An American Family Centennial ...
Luque ; A Legacy of Love
by Kmberly Ewertz Photos by Tony Scotino , Vincent Palladino , and the Luque Family
When Denise and Mike Corvi were trying to decide how to “ slow things down and get back to their roots ,” they discovered the answer in San Martin . “ We moved in around 2011 and that ’ s when we decided to put the vineyard in ,” Corvi said . “ My great grandfather , Guillermo [ Luque ], he made wine in his basement and I wanted to kind of bring the roots back home to me .”
This summer the Corvi homestead provided the perfect venue to celebrate Corvi ’ s great grandparents ’ voyage to San Francisco . “ We ’ re trying to bring the tradition of their life — back to life , their legacy and the Spanish traditions too ,” Corvi said . “ The purpose of this event was to instill and inspire a sense of pride for our family ,” Lisa O ’ Malley , fourth generation Luque , and Denise ’ s cousin , added .
Luque ’ s story is a true testament of love , and it began on November 3rd , 1895 , when Rosario Cruz Antequera and Guillermo Luque were married in Cabra , Spain . Sixteen years later , the couple and their five children found themselves poverty stricken . After the death of their newborn daughter , the family had no choice but to bury her in a pauper ’ s grave . With little hope left , the family clung to the possibility of starting anew , after flyers advertising opportunities for families to work the sugar cane fields in the Hawaiian Islands were circulated throughout the Andalusia region of Spain .
“ They said come to the Hawaiian islands , we ’ ll give you free passage , free housing , free education ,” Corvi said . “ They promised them citizenship and land ownership ,” Robert Boragno , Corvi ’ s brother , added .
On February 24 , 1911 , the Luques packed up the family ’ s meager possessions in a cedar chest , said a heartbreaking farewell to those they left behind , and embarked on the biggest risk of their lives . The first leg of the journey brought them from Cabra to Gibraltar . “ It took them a week , they got a donkey with a cart and they had to walk it ,” Corvi said , adding , Rosario was pregnant with her sixth child at the time .
Reaching Gibraltar they boarded the SS Orteric , a British immigrant steamer equipped to transport twenty people . “ They had fifteen hundred people aboard that ship ,” Corvi said . “ They were designated to steerage , the lowest level of the ship . The living conditions were horrific , there was no ventilation and there were only two bathrooms . I think you had to go up three flights to get to the bathroom , so a lot of them had to use buckets . They would make the mattresses out of hay … they would put clotheslines up to divide the families . The way they cleaned up the ship … they just threw tar over all the waste and debris .”
The voyage lasted forty-eight days and with minimal food rations , Frank , the eldest son , ( Corvi and O ’ Malley ’ s grandfather ), stole food for his mother who was allowed only two cans of milk a week . “ The SS Orteric was the worst case on record for steerage passengers ,” O ’ Malley said . In addition to abysmal living conditions , health threats were also a risk .
32 FALL 2021 gmhTODAY Magazine gmhtoday . com