Stories about Old Tampico
Making a Fortune Selling Limeade

Photographs and Text by John Todd, Jr.

The Boom!
Visitors to Tampico
Some families who had acquaintances, friends, or relatives in the northern part of the country used to receive 5 or 6 "guests" a day who came looking for the "goodness of God".

Many people came with only the clothes they had on their backs, without money in their pockets, but, yes, they had the firm idea of finding work, and an immense desire to earn many dollars.

Doņa Clara seems to have the luck of receiving this kind of guest, and one good day, not all the guests were hired to go to work.

A New Idea
She told one of them, "Why donīt you go down to the docks and sell limeade?"

In those days, there were no stands that sold fruit drinks, nor bottled sodas.
Downtown Tampico in the Old Days
In the market there was one stall that sold "pulque de zarza" that people said was medicinal and good for the blood.

Also in those days, people would bring pineapples to sell and there was a drink called "garapiņa"

The man was encouraged, and Doņa Clara loaned him a bucket. She gave him the limes and some sugar, and, to compliment his equipment, gave him a pewter mug.

In Tampico, in those days the idea of cleanliness didnīt exist, and everybody drank from the same mug, without even rinsing it!

It Started with a Bucket
And with the blessings of Doņa Clara, the man left for the docks. In less than 30 minutes, he returned with another bucket he had bought at the La Fama Hardware store. He also brought back some more limes and sugar, enough to carry two buckets of limeade instead of one.

On that first day, he made many trips back and forth, and he sold so much that by 10PM that night he had over $300 in his pocket! And this man didnīt need to go to work in the oil fields. In fact, his business was so lucrative that he became wealthy in a short amount of time.

In Those Days, Things were Different
Of course water wasnīt sold by the meter, and where ever you went, it was given away, nor did anyone think as we do now, that drinking a glass of limeade from the same glass, could carry viruses of terrible illnesses.

Other friends of the "water man" also entered into business for themselves, and were the first ones to sell brooms they had brought from Cadereyta. And from there came people who would sell material and cloth in the streets using an easy payment plan of paying by the week.

Now we see a lot of small businesses using push carts all over the city, and they all started during the oil boom in Tampico.

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