- In 2013, Jes Garcia created a Facebook memory page about Austin.
- “The Dazed Group” strives to create a positive mood among subscribers.
- Garcia shares 10 tips for creating your own Texas town memory page.
You love your town of Texas.
You personally remember parts of his past.
Yet you hunger for more. You want to see historical photos, articles and advertisements. You look forward to reading the memories, questions and, in small doses, the unadulterated nostalgia of your neighbors.
If all that sounds good to you, you can’t go wrong following an Austin memoir page created by Jes Garcia and his “Dazed Group.” You would join around 16,500 other passionate followers.
The full name of this Facebook page is long and reflects its collaborative roots: “Keeping It Alive-Austin Edition/Pieces of the Past (Dazed and Confused)”.
It does not matter. Stick to common shorthand, “The Dazed Group.”
Then, after spending time on Facebook with Garcia and his friends, try creating your own community memory page.
“Multiple images tell a story,” says Garcia, who credits his friend Bobby Musto with the brainchild of “The Dazed Group.” “It was mostly words at first. But I always tried to add images. People like visuals. It becomes like a movie.”
Garcia understands that some followers need space to mourn the loss of their city’s cultural assets.
“There is a tendency to ask: ‘Who are all these people moving here,” he says. ” I understand. But, hey, leave that off this page. I don’t need it eating my mind.”
On the contrary, Big-Hearted Garcia brings to life the big news of Austin’s past, but also the minutiae of everyday life.
To top it all off, Garcia is ready to share some simple tips for creating — or improving — your city’s memory page.
How Garcia ‘stunned’ Austin
I follow dozens of memoir pages on cities and neighborhoods in Texas, as well as statewide resources, such as Jac Darsnek’s “Traces of Texas” expert, which has around 100,000 subscribers. .
I come back to “The Dazed Group” multiple times a day because it almost always tells me something I don’t already know.
Garcia, 60, was born in Marquette, Michigan, where his family was stationed at KI Sawyer Air Force Base. Later they moved to Puerto Rico. Her teenage years were spent in Austin, where her father was assigned to Bergstrom Air Force Base beginning in 1973.
He attended Burnet Junior High and Lanier High.
“It was my first time going to school off base,” he says. “It felt like a big city. We lived on Ohlen Road, which was on the outskirts of North Austin at the time. I was bused to school, but sometimes walked and stopped at the bakery Mrs. Baird’s day trip on North Lamar.”
Garcia took advantage of the adventures a big city can offer a youngster.
“I took the bus with my mom downtown to shop at Woolworth’s on Congress Avenue,” says Garcia. “I would order the grilled cheese sandwich. It was a treat. My younger brothers, Richard and Michael, and friends took the bus to Northcross Mall – and all over town. Seemed easier to do then .”
After earning his GED, Garcia worked for a time with a drug rehabilitation program in Portland, Oregon, until he was confronted by his supervisor about his sexuality and asked to quit. He came out of the closet when he came back to Austin.
Back in Austin, Garcia was coming of age. He relished the bustling gay neighborhood that had recently shifted the energy from Red River and East Sixth Streets to Colorado and West Fourth Streets.
“I was downtown all the time,” says Garcia. “At the Boathouse and across the street at Hall’s, places like Raul’s and Club Foot. I found and lost my first boyfriend. I was devastated. I told my mum I was gay. She made my coming out comfortable by telling me she already knew, and that was good.”
In her thirties, Garcia tried life in a big city – Baltimore.
“I loved John Waters movies,” he says. “I was there at full throttle for about five years.”
Garcia moved back to Austin in 1997. He worked as a barista and baker at a few cafes and gained some fame for his cookies.
Garcia: “They were like, ‘Hey, it’s the snickerdoodle guy!'”
Once again, Garcia wandered. He worked as an au pair for a friend in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and took advantage of this position to explore the rest of Europe. He met her husband, Janek Popielski, during a trip to Warsaw in 2009.
For the past four years, the couple have lived in Oak Forest, a community of small homes and RVs off Decker Lane. They continue to work in the Austin area, traveling to places like Greece whenever the opportunity allows.
Garcia is also in the process of obtaining guardianship of her youngest brother, who had an accident when he was 6 and now resides in a group home in Round Rock. It’s part of what keeps Garcia and Popielski in the Austin area.
On the advice of his friend Bobby Musto, Garcia launched “The Dazed Group” in 2013. It was an instant hit, attracting hundreds of followers a month. Eventually, it would generate fans from as far away as Indonesia.
“Doing the ‘Dazed’ page gives me a new perspective every day,” says Garcia.
Create a positive atmosphere
Garcia, who still rides the bus and works at Arturo’s Underground Cafe on West 17th Street, strives to be “warm and welcoming” to all of his page followers.
“I hear about trolls, but not as often these days,” he says. “With two or three other moderators, as well as many regular members, we ensure that the atmosphere is as positive as possible. in the middle of the night. We don’t tolerate hate or bullying and do our best to keep things friendly. They should have read the rules by now.
The page also prohibits obvious self-advertising or political campaigning. This does not mean that it removes memories or images of past political events, especially if they relate to the history of people of color or the LGBTQ community, which tend to be rare in public records. .
Garcia is especially pleased that followers are posting more personal snapshots and stories, rather than the already familiar historical photographs. However, he doesn’t care about images that have been posted previously.
“We’re going to rehearse stuff,” he said. “We want real things, though, real stories. We try to salvage and savor the past, but sometimes we get overwhelmed with excitement about it.”
Quick tips for creating a keepsake page for your city
Jes Garcia is generous with his advice on promoting a memory page that could be adopted by any city in Texas.
- Google a lot. See what’s over there.
- To ask questions. Some people have been doing this for a while.
- Save links and images in an organized way.
- Turn words and images into a continuous story.
- Date and credit images and quotes where possible.
- Make important corrections. Transparency earns trust.
- Crowdsource the questions subscribers ask. Someone will probably know the answers.
- Appeal to a range of ages. Don’t limit content to a subset of your audience.
- Educate newcomers. They will be fascinated by their new home.
- Accept the change. Mourn the loss of the cultural fabric, but don’t assume that it can or must always be saved.
Michael Barnes writes about the people, places, culture, and history of Austin and Texas. He can be contacted at [email protected]