‘History surrounding Norman Porter, Sr., a historian’ The old Breaker home, Cockrell Canyon & a misnamed country road
“I have been a member of the Atascosa County Historical Commission (ACHC) for more than 20 years,” said Sandy Zuniga. “When Mr. Porter joined the commission, all I’d heard about him was true. He was definitely a great person, very friendly, full of life and definitely full of history.
“He was always wanting to know more and share more. He also helped me do some research. It turns out that our families were property neighbors. His family on Crain Road and mine on FM 3006.
“He was always so generous as are his wife, Iris, and son, Norman, Jr.
“Every year he would make sure to invite the commission and county judge with spouses to his house for some of his delicious, famous cornbread and stew. We all won’t forget that and can never top it.”
Zuniga continued, “I have enjoyed learning so much about our state and local history and have made many friends from those in the commission and their families.
“I had always heard Norman Porter’s name because he was mentioned by students in the Pleasanton School District where our son attended.
“When our son, Dr. Jimmy Zuniga, attended Pleasanton Junior High in the early 80s, Mr. Porter kind of took him in. We had to go to work very early at that time and would drop Jimmy off at the junior high campus about 7 a.m. There were a few other kids who were early as well. I can’t remember their names but I do remember that Louis Zamora Reyes was another of those kids. Louis is the husband to our local Family Nurse Practitioner, Diki Reyes.
“Mr. Porter would see them outside and invite them into his office to ‘help him do some work’. He would bring doughnuts and a little juice or hot chocolate for the boys to eat and drink in the morning and would give them little things to do in his office.
“Mr. Porter called that group of boys his ‘enrichment club’. He knew Jimmy’s family history and would talk about his family history with him. He was well aware of the Rodriguez-Esparza history in our area.”
“As a young child, my grandfather, Catarino de Jusus (CDJ) Rodriguez, would always tell us stories of the past, the Indian raid times and about good and bad times,” said Zuniga. continuing, “His family, beginning with his grandfather Jose Antonio Rodriguez, and father, Jose Justo Rodriguez (also my father’s name), had settled in this area before it was Atascosa County, in the early 1800s.
“I guess it was Mr. Edgar Williams, a past district clerk for this county, Mr. Joye Troell and Mr. Arnold Franklin, attorneys I had worked for that knew so much more about my family than I did. They knew our long history and told me a lot of it. I really got interested in the history of my family and our State of Texas. O. B. Gates, while he was county judge, found out about our history and suggested I become a member of the Historical Commission and here I am today.
Barbara Westbrook, Chairman of the Atascosa County Historical Commission, said, “Sandy has been on the Atascosa County Historical Commission longer than anyone currently on the board. She has served as treasurer for most of that time, but has been involved in every project the commission has taken on. She is always positive and upbeat, and that makes the meetings fun. She makes it to all the meetings and events and often brings her grandson, Juaquin, with her. He is always well behaved and we love having him.”
Sandy Zuniga was the Postmaster at the Jourdanton Post Office and retired after 30 years with the U. S. Postal Service.
“My granddaughter, Marisa Zuniga, was about three years at that time and I would care of her while my son, Jimmy, and daughter-in-law, Patricia, worked,” said Zuniga. “Marisa would go with me to the commission meetings until she was old enough to go to school.
“In 2009, Joaquin was born, so he started joining me at the meetings. As soon as he started walking and able, he would get to the meetings and first go to Mr. Porter and give him a hug, as it was so well returned.
“When Joaquin would go to functions with me and a picture was taken, Mr. Porter wanted to make sure that Joaquin was in the picture. He called him the youngest commission member and he would always recognize him at the meetings as the ‘little commission member’.
“Joaquin also became a good friend of Norman Porter, Jr. and continues the love and friendship with him. Joaquin still enjoys going to the Historical Commission meetings and functions and will never forget Norman Porter.”
Zuniga said, “It’s safe to say that Mr. Porter’s influence helped drive Joaquin’s passion for history. Anyone who knows Joaquin, knows that he has a unique interest in World War II.
“The last time Mr. Porter saw Joaquin he hugged him and teared up almost as if he knew it would be the last time he would see him. When 7 year old Joaquin learned of Mr. Porter’s passing, he choked up a bit and very solemnly said, “I’m going to miss him. We were buddies’.”