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Land of Milk and Money is the story of the Francisco family, Portuguese immigrants from the Azores who settle on a dairy farm in California's Central Valley. Their plans to eventually return to the Old Country fall by the wayside as their success grows and their American lives take root. The legacy of one generation becomes a point of contention as the members of the next generation begin to compete to inherit and control their heritage, which includes herds of cattle and tracts of farm land.
The death of Teresa Francisco, the family's matriarch, sets off a string of battles (both personal and legal) between brothers, spouses, in-laws, and cousins. A courtroom confrontation over Teresa's will is at center stage as the contending factions discover that the old lady had plans of her own for securing her legacy.
Cast of Characters
Chico Francisco chose to go to America to seek his fortune, in contrast to his grandfather's choice of Brazil. However, unlike his grandfather, Chico discovered that he couldn't go back home to the Azores. He had to make a new home in California.
Teresa Francisco pined for a return to the islands, but accepted her role as matriarch and peacemaker in the family's new home. If only she could find a way to keep the family together after she and her husband were gone.
Candido Francisco relished the privileged position of first-born son, but he liked the role's authority more than its responsibility. It was irksome that his mother seemed disapproving and that his younger brother was uncooperative. And he regarded his wife Odile as yet another burden.
Paulinho Francisco was eager to build on his parents' legacy and bring modern ideas to the management of the family dairy farm, but he chafed under the unimaginative and plodding leadership of his older brother.
Louis Salazar was a successful and prosperous dairyman in his own right, but he nursed a quiet and growing resentment over slights, real and imagined, from his brothers-in-law Candido and Paulinho. When the opportunity to strike at them presented itself, he could not resist it.
Beatrice Onan understood that the world was divided into users versus used. Feeling herself one of the latter, she would employ her law degree to even the score. In Louis Salazar she found a willing vehicle.
Odile Avila Francisco had been her father's spoiled daughter and aspired to Teresa's position as honored matriarch of the Francisco clan. Her husband Candido, however, seemed too afraid of his mother to insist on Odile's primacy as spouse of the dairy farm's senior manager.
Junior Francisco felt underappreciated by his father Candido and refused to acknowledge that he bore his father's name. Completely lacking in empathy, Junior did his best to lord it over his brothers and his cousins as the first-born son of Teresa and Chico's first-born son.
Henry Francisco loved the family dairy farm as much as anyone else in the Francisco clan, but as the second son of the second son he had no illusions about his lack of seniority. He feared that his fate was to serve at the whim of his Uncle Candido and Candido's sons.
Elvino Salazar was content as one of the younger sons in Louis's large brood, as well as good friends with his contemporary cousin Henry Francisco. He never anticipated that his father would maneuver him into becoming a tool in Louis's vendetta against the Franciscos.
Catarina Salazar never recognized that her pampered status as the only daughter in the Salazar clan was making her a case of arrested development. Unready to take on adult responsibilities in the absence of her mother, Catarina becomes a problem for the family to solve.
Mary Carmen Francisco did not quite scandalize the family when she brought home an English-only non-Catholic boyfriend to meet a Portuguese-speaking family, but she came close.
Lysistrata Margaret Hunter prided herself on her expertise in handwriting analysis and found numerous opportunities to serve as an expert witness in court proceedings. She assumed it should be a relatively simple matter when Beatrice Onan invited her to testify in the Francisco-Salazar dispute, but she was incorrect.
View the Francisco-Salazar Family Tree (click below to view in PDF format)