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Anita Medina Vigil
Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Taylor Hayes
Date of Interview - 5-14-1981
Interviewed by Salome Rodriguez
I am interviewing Anita Medina Vigil here at her home in Cemetery Hill and today is May 14. She is going to tell me a little bit about her history, which I am sure is very interesting.
Q: Have you lived here all your life?
A: All my life. I was born and raised just a little below the hill and then raised right here.
Q: What year were you born?
A: I was born December 14, 1926.
Q: Can you tell me the names of your parents and your grandparents and just start telling me a little bit about your ancestors.
A: My dad's name was Jose Ofelio Medina. He was the son of Carmen Medina and Marinita Montoya and I think the Medina clan had something to do with the original status of Walsenburg, because, like I said, my great-grandfather's name was Jose Leon Medina; my great-grandmother's name was Maria Rita Medina which was my grandpa Carmen's folks. He had several brothers and sisters. Juan Antonio Medina was the assessor, I believe, or the county clerk at the Huerfano County Court House. His brother, Victor Medina, was a church sexton at the St. Mary's Catholic Church for years. Also, he was a blacksmith. He did quite a bit of that.
Q: What does a church sexton do?
A: He rang the church bells constantly from 6 o'clock in the morning until noon and then they used to have what was called the angeleus, you prayed the angeleus. The church bells were rung at 6 o'clock in the morning for the angeleus, they were rung at mid-day for the angeleus, and at 6 o'clock in the evening. That was his duty plus all the church services that were going on, you know, the early masses, daily masses, whatever. Any mass that was being said, he rang the church bells by hand.
Q: About how many years, do you know?
A: It seems like an eternity. All I remember....until these electric bells were put in, just before he died, he did this. So it was for a matter of years and years that this was going on.
Q: And the rest of your family?
A: Oh, Maria Eufenia, she married a Tafoya,...what was his name, the bartender. Jose Maria, he was a famous bartender. They used to talk about all the famous outlaws that came in and he tended bar for. He died mysteriously. They don't know whether he was shot and robbed, or whether he committed suicide, but he had no reason to commit suicide. He was a bachelor and he had lived an ordinary life, but they could never prove either way.
Q: Do you think if there was some hanky-panky, that it would have been by some outlaw or something like that?
A: Well, he was robbed because they didn't find the money he supposedly had on his person, but he used to drink quite a bit, so it could have been....it was never really set down. And then my tia Leonorcita, she was my grandpa's sister.
Q: What was her whole name?
A: Cordova, Leonorcita Cordova. She was married to Jose Miguel Cordova and she was the mother of primo Seledon Salazar's wife and he was the county assessor for years at the court house and so that kind of fills in the background as far as the Medinas. As far as my mother, her name was Bedan. My grandfather was supposed to have come to New Mexico and eventually to Pass Creek. From what we hear, he came here running from Europe, because he was supposed to have killed a man or something, in Europe. So he ran to the states, made it to New Mexico, eventually to Red Wing where he homesteaded and married one of the Montez girls and then on in to San Acacio, whence my mother came from.
Q: San Acacio, New Mexico?
A: No, no, it's in Colorado, but it's in the San Luis Valley, where she came from.
Q: Whereabouts did your grandfather homestead?
A: Up above the Montez place, Gaspar Montez and them.
Mr. Vigil: It used to be towards the Muddy Creek where Matzley used to live. That used to be their place.
A: My grandfather was supposed to have homesteaded around there somewhere, because one of my uncles was born there and then, she died, his first wife died, and he went on to San Acacio and married Salome Gonzales from up there. That's where my mother comes in, and also my grandmother and her mother, and the family name is still Bedan.
Q: So they homesteaded and they farmed and ranched and had animals and….?
Mr. Vigil: Did he run by Bedan because he came from Bedan place?
Mr. Vigil: Did he run by Bedan because…?
A: I don't know. There is a Bedan in Germany and there is a Bedan-Bedan which is like Las Vegas. Now whether his name had anything to do with. It is farming country, the village of Bedan, his farming country, and he seemed to carry on that, but I,....you know, it would take quite a bit of tracing before I could really find out what is what, as far as that goes.
Q: How did your parents meet each other?
A: My dad went up there to play at a wedding. He was a musician. He accompanied my grandpa Carmen Medina on the fiddle and he went up there to play at this wedding and they met something like in December and he figured this is it, so they got married January 26, the following month.
Q: Do you know what year?
A: Yeah, in January 26, 1926. That's when they got married. It was one of those love at first sight things and my mother was a very beautiful person. She had pinks eyes, real light hair and she was very fair and I think that's the German or European ancestors that came through. None of us are blonde or pinks-eyed. My sisters are, some of them are very light-haired, but blonde, pinks-eyed, none of us.
Q: And how many brothers and sisters do you have?
A: I have six sisters and one brother.
Q: And their names? And if you know when they were born?
A: Dates I kind of gave up on. Mary Agnes Medina, she's a buyer at Martin Marietta in Denver and then there is Nattie Valdez, she lives here on Colorado Avenue. She married Jake Valdez. He was famous for the Valdez place down in Cucharas. Next to her is Priscilla. She is married and lives in California. She's married to Alfonso Velasquez. Then there is Patricia. She married Byrdell Ortega. They live in California, and next to her is Ernestine. She's married and lives in Pueblo. She married Nark Trujillo from Pueblo and then my brother Albert Medina is married and lives here in town and then my youngest sister Rebecca, she married Juan Salazar. They're divorced and she's in the Air Force, stationed somewhere in Texas now.
Q: So where did your parents settle when they got married?
A: Right here, as you turned off the cemetery here, there's a house right there. They built that and moved in and that's where they lived until….in '54 when my dad died and my mom died
now in '77.
Mr. Vigil: In the house that your brother occupies now.
Q: And what was your father's occupation?
A: He worked mostly as a section hand as a young man, because they had a place down towards Cucharas and the track ran through their place, so that's where he started working when he was 17 years old, as a section hand. He worked there and then during the Depression he was considered a skilled laborer because he helped cut those blocks that the things are made of down at the Center, you know, you've seen those stone....
Q: At the Community Center?
A: The Court House....no, not the Community Center, it was buildings that were off to a side, what now houses the sheltered workshop. And some of that stuff that the Court House is built of, that sandstone like, it came from that initial quarry. And that's where he worked. I remember living on $22.00 every two weeks which was what my dad earned while working there. But life was so simple. We had no electricity. How we kept our food, forget it. And….life was just simple. We had no problems. We took what was on the table....that's what we ate. We didn't ask questions or I don't like this and I don't like that, I'd rather have something else. What was there, you ate. We were happy to get it. I remember going to school, the old Washington School.
Q: Is that where you first went to school?
A: No, I first went to St. Mary's. But then later on, I transferred to old Washington School. When the new one was being built in 1936, we walked up to Pennsylvania, the block where the United Church is. Pennsylvania School used to be there and we walked from here to there, came home for lunch and walked back, rain or shine. We did this. Then when that got overcrowded because they were knocking down the old Washington School, we used to walk up to Hill School and then the new Washington School was put up and we continued going there.
Q: What were some of the names of some of the teachers that you remember that really taught you a lot?
A: Mr. Scott. I think his name was W.H. Scott. Ms. Turner was there, Ms. Rolque, she was kindergarten, Mr. Andrews, he was the Superintendent, Mr. Gore, he was the Principal.
Q: Were there many Spanish Surname teachers at that time?
A: Not that I remember. Frances Nelson was Superintendent of Schools. There weren't many Spanish Surnamed teachers and then we were made to feel ashamed of being Spanish. We were ashamed to eat our tortillas and beans, you know, that we had to take for lunch because that was all that there was there. We were made to feel ashamed of this and even punished. They caught
you speaking in Spanish, you went to the office and Mr. Andrews stood there and he grrred, grrred. He wasn't a mean person. But he scared the daylights out of you just by grrring at you, 'cause he had this sort of a roar actually, but I remember that you were not to speak Spanish under any circumstances. English was pushed.
Q: Were your friends mostly Spanish? Did people stick together or did they….?
