In 1961 I was living with my Grandmother and taking care of my father. He had brain cancer and nobody else was available to care for him. Just me and Grandma Gray. She lived on 84th Place in L.A. We had a family from Mexico living exactly next door. We all got along great, despite the times being very “racially” charged. My family was, in general, extremely prejudiced and racially intolerant. Except my cousins Marilyn and Margie. And me. I believe it was Marilyn who first met Camilo and introduced him to Margie. That’s how I remember it and you may ask Camilo’s sister (Veronica?) about exact details. She would have been closer to the story.

By 1963 Margie and Camilo were definitely dating. My Grandma Gray by then was bed-ridden and living across town with Aunt Ruth (Margie’s mother, your grandmother) and here is a critical part of the story: one day I came over to visit Grandma Gray. She was staying in Aunt Ruth’s bedroom and seeing her bedridden and so weak stabbed me in the heart. Remember, in that time period “big boys don’t cry!” but I came from that bedroom streaming tears. I couldn’t help it and was very embarrassed. Here’s the part of the story I shan’t ever forget: Camilo was there and when he saw me crying and how disturbed I was, I cannot remember his exact words, but essentially he made it clear that it was “okay” to cry and to not be embarrassed or ashamed. I shall never forget his kindness and empathy at that moment if I live to be 100! At that very moment he became my everlasting hero and friend. And in all these years I have never hesitated to let him know such.

Here is another fairly interesting part of the “Camilo and Margie” story. I am reluctant to talk about it because there is a fair amount of residual “family shame” involved, but the subjects are all dead now. And I hate telling bad stories about people. But it was the time period and it did happen: it is our history.  I believe the year would have been maybe 1965 or 1966 or close. My Uncle Paul and Aunt Polly lived in Pacific Palisades: they were the “successful” members of the Gray family. Anyway I was visiting one day and the subject turned to Margie and that she might marry Camilo. A “Mexican”! That just couldn’t happen in the Gray family. This part of the story is sad but true. Uncle Paul said that (and I need to be accurate here), “If she marries that boy, she is never welcome in this house again!” I was shocked and said nothing but I (literally) decided at that moment that if it was good enough for Margie, it was good enough for me. I got up, walked out of their house and never saw them again until Lisa’s wedding. An interesting side note is that many years later at Lisa’s wedding on Queen Mary, I sat next to Paul and Polly at the dinner table and I suspect the fact that Margie and Camilo’s relationship lasted a lifetime sort of says it all!

So that’s my story and I am sticking to it. My final thought is that all of these years I knew I could call Margie and/or Camilo and that I would be welcome. Impossible to fathom that is no longer true.

PS: these photos I pulled from LIsa, Laura, and Karina’s Facebook pages: I ran them through AI imaging to colorize the black and whites and added “a field of wildflowers” to the shot of Margie and Camilo. I hope that was O.K. Also, the photo of Camilo asleep and the one of Margie I took when they came to visit me in Tucson, AZ. and at Mission San Xavier.

CLICK on these photos to view