Bio: Atenogenes Vargas Marin

Atenogenes Vargas

Atenogenes Vargas (Photo courtesy Carmen Vargas.)

Atenogenes Vargas Marin was born the first son to Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas Ramos on July 16, 1901, in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico. The eldest of nine, he was an adventurous soul and family lore says he was named from a Greek calendar that Candelaria and Mariano had.

At 13, he decided he wanted to join the Mexican Revolution, so he ran off to water their horses when Pancho Villa came through town. Candelaria was firm that he was not to join and sent Mariano after Atenogenes to drag him back home.

Three years later, Atenogenes was off again, this time hopping trains and essentially backpacking into the Western United States. Atenogenes stepped off the train in the U.S. for the first time outside the new jail that had just been built in Gilroy, California. He continued on as far as Montana, where he ended up out of money and hungry from not having eaten for three days. It was freezing cold and a (in his own words) “white man” took pity on him.

After a time, he returned to Mexico, where he ended up working as a policeman, and then he eventually immigrated to California with the rest of the family in 1925. There, he worked as a machinist’s assistant, a Merchant Marine, and in a candle factory in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Atenogenes Vargas

Atenogenes Vargas

He married Alma Reyegonda, who was haunted by a tragic past for much of her life. When she was 18, she played Ding Dong Ditch on her mom. They lived in a two-story apartment at the time, and the second time her mother came downstairs to answer the door, she fell down the stairs and suffered a broken neck. After two weeks in the hospital, Alma’s mother passed away.

As was popular during the era, Atenogenes and Alma liked to drink and stay out late. Before long, they had three children: Art Vargas, Rose Vargas, and Carmen Vargas, all who still live in California.

On a trip to Ameca in 1972, Atenogenes sought out his old stomping grounds and found his long-lost aunt, Maria Marin, who was sitting alone in her home, which lead to a heartwarming reunion. Cousin Carmen has kept this photo of them for some years:

Atenogenes and mysterious cousin. (Photo courtesy Cousin Carmen Vargas)

Atenogenes and mysterious cousin. (Photo courtesy Cousin Carmen Vargas)

Atenogenes eventually died of pneumonia in 1980.

Advertisements

Atenojenes Vargas, Nancy Vargas put faces on Barberan y Collar postcard

A postcard from Nieves Vargas and Atenojenes Vargas.

A postcard from Nieves “Nancy” Vargas and Atenojenes Vargas. (Courtesy Art Vargas)

This is a postcard with Nieves “Nancy” Vargas’ face superimposed on the left and her brother Atenojenes Vargas on the right in a plane with the words “Barberan y Collar.”

Some background…

The Vargas family immigrated to the U.S. from Jalisco, Mexico, in the early 1900s, including husband Mariano Vargas Ramos, wife Candelaria Marin Hernandez and their eight children. The children were still little, so they were essentially raised in San Jose, Calif., growing up speaking heavily accented English but also Spanish at home, and most of the girls married young, according to my uncle Art, who is the son of Atenojenes.

After Candelaria died in 1930, Mariano and the unmarried siblings, Nieves and Atenojenes included, decided to return to Mexico. I would date this composite image in the early to mid-30s based on the “Barberan y Collar” wording. Barberan and Collar were Spanish aviators — Mariano Barberan y Tros de Ilarduya and Joaquin Collar. They flew a plane across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain to Cuba in June of 1933, according to The Biography. Later that same year, the plane headed for Mexico City but was intercepted by a storm and they were never to be seen again, according to The Biography.

Photo: Vargas Marin siblings send snapshot to sister Lucy Calvillo in the states in 1939

From top and left to right, Nieves "Nancy" Vargas Marin, Alfonso "Pancho" Vargas Marin, Atenojenes Vargas Marin, and Luis Vargas Marin in Mexico, D.F., in 1934.

From top and left to right, Nieves “Nancy” Vargas Marin, Alfonso “Pancho” Vargas Marin, Atenojenes Vargas Marin, and Luis Vargas Marin in Mexico, D.F., in February, 1939.

I recently sat down with my uncle Art Vargas to talk about the Vargas Marin side of the family (our common ancestors were Mariano Vargas Ramos — born November 1870 in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico — and Candelaria Marin Hernandez) and he shared with me the postcard above. It turns out, the Vargas Marin side of my family immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the early and mid-1900s in two waves.

The first time around — my best guess this was around 1925-1927, but I have no documentation as of yet — the family made it to the San Francisco Bay Area by way of Texas. It was tough to find work, so after awhile, the brothers decided to move back to Mexico. At that time, the sisters were all already married, so they stayed. Everyone, my uncle said, worked in the canneries.

The brothers returned in a second wave during World War II, when there was more work available. But between the two immigrations, judging from the postcard, Nancy visited them back in Mexico.

Here’s the back side of the postcard with a message to Lucy:

NancyVargasandBrothersBackofPostcard