Lemonade In East Menlo Park

It was three of us. On a summer day, the day was burning and the ravenous hunger made Leslie, Wendy, and I eat the salty Lay’s. It was not an ordinary Lay’s, being Mexican Americans we liked customizing our chips. Hot sauce, Tapatio. We poured so much on our Lay’s that when the last drip dropped we were all sad. Wendy was 14, two years older than me and Leslie. She was the one who bought the Tapatio at the little market “Mi Tierra Linda”, the corner store by the block.

“Now how are we going to eat our Lay’s ?” Wendy wined

“Let’s just buy a new one?” I suggested

“The Tapito cost me $5”

Leslie angrily said, “You’re a liar, there is no way you blew off all the money mom gave us!”

I have no general knowledge of how much the sauce was at the time but I knew we had no money to buy one.

I was thinking about the time when I watched this show named Olivia, it was about a preteen pig girl. She was selling lemonade around her neighborhood to make money.

“Let’s make money by starting a lemonade stand, it should not be hard and we can easily get 5 dollars,” I mentioned

“How are we going to sell lemonade,” Wendy asked

“I have lemons and I have made lemonade before, I also got a small table and we can get a paper to write down the prices.”

Leslie looked at Wendy with a face of concern. Leslie was always cautious and scared of their mother. Her mom was always strict with them and forbade them to do many things. Wendy was more rebellious and didn’t care. She loved the adventure, she loved going out, doing new things, and being sneaky about it.

“Okay, I am down, I’ll help you”


We were inside my house hunting for the materials we needed to make the stand. We were like three elves trying to build a present for ourselves. The table was in the garage, the paper and markers were in my room, and the lemons were in the kitchen. Leslie was coloring the sign, decorating it with yellow lemons around it. She put the price of the lemonade at three dollars per cup. I was making the lemonade, poured the water into the jug, poured sugar at random, squeezed 5 lemons, and stirred the lemonade. The water was warm, and no one wants warm lemonade so I added 10 ice cubes. Wendy, just coming back from her house next door, saw the lemonade and dipped her fingers in a jug.

“Hey, we are serving customers that” I exclaimed

“I wanted to see if it tastes good, we need more sugar”

Wendy adds five spoons of sugar to the lemonade and stirs it more.

Taking a spoon, I dipped the silver spoon into the juice. Lift it and drank the lemonade. The lemonade was amazing.

Wendy carried the lemonade to the front yard. The way she walked towards the yard was side to side like a penguin. The lemonade was swaying side to side like an ocean wave. Anxiously I stared at her carrying the juice. I decided to let go and remind myself of the tasks I still needed to do. I grabbed some plastic chairs and a small desk from my garage and carried them to the yard. Leslie followed up with me with the poster and tape in her hands.

We three adjusted the stand. Wendy placed the lemonade on the hot burning floor. I set up the chairs and Leslie and Wendy set up the table with the poster. Wendy put the Lemonade on the table.

“We forgot the cups,” Leslie explained.

I had no plastic cups. I only had glass cups and my mom doesn’t like it when I use all her dishes. Plus we were giving away the cups to customers.

“I think mom had some from the party we had last time” Wendy stated.


Wendy and Leslie’s family always had big parties at her house. There were like five families living in the house next door. Many neighboring houses rented rooms in their houses because the rent was very expensive living in Menlo Park. I always grew around with different neighbors but never kids, it was always adults. Their family and the other families living with them always threw parties during the weekends. It usually was birthday parties or random parties. I never went to any of these parties as my parents would think it would be rude to go uninvited. It was lucky that they had leftover items from their last party because it saved money. I never liked asking for money.


We waited for a couple of minutes in the burning sun. We were standing, cooking, and boiling as strangers passed by us. I felt like a dog looking above its owners eating a 5-course meal as the rumbling in my stomach grew. The drops of participation from the lemonade were staring at me, and I was staring at it back. It was telling me that it wanted to be devoured; I did not give in.

