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Meeting Mando. A fan and dear friend's visit with Isaac

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Did you ever wonder what it would be like to meet Mando?
 
Here we profile those who have had the honor to meet our hombre guapo Isaac Ruiz

 

I am back from California, and my visit with Mando!!!

 

I had THE greatest time visiting with Mando in California.  We did *so* much in two days.

 

I got to California on Wednesday, and wasn't supposed to see Mando until Friday.  I was so excited to meet Mando that I called him on Thursday morning to make plans for Friday. As luck would have it, he was at a business meeting near the Santa Monica Pier which is where my family, my father and myself were planning to go for some fun. Mando offered to visit us at the Pier after his meeting.

I was so excited after that phone call, because, of course, my wildest dreams came true, I would be meeting him on Thursday, and didn’t have to wait until Friday!!!! I bugged him a few times on the phone during his meeting (oops!), because I wanted to be sure he knew we were at the Pier, and that I was really really wanting to meet him ASAP. The poor guy, he was so sweet even though I called him a few times during his business meeting. I was being selfish, and couldn’t help myself, because I just wanted to see him so badly!

He called me when his meeting was over and when he was at the pier. After 20 minutes of us looking for each other, and a few more cell phone calls, Mando spotted me, and called my name. I was SO happy to so him. He gave me a big bear hug, and we chatted about our miscommunication which made our meeting much later than I would have liked J.

He was all decked out in his business attire, and looked mighty handsome. I was flattered and honored that he offered to meet us at a Pier next to a beach on that very hot day. He really was very sweet to go out of his way to meet me and my family. My middle daughter and son were with me for the initial meeting with Mando, and he was so sweet to my children. My kids took an instant liking to him, as did I, of course. He is a very genuine sweet man, with a golden heart.

He waited for my family to get off the beach, and then we all went to the Pier together, and played some of the carnival games, and watched the kids go on some rides. Mando kept playing game after game trying to win prizes for my children. He won my youngest daughter a big stuffed animal at one of the games, and cheered my children on when they played some games on their own.

He even encouraged my daughter to do one of the games that were so obviously rigged for her to lose, because he knew she wanted to do it so badly. He was right to encourage her, I was being too cynical ;-) , and he even paid for her to climb up this ladder that when you got to a certain spot would flip so you would fall and subsequently couldn’t get to the top to win the stuffed animal prize. As I said, he has a heart of gold.

After we spent about two hours at the Pier, we followed him from the Pier to a restaurant called "Pinks" where he and Freddie used to go together for a meal. It is this amazing restaurant that serves hot dogs with or without chili topping, as well as hamburgers and many other yummy choices. We all got a hot dog with various toppings. My youngest daughter, who is 5, LOVED her chili dog so much that I think she ate hers faster than anyone else at the table!

There were many pictures of stars who signed their pictures for the Pinks’ restaurant owner. It’s quite a famous restaurant where the hot to trot go to eat. Mando showed me where his three pictures used to hang in Pinks. He then gave me 3 pictures. One was of Freddie, and two were of Mando. They were all very cool. One was of Mando on a bill board, and one of him dressed in a Western theme for a movie he was in. I was so impressed that he had the forethought to bring these pictures with him from Arizona. He even had extras and gave one to my father and one to my husband, and signed them all for us!

We stayed at Pinks for quite some time, and finally had to call it a night. We made plans to get together the following day, Friday, for some Hollywood sight seeing.

On Friday morning he drove in our mini-van with my family, including my father, who lives in California. It was a full van, but was great to have Mando in the van with us, and he was a good sport to be crowded into our van with my three children and my father. He was in a great mood, and really hit it off with my father. The two of them talked all day about people they knew in common, and were having a lot of fun together. I have to admit I was a bit jealous of my father, of all people!!! I wanted Mando all to myself J .

Friday’s first stop was Freddie’s star. I took a couple of pictures of the star with Mando in the picture. When I get the pictures developed I will post them on this site. After that we went to see Grauman’s Chinese Theater where Mando encouraged my kids to take pictures with different people dressed up in costumes. My kids were sort of shy, and a bit nervous about getting close to these funny looking creatures. We saw Sponge Bob, Elmo, Mickey Mouse, and many other characters. Mando tipped the people handsomely to take pictures with my children, and he was so sweet while encouraging my kids to take pictures with them. Me and my family will remember that forever.

