Houston IV 4/39

From Ruby T. Lomax’s field notes: “We first met Gonzalo Lopez and his family on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, at Providence Home, 2410 Anne St., Houston, Texas, where we had set up our recording machine to catch the singing parts of THE GOOD THIEF. (See Introduction by Sister M. Dolores [2600A2]). The family had interrupted their rehearsing for the evening performance of the drama to record for us. The Lopezes were introduced to us by Sister Mary Dolores. She herself we had met by correspondence through Sister Joan of Arc of Our Lady of the Lake College, San Antonio, Texas. Sister Joan of Arc had previously assisted Mr. Lomax (John A.) in his search for folk songs around San Antonio. Early in the spring she had written that an interesting religious drama, THE GOOD THIEF, would be presented in Spanish by the Lopez family on Easter Sunday at the Guadalupe Church; Sister Mary Dolores of Providence Home would assist us. Mr. Lomax arranged to meet the singers of the choral parts of the drama at Providence Home at three o'clock on Easter Sunday. Sister Dolores furnished him with an introductory sketch, a full text of the choral parts in Spanish and an English translation of them.

The presenting of this play, MORIR EN LA CRUZ CON CRISTO, ODIMAS [sic] EL BUEN LADRON, is traditional with the Lopez family beginning with their elders in Mexico. It occurred to some one of the family, Lorenza Lopez, some fifty years ago that the drama would be more effective if the lyrical parts were sung. As Sister M. Dolores has set down in her introduction, Lorenza Lopez approached an old school teacher in Coahuila, Lorenzo Flores, then a recluse, who, after praying over the matter for several days, set the verses to tunes which he taught the Lopez family. These tunes have been handed down from generation to generation of the Lopez family without written music. The discs which John A. Lomax has deposited in the Archive of American Folk Song in the Library of Congress are their first permanent form.

On Easter Sunday, in Providence Home, after two of the seven songs had been recorded, the machine broke down. As no mechanic could be found on Easter Sunday further recording had to be postponed. The Lopez family is a busy, thrifty farming family who live at Sugarland a few miles west of Sugarland. Two weeks later, on April 23, we set up the recording machine on batteries in the living-room of the Gonzalo Lopez farm home. There Mr. Lomax recorded not only the seven songs of the drama, THE GOOD THIEF, but also the following secular folk songs of the Mexican border: Moldita la illusion, La vida de los arrieros, Yo ya me voy (which Mr. Lopez had used as his courting song).

Mr. and Mrs. Lopez have twelve children, eleven of whom arranged themselves about the room where the machine was set, the singers and the microphone being in the kitchen. Mr. Lopez' brother, Cleofe, from Sugarland assisted, Mrs. Lopez and the daughters singing the women's parts. The daughter who was not present is a Sister in a convent, a teacher. One daughter is employed in nearby Sugarland; the other children who are large enough or who are not in school assist with the farmwork.

When we drove from Houston, our headquarters, out to the Lopez farm to make the appointment for the recording, we found Mr. Lopez busy in the field, while Mrs. Lopez, having just finished a large family laundry, was preparing to go to the field. She apologized further for her late start, explaining that she had to do something extra for one of the small children who was sick. Much of this conversation was carried on in pantomime, as Mrs. Lopez knows little English and the Lomax pair knew less Spanish. Mr. Lopez and the children of school age, of course, speak English. The members of the family are all devout members of the Catholic Church, highly respected in the community for their thrift and dependability.

Introduction to The Good Thief (part 1)

Introduction to The Good Thief (part 2)

Coro de bandoleros

Si asi

4 Results