Every country engages in bloody revolution at one time or another. Many also suffer through civil wars. In extreme situations what begins as one melds into the other and chaos is let loose in a torrent frenzied passion. Such is the case of Mexico and its Revolution.
I was at my mother’s knee when I learned of the family legends. Fragments of memory from one of the more senior members. The veracity is questionable, but all contain truths; large and small. Mostly these tales are just fascinating.
I was said my great-grandmother on my maternal line was an aristocrat. Luz Maria Perez Val*. Whether she was born into this lifestyle or married into it, I could never tell. She had a sister, Genoveva.** Both girls were rather scandalous for their time; they played the guitar and other instruments, sang and danced in the theatre! You must know the stereotype of women on stage was unsavory. This was not the case, both women were highly educated. Luz Maria could always be found with her nose in a book. The sisters also managed to learn an Asian dialect fluently. It was believed to be Chinese, but it is not certain, nor is the knowledge of how and where they acquired the language. It was said when the sisters wished to discuss secret matters they lapsed into this foreign language. As much as she adored her books, Luz Maria was not above being social and enjoyed festivities.
Despite being a petite 5’4″ with alabaster skin and lush dark brown hair. It was her eyelashes that were the envy of the town. She had notoriously long, thick, and gracefully curved lashes. There are stories of her parlor trick of inserting cigarettes through her eyelashes and held them up through blinking and expression. I did not inherit this enviable feature; that was saved for my cousin Mlle V. However, Luz Maria’s other interests set her apart from the normal Lady of her time and gentlemen did not pursue her.
As the years went by her mother gave up hope of ever seeing Luz Maria walk down the aisle. She was well into her 30s when she finally met and married Pedro Salazar Val. He was exceedingly tall and treated her like a queen. He was also 15 years her senior. They lived in a hacineda in Sinaloa, Mexico that encompased an entire city block, excluding the surrounding land. Luz Maria had servants of her own. As a Lady she did not cook nor clean. She read voraciously, wore the most fashionable clothes, attended parties and galas, and oversaw the nannies, servants, and her two daughters.
Then the Revolution came and changed all that.
*Luz is pronouced “Loose.” It means Light in Spanish and is a very common pre-name in the Hispanic society. Pre-name in the sense of the English name Mary Ann. Luz Maria is a similar double first name.
**Genoveva is pronouced “Hen-o-‘vev-ah.” The Anglo equivalent is Genovieve.