Saturday, June 15, 2024

My Dad - Felipe Montoya Fajardo - Part 2

I am writing a Part 2 blog about my dad, Felipe M Fajardo because earlier this month on June 6, 2024, the 80th anniversary of D-Day was celebrated. Approximately 10,000 people attended the ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery in France. My father didn't talk about D-Day, in fact my brother took him to see the Steven Spielberg movie "Saving Private Ryan" in 1998 when my dad was 83 years old and he had to walk out of the theater in the first 5 minutes. I realized then that the veterans of D-Day were proud that they served but they didn't want to be reminded of the beaches of France in 1944.

It has taken my entire life to fully appreciate what my father did during WWII. A couple of years ago, a cousin of mine informed me that his shoulder patch shows that he was in the 2nd Infantry Division. His division fought the entire war from North Africa in November 1942, to Sicily in July 1943, to Italy in September 1943, then the Invasion of Normandy, also known as 'D-Day' on June 6, 1944. Then they fought until the end of the war, 'The Battle of the Bulge' was in 1945. The photo above was taken in 1945, at the end of the war. You can see the stress in my father's eyes. I am so grateful he was one of the lucky ones who came home after witnessing these crucial battles and more importantly, liberating Europe, ultimately the world. I know now it was a miracle that he came home to New Mexico to marry my beautiful mother.

The massive allied invasion of D-Day never crossed my mind. Why would it? My father didn't talk about the fact that he was one of the more than 160,000 soldiers to take part in the biggest air, land and sea invasions ever executed. Now I know my father was a part of the most crucial battle that liberated northwest Europe from Nazi Germany on June 6, 1944. It ended with approximately 20,000 casualties on both sides. D-Day is largely considered the successful beginning of the end of Hitler's tyrannical regime. So, ultimately they saved the world.

This now all hits home with me because as we have always heard, history repeats itself. My paternal grandmother died in the pandemic of 1918 when my father was only 3 years old. I am assuming this lead to a difficult childhood for my dad. Then he fought on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France during massive D-Day invasion. It now boggles my mind that I was so unaware of my father's hardships as a child and a young man. It hits way too close to home now that we have lived through a world wide pandemic and now I am feeling that our democracy is in very much in danger. For the first time in my life I realize what a miracle it is that my father came home from WWII and married my mom and had a family. 

A couple of days ago, I discovered a "Friends of the 2nd Infantry Division" page on Facebook so I decided to join and post a couple of photos of my dad. The photos started a conversion. It's a community that wants to further preserve the heritage of our fathers and grandfathers who served in the famous 2nd Infantry Division during WWII. Most of them never talked about their service in the Army. So many questions were left unanswered.

There are now memorials for the 2nd Infantry Division.

Normandy American Cemetery Where almost 10,000 brave American soldiers

So again, on this Father's Day weekend, I would like to thank my father for his bravery, he remains a hero. Happy Father's day Daddy. I love you. Your spirit remains strong amongst your descendants. You will live forever in our hearts.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

My Dad - Felipe Montoya Fajardo

This blog that I have been writing about my family has been a blessing to me in so many ways. I started writing it years ago for my children and grandchildren to have after I'm no longer here to answer family questions. Meanwhile, about once a month I get an email from a distant cousin who has run across my blog while doing ancestry research. It seems that if anyone does a Google search on Puerto de Luna, New Mexico, my blog is likely to appear. This month it was a cousin named Anna Madrid. She lives in Los Angeles, California, however, her family is from Puerto de Luna, NM. I should mention that nobody who still lives in New Mexico  reaches out to me with questions about their family tree. Those who still live in New Mexico are pretty much uninterested in meeting even one more cousin. It's always those of us who are the first or second generations to have left our homeland after our ancestors had been there for 400 years. We are sort of like fish out of water. So Anna told me she was researching her father's side of the family because she didn't know much about that branch of her family and noticed they were in my family extensive family tree on I totally relate to that. The majority of my blog has been written based on the parts of my family history that were once a mystery to me. Unfortunately, I didn't realize until my parents were gone, that I had not ask enough questions or listen long enough to our family stories. I started listening when I sat down with my mother to create a slide show for her memorial service about a month before she passed away. I realized then that I should have been asking those questions all along, as she joyously told me about each photo from her past.

