This is a page about my family, La Familia Vera. I’ll tell the story of my father, my mother, and my uncles and aunts.
My father was born in the hamlet of Chicavasco, in the state of Hidalgo in Mexico.
My father, Tomas Vera came to the United States in 1956. Like many other people from Mexico, he worked in the fields on American farms. He worked on farms in many states. Eventually, he ended up in Sonoma county where he worked on the Gravenstein apple orchards near the town of Sebastopol.
Eventually, my father joined two of his four brothers, Nicomedes (Nico) and Heriberto (Beto). Besides working on the farms in Sonoma county, my father and uncles liked to sing. To make some extra money, they sang as “Los Hermanos Vera”, “Los Cha Cha Cha” and other names. They played parties, gatherings, dances, and anywhere people liked to hear fun music. Over time, life split them up and they were no longer able to sing together. However, now later in life, they live near enough that they can get together and sing together on the weekends. Just like the old days.
Also, like many other immigrants before him, he knew that to suceed in America, one needs to speak English. So, while he was working in the fields, he took a night class to learn English. There, he met John Narduzzi. John Narduzzi would become my Godfather. But more on that later.
Benita de la Torre was born in the state of Durango but grew up in Monterey, in the state of Nuevo Leon. She was the third in a family of fifteen (15) kids. In Mexico, she worked in a variety of fields, including as a seamstress making wedding gowns. Eventually, she made her way to America to live with her sister Zenona (Nona) in Santa Rosa, California. Santa Rosa is about 30 minutes from Sebastopol, or vice versa. After she arrived in Santa Rosa, she worked as a nanny for several families including my Aunt Nona’s.
Like my father, my mother also realized that she needed to learn English. So she also signed up for a class. There she met my father. As the saying goes, it was love at first sight. After a whirlwind romance, my parents went to Monterey and were married in April 1961. I came along shortly after that.
Shortly after I came along, my father moved to the Northern California coast to work at a lumber mill. Eventually, we moved to a mill that located in the middle of the woods in Mendocino county. Look on a California map, find the town of Gualala, then find the town of Boonville. Draw a straight line between the two. About halfway betwen them, draw an ‘X’. That’s where I lived until I was 10 years old. Those were the happiest days of my life. When they say that “you can’t go home again,” that little mill in the middle of nowhere is where “home” is. Eventually, I’ll have more on this here.
In 1972, we moved to the “big city” of Ukiah, California (population 10,000). Eventually, my parents opened a Mexican restaurant named El Rebozo. In 1976, we moved to the bigger city of Santa Rosa (thus completing the circle). There, my parents took over my aunt Nona’s restaurant, Mi Ultimo Refugio.
My mother passed away in December 1987. My father managed to keep the restaurant open intil 1993. But without his partner and best friend, my mother, he was not able to go on.
2 Replies to “La Familia Vera”
Very impressed with your background
I was just reminiscing with my mom about growing up in Santa Rosa and eating at Mi Ultimo Refugio. It was my family’s favorite restaurant with the best Mexican food we ever had. We would eat there a couple times a month. I still remember I would get a combination plate with two enchiladas and a taco. Sad to hear it is closed. We would have loved to have made a trip to Santa Rosa, to have one more amazing meal at el Refugios!