It looked like a scene from “The Godfather,” but in a sweet, sentimental way.
Fidel Estrada, Jr. sat behind a long table at the center of the tent. His round face radiated bliss, but he barely moved. Instead, everybody in the room, from famous politicians to youths inked with tattoos, came to him.
Estrada, longtime owner of Estrada’s Cleaners on East Seventh Street, the patriarch of a large family and mentor to many, has turned 80. For many years, when his community had no direct voice in city government, he and other East Austin business leaders — some of them present this day — acted as liaisons to the powerful.
Everywhere you looked among the festivities, there were Limóns, Ojedas, Maldonados and, of course, Estradas. Among those who felt comfortable enough to draw up a chair to the head table was former State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos. Nearby were former or current owners of key spots such as El Azteca, Rabbit’s Bar and Roy’s Taxis. The Democratic nominee for constable in District 4, George Morales III, paid his respects.
I had been invited, of course, by Lonnie Limón, Estrada’s grandson and pretty much the chief anchorman for the vast Limón and Estrada families, as well as chronicler of the leaders of Old East Austin. I felt genuinely honored to be there and to wish Mr. Estrada the best.