Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews
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Munzer Capparos, interview #2

Typed by Karen Mitchell
Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain

Mrs. Munzer Capparos
May 21, 1980

This is Rosalyn McCain and I'm talking with Mrs. Capparos in her store in Walsenburg. Mrs. Capparos is going to tell us a little bit about raising grapes and raising figs.

MC: Yes, my folks had acres of grapes, all different types of grapes and figs, different kinds of figs.

RM: This was in Lebanon?

MC: Yes. They sold figs, or they dried it or they made conserves with it. That is, from the figs. And from the grapes, they made wine and arak. That is something that is made from boiling the wine from the grapes, and the steam that comes out of it makes a drink called arak. It is a white liquor. You put a little bit of it, and then fill your glass with water, and it looks like milk. It is a very potent drink. You see, my grandmother was known for her wine. Sometimes she would have people from France, Beirut and different places go to buy her wine. The wine was stored in a big basement. The basement was very clean and made of cement. There were big jugs about 15 inches high and round about 72 inches around, and then in the middle of the basement there was a big hole. It was all cement, and it was soft and smooth. These jars were clay or something. I am not sure what they were, but if any of them broke, the wine would go in there and would be preserved there. Then the wine was stored for so long before she would sell it. That was why she was known for the best wine. She and my grandfather made it.

RM: So she aged it really well before she would sell it.

MC: I would go down there sometimes, and she would want me to taste her wine. I couldn't take it you know. But she had all kinds, not just one kind of wine, but different kinds.

RM: Made from the different kinds of grapes?

MC: Yes, from the different kinds of grapes. They had acres of grapes, and then they had trees and trees of figs. They had yellow and white figs, and then they had black grapes, red grapes, white grapes, and so they made the different wines from the different grapes. I think that is about all about that. June 10. 1929 I started the store, and two years after that we bought a home and then two years after that we remodeled the store because the store was just about 25 feet by 30 feet. In 1929 when everybody was failing and all the banks were closing, and people were sending their money abroad and Roosevelt stopped them, I remodeled the store. Everybody thought I was crazy. I didn't have much money, but I kept the store open and paid the men as they finished in the week. I put $8,00O in it. I didn't borrow, and I didn't have very much. My husband worked in the mine, and he had quite a bit, not too much money, and he wanted to buy me a diamond ring. I wouldn't let him buy it. I said I wanted the money to put in the store, and that is how we started the store. Everybody thought I was nuts, but I made it. And then in 1975 the Chamber of Commerce gave me a testimonial dinner in my honor. I had a big ad in the paper thanking the people and in the neighboring cities, and I told them that it was thanks to them that I stayed that long because it was the only store that has been here 50 years and had not changed hands or, moved away, but is still in the same building run by the same woman and made a success of it.

RM: That's wonderful.

MC: I think that is about all I can say.

RM: Do you remember the story about Robert Trujillo when he came into your store? I think it was sometime in the '30's.

MC: Yes, I remodeled in 1929. Then in 1931 and 1932 it was terrible. You know a lot of people. I know my father lost a lot of money. My father used to give credit to the farmers. When they had sheep, they couldn't sell the lambs, they couldn't sell the wool. And he carried them for two years. I used to tell him, “Papa, they can't pay that much.” He would say “Well, the children have to eat. They have a lot of children.” That's what he used to tell me, and some of them gave him their farms, and some of them didn't do anything. And then he kept the farms for a while but he got tired of paying taxes and them not paying him. Then right after he sold the farms, then the Texas people and the Oklahoma people came up and bought the land here and paid a big price for it. So he got cheated out of that. So, let me see if there is anything else. I don't think so, that's about it.

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