Loris (3)


In spanish the letter R is rolled or trilled; that is, the tip of the tongue flips against the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth.  Two or three flips are required for an R at the beginning of a sentence or for the double RR.  Elsewhere, one flip will do.

This makes it hard for an english speaker to pronounce a spanish word containing an R.  But it is harder the other way around, especially when an R is followed by a consonant.  The spanish speaker still wants to roll his Rs, but they don’t roll too well unless they are followed by a vowel.

Consider “Lordsburg”.  The spanish speaker tries for “Lorrrdsburrrg”, but to get it out he needs more vowels; so he says “Lorrridsburrrig”.  Well, that is too long and complicated, and the transition from D to S is also hard.  So why not drop the D and the entire “burg” part, so we have left “Lorrris”, that is, “Loris” with the R rolled.

This is approximately what happened with the spanish pronunciation of Lordsburg.  The mexican people there, who are three fourths of the population, among themselves usually say “Loris”.  Now you know where this chapter and the two before it get their name.  I have been meaning to explain “Loris” to you but couldn’t fit it in before now.

Loris is a town of about 3000 people.  Much convenience accrues to one who lives in the old part of town, for the grocery stores (one mexican, one chinese), post office, bank, city hall, churches, Western Auto are all within a few blocks.  All these are east of Main Street.  I lived one block west of Main, and on a busy day sometimes had to wait for three or four cars to pass before I could get across.

Loris is a sleepy little town where there is not much to do.  I found some pretty good friends there—my next door neighbors Alfonso and Lupe, another very interesting old farmer, Tello, around the corner, a scotsman, Richard, a few blocks away.  But aside from the time I spent with them, and with Amelia while she lived, I found little to do.

I was most fortunate in that during my month of mourning I happened to meet a young couple, I can’t even remember their names now, but they attended church at a rural mission in Duncan, another small town just across the Arizona line.  And they advised me that the mission was in need of a musician.  So the following sunday I drove over to Duncan, checked out the priest’s liturgical style, decided we could work together, and reported back to my new friends that should the pastor invite me to work for him, I would accept.  The following sunday he did and I did.  For the following two years I served as organist and choirmaster at the rural church.

With the exception of the handful I have mentioned I had found the mexican people of Loris pretty standoffish.  In Duncan I found them much friendlier.  I called for volunteers for a choir and at once had twelve singers, mostly hispanic.  They were very responsive to my leadership and worked hard as I taught them to sing simple mass settings in english, spanish, and latin.

The work at Duncan was satisfying, and I kept at it for two years.  But it did not occupy me more than two days a week.  I was also afflicted with a couple of people in the choir who, by the end of two years, had worn me down pretty badly.  One was a german lady who had begun complaining and bickering even before the first practice session, and had never stopped.  The other joined the choir near the end of my tenure.  He was a mariachi player and singer who had had his own group for many years and could not accept my direction.  So, besides the work being satisfying, it was also tiring, and added to the nothing at Loris I still had not enough to do to fill my time.

I told you I had planned to stay in Loris until I was fully retired from my programming business.  But the emptiness of the passing days brought a change in my thinking.  I had assumed that it would be impossible to support software clients across an international border.  But on second thought, why not?  Support was principally via long distance telephone, which works in Mexico just as it does in the United States.  And should something absolutely require a visit to a client’s site, the near part of Chihuahua was no further from the eastern States than was Loris.

And as it happened, an opportunity to jump the border presented itself.


© 2004 Joseph Mansfield