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A Spanish Engagement

The Prendorio

"If you don’t mind telling me, I should like to hear about your engagement and wedding. For I think the old Spanish engagements were very romantic.”

“You refer to the prendorio, or engagement announcement. I think we took marriage more seriously in the old days. As, no doubt you know, there are slight variations in the old customs of every country. So it was with the prendorio. Some families discarded the letter, but my family, or to be exact, the boy’s family, adopted it. The parents of my future husband wrote a letter to my parents, which they presented in person, asking them for their consent to the marriage of their son to me. Fifteen days later my parents wrote a similar letter, which they presented in person, to the boy’s parents in which they gave their consent.”

“Did your parents give a reception?”

“Oh, yes, and it lasted all day. While my parents received their guests, I remained hidden in another room. And, during the reception, refreshments were served. When it came time for the boy’s parents to enter, they left their son outside. Finally they called me in; then they called the boy in.”

“Were you embarrassed?”

“Very much,” she replied. “If my face was as red as my ears felt, I am sure that it was the color of a poinsettia.”

“Did the boy bring you a gift?”

“Si, señora, la cajita bonita!” she said.

“A pretty little box, eh? Well, what did it contain? Now you have me curious.”

“No more so than I was,” she laughed. “Upon opening that pretty little box I fairly gasped with surprise. Of course, I expected jewelry, but not as beautiful as the pieces I received; they were family heirlooms.

Accepting the gift was accepting the boy, so he placed a diamond engagement ring upon my finger. Then, after my father announced our engagement to the guests, congratulations followed. The ladies remained inside but the men went outside and celebrated by shooting off guns in our honor.”

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Cecilia Richards: Born in Fort Stockton, Texas; January 25, 1874; moved to Pecos with parents; moved from Pecos to La Union; moved from La Union to Anthony, New Mexico, 1890. Attended Loretto Academy, Las Cruces, New Mexico; Father was English, mother Spanish; Married Deonicio (Dennis) Alvarez; Husband born in La Union, which used to be called, “Amoles,” after the roots of the palm Plant from which the natives made soap. Mrs. Alvarez is the mother of Cruz Richards Alvarez, Attorney of Old Mesilla; Joe Richards Alvarez of La Union; Edward Richards Alvarez of La Union; Estella Richards Alvarez, who is now Mrs. Paul Scharmen, Country Club--El Paso.