The Saga of Flamingo Rey
The son of a Texas coastal native and a beautiful Hawaiian islander, Robert “Pablo” Durand was skinny as a rail. Adventurous and always on the go, Pablo lived on his mom’s unique hotdogs, served on sweet top-cut Hawaiian rolls, filled with flavorful toppings. His slick ways and good looks helped him land a primo job at Duke’s On Sunday, but to avoid an unfortunate international incident, he quickly ditched his job and made a fast break to his dad’s homeland of Port Isabel, Texas. Ever the clever guy, Pablo ducked into a beachwear shop, grabbing the first thing he could find to help him fit in as a local – a pair of pink wind shorts and a yellow t-shirt, complemented by a Panama hat and dark sunglasses. Pablo covered the shirt and shorts with a white server jacket he “borrowed” from the guy at the ice cream stand across the street, and his new identity, a “soda jerk” was created.
Two hundred fifty miles to the north, Theodore Rutherford never fit in. As a 4 foot tall, 150 pound kid, he literally couldn’t run with the neighborhood kids. His red hair and pale skin didn’t blend into the pack who ran the west San Antonio neighborhood that his Abuela Hortence called home. To avoid the daily rolling he took from neighborhood homies (really—they would roll him down the street), he hung out on his abuela’s porch, savoring the special syrups she made for his afternoon raspa. The tasty and colorful flavors dripped down his shirt, giving the neighborhood kids even more reason to make fun of him with names like “Gordo” and “Gordo Mas Grande”, which slowly evolved into “Raspa Grande”, “Raspa Dude”, and finally, “Raspa Rey” — the name that stuck with him like syrup on his shirt. Although the raspa “king” didn’t blend into the crowd, Raspa Rey was a rather sharp guy, who quickly grasped the power of the raspa for keeping the homies at bay.
One day, needing money for a new investment, Raspa Rey told the crowd that their raspas would soon cost them, as he headed off to the one spot where all true contenders for the title “King of the Raspa” gathered to display their wares and make instant income – the Alamo! Surveying the opportunities to stake his claim, Raspa Rey eyed the ideal spot. Unfortunately for Rey, the chosen location had been already claimed like a Brackenridge Park picnic table on Easter Sunday, by a slick dude named Rico “Malo” Suave. Now ‘ol Rico didn’t take too kindly to Rey’s claim jumping, and when Rico “accidently” bumped Rey’s stand and spilled his array of syrups, the now legendary Alamo Plaza Raspa Wars began. But Rey was no match for Rico, so after a valiant 10 second attempt to defend his turf, Rey departed the scene, dodging a barrage of frozen snow balls (and .38 caliber bullets)!
With enough bus fare to get out of town, Rey headed to South Padre Island, where he quickly made a name for himself and his delicious “ice with attitude”. He was proclaimed the island’s “Raspa Rey”. And so our story would have ended except for a chance meeting between Raspa Rey and an unemployed “soda jerk” in pink shorts and a white jacket. Exhausted from his escapades, Rey asked the soda jerk if he wanted a job. Pablo, wanting a fresh start and needing some ready cash, accepted. When Raspa Rey asked for the name of his new employee, Pablo quickly answered, “King”. Raspa Rey noticed Pablo’s bright pink shorts, so he decided to call him the “Flamingo King”. Years later, needing to make a quick exit after one of his “investments” got stopped at the border, Raspa Rey sold the stand to Pablo, who hand-painted the sign that is still there today, and Flamingo Rey’s Island Ice was born.