Lili of the Lake     |   home
Lili of the Lake   |   Lili -- At the Front   |   Rodriguez Legacy   |   Photorama   |   KatrinaFamily   |   Responses   |   One Liners   |   Family Emails   |   Costa Rica   |   Links
Latest Posting from Duke
 Latest Posting from George Werner

Deysi Gabrielle
2072 Smith Street Apt 1108
No Providence, Rhode Island 02911

June 29,1997

Dear Danny:
     In behalf of my husband and I, we thank you and the other siblings who made the book "LiLi of the Lake — the Rodriguez Odyssey" possible.  It was compiled beautifully.  A grand drama indeed!  Also a fine tribute to your Mom and your grandparents.  I have a metaphysical perception.  The Past is long gone.  Life is short, how much longer can I live?  And for the sake of our peace of mind, there can only be the good and the beautiful.  I strongly believe that in every human soul there is a secret sacredness.  (The Spark Divine) Christ put it this way.  "The Kindom of Heaven Within."  And the LAW of life is "CHANGE."
     You must know that even our bodies are constantly changing.  It is what they call evolution.  Forms go and Forms come.  All creation is in constant fluke, whether we like it or not.  Did you know that Papa believed in re-incarnation?  He told me so.  He also told me that once, when he was working in some boat, he had this Sixth sense of something: happening that he should know about.  He marked the date and month, for the heck of it.  Later, he found out that it was the day and month in which I was born.  August 5, 1918.  Ha!
     Now Danny, your "Mom" was a woman’s woman.  She was a nurturer, very intuitional.  She dared to do whatever choice was hers, regardless of consequences.  She lived her life to the fullest, every moment of it.  She knew great moments of sorrow, but she knew how to love with all her heart.  Free spirited!  I loved her and admired her even when we had our differences.  I shall remember her that way; FREE SPIRITED.
     I know in my heart that someday in some future, we will meet again.  Dan, I loved. all the pictures.  When all of you were small, I would imagine that you all were my children.  Your dear "mom" made me so happy when she said to me during her pregnancy with Jerlyn, "you are going to be, if it's a little girl. her Godmother.  I was so happy!
     “Lili, you saw into my heart!”
     Now just for the record, Dan.  My real name is Deysi Josefa de nieves Vargas Gabrielle.  Rodriguez only by blood, since I was never adopted.  This information is not for you to change anything.  As Shakespear said, "what is in a name?   A rose by any other name, smells just as sweet.”  Ha!
     Peace and love to you and yours,
Your Aunt Deysi —

PS to Jerlyn
Your mother to the end, took care of her mother and father.  Wonderful daughter!


July 6, 1997

Dear Danny,
     Thank you so very much — yes, very , very much.  You’ve turned out a work of art.  But then, look who inspired you and Jerlyn to its production.  Lili of the Lake, of course.
     I’ve squeezed in reading time; squeezed in–  because my grief continues to be severe.  It is all too fresh a wound for it to heal.  This is one time I cannot say “Physician heal thyself.”  I am counting on the Holy Spirit to do my healing.
     I thank you because I did have a pause from my pain, as long as I focused on your writing.  You see, recently, I have been suffering with “A.D.D.” (attention deficit disorder) —  not able to focus or concentrate on anything.  But, you, “Honey Chile,” managed to help me by giving me Peace while trying to digest the beauty of your production.  There have been great moments of Peace upon reading and rereading.  Thank you and Jerlyn for your great efforts and time and the rest of the clan that contributed.  Even though my recent anguish finds no surcease, I did derive moments of Peace.
     Danny, my loss is unique in that my daughter was not only my daughter, she was my friend, my pal, my confidant, my colleague — and I was hers.  To survive a child of Baby’s quality is the Lord’s compassion to grant me the healing.  
     My Treasure remains, my Lowell is my strength.
     I am grateful.
     Your aunt Carmen

Deisy Josefa de Las Nieves Vargas Gabrielle
2072 Smith St.  Apt. 910
North Providence, RI 02911

