She walked over to the desk,
his desk, the President of the Bank of A. Levy.
"May I have a moment of your time, Mr. Mulligan?"
"Certainly. Thatís what Iím here for. What do you
"I need a loan to buy a bus."
"A bus? How much?"
"Yes a bus, itís only $2,300"
"Why do you need a bus?"
"Itís for transportation of The Colonnades Drill team
to competitions statewide and Ö"
"This is the group of girls that we are seeing
marching up and down the streets in our La Colonia? How
many in the group?"
"Yes, we have seventy-five now and it keeps growing.
A junior group has been formed with kids as young as
five. And eight boys are now forming an honor guard to
march with us. One of our fathers, a retired military,
is doing the instruction and raising funds to provide
uniforms. The Rotary Club is offering flags, itís all so
Had it been two years? Two years in the wilderness
after a disastrous stent as Vice Principal at the public
high school. As soon as the girls from the high school
heard she was back they sent emissaries to ask her to
help them have something they were denied ― a drill team
of their own. Blacks and browns were not even permitted
to try-out for the schoolís team. And now thereíre a
reality ― the Colonnades, a competitive team; a visible
story of success. And I needed a bus to get them out
"Customers are so excited about this; the local
families love the efforts that these kids are exerting;
so proud. Back to our business. Whatís your collateral?
I have to have something."
"My 1946 Cessna airplane. Itís all I have. Here are
the ownership title papers."
"And the payments?"
"Funds we will collect with paper drives, dances,
menudo drives, raffles, contributions, any way we can
find. The girls, their parents, the community has been
actively supporting the team for the last six months.
They put together enough funds for their uniforms,
boots, instruments. Even the local businesses have
contribution jars in their shops, and the owner of the
shoe and boot business got us a special deal on our
"OK, now tell me more about this bus you want to
"Itís In Los Angeles, thereís the name of the company
and address on the contract. Itís been retired from a
Catholic school district bus fleet. One of our fathers
is a bus driver and mechanic; he verifies that the bus
is sound and mechanically in good condition. Heíll take
care of it, drive it and whatever else. He has room to
park it next to his house. And the best of all, itís
been painted blue, our school color. Mr. Arriaga plans
on painting Colonnades on the sides in giant
"Sounds good to me. Youíve done your research. Here
take these papers, fill them out, Iíll be right back. Oh
and just how soon do you need these funds?"
"Now. I left a small deposit check with the company
owner so heíll hold it for us. He gave us only three
"Done. Iíll have the check for $2,300 in your hand in
a few minutes."
I watch him get up; take the title papers to my
airplane. I couldnít believe it, so quick, so simple.
For the past year it was getting to parades in as many
cars as needed. One of the mothers coordinated the
I looked up from my writing. Mr. Mulligan had
disappeared into another office. This building was
certainly unlike the grand edifice of the main office
with its vaulted ceiling, marble floor, polished walnut
walls. This was a small square structure located in a
tiny strip mall, concrete walls, one large window; it
was just as modest, plain as its customers. And Mr.
Mulligan, this President of the Oxnard Bank of A. Levy
devoted part of his time to the little La Colonia
I didnít know all of this was possible, and to such
an extent. It restored faith in myself, in these kids,
their faith in themselves, the community pride, I had
doubts, but now by just doing the right thing I have a
sense of triumph.