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Since 1888 The Place in Austin GOOD FOOD GOOD BEER 1607 San Jacinto GR 7-4171 Enselmo And the Triplets Enselmo, my grandfather’s Mexican ranchhand, was the strongest man I ever knew. He could carry a sack of oats on each shoulder from the front yard gate around to the cow lot and do it walking straight. He enjoyed doing things like that carrying or pushing or pulling; he liked putting his strength to work. And he liked it best of all when he lifted cars out of ruts after a big rain. He would be milking or working around the lots when Grammy grandmotherwould send some of us grandchildren after him to go pull an uncle or neighbor out of the mud. We would follow him down to the long black mud flat below the house where everyone usually got stuck and we would watch him grab the back bumper and begin to strain himself with the, lifting. We stood back under the live oak trees out of the mist and drizzle and chanted, Come onnnn, Enselmo . . . we’re betting on you, Enselmo . . . come onnnn, Enselmo, and we would grunt and breathe heavily and get down low and pretend to strain along with him. And Enselmo would start shaking his head from side to side to show that if we didn’t stop we were going to make him laugh and lose his hold. Then with the loose strap of his old aviator’s cap flapping from side to side and the rain streaking down the smooth glistening black rubber into his face, he would set the back wheels down beside us on the grass and let out his big roar of pent-up laughter. For a long time he would stand there, shin-deep in mud, leaning back and laughing and showing his big yellow buck, teeth, looking as if he wanted to laugh so hard and so long that he would have to sit down backwards in the mud, too weak to stand, and give us all a chance to laugh that much harder. 4 Enselmo was about thirty when the triplets were born ; Angelita, his wife, was just eighteen. They had been married four years and although both of them were crazy to have children, for some reason Angelita never could get pregnant. That was the year was twelve and was staying out at the ranch on weekends, and I remember that at night when they would sit with us on the front porch of the ranchhouse Enselmo would say to Gram, “Oh, Miss Maggie, I sure do wish I had me a little babyoh, I sure do,” and he would put his big arm around Angelita and pat her to let her know that she was not to blamethat he was just sad she could not give him any little ones. Then, as it sometimes happens, there was a shift in chemistry, a breaking of the spellhowever such things are ex A Story by Elroy Bode plainedand Angelita became pregnant. She was very sick in the mornings, Gram said, and I know that whenever I saw her her eyes looked large and very black and tired. As the months passed and Angelita got bigger Enselmo would bring back little things from the pastures to cheer her upa hummingbird’s nest, shiny pieces of quartz, wild grapes. He was gentle with her, always opening gates and doors before her very carefullyeven trying to walk a little more softly around in the house. But when he was out working around the ranch he was excited as a little boy. Sometimes I sat on the corral fence and listened to him talk to the cows as he milked them. “Hey, old cow,” he would say, “don’t you wish you going to have yourself a nice big boy, or maybe a pretty little chamaca?” When the cow would just go on eating in her feed box, paying him no mind, Enselmo would strip one of her teats extra hard and laughand after he was through milking he would kiss each cow lightly on the ear and then turn them loose into the lots with a terrific hand-smack on the rump. The day the triplets were born Angelita’s kinfolks came out from Kerrville and parked along the fenceline between the Mexican house and the cornfield..Gram and Grandpa wanted to take Angelita in to the hospital, but the old women, smiled and said something to the effect that they were very familiar with babies. I don’t remember when the first one cameI was out hunting squirrels in the front pasturebut about nine that night Grandpa came back from the Mexican house and told Gram and me that the dam had brokenAngelita and Enselmo were parents of triplets, all girls. The next morning when I went up to see they were laid out on a quilt, looking like three big shriveled acorns. Each had a thick wad of black hairas though Hard-nosed Mortgage Loans, no romance added . . . . J. W. “TOMMY” TUCKER Correspondent P. 0. Box 66103 Houston, Texas 77006 JAckson 4-2211 they even had on little dark acorn caps. I don’t recall exactly what it was that went wrong with the tripletssome sort of infection or respiratory trouble, or maybe they were just too smallbut within a week all three of them had died. When the first baby got sick Grandpa wanted to take them in to town, but the old women just kept on fussing over them and making some kind of herb tea and saying that the nenitas would be all right. After the first one died Grandpa got a doctor to come out but it was too late; the other two died the same afternoon. The doctor told us that the old women just sat huddled over their knees, shaking their heads and saying it was God’s will. The funeral was held in Kerrville the following afternoon at three o’clock: Maybe Enselmo and Angelita didn’t belong to any church, or maybe they were actually Methodistsbut instead of being held at the neat Catholic cemetery near the Mexican settlement the funeral took place at the small, run-down Protestant graveyard on the east side of town. It was Sunday, , and when we got there a big crowd was already gathering. There was a row of Mexican men dressed in dark suits and they were standing beside their cars, holding cigarettes down by their sides and talking quietly. As Grandpa drove up they all turned to face us and the talking died away. I remember getting out of the car and noticing how still everything wasand how you could hear the short, almost polite sound of car doors being shut up and down the dusty country road. The cemetery was full of weeds and yellow June flowers and dark places where the tombstones were hidden. We all walked through a gap cut in the wire fence and headed toward the middle of the field where a hole had been dug that morning. The Mexican women were dressed in black and seemed unusually smallstrung out May 29, 1964 13