January 13, 2005
Dear Danny,
     What a wonderful surprise to hear from you — and how very sweet of you to say that you considered me as your second Mom.  Thank you!
     It seems so long ago, and yet, if my memory serves me right, I can see you and Evy, and your other siblings, when small, like most children, so precious and innocent yet.  I pretended that you were my children.  It is all I ever wanted in life, yes! — To be a mother!
     Unfortunately, I could have only six children, which I love and respect so much.  You love them when they are small, but as adults, their souls are exposed, and in comes a greater knowledge of whom they really are — Pilgrims on earth, to share a great experience with their parents, it is no mistake that we come together for a purpose.
     Danny, my precious Jimmy made his transition two years ago, after 57 years of marriage.  I still miss him terribly, but life goes on and thank God, I have my children’s support — I am now 86 years of age, look younger then my age (so everyone says).  I live a vegetarian life, do a lot of walking, try to keep my mind harmlessly in control and live one day at a time.  I also read a lot, mostly Metaphysical books.  Yes!  Carmen, Vidalia and me, we were very much of like minds.  Dear Carmen!  I do miss her phone calls.  Vidalia called me three days ago.
     My daughter Maria, looked you up on her computer and told me what was there.  — Very interesting and thanks for the compliments of me.  She also looked you up on your web sites and said, “Ma, he has written books on travel, etc, etc.!  I answered, Danny is one smart man, always was, and took after his mom!
     Lili!  Lili!  Who used to read all my stories and poems when I was a teenager — gave me good advise, and encouraged me.  She was my “second Mom.”  Whenever I had a furlough from the Service, it was her house I went to.  See!  I do have a good memory!
     Last time I talked with your Mom over the phone, she said, “Daisy, I love you, you know!”  She did!  Listen, Danny, one of my great satisfaction is that in spite of our many differences, all of my sisters and I have had wonderful years of passage, or closure.  We have loved and still love each other.  For that, I am indeed grateful.  As I said before, God always has a purpose with the people, who, we live with.  This life is a school, and we deserve a diploma when we leave it.  Ha!  Ha!
     Well, dear boy, this is it.  May you continue to be productive.  

Yours, In Peace and Love.

March 3, 2004
Duke and Haydée
(Duke's remembrances -- as written in March 2004)

