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Interview with George Galvin

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George Galvin was born May 25, 1910, in El Paso, Texas. He spent his early years living in various places, and in March of 1920 he came to Minnesota. As a young man, Galvin pursued a boxing career. In his adult years he held a variety of jobs and was active in organizing unions and the Minnesota branch of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Family history - boxing career - unions he helped to organize - LULAC - his store and bar - employment record - future hopes and advice for younger people.

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2:27:57

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TRANSCRIPr OF AN ORAL HISTORY INrERVIEW WITH GEDRGE GALVIN INTERVIEWER: GRANT A. MOOSBRUGGER This interview was conducted as part of a series on the Mexican American in Minnesota. George Galvin was born on May 25, 1910 in El Paso, Texas. Much of his childhood was spent moving around the country with his family, consequently he had a hard time continuing his education. He came to st. Paul in March, 1920. As a young man George pursued a boxing career. He was well-known and respected in his work and community. In the Twin Cities Mr. Galvin has been very active in organ1z~ng unions. He discusses his employment record and his role in the organization of LULAC in St. Paul. He closes by expressing his hopes for the future and gives some advice to younger generations. This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview edited to aid in clarity and ease of comprehension for the reader. The original tape recording is available in the Audio-Visual Library of the Minnesota Historical Society.

GEORGE GALVIN INTER VIEWED BY GRANT MOOSBRUGER Grant: This is Grant Moosbruger interviewing Mr. George Galvin on July 16, 1975,

at the Minnesota Historical Society for the Mexican American History Project. Do -'we have your permission to interview you and can this interview with you be the property of the Historical Society, Mr. Galvin: Grant: Yes. Maybe you could start by telling us where you were born, when, who your parents were, if you had any brothers and/or sisters and when they were born. Galvin: I was born in El Paso, Vermudez. Grant: Galvin: Jovita, J -0- V -I-T-A. She was born in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. Cloc'ava Galvan; Galvin. Grant: Galvin: Grant: Galvin: Grant: Was. the earlier spelling Galvan? No, I get mixed up with this. Ohl I see, it is Galvin. He writes his name J. C. Coahuila, MeXico. Galvin and he's from the state of Coahuila. Are A lot of people insist on calling us Galvanos. My father was John, Juan Texas, May 25, 1910. My mother was Jovita Galvin?

Maybe you could tell us a little about your folks.

either of them still living? Galvin: Grant: My mother died in 1957. My dad is. living. I do not know his where abouts.

I see. Do you remember from the olden days if they told you anything about when they were born or any of their early history?

Galvin:

No. We never discussed that because we were in early years and they worked hard. They didn't have time to discuss history.

-2 -

Grant: Galvin:

I see. So you don't know if you have any uncles or aunts living? Ohl I have plenty. I have a lot of them. On my mother's side, I have doctors, attorneys, farmers, in fact I am one. I come from a Milwaukee family and Mexican but I don't know any of them.

Grant: Galvin:

You don't know if they're living in Mexico or the United States? Most of them are living in Mexico. Some live in Salamanca, Guanajuato. I have two uncles, Silvestre and Gonzalo.

Grant: Galvin:

Is their last name Vermudez?
f

Yes, Vermundez.

They are both farmers and they lived in Salamanca,

Mexico.

But, as I said before, I do not know them, they don't know me. Grant: Galvin: Grant: Galvin: You haven't met them? I haven't met them. I see. I haven't met any of my father's people either. I was born when they left Mexico. I was born in El Paso. We kept moving in those days. take whatever we could. Grant: In the line of work, United States? Galvin: Oh, yes. do you know what year your folks came across into the We had to

Was it in 1910? They started to have trouble so my dad

Just about that time, they came across.

with the government in Mexico. and others took off. Grant: Galvin: Were you the fir st child?

They were fighting back and forth,

I was the first child. I have a brother whose name is John, he is in Redwood City, California now.

