By Helena Rodriguez
Name: Antonio “Tonkas” Salaz
Occupation: Auto mechanic
Family: Wife, Antonia; children, Beverly, Shirley and Margarita
Antonio “Tonkas” Salaz is employed as a mechanic for the City of Portales and also works on cars at his home during his spare time. His hobby is automotive restoration. He also enjoys hunting. His wife, Antonia, teaches Spanish at Portales High School.
Tell us your fondest memory of Portales:
“When we’d load up in a pickup in the summer and we’d go find a reservoir that the farmers would have for irrigation. Those were cool summer days that are gone forever.”
If you could invite anyone, who would you invite to your dinner party?
“I’d invite Tony and Margorie Gennaro over for a disco.”
What do you like about your job?
“I’ve worked for the City of Portales in the mechanics shop for one year. My job is not the same everyday. That’s good enough for me.”
What’s the least favorite part about your job?
“When there is a come back (on a vehicle).”
When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult?
“When I was in elementary school, the teacher asked all of her students what they wanted to be as adults and I remember saying a fireman.”
What’s your favorite smell?
“Fresh baled alfalfa stacked in the feed house. That’s actually my grandson’s favorite. He thinks it smells awesome.”
What is your favorite taste?
“A real good tasting green chili, hot, and inside a warm tortilla.”
What do you visualize your life being like in 10 years?
“I’ll be completely bald.”
What is your greatest hope?
“My greatest hope is that someday we will see peace in the world.”
Tell us about our parents:
“My dad, may he rest in peace, taught me how to wash auto parts and keep a presentable shop. That’s where my (mechanic work) started. He was a very good mechanic. My mom brought up 11 children and is still kicking. She forgets a kick or two, but she has worked hard all of her life. We love you, mom.”
If money were no object, what would you do to make the world a better place?
“By donating my time, helping people that need help in the states and in other parts of the world.”
What are your favorite TV shows, past and present?
“Past would be ‘Rawhide’ and present would be ‘Bill Gaither gospel music.’”
What is your idea of a perfect day?
“Taking a nap at any time of the day and having no bills to pay.”
Tell us how you met your spouse:
“I met her at a gas station that I used to work at. She flashed her shiny eyes, along with a smile. I love you, Mrs. Salaz.”
Tell us about a time when you were nervous:
“When I was hunting one time and I came upon a huge buck and tried my best to be calm. I could feel my heart pounding and I could feel the butt of the rifle. I missed.”
What is your most prized possession?
“I have a diamond white ‘55 Chevy. Those were really beautiful cars back then.”
Who is your hero, and why?
“Jesus. He gave his life for me.”
What would you want written on your gravestone?
“His soul has risen with his hero.”
What are your favorite kinds of cars to work on?
“American cars. At least you can get some parts for them in a few days, maybe.”
Do you have a favorite mechanic story to tell?
“To me, they are all favorite because you can have a problem car or a dream car for someone, and the mechanic is the one who has the nightmares.”
– Compiled by Helena Rodriguez