Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Nicolás Grimaldo Andrade was born on a small ranch named San Francisco in Zaragoza, Nuevo León, México, on September 10, 1938,; he had two older brothers and one younger sister; his parents worked in agriculture; by the age of seven, he was already sowing seeds and working the land; during the early fifties, one of his older brothers enlisted in the bracero program and worked in Michigan; Nicolás decided to do the same, and in 1955, at the age of twenty-two, he become a bracero; he stayed in the program for eight years, until 1962; he picked crops and irrigated the fields in Arkansas and Texas.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Grimaldo talks about his family and hometown; when he was growing up, his parents did not own the land they worked, which was problematic; during the early fifties, one of his older brothers enlisted in the bracero program and worked in Michigan; Nicolás would pick up the letters and money his brother sent home; in 1955, at the age of twenty-two, he decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps and become a bracero; he describes the process and necessary paperwork to enlist at the contracting center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; on two separate occasions, while passing though Chihuahua, México, he had to pay two thousand pesos for transportation to El Paso, Texas; he stayed in the program for eight years, until 1962; he picked crops and irrigated the fields in Arkansas and Texas; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, provisions, accommodations, duties, routines, treatment, payments, remittances, correspondence and contract lengths; in Lamesa, Texas he had to water the crops every two hours, night and day; he was ready to quit after a month of this, but his employer changed the schedule to daytime hours only; in addition, he explains that while in Arkansas he began to feel pain in his leg, which he later attributed to rheumatism from irrigating in Texas; he was given injections, but they did not help much; ultimately, he changed work locations and duties; he has both positive and negative memories of the program, because he suffered greatly, his body in particular, but he was also able to save a good amount of money.
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Interview with Nicolás Grimaldo Andrade by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1437," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.