The Memoirs of
Federico José María Ronstadt
Transcription of the Original Text
from the manuscript in the Ronstadt Family archives
at Special Collections, The University of Arizona Library
My father was a lover of music and wanted me to start learning it as early as possible. There was a private school in La Paz conducted by Father Arce. It was called a college. They had a number of boarding students from several of the other towns in the peninsula besides the day scholars; a music department for sight reading (solfeo); band and orchestra instruments; a manual training teacher; an art teacher for drawing; and four or five other teachers for the various school courses.
I was sent to the music class every afternoon after public school hours to take solfeo. When I had been going for that a few months my father decided to place me there as a boarder for the better schooling and discipline. My brother, Dick, also went as a day scholar.
I attended this school as a boarder for a year, until my mother received a letter advising her that her father had died without leaving a will and calling her to come at once to see about the distribution of the estate.
While attending Padre Arce's college I again took English. The English teacher was a graduate of Santa Clara College. His name was Salvador Solario. On Sunday afternoon we were taken for walks along the beach, and out in the country. At times we were served chocolate at some country home of friends of the school. We were never permitted to go out of the school grounds alone to any place.
The rector was very kind and all the boys loved him, but he was also a very strict disciplinarian.
While waiting for a sailboat to take us back to Guaymas, I was taken out of Padre Arce's school and put in my time walking out into the country to gather wild plums, a very sweet yellow fruit the size of a large olive, yellow in color when ripe and containing a very delicious kernel that the boys would gather after eating the plums and sell to the food stores by the pound as we would peeled almonds. I would also go to the bay to spear sardines which are very plentiful in La Paz Bay. I would make my own spears from old umbrella wires.
In those days, the wire nails that we have now were not used. They had only square nails made of black iron. Around the waterfront where they did some ship work we could find some of these black square nails or spikes. I took one home with me, about six inches long, half inch square at the head and tapering to 1/4 x 3/8" at the end. I managed to grind the end of this spike in the shape of a wood chisel and used it to dig out the hulls of toy boats that I would shape first with my mother's kitchen knives.
One day I was laboring hard on one of these toy boats with my nail chisel as a carpenter coming out of my father's English class passed me, and when he saw what I was doing he invited me to his shop a few blocks away. He shaped the outside of my 4 x 4 redwood block into a perfect racing yacht and then loaned me one of his razor edge wood chisels and a mallet for me to cut out the inside and finish the job. I had been doing this with the little hull placed on my knees when some of the carpenters started playing. I looked around towards them and with my eyes away from my work I missed the block and drove the chisel through my trousers into the flesh above my knee clear to the bone. I was too proud to let the carpenter boys know what I had done and remained seated cutting away until the hull was gouged out. When I stood up my shoe was full of blood. I sneaked out to the bay four blocks away where I rolled up my pants and discovered that I had a real gash in my leg. I washed the blood with sea water and limped home. I was afraid to frighten my mother if I would tell her about it, but she soon discovered something was wrong and I was put to bed.
As soon as I could get out of bed I finished my little yacht. I made a deck for it and rigged it with one mast and two satin sails. I got a strip of lead, nailed it along the keel, made a rudder and it proved to be a perfect sailor. Of course, this was due to the shape of the hull made for it by my carpenter friend.
I had a lot of pleasure playing in the bay with this little yacht.
Adjoining our back yard fence was an orchard with cocoanut palms, tamarindos, a sweet sour fruit used for making a lemonade-like drink, very refreshing. Also we had in our yard two very large huamochil trees. The tree grows as large as an oak and the fruit is a pod about three times as large as a pea pod. The meat is white like that of an apple and very sweet.
A family of Americans came to La Paz about this time. They were farmers or miners. The father, the mother, a daughter about 12, a boy of 14, and another boy of about my age. They found themselves stranded without means and not knowing Spanish. My father helped them to get living quarters in a vacant house near ours. My mother would send me with corn bread and coffee for them and I soon made friends with the boys. They made sling-shots and showed me how to use one. They could kill doves and other birds for their mother to cook. One day while the younger boy and I were romping in our back yard I tore his shirt. I will never forget how he cried telling me it was the only shirt he had. I took him in the house and my mother mended his shirt before he went home.