My mother and father were both born to well established families of the small community of Puerto de Luna, New Mexico which was a prosperous little town at the turn of the century (1900 that is) 

My dad's mother, Josefita Labadie Fajardo, was from the very affluent Labadie family. Sadly, she died of the Spanish Flu in 1918, when my father was only 3 years old. I have three photos of him as a child, but oddly there isn't much of a paper trail of his childhood. I have always assumed it was because after his mother death he may have been shuffled around to relatives when he was a very young child. Below is a photo of my dad when he was a baby before his mother died, then another with his dad, Doroteo Fajardo, step-mother, Perfecta and sister, Anita and then there's one of him and his sister, Anita with his father, Doroteo and their half siblings Joe and Consuelo. I always assumed that his mom's maiden name was Montoya because he was named Felipe Montoya Fajardo but I discovered that his mother's father had died when she was young and she was raised by a stepfather named Antonio Montoya. I still don't know much about him except that he worked a the store in Puerto de Luna. I also assumed that he spent a lot of time with his step-Montoya cousins because they were close but I have since discovered from the census forms of those families that they were in Kansas and Oklahoma and my dad wasn't on any of those forms.

My father, Felipe Montoya Fajardo
as an infant

My father, Felipe Montoya Fajardo,
his step-mother Perfecta Rivera Fajardo,
his father, Doroteo Fajardo and
his younger sister Anita Fajardo

My father's full sister, Anita, my father, Felipe, my father's half brothter Jose Fajardo, Doroteo Fajardo and my father's half sister Consuelo Fajardo

Like me, my mother, was born and raised in the same house and like me, both of her parents lived long lives. I was able to go to my maternal grandparents house and visualize what her life may have been like as a child. I cherish my childhood memories on that farm. I am also extremely grateful to have the memories with my own children and grandchildren that have been kept alive with thousands of photographs and videos. 

My paternal grandparents, Doroteo Fajardo and Josefita Labadie got married in May 12, 1915, 14 days before the birth of my father. I have wondered if that was because the priest only came around on occasion. I have found documents showing 160 acres in New Mexico being owned by by my grandfather, Doroteo Fajardo, dated November 18, 1916 and another dated December 6, 1920. I don't know where this land is and I don't remember ever hearing about this land.

I also found a military enlistment card for my grandfather showing that he went to the service June 5, 1916. My father would have only been a year old.

Now we've come to the whole reason I am writing this chapter of my blog. My recent conversations with my new found friend/cousin Anna Madrid helped me to remember my father's colorful stories when he went to the army. He loved to tell the story that he and his friend, Livy Madrid were the first ones to enlist in the army from Guadalupe County, New Mexico. This week I went down the "MADRID" rabbit hole of my family tree and last night I had a light bulb moment and realized that both my father and Livy Madrid's registration cards were dated October 19,1940. I wish my dad were here to see this! I guess he is here in spirit or I wouldn't have found this gem!

Military Registration
Felipe Montoya Fajardo

Military Registration
Livy Romero Madrid

I also found a census taken in 1940 showing that Livy was living in Santa Rosa, NM with his sister and brother-in-law. Unable to find a census with my father's name on it in 1940, I found one with my grandfather, Doroteo Fajardo and his second wife Perfecta (my dad's step-mother) and their 6 children. My dad didn't have a good relationship with his step-mother so he was long gone from that scene and I am sure the army seemed like the perfect way to "get out of Dodge" and go see the world.My dad and Livy were both 25 years old, both of them were living in Santa Rosa and both of them unemployed. Time to hit the road! He did his basic training in San Antonio, or as he called it "his old stomping grounds." On the day of my dad's funeral, his 2 half sisters told me and my sister that our dad dated Lydia Mendoza while he was stationed in San Anton.... as he called it. Lydia was a guitarist and singer considered to be "The Mother of Tejano Music." She was a year younger than my dad, born May 31, 1916. Interesting. My mom's birthday was May 31 as well.

