S o the custom 25 years ago was to write a formal letter requesting permission to visit a girl at her home and the father would write back either with a letter denying that permission or accepting. Finally, here is the long awaited approval letter about a week or two after it was mailed, sorry, I mean sent with a little boy (and it cost 25 cents special delivery, the same cost of a local stamp today.)
Mi muy estimado y querido Alberto, (My dear and beloved Alberto),
You may start coming to our humble home, which is now your home, as of Monday, December5, and visit from 7Pm. to 9pm. We would like this "noviasco" to last for about a year to a year and a half since we have another daughter, Amparito, who has an "enamorado" (boyfriend) who might start to visit in a year's time.
Boy oh boy! Alberto is so glad to receive the news on Saturday night that he invites his friends for a "parranda" (spree). He buys a bottle of rum and some Coca Colas, and his friends meet downstairs of the Adventist Church for their party. There is fun and laughter and a lot of jokes made on Alberto. Later that night they go on a "serenata" (serenade). Angel is there to strum the guitar and lucky for them, Felipe and Roberto are there and they know a lot of songs (rancheras). They take their "serenata" to Angelita and Dianita and Carmelita and all the other "novias" of the crowd, but not to Angelita. You see, Alberto does not want his fiancee and especially the future "suegros" (in-laws) to know that he was in a "parranda". He wants to be his best self for at least one more month or two to gain the respect and esteem of his in-laws.
Angelita is also excited. She gets the news from her father that he has conceded to Alberto's request, so she dreams like an angel. The next day she will iron all her clothes since she will need a different one every night. No more walking around the home from 7 to 9 p.m. in her ragged T-shirt or nightgown. She also plans to go to dona Cleotilda to put on a perm because "a su novio le gustan sus chorros (her fiance likes her curls).
The father will re-varnish or repaint two chairs for the "novios" (couple) and the mother would change the curtains and clean the "sala" (living room) for Monday night. Everyone is excited. The parents and children are excited. But Alberto and Angelita are more than excited. They have become "novios" and from now on they will be in each other's company for two long hours every night as long as the boy was in town, I mean in the village. They both know that now they must "cut off" all other serious relationships. If there is a dance and another boy would come to ask her to dance, she must refuse because she has her "novio" and she must be faithful to him even before marriage.
Exciting and romantic, isn't it? Exclusive dating was a very formal and serious matter. Consequently, the marriages were very stable also. Good family life did it twenty-five years ago. Next, see what happened during the actual dating period. Stay tuned...