He was my first American friend and I felt very lonesome when they left. The American Consul arranged passage for them in some ship for the U.S.
My two years in La Paz will always be remembered as very happy ones. Across the street from us lived the Palaez family. Their son and daughter played piano and cornet. We could hear them practicing every day. They played parts of Poet and Peasant Overture. I played it myself many times years later and always loved it. When I hear it my mind usually goes back to the years of 1878 & 79 at La Paz.
Ships loaded with bananas would come into port and call on the boys to help unload. The pay would be a small bunch of delicious bananas. They would sell at La Paz for one cent apiece.
One time a storm at sea drove several whales into shallow water near the port. The sailors that found them made small fortunes out of them.
The day came for us to sail in a two masted schooner from La Paz to Guaymas. My father remained in La Paz to wind up his school.
Our schooner anchored to take rock ballast at Pichilinge, a small harbor near La Paz where the U.S. has a coaling station. The water at Pichilinge is crystal clear. Our ship was over 20 or 25 feet of water and we could see the bottom full of starfish and other shells. This ship was to load up with salt at Carmen Island located in the Gulf about half way between La Paz and Guaymas. It took two days to make Carmen Island. We anchored about a half mile from shore. A family of Negroes was living there taking care of the mounds of salt. About 8 or 10 little children without any clothes lined the shore when we anchored.
The rock ballast was dumped overboard and the sailors started with two row boats and a barge manned by the island negroes hauling the salt in sacks to the ship. My brother Dick and I went ashore with the first boat and took a walk over the valley of salt before the sun was up. When the sun started shining over the salt we had a hard time groping our way back to the boats.
The ship loaded, we started for Guaymas. The following day one of the sailors speared two dorado fishes. These are deep water fish about two feet long and about a 4 inch oval around their middle, a very fine fish with hardly any bones. That day we had a banquet on board. My poor mother did not enjoy it, however. She was prostrated with seasickness all the time.
We arrived at Guaymas in due time and stopped at the home of Don Gabriel Corrella, a very dear friend of my father. We had to wait in Guaymas several days until my mother could find a suitable road wagon and driver to take us to Altar.
During those days at Guaymas I would go to the beach to play with my little sail boat. The Guaymas boys had not changed their antagonism against strange boys and it was not long before I had to defend myself and my little boat from two young ruffians who knocked me down before I realized what was up. Fortunately, I was strong enough to keep them off. After that they left me alone.
The wagon which my mother hired for our long trip from Guaymas to Altar was the regulation four spring wagon with two wide seats over a body seven feet long, 4 feet wide, and 10 inches deep, with a standing top covered with white sail duck rolling curtains on the sides and back, a leather dash in front and drawn by two horses. The seats were large enough for six passengers, including the driver.
The first day out of Guaymas we rested the horses at noon and had our lunch at a very fine ranch. I only remember that the woman of the ranch asked Dick and me to take five or six baby dogs to the back of the corrals and kill them as she did not want so many. I remember taking the puppies away to a large mesquite tree and leaving them there to die. I can still feel the awful sensation of that act. I hope the mother dog found them and saved them.
After a few days of travel and camping outdoors, we had bedding with us in the wagon and also food to last us for a few days, we arrived at Hermosillo. There we stopped at the home of another friend and relative, Tia Virginia Romero. They had a very large home with a large patio (court) in the center planted to roses, oranges and other semitropical plants on the order of all the best homes in Mexico. There our baby brother Joe developed a high fever and we had to stay several days hoping that he would get well. Our driver became very restless and threatened to return with his wagon to Guaymas unless we would resume the trip at once.
