighbors would at times start bonfires in the middle of the streets.

Madison Street is the barrio’s dividing line – east of that was the Lozano family and west of that lived the Ahumadas.

Casa Blanca’s story was very un-Southern Californian – a rooted place, where houses were not only inherited but lived in by generations. Unlike most of the region, history mattered and people remembered and things lingered.

In 1992, after a police officer killed a notorious member of the Ahumadas – Georgie – the police chief of Riverside told the LA Times that the department had no vendetta against any of the families out in Casa Blanca.

“We’re not killing them–they’re killing each other,” he said. “If we really (sought) revenge, and wanted to carry it to its extreme, the best thing we could do is sit back and do nothing because they’ll eventually kill each other.”

Over the years, it all got very complicated, with people intermarrying but at the same time feuding, and having to choose sides. Eventually it devolved into two gangs – Fern Street (Ahumada) and Evans Street (Lozano) gangs. For years the gangs that grew from this feud were known for their violence.Riverside Casa blanca 6

Then about three years ago, it all stopped. Graffiti, feuding just ended. There hasn’t been a major crime incident in Casa Blanca for a while now, I’m told.

One cop I toured with said he thought it had to do with an order from drug-trafficking groups that the violence was attracting police attention and getting in the way of business.

That seems a likely possibility, something that’s happened elsewhere in Southern California as well.

But it also seems to me that the world finally came to Casa Blanca, too. A lot of the old families have died, or moved away, or are doing time. Many new residents are from other countries, including Mexico and Central America, and aren’t invested in, or care about, the barrio history.

I went by Ahumada’s Market. An Indian man has owned it for 10 years. There’s a Korean church on Madison, along with a library branch. A Korean man owns a market nearby as well.

Maybe in the rapid-fire change of economics, real estate and culture in Southern California, in contrast to other other parts of the world I could name, it’s more accurate to say that “Todo Se Olvida” – Everything Gets Forgotten.

14 Comments

Filed under California, Culture, Gangs, Southern California

14 Responses to Todo Se Olvida – Everything Gets Forgotten

  1. eddie

    So I ask myself what went wrong?

  2. Kirk R

    Interesting blog post to say the least. Interesting replies for sure. I grew up in another town in So Cal outside of Riverside, and got in a lot of trouble as a youth and ended up in Twin pines Ranch in the mid-70s. I got to know some of the kids from Casa Blanca (as well as a white boy could, anyway). I was always fascinated by the culture. The guys were always walking around like they were proud of their barrio and always ready for a fight at any moment. I always wondered what it must have been like to grow up in a place like that where you could be challenged at any moment. I came to know one of them, and he and I would talk whenever none of the other guys were around. He seemed like a level headed kid, but he always seemed to be under a certain amount of peer pressure to conform to his group/gang/whatever. Anyway, I hope peace prevails, we all deserve to live a good life, free from trouble if possible.

  3. Many thinks is happened here goods or bads, but life goes on,Happy New Year to all mexicans.

  4. Margarita Hernandez

    When I first started reading this article I thought it was going to be a little more insightful. But this is a been there done that type of article. There have been many articles written on the crimes committed here in Casa Blanca. I would have preferred to read about people in Casa Blanca who have made a difference and stood their ground for peace who influenced and made an impact. Like Pastor Jimenez from COGP on Diamond steeet and and Victory Outreach. The peace rallies and testimonies of a change that was greater than ourselves . I feel articles like this only fuel the animosity of those that never forgot the wrongs that were never made right.

  5. Delia Romero

    Well, where should I begin? First off, the RPD officer that you accompanied during your ride through CB sounds as if he/she has no knowledge, just hearsay to go by. Bon fires in the middle of the street? That’s a first and as far as the police being unwanted in the neighborhood, Ha! They enjoyed crushing the streets of CB. I still remember at a very young age when RPD would cruise by our home. I clearly remember sitting in the front porch with my Pops, Big T Romero and RPD crusing by flipping us off, but you or anyone else who never lived in the barrio wouldn’t know nor would you believe some of the things that these rookies did. I was pulled over all the time, once because my tires were as bald as the grandma’s ass of the officer , that’s what the officer told me was his reasoning for his traffic stop. Another time, I was asked if I was going to the Romero Clan meeting, no reason for stopping me as I was not cited, just what I would call verbally harassed. I can go on and on about the Rookies that patrolled the streets of CB, but Nah! It was said and done and as you can see, it still sits in the back if my mind as to everything they got away with such as the Murder of Georgie Ahumada. I find it rather odd the mentioning of Georgie being killed by a police officer as the RPO was not found guilty for comiting murder. He was found innocent, but yet stated on this post that Georgie was killed by the RPO. RP Enterprise had followed this story and stated in its article that Georgie had stopped breathing while being arrested for who knows what. Hell, any of us would stop breathing if we are getting the hell chocked out of us. Just an FYI… Georgie was NOT a Notorious Gang member as stated in your article. The Notorious Gang member is the one who took Georgies life. Madison street? A divider amongst rivals and I’m just going by the article. Well, for the most part it’s the main street that everyone would cruise up and down on back in the days. Now, Madison street is a highway frequented by many. Madison Park no longer exists, it had been replaced with a library, which is a good thing for the community. CB, a town In which I was born and raised. Hell, I don’t forget where I came from nor do I forget all who have died over stupid shit. You will hear two. Three, four. Five and many more sides to the stories behind CB, but the ones who know are the ones who lived it, not some youngster who goes by what he/she hears.. Allot of us want to leave the senseless killings that took place behind and honestly, by doing a article of a town you know nothing about and providing false information only brings back memories and to some anger. With all due respect, todo no si olvida… May our loved one’s who died in these senseless killings Rest in Peace

