Bracero Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
John Tomlin was born on April 20, 1926 in Albuquerque, New Mexico; his father died of polio when he was an infant, leaving his mother to run the family farm on her own; he later went on to serve in the military, receive his master’s degree, and ultimately work as a farmer; from 1948-1964, he hired braceros to help him tend the land.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Tomlin recalls how his mother ran the farm after his father’s passing by using Italian and German POWs; in 1946, after finishing his tour of duty in the Army, he returned home and began attending New Mexico State University; the following year in 1947, he started running the farm on his own while he went to school; in 1948, he began hiring braceros; he used a crew of thirty men during the cotton harvest, which ran from mid September to the beginning of December; he had about six braceros who stayed on year-round driving tractors and irrigating; oftentimes, he had to go the El Paso Coliseum to hire workers because the working contracts needed to be renewed periodically; he provided housing with showers, utensils, and bedding in addition to equipment such as hoes, shovels, and boots for irrigating; the braceros often went home to México on holidays or to care for sick relatives; they did not work Saturday afternoons or on Sundays; he goes on to recount anecdotes of the braceros in general and stories of particular workers he was fond of.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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Interview with John Tomlin by Beth Morgan, 2003, "Interview No. 1572," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.