Immigration Narrative - by Luis Granados

The following is text from a narrative given about the Granados family life in Spain and America by Luis Granados, first born of the first generation. 

The narrative is taken from an interview of Luis by his younger brother Tony  on August 17, 1981.

Note:  The interview was taped and then transcribed by Luis Granados II.  Some parts were inaudible and is so noted with a ?.

The Grandos family in Spain and America - as told by Luis Leon Granados (first generation)

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When we first came here (to America) we rented. Had two flats, then he got an idea that there were some Spanish people having a hard time finding work. So somebody coaxed him to buy a house at 15th & K St., between K & L. He bought a four-story house and used one floor of it as his school, we lived on the first floor and part of the second, and the rest he rented. Spanish people took care of the rooms and so forth and helped Mama.

Ramon was a little fellow who got very ill and there was a question whether he would live. The doctor advised them to get out of the city. So he rented the house, and moved to Mt. Ranier for the summer. Ramon got well, and everything was fine, so he got rid of the house and all the furniture. The DC house was next to the corner on the west side of 15th Street about 50 feet from K Street. The property was so big that they rented the stable as well as the other parts. The rental income covered half of their rental expenses.

We lived in Mt. Ranier for about 5 years, from 1912 to 1917, then decided to move to Riverdale. Houses there rented for $25.00 a month, which was applied to your equity. When you got $200 equity it could be applied toward the purchase of the house. In about 1920, he had the house put in his name. I can recall working in the garden there when the whistles began to blow that we had declared war with Germany. By that time we were established, we had chickens a garden and everything. It was February when we went in.

My grandfather came from an illustrious family. He was about the second or third child, so was too far away from the title. There were two titles in the Granados family — the count and the duke. I have pictures of my father with the Duke and (the home?) that he converted to Corte Ingles, the famous department store in Seville. His father became what was was equivalent to the civil governor of the province of Huelva. He laid all the groundwork for the city of (?) Huleva at one time was part of Portugal. His wife and all the Muñoz and the Barrera’s were all from (?) but Huelva is the capital of that area.

My mother’s people were builders and architects. Antonio Rey Pozo was a very well-known architect. So was his son. He (Antonio) went to examine a building under construction and it was hot and sticky and he contracted pneumonia. The pneumonia turned to tuberculosis and in about a year he was dead. His son died the same way.

My oldest aunt (Emigda) married a young lawyer who eventually became Justice of the Supreme Court, Manolo Repetto Rey. He then decided he didn’t like the idea of sitting on the bench hour after hour, so he went to school and studied dentistry and became a dentist. Then he decided he wasn’t making enough money as a dentist, so he got re-appointed Justice of the Supreme Court. In the meantime, his son Manolo Repetto Rey was also appointed Justice of the Supreme Court.

One of his brothers, Bernardo, became a doctor. Another brother, Francisco, played a very important role in the invasion of Sevilla when the Reds occupied it. He had been fooling around with the radio and wireless, and was able to notify the Spanish generals exactly what the Reds were doing inside the city.

During the capture of Sevilla, a very famous general prayed to Our Lady of La Macarena, "If you will help me conquer Sevilla, I will make you a captain general in the Spanish army." And she is. She wears the sash of a captain general.

Another of my mother’s sisters, Flora, married the painter Alperiz. They had no children. He was very famous, and has had three pictures prized at the Paris Exposition.

I went to see Rogan (?) the famous fellow that sells pictures in Sevilla, where I bought a copy of a Murillo. I wanted a copy of El Cuento de Bruja because I’m in it. ...and the woman is my grandmother, my mother’s mother, Abuela Concha, but I couldn’t afford it. Paco said to tell him (the art dealer) who you are and see if he can help you. He said, "See that chair over there? Your uncle sat in that chair, he’d come in in the morning and sit there just to see if somebody would come around and buy one of his paintings." Eventually he got a position painting in Triana, the place where they make pottery and plaques and so forth, and he was decorating vases. And it just broke his heart, he just died of a broken heart.

