Sunday, December 28, 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

A couple of days ago I posted about the project that I am working on sorting through my grandfather's photos. From 1920 - 1926, he worked for a company called Phoenix Utility putting in the electrical infrastructure in Mexico, British Honduras and Cuba. This was following the Mexican Revolution and there was a boom in new construction. My grandfather eventually contracted malaria and returned to Minnesota to recover.

My dad tells a story told to him by his father. One day while working in Mexico the Mexican workers got wind of a revolutionary band making it's way towards camp. Sensing trouble and deciding they wanted no part of it, they made themselves scarce. My grandfather remained in camp and later in the day, in rode Pancho Villa & his crew. They told my grandfather that they were going to kill him. My grandpa suggested that before they kill him they may as well have some cocktails :-) Once drunk, he told them to take whatever they wanted from the camp, and the revolutionaries rode off leaving him tipsy, but alive.

We believe this story and the timeline fits when Pancho Villa and Zapata where in the area of Mexico City. I had hoped of finding some photos, but I suppose no one would have been in the mood to pose for photos. So, the story remains family lore.

I'm posting some of the photos that deal with the work involved with installing the electric lines, transformers, etc. (there is a whole other series of native Mexican cowboys & ranches)

I love how the Phoenix guys wear khaki pants and linen shirts. I'm pretty certain that doing that laundry was no fun. In one of the photos, there is a line indicating which guy is my grandpa. Another photo, my grandpa labeled "my dog."

At any rate, I'd imagine that this is much of the same process that brought electricity across the US. It's also interesting to me that this is what was going on in the world when Stuccohouse was built.



4 comments:

Jenni said...

Wow what great pics.

Garden Monkey said...

Wow! This is an incredible collection. I studied archaeology in Mexico and would have LOVED to have been there in the 1920's. That's when everything started to happen, probably a lot was unearthed by the utility folks! (I wonder what other souvenirs might be hanging out in a shoebox somewhere!) These photos are fantastic!

Karen said...

Great pics. You have a piece of history there. And the Pancho Villa story is way too cool. You should post a couple on Shorpy.com. I'm looking foward to seeing more and hearing the stories that go with them. Thanks for sharing.

Omar said...

Very cool pics -- pancho villa's mistress had a home in my neighborhood that was torn down when they built the freeway in the 60s. The Williams house (a few blocks north) was the meeting place between Villa and an army general and is still around though.

Great stories and pics to go along with it. Would have been nice to get a photo of his men toasting some tequila.. :)

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