Tamale tradition

Document Sample
Tamale tradition Powered By Docstoc
					 A R O U N D                 T H E        S T A T E                                                                                                                                    O N        T H E          B O R D E R

 Students find offers
  aren’t set in stone                                                                                                                                                                  Tamale tradition
 Houston Chronicle
                                                                                                                                                                                       Brownsville family hand-rolls itself a national reputation
                                                                                                                                                                                       BY MEL HUFF                         the business appeared in the
   HOUSTON — Chris Ruppel was feeling mighty good. The
                                                                                                                                                                                       The Brownsville Herald              New York Times and on
 Texas A&M University student had locked up his job late last                                                                                                                                                              National Public Radio some
 year and was enjoying the rest of his senior year.                                                                                                                                      BROWNSVILLE, Texas —              years ago.
   But just as he was discussing his start date with officials from                                                                                                                    Yolanda Ybarra is continuing          Yolanda Ybarra has been
 Ericsson in Plano — they were looking at early June — he got                                                                                                                          a 2,000-year-old tradition, a       making tamales in the quiet,
 the word that his $49,500 programming job offer had been                                                                                                                              culinary art documented in          shady store on South
 rescinded.                                                                                                                                                                            accounts of the conquest of         Frontage Road for 15 years.
   Ruppel said he was stunned. When he accepted Ericsson’s                                                                                                                             Mexico.                             She and her husband, Jesus,
 job offer, he agreed not to look for other jobs.                                                                                                                                        She makes tamales.                bought the business from
   “I missed the entire recruiting season,” Ruppel said.                                                                                                                                 That may not sound like a         Jesus’ brother Enrique, who
   Ruppel’s experience is becoming a common one across the                                                                                                                             novelty in Brownsville. But         had started it 10 years earlier.
 nation as college students, ready to start their first jobs, are                                                                                                                      Ybarra’s      tamales       have      But the Ybarra family had
 finding their services are not needed as badly as they had                                                                                                                            developed       a    nationwide     been selling tamales long
 thought.                                                                                                                                                                              clientele.                          before that.
   Some, like Ruppel, are getting their offers revoked. Others are                                                                                                                       Standing behind the counter         Years ago, Jesus’ and
 having their start dates pushed back. Some are discovering late                                                                                                                       of the family store, Ybarra         Enrique’s parents used to go
 in the game that they’re not going to Dallas as they originally                                                                                                                       thumbs through orders from          to Washington Park and sell
 thought but will move to San Jose, Calif.                                                                                                                                             Houston (four dozen cocktail-       tamales from a cart.
   Ruppel is a little worried. The computer science graduate has                                                                                                                       size tamales of pork, raisins         “Lots of people remember
 credit card bills, and he has to begin repaying his student loans                                                                                                                     and       nuts),     Cincinnati,    them,” Yolanda Ybarra said.
                                                                                                                                AP photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Robin M. Cornett
 in six months. But at least he didn’t buy a car like another A&M                                                                                                                      Pittsburgh, Washington, Napa,         Now their daughter-in-law
 graduate whose offer was rescinded.                                    Young entrepreneurs                                                                                            Calif., Captiva Island, Fla., and   runs the business.
   Initially Ericsson didn’t offer any compensation to Ruppel. But       Arin Ammons, 5, left, shouts, “Homemade Lemonade 50 cents,” to passing cars May 30, in                        Steamboat Springs, Colo.              She works 6½ days a week,
 after Ruppel complained to the career services office, Ericsson        Lubbock, Texas. Arin and, from left, Keri Tidwell, 12, and Taylor Clark, 5, were trying to earn                  Her most distant customer,        closing at noon on Sundays.
 ponied up two weeks of salary, he said. And it agreed to repay         spending money through a longtime summer tradition.                                                            who places an order every           During the busy Christmas
 Ruppel the $165 he spent to hold an apartment in Dallas.                                                                                                                              Christmas, lives in Hawaii.         season, she, her husband and
   Rob Elston, spokesman for Ericsson in Richardson, said it was                                                                                                                         It’s not just Brownsville         children start assembling
 certainly disappointing that it couldn’t take on the 22 new                                                                                                                           residents, visitors and exiles      tamales at 3 a.m.
 employees it had hired, but it was impossible with the current
 problems in the high-tech marketplace.