My dad, being the positive force that he was, only talked about the good times in the service. I discovered much later in life that he was in the 2nd Infantry Division. Below is the route of the 2nd Infantry Division. He fought at the Invasion of Normandy, also known as D-Day in 1944, he fought until the end of the end of the war, The Battle of Bulge in 1945.

When my dad returned from the war, his 1st cousin Jose Fajardo and my mom's younger sister, Connie Padilla Fajardo had been married and they got my mom and dad to go out on a date. They married shortly there after and they were married for 56 years.

My grandson Dylan Ethridge
now proudly has his great-grandfather, Felipe M Fajardo's flag.

This blog post was inspired by a few text messages, emails and conversations I had with my cousin, Anna Madrid. When we first started communicating, I was sure that the closest DNA connection we had would be through the Madrid family, but as it turns out we are related through the Padilla lineage and that is a whole other blog post!
I will close with a story about the day my father died. He and my mother had just bought a new stove. It was delivered to their house in Amarillo and was being installed. My mother insisted  that he sit on the couch while it was being installed because he had not been feeling well that morning. But he insisted on going in the kitchen saying " I need to make sure they aren't doing a Mickey Mouse job." He went in the kitchen and was watching the installation. He suddenly had a heart attack and died. My sister, Nita called me at work to let me know my father had passed. I had been house sitting for friends who lived in Travis Heights, just about a mile from the newspaper. I went to gather my belongings to make the trip to Amarillo for my father's memorial service. I opened the front door and walked into the house and asheaf of wheat gently fell in front of me as I walked into the house. I picked it up and leaned it against the wall behind the door, where it seemed to have fallen from. I was too distraught to even think about it. When I returned from Amarillo, my friend that I had been house sitting for called me at work and said she was bringing my personal belongings that I had left at her house when I left in a hurry. She showed up at my office with some clothes and this tall sheaf of wheat. I looked at her oddly and told her it wasn't mine, but she insisted it wasn't hers so I took it home. I put it in the corner in my living room and didn't think about it for a while. Months later I did a little research and discovered that a sheaf of wheat represents abundance, resurrection, sustenance, harvest, fertility and the cycle of life. Wheat being sown is used as a symbol of remorse.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

He Built It With His Hands - My Tio Guillermo Padilla

Most of the time I write posts about ancestors who I never had the pleasure of meeting because they lived long ago. Today I am writing about my Tio Guillermo Padilla. AKA Maquela, Maquel, Mac or Max McGee. He had so many nicknames because he was a character. I think Maquel liked flying under the radar, living in Puerto de Luna, however, he wasn't hard to miss. The other day I wrote a poem about him, inspired by a conversation I had with my cousin, Tony Dodge while having lunch with him and his wife Sharon in San Antonio. He described how Maquel built his rock walls. He would place a rock on top of the wall he was building and sit back and light a cigarette and look at it. Then he would ever so slightly move to rock and take another puff off of his cigarette.

Guillermo Padilla
Maquela, Maquel, Mac or Max McGee

Guillermo Padilla was born June 8, 1913 in Puerto de Luna, New Mexico. He died March 10, 1985. He was an eccentric man with many talents. He was a musician, an artist and a rock mason. I didn't like him as a child because I didn't understand him. Now I understand. Now I think he probably would have been described as being neurodivergent because of his social preferences and the fact that he was very talented in certain creative areas. I recognize this because I too am neurodivergent. I am thinking there could be a genetic element.

This is a painting I did of the adobe house in Puerto de Luna
where Guillermo lived most of his life.

Maquel was my mom's older brother. He never married. He lived 12 miles from Santa Rosa in Puerto de Luna most of his life, except when he was in the army. He was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas for basic training, then he went to Egypt and Italy, where he was honorably discharged due to a medical issue. From what I understand, he came back from WWII with what is now known as post traumatic stress disorder. I have a feeling many returned from WWII with PTSD, a very real disorder when one has experienced something as shocking and dangerous as WWII.

