Copyright © 2016 The Guel Family. All rights reserved.
Ours is a history of stories: told over and over again through generations as a way of preserving and passing on our memories. Over time and through different accounts, the stories are interpreted and translated. See below for stories posted by your family members or send your own post to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carmen Corrales de Guel | June 19, 1910 - May 3, 1992
Grandma Carmen's parents, Rosendo Corrales and Teresa Otero were very much in love, so much so that they married against their parents' wishes. From this great love, our grandmother, Carmen Corrales was born on June 19, 1910 in the town of Cosala , Sinaloa , Mexico . Cosala is just north of Mazatlan .
Grandma Carmen was 4 1/2 years old when both of her parents died. The story goes that Carmen's father, Rosendo, had made her mother, Teresa, a beautiful hair comb out of bone. This comb became a tresure with sentimental value. One day while she drew water from a well, the comb fell in the well. Rosendo drowned trying to recover the comb. Teresa jumped in after him and although she was able to escape from the well, she caught pneumonia and eventually died.
Grandma Carmen was one of four children who were left as orphans. The oldest brother, Daniel, was 10 ½ years old at the time. He did not want to go to the orphanage, so he ran away. Daniel did what he could to live, selling knick knacks in the streets, but never forgot his sisters and would sneak around to see them and give them candies. The youngest brother, Rosendo, was 1 ½ years old at the time and was taken in by his godparents. Grandma Carmen remained in the orphanage until she was 12 years old, along with her oldest sister, Jesusita (Tia Chuy).
When Grandma Carmen was 12, Aunt Cuca, who lived in the United States , adopted the two sisters. She brought them to Bayar , Nebraska to work in a boarding house for farm workers.
When Grandma's sister, my Aunty Chuy, became 15 years of age, her marriage was arranged to an older man, Charlie White.
As Grandma Carmen approached her 15th birthday, plans were started to arrange her marriage. But, along comes Pablo Guel to sweep her off her feet. Pablo lived in the neighborhood and met Carmen while he was playing baseball. She drew water from a water pump for him, an thereafter fell in love and got married.
From 1925 to 1935, Pablo and Carmen lived in Nebraska and Wyoming . Carmen gave birth to 6 children during this time: Ana, Juan, Rita (who passed away at the age of 10 months), Luis, Leonardo and Juanita.
In1935, Pablo, Carmen and their 6 children moved to San Luis Potosi , Mexico . Juanita died in Mexico at the age of 7. However, Carmen gave birth to 7 more children: Lalo, Feliz, Pablo, Elvia, Alejo, Marcelino and Vicente.
Carmen's son Luis was the first to settle in the Bay Area with the help of his Uncle Rosendo Corrales. (That's right, Grandma's younger brother who was 1 ½ when their parents died) Luis then helped Ana and her family settle in the Bay Area. They all then helped bring the rest of the family over. Pablo and Carmen moved into their house at 2107 Monroe Street in Santa Clara , California in November 1957.
Grandma Carmen had:
In asking several of her children of what they remember about Grandma Carmen, these were a few of the responses:
"I remember my mother in Mexico on her knees grinding corn for tortillas because there was no money. She sacrificed so much for her children, she would not eat so that her children could eat."
"It hurt her to see her children in poverty. She provided the best she could. She was strong and loved everyone so much."
"We had no stove and no water until nightfall because the water pressure would not get up the hill to us until the town below stopped using the water. We had no electricity, but we always had a hot meal of tortillas and beans before she sent us to school."
"My mother is a saint."
"She was an orphan until she was 12 but was treated like a daughter by her mother-in-law. She in turn treated her daughter in-laws like daughters. They call her their second mom."
"My mom's stubborn temper was kind of funny sometimes. One Christmas we did not have a Christmas tree and my nephew and I went out to cut some lawns and bought a tree. She was mad because she said the tree had made a mess, but soon she warmed-up to the spirit."
"My mother was the link that kept us together. She would want us to stay together as a family and not float apart. Somehow we need to do this for her."
So what can we lean from my grandmother's story? She was born of the great love her parents had for each other. As orphans, her brothers and sister overcame the odds and stayed in touch to support each other. She taught her children to love, respect, support and help each other. Through very difficult times, she kept her family together.
She had a great love for everybody: her husband, her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, brothers, sister, in-laws, friends & everybody.
Family was her whole life. She never wanted anything for herself.
I think she would want our family to stay together, and for our love for one another to grow stronger. I think we owe her this much.
