Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Isabel Rodríguez was raised with her three older brothers; her father, Francisco, enlisted in the bracero program in 1960; Isabel was roughly five years old at the time; he obtained his second contract in 1963; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, picking lettuce, onions, radishes and squash.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Rodríguez remembers her father, Francisco, enlisting in the bracero program in 1960, when she was roughly five years old; he later obtained his second contract in 1963; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, picking lettuce, onions, radishes and squash; when he initially left, her mother and two oldest brothers had to care for their animals and the crops he had already planted, including beans, corn and squash; in addition, her mother also had another plot of land with sugar cane; they had to hire men with mules to help bring in the crops, and the boys had to miss school; her mother often struggled with the boys, because they did not want to work; while they were out in the fields a cousin helped care for her and her brother who was only a few years older; her father was gone for so long that she and her brothers felt like orphans; they all suffered greatly; when he left the second time, her mother planted the crops on her own, which was especially difficult; she overplanted and had an abundance of crops that she eventually sold for profit; Isabel also recalls that her father talked to her about having to pick cotton in Empalme, Sonora, México, in order to obtain the necessary documentation to enlist; in Calexico, California, he was stripped, medically examined and deloused; he felt especially humiliated, because there were female secretaries present; at the camp the cooks warned him and the others about the food, because their Japanese employer was rumored to eat cats and dogs; as a result, they were given more beans and bread, because they did not want the meat; Francisco sent money home every month or two, which his wife saved; with that money, they were able to make significant additions to their home; moreover, he cooked when he was at home, which was a huge change for him.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Isabel Rodríguez by Alma Carrillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1241," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.