Saturday Movie Matinee

. . . and it came to pass

From the beginning of my relationship with Jorge, the stories of his early childhood seemed tinged with the stuff of the Saturday movie matinee. There was the exotic setting, the foreignness of everything, straw hats, horses, steam locomotive, and happy field hands, working within site of ancient pyramids and monuments of a half forgotten race and culture.

Stories of giant snakes and the nighttime howls of prowling jaguars. Native peoples toiling in the sun and coming home to grandmother’s house to a groaning board heavy with the produce of their toil. Everyone seemed so happy — it was a scene of childhood bliss, and plenty. When I read the history books and created a mental timeline of world events, I wondered. How could everything have been so nice ?

I, myself, lived through the Second World War, from start to finish. I don’t remember much, except the stories my mother told, and the tales from my uncles, the three who served in the South Pacific.

Childhood memories are fickle and selective.

Jorge’s memories are filled with living well in a big house, with lots to eat. Fiestas - lots of them. But he seems not to remember any of the consequences of the Mexican government’s expropriation of the very henequen plantation where he was born. Born in 1952, the auge of the henequen boom was finished, and the stragglers remained to attempt to eke out a living from what was left. Even the owner of the hacienda was forced to move to Mexico City and work as an ‘escribano’ - a type of lawyer secretary that designs legal documents.

His childhood memories are more Tarzan and Jane and mine are more Gone with the Wind and Tobacco Road.

This is the beginning of a journal related to that world, mainly influenced by the changing childhood memories of someone who lived it.

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