May 01, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Our neighborhood shrine has a new look. I’ve blogged in the past about this suddenly sacred site on Airport Blvd where a drunk driver took the lives of 16 year old Erica Marie Vasquez and her 5 year old nephew, Elias Sanchez. Earlier this year, I recorded a short interview with Debra Vasquez, Erica’s mother, who frequently returns to the site to feel close to her daughter and to tend to the roadside memorial.


The end of April marked 10 years since the tragic accident. I’m not sure why there was a silver #1 balloon over Elias’ cross. I’m guessing now that there was also a #0 over Erica’s to commemorate the anniversary, but we’ve had some high winds in the past several days that may account for only one balloon.


My first thought, however, was that the #1 was a reminder that today, May 1, is a special day of celebration in many traditions. When my parents were young, in the 1930’s, children often danced and wove ribbons around a may pole on this day. So I pulled off the road to note the new decorations thinking about May Day. Maybe, these two children might have been part of an old-time celebration more than a decade ago. Or maybe time doesn’t matter when we turn back to our memories. The roses and notes left by family members could come from any time.


Intersection of MLK and Airport Blvd, Austin, Texas

Suddenly Sacred/ Austin