One City, One Story 2015 “Tell Your Story” Contest

Category:  Grade 3-5

2nd place

The Letter

by Gwendolyn Lopez, Grade 4


In the 1950s, my grandfather Rubén was a young man in México. He and his twin brother Salvador were working as miners in the small town of Hostotipaquillo in Jalisco. After the day’s work was done, they were all dirty, sweaty, and tired. Then, they would walk home to take a shower and have dinner. While eating, they would discuss the same subject:  How can we have a better future?

“Where should we go for a better job?” asked Rubén.

“I don’t know. How can we make more money?” asked Salvador.

Their father Víctor (my great-grandfather), who was in another room, overheard them talking. “You need to go to America,” he said. “You boys have an aunt, my half-sister, who lives there in Pasadena, California. Her name is Andrea. I could give you her address so you can contact her. I’m sure she will help you.”

Rubén and Salvador were full of hope! This was the opportunity that they had been waiting for! However, since calling her by telephone would be too expensive (and there was no internet, Skype, email or text messages in those days), Rubén and Salvador took out a pen and a sheet of lined paper and wrote a letter to Tía Andrea asking for her advice on getting jobs in America.

The letter would take a long time to arrive, almost a month, since it was going all the way to Pasadena, CA in the United States. Then, they would have to wait another month to receive her letter, since it was coming all the way back to México. So, every day for the next 2 months, after coming home from work, they checked their mailbox before taking a shower and eating dinner.

Finally, one day, they received the letter from the U.S.A. that they had been waiting for.

“What does it say? What does it say?” asked Rubén eagerly.

“It says…” said Salvador, as he read the letter:

            Dear Rubén and Salvador,

I hope you are all doing well when you receive this letter.

I talked to my husband, and he might be able to help you

with the paperwork. We are still not certain if it will be

a “yes” or a “no.” I will send you another letter in 30 days.

Your Aunt,

Tía Andrea


Rubén and Salvador were happy. Then, their father came into the room and said, “I overheard Chava (Salvador’s nickname) reading the letter. If your aunt says ‘yes,’ you’re going to need a lot of money for that trip, so you better keep working and saving your money.” They agreed.

Later that afternoon, Rubén went to visit his girlfriend (my grandmother). Her full name was María del Refugio. Her nickname was “Cuca.” Not “cuckoo” or “cookies” but “Cuca.”

He took her out for some ice-cream. He told her about his plans to go to America. When she heard this, she became sad, because she thought he would be away for a long time, and she would miss him.

But she cheered up quickly when he said that he wasn’t planning on going alone. He suddenly got down on one knee and taking Cuca’s hand, he asked her to marry him! She was so surprised!

Rubén told her to think about it. In 30 days, when he received the letter from tía Andrea in America, he would come back for her answer.

For Rubén and Salvador, the days seem to pass slowly and the work seemed harder. For Cuca, the nights seemed longer as she lay in bed, tossing and turning.

Finally, one day the letter arrived. The twins held their breath, opened the envelope, unfolded the sheet of paper, and read together:

                   Dear Rubén and Salvador,

I have arranged to help you with the paperwork.

Review the forms I have enclosed.


Rubén and Salvador reached into the envelope and each took out a form. Then, they returned to reading the letter.

                        And I hope you have enough money to make the trip.

Your Aunt,

Tía Andrea

They were very happy! Salvador immediately began packing his suitcase.

Rubén ran to Cuca’s house. He knocked on her door and she answered.

She said, “Did you receive the letter? What did she say?”

Rubén couldn’t speak because he was all out of breath!

“What did she say? What did she say?” screamed Cuca.

All Rubén could do was nod his head, “Yes! Yes!”

Cuca smiled and jumped excitedly.

Then, Rubén finally caught his breath, and gasped, “And what about you? What do you say?”

Cuca also nodded her head, and her brown eyes twinkled, “Yes! Yes!”

Then, they both laughed and hugged each other.

Rubén and Cuca, mis abuelitos (my grandparents), were married shortly after that. They packed all their things and didn’t say “goodbye” but “see you later” to their family and friends. Although they were going to live in the United States, they said they would never forget about México and come back to visit.

Chava hugged his father and told him that once he got a job, he would send him a letter, too.

Afterwards, they all got in the car and drove off to Pasadena to begin a new life.




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