Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Ignacio Serna Gallardo was born on July 31, 1928, in La Higuera, in the municipality of Huanusco, Zacatecas, México; his father’s name was Gumaro Serna, and his mother’s name was Adelaida Gallardo; both worked in agriculture; Ignacio had three older brothers; he received very little formal education; at a young age, he began caring for the animals and working the land; by the time he was twelve years old, he took on the hard labor of working with the yoke; he later came to the United States illegally, and while there he became a bracero; during the late forties, he labored in the fields of Arizona and Texas cleaning, pruning, picking, and packing cantaloupe, cotton, and lettuce.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Serna recalls the small town he grew up in and how it changed over the years; he also talks about his life on the ranch; his uncles and cousins who worked as braceros told him it was easy money; during the late forties, he came to the United States illegally, and while he was in Harlingen, Texas, he was able to obtain a bracero contract; he chronicles the process he went through, including the necessary documentation and medical examinations; furthermore, he was stripped and deloused in public, which he describes as something embarrassing that took away his dignity; although he felt bad at first, he endured the same procedures so many times that he began to see humor in them; he also went through contracting centers throughout México; sometimes, he had to pay between three and five hundred pesos in order to get a contract; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and Texas cleaning, pruning, picking, and packing cantaloupe, cotton, and lettuce; in addition, he goes on to detail the various worksites, living accommodations, daily routines, work conditions, treatment, relationships, provisions, payments, and remittances; he also mentions that while fulfilling one contract he had to sleep on the bare floor without any blankets; although he suffered as a bracero, his overall memories of the program are positive.
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Interview with Ignacio Serna Gallardo by Anaís Acosta, 2006, "Interview no. 1159," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.