Jesus Ponce de León Ponce de León

Interview in Spanish.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Ponce recalls his family, childhood, and adolescence; when he was fifteen, he quit school and began working at a factory; in 1944, the factory closed, and he decided to enlist in the Bracero Program; he goes on to describe the medical exams, including the delousing procedures he went through at the contracting center in México, Distrito Federal; from there he was transported by passenger train to Bensenville, Illinois, just outside of Chicago; he describes the living situation there as horrible; there were several cargo trucks without wheels on the floor, and inside of each one of them, there were about forty bunk beds, which is where they were expected to sleep and live; the only bathrooms were outside, and they had to bathe out of buckets; he later became friends with a woman who allowed him and other workers to stay in her home, rather than in the trucks, while they worked; every six months he acquired new work contracts without having to leave the country, but in 1946 he was no longer allowed to do so; after returning to México; in May of that same year, he was able to emigrate into the United States; he went on to work on the railroads for a total of thirty years before retiring; in 1980, he became a U.S. citizen.