A: I think after the new school was built and the bus system came into effect, I think we kind of clung together, you know, the bus kids kind of stuck together regardless, because like you take some of the Williams that used to live down here that they were supposedly Anglos but yet the fact that we were all more or less from the same area. As a matter of fact, Popo, well her name is Florence Williams and I still call her Popo. I think there wasn't too much separation. I don't believe because I consider, like Ann Dallafior, we went to school together. I consider her my friend and the Ridge twins,...Margie Figal now and Margie Williams. Some of these kids that stayed here. I don't think there was any segregation, not around here.
Q: Did your parents always speak Spanish at the house?
A: No, I think both languages were spoken, both English and Spanish. I've spoken Spanish all my life and I'm proud of it. I can read it and I can write it and my two daughters read and write Spanish very well, real fluent and I think it's all been a matter of just really keep going.
Q: How did you feel when they told you you shouldn't speak Spanish?
A: Well, at the time, as a youngster, you just did what you were told. You didn't fight back or whatever but yet at home we kept it up and now I look back and I laugh and I think it's funny. The fact that when we were being ridiculed for speaking Spanish and for taking our tortillas and our tacos and all this to school, alright, who is eating it now? Are we eating it? No, we are going for steak right? If we go out to eat, we'll go out for hamburgers and steak, but who is eating the beans with the tortillas and the burritos and the tacos and all this good stuff. It's really reversed, but now it's o.k., but at the time, we couldn't do this. It was strictly out. I know my son-in-law, when he was first here in the Springs and my daughter would eat burritos, he would say, how could you possibly eat that? Well, now he comes here and if there's toast for breakfast or tortillas, 'Ma, don't talk about toast, I want tortillas!
Mr. Vigil: Escolastica Martinez, she was real strict about not speaking Spanish.
A: I think what they were trying to do really was improve the kids by making them speak English.
Mr. Vigil: But up there, nobody knew English so it had to be forced in order to be picked up, so they never held it against her.
A: And I think in a way it was good because it's just like knowing one language and sticking
strictly to the one language because you can't see learning something else. Alright, where is the advantage to that? There is no advantage. If you speak two or three languages, now there's the advantage, right? Alright, if you kept up your Spanish at home and learned English, you'd have two languages, which, in a sense, puts the Spanish speaking people one over on a lot of Anglos
who can speak only English. See, but they wouldn't admit to this you know. They were dumb
Mexicans because they spoke Spanish. But boy, you better not cuss at or call down on any Anglo now because he's a liable to turn around and talk to you right back in Spanish and perhaps even more fluent, a better quality of Spanish than what our kids, because our kids today, very few. Now the ones that are wising up, are really bringing it up.
Mr. Vigil: We had some Anglos up there and Dutch and Germans....
Q: Up in Gardner?
Mr. Vigil: Up at Redwing. The Martins, Alvin Martin.
Q: Yeah, they're still there.
Mr. Vigil: And yet he spoke better Spanish than some Spanish people.
Q: Did he learn it in school or just from living there?
A: I don't know. He was even quite a bit older than my dad, so I don't know where he picked it up. I kind of think that due to the fact of the hired hands that they used to hire, spoke Spanish, and I think that's where he picked it up, but then on the other hand, I think his mother was Spanish. I don't remember exactly because they were so much older than even my dad, but I don't remember. Most of the Schmidt families Henry Schmidt and....
Q: They were our neighbors.
Mr. Vigil: Well, they spoke Spanish. I don't know if they ever spoke to you, but they were good in speaking Spanish.
A: But that probably had something to do with the fact that they had to live with these people and in order to communicate, they had to....
Mr. Vigil: But then like Henry, he learned a lot from my Uncle Elias, who never spoke a word of English. You probably remember him. He used to live just below your dad's place and he never, not even a hello. He couldn't even say hello in English and he used to work for him and in order to get along, one of them had to learn, whichever had a little more upstairs, which Henry learned both and Jennie Schmidt.
Q: So all your brothers and sisters than spoke Spanish like you?
A: Up to a certain point. Now you take the two youngest, my brother and my younger sister. By then you know, we all spoke English and my mother spoke real good English. My dad died at 54 which left the smaller kids....
Mr. Vigil: I think your two younger sisters. Your brother speaks good Spanish but your two
youngest sisters don't speak it.
A: Now, I think they realize it and are trying to pick it up but my….well, say three of my younger....never really took to speaking Spanish until, like now. Albert does now and Ernestine. She can get around pretty good. Now Rebecca, I don't know. Being in the service and being, you know, she may have. She worked in the office for the Air Force, so she may have seen the advantage and may have picked it up and kept it going again, but from there up, we all spoke Spanish, especially with our grandparents of course, my grandma Gonzales in the valley, Bedan, she spoke English real well and all the way through, but yet Spanish was more the home language.
Q: Do you know if she learned any German from your grandfather?
A: No, I don't think, I don't think my grandpa wasn't, his parents died, evidently when he was kind of young, you know, so his mother was Spanish and then my grandmother was Spanish so it's always been the male. We believe, by the name Bedan, that he had to be German descent, but....
Q: So when your father died at 54, your mother, well did she....I know she worked at the house, but did she ever work out of the house in any paying job or something like that?
A: No, she just stayed home and I think that's the reason that we've missed my dad like crazy because he was a very loving person. He'd come in the evening, most of our guys are tired, you know, and get the kids out of here or whatever. He'd come in dancing with us and he'd hug us and he'd kiss us and he was really fine. He'd take time out to sit there and play his guitar for us and we'd laugh and we'd sing.
Mr. Vigil: He showed more love for his kids than their mother.
A: Yes, he was a very emotional person. If he was angry at us, he'd let us know it.
Mr. Vigil: Your mother was kind of a sour puss.
A: Mother was a German, she was cold. No, she wasn't a sour puss She was very reserved, very, very quiet. She never let her emotions through, but my dad had a strap that he used to beat us with. It was a canvas belt, a tie-down belt of some kind and that's what he used. Oh God, when he'd hit us, and we'd holler and we'd scream because my daddy had beat us you know.
Mr. Vigil: That was a razor sharp thing.
A: No, it was canvas. It was like a tie-down belt of some kind and oh, it really hurt. And yet, the next minute he'd be hugging or kissing us. But if he felt like crying, he wasn't ashamed to cry. He gave us that much. You have to be ashamed if you cry, or you're angry. But most of the time
he was happy and so when he died, it really hit us hard because he just went into the hospital for
a check-up and then while he was there he got a massive stroke.
Q: Here in Walsenburg?
A: No, he died in Pueblo. We missed him. But my mother was always home. No matter what time of the day or night. She was left with five kids so she was always home. She was always cooking and making tortillas.
Q: Did she ever re-marry?
A: No, she never remarried, so it really helped us in a sense, to overcome our dad's going, because there was always a part of him there because she was home with all the kids.
Q: How do you think they raise, like the way they raised children then, how do you think it's changed with now, how the kids are raised now?
A: There was more closeness. I remember the discipline, we were disciplined but never in a, you know, like child beating and all this stuff that you hear today, never like I say, my dad's worst torture was that strap. He'd hit us a couple of times and we'd cry.
Mr. Vigil: We showed more respect.
A: We were taught to respect others things and we were taught to respect each other, and an adult especially. You never talked back to an adult. You never stated your way of wanting. You did what you were told.
Mr. Vigil: Because I know when my dad died at 73 years old, and I never could take a drink of beer or anything like that in front of him.
A: Us, at home….my dad used to make home brew because at that time, you know, we used to have what they called Dias, if you were named for a Saint.
Q: Is that Manuel?
A: Yeah, that was for New Year. But mostly, you were named after a saint.
Q: Santiago? Is that what you're talking about?
A: Yeah. Santiago, Santana, any name, Dia de los Santos Reyes, San Juan. See, those were Saints days. And they were always celebrated with Dias. You know, that was your name. At night everybody would get together....
Mr. Vigil: And go serenade you at the door.
A: Yeah, it was more like a serenade and then, you know, open the door and come in. It was a regular party.
Q: They don't do that anymore?
A: No, all that is gone.
Mr.Vigil: They still do it in the valley a little bit, not too much. They do it at my Uncle Esequiel's once in awhile for my cousin Johnny Rodriguez.
A: There was a party, so my dad always had home brewed beer at home. Anytime el Dia de Santana, after which my, they'd have Dias and they'd play the guitar and violin and just have a party. But yet, liquor in my house was never a problem, because although my dad played at every wedding or whatever, you know, he never came home drunk. I thank God, I never had to see my daddy drunk, come home and beat us up, or my mother or whatever, because he was drunk. The same thing applies here. Drinking alcohol has never been a problem in our family, but a lot of good times where, heck, the whole neighborhood would get together and at that time, up here, there was a big neighborhood. There were a lot of people living up here.