    Sometime in the summer of 1938, I was growing tired of the kind of existence I was living; goofy broads and drinking and raising hell in general.  When school started again, I was attending Delgado Trades School.  I wanted to meet some very nice and intelligent Spanish girl.   José Contreras  and I rode to school together , and I spoke more than once of my situation.  Finally he said he'd think about it.  One day he said," I think that I have just the person for you."   For a couple of weeks he was trying to get permission from the young lady to give me her phone number.  She finally agreed to give  the phone number to Joe; mostly to stop him from being such a nuisance.
     Joe was the graven stone image of the stereotype Aztec god in profile.  The young lady was trying to be kind to Joe's persistence in refusing his requests to give her phone number to one of his friends.  Finally, she relented and gave in.  Now Joe warned me of the "protocol" of behavior expected by Latinos and Joe wanted assurance that he wasn't going to be made to suffer consequences because of my previous reputation.  I swore up and down that he'd have nothing to worry about.  Joe and his mother had been friends of the young lady's family since he was eight years old.
     I could hardly contain myself.  From the corner drugstore at State and Laurel streets, I made the call.  For a good half-hour we chatted on the phone.  There is just no way that I can put into words the mounting anticipation that was building inside of me.  I asked if we could meet the coming Saturday for a date. (Which was the proper thing to do in 1938.)  What a disappointment.  She said,"I'm really occupied with a previous date.”  It took several more phone talks before I was invited to her home for a family assessment and approval.
     When she opened the front door— WHAM!   I had never in my life seen such beauty in a smile and in her eyes, and her soft voice.  Well, for the next hour or so we sat on the couch talking and laughing.  There was a record player, a phonograph, (if you know what that is — the kind you wind up by hand with a crank to make the turntable go round), in the corner of the front room and some nice records.  Carmen was there, so was Mamá.  The music was playing some slow romantic melody so I asked if she would care to dance.  I think "that" did it.  Years later I was told that she was looking over my shoulder at Carmen and they exchanged winks of approval.  Sneaky bit of intrigue was in the making.  The young lady told me years later that she really needed a date for her sorority dances.  Our first dates were mostly long walks.  Who had money in 1938?  My father died.  I spent some months in the C.C.C.'s La. SP478.  (CCC camps were provided during the Depression period to put locally unemployed people to work on community projects.)  We built the beautiful Fountain State Park and the bath house on the lake front.  On the second meeting with Haydée, I think it was then I said, "I'm going to marry you."  That drew an immediate response with a, “You're crazy."  So, naturally, my reply was: "you're right; you're going to have a crazy husband."
     We never had a tumultuous relationship.  Some people might say that it was insipid; the important thing was that our love and dating was always private.  We enjoyed the various house parties and the fist-fights that ended some of them.  One night at a party at the Culotta's basement party, I received some sneers and envious looks from a few Latinos.  I thought nothing of it, but when I went out into the alley to relieve myself (too much beer will require some immediate
attention), four of these brave young men followed me, two from each side.  Just as they approached me, greetings from either side of my would be attackers was heard.  Mike, from one side and Jorge, from the other.  We've had some laughs about that night.  That ended the outward resentment of the foolish young Latinos held by them because I was dating Haydée.  I couldn't blame them, really; Haydée was just too beautiful to not be challenged for by others.
     I had spent a year at LSU and ran out of money.  St Mary Dominican was in the process of building a gymnasium and I got a job there.  I would always see her passing from one building to another.  Each time, I would get a momentary racing heart;  however, there was a Nun who picked up on my actions and she didn't fail to let me know that she was keeping an eye on me, but with a smile on her face.
     I had been a member of the Louisiana State National Guard since 1936, and in 1941, President Roosevelt saw fit to mobilize all the Guard units nationwide.  Mind you, we were mobilized January the 13, 1941 and Pearl Harbor had yet to take place on December 7th.  Haydée had visited me at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, on several occasions.  We talked about our future and about marriage.  When we decided on a date we went to see our unit's chaplain who said, "I can't do this today, but how about Wednesday?"  This started a frantic time for Haydée, during which Lilí, your beautiful Mother, took charge.  They went in and out of stores in New Orleans getting the wedding dress and other things necessary.   In the mean time, at Camp Shelby, I was subjected to the usual jokes and ribald remarks by my fellow battery members.  Wednesday came and Haydée and Lilí with her insurance agent friend drove from New Orleans to Camp Shelby because Lilí was pregnant.  There was also Mamá and Alice, who brought Haydée's bouquet and the cake — And, Carmen came with a friend (a Mr. George) who took us to dinner that night.
     Just before our ceremony was to begin, we heard the dull sound of marching men's footsteps.  What a surprise!  The entire battery marched into my side of the chapel accompanied by the Battalion Staff led by Col. Henry B. Curtis, the commander of the 141st Field Artillery Regiment, my regiment. (Henry Curtis later became a City Councilman for many years and was known as “Uncle Boots” by his family.)
     After three days of Marital Consummation, Haydée left for Florida to meet with Alice for their new assignment at the Censorship Department under the administration of Col. Dean; the same Col. Dean who had supervised them in New Orleans.  He had promised to return them to the New Orleans office as soon as they had completed their required time at the Miami office and true to his word he did so.
     While all this was going on, my outfit moved to a place called Camp Sutton in North Carolina.  While there as a Mess Sergeant, I heard about the formation of an antitank platoon.  As a Mess Sgt., I made frequent trips to the Quartermaster's depot which was close to the Ordinance Supply Depot.  Since I had wanted out of the mess hall, I stopped in Ordinance on one trip and picked up a Field Manual and Specs on the 37 mm Antitank Gun.  I studied the manual day and night.  Finally, when the guns arrived, a meeting was held and no one knew anything about them.  I spoke up and said, " I know all there is to know about the guns."  So, I started giving a litany of capabilities and specifications and the strategic deployment of the weapon. Captain Gills immediately put me in charge after a grilling on the Operation and Maintenance and Field Deployment of the piece.  He even let me select the crews to be assigned to the gun station.  
     In the mean time, my marriage was a "see you when I can" type of thing — with quick visits and short furloughs.  Our separations were tougher on Haydée than on me because of my assignments.
     Finally a break came.  The unit moved from N.C. to Camp Blanding Florida and while there I was sent to the wrong Officers Candidate school.  I had applied for Ordinance and was sent to Fort Sill Artillery School.  After several requests to be dismissed and returned to my unit or to the Ordinance School, I was returned to my unit in Blanding.

