Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Salvador Morales Quiroz was born October 28, 1931, on the Isla de Janitzio, Michoacán, México; his father was a fisherman; he was the fourth born of his five siblings; in addition, he had two other sisters that died when they were still babies, and two of his brother later passed away as adults; Salvador eventually married in 1951; during the midfifties, he enlisted as a bracero, and he later obtained another contract in 1960; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and Texas picking and pacing cotton and lettuce.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Morales talks about going to school as a child and how he primarily spoke Purépeche or Tarasco and very little Spanish; growing up, he heard about the bracero program and how men earned more money in the United States, especially given the dollar to peso ratio; during the midfifties, he decided to enlist as a bracero, and he later obtained another contract in 1960; he mentions getting on the list of available workers and waiting for a month before leaving; because he knew he would buy clothes in the United States he only took a small bag with one or two changes of clothing with him; he also recalls the contracting process, which included being stripped and examined; his hands were checked for calluses, which he had, because he was a fisherman; he told officials he was more experienced working in the fields than he actually was; while he was gone, his wife stayed with his parents; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and Texas picking and pacing cotton and lettuce; he also details the different worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations and treatment; his first contract took him to Pecos, Texas, where he learned how to pick cotton and cook; when he spoke in Purépeche, others who did not know the language made fun of him and called him names; as a result, some chose not to speak in their language, because they were embarrassed; trips into town were reserved solely for purchasing provisions, but the stores also sold other goods; he bought his wife a pair of earrings as a gift rather than clothing, because the styles were too different; moreover, he briefly mentions what his life was like after the program.
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Interview with Salvador Morales Quiroz by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1443," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.