                                                                      Houston families sue over mold                                                                                   who are aficionados.
                                                                                                                                                                                         Customers of the 25-year-
                                                                                                                                                                                       old business have included
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             “I’m used to getting up early,”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           she says. “I can’t stay in bed. I
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           have to do something.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     AP photo/Brownsville Herald, Brad Doherty
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                MAKING TAMALES: Yolanda Ybarra holds a platter of a dozen tamales May 18, in Brownsville,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Texas, taken fresh from a cooker before she wraps them in paper. The Ybarra family has been in
   Ericsson, a telecommunications company based in Stockholm,
                                                                        HOUSTON (AP) — A group of suburban                 toxic mold stachybotrys.”                                   Nelson Rockefeller, the former        Doing something includes a         the tamale business for 25 years.
 will lay off close to 16,000 employees this year, with the bulk of
                                                                      Houston families are suing a synthetic stucco          The mold can cause illnesses ranging from                 vice president and governor of      preliminary step that most
 the cuts coming in Sweden and the United Kingdom.
                                                                      maker and a home construction company                skin rashes, bloody noses and respiratory                   New York, as well as Texas          cooks forego, grinding masa          for blending the masa.              The husks are trimmed, the       for clients who bring their own
   Rice University students also have been caught by surprise.
   One high-tech company recently rescinded its offers to
                                                                      because they allege that defective material          inflammation to suppression of the immune                   senators Lloyd Bentsen and          harina from whole corn.                Large gas burners circle the    stone-ground masa added            meat, venison or javelina.
                                                                      has allowed a potentially fatal black mold to        system and neurological problems. Earlier this              John Tower.                           A large electric mill occupies     walls, and a variety of pots      and each husk run between          Then they are rolled by hand.
 summer interns after making a big layoff announcement, said
                                                                      creep into their homes.                              month, at least 19 families in the Lubbock area               A framed invitation to Richard    one corner of a room behind the      give evidence of the final step   rollers that look as though          This is the off season, so
 Cheryl Matherly, director of career services at Rice.
                                                                        “The houses look fine,” said Alda Brunson of       moved to a hotel so their homes could be                    Nixon’s inauguration hangs          counter, and four heavily scored     — steaming the filled tamales.    they might belong to a small       now Ybarra is making only 20-
   And several consulting firms have pushed back their starting                                                                                                                        inside the doorway of the store.    millstones rest on a nearby shelf.
                                                                      The Woodlands, who moved out of her                  stripped of the mold.                                                                                                                  Ybarra starts the assembly      printing press.                    50 dozen tamales a day. But
 dates for new hires from August to September and even                                                                                                                                   The national reputation of          An ancient industrial-sized
                                                                      synthetic stucco home when she discovered              Rogers said six homes involved in The                                                                                              process by rinsing husks from       After that, the masa is filled   she sells as many as 700
 October. One company has also reassigned one of its newest                                                                                                                            Ybarra’s      Tamales        was    mixer stands against the
                                                                      the mold. “You can’t see what’s going on             Woodlands case have been abandoned. She                                                                                              a bushel-sized bale imported      with beans, pork, chicken or,      dozen on Dec. 24.
 hires. The student, who was hired for the Dallas office, has now                                                                                                                      confirmed when stories about        opposite wall. Ybarra uses it
                                                                      behind the walls.”                                   said homes in the suburb sell for $200,000 to                                                                                        from Mexico.                      in the case of special orders
 been transferred to the company’s California office.
                                                                        Brunson and her husband, Larry, are among          $500,000.
