Stories From Old Tampico
The Girls Who Used to Be Ugly

Photographs and Text by John Todd, Jr.

La Laguna El Carpintero
The Family of a Humble Fisherman
Back then, the Laguna el Carpintero, near downtown Tampico, was a magnificent lake with crystal clear waters.

In those days, many poor families lived along its shores in wooden shacks built on stilts.

And, these people were connected to the shore by fragile, wooden bridges which they had quickly gotten accustomed to.

In one of these houses lived a family: a couple with three daughters aged 20, 18, and 16 years old.
La Laguna El Carpintero
The "Girls Who Were Ugly"
Everyone knew them as "las feas" or "the ugly girls". It wasn´t a despictive term, it´s just what they looked like.

Their little house was even known as the house where the "ugly girls" live.

The Laguna still had fish, and their father was a fisherman who sold his catch in the market in Tampico.

With its weeping willow trees, reeds, and mangroves, the Laguna el Carpintero in those days was so beautiful, and not even a quarter of what it is today.
Red Fish
A Piece of Land
The fisherman had a piece of land near the Pánuco River, and one day he rented it to one of the oil companies.

When he had spent the money paid as rent, he would return to living as he always had, making a living by fishing and selling his catch in the local market.

A Miracle!
One day the oil company representative came to visit the fisherman and told him that they had found high quality oil on the land they had rented.

In addition to the rent on the land, the company would pay him royalties that amounted to millions of gold "centenarios" (Mexican gold coins of the day) since the majority of the oil companies paid in local currency.

The fisherman saw the heavens were opened, and he remembered God. So, before going home with the money, he went to church with tears in his eyes to give thanks to God the Father.
The Ladies of Tampico in Those Days
A New Life of Luxury
The first thing the family did was to buy a house in the downtown area of Tampico, and they furnished it in true luxury.

Then they purchased clothing which corresponded to their new rank as millionaires.

Although the daughters had passed through Public School No. 2, they couldn´t be considered all that ignorant, and they quickly passed into the social life of Tampico.

On Thursdays and Sundays they would attend the serenades presented in the plaza, and the girls who were ugly began to meet the young men of Tampico.
Fashions from Paris
Many Single Men to Choose From
In those days, there was an oil boom going on and there were many single men from which they had the luxury to choose.

Now the girls dressed in the latest European fashions of the day, since American fashions hadn´t yet arrived.

Local stores named "Los Precios de Francia", and "Novedades" imported fine ladies hats and dresses from France with brocades, and embroidery that we will never see again.

The Girls Who Used to Be Ugly
The ladies hats were sheer poetry and people were amazed to see how when the girls who were ugly wore these accessories, and along with their millions, they actually looked beautiful!

"Who Are These Girls?"
People began to ask, "Who are these girls?". The answer was:

"They are the girls who used to be ugly."

They Lived Happily Ever After
Since democracy had dissolved the barriers of the old lineage of those days, soon they began to enter the halls of the Casino where the new society had emerged from the black gold, making it impossible to know who was whom.

The "ugly girls" got married and formed happy and rich homes. It is amazing how things come around in the world! The girls who were once ugly were so lucky!

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