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Rediscovering La Presy, San Antonio's gift to flamenco



La Presy in Granada, the "Comanche Indian" that became a "Sacromonte gypsy."

Photo: , License: N/A

At El Poco Loco, mid-to-late 60s. El Curro is on guitar.

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On October 2010, La Presy (who, when healthy, was "a wonderful writer," according to Archuleta) sent a somber letter that reflected the effects of her condition. In retrospect, it now reads as if she knew her days were numbered.

"I can feel very negative with my life and there has been many priceless errors," she wrote. "(…) Right now I'm so afraid of my future. I traveled out of Texas and dreaming of all I could have. I've never [had] fear of dancing. To me it was something I felt very sure, and all the dreams and achievements have been glorious for all the doubts that I had. For my disdain for me, I can say my life has been so well for me."

"The last time we spoke on the phone she couldn't recognize me," said Alfredo Mesa Martínez, one of her guitarists. "All she could tell me is that she was very scared of what the doctors told her."

Unexpected help

Because she was a proud woman, few knew the real extent of her illness. Her health was quickly worsening and she had no one to take care of her. No one, except Tony.

Antonio Rubio Delgado was La Presy's on-and-off lover for about 20 years. Some say he was an artist, but by all accounts their relationship was highly dysfunctional.

"She told us that he had mistreated her and got her into drugs," one source said. "And we all believed her. I first saw her at the Peña [Flamenca de] la Platería [the world's oldest existing flamenco club, in Granada] in 2000 and she looked like someone you would say, 'Oh, she's a drug addict.' But after they broke up, she was her usual self."

It took therapy for her to finally end the relationship, but towards the end they started seeing each other again.

"He was never good to her, but he did somewhat help her when she got sick at the end," said Archuleta.

The family kept sending them money, but it was never enough.

"She would sometimes call and say there was no food, and we didn't understand," said Archuleta. "Her medical bills were paid [thanks to Spain's socialized health care], and she should've been well-stocked at home."

Tony, who reportedly is in poor health himself, couldn't be reached for comments, but La Presy's family told the Current that he often called to say that, whenever La Presy was discharged from the hospital, taking care of her was an overwhelming task for him.

"He'd say, 'I can't do this anymore,'" said sister Gladys Donovan, the only one who speaks a little Spanish in the family. "He'd go off and leave her there and sometimes he'd come back and find her on the floor. 'It's very frustrating, too much for me. I can't handle it.'"

Her last letter to Archuleta was sent in June or July of 2011. It was La Presy's way of simultaneously congratulating and chastising Debra for having kids. (Again, here's a partial unedited transcript of the letter:)

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