Rodríguez Espinosa, Antonio

OLD_Antonio-Rodriguez-Espinosa_maestro-de-FGL

Teacher at the school in Fuente Vaqueros. He was there for only three years with Federico García Lorca (from 1898 to 1901), but he maintained a long-lasting friendship and relationship with him and the family. He was his tutor in Almeria.

Don Antonio was born in Gabia la Grande (today Las Gabias) at 49 Real de Motril Street, in the heart of a humble family formed by Miguel Rodriguez Lopez and Ana Maria Espinosa Ballesteros. He obtained his degree at the Teacher-Training College in Granada in April 1894 and at the end of that year he became a teacher in the school of Fuente Vaqueros. Don Antonio belonged to a new generation of liberal teachers who tried alternative teaching methods to the traditional ones. There he met Vicenta Lorca, a young teacher in charge of the female kindergarten, was his partner until her marriage in 1897 to Federico García Rodríguez. The relationship with the family was so close that Don Antonio, as everyone called him, appears as a witness on Lorca’s christening certificate.

Don Antonio belongs to a new generation of liberal teachers who tried alternative teaching methods to the traditional ones. He becomes Federico’s first preceptor, in fact a kind of tutor, and a loyal family friend.

Rodríguez Espinosa thus became Federico’s first tutor, in reality a kind of tutor, and a loyal friend of the family. Antonio is a friend of practical knowledge and scientific progress advocated by the Krausists and accepts the pedagogical methods of the Free Teaching Institution. Those who knew him say that he had anti-clerical traits. Lorca was only three years old when Don Antonio was transferred to Jaén (1901), where he remained until 1903, when he moved to the elementary school for children of the Hospice of Almería. Federico went to this city, but around 1906 or 1907, along with a group of schoolchildren from Fuente Vaqueros who aspired to pass the high school entrance exam.

Photo of the students of the kindergarten of Fuente Vaqueros, with Federico García Lorca sitting on the floor and wearing a big hat. Their teacher Antonio Rodríguez Espinosa poses with them.
Photo of the students of the kindergarten of Fuente Vaqueros, with Federico García Lorca sitting on the floor and wearing a big hat. Their teacher Antonio Rodríguez Espinosa poses with them.

Between 1906 and 1907, the García Lorca family moved to Valderrubio. At the age of eight or nine his parents agreed to send him to Almería, the city where Don Antonio was, to continue his studies. Federico remained in Almería until he passed the entrance exam. Federico’s parents then decided that he should return due to a phlegm that caused him fevers and malaise. In Almeria, Federico accompanies his teacher on different excursions. In 1909, Rodriguez Espinosa sends to the Council of Public Instruction a report in which he defends the usefulness of school excursions as learning systems.

In a letter to ‘El Liberal’entitled ‘On the Monstrous Murder of Federico García Lorca. What infamy!’ he wrote: “People of Granada, oh people of Granada, what have you done with Federico? You have cast upon our beautiful city the most infamous stain that the history of the twentieth century will record. The whole world will curse your name.”

In 1920, Rodríguez Espinosa is transferred to Madrid as a teacher of a children’s school located at 6 Fortea Street. In the 1920s, Rodríguez Espinosa was one of the regular guests at the premieres of García Lorca, although, as he confesses, he was so overwhelmed by his success that sometimes he was unable to enter the theater and remained in the street until the performance was over.

In July 1936, before leaving Granada, Federico went to say goodbye to him. According to Marie Laffranque the poet warned him: “There is going to be a storm and I’m going home; there I will be protected from the lightning”.

On September 11, 1936, after the murder, Don Antonio sent a letter to El Liberal entitled On the Monstrous Murder of Federico García Lorca. What an Infamy!: “People of Granada, oh people of Granada, what have you done with Federico? You have cast upon our beautiful city the most infamous stain that the history of the twentieth century will record. The whole world will curse your name,” he wrote.

Rodríguez Espinosa was the person chosen by Federico García Rodríguez to put in safekeeping, in a bank, the valuables that were still kept in the house in Madrid, among them some silver objects bought by Lorca in his travels in America.

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