One late afternoon Willie Vasquez, John’s brother in law, dropped by to visit us. He was one of the few people in town who owned an automobile, he had an Overland and he was very proud of it.
John, among his many other gifts, played the fiddle, my brother Robert played the guitar, and Willie sang. Willie must have been happy to sing because he always smiled when he sang his songs, even the sad ones. The three of them played a couple of tunes in our garden. Then Willie’s eyes lit up above his huge grin.
“Hey guys! Let’s go and serenade the Duartes.”
I wanted to go but John said no. I had to go to school in the morning. Willie was a very kind and understanding man. He saw my desire and enthusiasm so he insisted that I go along.
“Maybe he will learn how to carry a tune by joining us.”
It was just getting dark when we left our house, we drove in Willie’s car to the Duarte farm north west of town. Their house was dark when we arrived there. They were already in bed. That did not discourage Willie and the Trio. They started the serenade.
The Duartes got out of bed, lit their oil lamps, and opened the front door. They did not seem annoyed at us waking them up, instead they invited us in.
Mrs. Duarte made coffee and baked a cake, while the Trio played a few tunes. “Turkey in the Straw” was very popular with them, they played it twice.
Mr. Duarte suggested that we all go and serenade his neighbor. Nobody said no, so he hitched up his buggy then we started out. The same thing happened at his neighbor’s. This continued on until dawn when we arrived at the nearby town of Somis. There the parade had become quite large and the trio now consisted of about ten men. That is not counting their wives and children.
The lady of the house insisted on serving breakfast to everyone. Their cow was milked and the fresh eggs were gathered. That old fashion country breakfast was really something. The lady served along with the fresh eggs, hash browns, home cured ham, hot biscuits, homemade jelly and coffee.
When the breakfast was over the party broke up and everyone went home to do the chores and go to work.
As fun as it was, and despite being tired and sleepy from staying up all night, I still had to go to school.
Thank you Uncle Willie. I still cannot sing, but that is a night I will always remember.