Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Ezequiel Rico Serrano was born February 15, 1925, in Pénjamo, Guanajuato, México; he had three siblings; in 1935, his family moved to Jalisco, México; he was formally educated through the third grade, and when he was thirteen years old, he helped his father work on the railroads; in 1943, Ezequiel enlisted in the bracero program, and he spent a year in Nevada working on the railroads; afterward, he married María Serrano, and they had a daughter; in 1950, he labored in the fields of California with a new contract until 1952; he also worked without documents between contracts, but he obtained legal status in 1961.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Serrano remembers his older brother convincing him that they should join the bracero program together; they went to Distrito Federal, México to obtain a contract, because they were looking for railroad workers; Ezequiel said he was twenty-two years old, when he was really only eighteen to meet the age requirement for enlisting; as part of the contracting process, he was stripped, medically examined and deloused; moreover, he mentions that when some men had hemorrhoids, they would go to the bathroom immediately before they were examined and not wipe in order to hide the hemorrhoids; they would get in trouble for not wiping, but they would pass the exam; Ezequiel spent a year in Nevada working on the railroads; afterward, he married María Serrano, and they had a daughter; in 1950, he labored in the fields of California with a new contract until 1952; he goes on to detail the worksites, housing, amenities, accommodations, provisions, duties, treatment, payments, deductions, remittances, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; in Nevada, there was a huge disagreement over the food, and the men eventually started cooking on their own; they stayed in an abandoned school with beds made of grass; while in the fields of California, using the short hoe was especially grueling; his wife, María, briefly talks about what her life was like while he was gone; he also worked without documents between contracts, but he obtained legal status in 1961; overall, he has positive memories of the program, because he was able to save money.
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Interview with Ezequiel R. Serrano and María Serrano by Alma Carrillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1240," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.