With Only A Horse
Narration Omniscient Through third person
Protagonist Three generations of a Mexican family
Antagonist: Personal Achievement
Setting Time: Turn of the Century – 1900’s
Setting Place: Small towns around Mexico City and the city itself
Themes/Motifs; Family dynamics, class and poverty issues, a genetic perseverance through hardship
Genre: Drama, Domestic melodrama
This story is a richly-plotted; truth is stranger than fiction, narrative involving two sides of three generations of a proud Mexican family. The author takes you on a fascinating, detailed and unsentimental journey portraying their personal triumphs and conflicts, openly portraying their strengths and weaknesses.
The story begins in 1907 when a seven-year-old boy, Socorro, the youngest of eleven children, finds himself orphaned, his mother died when giving birth to him and his father recently passed away in his sleep, and abandoned by his older siblings when he is sent away from the family peanut farm to live with people he doesn’t even know.
As he grows, the reader learns of Socorro’s ambitious self-reliance, creating a well digging business, struggles and dreams.
Socorro eventually returns to the family farm, penniless with a pregnant wife, Carmita, and three small children, determined to stand up to the eldest brother who kept everything of the family’s fortune for himself and claim what he feels is rightfully his. Defeated in his efforts, he is shamefully sent away with only a horse. He and his wife sell the horse and are able to move their family to Mexico City. It is the money from this horse that Socorro’s life becomes richer than his brother could have ever made him.
Carmita, a true Latin beauty, although born with a silver spoon in her mouth, chooses love and poverty over class and money, much to her affluent family’s disappointment, when she falls for the handsome, rough around the edges, Socorro. Carmita’s Uncle, Ernesto, an affluent and quiet man just ten years older than she, thought the moon rose and set within her, she was the apple of his eye. She could do no wrong and emphatically defended her decision. Ernesto plays a prominent role throughout Carmita’s life.
It is in Atzcapotzalco, in the northwestern part of Mexico City that they meet a rich widow with land to sell. Socorro and Carmita choose a small lot, rich with mystery that has yet to be unearthed, complete with a small two bedroom groundkeepers cottage.
With the new baby coming, Socorro takes on an additional part time job with the local power company. It was only a matter of time of lugging around the huge wooden utility poles before his abdomen cracked under the pressure. With complications from several hernias, he was forced to retire from his well digging business and the power company.
Armed with chemical and pharmaceutical knowledge passed down from her family and a genetically predisposed entrepreneurial-spiritual-ship, Carmita helps her husband make ends meet. She creates the most heavenly perfumes, soaps and lotions, has the best recipes for first aid ointments and other remedies that could heal whatever ailed you and breeds doves, canaries, and rabbits to sell or trade at the local market as well as to sell to family and friends.
With the consecutive births of two more sons, fate smiles upon Socorro once more when he is hired full time at a local, recently opened, American tire company, the first in Mexico. In spite of never having worked in the tire business, Socorro is a natural and quickly moves through the ranks from sales to the top service technician.
In spite of a mysterious misdiagnosed illness, for which she is institutionalized and that takes her away from her family for three years, Carmita happily resumes her self-sacrificing position as the family matriarch upon her return.
Socorro in the meanwhile struggles during the years of his wife’s absence and finds himself in the arms of another woman and solace in the drink.
As Carmita settles back into the routine of the life she and her husband have built, she becomes suspicious of the presence of another woman when Socorro begins to disappear every six months for days at a time. She knew how far to push her husband when confronting him about her suspicions and about his newly acquired need for the bottle as she was raised to uphold the vow she made to obey him, but push to the limit she did.
A small but powerful woman, Carmita is the iron will that steers her sons to become hardworking, respectful, god-fearing, family men and in her daughters the desire to emulate her. Although Carmita prefers her eldest son Ricardo to the rest of her children, she loves all of them equally and fiercely.
