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Leandro Fernández, de 102 años, se fue a West Virginia, 19

 
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Art
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 4475
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2003 12:59 am    Post subject: Leandro Fernández, de 102 años, se fue a West Virginia, 19 Reply with quote

La Nueva España
22 de julio, 2003

Gracias a la autora, Elisa Campo, por su permision poner el texto aqui.

Puedes ver el artículo original aqui: http://lne.es/secciones/aviles/noticia.jsp?pIdNoticia=77851&pNumEjemplar=249&pFechaEjemplar=2003-07-22&00:00:00&pIdSeccion=36

Vive para contar su historia en Virginia
Leandro Fernández, de 102 años, se fue de Castrillón para trabajar en 1920

Pillarno (Castrillón)

Elisa Campo

Foto del Leandro Fernández Peláez, junto a su casa, en Pillarno. [not shown--no muestrado]

Pocos son los que pueden contar en primera persona la historia de la emigración de avilesinos a Virginia Occidental hace ahora un siglo. Leandro Fernández Peláez, haciendo gala de una memoria asombrosa para sus 102 años, sí puede. «Embarqué en Vigo en 1920. Fui para conocer aquello», rememora este vecino de Pillarno, el más anciano del concejo.

En Virginia estuvo 4 años, según cuenta. «Allí trabajaba en una empresa siderúrgica». Su hijo, Ignacio Fernández-Sirgo, le pregunta sonriendo si le dio tiempo para echarse novia. Fernández Peláez niega con la cabeza. Su afición para los ratos de ocio, asegura, era otra: jugaba al fútbol en un equipo que se llamaba el Miranda. «El fútbol era de aficionados. Al lado del barrio, Zeising, había campo con un río, donde jugábamos. Algunas pelotas se marchaban. Trabajábamos y en los descansos jugábamos».

Había muchos emigrantes vecinos suyos. «Allí había industria, venían unos, marchaban otros. Todos nos conocíamos. Eran de Miranda, de PillarnoÉ La vida era parecida a la de aquí, porque eran casi todos españoles. Allí aprendí a hablar inglés». Aunque asegura que ya no recuerda el idioma, «porque hay que practicarlo», su hijo cuenta que no hace muchos años, en un aeropuerto, sorprendió a toda la familia hablando en inglés con una niña.

Comienzos difíciles

Los comienzos fueron difíciles. Se embarcó en Vigo, después de 14 días de viaje llegó a Nueva York y luego se trasladó a Virginia Occidental en tren. «En Nueva York escribías a la familia o a los amigos. Allí tenían un vicecónsul español para traducir las cosas. También había muchos comercios españoles. Emigraban personas y familias enteras. Se escribían unos a otros y decían cómo era aquello. Yo tenía una amistad allí. Y como no sabías bien el idioma te arrimabas a uno que hiciera de intérprete. Ibas conociendo aquello y apañándote. Pasábamos mucho tiempo pensando en nuestra patria. A veces había 40 o 50 de Pillarno allí. Como había un encargado que hacía de intérprete... También había un colegio en la fábrica, lo llevaban argentinos, para el que quisiese estudiar».

Cuenta que lo que ganaban en el trabajo dependía de lo que hicieran dentro de la empresa y el tiempo que llevaran. «Iba por escalafones. Luego vino un desastre para la fábrica, y el que pudo marchar se fue para donde le parecía». ¿Por qué regresó a Pillarno Leandro Fernández? «Volví porque mi padre se había quedado solo».

Pero no acabó aquí su periplo. Poco tiempo después comenzaron a alistar a gente. «Estuve poco tiempo y luego detuvieron a unos cuantos, uno de ellos Laureano el Rubio, para llevarlos a la guerra de África». Para evitar que le tocara a él, se fue a Cuba, donde tenía familia, y donde pasó dos años. Como era considerado un desertor, no podía volver a España. Sin embargo, Primo de Rivera ofreció una amnistía general (había que pagar un dinero). «Regresé después de pagar una cuota al Gobierno español, que quería perras». Esos viajes fueron suficientes, y Fernández no volvió a salir de Pillarno.
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Art
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sadly, Leandro Fernández died on or about the 8th of October, 2003, I believe.

To read a little more, see:
http://www.asturianus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=893#893

----------
Reverso translation (tweaked by Art)

Tristemente, Leandro Fernández murió mas o menos el 8 de octubre de 2003, creo.

Para un poco más informes:
http://www.asturianus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=893#893
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Xose



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2003 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is an English translation of the above article:

Living to tell about her history in [West] Virginia
Leandro Fernandez, 102 years old, left Castrillón for work in 1920

Photo of Leandro Fernandez Pelaez, in front of his house in Pillarno. [not shown]

Very few people can recount in first-person the history of the people of Avilés' immigration to West Virgina almost a century ago. Leandro Fernández Peláez, boasting an amazing memory for someone that's 102 years old, can. "We embarked from Vigo in 1920. I went to meet someone," remembers this citizen of Pillarno, the town's oldest resident.

He was in [West] Virginia for four years, according to his account. "I worked there in an ironworks." His son, Ignacio Fernández-Sirgo, smilingly asked him if he had time to find a sweetheart. Fernández Peláez nodded no. His favorite diversion, he assured his son, was something else: playing soccer with a team named el Miranda. "The soccer was played by us enthusiasts. At the edge of the town, Zeising, there was a field next to a river, where we played. Lots of balls were lost. We worked hard, and played on our breaks."

