Abuelo, Bartolo Castillo (1886 – 1981)

Abuelo Bartolo was born in 1886  and passed away in Cali in 1981. He was a traveling man, going from the Rincón to Texas various times in his young life, guessing to work in the cotton fields around Waco and Hillsboro. His life was also difficult in that our Abuela Diega passed away when she was only 44, from pneumonia, while in Texas, leaving him to care for the 5 boys and 1 daughter. That had to be challenging, but at least my Mom was 22 at the time and have to figure she had to take over the cooking, washing, and cleaning besides helping to work the fields.  I found some immigration documents from 1917 that shows Abuelo and his father in law, our great abuelo, Norberto, crossed with the families from México to Texas heading to Hillsboro, TX. They all could have been seeking work or they may have been getting away from the violence of the Revolución. After Abuela Diega passed away in 1935, then my Mom goes to Texas and elopes with Dad, in 1938, in a secret wedding in Waco leaving Abuelo to care for the brood all alone. At least Teofilo was 22 at this time and he can help out, but then he takes off for Texas in 1939 guessing to be close to future wife Emeteria (Teresa) near Waco. That still leaves Abuelo with Bartolo, Norberto, Gabriel and Fidel. Had to be some hard times caring for the boys by himself up in the hills or in Texas.

Abuelo and Abuela lost two children, both at very young ages. Baby Ynasia passed away in 1919 at the age of 7 months from acute indigestion. Then in 1922 they lost another child, Cesilio, at the age of 3 months, to pneumonia. Unimaginable to fathom what they were going through during these difficult times. Hard enough traveling all the way from the Rincón only to lose two children in Texas. Mom was only 4 with the passing of the first child and 9 years old when the other passed in 1922. It had to have been scary for her seeing a sibling die. Maybe that is why our Abuelo Bartolo was such a cranky guy, going through all of this suffering then Mom and Teofilo leaving him alone to care for the younger boys a few years later on.

When I traveled to the Rincón to see where our ancestors are from, I got a chance to spend a lot of time with Abuelo at the rancho and on the road as I brought him to the US to stay with the family. Got a close up look at his colors when he wanted me to accompany him to the mercado in downtown San Luis Potosí. A bus would drive around to the other ranchos to pick up the people that wanted to buy or sell things in the mercado. As he didn’t want the bus to leave us behind, he banged on the door of the bus in the wee hours of the morning, cursing at the driver until he was forced to open the door. The bus always parked overnight at our rancho as it was the furthest out, then it traveled the dirt road picking up people at the other ranchos along the way. Never could have imagined our grandfather being that ornery. Some of the relatives had warned me of his temper but I didn’t think he would act the way he did. That was just the beginning.

Once when we were on the road way out somewhere and the AC wasn’t working on the bus, grandfather got super upset that the driver would not open the windows on bus since we were cooking from the heat and humidity. Well his tantrum almost got us kicked off on the highway and the bus came to a stop ready to unload us if gramps didn’t calm down. Luckily I was able to get him to settle down until the next stop where we changed bus lines. When we had the reached the border one time, the customs people looked at the documents I had brought for Abuelo and was told that I was missing some other documents and we wound up having to return to San Luis Potosí to secure the necessary document. Can’t recall what it was but when I began the process of securing his passage I was given certain information that I thought for sure it was all I needed to get Abuelo to the US. I had a tough learning experience but at last I finally got everything we needed and we crossed in Texas.

We somehow managed to get through this travel adventure and I was able to get him on a plane to take us to Cali. He looked out the window of the plane and commented that we weren’t moving and would never get to our destination. It was a big relief to finally get us close to home, I was wondering at times if it would ever happen with so many difficulties endured during our travels together. But there were some rewarding moments, like the first night we spent in the capital of San Luis Potosí. I hadn’t even realized it, but it was September 16th, Mexican Independence Day. Abuelo of course passed out very early and I stepped outside our hotel room to see what the commotion was all about when suddenly fireworks began to shoot off all over the plaza. It was an amazing sight to see everything so lit up in fireworks. That turned out to be the highlight of the trip. And now I can’t even begin to recall how many days we were on the road before being able to cross into Texas. Somehow I was able to contain myself from just leaving Abuelo alone and taking off by myself. He was very difficult to get along with even at his advanced age. Can’t imagine what he was like when he was younger, must have been scary for our Tíos growing up as kids around him back then.

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