Charles A. Fors and Eloísa

March 6, 2010

Charlie Fors was a Detroit automobile worker who volunteered to go to Spain to join the International Brigades. He had volunteered to drive a truck when it was told to the volunteers that there were trucks available, but no drivers for them.

He was assigned to drive a truck on the Cordoba front, Pozo Blanco Sector, stationed in a small backward village that had only one source of water for all uses. The location for this water was a pipe that ran water day and night, in the center of the village.
Charlie was a naturally humorous person, who quickly came to know all the children, who gathered where the drivers were stationed. Charlie was their favorite, as he always had something to give them, candy from home, or something that he picked up during his work.

He was known to their parents for his antics in seeking chicken’s eggs for the drivers. Chickens were not fenced in, they wandered the village streets all day and went back home at dusk. Charlie followed a chicken home and knocked on the door. He did not speak much Spanish, but he flapped his arms like a chicken and clucked. Enjoying the humor, the lady of the house, very often, sold him a couple of eggs.

Matti Mattson Painting

Painting by Matti Mattson

Eloísa, the subject of the painting, had been sent by her mother to fetch water. On the way she had tripped on her alpargata lacing (rope-soled sandals) breaking her water jug. She did not want to confront her mother with the disaster, so she went where the kids hung out, the drivers’ quarters. There Charlie divined the situation and told Eloísa not to worry “get in the truck”, and off they went.

Soon Eloísa’s mother appeared, and almost at the same time, did the beaming Charlie, and Eloísa sitting tall, holding a new water jug, and stepped out of the truck in a new pair of alpargatas.

Charlie Fors drove a food truck to the front lines. His life ended in the way that all front-line drivers, truck and ambulance, feared. Very frequently, driving after dark over bad roads, or no roads, the danger was that one would drive through the front lines, as Charlie had, unfortunately done, and was killed summarily when he was captured.

The oil painting, 8”x 11”, by Matti A. Mattson, an Abraham Lincoln Brigade Veteran, depicts Eloísa tying her alpargata lace while fetching water.