Garrucha celebrates the people of its past

There’s an interesting exhibition currently going on at the Garrucha cultural centre, in which local journalist Manuel León is exhibiting 400 portraits of random citizens of Garrucha from over the last 150 years.

It’s part of the celebrations of Garrucha’s 150 years as an independent town, and the idea is to reconnect Garrucheros with familiar faces from the past, the “true history” of the village, as Manuel puts it.

Simple faces of simple people, they stare out at you from the walls as you silently contemplate the past. Watch out for the elderly ladies who throng the exhibition, loudly commenting on people and explaining the complicated history of each one. Where possible, he has hunted out their apodo, the nickname they were known by.

There are some great nicknames in Garrucha, apodos that haunt you for your entire life. We have seis pesetas, a chap so known because he went through a bodybuilding phase when young and kept telling people he was más que duro, “harder than steel”, to which some wit replied that if he was more than a duro [a nickname for the 5 peseta piece] he must be seis pesetas.

Then the usual ones, el cherci, el bacalao, el tallerin, el mecano, all quietly bestowed because they are the best at what they did, and have done it for so long they are the masters of their respected art in the village. Children and relatives will introduce themselves, saying “I’m the daughter of tallerin“, “ah!” comes the instant reply and recognition, “he made my wardrobe once”.

Of course, one wonders what you have had to do to be stuck with a nickname like follachinas, a name that people are so acustomed to after 50 years that they call the poor holder of the title this to his face…. I did ask once, and the bar went quiet, until someone quietly said “why do you think he’s called follachinas?” Added another elderly gent “His Dad’s matanza was a somber affair that year…. I remember he wore black”.

Ah, small villages.

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