Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Chan-noh was born 1926, in Cansahcab, México; he is the youngest of five children; his father worked for the railroad and his mother was a housewife; his mother died when he was young and he was sent to live with his sister; he received very little formal education; he was eighteen years old when he first heard of the bracero program in México City, México; as a bracero he labored in the fields of San Joaquín, California and Sacramento, California picking green beans, strawberries, apricots and lettuce; he labored in the fields of Yuma, Arizona picking cotton; as a bracero, he also worked in Texas taking care of baby ostriches; he returned to Yucatán after his last contract.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Chan-noh briefly recalls his childhood and the financial difficulties he and his family endured; he married at the age of seventeen; when he was eighteen years old he enlisted in the Mexican military; he heard about the bracero program while in the military; he went through the hiring process several years later; he recalls the entire process, including that he recruited forty to fifty men from his hometown to join the bracero program; in addition, he mentions going through the processing center in Empalme, Sonora, México; he recalls that one of the requirements for the braceros was to have calloused hands; he estimates that there were 30,000 to 40,000 men waiting to be processed; he recalls the embarrassment he felt during the physical exams and how rudely they were conducted; he was sent to work in the fields of San Joaquín, California; he goes on to detail provisions, duties, remittances, treatment, friendships, and correspondence; in addition he describes taking care of three hundred to four hundred baby ostriches in Texas and how difficult the work was; despite the hardships that he endured, he explains that the most difficult part of the process was leaving his daughter to join the bracero program; Mr. Chan-noh concludes that he is very proud to have worked with the Bracero program.
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Interview with Felipe César Chan-noh by Mireya Loza, 2007, "Interview no. 1389," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.