Sunday, November 18, 2012

from Manuel Valenzuela

9 November 1949

Dear Murray and Rosa,

We hoped that by this time we were going to add another name to Murray and Rosa. We think we could if you had told us the name. Anyway we hope and are sure you three are fine and happy.
Manuel and Felicitas with Ricardo and Gorki, 1947

As I told you by the telephone we are with “one foot on the stirrup” (“un pie en el estrivo”) ready to go (as soon as we sell the house) to Mexico. All of us have been there. First I took Gorki and Ricardo to El Paso. My father was waiting there for them and they spended at Chihuahua two months July and August. Felicitas went to bring them and went all way to Patzcuaro to see her father and brother and sister. She was there only three days because the trip in all took her twenty days. Right after they came I went to see how things are and the chances to go there to live. 

I went to several places; San Luis Potosí, Aguascalientes, León, Lagos, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende.

I found things different as when we left in 1944 and for the better. There is a spirit to do and better things. Roads are being built everywhere. Now is possible to go to Guadalajara from San Luis Potosí, without the need to go to Mexico City and save about two driving days. There is a net of well-constructed roads among all those cities I went. The bus service is very good and surprise! with polite and careful drivers. There is a building fever and pity! Most of these places in process of being built are 14 to 16 stories high! I say pity because I do not think even for the sake of progress we need them. We can build keeping our architecture caracteristics adding modern convenience without making a cheap imitation of American cities. But any way if that is a sign of betterment for the country is all right even the needless sacrifice of the picturesque and the typical. 

The new politics is different too. When I was at Guanajuato a new governor took office. Dr. Aguilar y Maya. A very cultured person and the people around him as well. The uncultured and grafting politician is disappearing from all over Mexico. I didn’t realize what powerful arm the Mexican people had and despite scorn and despite irony they use against the politicians. They used this arm on the stage, movies, newspapers and everyday life and make out of the grafting politicians a despising thing with the result that now it a better and more prepared crop of politicians. It can be seen this in the new resurgence of the country on the many factories being built, new roads and the growth of cities, etc. There are many things to be made yet but what is been doing now shows there is willingness to advance and do something about it. 

Murray. I have the best copy of “Bridge to Russia.” The major general that was in charge of the landing at Attu read my copy and he wrote in two pages of the book about what he considered needed corrections on the landing. Do you want me to send the book? I think is very interesting. 

Not triplets, just Lane
Write to us soon. I feel that maybe there were triplets in the family and you are not recovered yet from the surprise and that’s why you haven’t told us. …

Salud y buena suerte


2 March 1958

Posada de la Presa, Guanajuato, Mexico

From Manuel Valenzuela

Querides amigos. Muchas gracias for your letters from Africa and Spain. Sorry we could not answer them, because we didn’t know your address. How I envy your trip! I bet was a wonderful one. How is Lane? By now she must be a little lady and a beautiful one.

Gorky brought very good memories of Seattle. He said you all were wonderful with him. He is now a small gentleman with girl friends and as good as ever. How the time pass! Remember when he was on the way in Patzcuaro and you accuse Felicitas of eating applies or something else for her bigness, because we wait and wait but no child? Looks was yesterday!

Carmen and Juan are expecting another child. Juan Fett [Son of painter Bill Fett] spent some days with us. He is much more gentle now. Big as Bill and with all his mannerisms. His exact picture. 

Mexico has changed and keeps on changing and seems for the best. You will notice more after being away. By the way, when are you coming? To tell you true, when we knew that you had been in Mexico and didn’t tell us we kind of resented it. Felicitas and I could have made a short trip to go and see you…

Bob Colodny is at Kansas.  
 Robert Colodny was a Spanish Civil War volunteer in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade along with Manuel. Despite severe injuries in Spain which left him partly paralyzed, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Aleutians, putting out the post newsletter Adakian along with Dashiell Hammett. He became a history professor at the University of Pittsburg.

The other day were here about four young fellows. They told me they were from the San Francisco City College. When I asked them if they knew a professor there named Robert Colodny and that he is my friend they were as excited as if I said that Einstein is my friend. Oh sure we know Dr. Colodny they told me. It seems they had him in great estimation. Bob’s book [The Struggle for Madrid, about the Spanish Civil War] is already out. I sent for it but I haven’t got it yet. He wrote and says they might come soon. I like that guy!

If somebody goes your way I am to send you an idol, authentic one, that I have been keeping for you. Here in the house all is more or less the same. I feel more older. As we say, the years start to feel their weight. 

Un abrazo para todos de todos nosotros,


[Manuel was the model for the character Angel in Murray's first novel, Day of the Dead, published under the pen name Cromwell Murray.]

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