Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Juan Torres was born on January 23, 1941, in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, México; his father was a farmer, and he was the fourth eldest in a family of eleven; when he was thirteen years old, he went to school for only a year; his first job was helping his father work on the farm; he later worked as a gardener and in construction; in 1959, he decided to enroll in the Bracero Program; as a bracero, he worked in California and Texas, picking asparagus, beets, cotton, cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries; he continued working with the program until 1964.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Torres recalls his family and childhood; he also discusses his adolescence, and the various types of work he performed; in 1959, he decided to enlist in the Bracero Program; he signed his first work contract in Hidalgo, Texas, which took him to work in Raymondville, Texas; while there he picked cotton for the first time in his life; as a bracero, he worked in California and Texas, picking asparagus, beets, cotton, cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries; he goes on to describe the various things he would do in his free time, such as go to church, the movies, or into town to shop; in spite of his excursions, he would often send money home to his family; although he was generally in good health, he recalls one instance in which he had infection he believes he caught from picking cucumbers; he was taken to a doctor and prescribed medication that alleviated the infection; when the program ended in 1964, he returned to his hometown of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, México; he continued working in the fields there, but he also went to school and learned how to fix tractors; sometime later, he came into the United States illegally to work; although he was deported, he returned and continued to work as farm laborer.
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Interview with Juan Torres Briones by Violeta Dominguez, 2003, "Interview no. 1063," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.