Joseph P. Machado

Joseph Machado

Joseph P. Machado lived in Rio Vista from the ages of 6 years to 13 years old, 1930-1937, in a house owned by Del Monte, now located where Blackwelder Park is. In 1937 his dad purchased a house north of “Swamp Dog Cut” at 691 River Road and it was later moved in 1943 to approximately 550 River Road by the Army Corp of Engineers. He lived in this home with his mother Constance F. Machado, his father Joseph T. Machado and his brother Gerald Machado until he joined the Merchant Marines in 1943. His family continued to live there until his family sold the house in 1948 or 1949 when they moved to Santa Clara to continue working for Del Monte when the local Rio Vista plant closed. The house was later torn down.

During this time approximately 1,000 to 2,000 people lived in Rio Vista and Downtown is still similar to what it is now. There was a grocery store at 190 Main Street, Sol Mogel’s pharmacy on Main and 3rd on the south east corner, a bakery next to Fosters Bighorn and many churches including St. Joseph’s Church which his family visited every Sunday. Across the street from St. Joseph’s Church was the Rio Vista City Park where bands would play every Sunday and many families would listen to them while enjoying picnics after church. Also there was a water front wharf at the east end of Main Street where the ships docked. Rio Vista didn’t have many local issues, just some concerns of Delta flooding and the normal crime, like petty thefts and drunken brawls.

Rio Vista didn’t have any traffic lights, but Joseph’s family saw their share while out traveling. His family liked to visit relatives in Sacramento by taking Highway 160 in his fathers 1928 or 1929 Overland Whippet. They also traveled four hours to Santa Clara taking Highway 160 over the old wooden Antioch Bridge, over Kirker Pass, thru Clayton, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Mission San Jose and along the southern end of the San Francisco Bay along narrow winding roads to visit his grandmother. In 1940 thru 1943 he would drive his mother in his 1931 Model A Ford Coupe to Sacramento so that she could do the shopping at Montgomery Wards.

Joseph attended primary school at 445 Montezuma, Riverview School and Rio Vista High School. Both schools are still in the same locations, but have since been changed with new buildings and remodels. He had about 20 to 25 kids in his class and they were all friendly because they knew each others families. His mom usually made him a tuna, egg, or peanut butter and jelly sandwich with fruit for lunch. They had to wear nice clothing; usually the boys wore nice pants and shirts while the girls wore respectable dresses. His favorite subject during class was arithmetic, though during recesses he enjoyed playing baseball and basketball.

When he wasn’t at school he enjoyed spending time with friends and playing games like Hide & Seek, Kick the can, and Annie, Annie Over. As an older boy he also enjoyed playing in the High School Band and the Jazz Band. He often enjoyed going to see a movie at the local theater here in town which had cost about .10 cents. His favorites to watch were Westerns, but often enjoyed watching other movies, news reels, coming attractions, and short serials for kids that were fun to watch. He also enjoyed listening to music, especially big band, and some of his favorites were Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller and John Philip Souza. His family had a Philco radio and they would sit around and listen to the Fireside Chats, music, news programs, Amos & Andy and Inner Sanctum Mysteries.

Life wasn’t all play; he also had household chores that consisted of vacuuming, some cooking and general house cleaning with an allowance of .15 cents a week. He started working when he was around 11 or 12 years old delivering milk to various homes in town, though he didn’t get paid in cash, but in free milk which he took home to his mom and donuts that he enjoyed eating himself. After that he delivered newspapers for $15 a month, and then later at the ages of 14 and 15 he worked for Del Monte for .25 cents an hour. After that he had worked in the local service station here in town for .35 cents to .50 cents an hour saving his money up for his 1931 Model A Ford he would later buy.

Joe has many happy memories of his family. Sunday dinners were mostly for his immediate family of four, but occasionally their cousins from Sacramento would come for dinner. Sunday dinner was roast beef with potatoes around the roast and homemade bread. His family also ate a lot of asparagus since his parents had worked for Del Monte here in Rio Vista which was the largest asparagus plant in the world. His mother often cooked a fabulous meat stew which was one of his favorites but no one has quite been able to duplicate it since his mother used whatever she had on hand and never measured any of the ingredients. He also remembers his mother having a little hamburger place in the front part of the old Rio Vista Theater, and all the kids loved her hamburgers. At Christmas time they had a tree and ate a traditional turkey dinner. They would start with opening presents on Christmas Eve; gifts were usually practical like clothing. Then they would go to Midnight Mass and services on Christmas morning.

The only member of his family that he remembers serving in WWII, other then himself, was his cousin Bill Gomez. Joseph served in the Merchant Marines in the South Pacific during the war from 1943 to 1946 and was attached to the Fifth Army Transport that went on the invasion of Noemfoor Island. He wrote to his mother regularly and she would write him back and send homemade cookies. He then came home in 1946 and got married and purchased the Shell service station at 3rd and Main. He later on became a full-time police officer in Rio Vista.

Joseph thought the greatest part of living in a small town like Rio Vista during the 1930’s - 1950 was the real connection you had with your neighbors and friends. They didn’t have television; their entertainment truly was visiting friends and relatives and playing with school friends. People were not in such a hurry as they are today and they took time to enjoy their surroundings. His advice for the young people of today is to get a good education, find a job you really enjoy doing, and be sure to spend time with your family. Don’t waste your time and money traveling for hours to work every day as this is precious time you take away from your spouse and children. He had many opportunities to move away to the larger cities to make more money, but he stayed here in Rio Vista to raise his family!