Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Rosalío Padilla Barajas was born in Tayahua, Zacatecas, México; he was the third born of his seven siblings; when he was still a baby, his family moved to Torreón, Coahuila, México, where they settled; his father later became part of an ejido; some of his brothers enlisted in the bracero program, and he eventually decided to follow in their footsteps; as a bracero, he obtained two contracts, which respectively took him to work in Lamesa and Raymondville, Texas, where he picked cotton.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Padilla talks about his family, how they became part of an ejido and what life was like for them; he also offers a detailed description of the agricultural restructuring occurring during the midthirties; life was extremely difficult, and some of his brothers enlisted in the bracero program; Rosalío eventually decided to follow in their footsteps after he and his family faced problems with the ejido; as part of the contracting process, he underwent medical exams and was stripped and deloused; after bathing, he and other men were kept naked and told to exercise in an attempt to determine if they would survive picking crops in the fields; as a bracero, he obtained two contracts, which respectively took him to work in Lamesa and Raymondville, Texas, where he picked cotton; he goes on to detail the various worksites, living, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, contract lengths and renewals, deductions, remittances and recreational activities, including trips into town; sometimes, when he had to make his own food, he ate potatoes, because they were cheap, which helped him save more money to send home; when he had free time he liked to play baseball or volleyball to keep him from thinking about how much he missed his family; he was often intimidated of going to stores, because he did not speak English; once he was able to find a store where someone spoke Spanish, he only frequented that store; Rosalío also goes on to talk about his life in México after the program ended, including his work with land dispensation during the seventies.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
GMR Transcription Services
Interview with Rosalío Padilla Barajas by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1447," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.