Odyssey To Opportunity
Roger came from parents opposite in ancestral background, formal education and
purposeful aspiration. Don Antonio, the father, was born in Villar, near Salas de los
Barrios, from a humble and poor family. He was the last of nine children and the only
boy. He grew with little education, indulged by his parents and spoiled by his sisters. He
had a heart of gold and a very generous disposition. A true peasant, he loved to work the
outdoors and to attend fairs to exchange domestic animals to work the fields. He loved
his children, who loved him very dearly in return, though he would not hesitate to use the
belt as an instrument to discipline them. He was a warm human being, but his lack of
education and the protective family life he led in Villar predisposed him to some harmful
mistakes of judgment.
Doña Rosario, his very attractive wife, was born to a wealthy family. Her parents had left
Spain for the Americas and settled in Rosario, Argentina where she was born. They
returned to their native region of El Bierzo when she was ten years old. Unlike her
husband, she was highly educated and very well read. Her ambition was to have her
children attain good education as well. To that end, she spared no sacrifice. When the
civil war ended in 1939, times became very rough. She would sell her ration of coffee,
sugar and other supplies to pay someone to teach her children how to read.
She was a chapter of love, filled with pages of her children’s illusions and hurts, for her
tenderness made them joyful when close to her and sorrowful when separated from her.
When they faltered or when they felt sad and lonely, they turned to her for comfort, they
sought her guiding light. She was the love, the life and the leaven that made children
smile when they met her and men admire her gentle genius when around her. In truth,
near her, people found a tender meaning to their lives.
Throughout his life, Roger will not forget his father’s generosity and affection, nor his
mother’s tenderness and spirit of sacrifice. In fact, he would quite often talk about his
parents, especially his mother, as having been the ones who molded him into a caring and
dedicated human being.
He noticed his father’s hard work in the fields, and his mother’s unselfishness and self-
denial at home. He was proud of his father for opening his home to the farmers of
Espinoso and Compludo who when traveling to the fair in Ponferrada on their screeching,
oxen-driven carts, would stop to warm their hands and feet at the furnace, or to quench
their thirst with a glass of wine. He marvelled at his mother’s kindness and warmth
towards stranded travelers who would stop by the house in the middle of the night,
seeking protection from the vicious cold of winter.
Unfortunately, the kindness and spirit of giving that Roger observed at home when he
became of age to understand them were not the virtues prevailing in the nation at his
birth. Killing of priests, burning of churches, highway robberies, political acts of
vengeance, terrorizing chaos in the streets and countless crises in the central government:
this was the social milieu in which Roger was born.
The downfall of the Lerroux government on April 28, 1934, did not do much to improve
the situation, for the new government of Ricardo Samper and those that followed it were