     Let me get back on track, because this is supposed to be about what I remembered of my early association with the Rodríguez family.  We, Haydée and I, actually saw one another only for sporadic dates during the first year we met.  I went off to L.S.U. for a year and ran out of money.  She finished at Dominican College and went off to L.S.U. for a year and earned her Masters Degree.  When she returned to New Orleans, we were dating for a year until the National Guards were called up and I was off to Camp Shelby in Mississippi.
     On one family get together, Haydée was feeling down and weepy, some members of the family began kidding her and Papá jumped all over them for their insensitivity.  All the time I was away in service, Haydée worked.  When I came home the whole family met me at the train station.  We all proceeded to our home on Oaklawn Drive and celebrated.  After a while we were properly left alone.  My father-in-law held me in high esteem, as I've been told many times by other members of the family.  He offered me a chance to go into business with him; so did my brother-in-law Chris Lindenberg.  I had this deep sense of responsibility to a commitment I had made to my Mother and my wife: that I would finish my university education.  On January 2nd, (19–) I enrolled at Tulane and 2 1/2 years later I graduated.  All this time Haydée was working and supporting us augmented with my G.I. Bill allotments.  Being of the "male supporter" generation – and being supported by my wife stuck in my craw!  She encouraged me to go for my Masters Degree.  Following a visit to U.S C., I graduated from there in 1951.  During the time that we lived on Oaklawn Drive, I worked on the week ends at the seafood stand that Mike operated.   There were more than a few times that he'd call me at home to come out to the stand because there were some disgruntled and belligerent customers.
     In every bout, we won.  It wasn't always easy, but we won.  I recalled the night that Mike ran his car off the Bucktown Bridge.  The dog, Peewee was trapped in the car and drowned.
     In summation, I was taken into the Rodríguez family as a son and a brother with the show of love and emotion that I never really experienced in my own family.  I don't mean to imply that my own family didn't love me.  The atmosphere in a Latino family is so much more intense and demonstrative.  I really don't know of another way to express all the love and affection that I have felt.  I recall on the death of my Mother when my sisters were going to hire paid-for Pall Bearers.   Augie quickly spoke up, "No strangers are going to carry my uncle's mother to her final resting place!"  Three of the Werner boys and three Gutíerrez (all with Rodríguez blood in their veins) carried my Mother's casket.  That act weighs heavily in my heart and always will.
     We had moved to California the day of the devastating earthquake in Bakersfield.
     Lilí, your Mother, began her loving admonition about our move there.  My response was that there would be openings in the teaching field.  Kathy was born in Bakersfield; our only child, — but believe me, it wasn't for the lack of trying, — we really wanted seven or eight.  It wasn't meant to be, so we live with it and love our Kathy dearly.

