They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

Laura Garner Hine 16” x 20” • Oil and Gold Leaf of Canvas

Laura Garner Hine
16” x 20” • Oil and Gold Leaf of Canvas

Inspired by the experiences of Henry Lozano Sr.

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To
by Robert LeHeup

To become a vessel of inspiration is to know the grace of God. It is to know not simply the depth of yourself, but the potential held within you, brought to light in the waves of impact you have through being a part of something greater. Whether it be a perspective that shines a light on those things otherwise incomprehensible, or to singularly stand with moral fortitude when those around would otherwise fall short, the action of being the best “you” you can be is the shortest path to knowing the Divine. This doesn’t have to take place in a church or a mosque or synagogue, but rather in the open air. In God’s country. And when you embrace this, you can create positive changes in the world that will last long after you shuffle off your mortal coil.

One such man was Henry Lozano Sr..

We’ll start in 1925, when he was 4 years old. His family had been provided a house by the mining company that employed his father and two brothers. So when the mine shut down, everyone was forced to relocate. Driving for days down sparse, primitive roads and dusty highways, through blinding sun and pitch of night, the Model-T held together as though it was part of the family. Little Henry, old enough to know what was happening, but young enough to not be able to explain it, had been fed on the land over which they drove. Vegetables were gathered, rabbits were hunted, and the tribe was all stronger for it.

By the time they’d finally reached their destination in Arizona, the empty land upon which they’d found purchase was missing a key ingredient. There was shade and water and land to farm, but it had yet to be a home. And so Pedro, Henry’s father, casually mustered the sort of motivation that inspired generations afterward, and immediately started building a house. Unfortunately, for his crime of having an incredible work ethic, Pedro died later that year of Miner’s lung, having paid the last price for a lifetime that was already taxed to full measure.

But because of his sacrifice, the Lozanos still managed, not simply with the support they found in one another, or in their fellow ranch hands, but more so in the legacy Pedro had left behind. It was as though he were bolstering them, even in his absence. They had found a means of making a living that could be shared among one another, growing green and yellow chilis that were taken directly to market by Henry’s brothers, Ray and Pete. Having spent the time and effort to ensure the crops had been tended, then harvested, they sold them for a price commensurate with their offering, having been taught by example that hard work was the key to not only survival, but to thriving. They were taught that, as well as the strength found in the bonds of a shared livelihood.

When they weren’t farming to make a living, they spent their time celebrating life. There were frequent gatherings of friends and family that started as the sun set. Stories were told, songs were sung, and the sound of music emanated in joyful celebration throughout and beyond the home Pedro built. And then, when the time came to turn in, they would clap one another on the back, bid their farewells, and sleep the sleep of the deserving. Then they would rise and follow the path of where the vegetables grew, whether that be by rows or by counties.

At the ripe old age of 12, Henry saw a better path. He had been given the opportunity to work and live with the Sine family, where his camaraderie with Melvin and Frank, the two sons of the family, developed. They were proud of their 300 acres of land, 5 milk cows, and from what’s been said, the best horse that side of the Mississippi. With the support of the Sines, as well as his immediate family, Henry was soon baptized a Catholic by the Grace Brethren Church.

After a couple of years, Henry moved in with his first cousin, Luna Enemecio, who had worked in the mine with Henry’s father and siblings. Luna taught Henry how to work refrigeration units for local farms, where they would tour to different locations to live and work. That’s when he truly began to get to know his father, who had passed away almost a decade previous. One story Luna recalled spoke to the untamed, proud nature that would eventually define him.

Like any young man, Pedro was proud of many things. One of those was his car, which might as well have been made by his own two hands. It was the sort of vehicle where status just happened to be part of it, even if that wasn’t the goal. But like any of us who can’t cast the first stone, he also had a vice. He had a pep in his step as he drove off one night, keen to make a quick buck at a local card game. But instead of coming home with a buck… he rode the back of a horse.

“He left in something he loved, as if it were alive, and came back on something that actually was alive… and he hated it! Hah!”

With that, Luna clapped Henry on the back and started laughing. And Henry loved his family a little bit more.

