Leno Rose Ávila. (Foto: Cortesía/Leno Rose Ávila)

I began working full time at the young age of 11 in the agriculture fields of Colorado along side my Father Marcos Trinidad Avila. My dad was one of the best workers in our home town. He seldom complained and his work was good and professional. In addition he had no enemies except for racism and poverty.

By age 14-15 I noticed this young girl Ida Cordova and her brother Lonnie who would come to work with their step mother Cristina a Greek immigrant. Evidently their father a foreman on a local farm had met her while he was a soldier in Europe and brought her to the USA which was in a better economic condition than Europe after the war.

There Cristina a pale worker, legs unshaved a Greek farmworker. She learned Spanish quickly and learned how to make Mexican food and home made tortillas.. she was a tough and smart lady and one summer organized a labor walk out which me and my father joined. We then had to travel over 20 miles to work on some distant farms in other cities.

As a young man I admired what a good worker Cristina was and so were Ida and her brother. Ida was always friendly with me and I was too shy in those days to make a move on her

All her work outfits were JUST RIGHT and hugged her young body. Her beautiful black hair was always covered by a scarf and a straw hat

 She was serious about her work ethic and did not waste time with useless chismes or gossip. She was so beautiful with her skin getting darker with the passing of each summer day. Her dark skin blessed the sun and my hopes. I would watch her some times out of the corner of my eyes as she toiled in the hot sun a couple rows away from me. The way she swayed and moved while harvesting was like an exotic Latin dance which she did each and every day. Probably she had some special music in the back of her head that helped her to survive the hot sun and the hard work.

I would day dream that some day she would pay attention to me and that we would begin courting and eventually marry. Yes it would be me marrying the best woman farm worker of my time. I hung around as often as I could with her brother Lonnie hoping to expose my face to her more often.

She did not date much or have time for that sort of stuff because of a very strict father. I don’t remember she or Lonnie  going beyond junior high.

When I was about 15 Ida left the fields to go visit relatives in Denver which was  200 miles west and north of us. Denver was the big city and only the fortunate few would ever get to visit there or even live there. Ida left in the middle of the summer. Rumor was she met a fella there in Denver and got married.

I of course was crushed ..

Then one day during onion harvesting time we see a long blue convertible coming down the dirt road between the different fields kicking up a brown dust storm in its wake. Normally if any vehicle was coming out to the fields it would be the grower

So this intrusion was an unusual site.

Everyone stopped working and stood up watching this beautiful auto approaching

There was a man and a women in the front seat with sun glasses on ..as soon as the car stops a woman hops out and it is Ida with her dark her combed out. Not hidden under a scarf and straw hat

 she looked like a brown angel in the prettiest white dress and leaving the drivers side was this tall handsome man whom we would soon learn was her husband. He was dressed well in some nice brown slacks, good black shoes and his long black hair slicked by back with the hair grease of the day. His white shirt had the first two buttons undone and his shirt collar was up which was the normal dress for us on Saturday nights.

She pranced around like Mary Poppins from row to row saying hello and introducing her man .. soon she was coming to our rows where me and my dad were working. She skipped into my fathers arms, and shook my hand as she mentioned to her man that I was her good friend and that Marcos my dad was special. A lot of the Farm worker young women liked my dad cause he listened to them and he had a great smile

With in an hour she was walking happily back towards their blue chariot turning once to wave good bye.. we were envious and at the same time happy that she had escaped our home town Las Animas and its poverty and was now in the big city not to mention that she had a handsome husband and a great car.

That was the last time I saw Ida and I wonder what her life was like after farm work She was a young smart good worker who deserved the best. While many  opportunities are hard for people of color to obtain, it is even much harder for women of color… I should know .. I had nine sisters.. Culture, poverty, sexism and racism are not easy to overcome when women fight for a better future

And here many years later I wonder where have all the Ida’s. gone ??


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