Grant: Galvin:

Just one brother? Just one, they're just two of us. I had a sister, but she died in childbirth, I

-3-

Grant: Galvin: Grant: Galvin: Grant: Galvin: Grant:

What year was John born? He was born in 1914 Is he married? Yes. I'm four years his senior.

Is he married and living in California? He's married. He has eleven children.

Going back to EI Paso in 1910, when you were born, do you have any recollections from your early childhood, moves or where you lived, anything like that?

Galvin:

Well it seems to me that the Lord gave me a remarkable memory. I remember as far back as when I was five years old. We lived in an old box car. My dad never liked to work. He was one of those gamblers with bad luck. He never won anything that I can remember .. This, of course, was in New Mexico, in You didn't have to worry about fresh

EI Raton, in wonderful living quarters.

air because it blew in from every direction. We lived here for about four months. One day my dad got verya:cute idea, he wanted a hot lunch for

dinner. I had to walk three blocks in the ice and snow. When I arrived, I could hardly walk. The yard master happened to be there. He took me home.

We later moved to Washington, Oklahoma. Grant: When you mentioned the yard master helped you get home, this was in Oklahom I realize it can get very cold down there. Would that be a railroad master?

Was your dad working for the railroad at that time? Galvin: Yes, temporarily. We moved to Washington, Oklahoma. It was no better there There was a very large forest That was the only time my

There were snakes and many other wild beasts.

nearby. I thought my mother was going to die there. dad won any kind of money.

-4-

Grant: Galvin:

How come you were afraid your mom was going to die there? Whe got very sick with tonsilities. She could hardly talk and she had a high fever. Of course, in those days, we used to huddle around and try to help She made

one another. One woman finally got a can of real hot tomatoes.

her swallow some of those tomatoes and put some hot tomatoes on the bottom of her feet. was. Grant: Galvin: It was a folk cure. Maybe, I guess it opened up her throat and she was able to talk. That week Maybe Whatever, that was supposed to do, ,it did the job, whatever it

was the one and only time I can remember that my dad won any money.

the reason was that we were suffering so much around that place, that the Lord probably thought it was a good time. Grant: A good time to let him win. Your dad liked to gamble. Was your dad a card player? Galvin: Yes, a card player. He used to like to go from place to place and look, of course, in those days everybody was doing it. gambling, you want to make a fast buck. Grant: Galvin: Grant: Galvin:

If you know anything about

Then you go from here to there.

Do you know where he would gamble? Would he go into regular gambling parlor Sure. I see. In those days the gamblers used to look for railroad camps. There was a

group of men that kept track of their paydays, so they would go and gamble. Of course, nine times out of ten, they would take all the money away from them. Grant: Galvin: The profe s sional gambler s ? Yes. But this time my dad won just enough money to take us out of that place.

-S Galvin: We went to Wichita, Kansas.
It was about 1915.

I was five years old then.

I was very happy to be there. I got a chance to go to school, which I loved very

:much. I thought everything was going to be good. Well, it so happened that he got another urge to ga:mble. He just wanted to keep rolling. He heard about

St. Louis, Missouri; that it was a very good town.

There was a lot of ga:mbling We had a nice little

and a lot of work. We had everything there in Wichita. house. All the furniture was ours, nice furniture. Gran t: Galvin: Grant: Galvin: Grant: Galvin: Grant: Galvin: You pulled stake s and left it? Groceries and everything. Do you know how long you stayed in Wichita, perhaps? Oh, not very long. A :matter of :months?

We left everything as it was.

Just about a year, at the :most. We thought that we were going to stay there. Did your dad generally do railroad work in those years or did he work far:ms? Well, no. He worked :mostly for the railroad. When we went to Wichita, he got a job for Cudahay Meat-Packing Plant. were going to stay. But it wasn't that way. That's why :my :mother thought we We stayed just a year, then we There was a lot of ga:mbling. Well,

took off. We went to St. Louis, Missouri.

he did win there one ti:me again. He Won $7 SO. He wanted to double it. So he left $S 0 at ho:me and he went back to try to double it. It only took hi:m about three :minutes to lose it. He ca:me back and told :my :mother forget it. Before

we were going to Mexico. He said, IIQuit packing, because I lost the :money. II Fro:m there we went to East St. Louis, which is just across the river. We lived

on

St.

