inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #0 of 64: Bruce Umbaugh, but you can call me (bumbaugh) Wed 24 Mar 04 08:26
    
Welcome to Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar), author of A Death in Zamora.
We asked him for a bio, and he said:


"Started early on the Well. Composer of 1960s electronic music until
moving to coastal Sonoma communes. Back to San Francisco in 1980,
married the absolutely amazing Judith Levy. Three sons in their
thirties and forties make their dad proud. 4 grandchildren!!! Various
books include: "Being of the Sun" with Alicia Bay Laurel (H & Row,
1974): novel "Zero Weather" (family publishing co. 1980); "A Death in
Zamora," (Univ of New Mexico Press, 1988) and now a POD second edition
with additional photos + addendum (2004). Editor of "Home Free Home"
(1982),  "The Morning Star Scrapbook," (1976). Hypercard 'thing' called
"Guide To Everwhere" (For a sample, search the index of the WER on the
Apple  Learning Disk, 1989?) Currently employed as the administrator
at The Noe Valley Ministry in the left ventricle of San Francisco.
Three-year-old Cairn-westie mix Riqui Rikardo is my assistant -- and a
hit with the nursery school kids. Occasionally do readings or perform
some of my music. Major current interest: to feel as good as I feel
when focused on "Where breath arises" when I'm focused on other
things."


Hosting the interview with Ramon is Peter Meuleners, who has been an
active participant on the Well for over 4 years.  Peter, who has had a
variety of careers, is currently working as a Technical Support Analyst
for a large company in the San Joaquin Valley.  Widely traveled
throughout North America, he is a lifelong resident of the San
Francisco Bay Area, currently residing in suburban Pleasanton. His
eclectic interests include historical biography, philosophical inquiry,
and human potential movements.  The highly personal nature of Ramon
Sender's story is a melding of these ideas that came to life in a
special way for Peter.  He feels that it is an honor to help Ramon
reintroduce this work to the public.

Great to have you here, Peter and Ramon!
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #1 of 64: Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Wed 24 Mar 04 09:47
    
My sincere thanks to the Well staff, to tnf -- David Gans -- for
inviting me here, and especially to Peter Meuleners for volunteering to
dialogue with me despite a fulltime job and his own list of
fascinating interests.
I would like, before we really get started, to ask readers to spend a
minute beaming a Wellbeam to the families and loved ones of those who
died or were injured in the recent tragic events in Madrid. Spain is
undergoing a national trauma parallel in scope to what the 9/11 horror
inflicted on our country. 
For the second time since Franco died, a Socialist government has been
elected in Madrid. Meanwhile, a movement known as "Recovery of
Republican Memory" has been growing, focusing on the opening of mass
graves of those executed during and after the Civil War. All this
started without the sponsorship of the previous government, but I
imagine now there will be some sort of official recognition. More about
that later.
Again, my gratitude to the Well for this opportunity to honor my
mother Amparo's memory, and through her the memory of so many other
innocent victims of what one historian terms 'organized repression,'
sanctioned by Franco himself in the same manner as Pinochet in Chile
and others elsewhere.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #2 of 64: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Thu 25 Mar 04 08:22
    
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #3 of 64: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Thu 25 Mar 04 08:29
    
For those of you who unfamiliar with the Well, my last blank post was
one of the Wellbeams that Ramon was asking for.  It is a tradition on
the Well to post in this manner when someone is asking for help for
themselves, a loved one, or any other who needs it.  It can be
construed as a prayer, a meditation, silent reflection, an outpouring
of light, a silent, light hand on a shoulder, or a compassionate hug. 
It can be whatever you want it to be but it is always a good thing.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #4 of 64: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Thu 25 Mar 04 08:53
    
Bruce, thanks for getting us started.

Ramon, welcome to Inkwell.  It is an honor and a privilege for me to
lead this discussion.  An old adage I follow in performing service for
my fellows goes something like this: "Disturb the comfortable and
comfort the disturbed."  I found A Death in Zamora to be one of the
most profoundly disturbing books I have ever read.  I was aware of the
tragedies of the Spanish Civil War but you bring them to the public on
such a personal level.  You have shown us a piece of your soul, a piece
of your family'a soul, a piece of Spain's soul.  Thank you.

