Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Encarnación Alamillo enlisted in the bracero program in 1958; he complete one six month contract in California, where he picked cherries, lettuce, plums, strawberries and tomatoes.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Alamillo talks about his decision to enlist in the bracero program in 1958, because the season’s crops were lost due to a drought; in order to get on the list of available workers, he had to pay, but luckily he knew one of the people in charge, which helped; he went through the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico, with nine other men from his hometown; they were briefly examined, and he was called rather quickly, whereas others waited for up to one month; he was transported by cargo train to Mexicali, Baja California, México; although his initial contract was only for one month, he renewed it every month for six months in total and decided not to return anymore; in California, he picked cherries, lettuce, plums, strawberries and tomatoes; the barracks he lived in had horrible bedding, because the mattresses were very old and the sheets were dirty; even so, no one complained; the men were provided with three meals a day, and lunch was taken to them out in the fields; he also offers a detailed description of his duties with the various crops; lettuce was the worst for him, because he had to stay hunched over all day, sometimes for up to fourteen hours; on his days off he often washed clothes, and sometimes, he even went into town; on rare occasions, priests even went to the camp to give mass; he also mentions sending letters and money home to his wife; she was able to save much of what he sent, because the small animals she had provided her with enough; overall, his memories of the program are positive, and he was able to help his family and save money.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
GMR Transcription Service
Interview with Encarnación Alamillo by José Alamillo, 2008, "Interview no. 1403," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.