Doña Margarita

1883 to 1981

Given name of Margarita Bernabé Ramona Guzman. Husband of José Odilón Ledesma. Mother of Faustino, Manuela, my mother Christina, Emily, Catherine, Melesio, and Eduardo.

   She lived a generous portion of years. I am thankful that I have shared some of those years with her. I can still her gentle laugh. She spoke to me in Spanish, I was not very good at it but I managed to put words together in short sentences and she understood me.

   I was in my thirties when she started to fade away. I made a special trip from my home in San Jose to Oxnard to spend some time with her.

   She was in St John’s hospital. My wife and I went in to see her. Of course, it broke my heart to see her curled up in a fetal ball.  She was sleeping and dreaming.

   “¡Papá!” She cried. “Wait for me! I am coming!”

   Every few minutes she said that. It felt like she was at the train station calling out to him. I do not know for sure if she was dreaming or if she really was at the train station.  

Posted in Ancestry, autobiography, Family History, growing old, heart breaks, Oxnard, San Jose, Spanish | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Old Place

I grew up in the Santa Clara Valley. My school years were in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Many years ago on a family outing to visit the relatives in Oxnard, my family took us to the Ventura County Courthouse. I am the youngest in our family.

My father led us downstairs to the Ventura County Museum. This was old news to my siblings but being the youngest, everything was new and an adventure. There was lots of things to see about the old days, including things about my father’s family. This was why my father wanted me to go there.

That picture was from his Oxnard High school yearbook. He was a senior in 1927.

 My father had two names Carlos L. Nájera and Charles Olivas. Both names were legal and he was proud of both of them. After his father died, his mother married John Olivas. He adopted my dad legally and gave him his last name.

Here’s my father, on the left, standing next to my grandmother Maria Concepción, His sister Natalia is next, then his brother Uncle Robert. That’s John on the right, and my two uncles Frank and Henry Olivas. Frank and Henry have their own story, if the Good Lord gives me time enough to tell it.

John Olivas was a descendant of Don Raimundo Olivas whose home became California Historical Landmark No. 115.

Here I am sitting near the front gate. As you can tell, I don’t like to pose for pictures.

This plaque briefly tells the story Don Raimundo’s place. If you are ever traveling through Ventura County on Highway 101 take the Telegraph Road exit and follow the signs. It is between the cities of Ventura and Oxnard.

Here is a view of the old house. At the time it was built there were not too many two story adobe houses in California. This is one of them.

This plaque is near the entry of the Adobe grounds.

I wrote about this house earlier in a post: A Kevin Bacon Moment by Joseph E Najera

According to my father, somewhere in the kitchen wall is a hidden well for emergency water in case they were ever under attack.

This is not the way I remember the kitchen. It was a lot more primitive. There was a fogata, a fireplace where the cooking was done. I am remembering when I saw this in 1965 when I was a teenager.

The rooms have been restored with period furniture.

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This old photo was inside one of the rooms. They must have been John’s people. I don’t know if they have been identified.

At that time that we were there, June, 2016, there were several groups of students on a field trip. Milady and I followed a group. The docent gave a very good talk as he led us through the house.

The back yard gate faces south toward the city of Oxnard where both my mother and father grew up in the early 1900’s.

According to my dad, that building to the right was the original building. Don Raimundo lived there while building the main house.

The caretaker was living there when my father took me there. His name was Roy, and he and my dad were classmates at Oxnard High. He gave us a private tour of the house. It was a mess inside, full of trash and broken furniture. Roy’s job was to take care of the grounds and protect the house from vandals.

The house has a website:

They have events throughout the year including performances and weddings, keeping the traditions alive.

If there are any Olivas cousins out there, say hello. You can find me at Facebook.

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Th’ Brave One World

We crossed th’ Ocean Sea

We who dared

We filled oor sails

At th’ mercy o’ th’ trade win’s

We left th’ Old World

An’ found th’ One World

We wer humble men o’ th’ sea

It was nae oor intent

Tae turn th’ page o’ history.

I pray yee carve these words

On th’ stone above me head

On th’ day I breathe me last.

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This night time passing,

This darkened dome that reigns upon us all

in our hour o’ fear,

This nightly milling o’ th’ stars,

Showers doon upon us its

blessed meteors o’ darkness,

moistens th’ sighted eye

an’ brings rest tea th’ lidded redness.

This ghostly passing,

this darkened dimmed iris

breathes welcome,

breathes welcome tae th’ great an’ silent shadows.

This nocturnal passing that shields us from the sun,

Bids us welcome, safe harbour,

Safe entry intae th’ hollows o’ wondrous dreams.

This be th’ time o’ darkness.

It is th’ time tae drift intae th’ hearto’ God,

tae touch briefly intae th’ meaning,

intae th’ timeless,

until th’ dawning unravels in a splash o’ brilliant rays,

until th’ dawning conquers.

This is th’ time tea settle among th’ night sounds,

tae utter th’ most ancient prayer:

                   One mair, one mair.

                   This time.

