As we sat together outside in the noonday heat, Samuel Minjarez’s told me his story. What started as a story about his custom, 1956, 1 ton ford truck became more profound. I fondly refer to Samuel as Uncle Sammy, one of the few people I’ve met who is a Rosarito native.
Uncle Sammy’s father, Francisco, was the first Taquero in Rosarito, pushing his cart and selling homemade tacos in 1948. Francisco was an enterprising individual. Strapped over his horse were two metal cooking cans filled with soda, beer and ice. Francisco would travel the Rosarito beach selling ice cold soda and beer. One day an American tourist offered to pay him one dollar to take his child for a ride on his horse. A new business started with an investment of two dollars for a horse and a charge of a dollar for a ride. Soon, with twenty horses, Francisco and his sons were pulling in a hundred dollars per day on a busy weekend.
Time moves on and Uncle Sammy found himself working north of the border – making a life there. When he retired he moved back to Rosarito and bought a rolling wreck of a truck with the idea of restoring it. Two months later Uncle Sammy developed cancer. The truck sat in his brother’s shop and Uncle Sammy lay in bed for three years.
One day while thinking about what he wanted to do with his truck, Uncle Sammy decided it wasn’t doing much good to be always thinking about his cancer. Sammy got his brother to bring the truck over to his house and he began rebuilding it. The truck had cancer (rust), too, and together they both began to recover. Today they are both cancer free.
The truck was finished in 2012, yet the list of things to do goes on and will never be completely finished. It has the original V8 Y block engine, a 292 cubic inch. He has many trophies to show for his work. The wooden camper on the back is all hand made by Uncle Sammy including the hand shaved shingles on the roof. The furnishings inside are also hand made and miniature to boot. Completed inside are table, chairs, bed, closets, with a cook stove and a pot belly stove. Outside in the rear are old red railroad lanterns for stop and tail lights. Simply amazing is the work that’s gone into it. Uncle Sammy brought the truck back to life and the truck brought Uncle Sammy back from the brink.