Paco is the son of Mama’s youngest sister, Maria. She had four boys: Franscisco, I don’t know; the middle one is a lawyer, and the fourth one is either dead or I didn’t meet him. Paco has an important position. The Internal Revenue in Spain is divided into two groups: those things that move and those that don’t. A train belongs in one group and the track belongs in the other. For a long time, he was in everything that was movable. Then they promoted him to everything permanent, which includes real estate. He has that position for Andalucia, which has five provinces. During the Spanish Civil War he was commissioned an artillery General, and decorated by Mussolini. (an ally of Franco at the time)

The Granados family home in Aracena is called the Castillo, which was originally a Moorish castle, and somewhere along the line Isabella or Ferdinand gave it to them. Only the head of the family lived there. When I was in Spain, they were renovating, so I didn’t get to go inside. My grandfather is buried there. The Granados’s are all buried in graves in the cemetery there, up above the ground in what’s called ovens. It’s a wall where the body goes in. You can see quite a few of our family there. In fact, my grandmother, Tio Juan, my grandfather’s brother and the Munoz family members are all buried there. The cemetery is at the foot of the Castillo, attached to the church.

At about the time Columbus came over to this country, the Granados’s gave up the Castillo and made a church of it. A bunch of Granados’s are buried under it’s floor. My grandfather is there; his name was Granados-Gonzalez, so the name Gonzalez is what shows.

Aracena is a very small town, just little farms. No social life or anything then. They lived in the city — practically all of them lived on one street. I didn’t get in to see the old Granados home, but I’ve heard my father and mother talk about it. The house is on the main street and everything goes through the front door. It goes all the way back. In the morning they let the pigs out, and a man takes the pigs over to the acorns. They let the sheep out the same way. The front door is bolted at night, and then you go another 20 feet through what is called a consels (?) an iron gate that’s locked. Above the front door is a room called a (?). If anybody comes, whoever is upstairs looks down and if it’s okay, orders the iron gate to be opened and they come in. When the guy bringing the pigs arrives, he comes to the head of the street and blows his horn and each pig goes into his home. I remember my mother saying when she went there to visit that when that pig came through you’d better get out of the way.

When I was in Aracena, it had been judged for the seventh consecutive time the cleanest city in Spain. It was absolutely clean. I believe if you threw a match on the street they’d kill you.

When Papa was three years old, he was sent to school, since his father was the governor and a public official. He would come home for Christmas for about 4 or 5 days and he’d come home in the summer for vacation for about 4 or 5 days, then go back. He was never home.

Altogether, you could say he was home a hundred days. He went from one school to the other. He and his brothers got kicked out of one school and another. He’d tell stories — one time he was in a military academy in Toledo, where there was a big affair in the cathedral. He and a couple of other boys took the holy water out of the fonts and put nitrate of silver there. Nitrate of silver burns black, so as people came in and crossed themselves they saw a black mark on each others forehead. It upset the whole town.

Another time, he was in the dormitory of a school conducted by Salesians, and the brother that took care of them slept just outside the door. The boys got together and smeared the outside door handle with crap. Then put a candle to the inside till they had it red hot. Then one of the boys went "Ohhh" and the brother came up and grabbed the handle. They sent him home for that.

The students weren’t allowed to read Jules Verne, but a Spanish newspaper had a section at the bottom of the second page called a folletín, where they printed a section of a book. Jules Verne was very well known in the folletín, so a fellow outside would take the folletÍn, roll it, put it in a piece of cloth, tie it to a rock and throw it over the wall. Then they would read it.  When I was young, I was very close to my father. I was always with him.

In Spain, the Wright brothers tried to sell an airplane to the Spanish government, which was at war in Africa. They were going to fly it at the airfield in Sevilla. He got a carriage and sent my Aunt ChaCha and Connie and me across the river, and we watched that plane go up and circxle and land — the Wright brothers plane. My aunt ChaCha took her skirt and put it over her head — she didn’t want to see it. "If God had meant for man to fly he would have given him wings." We were in the park in the carriage on the side of the river which was about 300 feet wide. The airfield was on the edge of the river on the other side.

In the states, I would go from school and watch his school for a couple of hours and then he sent me home. I never really had a childhood life. When the kids were playing ball and all, I was watching his office.

When the World War I Armistice was about over, he came to school and got me. In his way, he told the teacher, "No, I want him, this is very important." And he took me back and said, "Now I want you to see this because you’ll never forget it the rest of your life. This is the greatest thing that’s ever happened, the end of this war." The first day was a false alarm. Two days later the real armistice was signed — people out in the street kissing each other and waving flags. And I have never forgotten that.

He played the horses and usually came up a winner. You could tell. If he came home with a bunch of packages, he had won. He’d take $20; if he lost $20 he lost. He would come home with a headache and say, "Kill a couple of chickens, I’ve got to have some chicken soup." So you knew he’d lost.