Let's start with a general question.  This book was first published in
1989.  Why a new publication?  Why now?
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #5 of 64: Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Thu 25 Mar 04 13:01
    
Thanks for the welcome, Peter, and also for the 'Wellbeam' moment.
Also for your reaction to the book, which I think echoes others' who
also saw in my mother Amparo's story "the Spanish Civil War summed up
in one family's fate," so to speak.
The University of New Mexico Press did a fine job on the hard cover
first edition, except that it went out of print after just a few years.
I always had hoped for a paperback version, and decided that instead
of shopping around for a publisher, with all the ups and downs that
involves, this time I would try the new Print on Demand technology.
This way this book will never go out of print again, and I feel that's
important. Other projects intervened, but after some years I was able
to prepare a .pdf of the book and upload it. The new edition also
allowed me to add approximately 50 more photos, placing them in context
(instead of in groups as in the first edition), as well as a brief
addendum. I should add that for those interested in purchasing copy,
locally they are at Cover to Cover books at Castro and 24th. On Amazon,
browse "Barayon" and then click the 'new and used' to find Booksurge
selling them new for $14.95 instead of Amazon's inflated price.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #6 of 64: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Thu 25 Mar 04 21:26
    
This is very emotionally charged book that must have been a very
intense journey for you when you first wrote it.  Did you revisit any
of those emotions while preparing this edition?
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #7 of 64: Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Fri 26 Mar 04 08:15
    
That's a good question, Peter, and I had to ponder it for a few
moments.
Revisiting the book for this edition, reviewing the photos, did evoke
again many of the feelings that swept through me during the original
search, discovery and compiling of my mother Amparo's life story. Sort
of a hard-to-describe aftertaste, 
finally, of sadness, satisfaction, and closure. I think one of the
reasons it took me so long to put together the second edition was an
unconscious avoidance of dealing with the material one more time. Yet I
feel this edition places a final capstone on a memorial to a
remarkable woman. My father's story is well-known in Spain via his
literary output, but Amparo's, although it had quietly assumed mythic
proportions mouth-to-mouth, was in danger of never being written down.
Although come to think of it, her story did appear in a gossipy
monthly, 'Interviu,' during the first year of our research (1988). I
think the query letters I placed in the Madrid and Barcelona dailies
triggered some journalistic interest.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #8 of 64: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Fri 26 Mar 04 15:49
    
Ramon, the book starts out as a journey of discovery for you, a
seemingly simple attempt to discern the fate of your mother, Amparo.
Your father was a source of resistance and deception as you started
down this path.  Can you talk about the nature of your relationship
with your father when you started researching the book?
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #9 of 64: Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Fri 26 Mar 04 18:03
    
Well, my dad was a complex person. Before there was such a thing as
post-traumatic stress syndrome, I think he suffered a full-blown case.
His wound around my mother Amparo's fate never really healed -- to the
point that he could never bear to talk about her. Well, once he did
talk in a noisy L.A. bar in his broken English. I didn't understand a
word, but knew I shouldn't interupt him. That was in the early sixties.
Fifteen years later I wrote an early version of my book, relying
heavily on my father's books  'Counterattack,' and 'Seven Red Sundays'
(I could only read him in translation) -- paraphrasing large chunks.
Anything I wrote had to reach him via my stepmother Florence, but she
wrote back that it was 'the best writing I had ever done' -- which I
took as tacit approval from him. The next draft, relying more on my
imagination and looking more candidly at my relationship with 'Papa,'
received an indignant reply from Florence. I wrote back a conciliatory
note, and that was the letter I found on his table after I received
word of his sudden death.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #10 of 64: Uncle Jax (jax) Fri 26 Mar 04 18:38
    
Great book. Very hard to read, very painful. Makes me want to travel
to Spain and lift a leg on Franco's fatuous mausoleum, though I
understand that a Spanish comedian is already doing about that with
his guided bus tours of monuments to fascism.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #11 of 64: Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Fri 26 Mar 04 19:31
    
Hi, Jack: Thanks for stopping by! I think many have shared the same
fantasy of desecrating El Topolino's final resting place - carved out
of solid rock by many hundreds of Republican prisoners. I think
one Abraham Lincoln vet suceeded by pouring the contents of 
a pee bottle on the site. Enjoyed your concertina info page,by
the way. I own a baritone Wheatstone I'm saving for the day I'm
laid up in traction (one of he few instruments you can play flat
on your back).
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #12 of 64: Uncle Jax (jax) Fri 26 Mar 04 21:16
    
Is your book available in Argentina? They're opening the closets to
examine their skeletons right now. Your experience over a longer epoch
would, I think, resonate at this moment.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #13 of 64: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Sat 27 Mar 04 08:06
    
Jack, thanks for joining us.

