Chelo Agundis, “My Life is My Pharmacy”
Personality of the month
By Sandra Ríos
Consuelo Agundis, better known as Chelo, is a woman full of life who, at 80 years, remains passionate about her work and proud of her family. She is especially loved by people who have gone to consult her at her pharmacy, located in the corner of Canal and Hernández Macías, for years. Very engaged in the San Miguel community, she was invited in 2009 to pose for a calendar called “Las Dueñas,” in which some women entrepreneurs from San Miguel participated to raise funds and provide medical care to children who are losing their vision.
Sandra Ríos: Where were your parents from and where were you born?
Chelo Agundis: I’m from San Miguel de Allende. My father was from San Luis Potosí and my mom, from Morelia. Both came to San Miguel in the early 30’s. Here they met, married, and had all their children.
SR: How was your childhood in San Miguel?
CHA: The forties and fifties were the golden years, very nice. We went out on the streets, everyone knew us, and we greeted each other. The most used transport was the donkey, and every street had a nice stone pavement, so you could see the rows of stones. Even in the forecourt of the Parroquia, there was a floor of stones. The streets were like the courtyard of our house. In the Jardín every Sunday, there were serenades. The women circled around the Jardín to the right and the men to the left side, so that at every turn, we met and we greeted each other. If a young man liked a girl, he used to give her a gardenia at one of those turns.
SR: How was it that you started working at the Agundis pharmacy?
CHA: All my sisters married at the age of 15, and they left home. But I started working in the pharmacy at age 15 with my dad, Dr. Jesús Agundis. Before that, I had practiced for a year in the pharmacy of the chemist Don Pepe and Lupita Vega, since in those days the drugs were prepared to order. My dad prescribed formulas, and we ourselves made them with a mortar, test tubes, and scales. I have worked for 64 years, and I never stopped working. In the fifties, my dad was the doctor for Fábrica la Aurora, banks, and telephone operators, and at the hospital, for sanitation and maternity. He also did surgery and was a very good doctor and a great obstetrician. From 8am in the morning he made rounds, and I was always behind him, both in the hospital or on the emergency visits to homes or ranches. I helped him to suture wounds. In the hospital, I always asked him what ailment the sick person had and what treatment he would use.
SR: Tell us about your husbands. How many times have you married?
CHA: This is my fifth marriage. At 23 I married for the first time. I always kept working at the pharmacy and lived with my husband and children in my parents’ house.
My first husband’s name was Luis. He was a dentist. I spent three years with him, and we had twins. He went to Querétaro with some friends in a small Fiat car. A truck was stopped on the road, and they went under it. A few days later, he died in a hospital in Querétaro as a result of that accident. He was the only one of the group in the car who died. I then married a man who became the dad of all the rest of my children. I was with him for 13 years until he also died in an accident. I got married again, and this husband died in another accident. My fourth husband was from Irapuato. He had pharmacies there. One day he crossed the Pípila traffic roundabout (which at that time was not a real traffic roundabout), and he was run over by a truck and died there. I got married again last year. This is my fifth husband, and he loves to sing.
SR: How many children do you have?
CHA: Six children: first my twins and then the other four with my second husband.
SR: How did you manage go to the pharmacy every day with children?
CHA: My mom took care of them and then we had nannies, who, incidentally, were very demanding. When I was pregnant, I always went to work until the day I went into labor.
SR: Why is the Agundis pharmacy closed now?
CHA: As my dad gave me the pharmacy and house, I decided also give the pharmacy and house to my son Roberto. We worked well together until the last year when my leg began to hurt when I climbed the stairs of the pharmacy for to go for the medications. I took a break to rehabilitate. I was like this for almost a year until my doctor suggested I have surgery to achieve full recovery. That was in November last year. At that time, Roberto did not want to stay and work in the pharmacy. He decided to sell both the house and pharmacy. He is biochemist and would like to develop his career elsewhere. I support him because children come first.
SR: And now what are your plans?
CHA: First, to get my leg well and then to open a small pharmacy because I’m used to working and getting up early, and I miss my people. That’s my dream, although another year has passed. But, yes I want to do it.
SR: Would you like to add anything else?
CHA: I love my people of San Miguel. I could not live anywhere else in the world than here. Because when I go out to the Jardín, to the park, or just walk the streets, many people know me. I am eighty years old, and I would like to live another 20 years.