Person of the month: Eva Luz Villalón Turrubiates

By Karla Ortiz

 

Eva Luz Villalón Turrubiates was born in Celaya and resides in Salamanca, but her heart is in San Miguel de Allende. Eva has been a loyal collaborator with the library, wanted by the entire crew, and invited to participate in events, tours, and conferences organized by the library. In addition, she supports La Biblioteca with articles for the newspaper, Atención San Miguel. With several diplomas and a master’s degree in history, she is considered a passionate researcher and historian. From her childhood, her grandmother nurtured this passion, which gradually became her trade. Eva used to listen enthusiastically to all the stories about legends and traditions her grandmother told about Salamanca. One day her grandmother passed away, and for Eva writing down all that she had heard from her grandmother would be a way to keep her memory alive. Whenever she felt like it, she could read some of those stories. At the same time, something else motivated her to write this book. It was to ensure that Salamanca did not lose its memory and identity because the city had begun to lose part of its heritage and traditions after the arrival of the oil tankers in the 1940s. Little by little they were forgotten.

Eva began to investigate and verify some details of the legends with people from Salamanca. Over time this became a commitment to the people she had interviewed, and “by accident,” eight years after she started her research, the book “Salamanca, ciudad encantada,” was published in 2008 and dedicated to the memory of her grandmother. After this book was published, people began to call Eva to tell her more legends their ancestors had left behind. Six years after receiving these stories and continuing with research and interviews, she gathered enough material to publish a second book, “Salamanca, los ecos del tiempo.” During 14 years of research, she realized that the richness of a town is in its people. “You can read the stories in books, but what gives these stories sense is the people, the way they are expressed, and how they told [them],” Turrubiates noted. Above all, in her interviews with families, she realized the importance of relating to people, because it isn’t easy for a family to open up to tell and publish stories that involve their ancestors.

She is currently working on her third book and first historical novel. Eva has always had a lot of love for San Miguel, and her desire is to achieve something that has a relationship with its people. That is why this third book will focus on the 1946 era, when the first Americans began to arrive in this town. It will talk about the cultural shock they faced at the time and the relationship that was initially begun. For this book, she has also conducted interviews and research. Since 2014, she has had the opportunity to live with both the foreign and Mexican communities, seeing both sides of the coin, and she hopes to finish the novel next year.

Her first intention was that her third book would be exactly like the previous two. But the situation was different, and she ended up working on a small historical novel, which has a fictitious plot, yet many of the important historical facts she tells actually happened. She has tried to include the large field of reliable historical data she has collected in testimony or copies of journals that have been provided. Among the people she has interviewed for this third book, she has managed to create a great bond with Don Pepe Sánchez, an 85-year-old man who played baseball on Stirling Dickinson’s team and knew him very well. Don Pepe was very supportive of Eva by telling her many stories and anecdotes of that time. Eva has certainly tried to draw a line between fiction and reality, and she does not want this book to become a compilation of anecdotes of San Miguel.

Throughout her career, Eva has had to overcome the challenges that have helped her become the person she is today. Once she began with research and interviews in 2000, she had to learn to overcome her fear of people. Before that, Eva considered herself a shy person. When she was young, she had a hard time relating to people. She was quiet and very sullen. Later, talking to different people she didn’t know did much to help her overcome this fear. The interviews went from being nightmares to being the most awaited moment of the day. She was able to learn many untold facts and add interesting information to her book. She learned how to relate and how to approach and treat people. Another challenge was to avoid prejudices and be as objective as possible. The writing helped her to be more open-minded.

Not everything in her life is books, Eva has also written a couple of short stories for the Timor de Oro literary contest, organized by the Association de la Heroic Secular Naval Military de México. The first contest was for the anniversary of the Mexican navy’s Cuauhtémoc ship. “A done el tiempo no level” tells the story of the ship in the first person—by the ship. With this story, she won the third place. She received the award in Mexico City from the former Secretary of Navy, Mariano Francisco Shayne Mendoza. The moment and the satisfaction of being recognized motivated her to continue participating. The following year the theme was free, so she wrote “Cantos Mariner,” which tells the story of a child who had seen the naval ships since childhood and imagined himself in them. As an adult, he saw his grandson follow in his footsteps and also dream of being a sailor. Soon after she sent her story, the association called and notified her that she had won the first place. Unfortunately, with all her projects and work, she has had less time and has stopped participating in these competitions.

Behind all literature, there are responsibilities. Eva not only writes but currently teaches history and art appreciation to the youths of Loyola High School in Salamanca, and at La Salle University she is in charge of cultural coordination, supporting the youth to enter workshops and cultural activities. Working in this kind of environment has helped her to stay cool and keep up with everything.

Eva honored us with a message for all library users, “I am proud to have this library in San Miguel. I am proud to be part of the library and its people, a place full of tradition and history. Let’s try to preserve this magical building, let’s take care of it together. We must not let the project of so many people and generations fall. More than a library, it is a community center and for me, it is the heart of San Miguel.”

 

 

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