My mother, with limited funds, was afraid to let him go so we started while the baby was still feverish. On the road to Altar we had two or three heavy summer rain storms and one night we had to stop on the road and spend the night in the wagon. When we finally reached Altar Joe was a very sick baby. He developed a severe case of croup. There was no doctor in Altar. The nearest one at Caborca, 25 miles away, was an American druggist. My mother sent a man on horseback to bring this man to see the baby. When he came, Joe thought he was my father and caressed the man's face with his little hands. He could only smile. There was nothing that could be done and poor little Joe choked to death that night.
This nearly killed my mother. She was about to give birth to my brother Pepe. Pepe was born the night of Dec. 24, 1879, a few days after the first Joe died.
He was my father's pet, and several weeks after he was buried my mother received a letter my father had written to her the day after we left La Paz saying how lonesome he had felt when he left us on the ship and that he dreamed that night that the baby had fallen overboard and drowned. He said that he could not forget the dream and the feeling that he would never see the baby again.
My mother found the estate of her father, Don Jose Maria Redondo, in a turmoil. Her stepmother, Dona Dolores Perez de Redondo, and her son Florencio were in possession of the property. My grandfather Redondo had left the Buzani ranch with a good number of cattle; farm lands in several parts of the state of Sonora; horses in Altar, San Ignacio, Tubutama, Pitiquito, and Oquitoa; an orchard in the suburbs of Altar; and cash deposited with several mercantile houses in Hermosillo and Guaymas. In those days there were no banks in Sonora and it was the custom to deposit cash with the larger merchants and draw "libranzas," drafts, against these deposits.
The probating and distribution of my grandfather's estate was a very long and complicated procedure. It remained in the courts for several years, and in the end the bulk of it was absorbed by lawyers' fees and expenses. Of course, Dona Lola, my grandfather's widow, and her son Florencio, a half wit, retained the greatest portion of what was left. My mother was given the orchard near Altar and about 100 acres of farm land adjoining. This property had a water right in the gravity ditch from the Altar River and was considered a very good farm.
While this farm was made ready to turn over to my mother, we lived in town at Antonio Redondo's home, a cousin of my mother who was married to my half-sister, Maggie. I was sent to the public school conducted then by Don Jesus Anguez, a very tall, dark man of dignified appearance and considered a fine scholar. The school was the same one I had known in 1875 when Don Felix Rodriguez was the teacher.
My first day in school Don Jesus Anguez gave me a short examination and when I read a few paragraphs from a history of the U.S.-Mexican war, he stopped me and called the class to order. I was scared not knowing what was coming. He told the boys to listen to my reading and made me stand in front and read to the class for a few minutes. I realized then that he approved of my reading and wanted his boys to notice it. He assigned me to my grade and for several months for my Spanish reading class he would ask me to read for him from the same history of the war between the U.S. and Mexico. Some days some particular chapter would interest him and he would ask me to read on several more pages.
For penmanship and writing his method was to make us copy from some well-written book. I always felt that this was a good practical way to acquire good style in composition and learn to spell and punctuate correct Spanish.
From La Paz I had brought a game that the boys played similar to what we know as Keno. There it was called "Loteria," an oblong sheet of cardboard with as many squares with different figures as the number of cards in a Mexican deck. Similar figures would be pasted on the face of the cards. Two squares on the sheet would have one and two circles. The square with the single circle was called "casa chica," and the one with the two circles, "Casa Grande." The dealer or owner of the Loteria would shuffle the cards, place the deck face down on the board or table, and invite the players to place their marbles as in a roulette table, selecting whatever figure they would like. When all the marbles were placed, the deck of cards would be cut and turned up, as when playing "albures," Faro. The figures covered by marbles would win an equal number from the bank, but when "casa chica" or "Casa Grande" would come, all the remaining marbles on the card would be lost to the bank. The novelty of this game took the boys by storm and in a few days I had about a three-gallon bucket of marbles of all descriptions.