                   This is thae time,

                   Let thare be

                   one mair day.

                   Let th’ morning

                   bring surprise.

                   Let th’ sun glow upon us

                   one mair,

                   one mair time.

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Th’ Bad Air

Days o’ nights, nights o’ thunder

Winds tha’ bring th’ plagues o’ nightfall,

Dip your hyssop intae th’ bloody pool an’

Pray th’ Dark One shall pass by.

Thare be weeping on oor shores,

An’ in oor camps.

Thare be cursing at the’ demons o’ th’ fevers

Thay mak oor lives a cursed misery,

A punishment tae be among th’ living.

Th’ bad air spares nae a man

Frae th’ fevers an’ th’ chills, an th’ anal drips.

Nae a mercy tae th’ innocent an’ th’ blameless, in

This land o’ th’ terrible judgement.

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I am Calypso

An’ I wull gi’e yee shelter

I wull be yer safe harbor

I wull be yer singer o’ songs

I wull spread me golden wings

An’ spare yee frea th’ storm

thare wull be nae place else

nae other home yee wull need

nae other home yee wull remember

frae sunrise tae sunrise

yee wull call oot me name

yee wull speak o’ nae other.

I am Calypso

I wull be yer safe harbor

Nae a ship wull seek thee

Nae other tongue

Wull call oot yer name

In th’ high mountain

Yee wull be welcome

Yee wull walk among th’ giants

Unleashed frae th’ tethers

O’ th’ earth

Unleashed frae th’ lan’ o’ sorrows

I am Calypso

Touch me hem an’ follow

Th’ scent tae th’ lan’ o’ th’ lotus

We wull eat o’ th’ fruit

We wull eat o’ th’ flower

And taste th’ sky in th’

Halls o’ th’ mountain

I wull be yer queen

An’ yee wull be me king

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The Land o’ Nod

What is the way?

Whaur be the land o’ oor deliverance?

Whaur can I find me rest?

Whaur be the gentle waters?

Whaur be the soothing rays awe Sun?

Though I be a humble man

Not worthy o’ the prize

Yet dare to ask

This simple man o’ th’ sea

I seek no further than

Tae find th’ morrow

Tae gaze upon the

Colors o’ the nightfall

An’ the cool rising o’ th’ morn

I wonder through me watch

Will there be a day

With nae questions in me heart?

A hearth to keep the home fires burning

Crackling embers tae warm the night

The soft breathing of me true love by me side

Stars tae dream upon

Moon tae guide me footsteps

Wind and rain to moisten a thirsty land

Whaur be this place?

Fer this simple man o’ th’ sea

whaur I will find me rest

Whaur I will seek no mair

Beyond the stones o’ me garden.

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Bairns o’ th’ Lord

Wha’ be th’ recompence faur yer soul?

Wha’ be th’ value tha’ ye place upon it?

Whaur be stowed away thy hidden treasure?

Whaur be th’ keeper awe th’ gate?

Who wull be standing by yer side

Whe’ th’ battle drums are rattled.

Who spares a token faur th’ tiller man?

When yer eyes are weak an’

yer breathing be shallow?

Thare will be nae judgement

On this side foor th’ good an’ th’ evil

Yee have done.

Thair will be nae shame,

Only passing momen’s

Till yee breathe nae mair

Thair will be nae flamin’ chariots,

Nae cherubim tae lead th’ way.

You cannah touch His han’

yee cannah heer His voice.

Yee cannah use yer voice

An’ yee cannah use yer tears.

Bairns Awe th’ Lord

Will be yer new name

In th’ land o’ Tir Nan Og.

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Ere’thin is Brok’n

Th’ worl’ we left behind

 is in tatters.

Wars, famines, plagues

Attack at oor very will tae live.

Here, oan th’ far side o’ this orb

Th’ win’ is idle.

For weeks oan end,

Not a puff tea put a billow in th’ sails.

Th’ seas are ae glassy finish,

Nae a wave,

Nae a current tae move th’ seas.

Nea a tide tae splash upon th’ san’s.

Nae a bird in th’ sky.

Nae a sign o’ change in th’ weather.

Nae a soun’ save faur our breathing

Nae water tae slake oor thirst

Nae a fish tae fill our nets.

Ere’thin is brok’n.

Tis in oor weary eyes

Tae call upon th’ god o’ sleep.

May Hypnos tak us beyon’

This weary sea.

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John 6:20

Nothing finds favor.

Not even th’ cauld stones

Find rest inside th’ river bed.

Nothing finds favor

In this man’s mortal world

Where none is proven worthy.

Nothing finds favor.

Nae beasty is called upon

Tae send doon destruction.

Nothing finds favor.

Nae air remains to breathe

Inside our weary lungs.

Nothing finds favor.

In th’ eye o’ th’ storm

No supplications will be heeded.

Worms on th’ outside

Rot on th’ inside,

Nae shelter frae th’ elements.

Nothing finds favor.

Canvas torn tae shreds,

Masts in splinters.

Nothing finds favor.

Nothing save th’ whisper,

“Tis I”

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