The other day after I wrote the poem about Mac, I posted it on Facebook and I was surprised to see the response I got from cousins who had memories of him when they were young. My cousin, Patrick Padilla said that my post brought back fond memories. One summer Patrick's father, Floyd Padilla, forced him to help Tio Maquel build a rock wall around their yard. He said he would never forget driving to Puerto de Luna in his old flatbed truck to get the rock for the job. He said he was amazed at how he knew just where to hit the large sandstones near the river with his pickaxes in order to break off chunks of rock for the wall. He also said he had always wished he could have learned more about masonry from Maquel but it was hard work and he was too young to care. I didn't know until then that Maquel actually quarried his one stones! He quarried sandstone, smooth river granite stones and even petrified wood. He was an amazing mason.Watching him piece together a wall was a beautiful thing. I remembered that we had a pile of petrified wood on the side of our house that my dad was sort of proud of. He would move the pile to mow the grass and carefully please it back in the middle of the side yard. To anyone else, it was just a pile of rocks.

This is my grandson Dylan standing in front of my
parents house in Amarillo, TX in 2010.
This is the only photo I could find of the
rock flower bed Maquel built in front of the porch.

This is one of Maquel's walls at the entrance of Park Lake
in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Guillermo Padilla on the left playing accordion

Guillermo Padilla playing accordion in Puerto de Luna

My dad Felipe Fajardo and Guillermo Padilla

And the beauty of it all was that he wasn't just a rock mason. He was also an artist and a musician. I started painting horses in the early 1990's and it wasn't until my brother Phillip saw one of them and told me it looked like one of Uncle Mac's that I remembered his horsed that drew and mine look just like his.

My daughter Adriane wearing one of my
"Two Ladies on Horses" T-Shirt at an art show in 1993.

"Two Ladies on Horses" T-Shirt painted by Christina Fajardo 1993 

I've been told that the wait staff put a black ribbon around the booth where Mac used to sit and drink coffee at his favorite restaurant in Santa Rosa. I don't know that for a fact because I was living in Austin with 2 children in 1985. It's good to know that your DNA lives on Uncle Mac. My son's nick name was Big Mac for a little while and he wore it proudly and used to make Instagram posts of Mac that were pretty funny.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Bubbles Up! RIP Jimmy Buffett

A week ago today I received the sad news that Jimmy Buffett had passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends. Reading the tributes to him this week has been heart warming and inspiring. I read a post on Facebook that said "Wouldn't you know that Jimmy would go out in pure Jimmy Buffett style at the beginning of the the long Labor Day weekend?"

I don't remember exactly what day it was this week that I was out on my patio watering my plates, cutting back dead leaves and talking on the phone to Christian. I looked up and there was a bright yellow parrot flying around in front of my patio and landed in the tree and sat there for a while. I came back inside and then thought to myself "That was a yellow parrot! OMG was that Jimmy's spirit making his rounds, telling everyone goodbye?

Synchronicities always call my attention to what I am doing in the moment and gives greater meaning to life. On Sunday, September 3, I was preparing food for Adriane's birthday party. I was reminiscing about that hot day in 1977, at the end of the summer, September 3rd. It was 5 days past my due date. What were the chances that I would go into labor on the Labor Day weekend? So on Sunday, as I was preparing food, listening to Spotify, Jimmy Buffett's song "Come Monday" randomly started playing. I was floored since Jimmy passed away just 2 days prior. I have heard that song a million times since its release in 1974, the year my brother, Phillip became Jimmy's drummer. I mindlessly sang along with the song for over 40 years. On Sunday it had a whole new meaning. Still in shock that Jimmy passed away, I heard the lyrics in a whole new light. The song was written on the Labor Day weekend, 3 years before Adriane was born. There I was cooking and I singing along:

Headin' out to San Francisco
For the Labor Day weekend show
I got my Hush Puppies on
I guess I never was meant for glitter rock 'n' roll
And honey,
I didn't know that I'd be missin' you so
Come Monday, it'll be alright
Come Monday, I'll be holdin' you tight
I love the way the Universe gives us gentle little nudges as reminders that we do in fact carry on and remain. I love my life.

Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy built an amazingly successful career with his stellar upbeat, colorful live performances with a devoted fan base of "Parrotheads" equal to the "Grateful Dead's" fan base of "Dead Heads." The nickname originated at a 1985 concert. What does it mean to be a "Parrothead?" It means you are probably a baby boomer, a fan of Jimmy Buffett's music and the laid-back, beachy lifestyle he promoted.He became a billionaire because he recognized something big was happening amongst his fans before, during and after his shows and capitalized on it. Women with coconut bras and men with parrot hats and Hawaiian shirts. He capitalized on it by building a lifestyle brand around the attitude his artistry encompassed. It was genius!

In 1975, Jimmy formed the first Coral Reefer Band. My brother, Phillip was the drummer in that band. This is a video of the first Coral Reefer Band that year.

Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band

My favorite part of this video is at the beginning when Jimmy gets off of the bus and tries to kiss my brother, Phillip. RIP Jimmy.

Jimmy Buffett in Austin 1975

The band was the opening act for the Eagles in August of 1975. The album "Havana Daydreamin'" was released in January 1976. My brother played drums on that album.

In January 1977, "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" was released. It featured his breakthrough hit song "Margaritaville" Jimmy said he wrote most of the song in six minutes.

Jimmy opened his first successful "Margaritaville" retail store in Key West, Florida in 1985. There are now restaurants, vacation clubs, hotels, casinos, restaurant chain, casinos, liquor, a musical and retirement communities with the "Margaritaville" brand. I'm pretty sure I would love living at a "Latitude Margaritaville" retirement community.

Jimmy was one of the world's richest musicians, with a net worth of about $1 billion. He was also a bestselling author. Over and above his ability to spread the love and show his gratitude, he cared about the environment. He donated funds and time to "Singing for Change," "The Manatee Club," "Last Mango Boatworks" and more. Jimmy Buffett was a true artist, inspiring millions to sing, dance, and take it easy. 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Christina's Magic

Today is August 20, 2023. I was pondering the date this morning with my cup of coffee, remembering that 22 years ago today my father passed away. I think of my dad daily. I hear his voice saying his funny little sayings. He is forever with me. On the other end of that spectrum, 32 years ago today I had a beautiful love song written about me called "Christina's Magic." That song had such an impact on me that I named my art business "Christina's Magic."

My niece's husband, Mario, jokingly asked me once if I had a playlist of all the songs that have been written about me. I laughed and replied, "Unfortunately, no." Most of the songs were written before iTunes or Spotify were invented. The bands had split up, some of the song writers have died or they are married and they can't possibly record those love songs written about a woman in their past. You know the story. The box of cassette tapes, lyrics and love letters in a back of my closet that will remain there until the day I die.

I have the original handwritten copy of "Christina's Magic" tucked away in a photo album with a few photos to remind me of a magical time in my life. It was the summer of 1991. I lived in far south Austin, off of Slaughter Lane. August 20 was a Saturday andas usual, I had been on the drag selling my art at the 23rd Street Artist Market all day. 

23rd Street Artist Market

This is a photo of the 23rd Street Artist Market.
I served on the board at the market. I got my job
at the Austin American Statesman in Dec of 1991,
 when I went in to place an ad
for the 
23rd Street Artist Market.

After all of us artists packed up our artwork for the day, one of my fellow artist friends and I walked across the street to the Cactus Cafe to see Jimmy LaFave. During the intermission, I walked outside to sit by the water fountain. A handsome stranger with a leather vest and cowboy hat walked over and sat close by. He had a Chronicle in his hand and said "Hi, I am Daniel, I'm new to Austin and wondering if you could show me some other places in this rag to go hear good music." I moved closer to him and introduced myself. We looked through the Chronicle, I circled a few interesting attractions and we went back inside. I sat next to my friend and I saw Daniel hanging out at the bar. He then walked over, sat next to and asked me if I wanted a drink. He came back with my drink and whispered in my ear "This is going to make a great love song." I said "What is?" He replied "How I am going to steal you away from your boyfriend." I giggled and said "It's not going to be a very long song." After the show he and I went out for coffee at Kerby Lane. I then took him to his hotel and we laid on his bed talking and laughing. It was one of the most romantic nights I had ever had. I went home at sun rise and later that afternoon he called me and told me I had left my earrings on his night stand and wondered if I would be interested in going out that night. He told me later that he was pretty sure I had purposely left them there so he would have to call me. Ha! When I arrived at his room he told me he had written a song about me and then sang it. I was completely floored.