Their little brother came running to us. He wanted to also be involved in the stand. Their brother was 4 or 5. I forgot his name because I never really liked him. I can’t blame him, he was just a kid being a kid. He was like a grenade waiting to explode any minute. I did not enjoy his presence mainly because Leslie couldn’t hang out with me and Wendy most of the time. She had to watch over him because their mother was always busy. He always followed us everywhere and would cry if we did not give him attention. If he cried my friends would not be allowed to come out and play anymore. But if it wasn’t for their brother we would have never met.

I was in my yard one day doing who knows what. A ball flies above my head and hits the ground of my front yard grass. I looked from side to side finding the direction of where the ball came from. A little short kid with light coffee skin and spotted dark freckles comes running with his sketchers to my yard. Behind him, two older-looking girls chase after him. One tall with dark brown hair and the same light coffee skin and spotted dark freckles. The other one was shorter, had lighter hair, and had light coffee skin. The shorter one grabbed the little kid by the arm and started scolding him as if she was her mother.

“We are so sorry” both of them repeating

I hand over the ball to the older girl.

“I saw that you have a treehouse, I used to have one in my old home” the older one exclaimed

“Let’s go back Wendy” the shorter one suggested

I never had friends, always played with imaginary friends I created in my head. So I took advantage of the opportunity.

“I saw you just moved in, you wanna see my treehouse?”

And with that ball getting thrown to the side of my house it started our friendship of dumb little adventures.


My mom came up to us. She finally got off the phone with some family members from Mexico.

“Tres dólares para limonada?”

“Y porque necesitan dinero?” commanded my mom

I told her it was because we wanted to buy something. I realized the reason why the lemonade was not selling was that we set the prices high. I changed the price to one dollar a cup.

Wendy and Leslie were yelling “LEMONADE COME AND GET IT!!”

Neighbors around the block were coming out and purchasing lemonade. I was so excited. Although I felt like my mom told some neighbors that we were selling lemonade. I knew that our new business changes helped us get customers. Most of these customers were people closer to our house, and friends with my mom.

With the number of customers that came, we made 7 dollars. Which was enough for the sauce. But there was still so much lemonade left over. The adrenaline we all get from selling lemonade also motivates us to continue.

Standing there for two hours was burning us. We were just a plate of sausages, getting overcooked. We needed to come up with a new idea. I thought if people do not want to come out to buy lemonade, let’s bring the lemonade to them.

“I also got cookies and chocolate so we can sell” Wendy suggested

So with that idea in mind, we started a transportable lemonade stand. WITH COOKIES AND CHOCOLATE.


Visualization of the new stand model:

Dolly is at the bottom. A foldable table on top of the dolly, the two legs taped to the sides of the dolly. A cheap paper sign in the front was taped. Dripping ice lemonade sitting on top of the table. Next to it was the box of cookies and chocolates. The money was all going toward our pockets; Literally.

I ran to my backyard passing the dog house and went directly to the shed. Pulled out the magnificent dolly. This dolly had so many memories. With carpeted edges and a firm structure. I and Wendy would sit on it and ride it with small cemented hills on the street. My family was too poor to get me those toy cars for kids and too poor for a bike. I saw my dad pull out the dolly, it caught my interest. I had the urge to sit on it and move it like a scoot scooter; those rolly colorful things used for P.E.

The dolly was perfect for our transportable lemonade stand. We put the stand on top of the dolly and put the box of cookies and cookies next to the pillar of lemonade.


Putting the faith we had in the dolly we started pushing the lemonade stand toward the left of the sidewalk. The first house we passed by because I told them the neighbors there were weird. They had a messy house and they kinda scare me because they are too friendly. There were like 5 people living there, all of the adults. Rarely home too.

With two people holding the sides of the stand and one pushing the dolly and stand we carefully reached our first stop. Wendy went up to the door and pushed the doorbell. A couple of seconds later a lady came out in her mid-30s looking concerned.

“Hello, we are selling lemonade, cookies, and choco-”

“No, thank you” the lady explained

Wendy was convincing and seemed presentable; she did not accept no for an answer.

“The cookies and chocolate are organic and they are only two dollars each”

Wendy was a damn liar. Those cookies were some Mexican cookies my mom used to buy and the chocolate looked like the cheap chocolates you give out during Halloween.