Duke Buniff

* * * * * * * *

FROM: KIM  DAVID      '(504)828-RATE      'Toll Free:1-800-660-9979  
________________________August 3, 2005

Hi Danny,
It's been a long  time.  I am sorry that I missed the wedding.  I could slap myself.  Your Little Sis, but My adopted Big Sis, Jerlyn gave your email address to me.
Your website... Absolutely Beautiful.  You were always just  too cool.  Always the 1st.
I adored your Mom -  you were her 1st too.  I think about her always.  She touched  my life because she was an inspiration to me.  
Li-Li was  stunning.  Why can't we keep our looks?  Marilyn Monroe sang the song...
“We All Loose Our Looks in The End !”
You don't have a pic of  Snowfoot. (I can still picture her & hear her voice, Saying... Snowfoot...
get down).  I believed she named him Snowfoot because he  had a white paw or two.  
You should have someone tell the story about the time she fell off of a cliff of a mountain, while  riding in a jeep.  When she told me that story, I was shocked.   When they got to shore & were safe,  they told her how lucky she was  because the area was Shark Infested.  Her tone went with the story as she was making her voice spooky to fit the story.  I almost ran out the house.  
I was flipping out, while she was getting her kicks laughing.  
It's such a loss.   Why do we have to die.  That breaks my heart.   
Anyway, I enjoyed your family  website.  
Li-Li was a beautiful Lady, from the  inside out.
She had Charm with Hollywood Looks on the outside & on the inside she had the durability to remain a lady at all times.  She had strength to overcome the bad times & had the determination to provide a family life with love & admiration for her children.  
Although She has gone, her spirit, remains.  The thoughts of her continue to warm my heart.  Some how, She still provides inspiration for me.  (I live on the corner from her house on Germain- I danced at the Bounty & gambled at the  Wharf & I love water & rain.)
I went to  her house one day after I went shopping & I showed her a dress that I bought.  She offered to alter it for me.  I thought that was very kind of her.  I remember bringing a  plant to her for being so nice to me.  It was a Zebra plant.  Every  time I see a Zebra Plant, it reminds me of her.  This dress turned out to be the best tailored outfit that I ever had.  I have a pic but can't find it.   A.D.D  I will send it when I find it.  It's a pic of me, Karen (Frank Rodriguez's step-daughter) & another friend.
 Feb. 12, 2007
Glad you are well and settled, where you seem happy.
We are acclimating to Panama City, as we would wherever the Lord would have us be. We've set priorities, set focus, and go forward. For the last year, we've been co-directing our church Benevolent Center, which feeds and clothes about 30 families per day, five days a week. This also provides a free pregnancy crisis center, as well as medical and dental care, at no cost, to those uninsured in our community. Our church funds the entire project. It's a wonderful thing to be part of serving, in the Name of the Lord. Can't find any greater joy or purpose in life. These are good years to be alive.
Georgie is getting married in June. I now have great expectations of him. He seems to have his sights set more reasonably...has chosen to set goals and determine to meet them. I think he'll be ok now.
I pray for Augie everyday as he has come to a point of suffering beyond what I think I could deal with as he does. I wish he could turn back the clock, but that's not for any of us to do. I hope to take a trip to see him soon. The last time we were there, he was in the hospital and it was a burden to see him in such condition. Time has taken a great toll one his body.
We are so blessed to have been hurricane-free this past season. We went to PA, to Deb's parents', for Christmas, wanting to see snow. On Christmas day, giant flurries floated in the air for about ten minutes but never accumulated on the ground. It melted instantly when it touched the earth. I suppose it was best not to have driven in the snow. It just rained throughout our entire travel time. It was a wonderful vacation. I went spotting deer with Deb's dad and saw over 100 of those creatures in one evening with a 3 million candle power spot light. They are a beautiful creature. It blew me away to see them roaming gently along the roadside and in nearby fields. There are also a lot of wild turkeys in that area; easily seen for time to time. I missed the bear that was at my brother-in-law's house.
Augie tells us that you have done something with Lili's B&W pic that Jerlyn sent via email.
Please tell us where to find same. I am very anxious to see what you've accomplished with Momma's picture.

Next Page