Clair Street.

My :mother opened up a little restaurant.

We had quite a

business. collect.

The only ti:me :my dad stayed in the place, was long enough to

-6Galvin: My mother couldn't read or write, so she couldn't figure. I was going to school There was a German family there that used to like me quite a bit. They used

to help me with my studies every night. I was doing good in school for the short time that I lived there on St. Clair Street. That's in East St. Louis. I did

pretty well. Then my dad found out about the outskirts of East St. Louis, Fairmont City, Illinois. He got a job at American Sink Company. He was smart. He used his head. He got a job, and in a short time he got to be a foreman. Of course, we never saw any of his money. Sometime s he'd
.,
f§0)

to

the gambling place where there was gambling. By the time he got horne, the check wasn't there anymore. My mother, of course, already knew that by his actions. He'd corne horne and he'd grab a book or something and he'd start reading. He wouldn't mention anything about money. So she started taking in boarders. They'd corne in and my mother washed their clothes and fed them.

That's the way my mother kept up paying the grocery bill and rent. We did pretty rood there, too. We thought this time we were going to stay. It just wasn't in the books. We had a beautiful horne, all nice furniture; big brass very few people had--rugs on the floor. I was

beds, and we had' something

doing the same thin&s there. I found someone to help me with my studies. The first year I went to school, I jumped three grades'r This German family that was there, Mr. and Mrs. Morris, helped me with my studies every

evening. I was there every day instead of running around and playing like the rest of the kids. I studied with this German family. At the end of the year, I was promoted from fourth grade to the fithe. Then I jumped three grades in

t:hat year! The following year I did the same thing. I kept on. I knew studies were getting harder as I went along. Grant: You were still in East St. Louis?

-7 -

Galvin: Grant: Galvin:

In Fairmont. We moved from East St. Louis to Fairmont. Which state is Fairmont in? That's just the outskirts of East St. Louis. We were there until 1919. My dad

came and said that Lincoln, Nebraska was a good town with a lot of gambling. The only thing he had on his mind was gambling. Grant: So was it in 1919 that you moved from Fairmont, Missouri; to Lincoln, Nebraska? Galvin: Yes. He said there was work there. He went ahead. money. He didn't leave us any Missouri. So

He told us that we should wait for him in St. Joseph,

we stayed in St. Joseph, Missouri. We stayed for just the cold months. In the meantime, he was inquiring for jobs, after he came back from Lincoln, where he didn't find what he was looking for. strike. The Morris Plant went out on

There was no money. I put a pair of big, long pants on, to make me They

look big, then I went into the plant. In those days, they never questioned. just came up and said, "Who wants to
wo~k

in such and such department?"
It was the fall of 1919.
Packin~

What did I know about packing? I said, "I will." Grant:

So you would have been nine years old when you went to work for Morris Company?

Galvin:

Yes, nine years old. saw one penny of it;

I worked there until the strike was settled and I never

Grant: Galvin:

You were living in St. Joseph, Missouri? St. Joseph, Missouri. We stayed there for the winter months. By the month of

March, we were already in Minnesota. were already here. Grant:

That was the beginning of 1920'. We

What was the first town you came to in Minnesota?

-8Galvin: We came to Morgan to work sugar beets. between the sugar beets and wheat. backbreaking job. We didn't know the difference
It was a

But, we worked for them.

Anybody that thinks that sugar beets are a money making

proposition better try it themselve s. Grant: Galvin: In other words, picking sugar beets is not the way for making Oh I No! It's a good way to break your back! We worked. money?

