Gritaba Francisco Villa: ¿dónde te hallas Argumedo?
ven párate aquí adelante tú que nunca tienes miedo.
Today, looking for someone else, I happened upon Benjamin Argumedo IV — great-grandson of the famed Mexican revolutionary of the same name.
The original Argumedo has a famous corrido written about him and figured also in the classic song, Carabina 30-30, which Los Lobos covered a while back (quoted above). There was also a movie about him, starring ranchero singer Antonio Aguilar: La Persecucion y Muerte de Benjamin Argumedo.
As with most revolutionaries back then, his was a romantic and complicated history. An illiterate saddlemaker who rose to revolutionary fame by leading peasants to claim land they said was theirs, he later switched sides and supported the counter-revolution of Victoriano Huerta. When that failed, the new government of Venustiano Carranza sent troops after him, captured him in Durango, where the Lion of Coahuila and the Tiger of The Laguna, both of which were his nicknames, was shot by a firing squad in 1916.
His great-grandson owns a custom upholstery shop in Highland Park, where he puts life back into old sofas and easy chairs — something he learned from his late father, Benjamin Argumedo III, who started the business, Golden B.A., at another location. Golden being for the Golden Gate Bridge.
Ben – as IV is known – opened his own shop three years ago and called it Golden B.A. IV. (Don’t know about you, but I see a resemblance to his great-grandfather.)
Ben’s father moved the family here in the 1950s, he told me, probably looking for a better life than they were going to find in Coahuila. They landed in Highland Park (a neighborhood in northeast LA) in the late 1950s, when it was mostly populated by Italians and Jews. “We were the only Hispanic family around,” he told me.
Argumedo IV grew up there as Highland Park became the Latino neighborhood it is today, and has returned only occasionally to Mexico, and not at all recently due to the drug violence down there.
So many immigrants have these stunning stories tucked away in their family histories. (I’ve also met a sister of a former first lady of Cambodia and a former first lady of South Vietnam — both in the suburbs of L.A.)
You can hear the Corrido of Benjamin Argumedo here.