Only two of Carmita’s siblings play a role in this story. Her eldest sibling and only brother Salvador, a police detective whom has never found the time for marriage and is continually away on assignment, surprises Carmita one day with an unexpected visit. Salvador requests that she agree to and sign the necessary papers to be his sole beneficiary. With much protest she grudgingly agrees. Ironically, Salvador is gunned down two months later by a prominent drug cartel. The money Salvador left for Carmita allows her to buy another portion of land from the rich widow to allow for the much needed expansion of the family home.
In the meanwhile, Carmita’s youngest sister, Julieta, nearly as beautiful as her elder sister, learns she is pregnant with her second child, just after her husband runs off with another woman. Although Julieta is able to liquidate all of her husband’s carpentry tools that he carelessly leaves behind, she unable to make ends meet. Because Carmita’s home is now large enough to accommodate Julieta and her children, Carmita insists that she live with her and Socorro.
Until her dying day, indebted to Carmita and Socorro for taking her family under their wing, Julieta works tirelessly to show them her gratitude.
A blessing is bestowed upon Socorro and Carmita when a wealthy neighbor friend, who has witnessed Socorro’s hard work at the tire company and his natural tenacity towards business, makes him an offer that Socorro cannot refuse. The man offers him a loan to start his own tire company with the agreement to begin payment when the business becomes successful.
Socorro’s tire company sustains his family. He works tirelessly every day from sun up to late in the evening, making a name for himself in their small town. Three years later Socorro is not only able to make a payment on the loan but to pay it off entirely. But the man refuses Socorro’s money and insists that he reinvest it instead. He tells Socorro that he will accept payment once the money has doubled the amount that he owes him. In yet another paradoxical twist of fate, just a month later, a horrible accident befalls the man and his family and prevents that opportunity to ever present itself.
Wanting only his son’s as employees, in spite of their own hopes and dreams, they join on with the family business, eventually sustaining their own families. A small glimpse of each of the son’s lives is told here, but it’s one son in particular, Ricardo, that moves the story forward.
The reader is now introduced to Olivia’s family story, the woman who Ricardo eventually marries and how their families intertwine.
The story turns to focus on their eldest son Ricardo Jr who is a carbon copy of his father. Busy with five other children, Ricardo Jr., a precocious, yet alert, sweet and resourceful child is the thorn in his mother’s side. His tremulous relationship with his mother is worsened by an undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder that serves to anger her further. His grandma Carmita cherishes Ricardo Jr.’s likeness of his father; he was above reproach in her eyes.
At fourteen years of age Ricardo Jr.’s life takes a positive turn, one that is sure to bring hope of a brighter future. When Olivia’s nephew recognizes the abuse inflicted upon his cousin, he offers to take him home with him to live with him and his family in Mazatlan, where he can be better schooled and supervised. Although Carmita knows that this is the best thing for her grandson, it breaks her heart to let him go. It was hard to tell who was happier the day Ricardo Jr. left for Armando’s home. With loving support from his cousin, Ricardo Jr. completes his education.
Ten years later, after a succession of disappointments, wanting to separate himself as far as possible from his mother and life in Mexico, with a determination equal to that of his grandmother’s and no more than a backpack and $200, he boards a Greyhound bus bound for America, the land of milk and honey. He chooses the very furthest northwest city, Seattle, Washington, to create a new life.
Alone and only fluent in Spanish, the reader will cheer Ricardo Jr on through his trials and tribulations as he overcomes obstacles in the desire to gain acceptance in an unfamiliar society and to escape the ghosts of his past. The story has a happy ever after ending when Ricardo Jr, in his fifty second year, ultimately comes to terms with his invaluable self-worth through the unconditional love and acceptance of an American woman.
This novel is based on a true story. It will be published as fiction as there are gaps of missing or forgotten information that had to be reconstructed as well as dates and actual events that had to be deciphered. This is one story the reader will never forget.
Translated Interviews of the family’s history are presently being transcribed.