Then we went to a Soda Shop that was modeled after the old time soda shops. The adults had a snack there, and my kids had lunch. Then Mando showed us the graffiti in East Los Angeles that was on the beginning of every Chico and The Man Show. That was cool. Then he took us to see his house where he grew up in East Los Angeles in the Bario. I could be wrong in the actual names of where he grew up, please Mando, and correct me if I’m wrong!

Anyway, we saw his house, and then he took us to a restaurant he went to when he was growing up. We were lucky enough to see the owner of the restaurant, whom Mando has known for years. He walked over to the owner, where they exchanged a huge bear hug. He then called us over to meet the owner. The owner was very sweet and genuinely happy to meet us. I could tell Mando and this man had many special memories together. He even told me that the owner had spent many days during a break hanging out at Mando’s childhood house, which was just around the corner, taking a break, and having a few drinks to relax there before going back to work.

We got in line to eat at the restaurant. Even though it was 4pm there was a line to eat there, it is a very well known and well respected place to eat. We sat down with several tables put together, so my family of 5, my father, and Mando could all sit together. Mando made suggestions on what to eat. I got a vege enchilada, and some yummy guacamole and tortilla chips. Oh My!!!! Was it good. The kids all got a second lunch, even though they had eaten just an hour before, at Mando’s urging. He was so sweet, helping them pick out what to eat! After all of that yummy eating, Mando ran over to pay before any of us even knew what he was doing. He was very generous and sweet the whole visit.

We drove back to where Mando’s car was, and exchanged hugs, and said our good byes. I was sad to say goodbye, and at that time understood how lucky I was that Mando was in town when we were going to be in California. That was an experience of a life time, and he was the most gracious guide I could have ever had to experience the Hollywood and East LA scene.

I again would like to thank Suzanne for having this site, and making my meeting with Mando possible. He was so sweet, and will envy anyone else who gets to meet with him, for I know they will have the time of their life.

THANK YOU MANDO!!!!

Sandra

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  It was so meaningful to have the priviledge of meeting a friend and co-star of our beloved Freddie.  It was June, 2002 and just six months since I had visited Freddie's resting place in Los Angeles.  I had not yet come back down to earth from that experience. :)

You were kind enough to give me a means to send Isaac a birthday card.  I can never thank-you enough for that honor. 

Through many e-mails and phone calls, I was able to ask Isaac all the questions I had about Freddie, his CATM experience and his feelings about Freddie.  It was most enlightening and refreshing.  Soon Isaac informed me that he would be coming to Atlanta on business.  I was elated and nervous about possibly meeting him.  However, Isaac immediately made me feel at ease with his beautiful smile
and energetic personality.  I drove him around Atlanta and pointed out many of the landmarks and points of interest.  One place he especially enjoyed was seeing the mansion of boxing champion, Evander Holyfield!!  His meeting was
being held at one of the most exclusive malls of Atlanta, so I showed him how to get there.  At one point, I noticed Isaac was walking just like his character "Mando" always did!!  I laughed and pointed it out to him.  He laughed too and
said Mando was his alter-ego. 

I appreciate his patience because I asked alot of questions and probably asked the same things more than once.  Such as the format of a normal week on the CATM set.  It is fascinating to hear how they would do a "read-through", then fine tune it several times before the actual taping of the show.

Isaac had nothing but the best comments and memories of Freddie and Jack Albertson.  It was heartwarming to hear about the many practical jokes Freddie would orchestrate and how he would laugh more than anyone else about them.
Isaac remarked on how very young Freddie was and how he was the "Star" of the show. 

The most powerful conversation for me was when Isaac explained to me the pain and heartache he felt when Freddie passed away.  The anguish and loss in his heart was unmistakeable.  He misses his friend and brother to this day.

It was an honor and priviledge to have met Isaac Ruiz.  I will always have the greatest amount of gratitude and appreciation to you and he for allowing me this time.  It was one of the high points of my life.

God Bless You,
Freddie Forever
Adrienne Hall

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