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Luci, the 98-year-old seamstress who perfectly remembers the day the Civil War began | Present

Luci, the 98-year-old seamstress who perfectly remembers the day the Civil War began |  Present

Luci is wearing a flowing printed shirt with ruffles on the front the day I go to see her at her house, located in one of those neighborhoods in the center of Madrid where in 2022 there are no flats worth less than half a million euros, nor a street corner. that they do not expose cornucopias that can be uploaded to Instagram, such as the oyster shop that is right next to their portal, where they sell these molluscs for four euros a unit. They haven’t gone up in price yet because of a war that has taken everyone by surprise. “How is it possible that this is happening in Europe?” was the mantra in the first days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as if only several blocks from here 9,000 men had not died in a single afternoon when a war broke out that besieged the capital of Spain for three years and that Luci remembers perfectly, because The morning that the battle that started the Civil War began and the shooting began in the Mountain Barracks, of which there is now no trace and on whose floor stands an Egyptian temple called Debod, she heard everything perfectly.

At her school in Argüelles, Carmen Rojo, the teacher asked her parents to go talk to her; the next thing that happened is that she was told that she would go on an excursion to Valencia for two months. It did not seem like a bad plan to the 11-year-old Luci, who had been sleeping for a while on some boards between two chairs in the bookbinding workshop of her father, who had been forced to hand over his machines to the militias. “I had such a good time on the train playing with a melon as if it were a ball,” she recalls, who then could not imagine that it would take her four years to return home.

When he arrived at his destination, the first surprise awaited him. They took her to a town, Carlet, where a lady named Aunt Irene forced her to scrub the floors, wash the dishes, tidy up the stables, feed the chickens, and sew, threatening to send her to reform school if she didn’t obey. “On Sundays they didn’t let me go out to play, I had to keep sewing.” After seven months of efforts, a close friend of her mother went to look for her and took her to Valencia, where she lived for the next three years with the children, the brothers and the children of the brothers of that lady who had taken pity on her. her. They were all sheltered in a convent where she slept, night after night, inside the box of a machine gun: “I think that’s why my back is so straight.” She laughs heartily. They were about to take her to Russia with some children who never returned to Spain: “And I wish they had. Now I would be an engineer.”

When the war ended and she returned to Madrid, the 11-year-old girl was 15. “I didn’t get my period until I was 17 because of how malnourished I was.” At the station, only her mother and sister were waiting for her, who now lived in a room in a corrala on Jordán Street, where every night the three of them snuggled together in a 90-foot bed. They had no door, no water, no meal. “The one who ate was my mother, who cleaned in a house where my aunt worked.” Her aunt, who was a prostitute, had a pimp who became infatuated with her daughter: “Either you give me the girl or I’ll take your job.” She handed it over. Meanwhile, Luci entered a sewing workshop as an apprentice and they began to give her tips that she spent entirely on nuts. “Madrid was full of almonds, there were them in all the shop windows”. That humble vegan delicacy was her livelihood for years. From an apprentice she became an assistant and from an assistant she was in three sewing workshops, until she became a dressmaker —what she had learned with Aunt Irene had served her well— and met her husband, a burly wrestling gladiator who earned 4,000 pesetas per fight at a time when salaries were 80 cents. She moved with him into the house where she still lives and she never went hungry again. The frilly print shirt she was wearing the spring afternoon I went to see her was sewn for her. Luci, body of an old woman, head of a girl, lives surrounded by Airbnb flats, in the same neighborhood where she heard the war start.

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– Article Written By @Raquel Peláez from https://smoda.elpais.com/moda/actualidad/luci-la-costurera-de-98-anos-que-recuerda-perfectamente-el-dia-que-empezo-la-guerra-civil/

Nicole Aniston