Tuesday, September 11, 2007

1950's....Putting A Few Pieces Together

I would have loved to have seen San Miguel de Allende in the 1950's.....at least I think I would because of some bits and pieces I've been told or some things I've seen. I hope that someone is interviewing some of the people who came here 40 or 50 years ago. I'm sure some of the stories would be hard to imagine now.

From what I've been able to put together, while this was a sleepy little village, it attracted a very interesting crowd. The glitterati from Mexico City. Some had homes here and some came to visit and party. The wealthy ranchers from the North side of the Rio Grande. And of course those on the GI-bill who came to study art.

One elderly matron told me about coming to San Miguel from a large northern city. She fell in love with the town and bought property and commenced building a house. I don't think she or her children went back and eventually the marriage dissolved. Oh, but she had tales of traveling across Mexico with her Mexican lover and being invited to all the parties in Mexico City, Puerta Vallarta and Acapulco when they were just fishing villages but still places for the glitterati to party. She told how she was able to keep up with all the gossip, like who was sleeping with who, because everyone had live-in maids. When the maids went to the market, they exchanged the news and brought it back to the Mistress of the House. There were only one or two telephones in the town and when you received a call someone from the Presidencia came running to your house to let you know that you had a phone call.

Another woman from South Texas, a little younger than me, told me about coming here as a young girl with her family and then bringing her own family during the summers. The kids would go off in the morning to play and when she wanted them to come home she would tell a cab driver to go to the Jardin and tell them it was time to come back up the hill for comida.

You see evidence of the this time period in houses and businesses up near Barranca and on up to Salida a Queretaro. We have a friend who rented a house that was in a time warp with faded chenille bedspreads, blond furniture, pink and aqua color schemes, 1940's upholstered pieces and ancient appliances. On Sunday when we went into the Posada de la Ermita Hotel, I felt like I had stepped back into the 1950's. The furniture, the carpet, the salon lined with cartoons from a famous Mexican cartoonist whose name escapes me now. In El Mirador where we had a light comida on Sunday, the bar was lined with movie publicity pictures of the Mexican stars from the 1950's movie era.

Just across the street from El Mirador Bar is the home of Pedro Vargas a world renown singer and native son of San Miguel de Allende. Once when we were volunteer docents for the Home and Garden Tour in San Miguel we worked in the Vargas house. It was a rambling house with a beautiful view of San Miguel but it too was caught in a 1950's time warp. I loved a room, which we might now call a den or media room, that was filled with pictures of celebrities from the music world such as Sinatra. I wondered how many of them may have visited Vargas in San Miguel.

I have read Edward Weston's Day Books about his time in Mexico during the 20's and 30's. I love the movie Frida with its lush sets and sultry atmosphere. Somehow I see some of those images happening here in San Miguel. The glitterati, the smoke, the long talks over wine, the love affairs, the mad dashes through the countryside, the ocean seen from the Vallarta hillsides, the clinging bias cut dresses, the hats tilted over the eye. Oh, if only I were a writer.......I just know that there are some grand stories here waiting to be told, waiting to be put on the screen.


Anonymous said...

Ahh, Billie! But you are a writer, and quite a good one! I enjoy reading a lot and think your writing is great. I know you have lots of other projects but if you are talking to the eye-witnesses of exciting times, some of us appreciate reading about it.


Bill O.

Cynthia said...

Billie, you are a talented writer and this post proves that point.

If you write a book, I'm buying!

Nancy said...

I think you just wrote some of the story...perhaps a book is your next project?

You are an excellent writer and you could use your own wonderful photographs.

How about it?

Anonymous said...

I admire the way you live. Most people don't see beyond their daily chores but you went to Mexico and already know more about your comMunity than many people there. I think it's great that you and your husban are learning another culture and enojying it. It may be that you are an artist and that makes you a 'student of the world.' The world would be much better if more people would follow that path.