Alicia Ceja de Guel | July 6, 1929 - May 12, 2003
Alicia Ceja Guel, known as Licha to family and friends, was born on July 6, 1929 in Nuevo Laredo - Tamaulipas, Mexico. What she lacked in her childhood of modern conveniences were more than made up for by her strong sense of family commitment taught by her mother, Jesusita De La Cruz. Little did she know that she would soon leave the small town on the Rio Grande for El Norte to reach her destiny.
During one hot summer night, Licha attended a neighborhood house party in Laredo, Texas. The sparks started to fly when she met a striking young man, Luis Guel. Their courtship included the traditional meetings in the town Plazita. Here the young girls huddled in the center of the courtyard while the young suiters circled them, walking around the girls and exchanging glances. Luis entered the Army, extending their courtship into written love letters until they married in 1949. Luis and Licha started their young marriage while stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. Luis was called to active duty in the Korean War. Licha gave birth to their first son, Jose Luis, in 1950 while Luis was still on duty in the Korean conflict. She would always consider herself a veteran of the Korean War due to these experiences.
In 1951, Licha followed her heart and took a true leap of faith. She left her family and moved with her husband and young son to California. Luis y Licha quickly developed a reputation as exceptional dancers as they expressed their love and unity on the ballroom floor. They settled into their first home in Menlo Park. During the 50s, Jesse, John, Rosa, and Lupe were born. Licha somehow found time to develop her talent in sewing and embroidering with children's clothes and beautiful constumes to support their growing folkloric dance group.
In 1964, they bought their second home, and moved to Sunnyvale, California where they lived for 43 years. Angel was born in 1964. Then the twins, Ana and Carmen, were born in 1970. Licha loved cooking and often cooked for large banquets and countless family gatherings. She was very active in the church and loved gardening. Licha was especially proud of her roses and she was very fond of gardenias.
Through the years, Licha instilled a strong sense of family tradition in her children. She insisted on always speaking to her children and grandchildren in Spanish. As they grew and started their own families, that tradition continued through the years with Sunday Brunch, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve with the focal point being the family matriarch, Licha. She always welcomed family and friends into her home and loved her 3 daughter-in-laws and 3 son-in-laws as if they were her own children. She had 24 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren at the time of her passing who have all grown to know their Abuelita's house in Sunnyvale as a second home.
Licha and Luis have enjoyed traveling to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Texas, Los Angeles, as well as cruises. They shared a married life of 54 years and they are honorary members of the Guadalupe Society and Club Estrella. Alicia will be missed on the dance floor, but her memory will dance in our hearts forever.
Panfilo Vinaja | June 1, 1920 - October 15, 2008
I want to thank all of my Guel family for being the best supporting, and loving family anybody can wish for. All of you are great. Love you guys.
~Marisol R. Esparza-Aguayo~
My Abuelo was a Great example to us. He raised 7 wonderful children. One of them, my mother Carmen. A wonderful woman with awesome morals taught by my Abuelos. He taught me that money is not a priority but that the Respect and the Love can make any family survive. As poor as they were in Mexico, my Abuelo found means to survive. He had talent with his hands as a Jeweler and from what my Tio Luis has shared with me, he had to make at least 12 wedding bands a day to provide for his family.
Gold was very expensive but he knew that Wedding Bands were always going to be needed. Here in the US, he worked very hard to provide as well. He's touched many people with his jewelery. In my younger years, I was able to spend a lot of time with him since my Abuelos babysat me. Always in the garage making his jewelery. I wish now that I would have learned his trade to be able to have it continued. He always picked on me with his jokes but never meant any harm. I always had my comebacks that surprised him. "Aye Muchacha" he would say. We had many laughs together. The love he had for his familia was overflowing. I'm very happy that I was able to spend his final days with him. He knew this was it and just before he stopped talking we were able to pray together. And when my husband showed up, He held his hand out for his and mine. And without saying a word I understood that he was trying to tell my husband to take care of his grand-daughter. These will always be my special memories.
My earliest recollection of my tio was when I was in elementary school. A quiet man with a big smile on his face. I was 15 years old when my tio took me under his wing and taught me how to hold a job as a cook at Stckneys Flamingo Restaurant in Palo Alto, CA. 40 years later I had the honor of visiting Mexico City with him. We stayed at the Majestic Hotel located on the main plaza across from the government palace and near the Cathedral, which were built on the ancient Aztec city ruins. A very memorable trip. One night we walked from the hotel to the Plaza De Mariachi. I remember that we could hardly keep up with his quick pace, even though he was 85 years old at the time. Most recently, we visited with my tio in the hospital and he had the same quiet mild manner and the same big smile I remembered as a kid. Although he was in pain and discomfort, he laughed and joked, and quietly shared with me that if it was his time to go, he was ready to pass on. For me, my tio was an excellent example of how to live and how to die. I never saw him complain about the cards life dealt to him; he just made the most of it and did it with a smile on his face. We can only hope to live as long as he did and with the same joy, respect, and love for life itself.