Ramon, your mother Amparo was a feminist in an age and culture where
being a such a person was extremely difficult.  She was deeply
religious, musically inclined, adept in languages, and an accomplished
writer in her own right.  You are also something of a renaissance man,
yet you only spent 2 years with mother.  Do you count her as a strong
influence on who you are today?
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #14 of 64: Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Sat 27 Mar 04 08:39
    
Peter, if I go by physical appearance, I think I favor my maternal
side.
And by temperment also, with creative 'manic' peaks, although my 
'lows' are never really down any more.  I'm not sure where you picked
up 'adept at languages.' Amparo might have had a little French, but
nothing more. As for me, my Spanish relies heavily on the dictionary, 
although six months in Spain would I think make me fluent conversa-
tionally. My wife Judy is the Spanish-Italian-French speaker.

Jack, there is a Spanish translation of the book currently out of
print. It went out of print so fast in Spain that I suspect 'strings'
were
pulled to get it off the shelves. Hopefully sometime soon I'll get it
out again. It also came out in a German translation, which I think is
still in print.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #15 of 64: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Sun 28 Mar 04 16:20
    
Completely language impaired, except for a little Latin, I consider
anyone who could tutor French to be adept.  ;-)
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #16 of 64: Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Sun 28 Mar 04 19:42
    
Her half-sister Casimira tutored French - to the son of the military
governor who
signed the 'exit paper' that in actual fact was Amparo's death
sentence. 
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #17 of 64: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Sun 28 Mar 04 21:40
    
I apologize for that.

Can you talk a little about your meeting with the son of the military
governor when he was an older man?  That was an interesting story.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #18 of 64: Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Mon 29 Mar 04 21:46
    
Please, Peter - no need to apologize! The cast of characters would 
put anyone's head into a whirl. I don't think even the family trees 
in the front of the book helped all that much. 
As for our encounter with the military governor's son, I think
his photograph is very telling. Although he only admitted to
remembering his French teacher, Casimira, my mother's half-
sister, it was obvious that he did remember my mother story 
also. As a youth in 1936, his job was to deliver the 'exit orders' 
to the prison warden, but if the time of release was at night, 
it was the equivalent of a death sentence. A pick-up squad 
of 'executioners' would take the hapless 'released' person to 
the cemetery and kill them.
In Chapter 9, I describe how a man came up to me and said,
"It was Claomarchiran who denounced your mother." He
went out to say that one of Claomarchiran senior's grandsons
once confronted his father, the man we interviewed, saying, 
"How can you and my grandfather have lived with so many 
deaths on your heads?" The father was at the point of shooting 
his own son for the remark but the cook intervened.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #19 of 64: Uncle Jax (jax) Wed 31 Mar 04 00:19
    
Have you see the late-Soviet-era movie "Repentance" (made actually
in Georgia in the Georgian language)? It tells the story of the
family of one of the bad guys who sent people to the camps.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #20 of 64: Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Wed 31 Mar 04 12:53
    
No, I haven't seen it, Jack. Is it current? Rentable?
Judy's the main moviegoer in the family. Speaking of 
movies, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade vets are planning
a benefit showing of "A Death in El Valle," which documents
a granddaughter's search in Spain for her grandfather's 
fate. Parallel story in many respects, I'm told, to my
mother's. I think the date for the showing is the evening 
of May 18th on the U. C. campus (Zellerbach Playhouse, a 
smaller auditorium)and I've been invited to be part of
the ensuing panel discussion.
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #21 of 64: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Wed 31 Mar 04 13:42
    
Ramon, as that event approaches, more info would be appreciated.  I
would love to attend.