We had a large back yard and it occurred to me that this was a good place to hold a circus, "maromas." This back yard was enclosed by high adobe walls on the four sides with a gate to the back street. My mother and my father had always encouraged us in gymnastics and acrobatics. My mother made clown suits for Dick and me, short trunks and jackets, red and green. We set up a horizontal bar and planted four long posts with poles tied across the tops from which we hung trapezes and rings. We invited four or five other boys who could do tricks on the bar and turn cartwheels, balance on the trapeze, etc. until we had what we imagined a good program of acrobatic stunts. I borrowed a burro and used one of my mother's pillows and a blanket to improvise a pad on the burro's back for equestrian stunts and would have one of the boys lead the burro around the corral while one of us would stand up on the burro's back and mimic a circus rider.
We had everything ready for the first performance on a Saturday night. The admission was one cigarette. For lighting the circus we did what we had seen the Mexican circus do: set up a post in the ground about four feet high, fasten an adobe as best we could across the top of the post, and with dry cactus centers that we could bring in from the neighboring hills would build a fire on the adobe. The dry cactus wood would burn like paper and make a good size torch. Four of those in charge of a boy that would feed the fires continuously going from one to the other would give us a splendid illumination for the performance.
My sister Maggie had a house boy who was not a boy but an undersized man with a full red beard and very serious and silent. His name was Jesusito. He had helped us to borrow ropes and poles to set up our apparatus and was very much interested in circus activities. He told me that he had a violin, that he could play it, and would like to play for our performance if I could get a nickle for him to buy rosin for his bow. I knew that this poor fellow was a simpleton, but harmless and always willing to help, a 40-year-old dwarf with a very serious face and demeanor, and the mentality of a child. My mother gave me a bit for him. He fixed his fiddle and we were all set.
The torches on the adobes were lighted and the boys started coming in with their cigarettes for admission. The clown came out from the side door followed by the troop of acrobats, four or five boys dressed up in different outfits, some with their mothers' or sisters' stockings to appear as if wearing tights. The clown delivered his announcement in verse and I climbed to a trapeze for the first stunt. I was hanging on my knees when Jesusito started to play a tune on his fiddle known as La Liebre (The Jackrabbit). I had forgotten all about him, and his tune, played all out of tune, sounded so terribly funny to me that I had to slide down to the ground with a hysterical fit of laughter that just about ended the feast.
Anyway, we had a good time. But we never repeated the performance. We kept the apparatus and enjoyed playing on it until we moved to the farm.
At this farm we had a very small house, two rooms, a kitchen, and a porch, but in front of the house we had six tremendously large ash trees. The tops of these trees were as one and in the shade of these beautiful trees we lived most of the time. The orchard had figs, pears, pomegranates, quinces, dates, and about two acres in grapes. All these fruits did well, particularly the figs and grapes.
While my father's profession was mining, he had studied horticulture and knew a good deal about trees, flowers, vegetables, and general farming. We soon had a vegetable patch with a large variety. I used to get my fill of radish and carrots. One of the date palms near the house would have large bunches of delicious dates in season and Dick and I would fight to climb up to the bunches and pick the ripe ones.
There was a pond in the back of the house deep enough for diving. I could turn a back somersault from the bank into the water. We would fill this pond with water from the ditch and it was one of our greatest pleasures. Here I learned to plow, to irrigate, hoe and spade the soil. I would walk to school about a mile and after school hours I would help with the farm work. We had a milk cow and it was my duty to cut hay for it, water it, milk it, and take care of it. I made a lot of small adobes about the size of our brick and built a play room with them. I also built a small oven where I used to bake pumpkins. I would cut a hole into the pumpkin, take out all the seeds, put in a broken panocha (brown sugar cake), and when the pumpkin was taken out of the oven and cut in two halves we would fill the halves with milk and eat it all with a spoon.
My father let me have a muzzle loading double barrel shot gun, powder, shot, and caps. I learned to handle it and would go out hunting. I never forgot my first cottontail and how proudly I brought it home to my mother.
One morning I found a horse lying on the ground by a bunch of wheat straw left from the harvest. It was so poor and weak that he could not get up. I went home and brought a bucket of water and some corn which I gave him while he was down. He took it all and I went after more for him.
