Rodriguez Family

On February 22, 1930, George Rodriguez was one of ten children born to Baltazer (b. 1877 d. 1959) and Maria Rodriquez (b. 1889 d. 1946) in Chandler, AZ.   His siblings included Angelita, Manuela, Ramon, Lupe, Concha, Consuelo, Socorro, Manuela (2nd), and Domingo.

During the Great Depression era of the 1930s and World War II, Baltazer Rodriguez was the proprietor of a small dance hall in Chandler named “El Rodriguez”.  The dance hall served the Mexican community as a meeting place on weekends for area musicians such as “Chapito Chavarria & His Orchestra”, “Pete Chavez”, and “The Arroyo Orchestra”.  The popular ballads or songs of the time were “Boleros” and “Rancheras” or “Mexican Polkas,” a genre of German-influenced music created in Mexico.  As a way to support his family, the elder Rodriguez operated his bar “El Rodriguez” in a building located at 217 E. Saragosa Street (East of Arizona Avenue) near the railroad tracks in Chandler.

As a boy, George had a special mentor, Father Patterson of St. Mary’s Church.  Through him, he joined the youth softball team and played shortstop competing with other valley teams.  He also credits his success as an adult to his father, and to his Uncle Nicanor Martinez, who demonstrated personal values and respect.

After his mother Maria passed away in 1946, George became particularly close to his older sister, Angelita (“Angie”).  Angie was a very generous woman who provided for her family with the money she earned as a clerk at the JC Penney store location in downtown Chandler on West Boston Street, and also at Serrano’s on East Boston Street.  George’s sister also bought his first car, a Model A Ford.

From 1951-53, George trained as an Infantryman at Fort Ord, California.  He returned to Chandler on leave in July 1951 to marry Delores Duran.  George shipped out later in August to Korea.  His children born to this marriage were son, David, and daughter, Mary Ann.

In the 1940s and 50s, George met a famous Hollywood actor who appeared in a memorable film of the 1940s: “Gone with the Wind”.  His voice is behind the legendary phrase: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”.  Apparently, Mr. Clark Gable was friends with a Chandler resident, Sam Bell, and visited him at his ranch South of Chandler, Arizona. 

For 32 years, from 1954 through 1985 George was a mailman for the U.S. Postal Service.  His route was in the Phoenix metropolitan residential district of McDowell and Palm Lane.  In 1958, George had purchased his current home for $9,500.00.  He also was a barber in the South Phoenix area from 1954-1973.   During 1980 through 1983, George and his son David owned and operated a bar called “The Glass House” on 2nd and Mohave Street.

In 1991 George served as clubhouse manager for the Phoenix Firebirds, an AAA farm team of the San Francisco Giants, at the Phoenix Municipal Stadium.  From 1994 through 1997, he was clubhouse manager for the American Legion Post #41, Phoenix, AZ.  Today, George is Senior Executive Board Member for the American Legion Post #41, an avid golfer, and very much respected by his peers. 

-- Diane L. Brown

Ray Rodriguez during
World War II