The word “compadres” nowadays is taken literally, It can be your best drinking buddy or your occasional friend who comes through when you’re in a jam.
Back in my youthful days, I would wait in front of the Catholic church when there was a baptism and wait for the padrino who would come out first and throw some coins for us muchachos and yell “Bola”. That would be on an early Saturday morning, and we would pick up the coins and head out to the movies.
The padrinos were now compadres and if they lived long enough, they were lifelong companions in the family till death.
This is one of the oldest traditions in the west side of San Antonio. If you have children to be baptized, receive holy communion, confirmation and adult children contemplating marriage or quiceneara ( a debut), you have to look for padrinos and madrinas.
In the early 50s, my time, due to financial difficulties, families had to get a family friend to be padrinos for the candidates for Holy Communion. They would sponsor the clothes, communion kit and possibly a cake. I remember that Mrs. M.E. Rodriguez from the Rodriguez funeral home would take on that responsibility for some children. It wasn’t easy because for Holy Communion they had to be practicing Catholics and married by the church. However, this rule was overlooked many times. Most times you don’t see the padrinos anymore except when you’re visiting the local cantina and meet your compadre.
Among the most expensive is a wedding event.
Back then, In my lifetime in the military I had to ask my company commander for permission to marry due to my age and my rank. I was a private with no visible means to support a wife. Lucky for me, he approved.
Here in San Antonio, if the intended bride to be would talk to the priest about her marrying, they would put the notice in the bulletin about four time. (Hese are called Bans). She would have to take classes on marriage. (I have no idea what they talk about. Maybe the birds and the bee, ) Later, she would go to La Feria to make down payments on the dress and put it on layaway. La Feria then would put her picture in newspaper of her intended wedding and engagement.
Assuming they were both Catholic, the family knowing that there is no way the intended has the means to have a large wedding would start looking for padrinos. Family members would step up to sponsor the dress, the bouquet of flowers, the lasso, flowers for the Virgin Mary, the hall for the reception and others would sponsor the food. Then, there’s the band for the dance. Somebody had to pay for the band.
Sometimes there’s a family member who has a group of friends who are members of a conjunto. They would be invited to play, and their reward would be a mole plate with free beer. Oh yes, the kegs of never-ending beer.
I was lucky. I had two bands and the reception was held at my father in laws house. One conjunto band outside in the back yard, the other rock and roll band inside in the living room. We had our first dance outside on the grass and another inside.
My uncle and aunt became my padrinos. So, they became compadres with my parents and our In-laws. I don’t think they ever went back to establish an ongoing relationship. My dad had known my father In-law way back when they were drinking buddies. They were compadres already.