Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Pedro García N. was born October 10, 1922, in Guadalupe, Zacatecas, México; he grew up with his eight siblings, but he never really got to know his father; as a boy he only went to school for a very short time, because he was often beaten by the teacher; instead, he chose to work in the fields and care for animals; he later labored in mines for eight years; during the 1940s, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in Arkansas, California and Texas, primarily picking dates; he later married, and all five of his children were born in the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. García talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; he explains that government officials went into different towns to get people to enlist in the bracero program; during the 1940s, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; he comments that it was extremely difficult to join, because there were a number of strict requirements; as part of the process, he was stripped, medically examined and fumigated; if men did not pass due to illness, they were given a week to recover before going through the entire process again; every time he obtained a new contract, he had to go through the exams and fumigation procedures; as a bracero, he worked in Arkansas, California and Texas, primarily picking dates; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, provisions, routines, treatment, working relationships, payments, remittances, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he describes the use of a tarjeta honorífica, which was a card that allowed him to go through contracting more quickly and return to work with the same employer; in Indio, California, he worked for Jameson Ranch, which later changed to American Soul Ranch; he was treated so well that he continued working there even after his time in the program; later, he married his girlfriend of five years, whom he had courted through letters and pictures during his time as a bracero; all five of their children were born in the United States; the bracero program changed his life for the better.
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Interview with Pedro García N. by Denise Loya, 2006, "Interview no. 1220," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.