Evangelina’s braids

Two braids made Cervando a Presbyterian. Back in Mexico in La Cardona near Mier y Noriega long before the revolution, as a teenager Constantino was smitten with Evangelina. He and a friend were riding through a dry riverbed one morning when he met the local priest and his companion riding in the opposite direction. As they approached, the priest said “Constantino, didn’t you have a fancy for Evangelina?” And with that he pulled two braids with blue ribbons out of his pocket and dangled them in front of Constantino. With a knowing smirk the priest replaced them in his pocket and pushed past Constantino and his friend.

Many years later when Cervando’s father, Cervando senior, asked for Maria’s hand in marriage Constantino said, “You may marry but NOT in a Catholic church!” And so they were married in Dallas at the El Divino Salvador Presbyterian Church at 1803 Payne Street between Akard and Harry Hines near what is now the American Airlines Center.

And that is how Cervando became a Presbyterian.

I will leave it to you to decide if the priest took more than Evangelina’s braids.

 

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Mier y Noriega Festival of St Anthony of Padua

My Med School friend Cervando Martinez has a two building three bedroom house in Mier y Noriega with a beautiful view looking at the hills to the east. He built it several years ago for about $15,000, including the land. He had not been there since March and so on our arrival we spent an hour or two shooing off the spiders and lizards, uncovering the furniture, plugging in the refrigerator, and opening the windows. It is sparse but comfortable with running water, an indoor toilet, but a COLD SHOWER.

The 4 day festival in Mier y Noriega concludes on June 13, the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua-the patron St. of lost things and of Mier y Noriega. In addition to carnival rides, food, a rodeo, and folk dancing performances there is a daily parade to the church led on one day by women, on one day by men, and on the last day by families. The festival concludes with fireworks on the evening of June 13, which in typical Mexican fashion did not occur until 1:30 AM on June 14.

Mier y Noriega and the surrounding area is where Cervando’s family originates. He has so many cousins here that we lost count. Arturo Villasana (in cowboy hat in photo) is a second cousin, meaning that he and Cervando share the same great grandfather. Their grandfathers were brothers. Arturo is a local cattle rancher and one of 22 children by one father and two mothers. Learning that, we understood where all the cousins came from!

During the repeated violence of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) Cervando’s maternal grandfather, Constantino Villasana, brought his family (including Cervando’s mother born in 1906) from the La Cardono Hacienda into Mier y Noriega. In spite of this relative safety, Mexican soldiers continue to raid the town, stealing food and horses. Each time they came Cervando’s grandfather sent his two sons into the hills to avoid their conscription into the Mexican army. To keep the soldiers from getting his horse Cervando’s grandfather hid his horse behind a large stone oven in the kitchen. Amazingly the horse remained silent and perfectly still. Cervando said this occurred many times until his grandfather tired of it and in the 1920’s the family emigrated to San Antonio; Hunter, Texas; Waco; and ultimately Dallas.

In 1901 when the above photograph was taken, Constantino and Angelina Villasana were young parents of, from left to right Rodolfo, Refugio, and Constantino II, in Mier y Noriega, Mexico. Though trained as a tailor, Constantino was a foreman on the La Cardono Hacienda of Matias Baez, one of the largest landowners in northern Mexico. By the time the revolution came, the Villasana had three other children, and the entire family was threatened by the rampaging violence. The Villasanas emigrated to Central Texas and then Dallas in 1906.