Family Storytelling Project
This is a new love story set in the 1970s. When disco was coming into the scene, a revolution was in the air, and love was just a glance away. Times were changing and people were leaving El Salvador in hopes of a better life. For young Salvador, it was to be with his love and start his life. This story is the first part of the whole story, the part where we meet Salvador and Carmen and their days in El Salvador. Most never know true love, but when it does happen, it’s something to fight for.
Salvador was born in 1949, in San Salvador, El Salvador, to a single mother named Cata. He was the second youngest of four children. From the start, Salvador was a boy with aspirations, seen as hard-working, smart, loving, and curious about the world. As a young man, he enjoyed being with his friends and trying to get an education from the abusive teachers who were known to hurt the children with bamboo sticks as punishment for misbehaving. He wasn’t a trouble maker, but it seemed that the teachers always had an eye out for him and his siblings because of their home life.
As Salvador grew up, he met Carmen. Carmen was a daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur family well known in the department of La Libertad. Her father, Gustavo, was a successful fisherman, her mother a successful business owner of storefronts, and transportation, and owned multiple homes that they rented to others. Gustavo had passed away at a young age from a heart attack, which left her mother, Marta with the wealth and thirteen children to care for. Carmen, who was the oldest daughter, was her mother’s right hand, making sure the employees of the home and storefronts would complete their tasks, keeping track of inventory, and helping her mother make sure her siblings would go to school and complete their chores. Carmen was very close to her father and always remembers the wise consejos he would give her, “I remember my father always told me, a woman should be educated and polite no matter the situation. Treat people with respect, and you will see how much people will respect you in return.” As a young woman, Carmen had many marriage proposals but never settled with the men of the department. Carmen’s family lived in a home that her father built and was known to the family as La Casa Grande. This home was everything to Carmen, her father built it, it was a prized possession to her, and dreamt of the day that she would once inherit it. La Casa Grande is where Marta would handle all her business matters when she was not visiting the shops. It had multiple rooms, a large kitchen with a traditional stove, fruit trees, and at times spirits that weren’t friendly at times.
One day, Salvador went to La Libertad looking for work as a bus driver since he was told they pay well, and heard that Señora Marta was the person he’d want to see for work. Walking through the department, feeling the sun on his face, and hearing the ocean behind him, he noticed two young ladies in front of La Casa Grande. Salvador at this time was a young man, ready to take on the world. The two ladies were Carmen and her younger sister Delmi. Both stunned by the young man looked at him and were both impressed by the way he carried himself. Salvador couldn’t take his eyes away from Carmen, “Buenos días, mi nombre es Salvador, ¿se encuentra la Señora Marta?” As Salvador introduced himself, Marta came to the door, “Hola yo soy Marta, ¿en que le puedo ayudar?” As Salvador spoke with Marta, Carmen and Delmi went along their way, talking about Salvador and what their mother might put him to do for work. As their mother discussed business, Carmen turned and smiled at Salvador. Both seemed to have had an eye for Salvador, little did they know, jealousy would be an issue for them in their future.
As time went on, Salvador worked for Marta and would see Carmen and her sisters daily. His interest in Carmen grew as they would interact with each other. Carmen would check in on him before his route, making sure he would be ready and knew the route and the procedures her mother expected the drivers to know. Although Salvador wasn’t wealthy, she couldn’t help but grow a crush on him. His curly hair and smile were what she liked most, and how respectful he was with her. She knew he liked her but didn’t do anything about it. Her mother wouldn’t be happy about them dating. Marta wasn’t a very religious woman, she was all about growing and keeping her wealth, and spoiling her sons. She was very difficult to win over and wasn’t accepting of Salvador other than having him work for her.
"Her mother wouldn’t be happy about them dating. Marta wasn’t a very religious woman, she was all about growing and keeping her wealth, and spoiling her sons. She was very difficult to win over and wasn’t accepting of Salvador other than having him work for her."
Salvador knew that she didn’t care for him, but wasn’t going to let her feelings get in the way of making money and possibly winning over Carmen. With the hope that Carmen would give him an opportunity, he began to woo her in his way. He used his chivalry and humor to make her smile, laugh, and learn her likes and dislikes, until finally asked her on a date. Without hesitation, they began to be together, they both enjoyed dancing, going out with their friends, and going to the beach when they could. Eventually, Carmen moved with Salvador and his family.
Life in Salvador’s family home was a little difficult for Carmen. Cata, Salvador’s mother, wasn't the sweetest lady and had a very difficult personality that caused tension between the two. Being a good son, Salvador never spoke ill of his mother, treating her with respect and providing what he could to help her. Although they cared and loved each other, Carmen did not want to continue to deal with Cata or be caught in a hard position with Salvador. She wasn’t one to stay in a place she was not happy. After months of living there, dealing with the treatment of Cata and the arguments with Salvador about this, she decided to leave El Salvador and make the trip up to the United States. By 1970, Carmen was twenty-one years old, she had said farewell to Salvador, and her family, and made the hard trip to the U.S. with a cousin. She aspired to create a home and to be successful. Although her trip wasn’t easy, she remembers the swim to cross the border, finally passing through the border and reaching her aunt's house in Huntington Park, CA.
Salvador continued working for Marta but felt the emptiness of not having Carmen with him. He was in love, her presence was very much missed. He would at times get calls from her, telling him about her new life as a live-in housekeeper, and of the new things she learned from the ladies she worked for and how different it was from back home. Carmen was loving her adventure, learning the way of being an American. She loved it all and hoped to get her own home once she had enough money. Hearing the happiness in her voice along with the pull on his heart to be with her, Salvador decided he would make his way to the U.S as well. He made the plan to save as much as he could to pay his way north. Marta, hearing the news that Salvador was preparing to leave, was upset. She did not think he should leave, she would lose money if he did. To keep him around, she promised him she would save the money for him from his pay, and once he would make the amount needed for the trip, would help him set up his route. Salvador believed her and believed she would give him the savings. When the time came, he asked her for the savings, he was ready and could wait any longer. “I’m not giving you any money, you owe me for the food, rent, and supplies you have been using. Figure out what you’re going to do, but I’m not giving you one cent.”
Angry and upset, Salvador couldn’t believe how she had lied to him and cheated him of his pay. He never understood why she did this, was it because of his upbringing, or that she didn’t want him to be with Carmen, or was it just the bitterness of her heart to keep him down? Carmen was expecting him, he had advised her of his plans, but never mentioned the deal with her mother. Feeling lost and violated, he confessed to Carmen that he didn’t have the money, and wasn’t sure how he could manage to round up the money, telling her that the trip would have to wait. Hearing the sadness in his voice, made her miss him. She was ready to have him back in her life and wasn’t going to let any more time pass. “I want you to get your things ready Salvador, go and say your goodbyes to your family and friends, I will take care of the financial matters with the travel guide, just be ready by the end of the week.” Carmen used the money that she was saving for her future home, to bring Salvador to the United States.
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