by Joan Gould Winderman
Ida Luisa wrote five books extolling her many adventures from the 50’s to her death in Alamos in the 80’s. She and her husband had bought and restored a Neoclassical Greek Revival ruin five days after their arrival in Alamos. Las Delicious was in those days well known for having been built originally in 1859 by Bartolome Almada y Salido as a summer pavilion for his family. No one knows why he chose the style he chose but as one of the town’s original Almada families he may have come across that style in Europe or even in Louisiana.
The Franklins had driven down to explore Mexico and, like many visitors before, settled in Alamos before seeing the rest of the country. They drove from Globe, Arizona where they had been living and restoring since 1928 the Colonel William Boyce Thompson Picket Post House, called the Castle on the Rock. This same house was later to become the famous Boyce Thompson Aboretum of Tropical and Semi Tropical Desert Plants of the World.
Ida Luisa’s son, Franklin, a graduate of Parsons School of Fine and Applied Art and fluent in Spanish, took over the renovation and continued living there until his death. He labored to create the beautiful details that made Las Delicious a showplace. She and her son were both interested in painting, architecture, cooking, landscaping, and organic gardening. They spent many hours together making improvements. Her husband enjoyed hunting and fishing in Arizona and she quotes him as saying while driving north to the border, “I am glad to be heading for Arizona and leaving that dump down south.”
The “dump” he was referring to consisted of 12 acres, a ruin with slender columns in front of a two-story living room and veranda, surrounded by a sizable orchard. While under construction ex-pats offered furniture, a chandelier, drapery fabric, and even a parquet floor.
Ida became interested in nutrition and dieting and later brought her good friend, Adelle Davis, who wrote many books on the subject, to Alamos. She loved planting, gathering and cooking the fruits and vegetables grown on her property. Organic gardening was a passion of hers even in the fifties. Fruit trees included yoyomo, mango, papaya, anone, avocado, guava, sapote, lime, grapefruit, and lemon. She describes life in Alamos in detail in her books, not unlike what we all could recognize today. She claimed that social life was one big Garden Club with everyone exchanging tips and plants.
Her Alamos education is reflected in this quotation from her book, Cadillacs and Cobblestones, “As a starry-eyed newcomer to Alamos I had believed that the few Mexicans left in Alamos and the few Americans who had found this ruin of a haven could and would come together, would grow to be of one mind. But gradually I became aware that the Mexicans did not want to grow together with us (nor we with them). Politely, unobtrusively they slid out from under their idea of gratitude of us, of excuses, of the keeping of appointments, and the reciprocal entertainment and dining in their homes and ours. ‘I was not even thanked for a wedding gift,’ wailed a friend. I think it took at least five years for me to learn a piece of Mexican wisdom: The thanks of the receiver destroys the giver’s pleasure.”