A Typical Californio Boy (Chapter 2)
by Manuel Hernández
They met at church. Between the singing and worshipping,
at his young and attractive love. Maria was a beautiful Christian
The pastor had strict seating arrangements, and men were not
sit next to women in the temple. Her father and mother carefully
her, and Maria’s parents sat her in between them, making it
impossible for him to get a glimpse at her. Manolo came out
service with neck pains. He just had to look at her more than
She was sixteen years old, and Manolo was twenty-one. She
five feet three inches tall with translucent hazel eyes, a
body and natural blonde hair. Having a touch of the American
Maria was a Mexican girl. Her family had crossed the border
Tijuana five years before. Every time Manolo visited her house,
smelled her all over. Her perfume was enchanting. It was a
he learned that she was sixteen years old, but it was too
she was already in his heart and part of his every day thoughts.
needed motivation and inspiration; he got that and a whole
lot more in
“Los vecinos” admired Manolo and Maria. They were both very
looking, and everyone thought they looked good together. Maria’s
lived on a ranch, and Manolo worked side by side his father-in-law.
worked together in the same cornfields, and no one was surprised
Manolo asked his soon to be father-in-law for her hand in
Pablo was a stern man, but Manolo had won his friendship and
and was sure to gain the hand of his oldest daughter. Maria’s
a little uncomfortable at first.
“You’re a good boy Manolo, but she’s only sixteen.”
“She’ll be seventeen next month. I’ll take good care of her
“ I know.”
“I love her, and I’ll make sure she visits you often.”
After a mild yet heated discussion, Manolo convinced Don Pablo.
was celebration in the house. Maria was the oldest of seven
and the girls and mother rejoiced at news of the forthcoming
Manolo and Maria got married on December 27, 1903. It was
Puerto Rican-Mexican American wedding. There were about three
guests. Manolo had sent invitations to his parents, friends
relatives from the Island. More than a dozen of relatives
took the long
and torturous steamboat saga to attend the wedding. His long
uncle was the first one who got off the boat, and he swallowed
Uncle Pepe smiled in his face but decided to bury the hatchet.
a time of joy for Manolo, and he did not want to spoil the
His parents did not make the trip, and Manolo was heartbroken.
him a letter with the deed of a small farm in the forsaken
Naguabo, Puerto Rico. He thanked his uncle for coming and
forbearer of such good news, but he knew deep inside his heart
would never again go back to “La Isla”.
His soon to be wife was about an-hour and a half late, and
the worst. But she made it, and Manolo felt his stomach twist
when the wedding music announced the bride. The church was
full with the
invited and uninvited. He wanted to elope with the bride before
ceremony was over, but Maria wanted to make sure all the guests
well attended. There was music, joy and laughter. They finally
out for their honeymoon at about 3:00 am.
Manolo always wanted an old-fashion girl, but it meant that
have to work harder. He carried the financial burden of the
was deeply in debt. A month after the wedding, Maria gave
good news; she was pregnant and quit her job at the ranch.
started jumping during the night, and Manolo barely slept
each night. It was getting hectic, and Manolo was already
jumping on the next steamboat ride back to “La Isla”, but
his love for
Maria and the excitement of becoming a father held him through
times, turmoil and hardship.