Erasmo--Compadre and Friend

farewell tribute

Erasmo

Tuesday evening, I heard my cell ringing downstairs just as I went to bed and didn’t want to get up and get it.  Becky said it was likely important because no one would call that late—11:30.  On the other end was an emotional Angel who almost shouted, “Mi padre es morte.”  My heart sunk with the news.  My friend, employee, and compadre of 30 years was gone.  We both went on and on not wanting to believe. 

Erasmo had wanted to retire last season, but learned that he could not collect any of the Social Security he’d been paying into for decades unless he was a US citizen.  So he was coming one last time to be naturalized.  He’d flown here for at least a decade since his heart attack, but his youngest son, Diego, was coming for the first time and needed to go to Monterrey for his H2A visa—so they were traveling by bus.  He died there in the motel room.  The 18 year old was devastated, as well as his two brothers here. 

Four hours later, 4:00 AM, we were at Greater Pittsburgh checking bags for Angel and Daniel to Monterrey. 

We’ve literally helped to raise each other’s kids.  How our young girls were mesmerized by candy which Erasmo was somehow picking from pepper plants!

Becky describes Erasmo and myself as “two peas in a pod”-- brothers.  We both love to work.  I can hear him interacting with some new workers saying the day goes so slowly when you’re “dogging it”.  Or the ultimate complement when he once replied, "Tu no eres gringo," after self-deprecatingly calling myself a gringo.

He had an unfailing humor, teasing relentlessly, making up stories suckering you in time and again.  Like the season he came with another guy from his “pueblito” who was Indian.  They’d tell stories (which I believed) about digging up Aztec and Spanish gold.  And how his brother was having a party and penned a pig near his house for the feast, only for the pig to root into the ground and dig up a sackful of gold from the Mexcan revolution.  He said the brother never had to work again.  Later that season I was picking up another guy from Amealco at the bus station and for small talk on the way to the farm, asked if he knew this brother of Erasmo.  Then I told him the story.  His reaction, “Erasmo!” revealed I’d been had by a master who could really make the shit stick.

We took our Dodge Caravan for a family Christmas vacation to Mexico in 1996 and stopped to see Erasmo and his family.  Was he surprised!  But proudly showed me his “rancho”.  He’d been farming with oxen which he learned from his father, whom we met out in the field tending the sheep. 

Angel, Angelica, Olivia, Daniel, Teresa, Erasmo 1996

El Toro

I don't think there's been a time when images of Erasmo haven't appeared on our website.  He's always there in the action on the farm.

Whenever I’m asked what’s the secret of our farm’s success, I know to a very large degree it’s because of Erasmo.  We’ll miss him dearly.