My favorite memory was when I was about 12 or so. My parents were out of town and I was staying with my Abuelos. I spent one entire day watching my Abuelo work in the garage and following him everywhere. I was fascinated to see him working with gold. He said to me: "I have something very special for you." He opened a safe and took out a beautiful gold medallion. Before he placed it around my neck, he told me about the virgin on the back. I felt so blessed to have been given such a treasure. That day we went downtown to several pawn shops and jewelry stores. In some of the stores we went in the back where he spoke with other jewelers and looked at precious stones. As we walked the streets that day he told me how a gentleman should always walk on the street side and the lady on the inside of the sidewalk. My Abuelo was a wealth of knowledge about things like this. I loved to sit next to him because he would tell the best stories. My favorite was the one about a man who prevents an attack on his village by telling some conquistadors that his army is so rich they use a different spoon for every bite of food they eat. The conquistadors assume he is talking about silver spoons and thinking they must have a very strong army they retreat. But of course the poor Mexican soldier is referring to tortillas. Thank you for inspiring our family with your humor, kindness, and faith in God. I love you Abuelo. You will be missed very much.
~Angel “Gela” Moncallo~
I'll always remember my Tio with a smile on his face. He was always in a good mood when ever I saw him or talked to him. He always welcomed me with a secure warm hug and he always had something nice to say to me. I can still remember the sound of his laugh. Funny, I was just thinking to myself how I always called him “Tio,” never Uncle. and he always called me by my name in Spanish, never in English, even though we never, ever spoke Spanish to one another. He was a Great Tio, and being the oldest Tio of our Family he set a perfect example of what a Tio should be For my other Tio's to follow ….and they did. He raised a beautiful Family, my heart goes Out to my Tia Ana and all of you Vinajas, Love you all!
I met Filio when I was ten years old in 1940. He was a perfect gentleman. My older brother would chase him and throw rocks at him when he was dating our sister Ana, but Leonard and I loved him right from the beginning. He used to date my sister in an old way - by dating her in front of our house. When my mother found out he was dating my sister, she was so mad that she created a scene. He said to her: “well, I'm in love with your daughter and I want to see her.” Still angry, my mother said, “well she has a home and I will give you permission to visit her in my house instead of in the street.” He respected and obeyed my mother's request. I was only 10 years old and Larry was about 5.
Larry was always a very inquisitive child that always embarrassed him, even when he already had permission to visit Ana in our home. One day my mother was cooking homemade corn tortillas and she offered him fresh frijoles de la olla with fresh chile sauce, which he just loved. Larry made us laugh because at the beginning Filio would say, ”no, no, no - I already ate; I don't want any.” She would tell him to just try them because he would like them. As Larry was standing there watching him, he would say “see, he didn't want any and he's already eaten 4 or 5 tortillas!” This embarrassed Filio a lot and we all just laughed. Little by little, he learned that he just had to accept us as his future family.
I remember that he was kind of a lonely, single man because even though his father had many children, he didn't live with them because his parents separated at an early age. He missed his family love and he found that in our home. Since then, he was fully accepted and we were very happy when they got married. I don't remember ever having an argument or getting mad at him. He was always a big brother to me. He was pleasant, generous, kind, and we followed his advice as we grew up with him.
Later, we lived with his family while they were in Mexico for a while before we came back to the United States. We were delighted when he came back to live in the same town with us in Menlo Park, California. We were again together as a happy family. We loved his family in Mexico as well as his family here in the United States.
We went through hard times over the years as we had to work hard to support our families, but we did it with love and always with a smile as we struggled to work over time or part time or whatever it took to support our families. I don't remember ever getting mad at him. He was always so kind. I will always love him, respect him, and will remember him for the rest of my life.
~ Elenita Vinaja Vasquez ~
I have so many things to remember my abuelo for. He was one of a kind, and I loved him with all my heart. He would always make me laugh. He also had a way of making me feel so special. He loved his family, and that was always very important to him. He would always ask me when I was going to have more children. I would tell him that two was enough. For my abuelo it wasn't enough. He said, "you need more children.” I asked him why. His response was, "You have Monday and Tuesday dinner for you, but who will help you when you're old on the other days of the week?"
