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.

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