Q: Was it like a community separate from Walsenburg or a part of it, I mean in character.
A: Oh, it was part of it, but separate in character I believe and separate in a sense of people sticking together, but it was political. Oh, I remember my mother was a committee woman for the Republican Party.
Mr. Vigil: The reason it was separate too, was because it wasn't annexed.
A: Yeah, in no sense were we annexed to the town.
Mr. Vigil: It is annexed today but not then. It was just a suburb.
Q: So the city officials didn't represent Cemetery Hill?
A: They had nothing to do with us up here. It was mostly County.
Q: When was Cemetery Hill annexed?
A: We annexed up here in 1965, I think it was.
Q: And who motivated that, who started that move to annex?
A: Well, Father Gallagher and Mr. Joiner got in touch with me up here and it was all in the interest of having this hill annexed, because they had started an industrial park there. That was
the whole motivation. And they called me up here to see if I would work with the city in getting
all this good stuff up here. At the time, we were having water problems, and during the summer we didn't have enough pressure. We'd have to fill a jug to keep water.
Q: This was in the early 60's?
A: Yeah, bathrooms and all this good stuff were out, because during the Summer, we didn't have any water. We were running on this kind of little pipe, you know, we ran the water business for 22 years, my husband, Fred Cordova and I. We had this association going in order to keep our water going, so when Mr. Joiner called me and asked me if we were interested, if I would push the petition signing and explaining to the people and all that (? ) good stuff, that's how we got started and we finally did get it annexed. In the meantime, by annexing, we qualified for the Urban Renewal bit of having new sewer pipes and water pipes. Now we have a big water main and our sewers put in. All our utilities increased to the point where it was really fantastic, the change. From paying $1 .50 a month water, to paying $10.00 what we pay now or $12.00, it's really a change. But then we also have the advantage of having the best water system in town, the newest. And we've got the newest sewer line, so it really turned out, as far as I can see it, it's an advantage. If you ever said, 'where do you live' and you'd say, 'Up on Cemetery Hill.' You could see the nose coming up and they were looking down at you.
Q: Was this from other Spanish people as well as Anglos, or from both?
A: Yeah, people down town just sort of look down on the hill.
Mr. Vigil: Anybody that lived in this area was just slum.
A: Yeah, and yet today, you'd be surprised how many people downtown would swap their
place down there.
Q: To live up here.
A: And we've got the view.
Q: You sure do.
A: Allright, in the Summer when it's hot downtown, we've got a breeze. After we got all the petitions signed and recorded, we took them down to the City Clerk's office.
Q: we're you responsible for getting the names?
A: Well, Joe Vigil and....
Mr. Vigil: Me and her and my dad and, about five of us neighbors called a meeting among us to gather a committee and then this committee went down there to apply for these services, to see how we could get across to the city that we'd be responsible and then they came up with the idea
that we had to come up with an association. That's how we all started here in this water problem. We came out with electing presidents, trustees and secretaries and....
Q: What offices did any of you hold?
A: Well, I was secretary/treasurer, and eventually I ended up with the whole thing because it was divided into two sections. See, one section was down towards the bridge and then from that station up this way, it was another section. We were running this section and Mr. Anastasio Jaramillo ran the section down there. Well they ran it for another, about 12 years and instead of gaining any profit, we were getting in the hole. So, when we decided to....
Q: In the hole how? With the money?
A: Well, we used to have to pay, see, what the people did up here, they used to charge us $1.00 a month for water, whatever you catch can and then we'd have to pay it downtown to Tom Wilson, the City Clerk. Well, pretty soon times got bad you know, and people up here just didn't have the money, so they started slacking off. Pretty soon everybody up here owed better than $100.00 on their water bill, so the city says, well, when the pipes burst under the bridge, it wasn't worth trouble to the city and the expense to help keep the water coming up here, so they said, 'That's it, if you guys want water, see what you're going to do about it.' So that's when we all got together and formed this water association. We went down to the city and we promised them there would be somebody up here to head it, and like this, the city would be guaranteed their money. One thing that they said, 'Well, how can we charge you people up there,' because a lot of people up here used to go to the cemetery to get their water. There was no way that they could keep going so then someone came up with a bright idea. 'Well, how about a meter for the whole section.' So we had one meter down by the bridge, by the river, and all the water that came through there was billed to the association of which he and I and Mr. Jaramillo, Fred Cordova, Albert Vigil, Noberto Armijo were heads.
Q: And the association is still....?
A: No, by the time, we kept that going for some 20 some years and then people decided, well, by then I was handling the whole thing, He was out working and the other men were working and some of the older ones had died, so I was handling it from one end to the other. Well, times were coming where people were putting in gardens, they were putting in bathrooms, lawns and I needed more money. I called a meeting and I told them we'd have to up our rate from $1.00 flat to $1.50 or maybe $2.00. Well, the people thought that that was horrible. You know how it goes.
So I said, 'Fine.' When Mr. Joiner and Father Gallagher and all these guys came up and told me if we wanted to annex. I figured this is one way where I can get rid of the load and at the same time, improve our section by being annexed, by having fire protection and having better water and all this good stuff. So our streets are now surveyed so that eventually, I suppose they might
Q: So are there any other ways, in addition to the water and paving, where the community has
gotten together? When you mentioned political.....?
A: Way back, you probably heard of Clyde Johnson, he was a big Democrat commissioner. Any time any problem came up, he was really really pro Spanish. Anytime anybody had any problem, they went to Clyde Johnson. Either for help or advice or whatever, so come election time, it was really political, you know. Like I said, my mother was a Republican committee woman for years and I remember, everytime for politics, one of the candidates decided they wanted a dance up here to....
Q: Like a benefit dance?
A: Yeah, just a get-together really to drum up votes, So my mom would empty one of the big rooms and here we'd have a dance that night. And there was always candy and balloons for the kids and drinks for the older people. Really, it was quite political but yet not antagonistic. Not where the people were divided to say, 'You're a Democrat, I don't want to have nothing to do with you, or 'You're a Republican, forget it.' So it was really just a matter of getting together. Life was so simple.
Mr. Vigil: Pretty neighborly.
A: Yeah, anytime there was music going on, there was dancing. Heck, I remember dancing every night of the week until about 12:00 o'clock and then getting up next day and keeping the family going. Around here, there was a house there on the corner, it used to be a,....the guy that used to rent it was named Benny Maes and he had a big room. That room was continuously empty because there was a dance going on there, and it was just somebody playing the guitar and the violin. Nothing really fancy, but yet everybody got together and danced and had a good time.
Q: Did people come from LaVeta, Gardner....?
A: No, just the neighbors. It used to be a big neighborhood around here.
Q: Where have most of the people gone?
A: Well, a lot of the older people are dead and gone and their properties,....and for example, the highway took over quite a bit of the homes that were setting there. I remember when that highway was built....
Q: When was that highway built?
A: It had to have been built in the early 1930's.
Mr. Vigil: That's the way you used to go to Trinidad.
A: That was the old highway, but then Leone built this one, it had to be in the '30's because I
remember somewhere, oh say around '35 or '36, our excitement would be to sit on my grandma's porch and try to count how many out of state cars were going by on the new highway.
Q: So there were houses there?
A: Oh yeah, they were bought out. This was all just a solid mass of houses, all along here there were a lot of houses.
Q: Most of the people that still live here, have lived here all their lives?
A: Most of them, yes. Most of us, you'd say.
Mr. Vigil: I first moved right there to that first corner here, there's an empty corner, that's where my folks lived.
A: That was in l942.
Q: What were their names?
Mr. Vigil: A1bert and Sylviana Vigil, and then they both passed away. Kids knocked the house down.
A: There used to be a big community up here.
Q: Did your parents live here all their lives?
Mr. Vigil: No, they lived at Pass Creek.
A: All their lives up there but then they moved here in '42. That's when our meeting came by. I lived a little ways down, so....
Q: How did you two meet?
A: He rode his bike by my house and I thought it was awful stupid of him riding a bike, wearing cowboy boots. When he offered me a ride on his bike, I said, 'No way.' So, they came here in '42 and we ended up getting married in '46.