The lady felt the guilt and pure pressure from the look on her face.

“Sure I’ll take two then”

And with that, we began our little path of continuous lies.

With the next house, we got to. I was always interested in who lived there, mainly because I wanted to make new friends. The yard was always so clean. I always assumed a young white family lived there. It looked fairly new and they had nice cars in the parkway. Wendy rang the doorbell as always. We waited for a long while, we thought no one was home. Until an old white lady, looking around 60 or 70. She looked like the white old ladies on the cover of those magazines for retirement homes.

“Hello, we are selling cookies, chocolate, and lemonade”

“Oh honey, I am not interested I’m sorry”

The old woman hesitated for a second.


“Is this for fundraising for school?”

We all looked at each other for one second. We all knew what to do. TRICK AN OLD LADY.

It was summer, what kind of fundraising can we be doing if there is no school?

YES. Yes, we are funding for our school” I aggressively stated

“Oh okay, then I want to buy 3 chocolates, and a batch of cookies”

As she was looking through her wallet to pay. The guilt was coming, but I had to remind myself that these white ladies are rich so this was nothing for them.

I was also checking the box of cookies. I did not think we would be short on food. I was thinking of other things to sell. Also, notice that our lemonade was not selling as well. This is more of a cookie/chocolate stand.

“Oh it is so nice that you guys are doing this for your school”

We took her money, gave her the items, thanked her, and quickly left. A few feet away from her house we started giggling.

“I think we should start saying that we are fundraising, maybe they will buy our things more” Wendy suggested

“But not everyone is going to believe us” Leslie explained

“Plus, that is white girl things, we haven’t dammed girl scouts” I stated

“Who cares. We are still getting more money”


So with Wendy’s idea, we started lying. We went house to house knocking and ringing. Some did not open but were still home acting like we did not exist. We saw them through the window. Some houses had no one. They always looked empty. Some houses we just skipped because they looked messy and sketchy. We reached the end of the left side of the block.

There was a little blue house on the corner of Carlton and Ivy. This house had a jungle in their front yards, but instead, the jungle was dehydrated tomato plants that outgrew the yard. Within the jungle, there were many cameras. They were hidden in between plants or some literally at the front doorstep. Multiple signs that read. We are watching you. Not creepy.

I was not trying to find out who lived there, we all know what happens to the dumb person explored in the movies.

About to skip that house Wendy knocked on the door already.

“Wendy what the hell are you doing” Leslie angrily expressed

“They are gonna call the cops on us,” I said

Two people opened the door. They were an old Asian couple. I was surprised because I have seen few white people but I never would have thought Asian people were living here. The house looked older too, so they had been here for a long time.

They looked angry almost as if the couple did not want to be bothered. The lady left the door and the man just gave us a glaring stare.

With a stoic expression he said, “No, we do not want anything”

Fastly they closed the door before any of us caught a word to say what to say back.

We moved in silence after that. Everything was so quiet and awkward. After that, I did not want to sell anymore. But we still moved forward because our legs and hands moved us to the sidewalk across from us. Like filthy little gnomes, we arrived at the next house.

I have never really been across the sidewalk. The house we arrived at had a nice clean yard, but the house looked older than mine. They had lots of porch decorations. A sun plate next to the door and a wind chime at the porch’s entrance.

A door opened.

A humongous white-looking large man, almost the size of the door was there.

“Hello we are selling treats”

“Oh no thank you I do not need” the big man replied

“But this is for our school” Wendy wined

“Wait, you guys have chocolate?”

“Yes” I replied

“And it’s healthy chocolate” Wendy added

I tried to hold in my laughter after what Wendy said. I do not know if that was intentional or not.

“Oh, sure then, I would like 10”

That was practically our whole box and with that, we had no more treats, only lemonade.


With limited supplies, we returned to my house. We all had no more good food other than our not-best-seller lemonade. We did have a couple more cookies and candy we dug up from our houses. So we tried to walk over to our next-door neighbor near Wendy and Leslie’s house. We noticed they had cameras too.

