Pancho El EsqueletoFriday, February 02, 2007
I saw this forlorn guy (he is both a candle stick and a bell) at a Comercial Mexicana near our home in the Estado de Mexico (outside Mexico City) 34 years ago. The company, which had a chain of large Save on Foods type stores in central Mexico was owned by the gracious, beautiful and very Spanish Mrs. Gonzalez. I had recently taken her family photographs. Rosemary and I liked her stores because she also sold fine Mexican crafts. I had spotted this 10-inch-long guy many times but nobody had bought him. Someone had written in bold black marker Pancho El Esqueleto (Pancho the skeleton) at the bottom. I felt so sorry for him that I finally brought him home. He has been part of our family all these years and all that remains of the graffiti is that black sweap at the bottom. Inside the bell his maker signed Josefina Aguilar. While there is no connection between death and Christmas we light the candle on Christmas Eve and Pancho shares space at our Christmas Eve dinner table.
Rebecca is always scoffing at me for saying stuff, "When I am dead, Rebecca...." She is beginning to understand me. After all we had a great time looking at every momia (mummy) in Guanajuato. They are frozen in death with horrible expressions on their faces. She is still suitably impressed by the final scene in Navigator - A Mediaeval Odyssey we saw a few weeks back. The little boy's coffin is gently pushed into the sea at the end. I think it is important to recognize the existence of death at a young age.
When I was 11, or two years older than Rebecca the big orange Colegio Americano bus picked me up at my house in Mexico City. On its way to the school in Tacubaya I always anticipated as it passed by the Panteón Dolores which is a huge old cemetery in Mexico City. The long walls, all in the shade of the thick growth of trees, were full of moss. I could see the statues and crosses of the grave monuments peeking over the wall at me. I was never curious enough to visit. And of course, if I had my chance, I would go back to Mexico City just to "do" the Panteón with my cameras.