Christina’s Magic

She sent Billy Doss from somewhere near Waco

He gave me a message from the lady Christine

Just like a snake I slipped from my past

Rode down on the back of a gold eagle’s wing

We landed in Austin then out of the shadows

Like a dervish she swirled and danced in my dreams

Christina slips off her synthetic see-through

And takes me to places I’ve never been

We ride on the slipstream, me and Christina

I told her I’ve loved her for lifetimes it seems.

She weaves her magic on a desert mandala

Her cluster of blessings are hidden by pain

Dark angel’s hair rolls down streaked like sunset

Lips sliced like peaches drive me insane

Standing on crystal here at the crossroads 

Waiting for lightening to strike twice again

Christina’s magic is old and it’s ancient  

My mother of mercy brings new life to me

We ride on the slipstream, me and Christina

I told her I loved her for lifetimes it seems

Thunder clouds gather 

Christina’s passion drives tears from heaven 

Down to the sea

The scarlet red dawning dances on trinkets

Treasures Christina has left for me

Christina’s magic is old, very ancient  

My mother of mercy brings new life to me

We ride on the slipstream, me and Christina

I told her I loved her for lifetimes it seems

Written by Daniel Rudick

August 20, 1991, 8:00 am

The crazy thing is that he wrote this song hours after we had met yet it was a prophecy of what was to happen. First of all he mentioned the earrings I left behind "The scarlet red dawning dances on trinkets, treasures Christina has left for me."

He didn't know that I made hand made dream catchers to sell at the artist market yet he wrote "She weaves her magic on a desert mandala." I wondered how this man from Vancouver Island knew me, how we could feel each other's souls just by touching hands. It was magical.

Daniel and Christina, South Congress Ave., 1991

Christina, South Congress Ave., 1991

Daniel at Las Manitas Avenue Cafe 

Christina and Daniel, 1991

Maybe a month after we had met, he was staying at my house and we walked to the corner store one evening to get a "Clearly Canadian" to drink. On the walk home, it started to rain and thunder. He said he had never seen rain drops that big. We were standing on the street corner waiting for the light to change and lightning struck twice and the thunder was so loud it shook us. In his song, he wrote "Standing on crystal here at the crossroads, waiting for lightening to strike twice again" Again, the synchronicities were truly magical. How had he seen into our future?

Daniel writing a song on the stairway at my house.
We are both left handed and Taurus

Daniel at the Broken Spoke on South Lamar

I can't even remember how long Daniel's stay in Austin was. It seemed like a lifetime. As he had even written in the song "I've told her I've loved her for lifetimes, it seems." Maybe a week or so after his arrival he asked me if I could take him to the train station to pick up his friend, Billy Doss, who he had met on the train on the way from Canada to Texas. Billy had gotten off of the train in Waco to see his mother. We picked him up and took him to his cool little house on the east side of IH35 at Woodward. He lived in the coolest little house. Looking back, it seems that the three of us spent a century in Billy's front yard drinking coffee and writing songs. 

Billy Doss and Daniel Rudick 1991

Daniel had to go back to Canada with plans to return. He called me one week to the minute after he left and reminded me that he had been gone a week. He did that for a while, always starting the conversation with how long he had been gone and how much he missed me. Life got in the way and he never returned yet Billy and I remained life long friends. Years later Daniel called and told me he that his new band, "Jack N Lefty" had recorded "Christina's Magic" He sent me a copy of it. Needless to say, I was distraught to realize his band was a duo and more importantly, that he had changed the lyrics to my love song. I asked him why he had changed it and he simply said "poetic license." We never spoke again.

Click here to listen to the updated version he recorded.

The magic died in this version of the song. I was perplexed to realize that when he returned to Canada he had once again, just like a snake, slipped from his past.