I came back in the evening and found the horse up on his feet. I led him home and fed him a few days. When he appeared to have gained strength I saddled him and found that he was a good saddle horse and very gentle. He had a fresh brand, "E.S.", meaning "Estado de Sonora." A troop of cavalry passing by had left him when he was too weak to use. The horse got strong to work both in the saddle and also pulling a pony plow, but he was always bony. We had used him for some time when a man named Jose Maria Noriega from Pitiquito came to see us. I was called in to meet him. He thanked me for having saved his favorate horse. He said he had heard all about it.
I thought here is where I lose my horse, but to my surprise he told me to keep it as a present from him. This horse was a great pleasure and comfort to me.
We had a two wheel light cart for general work on the farm. One morning I was driving in this cart to town to get some supplies when I heard a volley of rifle fire in the court of Tia Maria Antonia's home where a troop of soldiers were making their barracks. I stopped the cart against the wall and stood on the edge of the side boards to peep into the courtyard. Just as I was looking at three men dead on the ground, a soldier fired three shots into their heads. This is called "el tiro de gracia," when executions are made in Mexico by shooting. This frightened me terribly and I started for the farm, but just as I was turning into the road a soldier stopped me and ordered me off the cart and he climbed into it and drove away. I ran home as fast as my legs would carry me, told my father about the episode, and he said there was nothing to worry about. The soldiers would return the cart and horse to us when they were through with it. Sure enough, they brought it back several hours later with the bottom of the body covered with blood. They had used it to take the bodies of the three men to the graveyard.
We never used that cart again.
I was riding my horse bareback one afternoon over a country trail when he stumbled over a mesquite root. I went over its head and when I got up the horse was standing and shaking with pain. I led him home and it took the rest of the afternoon to walk only about two miles. The horse had sprained his front left foot and could hardly walk. As soon as we got home he lay down groaning with pain. My father applied a liniment for several days and as soon as he could walk we turned him loose into the wheat field. He got well and fat eating green wheat hay for several weeks.
For San Juan's Day I caught him and staked him in a field of ripe barley so I could saddle him the next morning. When I went after him I found him dead. He had evidently eaten too much barley grain with the barbs. The horse died on the night of June 22d.
On June 24 was to be San Juan's Day when everybody that can get a horse or mule or burro was supposed to ride. I caught a young burro and saddled him. It behaved quite well after a few hours so I thought I was fixed up for my San Juan celebration the next day. I tied the burro under a tree and gave him a good ration of hay for the night. Next morning when I saddled him he jumped and kicked and twisted into knots until he fell on his back. My father told me to turn him loose, fearing that his good saddle would not stand much more. So I did not have my ride after all.
About this time Professor Salcedo had been engaged by several of the Altar families to conduct a private school for their children. Of course my father placed me with Professor Salcedo. They were old time friends. Here we had boys and girls, many of them young ladies, and boys -- 16 to 20 years old. The classes were reading, penmanship, arithmetic, algebra and geometry for the higher students, geography, history, Spanish grammar, English, music, sight reading and drawing.
While attending this school a boy about my age, Panchito Heras, and I were going to fight a duel. Seconds were named and we all walked to the river where we were to fight. Panchito was a nice fellow and anything but a fighting boy. I have never had a belligerant disposition myself, so the seconds had no difficulty in reconciling us. We shook hands and walked back to school better friends than before.
A German boy named Waldemar Mueller was placed in this school to learn Spanish. He could only talk English and German. Prof. Salcedo would ask me to go with Waldemar by his home every day after school. His parents, Dr. & Mrs. Mueller, and a baby sister, Meta, lived near the flour mill located out of town and only about 1/2 mile from our orchard home. These walks with Waldemar gave me a chance to practice my English.