Earlier you mentioned the recent Socialist win in Spain.  Please share
your thoughts about that and the possible effect it will have on the
"Recovery of Republican Memory" movement.  
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #22 of 64: Uncle Jax (jax) Wed 31 Mar 04 15:16
    
(Repentance -- in the can 1982, worried over by Soviet censorship until release in 1985(?)).
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #23 of 64: Ramon Sender Barayon (rabar) Wed 31 Mar 04 15:59
    
(Jax slipped in before this reply to Peter's question)
This question goes far beyond my experience and
knowledge, Peter, but I passed it on to several 
people who are in a much better position to know 
what's going on with the new government and may 
be willing to offer their opinion. Meanwhile,
I just ran into an item on line about "Death in El 
Valle," the film I mentioned above. Interesting 
parallels. I quote briefly from a column titled 
“Women” that ran an article byDuncan Campbell in 
the December 5, 1996, issue of ‘The Guardian:’ 

So who had betrayed them (grandfather and grandmother)? 
Rumors pointed to relatives... Hardt approached the remaining
relatives, who were angry at her suggestions. Mutual distrust 
hung in the air while Hardt had hoped uncovering what she saw 
as a noble episode in the family’s history, revealing her
grandmother’s bravery, would bring the family together, it 
seems, she says, “I’ve done just the opposite.” [Her film 
was shown on British Television in 1996.] Whether Spain ever 
sees it is another question. “I want it to be shown, but it’s 
a very contentious topic there. The few Spanish people who have 
seen it get very disturbed by it. The younger people feel very 
much as I do: why this silence?” Why this amnesia? But older 
people, even those who fought on the Republican side, think 
this is very painful and best forgotten.”

We experienced the same reactions, and the same results within
the family. The topic of Amparo's death was emotionally very 
difficult for many to relive.

If you go to C.M. Hardt's website, you can even view a sample
reel from the film:
http://www.cmhardt.com/production/production.htm
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #24 of 64: Gerald Feeney (gerry) Wed 31 Mar 04 19:54
    <scribbled by gerry Thu 1 Apr 04 08:15>
  
inkwell.vue.210 : Ramon Sender, "A Death in Zamora"
permalink #25 of 64: My Pseud was sent to India (gerry) Thu 1 Apr 04 08:15
    
Greetings, Ramón and friends.  Please pardon me for coming late to
this wonderful discussion.  First I want to acknowledge that <rabar>
is a familiar WELL user ID to me.  My memory has gone blank on the
specific conferences and topics, but I've been aware of Ramón's
presence on the WELL for many years, and have always enjoyed his
contributions here.  And that was before I read this book.  Now I'm in
awe.  What a truly magnificent work, Ramón!  I honestly can't remember
the last time I've been so *gripped* by a book, but I can say with
certainty that it was many books (and years) ago.

I'm composing a review off-line, and will post it here when it's
ready.  I need to give myself that task, otherwise, I'm just too
scatterbrained to be coherent.

Meanwhile, in the way of brief introductions, I'll just say that I'm a
50-year-old American male, born in Berlin of a German mother and an
Irish-American father.  For the most part, I'm a California kid, but
due to an odd series of events, I spent part of my youth in
Guadalajara, Jalisco, México.  And as a result, I also attained to a
somewhat respectable level of fluency in Spanish.

In reading your book, Ramón, I began to realize just how vast is my
ignorance of Spain and of her history.  But because of my limited
background and exposure, there were two things that kept coming to
mind:

1) Spain in the *other* civil war:  For some completely irrational
reason, while reading _A Death In Zamora_, I kept seeing mental images
that I acquired many years earlier from reading that most brilliant
novel, _Doña Perfecta_ by Benito Pérez Galdós.

2) (this is the one where I expect to pelted with rotten tomatoes) The
contemporary film, _Belle Epoch_ (which I thought was oddly named - it
seemed to me it should have been named _Bella Época_.  I mean, why
should a Spanish film carry a French title?  Unless it wasn't really
French, but Catalán, which can be confused with French among people
like me who don't know better... but still, the dialogue was Spanish,
not Cataluña.)  I digress - sorry - but I loved that movie, and it
implanted in me some images that were reinvoked by your book.
 
Anyway, Ramón, I'm curious to know if either of these two works had
any influence on you in the course of writing this book.
  

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