In 1972, Donna and I took an extended honeymoon to Spain and Portugal. In Spain, we traveled around – sightseeing and attending the corridas of famed matador Diego Puerta in Madrid, Cordoba and Sevilla. And we took pictures galore. In Ayamonte Spain, I traded three ice cream cones for a photo of three little boys (“It’s okay – he’s a tourist” said the woman working the open air shop). Then there was the fishing boat where the six men were quick to pose following my request. And in Lisbon, we walked the gardens of Jeronimos Monastery. A gardener – wearing a black turtleneck and jeans – was suspended on a board over a large circular clock garden. Clipping flowers. He smiled, tipped his beret and posed. Snap. Snap. Snap.
Fast forward nearly 15 years. Donna and I returned to Spain and Portugal with our 10 year old daughter, and friends, Diane and David and their son Dave. Before leaving, I had the photograph assemblage mentioned above blown up to eight by tens.
In Ayamonte, we went back to the same ice cream shop and I showed the same (now older) woman the photo of the three little boys. She gasped. And identified each one. She asked us to be at her store in the morning. And we were – greeted by a crowd. And the three little – now grown – boys. We gave each one an 8″ x 10″. One mother cried on seeing the photo as she had no pictures of her son as a little boy.
The fishing boats were gone – replaced by a small office of the Guardia Civil — the national police who sport the tri-cornered hat. An officer identified one fisherman as the father of Ayamonte’s head of Guardia Civil – who marched over. And began weeping when I gave him some 8″ x 10’s”. His father had died a few years before. He handed me his card – “if you ever need help in Spain, you call me.” I still have his card. . . . .
And in Jeronimos, we found the gardener — now in a drab gray uniform. Raking leaves. And three weeks from his retirement. He saw his photograph. And his eyes filled with tears. At his request, we buzzed through two rolls of Polaroid film taking pictures for our gardener friend – and each member of his entire gardening crew.