The house was brown. The type of brown horse’s hair is. The type of brown that would make you bored and depressed. The small patch of grass was dry and most of the yard was concrete. It was the concrete that was placed but not smoothed right after. So it was unsettling to see.

Wendy was ringing on the door until a large angry man opened the door.

“What do you want?” angrily the man expressed

“We are selling-” Wendy nervously spit out

“ I don’t want any of that crap. Don’t ever bother me. I’ll call the police next time”

We left before he even closed the door. Rushing out of the property to be ever scared to step foot in that house.

That house was always suspicious to me. They never got out of their home. The man looked like he was living alone. If he was living alone why would he need so much space? Sometimes when I climb my tree. (Yes, I was a human squirrel). I would spy on the houses. From my peripheral vision. His backyard had a pool and hot tub. To this day I am curious but not dumb and curious to spy and climb like a squirrel.


It was the end of our lemonade stand journey. We got roughly 30 dollars from our stand. Recent amount to split between us three. With that, we bought some classic lays and one Tapatio bottle in the little corner of our block. Walking over back from the store we talked about planning to sell lemonade again.

When finally arriving at my home, I cut and squeezed some lemons into our salty lay bags and you can smell the mixture of them both as it crackles like pop rocks at the surface of a tongue.

Wendy thirsty from the trip opens my fridge, she sees one cart of orange juice, dozen eggs, bars of cheese, mayo, and ketchup, some jalapenos that my dad plants out in the yard, some yogurt in a container, the soggy lucky charms that I left, two carts of low-fat milk, and some other Mexican cuisines.

Wendy comments, “you have a lot of food, I am kinda hungry right now”

I was also indeed hungry but I did not find my leftovers enjoyable to eat and share. Most of these leftovers stayed in the fridge for days or weeks. It was not enjoyable eating pre-frost beans and rice. Drinking expired juice was also not pleasant. There were sometimes little chunks I found in the juice. I am forever traumatized by juice.

What I would eat when I was hungry was some crazy mixed invention. One food I always made was ham, mayo, ketchup, pepper, and salt. I rolled it up like a small taco and poke through it with toothpicks. I also made my version of pizza, I used wheat tortillas, tomato sauce, and cheese, and I baked it in the mini oven we had. Today I would not eat these monstrosities but at the time they felt like a hometown buffet.


As I memorized the idea of food and thought in my head. Wendy digs deep and pulls out a big red bottle of sauce

MIRANDA!?!” Wendy yelled

“What?” I confusingly said

“You had Tapatio!” Wendy angrily stated

“Oh yeah” I replied with a blank stare

Tapatio was there the entire time. I guess at the time I always avoided spicy sauces so I never knew the names.

My carelessness almost killed me because, by the look on everyone’s faces, it looked like they wanted to charge at me.

But in the end, it was worth the time and memories cause little did I know it would all be gone.


Wendy, Leslie, and her annoying little brother. All moved. It was common for renters to move. Big tech companies started moving and growing. New properties and renovations to the city were growing.  Every day as the days go by I looked over the neighborhood, Wendy and Leslie said they were going to be close by, or for that, they assumed because of what their mom probably told them to keep them happy.

The only kids I saw at that point were middle-class white kids.

Although they are not my neighbors anymore, it was the closest I had to having a family. I am going to miss their stinky house, their brat little brother, and their angry mother.

I hope I can one day find them and catch up. So we can make another, failed lemonade stand.


Author’s Note

Lemonade In East Menlo Park highlights the community I made with the people I made just before the start of gentrification. It is a funny light heart story that is supposed to make others feel like a child. I bring up many cultural things I did as a kid and paint pictures using imagery and sensory details. I want my audience to see how I viewed the world and what I thought and felt at the time. I wrote the story in a format of a memoir/storytelling. I got the inspiration from the story Growing by Viramontes. The story was true but at times I exaggerated or completely lied. My purpose was to make others laugh at the end of the day but capture the theme of community. My audience is anyone willing to read, but overall for those affected by gentrification. The pain I had from losing long friends now created a permanent memory of what captured the story of memories lasting forever.