As you can see from my previous posts, my ancestors mean a lot to me. Their stories are varied and full of interesting facts although most of them I had only a tender thread to link myself to them. Some of my aunts and uncles I didn’t get to know at all (Uncle Eppie and Uncle Frank), some I had a limited relationship with (Aunt Jane), others I adored (Aunt Della, Aunt Dorothy, Aunt Angie, Uncle Fred), but by far, my most complicated relationship was with my Uncle Ernest.
Ernesto Edward Jacquez
Ernest was born on October 13, 1913 in Blanco, NM. He was the third oldest born to Celestino and Tonita Jacquez. In 1920, Uncle Ernest was living with his family at his grandparents’ home in Largo, NM and by 1930, his family was living in Colorado. He married Sylvia Martinez on June 22, 1933 at the age of 20. Six months later Aunt Della and Uncle Joe also got married in Montrose, Colorado on December 23, 1933. Uncle Ernest and Sylvia had three children, Evelyn, Keith, and Joyce, who died as a small child. Here is Grandma, Uncle Ernest and kids:
Here is another with Evelyn
That is my dad narrating a visit to a cemetery in Montrose, Colorado. He found the gravesite of Joyce Jacquez as well as his brother Frank Jacquez.
In approximately 1935, Uncle Ernest moved to Jackson, CA and went to work so that he could make enough to send for his entire family. My father was very appreciative and firm that it was Uncle Ernest who brought the whole family to California, as they were not surviving well in New Mexico. We who thrived in California owe Uncle Ernest a great debt! He made it possible for his family to put down our California roots.
1940 finds Uncle Ernest married to Aunt Elsie née Chacon.
He was so handsome and we knew Aunt Elsie because we saw her several times at family parties. She told me and Jackie that her heart would still go pitter-patter whenever she saw him, long after they had divorced. Together they had three boys: Ernie, Freddy, and Larry. Ernie was born in November of 1939 and his brother Larry was born February 9, 1946.Here they are listed in the 1940 census:
They had another son, Freddy, who died as a baby. Here is a picture of Uncle Earnest holding baby Freddy.
My story with Uncle Ernest really starts in about 1969-1970. When we were little (I was about 4 and Jackie probably 8) and we were at Grandma Jacques’ house, Uncle Ernest would grab our arm and pretend that he was going to lock us down in the cellar.
Now, Grandma Jacques’ house was built in approximately 1910 in Santa Clara, with the small house having a full basement that had steep stairs from the outside of the house going down to the cellar.
It kinda looked like this:
Fine, not that bad, but in my mind, that is exactly what it looked like.
Jackie and I never went down there and the thought of it would scare us out of our wits. I can remember Grandma Jacques telling Uncle Ernest, “Leave those girls alone, and stop teasing them.”
Understandably, I was terrified of him. He would just laugh and get a scary glint in his eye. Well, I was very young and it seemed very scary.
By the time I was 8 or so, I would give Uncle Ernest a wide berth whenever I would see him. Uncle Ernest kept his New Mexico chili in our freezer in our home in San Jose. One day I was playing in the living room and I heard the doorbell ring. I ran to the door, so excited, only to open it up and find Uncle Ernest on the doorstep. I screamed very loudly, slammed the door and raced to my bedroom to hide in my bed, my heart racing like a trip hammer. My mother thought, what on earth had happened, so she went to the front door and there stood Uncle Ernest, laughing like crazy. He said, “Well, I guess I scared them enough.” I thought for sure he was there to take me to Grandma’s cellar.
By the time I was about 13, my father was having surgery and Uncle Ernest came to the hospital. He said, “Are you still afraid of me?” Jackie and I laughed and said, “Of course not.” Secretly, I was still a little afraid.
I didn’t see him much after that. However, I was very close to my Aunt Della. She had never learned to drive and Uncle Joe, her husband, had passed away in 1979. By the 1980’s I had my driver’s license and we lived in Stockton and she in Manteca, I would go visit her often. I would take her to lunch or dinner and out to do her shopping. One day she called me to say Uncle Ernest was coming to visit her and did I want to come to Manteca to visit him. I said, “Of course” but still felt nervous. I know, I know, I am kind of a baby, but it was hard to shake my nervousness around him.
Ever since I was a small girl, I was a reading fanatic. The only time I would get in trouble with my parents was if I was awake late at night, reading. My dad would tell me to put my book down and turn off the light. He would say, “You’re just like your Uncle Ernest.”
So I visited with Uncle Ernest at Aunt Della’s house. Whatever dime store novel he was reading at the time would be tucked into his back pocket. He loved reading westerns. When he found out that I, too, was a reading nut, Uncle Ernest would put together a box of books and mail them to me. He would share whatever books he had. I, too, began putting together boxes of books for him. When Paul and I would go to San Jose, I would stop at his apartment, bringing him fresh books to read and Almond Joy candy bars.
He was so well read, he would read everything he could get his hands on. He read the newspaper from cover to cover, knew every current event, and was very intelligent. He also read all of the rag magazines, as Daddy called them, like the National Enquirer.
Here he is later in life with a friend’s baby:
He lived in San Jose in an apartment on Jackson Street. One day in 1993, Uncle Ernest had just cashed his social security check when he was jumped by a kid with a knife. The newspapers interviewed him, wherein he told them if he’d been 10 years younger he would’ve beat the shit out of the guy. He was 80 years old. The police force of San Jose collected money to replace what was lost and more.
While he was in the hospital, Jackie, Paul, and I went to San Jose to see him. After that, he went into a rest home. I still visited him as often as I could, taking him a newspaper, western books, and Almond Joy candy bars. This is a picture of the last time my dad saw his brother before he died.
He would send me little notes with his packages and Christmas cards. Here is one
Uncle Ernest died on August 1, 2004 at the age of 93. His funeral was held at the church I attended. I prepared and gave his eulogy after spending the night before in the emergency room with my husband and an errant kidney stone.
He was a very complicated character, but I ended up loving my Uncle Ernest greatly.
Dad, Aunt Angie, Uncle Ernest, Aunt Dorothy, Aunt Nora