Mr. Vigil: I started out in '40....between '40 and '42, me and Joe Bernal and Paul Rivera, I don't know if you know them. We took off to Colorado Springs. That's when Camp Carson was just getting built up. We got a job up there, in fact, I had to add a year to my age to be allowed to go to work. And we worked there for a while and then, Paul got laid off, so we quit because he
got laid off. And we came to Pueblo. Well, we came to Pueblo and got a job with the Brown Construction, me and Joe Bernal did. And Paul went into the service, into the cc camps. And I couldn't make it to the cc, so Joe didn't want to go either. Anyway, we worked under
construction there and then one weekend, I came home, that was in Pass Creek, and I found the house empty. My folks were gone, so I went with Paul to his house and stayed with him that night. I asked him what happened to my folks. I hadn't written to them, I hadn't called them or anything and they said, 'they moved to Walsenburg.' The next weekend, I came this way, instead of going to Redwing, me and Ernest Garcia. I don't know if you know him. He's from the neighbors, from your Uncle Esequiel. Anyway, we came together and we found my folks, and I never went back to Redwing after that. We went back to work here and there and I've been working out ever since.
Q: What type of occupation?
Mr. Vigil: I've been on road construction for about 23 years and when I did stay here, I hauled coal for Castle Coal Co. and then worked for Habibs for two years I guess. I worked at the Ordinance Depot for two years. When the big layoff came out at the Ordinance, I was one of them. There were four thousand laid off, so I was one of them. I came back and started to work construction, and I've been doing that.
A: That's what has kept our marriage together. He stays in his hole and I stay in mine.
Q: And how many children, do you have?
A: Just the two.
Q: And their names?
A: Judy Dianne, she was born June 1950.
Mr. Vigil: She's 30 years old now.
A: And Sherri Ann.
Mr. Vigil: Thirteen years after, Sherri come in.
A: Yeah, she was born in 1962, December on Christmas. Now Judy has two little girls. They live out in Illinois and that's the extent of our immediate family.
Q: Can you tell me anything about home remedies that you remember that you used and your mother and your grandmother?
A: A lot of mentolato from Raleigh products. Anytime we got sick, she slapped us full of mentholatum.
Q: Any wild herbs or anything like that?
A: Osha, yeah. For any cuts or bruises or whatever, they used a lot of osha, boiled, and used the water and poleo, hierba buena.
Mr. Vigil: There used to be a boil that used to come out on some people.
A: I guess boils were kind of common.
Mr. Vigil: ...And boiled brown cactus, bald cactus, was a cure for those.
A: You'd take...You'd cook the cactus and put fire, burn off the thorns, stickers and then they'd slice it in half when it was still warm from the fire. It was like a poltus that they used. It was more of an Indian remedy I guess.
Mr. Vigil: My mom used that. Well, my mom was more of a midwife for that area up there.
A: She knew more remedies than you could shake a stick at.
Mr. Vigil: She used a lot of oregano, I mean not oregano, poleo, hierba buena, tanser, osha, plumajillo, she used boiled juniper and that real bitter chico, chamizo they call it, chamizo hediondo. It's that gray sage, it was good to cut fever.
Q: Does it seem to you, like back when you were growing up, that people would die with more….things that today they don't die of?
A: Yeah, well so many times you'd hear, 'Somebody died, they got a stomach-ache.' I bet you a nickel to a dollar, they died of appendicitis.
Mr. Vigil: But the doctors were so far away that I don't think....the biggest percentage of the people, the population, never did know a doctor, not really, because by the time the doctor would get to the farm, the patient would be dead, either dead or well already.
A: What they did, instead of helping, you know. A lot of times if you have a belly ache and you ate something you shouldn't have, you'd get a good laxative. What could be worse for appendicitis, than a laxative?
Mr. Vigil: I can't think of those other herbs my mom used to use.
Q: She used to get them up there at Pass Creek, no?
A: Yeah, it was all family grown.
Mr. Vigil: There was like a sugar cone, manzanilla.
A: Oh, I know what you mean. You used to buy it at the store, it was....
Q: What was that for?
A: It was mostly for coughs.
Q: Was it like a tea?
A: No, it was pilonsillo and it was made like….it must have been cooked already, boiled with everything in it, with all the herbs and all the spices and....
Mr. Vigil: And then there were some other herbs that...coyaye? Those are herbs, coyaye and....I forget.
Q: Were any of them like….they sound like Indian names.
Mr. Vigil: My grandpa, my mom's dad was a quarter Indian or 3/4 Indian. He was Garcia, but I forget what his mother….she was the squaw. His mother was full Indian.
Q: Do you know what kind?
A: Some say Apache, some say Comanche, we don't know.
Mr. Vigil: Well, my grandpa used to say that he had a lot of Navajo.
Q: What was his name?
Mr. Vigil: Garcia, Atanacio, but my other….his nephew was my godfather. He was telling me we were Apaches and according to my grandpa and my uncle, I used to hear more Navajo than anything else.
Q: Do you remember them telling you any stories about them trading with the Indians or meeting with them?
Mr.Vigil: My grandpa learned from his mother's dad, that way I understand1 to tan deer skins and he was more of a shoemaker. He'd make his own sewing material out of deerskin. He used to make a lot of teguas, Indian moccasins for the kids, for us. And his ways, his tools, some of his working tools were Indian styles, Indian ideas, rock shavers, to shave the skins with the rock, a sharp rock. It was especially cut for that. And he used to keep that sparking rock to build fire, flint and stuff like that.
Q: Can you tell me anything about the Depression that you remember about when you were
A: I remember the Depression real well.
Mr. Vigil: That's when I had to quit school.
Q: Up to what grade did you go?
Mr. Vigil: Sixth grade.
Q: And what. school was that?
Mr.Vigil: Pass Creek School.
A: I was the oldest in the family and my mother was always sick. My dad would be trying you raise a buck here or there, and anytime that he got a chance to go play at a wedding or something, they'd pay him a whole $2.00 or $3.00. That was really something else. And I remember, like I said, I was the oldest in the family, I more or less kept things going, so anytime we had to go down to the courthouse, because you had to go down to the courthouse and register your family, and then anytime there was a surplus commodity, the government would help out. I'd be the one going down there to claim jackets and dresses and once in a while, we'd even get sheets and pillow cases and mattresses, those big huge old cotton mattresses.
Mr. Vigil: And your Aunt Rosanna, she was a foreman, like a supervisor for the mattress shop. They were making mattresses at Redwing and they hired my mom's sewing machine. My mom's sewing machine sewed mattresses for just about everybody around Redwing and we got one or two of them.
A: We used to get them according to the size of the family, that's how many you were entitled to.
Mr. Vigil: And that machine was taken care of by Rosanna, I don't know how many months she kept it over there. She was looking after it.
Q: Do you still have the machine?
Mr. Vigil: My youngest sister has the machine and I remember when it was our turn to go pick up our share. We all wanted to go because the store was right close to there. We thought we'd get a treat, but we'd never get one.
A: You couldn't afford it. I remember my dad working with the WPA and his dad worked at the WPA for $22.00 every two weeks, $44.00 a month. Can you imagine feeding a bunch of kids? But life was so simple. You know, I remember my mom cooking a big pot of beans, fixing rice, either sweet or....
Mr. Vigil: I worked a lot. I helped Elfedo and in fact, my uncle Antonio had us both up on the
other side of the Sheep Mountain for $.50 cents a day, and I worked for all the Schmidts at hay season, with the Sharps, Billy Sharp and Lee Sharp, and for Ed Wilson and a lot of them farmers there. Alvin Martin.
A: Would you get paid something like $.50 cents a day, or what, a dollar?
Mr. Vigil: All the time that I remember, no, I was getting $.50 cents a day but I never saw the money. It was paid to my folks because at that time, I was between ten and fourteen years old, so I never, I was never allowed to have any money in my pockets. I went around most of my Summer days, barefoot, because I couldn't stand my shoes on. All Summer I'd run all over the freshly cut alfalfa without any shoes. It never bothered (?).
A: We never went to that extreme, you know, because, I don't know, maybe my parents worried a lot, but to us it was just one of those things that happened. My father was a very sharing person, you know really, I think a few of those guys are left anymore as far as that goes. We'd all walk down to the movies, at least once a week, at the Fox Theatre. Sometimes we'd go to the Spanish movies there, where that building is now that used to be the Main Theatre, and we'd walk down. I think it was something like a dime for each kid and a quarter or thirty cents for the adults. But my dad always took time out for things like that, regardless of how poor, how bad off we were. We were a family, we were together, you know. And we had a lot of good times. I think we had more good times together then, than a person does today, because you sit and watch TV and forget it, you know, you don't even talk about it.
