El Automovíl Gris
The Grey Automobile
“Ay una historia, que cuando yo era niño, se contaba. Estoy hablando de los años treinta. La historia del Automóvil Gris. El Automóvil Gris se suponía que era un grupo de revolucionarios, o sea de militares de la revolución, quo organizaron una banda para asaltar casas o comercios. En mi casa lo comentaban mucho porque yo vivía en una colonia que estaba pegada junto a la colonia donde se decía que vivían los del Automóvil Gris. Se decía también que el coronel Robles era el que dirigía la banda. El hecho es que por un tiempo, podemos decir uno o dos años, la banda del Automóvil Gris asaltaba a los transeúntes, se metían a las casas, o asaltaban a los comercios. Y un buen día, se dejo de hablar de la banda del Automóvil Gris. Y entonces se supo esto: que eran militares, se habían coludido con la policía para cometer ese asalto. Esa historia se volvió leyenda, se han escrito libros y historias, hasta una serie de televisión y una película, llamada ‘La Banda del Automóvil Gris’.”
“There is a story, that was told when I was a kid. I’m talking about the 30s. The story of the Grey Automobile. The Grey Automobile was supposedly a group of revolutionaries, meaning military members of the revolution, that organized a band to assault residences and businesses. In my household they talked about it a lot because I lived in a neighborhood that was right next to the neighborhood where it was said that the members of the Grey Automobile lived. It was also said that colonel Robles was the one who led the band. The thing is that, for a while, I would say about one to two years, the band of the Grey Automobile assaulted passers-by, broke into houses, and assaulted businesses. One day, people stopped talking about the group of the Grey Automobile. And then it was know that they were in fact members of the military who had colluded with the police to commit these assaults. This story has since become a legend, and many books have been written, even a television series and a film, titled ‘Band of the Grey Automobile’.”
My grandfather, the informant for this story, was born and has lived in Mexico all his life. He has seen the country change drastically and in many different ways over the 86 years of his life, and as a result knows a very great amount about Mexican culture, customs, and folklore. He often tells jokes, riddles and stories that he has garnered throughout his life, most of which he remembers very clearly and recites in the form a great storyteller.
The informant grew up during a time in Mexico when the country was still recovering from the revolution. It had ended a mere decade before, and due to this fact the story makes a strong political statement, stressing the conflict still present between the members of the revolutionary movement and those of the established government. For this reason, a key revolutionary figure, Amelia Robles Avila, who embraced the masculine persona of Colonel Robles, was framed for leading a marauding band of revolutionary criminals, to hide the fact that it was indeed the established military that was causing the chaos. This story shows the immense corruption of the government at the time, a sentiment that turned into a legend essentially stressing mistrust for the government. However, with all its political tones stripped away, it also served as a classic scare story told to children when they misbehaved. “Don’t be naughty or the the Grey Automobile band will get you!”. This was especially true for the informant, who lived close to what was supposedly the base camp of the Grey Automobile gang.