Growing up in Flores, the Reyes were the only Hispanic family in Davis County. Later, the oldest son, James, would be mayor of Bloomfield, the first Hispanic mayor in Iowa.
Ironically, non of the 12 children had large families themselves, although Felix Jr.’s wife also came from a 12-child family. And don’t ask them how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren there are. The number varies depending on who you ask, and it’s a lot of work trying to calculate the number. However, there are more great-grandchildren than grandchildren. Sorta like the sum being greater than the parts.
The children look back with fondness on their life growing up, and wouldn’t change a thing: washing hair under the pump, hanging clothes out on the 10 clothes lines in freezing weather, scrubbing diapers on a washboard, picking shucks in the cornfield for tamales, the girls all sleeping in the same bedroom with their parents, next to their mother’s alter where she prayed. They didn’t even know their mother was pregnant with their youngest brother, Steven, until he was born. Prayer time was at 7 p.m. (they all had to pray on their knees on the wood floor and dare not get caught with their eyes open. If they missed church, they didn’t get to eat that day. James feels that children struggle more today with all that they have, than the Reyes’ family did with nothing, except great parents who loved and worked hard for them.
Their parents never told their kids they loved them. They didn’t have to. The love was demonstrated in all the hard work and sacrifice the parents made for their children each and every day.
With bellies full and familial ties restrengthened, the Reyes family trooped home to their individual lives. Their parents are constantly with them, strengthening their beliefs in the fundamental values of hard work, honesty, trust in God, and family. They pass this along to their kids, and their kids to their kids.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at (319) 217-0526 or email him at email@example.com.