Mr. Vigil: My dad worked herding sheep for years, I guess everybody over there had sheep.
A: You know then, like I say, being the oldest in the family, I didn't go to High School. I just went as far as the eighth grade, and I had an A average. I think I would have had, you know, a really fine time, had I, but I was the oldest in the family, my mother was always sick. I can can stuff, that you guys wouldn't even dream of or I imagine your mom does. But when it comes to tomatoes, peaches, pears, pickling your own pickles, pickling and cooking green beans and packing them in jars. Everything like that. When I was something like fourteen or fifteen years old, I was doing all that.
Q: And they had a big garden?
A: Well, either that or the vendors would come by pretty often with fresh vegetables, and my dad would buy a bushel of this or a bushel of that. And I could sew. When it came to sewing, I had no problem, because I sort of became the mother image, whereas my mom was always sick, I kind of took over, you know. One of the kids would be born, and there were twelve pregnancies. They came pretty often, every two years. I know all about umbilical cords, cutting them and setting them and watching them heal, you know. I knew all about changing diapers, whooping cough, sitting up with them when they have the measles, all this good stuff, you know.
Q: And did you have any animals?
A: Oh we had chickens. We had a cow that we used to walk out every day and stay out with her, you know, but then times got pretty hard that, we had to buy the hay, and stuff. My dad sold it to Joe Baines. They used to have a slaughter house and a store. And I remember he bought me a new coat, because that calf was mine. My grandpa Bedan gave it to me, and it was my cow, a heifer. We kept her and we used to have our own milk like that.
Q: Mr. Vigil, what did your mom and dad do with the sheep, who did they sell them to when they moved to Walsenburg?
Mr. Vigil: They didn't have sheep of their own. They did have when they first got married but then they sold the sheep between my dad's oldest brother and his dad, and there went my dad's share, so he ended up twiddling his thumbs.
A: No, your mom used to laugh, because the only wool that he got out of those sheep was made into a sarape. It was hand woven, and he treasured that thing because it was all that he got out of it.
Mr. Vigil: But we didn't have very much stock when we had that place leased. We had a few head of pigs. One or two horses once in awhile. But we had alfalfa, mostly garden, but me and my mom, especially my mom would take somebody's property in shares and we'd plant beans or corn on it, like from the Reynolds. Marcello Reynolds. We used to plant some of his property in shares. We'd plant a lot of beans, corn, pumpkins, and I'd help her put up the crop. My dad was always working out, so me and my mom had to do all the upkeep with the....
Q: Could you give me the names of all your brothers and sisters and the full name of your mother?
Mr. Vigil: My dad's name was Jose Alberto Vigil. My mom was Silviana Delmiria Garcia. My oldest sister is Cleopatria Vigil Trujillo. And she became a widow about ten years ago, and she married a Gomey now, she's married to a Phil Gomey. I don't really know him, and she lives in Pueblo. But my brother John, I didn't know him, he died at the age of five, and my second brother that died, I guess he died at three years old.
Q: What did they die of, do you remember?
Mr. Vigil: Some kind of a flu or virus that was going around. Whooping cough, I don't remember exactly what they said.
A: Mom always said that John died when he was teething, He got a real high fever that must have turned into pneumonia. That's what killed John.
Mr. Vigil: But Raymond was the second one. I don't remember what he died of, some kind of virus that was going around, and me, I followed Pat, We call her Pat. Everybody knew her by Patsy, and then my name is Jose Aristo, which I hate that name but that's what they called me, and then my next sister is Mary, Maria Edonisa and she's married to a Montoya, they live in pueblo. My youngest brother is Fernando, they call him Freddy. He's married to a Nuanes, a girl from Walsenburg, they live in Pueblo also. And we're just four of us living. We're six with the two that passed away, but I never knew them,
Q: And of your parents, who passed away first?
Mr. Vigil: My mom was visiting her sisters in Westcljffe and she caught a ride with her niece to Pueblo, and she got to my brothers. Two hours later she fell in my brother's basement and broke her neck and died. She died instantly, I guess. She broke her neck and part of her head.
Q: And how old was she then?
Mr. Vigil: She was seventy three. And my dad lived 1 year and seven months after that. He died of cancer, stomach cancer. And he died in '72. She died in '70.
Q: And how did your dad make a living? What did he do here, in Walsenburg?
Mr. Vigil: When he moved to Walsenburg, he first started working on the railroad section. He didn't like it so he quit that. And he went back to herding sheep for Ralph Maldonado and George Rogers, and then he went to the Ordinance and spent, I think five years at the Ordinance. And then he came back after they laid off at the Ordinance. He and my other uncle were laid off and he started herding sheep again after that. He went with Alton Tirey, his dad Bruce Tirey in Malachite and he got sick up there so we brought him to the doctor and the doctor said that he was in no shape to go back to work. So we got him retired, He went on his retirement after that and just stayed home,
Q: When you were growing up here in Walsenburg, who were the political leaders that you remember?
A: I remember Clyde Johnson, he was a big wheel, And the county Commissioner and Sabino Archuleta, he was another one, Fred Scholls was another commissioner. Primo Seledon Salazar, was the Assessor, Frank Cordova, Damasio Vigil.
Q: Did they have a lot of dances up here?
A: Oh yes, during politics.
Mr. Vigil: Twice a week. Everytime there was one or two neighbors that would visit, pretty soon others came, and it turned into a dance.
Q: And today, does everybody up here still visit each other?
A: Not really. We don't have the time anymore.
Mr. Vigil: Today we visit more across the fence.
A: I've got my dryer, but I don't really care for it. I hang out my clothes year
'round and then that puts me and my neighbor here across the fence together.
Mr. Vigil: Everytime they hang their clothes, they meet at the fence and it takes them all day to hang clothes.
A: And then on this other side too. I think we have good rapport with our neighbors, but it's not on a visiting basis.
Q: Who are your neighbors?
A: Alex Vigil and Emma Vigil on this side. Her parents were the ones that had that place, that was Juan and Victoria Pineda. They were there for years. Jose Pineda, his father's name was Juan. And then on this other side, it's Felix Ruiz, and their property originally belonged to a Pineda. This place belonged to a Pineda. But when it comes to emergencies, we have taken kids to the hospital. I've run errands for the neighbors, all this good stuff. But yet we don't really have time to visit like we used to. Say, I'm going over to the neighbors to see what they're doing. Most of the time, they're busy and we are too.
Mr. Vigil: And the neighbors that are beyond Felix's house, I've been their handyman.
A: Yes, I think we've done a lot for the neighborhood, like from running the water business and running the annexation bit, but we don't really visit anyone back and forth. Should there be an emergency or whatever, they have called and we have answered. A death or anything, we're right there.
Q: When you were growing up, you mentioned the holidays. You mentioned the Dia de los Santos. What other holidays did you celebrate? I've heard a lot of people talk about el Dia del Gallo.
A: That's Dia de Santiago. That was never really celebrated here. But I remember it being celebrated in San Luis.
Mr. Vigil: Gardner used to celebrate it. Well, the Pass Creek, Redwing and all the Gardner area would come down to Gardner. That was their main gathering grounds.
A: And actually, el Gallo was celebrated for Santiago. That's the 25th and 26th of July. They'd actually take and put a gallo, a live rooster there buried in the sand. And they'd ride their horses and try to grab the poor rooster by the head. And whoever did, that was the winner. By then the poor rooster was no more. And they had to lean down and reach and grab it. The rooster was buried in soft sand. I suppose that sometimes they did pull the head off the rooster. I think that's more of a Mexican carryover tradition for Santiago or Santana. Horseracing, I remember a lot of horseracing. There used to be horseracing here at the fairgrounds. I think there was a track.
Mr. Vigil: I remember when the Peraltas killed the deputy, Aguirre, Fidel Aguirre. There was a dance.
Q: About what year was that?
Mr. Vigil: I don't remember the year. I was pretty young, small then.
A: Well what were they celebrating? The Santiago or Santana?
