Teresa Benítez García, 'La Paulilla', the last Mass caller in Periana, died on 18 May 2016 at the age of 80. A week after a Periana resident passed away, Benítez García would call at each house in the village to advise people that Mass was going to be given the following day for them. Sometimes it was more than a week, depending on the availability of the priest. A year after the death, Mass was given again and she would call on people to remind them to be at the church the following day.
This is just one of the curious facts about Periana that José Manuel Frías Raya, who was born in the village in 1955, has written about in his new book, 2,600 Periana Efemérides (anniversaries). The book, which is written in Spanish, was officially launched at an event in Periana last month.
The last barber-dentist
On 22 January 1990 Carlos Arrebola Larrubia, known as Carlos Marchamona, died. He was the village's last barber-dentist. On 17 May 1951 Luis Melchor Santiago was born in the Cueva de la Curra. He went on to become a flamenco singer , better known as Gitanillo de Vélez.
Frías Raya, the author of this new book, was given a bursary to study at an Escuela Franco school in Malaga in 1969 when he was 14 and two years later his mother, María Dolores Raya Mata, moved to the city where she worked as a caretaker. One of the residents of the building she looked after, a headmistress from a local school, used to leave newspapers with them and the young Frías Raya would read them.
One day he came across a news item about Periana and from that day on, he collected and archived every story about the village that appeared in the paper. He went on to research events that happened there as far back as 1516 and 50 years of research and collecting snippets has culminated in the 550-page book.
Grief over a mother-in-law
The book documents the day that Periana officially became an independent village on 4 June 1761, when it had just 60 residents and when in the morning of 7 March 1937, one month after the village was taken by Franco's troops, 19 children born during the republican era were baptised in the church. On the same afternoon 19 couples who had previously had civil weddings were married in the church, which was obligatory under Franco's rule.
There is even the story, which made national newspapers on 8 September 1883, of a man who returned to Periana from his job as a foreman in a cortijo, only to hear that his mother-in-law had died the night before. He took the news so badly that he died from grief two days later. The headline in a newspaper in Seville read, 'To change the image that mother-in-laws deserve.'
On 5 July 2000, Periana heralded the return of Manuel Fernández Gallego, known as 'Manolo el Melillero', after 25 years as an emigrant in Barcelona and then Switzerland. He returned to the village to become a farmer.
And of course, the book includes José Antonio Frías Ruiz, who was born in Periana and became director of SUR newspapers on 1 February 1995. It also reports his death on 11 October 2018.