"Estimado Sr. Pablo" (Dear Mr. Pablo),
With all due respect that I have for you, I send you this letter to ask your kind permission to visit your house. Your daughter, Rosita, and I love each other and we would like to make formal our relationship. It has been several months now that we have been talking and thinking of our love and now I would like your permission to visit at your house if you are kind enough. I promise to respect you and your household and to visit on the specified days and time that you may grant me.
I really love your daughter and I beg your kindness in allowing me to visit her at your home. I shall appreciate your reply to inform me when I may start visiting.
W ith this letter Antono, who had been courting and seeing Rosita at the park, at parties and on the streets, announces to Rosita's parents his good intentions towards their daughter. He wants to make formal his relationship with her. Previously, she had been his "enamorada" (girlfriend) but he now wants her to be his "novia" (fiance).
This letter, 25 years ago, Antono would write in his best handwriting or have a confidential friend of his write it out. He would place the letter in an envelope and send it to his future father-in-law. He could pay any little boy on the street 25 cents for this special delivery. If he wanted to look good and gain favour with the family, he would send it with a young brother of the girl. Now if he was courageous and really wanted to gain the upper hand, he would deliver the letter himself.
This custom of writing letters to request visiting rights to a girl's home was common twenty-five years ago. It was official. It was almost a required and necessary practice. A father would feel offended if a boy would start coming to his house without this formal request and his official permission. A young man could accompany the girl to her home, but never enter the house and stay for a considerable time.
The father would then do several things. He would inquire whether the daughter also loved the young man. He would discuss with his wife whether she consented to this relationship. He would also talk to the young man's parents to find out whether they knew and approved of this relationship. He would also inquire ether this particular young man had written and sent other similar letters to other parents and whether he was a "Don Juan" (Casanova). If after his discussions and investigations he was satisfied, he would then respond with another letter. This sometimes took a week or two or even a month. During this long week or weeks, the boy was in tension and almost in fear. He, of course, would be his best self. He would dress well and pass often by the girl's house. He would not drink, trying not drink, trying to cause a good impression. He would not smoke, not curse or swear and try in general to be a fine gentleman. And then finally, one day a little boy would approach him with an envelope with a reply letter. And then the nervousness and tension increased. This could be a letter of rejection or letter of acceptance. In our next week's episode, we will have those two letters and what followed consequently.