Selena: How San Antonio Remembered Her

Mar 31, 2015

by Robert Karimi

Originally published in La Prensa de San Antonio 1995

The weather forecasters predicted partly cloudy skies last Thursday, but the sky was a dark grey last Friday. San Antonians coming from lunch, work, school or on the freeway were shocked when they heard Selena had been shot in Corpus Christi. “I thought she would pull through,” said one woman. No one expected…

Death. At 2:05 p.m. In Memorial Hospital. I think it started to rain here in San Antonio. With April Fool’s Day just around the corner, folks were hoping that someone was playing a trick on San Antonio, but when KXTN started playing continuos Selena hits. Bidi bid bom bom. Fotos y Recuerdos. And announced the vigil at Sunken Gardens around the same time KRIO announced their vigil at South Park Mall, the reality shattered the hearts of San Antonians as the Queen of the capital of la onda Tejana.

Car lights lined up through the streets outside Sunken Garden. Selena’s voice can be heard on everyone’s radio. Inside, hands, little and big, grab for thin white rose-like candles. Two huge Coca-cola posters of Selena stand onstage. An Amor Prohibido poster place on a huge block was placed center stage. All not the same as the real thing.

Many of the faces in the crowd were women. Young and old. Tears coming down. One mother and her daughter held up a sign, “Thank You, Selena.” KXTN Johnny Rodriguez asked fans to come up to the microphone to share their memories of Selena. Many women talked about the hope she provided. Her success was the goal of many, but also her generosity and openness was what many strove for as well. One woman said that Selena kept her relationship from ending. “My boyfriend used to say I danced provocatively and wanted to break up with me,” she said trying to fight back the tears. “When he saw Selena and how she danced…we stayed together.” Another young man said that a conversation with Selena changed his life. “We talked, and she said I should go back to school. I did and now I’m about to finish. I owe it all to Selena.”

KXTN had originally planned for a mariachi to perform, but the people kept coming and coming onstage. A man kneeling a prating in front of her poster was what was the catalyst. Towards, the end of the night there were more people onstage than in the seats. Everyone praying for and remembering Selena in their own way. Lighting a candle. Kissing her poster. Or as one woman, telling the world how she felt, she announced loudly onstage, “Selena was a role model for Hispanic women! Via los Hispanics! Viva Selena!”

It rained Monday. From drizzle to very hard. In Corpus there was a private funeral for Selena. In San Antonio, there was a public Mass at San Fernando’s Cathedral for Selena. At noon, hundreds packed the Cathedral. Many were wearing pink ribbons in her memory. A line formed afterwards people did signs of the cross and kissed a poster at the front of the cathedral. Many even remained for the rosary. Outside, Robert Chavez noted that he and 67 other cars caravaned to Corpus for the viewing of the body. He had made his Oldsmobile a memorial to Selena and said he hoped to drive with other across Texas in her memory. “She’ll always be a star with us,” he said.

By Tuesday, Selena Etc., Selena’s boutique on the 3700 block of Broadway Ave. had become a shrine to the Tejana star. Balloons. Flowers. Poems. Pictures. Art. All created their own mural on the walls of the boutique. Stranger, friends, and families came together. They spoke about her accomplishment. Old memories, and left at the boutique what they felt about her.

It was still cloudy. The continuous flow of people were not stopped by the rain. One woman said that the rain was “the angels crying up in heaven because they’re so happy Selena is singing for them.”

Now, the sun now shines in San Antonio. Tejano radio stations are playing their regular playlists. People are going to work. Some, cleaning the “we love you Selena” off their cars so they can see through their windows. Even the front entrance of Selena,Etc. has been cleaned off of flowers, pictures, looking as if it may open some…

Day. It’s a new day. We are without the physical Selena, but her spirit is locked into our hearts and minds. “It’s going to be hard to forgive Norma Saldivar, but its going to be harder to forget Selena,” said one man at Sunken Gardens. But the words of Ashley Urrabas, 6 say it best. Kneeling, holding the pen so she could write in her best handwriting wrote, “I will miss you Selena.” We will.

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