Prof. Salcedo never liked Altar and his school was discontinued after the first year. Many of us went back to the public school with Don Jesus Anguez. A musician from Durango, Don Lazaro Valencia, was then teaching solfeo, music sight reading, and singing. The boys in his class were paying 5 dollars (pesos) per month for one hour lesson in class every day excepting Saturdays and Sundays from 5 to 6 p.m. He used the solfeo method of Gomez, a famous Spanish teacher of music. This was an expensive book that very few of the boys could afford to purchase. Don Lazaro discovered that.
I knew several lessons of the first part of the Gomez method and suggested that I would help him to write the music lesson for the class for my own tuition. I would write on Saturdays copying from his book and help the boys at class. I think this gave me a foundation that otherwise would have been more difficult to obtain. After I had learned to sight read in all the seven clefs, Don Lazaro started me learning to play the flute. A lawyer named Ignacio Bustillas had a five-key rosewood German flute of the old Meyer system. He was good enough to lend it to me and this was the instrument which I used to learn the fingering and tone producing. The wood was cracked in several places and I had to fill the cracks with beeswax. I also had to make new pads out of old kid gloves for the keys. My hands were hard and calloused from the work I had to do on the farm and Don Lazaro would wonder at times if I would ever be able to do much with my stiff fingers.
During school vacation I worked at the farm. I would take the flute with me and practice while irrigating and at every other chance I had. When I returned to school Don Lazaro was surprised with the advance I had made in fingering and tone.
He organized a quintet consisting of double bass, guitar, and a saxhorn for harmony and flute and cornet for melody. He played the cornet himself and I will never forget his beautiful mellow tone. I played the flute in this quintet. It was not long before we were in demand for serenades and other functions. The rates were one dollar per hour for each member. I thought this was a fortune for me.
By this time my father had been called by Governor Don Carlos Ortiz to Hermosillo where he offered the office of Perito de Minas, mining advisor for the District of Magdalena. The duties of that office were to issue titles on mines, survey the claims, direct the works, and inspect the mines twice a year to see that operations were conducted according to law and the safety of the miners. The fees for this work averaged better than $500. per month.
My father accepted this appointment and decided to take us to Magdalena as soon as we could rent or sell the orchard & farm. In the meantime, I was helping to take care of the crops we had growing. We had a Yaqui laborer who did most of the harder work excepting when we had to irrigate day and night. He would take the night shift and I would handle the water in the daytime. Sometimes, however, he would play sick and I had to work nights and let him work in the daytime, particularly when the nights were cold enough to freeze the water as it spread over the lands.
We could not afford to hire more than one hand and I had to supply the extra help. Here is where I learned to plow, hoe the weeds, irrigate, cut hay with a sickle, milk a cow, and do any other chore required. I was then 12 to 13 years old but large and strong for my age.
My mother had been offered a price for the crop by a man named Sr. Chavarin, a rather stout and flashy gentleman, also to rent the farm. His offer was accepted and he came over with two farm hands ready to take over the watering which I had been handling for three days and two nights because our Yaqui was either sick or playing so. Of course, I must have been dead tired, getting sleep only in snatches between lands and hoping that Mr. Chavarin would close his deal and relieve me; when to my dismay, I noticed that he and his two laborers were leaving. He had changed his proposition and my mother had refused to accept the change, but she saw the look of distress in my face. She called Mr. Chavarin back and turned the place over to him and his men. This she told me afterwards.
We moved into town to await for my father to send for us. I left school then and that was the last time I ever attended any school. I was not quite 13.
Don Lazaro, my music teacher, continued to call me for playing at $1 per hour. I would give the money to my mother and she consented reluctantly, knowing that we would soon leave Altar.
One night while we were serenading for account of one of the prominent men of the town, a fight was started by two of the men in the party. Shots were fired and the police arrested these men. That was the end of my playing with Don Lazaro's quintet for money. My mother would not let me go anymore.
