Tomás Pelayo

Interview in Spanish.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Tomás Pelayo briefly recalls his childhood and the financial difficulties he and his family endured; as a young man, he traveled to the United States in search of adventure; he heard about a call for braceros and he returned to Mexico in order to join the program; he recalls the process, including lists of eligible workers, waiting times, and transportation to and from the center; in addition, he mentions going through the center in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico; on another occasion, he traveled to Hermosillo, Mexico where he picked two thousand kilos of cotton in order to obtain a letter to present at the center in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico; his wife lived in Algodones, Baja California, Mexico while he worked as a bracero; his first contract took him to work in the melon fields of Blythe, California; he goes on to detail the camp size, living conditions, provisions, duties, payments, deductions, remittances, treatment, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities; his second contract took him to work in the lettuce fields of Phoenix, Arizona; many braceros would drink on the weekends; Mr. Pelayo states that many braceros were not able to maintain friendships with each other because they were relocated often; he recalls that the braceros were forced to remain stooped over while working in the fields or they ran the risk of not having their contracts renewed; he earned seventy cents an hour while working in the fields; he worked at a dairy farm in Winterhaven, California, from 1959-1961; he describes the working and living conditions; he was in charge of milking two-hundred cows a day; he was kicked several times by the cows; he worked sixteen hour shifts and earned eight dollars a day; he had a day off every fifteen days; he would travel to visit his family during this time; in 1961, with the help of his boss, he became a legal United States resident.