Luna continued, “Yeah, he was something else. I tell ya, they don’t make’em like they used to.”
But little Henry knew better. He saw the gauntlet that had been thrown down. He saw the strength and camaraderie, the support and lessons learned, tended land and a warrior spirit, passed down through his family. Proven to him by Luna. And through this, he knew a world worth fighting for. A few years later, when he told Luna he was joining the Army, Luna could see it in Henry’s eyes, just beyond where we acknowledge one another. He looked and saw the continuance of the Lozano legacy, waiting like a foaming geiser.

“Bring me back a Luger,” Luna had said.
“Will do.”

And so on October 30th, 1940, Little Henry, now just Henry, found himself at Fort MacArthur, training in Radar Operations and Chemical Warfare, the former of which would be his vocation in the future. Radio Operations being key personnel in war, it was only a matter of time before his journey would take him to the heart of darkness. But before that, Henry would make his own personal mark on the world, using his developed skills to fight a different style of battle. It was in Anchorage, Alaska, where he continued a sport he had taken up during his time with Luna. Eventually making his way to fighting in rings in front of famous icons like comedians Joey Brown and Bob Hope, boxing was working out. And with his opponents seeing the same legacy behind his eyes that Luna had, Henry eventually became a Golden Glove boxer. Fights were won, post cards were made, but he knew boxing wouldn’t win the war.

So he eventually joined the 353rd Infantry Regiment of the 89th Division. The “Rolling W.” Called that based on their insignia, which was an “M” inside a wheel, which, when rolled, became a “W.” This insignia would become a source of pride for those that fought under it and Henry was no exception. He had already made his mark as an individual, but he knew what it was to be a part of something larger. Something he loved that was worth fighting for. He had America, his family, and the squad he was leading, all of them immediately being one and the same.

On January 21st, 1945, Henry landed in Le Havre, France, slowly moving toward the Moselle River, setting up a jump-off position on the Sauer east of Echternach as they went. They were tasked with seizing and holding the north and west banks of the Moselle. On March 12, at 0900, rifle companies, supported by artillery, launched their attack, the whole of their coordination reliant upon the very communications equipment Henry had trained to use. Roads were poor at best, debris littered, with retreating German troops blowing up bridges, creating hasty mine-fields, and setting up sporadic machine gun bunkers in the hillsides facing their enemy advancement.

But General Patton had done what he was known for doing, and the tide of battle slowly became clear. Henry, having strength in both mind and body, was the tip of the spear during this advance, reconnoitering in advance of the general troops. And so, given that the German communications had been cut off, he and his squad had been tasked with the duty of being the first to wade into and through the battlefield. Through sporadic pockets of chaos and tank wreckage and half-dug trenches peppered with the unfortunate. But there was a drive to him. The sort that inspired his men to push themselves beyond their preconceived limitations, and for this, he was known throughout the regiment.

Five Days after crossing the Rhine, having spent the better part of March in and out of skirmishes, Henry was given the opportunity to finish his military career and get honorably discharged. He had fought with purpose, honor, and the Lozano spirit, and by the end he had been awarded decorations including the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, Two Bronze Stars for the European/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medals, the American Service Defense Medal with Clasp, and a Bronze Star for crossing the Moselle River with General Patton.

Just a few days before he left the Army, having flown back to California, he found himself at a bar, berated by an MP, or Military Policeman, for refusing to take off his hat. When Henry didn’t respond, the MP hit him in the back of the knee with his nightstick. He turned to the MP, smiled… and the Golden Glove boxer found himself in the stockade the last day before his discharge on July 4th of 1945. To Henry, it was entirely worth it. He was out of the Army, free to live life with the security that comes from knowing you’d fought. That was enough.

But when he came home, he was met with a fierce, patriotic celebration. People sang their hearts out while marching down clean streets immediately littered by ticker tape parades, celebrating the return of heroes that went off to war to fight for them. Henry didn’t mind. But he didn’t care, either. Everything paled in comparison to the sense of relief he got once he saw Luna. They shook hands, embraced, grabbed a beer, and then started catching up on the different worlds in which they had lived those last few years.

At one point, Luna smiled, raised an eyebrow, and said “So where’s my Luger?”