My abuelo was very talented. He made beautiful jewelry. I feel so blessed to have those to wear and show off. Thank you Abuelo!!!
Thank you for the memories, your sense of humor, the love you showed to us (family is important). Abuelo, you will be missed so much!!! In all of the siblings (Tio & Tias) I see you in them…You will always be in our hearts.
Thank you Guel Familia for setting this up and letting us share our stories, thanks for all the support, we love you!
~ Teresa Vinaja (Chicago) ~
Yo siempre recordare a mi tio Filio como una persona con un gran corazon. Desde el momento en que lo conoci (fue en 1998) y nos pusimos a conversar, me hizo sentir como si lo hubiera conocido toda mi vida. Me brindo su confianza y empezamos ha comunicarnos atraves de cartas, en un momento dificl de mi vida me guio con sus consejos y nunca lo olvidare. Recuerdo que le gustaba contar chistes y nos hacia reir a mi hijo Alberto y a mi. Cuando pienso en mi tio Filio, tengo una imagen de el sonriendo.
~ Sean Vinaja ~
When I was a kid, my brother Jason and I used to spend about 8 weeks of the summer with my father Juan (Che), and we would stay with Abuelo and Abuela when he had to work. Even though I was not known as the good son because I was always being a brat, Abuelo and Abuela were still patient with me.
One time, I climbed onto the roof and shot pebbles with a toy slingshot at the kids who lived in the house across Monroe Street. When the parents complained, Abuelo said he would take care of it. I thought for sure I was really going to get it after they left; but Abuelo said, "Can you really shoot rocks that far?" I nodded, and he said, "That's good, Mijo; that's very good. But not at the children, ok?" And that was it--I don't think he even mentioned it to my dad.
So I didn't do that anymore because I didn't want my nice Abuelo to be disappointed in me, so I tried to be a good boy for him--for the rest of that summer, at least. Besides, without any targets, shooting pebbles wasn't as much fun!
~ Bobby Guel ~
Each time I visited the Santa Clara area... I would always stop to visit Aunt Ana and Tio Panfilo. I would enjoy hearing his stories of the good ol' days when he was a young man and how times have changed since then.
I remember Tio Panfilo making jewelry for my Dad. A simple gold cross of Jesus Christ just hanging there without the cross. My Dad Juan had Tio Panfilo insert diamonds around his head and at the hands and feet. My Tio Machi in Chicago loved my Dad's cross and wanted Tio Panfilo to make one for himself. He told his wife (my Aunt Connie) to give me some of her gold necklaces and bracelets so Tio Panfilo could melt them down.
One year, my Dad, Juan, and I came to California for a family reunion and we went to visit Tia Ana and Tio Panfilio. I brought gold with me from my Aunt Connie to be melted down. There was my Tio Pablo, Tio Panfilo, my Dad Juan and myself in Tio Panfilo's garage. He was ready to make another cross. My Tio Panfilo said to me.....please give me the gold...I need to check it, before I start to melt it down.
I had a bag full of gold items from my Aunt Connie.....each necklace from the bag was tested with a chemical solution. And each necklace he tested was fake gold or only gold plated. Tio Pafilo was laughing harder and harder as he pulled out a piece of gold jewelry and found it to be fake. You should have seen the look my Tio Machi gave my Aunt Connie when I returned with no cross and a bag full of gold plated jewelry.
Both my Tio Panfilo and Tio Machi have since passed away. But I'll always remember Tio Panfilo's laughing getting louder and louder as he tested each piece of jewelry and then the look of disappointment on my Uncle Machi's face when he discovered that his gold was fake.
Ana Guel de Vinaja | July 26, 1926 - April 5, 2011
by her oldest Son, Miguel Vinaja:
Ana was born on July 26, 1926 in Bayard, Nebraska, a mostly agricultural community. Deciding to go back to Mexico, her parents Pablo and Carmen Guel took Ana and 3 of her brothers from Nebraska to San Luis Potosi, Mexico (the state where Ana’s father was born).
As the family grew, Ana assisted her mother in fulfilling all of the family needs. When she became old enough to work, she went to work in an ice cream parlor. It was at this ice cream parlor that she met Panfilo, her future husband. The parlor was owned by Panfilo’s uncle and Panfilo was known to like to hang around the parlor… to check out the help, I’m sure.
Having survived through her and her mother’s large family demands, Ana became what I always called a “strong cookie” character. She was both mentally and physically strong. She loved people and could be your best friend, but if you tangled with her family and her beliefs, you best consider a way to get out of her way.