Mr. Vigil: It was the Santiago Day, I think, right around the thirties, I guess. But these Peralta boys had in the past, been caught with a stolen lamb or something. And this Aguirre was the one that arrested them then, for the theft of that lamb. They had it in for him, I guess. And anyway at this dance, this celebration in Gardner, he was called to guard that dance, and they happened to be there and they spotted him there. They dragged him out, and they took the brace of a fence post. Well they took one of them and pulled it off from the fence and stuck it through his stomach. And the nail was there. They killed him. And they went to pen. Two brothers went to pen for, life. One of them died already, the other one is out. I think he lives in Canon City. He got out on good behavior or something like that. But I remember that we left the dance, I went with my folks. But I don't know whether we went home because of the fight, or we went home before the fight started or what. But I remember that we were at that dance. And the next day, we heard that the deputy was killed by the Peraltas.
A: I remember around here during the mine strikes. I remember the rumblings of it. I wasn't old enough to take it in, or maybe we were kept away from it. The only thing that I remember about that time was the fact that, at night, every once in awhile, the Klu Klux Klan was quite active here, at one time. And up there on the Ideal Hill, what they call the W-Hill now. I remember seeing crosses being burned there. And guys parading around in their hoods. And it happened that my dad was working for what was then a prominent furniture store owner here in town. And it happened that they were going to close the shop, and they were going to leave town, so they hired my dad and my uncle Ray to go and help them clean out the place. So they were down in the cellar cleaning, packing stuff, personal stuff. My uncle Ray was curious. I guess my dad wasn't half as curious as my uncle Ray was. Anyhow, he said, 'I wonder what's in that trunk?' There was a big trunk setting there. My dad said, 'Well, never you mind, we were hired to get this stuff out, and that's it.' He was the older brother, you know. But uncle Ray went, and he opened the trunk, and there was this Klu Klux outfit in there. And he gets in it, and in walks the owner. And he says, 'For the love of heaven, don't ever mention my name in connection with the Klu Klux Klan, of which he was a member. And so in this stuff, my dad found, or took, really because this stuff was already packed, a little cross, and it was set with rubies. And for years it lay at the house, but he never let us use it or take it out or nothing. But he used to laugh, that in walks the owner. I won't mention the name, it's a prominent name, and he walked in and found uncle Ray.
Q: I bet he was scared.
A: Well, it shocked the man into knowing that they knew because he was considered just a good business man.
Q: So nobody really knew who they were?
A: Well, those who knew, like in this one case, would never say.
Q: Do you know if they ever did anything other than march?
A: I don't think they ever hurt anyone, or did anybody any harm.
Q: But what year was that that you saw them?
A: Well, let's see, my mom and my dad got married in '26, and I remember this, so I must have been at least five years old, so it had to have been in the early thirties. And then his mom and dad talk about the mine thing. You know there was a shooting downtown. Right on the Main Street. And his sister Pat was supposed to be walking home from school. Because they lived on the other side of the tracks, there are some homes there, that's where they lived. And they were actually in the street when the shooting occurred.
Mr. Vigil: Her and my cousin was coming home from school and they were supposed to come home, and they were just sitting there watching them shoot each other.
A: Well there was, you know there was a big, what they used to call a Central. With the Union being here in town and all the men would meet there, you know.
Mr. Vigil: The shooting was there by Frank Lester's, where Frank Lester used to have the junkyard across from Tony Calza's junkyard. There used to be some big adobe buildings there and that's where they found Pat and Della watching the fight and everything.
Q: Did you ever have any relatives that were miners?
Mr. Vigil: My uncle Manuel was a miner. He mined Big Four and my cousin Joe from here, he was a miner at the Ideal.
A: I guess they were never involved with the violent part of it. They just happened to be there.
Mr. Vigil: But any of the other relatives, I don't remember.
A: My dad never was a miner.
Mr. Vigil: My dad wasn't a miner. I hauled coal from the mines when I first came here. But not never was in, well I went in some of these rat mines that they had, the little bitty mines like Eloy Montez had and Sam Vasquez had in Aguilar. And just because they wanted to show the mine inside, but to actually work in them, I never did. I hauled tons and tons of coal from them but not. (?)
Q: And, another question I was going to ask is how is the difference in the church life, the religious life of the people then, when you were growing up and now?
Mr. Vigil: My respect for the church, before I never saw the tradition or the belief was that no lady was to go into church without a hat and a man without a jacket, he had to have a jacket. And a lady could never walk into church with a bare head. They had to have something on their head. Nowadays seems like there is just about the amount, percentage of church goers also, although there are more branches of churches, there are different beliefs of the religion that have split in so many different ways, they make too many, all of different churches. But they are, I think they still are pretty much in the belief of going to church. There's still a lot of church goers, I think.
A: Father Ussell used to be the father here at the time, and like I said, the church used to be down here, I don't know what happened, but they decided they wanted that big church so they made the bricks.
Q: The church used to be exactly where?
A: By Jose Jaramillo's, that first building across the bridge, that's where the church used to be. And they built bricks by hand, all those bricks were made by hand and they put up St. Mary's Catholic Church. And Father Ussell stayed here 'ti1 he died, 'cos he's buried right here at the cemetery here and then with the bricks that they had left over, they put up St. Mary's School, convent. And we have a sister, Uncle Victor Medina's daughter, Sister Fides Medina now, and she taught there all the time. And after that, we had Father LaShoddy, Father Juan LaShoddy, he was a mean old bugger you know, things were his way and that was it, you know, but yet him and my grandma had a constant fight because he'd always walk to the cemetery to come visit Father Ussell's grave site there and every time he'd come through there, my grandma would make it a point to meet him and they'd fight because my grandma and my grandpa were not married by the, church, so she was condemned by Father LaShoddy. He was sort of an outspoken person and yet, when she died, when they refused her burial in the Catholic Cemetery, because she was not married by the church to my grandpa. See, my grandpa had been married off to an Indian. And it never went nowhere, it was just, Carmen Medina, so when he figured he wasn't going to live with the Indian, he came back to Walsenburg and eventually married my grandmother just through a J.P., you know, not the Catholic Church, so Father LaShoddy would bite her up and down because they weren't married by the Catholic Church.
Mr. Vigil: Your grandpa was a more of a forced wedding.
A: Yeah, with the Indian. So I don't know who she was or what, but yet when my grandmother had it not been that she knew Father LaShoddy so well, when they called and told him that Mrs. Medina had passed away and she wanted burial in the Catholic Cemetery and it was refused, he said,'No way, she is to be buried, she is my friend.' They were really friends and that's how come she ended up getting buried in the Catholic Cemetery. And then after that, we had Father Newell there for awhile, and he had a twin brother, his name was Raymond Newell in the Catholic Church, and on his way to Pueblo he got killed, so when they came to bury Father Newell, his brother came to help say the mass and it was almost like seeing Father Newell right there, you know. And that's when we got Father Delaney and he was here for 27 years as our pastor, but he was a very cold person. Some people say he was super shy to the point where if you said hello, he'd blush and that was it. So then after him, we got Father Gallagher. Now he started changing the church to where the common people were more a part of it, you know, rather than the influential, wealthy people of Walsenburg were. And then that's when Vatican II about the change in the altar and the fact that mass could be said in the language of the people that....
Q: What year was that?
A: Well, let's see, we were married by Father Delaney, so Father Gallagher must have come here, let's see he was here 12 years, he had to have come here, say in the '60's when he came here, and he was here like I said for 12 years.
Q: So then the mass was said in Spanish also?