Before leaving school in Altar, I had two sad experiences. One time fighting with another boy by throwing rocks at each other, one of mine hit a poor hunchback boy in the head and nearly killed him. I ran to him and picked him up with a cut in his scalp over an inch long. I never will forget the feeling of remorse that I suffered for days until the boy was well enough to return to school. His name was Jose Maria Lopez. He was older than I and a very good student, always at the head of the class in arithmetic. Many years later in one of my trips to Cananea I met him there doing well. He remembered the incident of the rock and showed me the scar.
Another time, playing at wrestling with a boy named Francisco Sotelo, a friend of mine (he and I used to whistle duets for hours in the evenings), he lost his head and slashed my left wrist with a shoemaker's knife that he carried in his pocket. When we met again in school, we shook hands and made friends again. I still have the scar to remember him by.
Another time I took a boy named Santiago Redondo, a son of an uncle of my mother, for a hunting trip. I had a double barrel muzzle loading shot gun. We found a good place to shoot doves between a water hole and a ditch about 500 feet apart. I would shoot at the doves coming to water at the ditch and then walk to the water hole to shoot them when they would come there. Santiago would pick them up for me. In passing by him one of my barrels went off and set his overalls on fire near his foot. I took his shoe off and found that a number of the shot had entered his heel. I had to carry him home. He got well but always limped after that. Some muscle must have been injured.
About this time my father had been appointed Perito de Minas (Director and Inspector of Mines) for the District of Magdalena. On his way home from Hermosillo during a stormy night the stage was upset while fording a flooded part of the road near Santa Ana. My father, with the other passengers, suffered from exposure in the cold water and developed a serious case of fever and other complications that nearly took his life.
Magdalena had no hospital or any other facilities so my father sent his driver to Altar to bring me over to help. There was not a doctor in Magdalena. A drug store owned by an old American druggist, Don Alejandro Clark, furnished the only medical aid possible. My father's case required changing hot flaxseed poultices for several days and nights and this was my work. When he recovered enough to leave his bed, he rented a house from Don Pancho Gallego. While the place was made ready, he sent me to Altar after my mother and the children, Dick, Emilia, and Pepe. I drove my father's mountain road wagon, the type made on four springs, two seats for six passengers and a good storm top with side curtains. The two horse team made the 60 miles from Magdalena to Altar in two short days. As my mother was ready, we loaded as much of our things as could be packed in the road wagon, trunks and bedding on the trunk rack in the back, and started for Magdalena. We made El Ocuca before night.
El Ocuca was the original settlement of the first Redondo that came to Mexico from Spain, my mother's great grandfather. There we camped for the night.
One of my grand uncles, Don Esteban Redondo, who still held his interest in the ranch, was staying there at the time after locating a large herd of cattle that he had driven there from Yuma, Arizona to save them from an Arizona drought of the previous years. Don Esteban Redondo and family were then residents of Yuma. His oldest daughter, Dona Delfina, had married Dr. George Martin, the father of Andy & Geo. Martin of Tucson. Another daughter of Tio Esteban Redondo, still living in Tucson, is the widow of Andres Rebeil and mother of Julia, Paul, and Steve Rebeil.
Tio Esteban came over to our camp the next morning and had breakfast with us. My mother had provided the bastimento (lunch) for the trip, such things as were used at that time, carne seca con chile, tortillas de leche, cheese and coffee.
We left El Ocuca after breakfast and arrived at Magdalena in the evening before dark.
An American friend of my father who heard that I played the flute sent me a very nice instrument, with his compliments, from Tucson. He also sent my father a beautifully engraved and nickel plated Winchester carbine. My father had helped him in connection with some mining work and he showed his appreciation by sending these fine presents.
It was not long before the young people of Magdalena discovered that I could play the flute. Santiago Campbell, a boy whose father was an old friend of my father, played the guitar. We practiced a repetoire of the pieces that I knew by heart, songs, danzas, serenades, waltzes, mazurkas, schottisches, polkas, etc., and in a few weeks we were able to furnish flute and guitar music for our friends' parties and serenades. Of course we were in demand and these few months of my stay in Magdalena were certainly very happy ones.
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Last updated 11 August 1997