He suffered from migraine headaches, and had the finest set of teeth going, not a cavity. All of a sudden he couldn’t move his arms. So he went to the dentist, who said, Mr., Granados, you just have to have them pulled out." When he returned home, we could see his street car coming down the line. My mother said, "Look, look, look, he’s got his arm up, the first time in three years he’s been able to raise his hand."

My grandfather’s brother was named Don Juan. Incidentally the name Juan, is Juan Nepomuceno, a saint, Ramon Nonatu. Nonatu means "not born." It was from him that Shakespeare got the idea for "don’t fear any man from woman born." in Macbeth. His mother had been dead for hours, when they noticed a movement in the womb and opened her up and found him. He’s called St. Ramon.

My sister Angelina, born in Mt. Rainier, had trouble from the beginning. Her navel didn’t heal and it would bleed. She lived something like sixteen days.

The first people to live in our house in Riverdale were the Zollenhoffers, who were a pain in the neck. They only lived there for about a year or so. It was a little too modern. Ours was the first house with a bathroom in it. It was built by Mr. Wilson, who’s wife inherited all the land from where the car tracks were to the branch (Anacostia river). He built Anne’s house and the house next door to it in 1901.

(Anne Granados - wife of Luis) My mother bought the house before Joe was born, when Power was six months old. they had come from Georgetown and lived in a boarding house in Hyattsville while they looked for a house in the vicinity. My mother drove to Riverdale in the buggy and their house was not quite finished. My father would come out to Hyattsville on weekends and that weekend she said, "I want to show you this house." She took him in the buggy at night, and there weren’t any lights, so she had to take him in with a lantern. She had already bought the house but hadn’t told him. She’d signed up for it. So he of course said okay, he’d buy it, and they had to wait until it was finished.

Alongside the house was a driveway from the Calvert mansion lined with Osage Orange trees. Before my parents were married they went dances there. At the time, the mansion was nothing but a big farm. There was an octagon-shaped barn that belonged to the mansion. I watched it burn down.

(Luis) When I got there, the stones were there and they were taking the embers out. When I used to go up and visit old man Massey, he bought this farm there, you had to get to his place before dark, because the mansion gates at the railroad would shut. There was no other way to get to Massy’s by that road, it would take almost a day, so you took care.

My mother had one brother, Viriato. The oldest girl was ChaCha, who never married. She was a governess in a wealthy home for three generations. When the owner, Dona Dolores’, son became deathly ill with a fever, Cha Cha got in bed with him and held him all night.

In Spain, the originals of all birth certificates are filed away. They have a series of notaries — very important lawyers appointed by the government — who make the original of everything. They then give you copies. You can go to his file, if you know the cities, and get the notary file. For instance, you can go to the files and pick the grandfather’s up and that’ll show their father and grandfather. So you’re really jumping two generations each time. There are plenty of people that do that for a fee.

My father had two brothers, Luis and Celestino. Luis was a lawyer, half starving, living on a little bread they would get from the farm. Clelestino was a playboy. I don’t believe he ever graduated from school. He didn’t marry.

The only thing I remember about Luis is when he came to see us, he had a moustache like Kaiser Wilhelm. As soon as he’d walk in the house, he’d take this little gold case he had and wax and work that moustache. He was very nice, and once gave me a stuffed pony.

Mama was taught in the regular way they teach a girl — half a day spent in sewing and the other half divided between music and a little grammar and a little math, but mostly sewing and music. She graduated as a music teacher, both in piano and in voice. I think I still have her diploma.

When I came to the U.S., I knew two words of english. I was 8 years old. They sent me to St. John’s College to learn english. They had a grade school then. All they did was beat the hell out of me. I then went to Franklin School. There, the teachers were patient, and gradually, and with the kids, it wasn’t long before I could speak it.

NOTE: The house in Riverdale was bought on March 2, 1920, from Walter R. and Blanche B. Wilson, and was part of a larger parcel the Wilson’s bought from Benjamin D.Stevens and wife on November 27, 1896. (Land records of Prince Georges County, Liber J.W.B. No. 38, folio 68)

• It is described as: "all of lot No. 17 in East Riverdale, plat No. 2, recorded in Liber J.W.B. No. 5, folio No. 692 of the land records of said county."

• There was a mortgage, dated March 21, 1912, of $1,600.

• The sale was recorded on April 3, 1920, Liber No. 153, Folio 66


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