Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Adolfo González was born on September 26, 1933, in San Antonio de Padua, Zacatecas, Mexico; he had six siblings; his father worked in agriculture; his brother was also a bracero; in 1952, he worked in the United States as an undocumented worker; in 1954 he became a bracero; he worked in the fields of California; in Imperial Valley, Mr. González picked lettuce, melon, and watermelon; in Salinas, California, he picked lettuce, green beans, and apricots; his last bracero contract was in 1960; he immigrated to the United States in 1961; he married in 1966-67; Mr. González became a U.S. citizen in 1999.
Summary of Interview
In 1954, Mr. González went through the hiring process to become a bracero; he went through the contracting center in Mexicali, Mexico; he goes on to detail the camp size, living conditions, provisions, duties, payments, deductions, remittances, treatment, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities; he recalls working for Spanish-speaking Japanese foremen in Imperial Valley (1954-56) who did not give the braceros a day of rest; later, he asked for a transfer to another company; he was sent to work in the fields of Salinas and Yuma, California; he describes his workdays as very long and strenuous; he recalls using short-handled hoes; the braceros were not given provisions; they had to purchase their food and prepare their own meals, unlike the braceros that stayed at El Centro; they also had to buy their own laundry detergent; Mr. González earned seventy cents an hour; he mentions sending money to his parents; in addition, Mr. González recalls the discrimination the braceros endured from Mexican Americans; he recalls going to bars in Mexicali, Mexico and playing cards for entertainment; he mentions a gas explosion that occurred in Salinas, California in which many braceros died; he further describes a train accident that occurred in González, California; thirty-three braceros died and many others were injured; in 1961, he immigrated to the U.S. and continued working in the fields of Texas, Colorado, and New York while following the lettuce crops; he briefly discusses his opinion of the Mexican police and the Mexican government; Mr. González discusses the ten percent savings deductions; he states that although he did suffer as a bracero, his overall memories of the program are positive.
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Interview with Adolfo González by Rochelle Garza, 2006, "Interview no. 1295," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.