Remembering my grandmother, Encarnacion V Montoya.
My son Matthew Montoya recently asked me to tell him what I remembered about my grandma . He wrote:
“I was wondering if you could tell me some things about your grandmother if you can recall. What were her favorite scriptures? Were there any specific ones she would read at certain times? Do you know of any recipes for baths, floor wash or any kind of luck or superstitious practices?
I was wondering if you could tell me some things about your grandmother if you can recall. What were her favorite scriptures? Were there any specific ones she would read at certain times? Do you know of any recipes for baths, floor wash or any kind of luck or superstitious practices?”
Others have asked me to put together what I remember about Grandma Chonita. This is my effort to document my life with her as I remember her.
I smiled at Matthew’s question about grandma’s favorite scriptures. Not that she was not religious. She did have a bible, and when she had a question, she would open her bible, whatever page it opened upon, and whatever scripture her index finger touche was the answer. When that wasn’t good enough, she would consult her Ouija board. She did not practice magic of any kind. She had two reliable sources of information.
When the Russians sent up Sputnik with a manned crew, she said that if men were to get to the moon and beyond, that it would be in her bible. There was no changing her mind on that!
Sitting on her lap, I learned many things about grandma and her life,. When I grew too big to sit on her lap, she continued with her stories.
She grew up on a farm in Mexico. She did not get much of an education, one might say the she was illiterate. She did get many life experiences just by being there. When she was fourteen, grandpa Montoya came along and rode off with her. You could call it an abduction. In reality, it was a marriage proposal as practiced at that time. Her parents likely knew that. It was all legit as their marriage was recorded.
More on grandma and religion.
She had a rosary or two, but I don’t recall her handling those often if at all. She was Catholic. She spent very little time in church, even though the church was only a block away. Seems that she had an ongoing difference of opinion with the clergy there. She sent my brother Andy and me to mass on Sundays and to catechism. In spite of her troubles with the church, grandma was deeply religious in her own way. She had a tiny alter where she kept a figure of el Santo Niño de Atocha. There was also a picture of San Martin Caballero. Having little interest in religion, I did not grasp their meaning.
Her Stories and more.
I lived with my grandmother from approximately the age of two until she passed in 1960. I was almost 16 years old at the time. We lived on one side of a duplex. Aunt Mary and Uncle Raul Perez lived in the adjacent duplex. Dad, Andres Montoya, and Mom Angie lived in the new house in front. It was situated to front facing Frutas Street.
This is a picture that shows what the place looked when I was young. This is a view from the back of the duplex looking at Dad’ home in the front. It faced the street. In the picture is brother Ray.
Here is a better view with me standing on the pick nick table and playing with family and neighborhood kids. In the front, beyond the driveway was the colored Baptist church. We were friends with the pastor. One of his kids is seen on this picture standing on the grass. My uncle Raul Perez and I took care of the yard. Grandma had here own garden area that is not pictured here. She loved rose bushes and had a small peach tree in it.
It was here that I saw grandma as a loving matriarch. I had cousins who for one reason or another were left out on the street, or could not live at home. She always took them under here wing, providing shelter and a loving environment for them. Cousins Josie and her brother Chuy were with us for while. Josie as like an older sister. She stayed till she got married and move away. This place was like the center of an extended Montoya family. I loved seeing that activity around events such as Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Including the following pictures of life around our place.
Left to right, cousin Manny, brother Andy, and me, Richie.
The picture is taken of us in front o Dad’s house, with the duplexes in the back.
Andy and were all dressed up for our holy communion.
The same crew but now we are inside my part of the duplex. All dressed up in our Sunday best. That is except for cousin Manny.