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.

 Erica_and_Elias_shrine_1.jpg

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.

 Elias_note_and_rose.jpg

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.

 Erica_note_and_rose.jpg

Intersection of MLK and Airport Blvd, Austin, Texas

Suddenly Sacred/ Austin