After Ana’s marriage to Panfilo, her mother and father moved to Laredo, Mexico. The two oldest brothers (Juan and Luis) went to the U.S., eventually joining the military during the Korean War. Juan ended up in Chicago and Luis in California thus keeping the family connected to the U.S.
Panfilo became as successful jeweler eventually establishing his own jewelry shop. In San Luis, Panfilo’s and Ana’s family grew to 6 children (2 boys and 4 girls). Since Ana was a U.S. citizen, Panfilo had always dreamed of coming to the U.S. – the land of opportunities.
Luis, Ana’s brother living in California, facilitated the eventual move on September 16, 1955 to the U.S. (Luis was also instrumental in bringing his parents and his other siblings to California shortly after our move.) During this period of time, Ana was happy in San Luis and would have rather stayed in Mexico. But no, Panfilo had other thoughts and had to try his luck in the states. In California, Lucy, the 7th and Ana’s last child was born.
Panfilo soon found out that, in fact, money did not grow on the trees of the bay area. Since he had a very limited amount of capital, did not speak English, and his large family demands were many, the business never materialized. Available work was tough and demeaning for Panfilo. So he attempted to convince Ana that they should go back to Mexico. Although initially Ana wanted to stay in Mexico, she soon recognized the fact that a poor person in the U.S. was much better off than a middle class person living in Mexico. After many heated bouts, Ana convinced her husband that her and their children were better off in the U.S.
Ana was a strong believer that if you worked hard you would be rewarded at the end. She worked very hard to provide for her family and since Day One of her marriage, she was always there to help her husband, working side by side with her husband as traditionally required.
Ana was always a very happy person, as evidenced in all her pictures and videos today. She was always known to always greet you with a huge smile. She loved all types of Mexican music. To her last days, she moved to the sound of Cumbias. She was always fair in dealing with everyone, and was not known to ever take advantage of others. She had a strong belief in God with strong respect for other people’s beliefs. She not only talked the talk, but she also walked the walk.
She was a strong believer that success would come through education. She pushed all her children to work hard in school. With this strong belief, all of her children became High School graduates and her oldest son was one of the first college graduates in the family. She passed on this value to the rest of the family. Every year during the family reunion, education is still celebrated and recognized by the whole family.
She was the eldest sibling and is survived by her 8 brothers and 1 sister when she entered into rest to be reunited with her loving husband Fillio, son Juan Jose, brother Felix, and 2 sisters Rita and Juanita.
Ana is the matriarch of a large family that continues to grow, as evidenced by the continuing string of newborns attending the annual family reunion. She has been a loving mother to Miguel, Helen, Carmen, Ketta, Anita, and Luz. Her greatest joy in life was her FAMILIA and her 15 Grandchildren, 30 Great Grandchildren, and 5 Great Great Grandchildren, whom she loved so VERY much and left them the BEST memories.
WHEN I GROW UP, I WANT TO BE LIKE MOM!
Leonardo C. Guel | November 6, 1931 - September 22, 2011
Leonardo entered into the life of Pablo and Carmen Guel on Nov 6, 1931. He passed away peacefully with his children on Sept. 22, 2011 at age 79.
Leonardo is survived by 1 sister and 7 brothers. Father of Leonard, Robert, Victor, Juan, Connie Loredo, Pablo, Maria, Arturo, Jose, Carmen Sashida and Yolanda Bennett. Grandfather of 29, Great Grandfather of 18 and 1 Great Great Grandson.
"Look closely at the picture of Leonardo on this page. His smile is warm, welcoming, and contagious. He was always smiling when he greeted you, while he talked to you, while he listened to you. He found humor in almost everything. In this sense, he took things likely and calmly at all times.
He was extremely smart in the tinkering of mechanical things like automotive, upholstery, and equipment. He once told me when I told him some car repair we were doing was very hard to do, that "anything is only hard to do for the person that does not want to do it." He then showed me how to use a pipe as leverage extension on a socket ratchet wrench for "breaking loose" an over-tightened bolt on an engine block. The impossible was suddenly easy to do.
This saying has always stuck with me and I used it with many school students I have engaged in the learning process over the years. The saying provokes us to stop whining about life's challenges and determine that the thing can be done; so use your energy to find the way and just do it. I feel that I saw some of the wisdom he possessed and since it impressed me to creatively find a way to solve problems, I remember him and value his insight fondly."
~Juan Raul Guel, Leonard Guel's nephew