A: We had Spanish mass and Italian masses, and there have been mostly English masses
because I truly believe that a lot of our older ancestors went to church perhaps everytime that they could because mass wasn't that accessible to them and yet they never really understood what the mass was because it was said in Latin. And now, you know the fact that they can say it in English, Spanish, or whatever, that it brings these people into knowing that it's my church now you know I understand what's going on. People for years, went to church and said a rosary while the mass was being said because the mass had no meaning to them, it was something, you know, that the Father said with his back towards you and he said it in Latin. How many understood Latin, you know. So they took their rosaries and said a rosary through the whole mass. Whereas today, you can say a rosary if you want. Really, it's not all that acceptable because only those who do not care cannot understand and get the full meaning of the mass. Where today the mass is becoming a thing for the people. We have worked with the church quite a bit, and I don't feel a stranger to it. It was always my church regardless of who was there because I always went to church, especially on Sundays and that, but today it's our church and I feel I can go in there and go up especially now with Father Gallagher and Father Gleason now. You can go up to them and tell them, 'Well, I don't think this is right and should be this way and he'll say well allright, let's get together and work it over or work it out and you become part of the church and I really love that. I real (?)….I think the Medina clan has always been church inclined, and just like in any other family, there are some members who don't go to church and others who if I had my way, I'd go to church every day, which I've done quite a bit, not simply because, like a lot of people say, they see you in church so often and they figure, gee, you're going to become a Saint one of these days, you know. I don't feel that way. I feel burdened,
you know and I like to go to church. I really enjoy it, and especially like today, I can really feel like the church is mine, you know and go there with an openness. It was such a straight up or down, you know, in the Catholic Church, you were either good or you were bad. There was no gray in between. It was black and white, that was it, whereas today you don't have to feel that way. You know, it's really an open thing that is really beautiful I think. I don't agree with some of the things, like for example, even Pope John, here's hoping the good Lord gets him well and soon, but you know he has this attitude yet that women are not to be as big a part of the church as men are. I don't agree with that because even in the Bible you take Jesus, the men offered Jesus on the day he was crucified, there wasn't a single man around him. All the Apostles were hiding in fear. But who was there? Mary Magdeline, Mary, you know all the women. Veronica wiped his face when even Simon the Sirene refused to carry the cross, until they forced him. So really, that part I don't agree. I feel that as a woman, I feel that the church is really something. Today it's a little more human. It's a little more pro-women, especially because women weren't allowed behind the altar rails, except to clean.
Q: Have you, could you tell me some other instances like when you were growing up, the changes in the women in their rights, and were you always supporting women's rights or was there a time when it was right to say that?
A: Oh yeah, I mean I think a woman's place is always in the home raising children, but I could see where I say for myself, I'm not liberated, you know where I could run around without a bra and feel good about it, but in a sense, that if I wanted to get out and do anything, I could but yet if I had to do this I would gladly do it, like get out and find a job or whatever. But I don't agree with the liberation form that women are taking you know, like for example, like on my husband's job, he's a truck driver. There are women truck drivers. Allright, they want to be equal when it comes to pay equal to rights, but when they get a flat tire or something while they're out there, they want the guys to do it. Well, that's not fair to the guy. If they want to be liberated and they want all the benefits they should also be able, physically fit to do what is required on the job, you know. And when it comes to putting down women who stay home and have the kids and raise them, there are very few people in this world today who can do the job of a woman and can do it well enough to say the kids will grow up and be something that you can be proud of. That's where I think all this lack of discipline and lack of respect is coming in because the women are out working. Where are the kids? There are kids who today get into trouble one, two o'clock in the morning. Where are the parents, you know, why didn't they know where the kid was at? That part I don't go for. My kids have been raised having everything they need and half of what they want. Well, I think I've raised my girls and I can truthfully say, if they are good I'll take credit for them and if they are bad, I'll stand behind them. Because I raised them whatever they are and I'm really proud of my family. Like I say, my Judy is a registered nurse. She has been working in several hospitals. She's always worked, in intensive care, she loves her job.
Q: I was going to ask you about the Penitentes?
Mr. .Vigil: My dad was a Penitente since he was a young boy, I understand. Before he got married, I guess he started around the age either before he got married or after he got married, he became a Penitente. He died a Penitente.
A: Was he in connection with the morada in Pass Creek, que no?
Mr. Vigil: Yeah, he had a lot of pretty strong beliefs in that branch of religion. I don't know where it was picked up, why was it separate from the church it was very much same belief that was....
Q: Did he encourage you to ever become a Penitente?
Mr. Vigil: No, never. He never brought the subject up to the family, whether we should go or not go. He left it up every much to the individual. But what I was going to say was the belief of the morada was the same as the church, the Catholic Church. The only thing that I guess was brought up, because in the very first days of the religion nobody had a real church to go to. And they were just little villages here and there and they started a church by coming to a morada, the morada, that's what made the church. And being that the Spanish speaking people were the first to come to this area, this part of the state, well from New Mexico on up this way you go North from here they don't hardly know where, or have anything as in the line of a morada. But you go South of here to New Mexico, and there's a lot of them even in Mexico. It's either they didn't have the place for a church and they used somebody's house as a church for that time, which made it became named morada after the years.
Q: So during Semana Santa, your dad was in the morada?
Mr. Vigil: He spent three days, well the last, the Holy Week was spent in that place. Somebody would donate the food for either the three days or they divide the three days among two or three different people that would make a promise. They'd say, 'I promise this year's meal under a certain saint for prayer for this saint to help so-and-so and that's how the meals were furnished, to the members of the morada. But my grandpa was a member, my dad was a member and I guess both of my grandpas, I guess. But my mom's dad I don't know why he didn't continue. He didn't stick to it or he wasn't or he couldn't follow the regulations for some reason. I never heard or learned why he was never stuck to that church, to that morada.
A: But what they used to do then, mostly for Holy Week, as far as the Penitentes go, they
lived Christ's passion to the point where one member would be chosen as the Christ, and a1though he was not crucified, he was flogged and they lived the passion of Christ up until Holy Saturday, that's when it all ended, you know.
Mr. Vigil: What I know, that part, is that this prayer when Jesus was getting whipped, there is a prayer, that they whip themselves as so many lashings to themselves in honor to his suffering.
Q: Did they do this in the morada?
Mr. Vigil: In privacy, in privacy.
A: Well they did have what they call the processiones where they would just have for example, on Thursday, Holy Thursday was supposed to be the day that the virgin was taken from the morada and taken to the what they call the deposito. There, the women were allowed to stay and they would say rosaries and sing hymns and furnish the food you know, where they'd get the food, that's where they would get it. Now the men, it was strictly the morada you weren't allowed in there except for maitines or tinieblas, you know, during Holy Week. But like I said, on Holy Thursday they brought the virgin from the morada into the deposito, and they kept her there until the day on Fridays when they had the stations of the cross and these were set outside and that's when the virgin met with Jesus as he was being taken to Calvary. And they acted all this out in prayer and in procession, in hymns.
Mr. Vigil: You've seen the pictures of the stations in the church, well, that's what the procession was to the Calvary.
Q: You mentioned that there was a morada here on Cemetery Hill. Is it still there?
Mr. Vigil: It burned down twice.
Q: About what year was that?
A: Last one burned down in '70's.
Q: Are the members of that group from Cemetery Hill or Walsenburg?
A: A lot of them were.
Mr. Vigil: There was some come from Pueblo, some from....
A: But originally they were all from here.
Mr. Vigil: Well originally yeah, but some have moved out but yet at that time they all come back, they all make sure that their vacations were from their jobs was arranged for that time of the year.
Q: What stories have you heard of brujas or brujos?
A: I used to know this man, his name was Valvino Perea and be claimed to be or whatever they call them alvolarios, and he says to be an alvolario you have to be above being a witch to counteract the witches.
Q: He lived here in Walsenburg?
A: No, he traveled around quite a bit, he never really lived anywhere but he used to come and stay at our family's home. I don't believe in this. I've seen it but maybe I'm just, where to the point I've seen it both administered and taken care of, like I say this man used to come to our home. As kids we'd go and watch what was going on and I remember this one time they brought this lady from New Mexico. And for some reason, she was a schoolteacher. She was well educated, but yet for some reason from one day to the next she acted like an imbecile. Nothing made sense or nothing. So they had her to several doctors and nothing worked. So they brought her down to Valvino and he says somebody did something to her to put her in that state. So he started praying f or her and lighting candles. She hadn't eaten. She hadn't drank water. She hadn't used the bathroom for four days. She just sat there like a dummy. So he started what he called working on her and pretty soon she gets up out of where she was squatting on this chair and she goes to the middle of the room and urinated this huge old puddle you know. And see that started her comeback and pretty soon she was perfectly normal after all he worked on her and prayed over her all this stuff. And they told her what she had done and that woman could have died of embarrassment because she didn't know what was going on. And he had been talking to her, you know, and he'd ask her well what happened to you, you know like she was in sort of a hypnotic state or something. You know, where she'd talk, he'd talk to her and she'd answer. And he told her, 'Who did this to you?' And she said, 'Well, I had a boyfriend, I mean a friend who she considered just a friend, but he wanted it to be more than that and she couldn't see it.' You know she was a teacher, she was engrossed in her work. She couldn't see all this, so what he did, he says he went and bought some stu (?) and gave her a cigarette and she never smoked, but yet she took that one cigarette and smoked it and that started the whole thing. So by the time she left, it was something like hours. She was normal, perfectly normal, perfectly well. But what caused it I couldn't explain. I couldn't really believe such a thing, you know. So if there is brujerias, witchcraft, it's possible because the Bible says, there will be agents of the devil roaming on earth, you know, and their sole purpose will be to entice and to do these things. But really, I have no stock in it.