  6. Roxanne Lozano

    Interesting blog. Its safe to say you are not the only one who has been fascinated being from the outside looking in. What i would like to know is which cop you actually patrolled with? To say violence has come to a halt because of Drug trafficking dealers is completely false. You could imagine that the police only know as much as theyve been passed down to them from senior officers who preciously patrolled Casa Blanca, and that wouldn’t be much. What i dislike from not only this blog (with all due respect) but how people who do not know the truth keep using the PERSONAL fued the 2 families had years ago with any kind of Evans st Fern St violence that goes on now or in more recent years. That Fued has yes been forgotten, what has gone on after is not tied to that. The Lozanos do not associate themselves with being part of “Gangs” My association with Evans st & Jacaranda st comes with family ties. My mom living on Evans St (still) & My Dad living on Jacaranda St. Not a gang to me but a family thing. I can say that my grand parents brought us up to be leaders not followers, to be strong minded and to be able to think with our own mind rather than been easily influenced by the non sense of “gang members” to do something bad in order to be a part of something. We were taught that no matter what had happen in the past that we didn’t need to hold grudges, A lot of people lost their lives in that family fued, caused by a personal issue. Our lost loved ones deserve a little bit more respect than that to say they were Willing to risk their life for the EAST OR WEST SIDE OF MADISON ST. Never that. II appreciate the fact that you showed enough interest to write about our home town known As CASA BLANCA and yes without a doubt The White House is in a class of its own unlike any other place in Riverside.

  7. Jess Sanchez

    Thank you for writing this blog about my family. Like my Mom stated above, there are always two sides to every story in the least, however, I would probably do some fact checking because some of the information that was summarized was not entirely accurate. I grew up in Casa Blanca, and I grew up a Lozano, paternally I am a Sanchez, but by means of development, I am a Lozano. In my years of growing up in Casa Blanca (and on Jacaranda St.), I have never seen a fire in the middle of the street, if anything, gatherings of family members happened inside of the gates of our homes. Nor as a Lozano have we ever claimed to be a gang from Evans. If anything, the Lozano’s tend to be more connected to Jacaranda St. Growing up we had many friends that lived on Evans, and still do, but to say we are an Evans St. Gang is inaccurate.
    Either way, I invite you to contact me and I can give you insight from my perspective growing up. I can tell you that I had a childhood full of positivity and support. I am also positive that my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncle could give you a more accurate interpretation from their perspective.
    Thank you and have a good day.

  8. Yvette Lozano Sanchez

    No one knows the truth behind the Lozano/Ahumada Feud only the ones that were there like us there is always 2 sides to a story in this case 3 . You had to be there. We saw and heard alot of things, but Thank God we Lozanos are still here and in Casa Blanca.
    Have a good day

    • samquinones

      Thank you very much for writing. I’d be very interested in hearing what you had to say on the topic. Either way, though, thanks for sending in your words.

  9. The same thing seems to happen here in the center of Mexico, in Guanajuato where we live and write—waves of calm and violence. A year ago we had combat troops with automatic rifles and helmets standing in doorways, looking up at the roofs, shining bright lights on any of us who dare look down on them from our roofs. Before and after these incidents, it was city police in helmet and carrying clubs. They had rock fights with the trouble makers. Six or so adolescents, who could call on twenty more, terrorized the barrio at night. There is no hot pursuit here, so neither Army nor police can chase a kid into his mother’s house and arrest him for throwing rocks at law enforcement. Then something changed. One of the kids beat a local miner to death right in front of our house. A surveillance cameras captured the event. The boy went to the tutelar, youth prison, outside of town. But what seems to end most of the violence is that boys fifteen or sixteen become fathers, and that seems to calm them down to some extent. So, until the next crop of sixteen-year old’s comes along—in about five years—the peace may continue. I have written a lot about this struggle, and you can read about it at http://www.sterlingbennett.com.

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