10/8/1979 Don Enrique Acevedo, Known as "Mr White House"
White House Department store employee for 50 years. Founder of the
Juarez Lion's Club in 1947 member of the el Paso City Civil Service
Commission in the late '60s. Father of Josefina Salas-Porras,
Maria-Elena Flood and Jorge Acevedo.
October 8, 1979
Man’s sincerity wins him friends
By Ramon Villalobos
El Paso Times
An office pamphlet distributed to White House Department Store employees Jan. 18, 1969, caries eloquent biographical data of a man known to hundreds of El Pasoans and friends in Mexico as “Mr. White House.”
It tells of a lifetime of devoted duty by a man who acquired thousands of friends and his sincerity and honesty and the desire to do a job well.
It is the history of Don Enrique Acevedo, who 66 years ago was hired as a $5 a week assistant delivery boy driving a horse-drawn wagon through the streets of El Paso, then a dusty but growing town.
In describing the wagon, Don Enrique, who was 15 at the time, remembers it was the most elegant delivery wagon in the city.
“It had rubber tires for a smooth ride, but no windshields to protect me from the wind, dust and rain,” he recalled.
The wagon, he said, was pulled by a magnificent dark horse the store rented from a South Santa Fe street stable.
Sitting in the family-picture filled living room of his home at 2522 Grant Ave., he recalled his delivery boy job was short. He quickly was promoted to stockboy, then wrapper.
His personal files showed Don Enrique rose fast in his job. He moved from the wrapper room to receiving clerk in the store stockroom, and later was promoted to assistant deliver manager.
By 1925, he was manager of the department and, before he was 30, he moved to assistant floor manager and buyer.
His first buying tip to the retail outlets in New York City was in 1927. He made trips to New York twice a year until 1950, when he became manager of the store’s first floor, a position from which he greeted customers for 17 years.
His duties included meting the Mexican train bringing persons from Mexico’s interior to the border.
Don Enrique recalled the train was the only mode of travel in Mexico.
For 10 years, meeting people at the train depot was his main job. During that time he made friends with high-ranking Mexican government dignitaries who became his permanent customers.
Don Enrique’s family came to El Paso during the Mexican Revolution. He considers the most important event in El Paso-Juarez history to be the 1909 meeting of President Porfirio Diaz and U.S. President Howard Taft. He witnessed the meeting as a school boy in Juarez.
He also recalls the Madero revolution that started on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande across from old Smeltertown.
Now at 82 and in “semi-retirement,” Don Enrique can be found at the Bassett center store every day greeting his customers in what his friends described “his elegant aristocratic personality.”
He took a shot at local politics when he was named a member of the Civil Service Commission by former mayor Judson Williams.
His wife, the former Josefina Nations, died several years ago. She was prominent in social and civic work in the city and was an active member of the Pan American Round Table.
The couple had three children, Josefina Salas-Porras, widely known in social and civic circles, Maria Elena Flood and Jorge Enrique Acevedo of Los Angeles