Henry smiled back and shook his head. He waited for a couple of seconds, rocking back and forth on his chair, smiling wryly before placing a luger on the table in front of them.

“I suppose you’ve earned it.”

Luna’s eyes went wide in surprise as he reached for the weapon, feeling the heft as he turned it back and forth. It was far more than a gun. Far more than just the instrument with murderous intent or a trophy for bragging rights. It was an acknowledgment of a bond. Of sacrifice. Of a love of God, country, and family that was demonstrably worth fighting for. It was proof of the legacy they both shared. Then, nodding with profound approval, Luna returned the wry smile and reached into his pocket, saying jokingly “I’m pretty sure you haven’t earned this, but here you go.”

And with that, he placed on the table an Illinois Train Conductor’s pocket watch, passing the wide eyed stare to Henry. This watch had the weight of age to it. The heavy knowledge of experience, scratched into silver and glass. The sort of weight that comes from items created with reverence, forged one piece at a time, and passed from one generation to the next. It’s face was both antiquated and accurate, hands ticking away over fonts that stretched and pulled and showcased the style of the times.

Both the watch and the Luger carried the same gravity.

After a few months, Henry became the general manager for Steve Elmore Farms in Brawley, California. With over 7,000 acres, it was the largest farm in the Imperial Valley. And there, Henry was known and respected by everyone, not for his military history, as that would mean he had been bragging, but for his incredible farming knowledge and ability. For his work ethic and reliability. For the steady love of the land and its people that was undeniable, and for the humility that speaks of its depth. People would come to him for all manner of help, and he was there for them.

In December of 1947, Henry married the love of his life, Liduvina Mary Quintana Lozano. An avid lover of all things artistic, with an Apache heritage ensuring they shared a mutual lust for life, their biggest bond was their deeply held Christian beliefs. And for this, she was his inspiration. A personified reason and justification for living the life he had, where hard work, dedication, and responsibility led to the strength of like minded company, she would stay with him through thick or thin, a perfect partner to continue building the Lozano legacy. And so they had children. And like all good parents, they did their best to ensure that their children not only succeeded, but were given the opportunity to thrive without undue suffering.

However, by the mid 70s, Henry Lozano Jr., having suffered and been entirely humbled by a fierce and lasting heroin addiction, had been incarcerated innumerable times. Be that jail or prison, his actions undermined the platform that Henry Lozano Sr. and his loving wife had created. Rebellious, like so many his age, Henry Jr. had eventually hit a brick wall, and so reached out to his father for support. His father, the Golden Glove Boxer. His father, the War Hero.

His father… Henry.


In the summer of ‘77, Henry’s son came to his farm prostrated, ashamed, breath knocked out of his soul by circumstance and the impetuosity of youth. All but broken. And as they walked down the canal that fed tributaries to land that was now part of their legacy, Henry looked at his son and saw the man he was talking to. Saw the fire behind his eyes, the same way Luna had seen his own. And he did what a man of his word would do. What a true man of Faith would do. He looked at his son and said three words.

“I love you.”

And that was that.

Later, Henry Jr. and his brother, Robert, would go on to lead successful, fulfilling lives that were heavily marked with benefits to their fellow man. Sure, they’ve sometimes been dealt harsh hands. Sometimes been on the losing end of righteous battles that were betrayed by things outside of their control. But they soldiered on to become more than their past shortcomings. Through the efforts of their parents, Henry and Liduvina, they have become living examples of the fortitude and goodness inherent in the Lozano legacy. Physically embodied in the pocket watch Luna had given Henry so long ago. And spiritually tied together by the love they share with God and the world around them.

Because when you wake up to create positive, lasting changes in that which you love, you live in God’s country, where church pews can be hillsides, hymns can be the birds above, and a bounty is not necessarily just something you create, but something that has been graced to you. When you embrace the strength that you were blessed with, regardless of what others might say or do, you can recognize the importance of being part of something far greater than yourself. Of being a tiny part of what is Divine. It is to appreciate to the best of your ability the powerful potential you have inside you, as well as those with whom you walk the earth. And through the inspirations left in your wake, the very action of living is a prayer.