Community Profile: Edward V. Lopez

Eddie Lopez tribeza austin

Your Friendly Neighborhood Collector

Edward V. Lopez tells us about his yard full of memories


by Anna Andersen
Photographs by Sarah Frankie Linder

As I pull up to the corner of East Second and Attayac Street, I’m relieved to spot a man washing his car two houses down on Second. I’m hoping to speak to the person who lives in the corner house, the one with the elaborate display of toys in the front yard, but I’m a little nervous because the meticulously placed Power Wheels look long out of use, and I have no idea who to expect at the door.

“Hey, do you know your neighbor on the corner over here?” I ask the guy washing his car.

“Oh yeah, that’s Eddie,” the man responds. “He likes to sit outside, on Attayac. We call him Bear.”

I turn the corner and find a few people sitting in chairs on the sidewalk. I tell them I’m looking for Eddie. Sure enough, one of them shouts, “Bear!” through the screen door. And a minute later, a jovial, 60-year-old man emerges from inside, more than happy to talk to me about his toys.

eddie lopez neighborhood tribeza austin
Lopez has lived in this house for the last 58 years.

So why do they call you Bear?

Well, it’s not because I weighed 460 at one time; it’s because I snore real good.

Oh yeah?

Big time.

Did you ever see that guy from “Harry Potter,” the one that breaks down the door?

Hagrid?

Yeah. He’s a big man. That’s me 35 years ago. I had a beautiful beard…Those are my Tonka toys right there. I used to play with those.

You’ve been collecting this stuff since you were a kid?

Yeah, I used to play with some of the toys in the yard. Can you imagine that? When I was a kid I used to love toys.

When I was 12, my uncle used to give me a dollar and I would go to Fourth Street where the trains were at and they’d bring the comic books without the covers. We don’t care about covers, we just want to read them.

I like to admire my toys. It’s all memories. It keeps me young. Youth is everything. When I feel sad, I come over here and look at this. You gotta have something like that.

Many years ago, we had a fire. It was an accident, and all my comic books, my Hot Wheels, everything I was collecting for so many years, went. All except one magazine, Ghost Rider, first edition. And I told everybody these are going to become movies…

Not only that but I would say this neighborhood is going to become very expensive. “Shut up, man. No, it’s not,” people would say. “It’s going to become Westlake,” I’d say. And that was 30 years ago. I said that to a lot of people and it’s coming true. I’d say with another five years this corner is going to be a million bucks.

Did you ever see “The Andy Griffith Show”? I stopped drinking, but I was like Otis Campbell. Nobody could make me mad. I was jolly. When I lost all my comics, I didn’t feel bad.

You started collecting comic books, and then?

Hot Wheels.

Some of these Power Wheels were my niece’s. They grew out of them. My brother said, “Hey, I got me a truck. I don’t know what to do with it.” And I said, “Is it a toy?” And he said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Bring it over.”

Look at that John Deere. His son grew out of it. He said, “Can I bring it to the house?” And I said, “Yeah, just put it in the front yard.”

The one on the table is from 1957. That’s my year. We used to pedal around.

Which one is the oldest?

It’s in the back. If I put it here, somebody will steal it. If it’s more than 40 years old, they’re going to take it.

I got all my Harleys in the back. That’s a Harley right there. Very legendary in Texas. But that baby is heavy. You’d need a truck to take it.

People want to bring me more and more, and I say, “No, dammit, my parking lot is already full.”

Do people ever complain about your yard?

Just the City. They come and say we had complaints about your yard. And I say, “Yeah right, I’d like to know who they are,” and they say, “We can’t say.” Well, I already know who they are: Nobody, that’s who. But I say, “Go ahead, tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it.”

A nice woman from the City goes, “To tell you the truth, there’s no law against toys in your yard, but this is a lot.”

Duh.

And then she goes, “You know what, is this art?” I say, “Of course, what do you think?”

They’re not dirty or nothing. The rain takes care of it. So does the sun. Eventually it gets brittle. Plastic doesn’t last forever. Eventually, they’re going to get old, and I’m not going to replace them. Then I’m done.

So that’s my deal. I have more inside that I can’t bring outside because they’ve got memories.

neighborhood collector tribeza austin edward lopez
Lopez says he inherited a lot of these toys from his friends over the years.

What kinds of memories?

Playing with them. Getting hurt with them. I didn’t care. Them Tonka toys are the best. You can’t break them. They’ll break you. Those are the big boys.

But you have so many of them. Surely they weren’t all yours as a kid?

No, no, no. I only had like seven. People just came over and said, “Hey, I have another one.” And I said, “Well bring it over.” And they said, “Well where you going to put it at?” And I said, “Put it on the ledge, next to my other ones.”

One of my friends has 245 of them. Man! Beautiful. I told him, “Don’t let that go…”

Some guys saw my collection and said, “Hey man, can I put my bikes in there?” And I said, “Yeah, come on and put it there.” So they did. And a friend of mine brought me this other one. All these people had their fun with them.

What about all the trophies?

The trophies, those I found. I don’t know why they’re throwing them away. They’re nice. Somebody must have earned them.

And you have some toy lawn mowers over there.

Yeah, I love those because I love to cut the yard, you know. I used to do it with the push lawn mower. It’s old school, man. Then all of a sudden they came out with funny faces on them. I love it.

What else do you collect? I see Winnie the Pooh.

I had some Barbie dolls from 1966, but I didn’t know what I had.

You let them go?

Yeah, I gave them away.

I could have collected wrestlers, too. But you see, if you’re going to have a hobby, you need to stick to that only. You cannot afford to have another hobby. My hobby is Hot Wheels because they’re small and you can collect a whole bunch of them.

Edward Lopez Tribeza Austin

Your yard feels like such a time capsule.

Actually, it is. If you really look real good, you can find a pig in there. See the pig?

Hmm…

On the plant.

Oh yeah, there it is. Tell me about the pig.

That’s old. It used to be my mom’s. It’s a real one.

That tree right there, I grew it. Me and my dad did, when I was five years old. That tree is 55 years old. And if you look on top of the tree, that’s my wheelbarrow. That’s an oldy right there.

Did you place everything so nicely in the yard like this?

No, a friend of mine came over and did it. I told him where to put everything. You know, if you’re going to stack something in a truck, you have to know how to do it.

And if you’re going to have a collection, you want people to see it. If you’re going to have a whole bunch of dollies, a really nice collection, why keep them in boxes in the closet? Just take them out and hang them up.

I like to admire my toys. It’s all memories. It keeps me young. Youth is everything. When I feel sad, I come over here and look at this. You gotta have something like that.

You’ll find me here when I wake up. I work the graveyard shift. I’m a paperboy for the Statesman, for 18 years now. That’s a lot, but I love it. The night is never boring.


Read more from the Neighborhoods Issue | June 2017


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