Mr. Vigil: Two of my uncles up to today, I can ask one of them, they'll just tell me the same story over and over when they used to live at my grandma's. My grandpa's Vigil. They said that this owl was coming over about every Tuesday, I think it was. He'd come to this tree, the tree that was closer to the house, more to the dam I guess and he'd stand on one branch just above the window. I mean closest to the window and he'd howl there for hours. And one evening two of my uncles says tonight I'm gonna get him and he says he got his rifle and put a cross on his one or two bullets and they shot him and when he came down, there was a lady they tell me the name of her, but I forget, and she had a arm wounded when she fell, but she was a normal person when she fell, when she hit the ground. Yet when she took off, she told them not to say anything.
Q: Oh, she lived, she didn't die?
Mr. Vigil: She lived, but they didn't know, they only saw her for a few feet and she took off and she disappeared again.
Q: This was up in Pass Creek?
Mr. Vigil: Yeah, you know where Henry Schmidt's place is to the east, Pedro Cisneros owns a piece of land there, that's where my grandpas lived, and that's where it happened. And my Uncle Joe and Uncle Eduardo say that they shot her. They shot an owl, this owl kept bothering and bothering them and they got tired of hearing that owl there and they said they made up their mind they were gonna shoot him. And when they shot him, they shot him on the wing, but when he fell it was a woman. But I never believed it. I just thought maybe it's just to me, a lot of that stuff is magic. Imagination, just like when a man is playing tricks, putting on a show, just a magician, but yet it's known that conversation, you can find it all over.
A: Especially towards New Mexico, now I still think a lot of people believe in that and practice.
Mr. Vigil: My mom says when she was young or newly wed, I guess, she was sick for three years and they brought her to the doctor and everything, and finally they brought her to a Doctor Baca, and he says that these doctors were trying to cure what wasn't there. And he gave her a, like a gravy to eat, and when her bowels moved all she had was a bunch of chili.
A: No, that wasn't Doctor Baca, that was Valvino Perea that she came to.
Mr. Vigil: No, no.
A: Doctor Baca was an M.D.
Mr. Vigil: Yeah, he was the doctor. She had been going to him and this Valvino gave her something like a gravy and when her bowel moved, all she had was just like when you plant.
A bunch of chili that was already, the plants were already big and stuff, that's why she got well, and she felt good after that. I don't know. I think that's in your mind if you believe things, whatever you set your mind to believe it, that's what you are gonna believe.
A: But I saw this Valvino pull a lot of things like that. Now what caused it and how did he have the power to remove it is beyond me. I mean it's too deep for me to fathom, but I did see it done. They brought one guy in and as kids, like I said, we used to go over there to peek and see what was going on, you know. And he was under the impression that he was a dog, and he ran around on all fours and he'd eat his food like a dog and he had been perfectly normal. And they brought him down and you know, I remember that he started working on him because he worked with nothing but prayer and candles, holy water. And the guy took off on him. He was loping around you know, and the door was like this, it had glass, like that that guy just leaped. I saw him. I mean you know this wasn't told to me. I was being nosey and I saw it. He leaped through the door, broke all the glass and took off and was hiding in like a shed that was down there because he truly believed he was a dog and yet by the time Valvino finished with him he was perfectly normal. And he says that someone had just done something to him to make him truly believe that he was a dog.
Q: So Valvino, he prayed and he used the powers of God?
A: He used prayer a lot and I have no reason to believe otherwise, that he used anything else. But he was a bigger witch than the witch to be able to counteract. And he disappeared mysteriously in California. He was never found, dead or alive or body or nothing. He just up and left one day. He had a son and he had him with him and the little boy stayed in the room three or four days till the people got to him and sent him back here to Walsenburg, to his mother. Because he just disappeared and he always would tell us, you know he was a very friendly, very outgoing person and he'd say, you know that someday they'd get even with him for all the things he did for working against the powers of the devil. And he disappeared. Nobody ever knew it and there are a lot of people in town that knew him. His name was Valvino Perea. I think he was of Mexican descent. He spoke with a Mexican accent, real heavy. But that's all I could think of him as far as witchery or voodoo or whatever....
Q: What do you see about the relationship here in Walsenburg, in the county between the Spanish people and the Anglo people?
A: I think once the Anglo people started to learn to eat beans and tortillas, that really brought them down to our level. Really you know, they wouldn't even think of it, you know. But like I say for myself, I don't feel no prejudice. I was born and raised here and most of the people here are my friends or whatever. If they feel any prejudice toward me, I never had no problems when it comes to prejudice. I'd never had. I can't really say, you know so-and-so didn't want to sell me something because I was Spanish. You know, I don't think there is much of that here in Walsenburg. I don't look for it so I don't feel it.
Mr. Vigil: I don't feel prejudiced, but I do feel that nationalities, as far as marriage goes, should stick to their own nationality. Not because of the mix between them, but between the mix that comes on in the future. The kids that become a mixture are the ones that are going to suffer the consequences of the mixture in nationalities.
A: But I feel in a sense that this mixing is making a common denominator because....
Mr. Vigil: You take like my son-in-law, he's an Anglo as far as we know. He doesn't know because he was adopted. He doesn't know what nationality he is. Well, what's my grand-daughters gonna say, well I....
A: Well I think they'd be just as confused as we are.
Mr. Vigil: If we tried to come up with a family tree, well they're in worse hot water than we are.
A: We're just as bad.
Mr. Vigil: Well their water's a lot muddier than ours because it's farther more mixed because they don't know where they're at.
A: We don't either really. That's the reason that I don't believe in prejudice, you know, because you know, like one time the Social Security man called up here, because of my mom's papers you know and stuff. So he said he had this form to fill out and he says I'm gonna ask you something that's going to cause a rift or something. And I said fine I'll let you know if I can. And he says, what's your nationality, you know, because the government papers had had this. They used to ask this, either you were Black, White, Spanish, or whatever. Well a lot of that's been eliminated. And I told him, I'm an American. That is all I'll ever lay claim to because I told him if it comes to foreign ancestry, I could say Bedan. Some of my ancestors came from Germany which would make me an American. But I said, I was born and raised here. Five generations of us have been born and raised here, that makes me an American. But when our boys go overseas to fight they don't go over there as Blacks, as Spanish, Mexicans, whatever. They go from here in the States. They're all Americans, and they die Americans over there. I got an uncle who died in Germany. I said that makes me an American. He said well, I can't put that down. And I told him, well leave it blank or bring me the papers. I'll put it down, that is all that I'll make claim to. I can't say that I'm a Mexican, because I can't prove it. I can't say that I'm indian because I can't prove it. All that I can prove is that I got a German name in our family and that's enough to make me an American. Because people from Europe come here, and five years later, they're Americans. I say how about five generations of people being born and raised here. So I say that the only thing that I'll lay claim to, that I am an American.
Q: Do you have any advice to give to the future youth and everything, what would that advice be?
A: Learn to respect yourself, especially in doing this. You have to respect others especially elder people because you know. A man or an older person may not have a college graduate degree, but they sit there and they can tell you things that you know are true, from wisdom having earned by their years, not by a college degree. That is what is wrong with our nation today. They have no respect. There is no discipline. There is no self-respect because if you respect somebody else's property, you're respecting your own because you know what it took you to get it, and that's all I can say to any kid. Take discipline and respect and you got it.
Q: Mr. Vigil, do you have anything to add to that?
Mr. Vigil: I go for the same thing, that if discipline was brought up more in the home, I think we'd have less violence in the streets. Like today, all this dope and stuff that's been handed out, especially to kids, I think that's the lowest thing any person can do because when he comes of a certain age, he don't really know what kind of responsibility he's gonna meet up with, or what kind of responsibility to face. They're just giving him a life in misery to begin with. I think there's just no respect in that category what so ever.
Q: Well, thank you very much for giving me this interview. It was very good. Thank you.
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