Saturday, May 31, 2014
MEETING RICHARD RIOS
Richard Rios is teacher, artist, and the author of Songs form the Barrio, a collection of stories and poems about coming of age in the barrios of Modesto, California. Songs from the Barrio is on the reading list for a boatload of California colleges and high schools. Not only is the book a great read, it's a compelling documentation of American history. The Rios family came to California from Mexico during the the revolution. The youngest of the family, Richard grew up in the 40s and 50s. adventures of growing up with poor Mexican-Americans and Okies in North California farm country bring to mind the writings of John Steinbeck and Gary Soto.
Richard and I became acquainted as bloggers, encouraging each other in the publication of our first books. My wife and I finally got the opportunity to meet my cyber buddy when Richard and his wife came through Arizona. Below is a shot of the writer wives.
One of my favorite stories in the book is the account of how Richard and Chela first met. Half a century ago, Richard's mother prayed for her son's safe return from military service, vowing to make a pilgrimage to a shrine in Mexico to give thanks. Richard did return in one piece, but he wasn't exactly thrilled about beginning his civilian life with an extensive religious trip to Mexico. Being a good son, he complied with his mother's wishes. Coincidentally, an army buddy was visiting his family in the same town. Richard and his mother were invited to dinner, and low and behold, the buddy had a beautiful sister. Just like in the movies, it was love at first sight. Within a few days, Richard asked the old man for his daughter's hand. The father told Richard to come back in one year to ask again. A year later, they were married. Richard's mother prayed for her son's safe return and got a daughter-in-law with the deal. My wife were mezermized as the Rios's told there story. Richard often brings his wife to college readings; the students invariably ask Chela to sign the book too.
My wife and I are are big time Richard Rios fans and we encourage you to read Songs from the Barrio!
Here is the link to buy Songs from the barrio:
And here is the link to Richard's blog:
As a side note, I've decided to stop working with compost.