Many of his neighbors were also immigrants. "They had industry there, some would come, some would go. Everyone knew everyone else. They were from Miranda, from Pillarno. Life was a lot like it is here, because it was almost all Spaniards. I learned how to speak English there." Although he assures us that he doesn't speak the language anymore, "because you need to practice it [to remember it]," his son tells of the time a few years ago when he surprised the whole family by speaking English to a little girl in an airport.

Difficult Beginnings

The beginnings were difficult. They left from Vigo. Fourteen days later they arrived in New York and took a train from there to West Virginia. "In New York I would write to my family or friends. There was a Spanish vice-consul there that would translate things. Also, there were many Spanish businesses. Single people and even whole families emigrated. We would write to each other to tell how things were. I had a friendship there. And because you didn't know the language well, you had to find an interpreter. We were trying to get by the best that we could. We spent a lot of time thinking about our home country. At times there were 40 or 50 people from Pillarno there. It was difficult to find interpretrer, but there was a little school in the factory, run by Argentinians, for whoever wanted to study.

He says that getting work depended on what you did in the business and the time that you put in. "It was done by seniority. Later there was a disaster for the plant, and anyone who could leave left for somewhere they knew." Why did Leandro Fernández come home to Pillarno? "I came back because my father had been left alone."

But his journey did not end here. A little while after he returned, Spain began drafting people for the Army. "I was only there a short time and then they started drafting some of us, one of whom was Laureano el Rubio, to send us to the war in Africa." To avoid getting sent himself, he fled to Cuba, where he had some family, and stayed two years. Since he was considered a deserter, he could not return to Spain. Nevertheless, Primo de Rivera [the Spanish head of state at the time] offered up a general amnesty (although you had to pay some money to get it). "I came back after paying the Spanish government, those bitches." Those voyages were enough, and Fernández never left Pillarno again.



If you find any problems or incorrect translations, please post them. My Spanish is not what it used to be... Wink
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Art
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Xose,

It's great that you did the translation. It looks pretty darn good!

There were just three lines I wondered about.

I'm just guessing. "Yo tenía una amistad allí." might refer to "I had a bond of friendship." or "I experienced strong friendships there." --something in the sense of friendship with many rather than just one person.

The second was "I went to meet someone," which I'm guessing should be "I went to see the place," or "I went to get to know the country,"

The third was, "«Regresé después de pagar una cuota al Gobierno español, que quería perras»." I was charmed by that interpretation! My reading is that he was saying, "I returned after paying a fee (fine?) to the Spanish government, which wanted/needed money." "Perra" can mean a female dog, but also means "copper" or "penny" in the sense of "moneda" or "coin", so in this case it's an informal way of saying "money", I think.

I'm sure my Spanish isn't that good, though, and I'm mostly going by my dictionary and context. Maybe one of our Asturian members can help us out?

Thanks for your help, Xose!
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Carlos
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:50 pm    Post subject: Translation and explanation Reply with quote

Hi Art & Xose.

Your translations are good, except in a few details.

In this context, "yo tenía una amistad allí" means that Leandro Fernandez had a friend, "una amistad" is a synonim of "friend". "Mis amistades" is the same that "all the people that I can consider friends of mine". "Hacer amistades" is "to make friends".

"Fui para conocer aquello" means, as Art says, that Leandro travel to USA to know the place, the country, etc.

And the third point is the colonial war in Africa. As consequence from Treaties of Paris, the territory of which today is Morocco was turned two protectorates, the one of the Eastern part adjudged to France, and the western one to Spain. In fact, by means of that Treaty the European powers (Spain, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Belgium) distributed practically all Africa, without consent of the African, of course.

At the time of beginnings of century XX, Spain was a country in decay, since in 1898 it finished losing Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, like result of the war against the United States. The natives of Morocco were with two foreign invaders, the French and the Spaniards. But France had of more money, more men and more military average. For that reason, the Riffean tribes preferred to fight before against the less powerful enemy, than it was Spain.

This war was very unpopular between the Spanish population, since the native Moroccans caused many deads to the Spanish Army, and neither the soldiers nor their families very knew for what thing they were fighting. The atmosphere, the spirit in Spain was similar to the existing in the USA when the Vietnam War.

The Government had laws that allowed to the drafting and the obligatory military service. But there was an exception: it was possible not to be recruited by the way of payment of an amount, 3000 reales.

This number was crazy for the time, a fortune. The consequence is that the children of the rich ones got rid to have to go to fight in the war, but not the poor people, the children of the farmers or the workers.

For this reason, many young people fled from their houses not to be recruited, sometimes to mountains, other times going away to other countries. Then they were declared fugitive by the Government, and if they were discovered hidden, or when returning to the country, the Civil Guard (Guardia Civil, paradoxically a sort of militarized Rural Police) was in charge to arresting and to jail them, with which they waited for very hard pains to them: military prisons, forced works or simply its incorporation to the war front, of course to the most hard and dangerous destinations.

Once finalized the war, the fugitives continued being outside the law, and at the same time the Public Treasure was without a penny. The dictator General Primo de Rivera promulgated an amnesty law, half by the popular mobilizations, half with the intention to collect money, by which he declared retroactive the right of not to be recruited by the army by an amount of money.

This is the case that speaks Leandro Fernandez, and the word "perras" is the same that a coloquial form of "money". When I lived in Pravia, I remember an old man called Melón ("Big Manuel", not mellon) that emigrated to Florida for this reason.
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Xose



Joined: 24 Oct 2003
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Location: Washington, D.C.

PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey thanks for the clarifications. My great-grandfather came to America to escape that military draft. His story was a little unique in that a rich man in town paid for my bisabuleo to go to the war in place of the man's son. Needless to say, my bisabuelo was having no part of that, and headed to America on the first ship out.
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