   And some of the job assignments have changed from strategic
                                                                      73 families in The Woodlands suing                     “We have others who would like to leave but
 consulting — the high-profile part of management consulting —
 to the business’s more bread-and-butter divisions.
   Accenture, for example, notified four Rice students that while
                                                                      Finestone, a company that makes the
                                                                      synthetic stucco, and builder Life Form Homes
                                                                                                                           can’t afford it,” Rogers said.
                                                                                                                             Chris Ryman of Houston, an attorney for Life
                                                                                                                                                                                        Big Lots opens new store for closeout merchandise in Laredo
                                                                      Inc., which hires subcontractors certified by        Form Homes, said the company has offered to
 it would retain their salaries, it would reassign them to general                                                                                                                        Big Lots, an extra-value retail chain operated by           “We challenge our corporate buyers to find the         added.
                                                                      the manufacturer to install the material.            repair leaks at a reasonable cost. He declined
 consulting instead of the strategy group. The strategy group                                                                                                                           Consolidated Stores Corporation, will celebrate the         highest quality merchandise and provide it to our         The Big Lots store, which will employ
                                                                        The families’ attorney, Rene Rogers, said the      further comment.
 restructured and those new positions are no longer needed,                                                                                                                             grand opening of its new store in Laredo beginning          customers at the right time and for the right price,”    approximately 40 local residents, promises to have
                                                                      material — a plastic foam and fiberglass mesh          John Allen, a Houston attorney representing
 said David Reed, director of U.S. recruitment for Accenture in                                                                                                                         Wednesday at 9 a.m.                                         said Patrick W. Curry, vice president of marketing       a positive economic impact on the Laredo
                                                                      with a thin acrylic coating — traps moisture         Finestone, said the synthetic stucco is
 Denver.                                                                                                                                                                                  Located at 231 East Saunders, Big Lots will offer         and sales promotion for Consolidated Stores (“Big        community, according to Curry.
                                                                      behind walls, creating an environment ripe for       watertight and “a good, effective product that
   For the most part, the students didn’t seem to mind, Reed said.                                                                                                                      customers savings of up to 30-70 percent on top-            Lots”).                                                   Closeout retailing is experiencing tremendous
                                                                      mold and termites to thrive.                         performs as designed if properly applied.”
   Companies are finding themselves in a tough spot, Matherly                                                                                                                           quality, brand-name merchandise.                              “The merchandise in Big Lots is constantly             success, growing twice as fast as retailing in
                                                                        “One of our clients tried to let Life Form patch     He said improper installation allows moisture
 said. The economic slowdown caught many completely by                                                                                                                                    Big Lots deals with closeout merchandise —                changing. Our customers keep coming back                 general and making up a $5 billion segment of the
                                                                      it twice, but he still could not sell his home       to seep in a wall, leading to mold growth. Allen
 surprise.                                                                                                                                                                              quality products at substantially reduced prices,           because they know they will always find an               retail industry. Because manufacturers closeout
                                                                      because it could not pass the moisture               said the product is not a threat, and Finestone
   From what she’s heard on the grapevine, companies are                                                                                                                                available due to product and packaging changes,             incredible range of items at below-discount prices.      billions of dollars in merchandise each year, the
                                                                      inspection tests,” Rogers told the Houston           is continuing to sell it for home use.
 offering up to 12 weeks of compensation, with two to four weeks                                                                                                                        liquidations, bankruptcies, manufacturers’ overruns         Big Lots has also become known for offering a wide       closeout niche consistently provides great deals to
                                                                      Chronicle in Tuesday’s editions. “(The
 the average.                                                                                                                                                                           and discontinuations.                                       range of seasonal and holiday merchandise,” Curry        consumers on quality products.
                                                                      homeowners) still found large reservoirs of the

16     LMTBusiness Journal      June 4, 2001                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               LMTBusiness Journal          June 4, 2001