My dad would get

me up at 2: 00 in the morning and we'd work until 8: 30 or 9: 00 at night. Grant: Galvin: Did your mom, dad, brother, and you work the beets? Oh, yes! 1\4y mother didn't.
1
'i

She took care of the kitchen and the house and

I

did everything. Grant: Galvin:

She cooked our meals.

But your brother and your dad? My brother was only six years old. He was out there. I felt sorry for him. Finally, I said, "Dad, how about letting my brother go home.1" "He's too little." He said,

He turned around and said, "Johnny," and Johnny would "go home." Boy, he wasn't

say "ya" for an answer, and dad would say, tired then, he just took off.

He was a little boy so, of course, he really We worked sugar beets that We came here to St. Paul

didn't know what was wrong with the world. year.

It was an experience that I'll never forget.

in the month of November in the year 1920. go to the Swift Plant. and going to work.

The next day I thought I would

I wanted to go but I was torn between going to school I figured, "Where' s the money going to come in?" I

knew that we hadn't done very good work in the beet fields because of inexperience and we were small and couldn't do much. with about $600. Still, we came home

In November, my dad received $150 bonus, which would

have been enough to carry us through the winter and I could have gone to school. But it never took place.

-9Galvin: I went to Swift's to look for a job. Plant. The same thing happened as in the Morris

Mr. Springer came up and said, "Doe s anybody want to go to work in I raised my hand.

the casing room?" Grant: Galvin:

That's all there was to it? They asked me how old I was. I said I was 18. They never que stioned it.

The trouble was that every year in the spring, we went out and worked sugar beets. In the fall of the year, I went back. I said I was 18. They gave me my job back. They

asked how old I was? boxing in Morgan. three bucks.

It never changed.

In 1922, I started

They used to take me out in the little towns and give me

On Friday and evenings, I'd shine shoes in a barbershop. I must have been all right, or else He

Levie' Frager was the barber's name. they felt sorry for me.

One fellow came in there from San Francisco.

was very interested in taking me with him. Grant: Galvin: Grant: Was he a fight-promoter? No. He saw that I was not lazy and that I was in there trying. You started to talk about boxing at that time.

That you were willing to work?

Then you went back, I'm having trouble following the story ....•. Galvin: Yes. Well, that part of it. What I'm talking about is finances. I'd get three bucks a fight. I started I would shine

fighting when I was 12 years old. shoes, also. Grant: Galvin: Grant: Galvin: In the same year? Yes.

See, that part of the story, I'm speaking about finances.

All the different ways of making money! My dad would get through working, he sat down and read a book or something. Then I would have to go to make a few nickels. the first year. The second year was bad. Well, anyway, that year was

-10Galvin: The third year, I was getting better in fighting and making it. money, but I was winning fights and getting in demand. Not better

They used to take

me to Redwood Falls, Fairfax, Springfield, all around the little towns to go and fight. They brought me back as far as Northfield. That was quite

a ride in those days. Grant: Were they pretty conscientious in those days about matching up people for weight? Galvin: Oh, no! fights. They used to match me up with bigger boys. Even in professional Late in

A 160 pound fighter would fight a light, heavy-weight.

1927, they changed all that. ring.

Jack Demsey knocked Jim Tooney out of the Then QUincebury rules came out.

They had that big, long count.

They put the clamps on them. smaller fighters. pounds. Grant:

They had to be close to the weights of the

The heavy-weights would have to fight them up to 300

Once you got to a certain weight, then you were a heavy-weight. You had to take on anyone that came along.

That was it.

Galvin: Grant:

Right. Going back to when you were a young fighter and you were starting to win more fights, did this start to become one of your main means of support?

Or were you still working other types of employment at the same time? Galvin: I was still working for sugar beets. In the fall of the year I came into St.

Paul, I was beginning to get popular even though I was still an amateur. But, I still was beginning to get popular. a job. I came here and Swift gave me That was

I'd fight for the Stockyard Pavillion in South St. Paul.

every week, at the Stockyard Pavillion. school.

In 1924, I tried to go back to

-11GALVIN:

But with all my activities, boxing and working, it was pretty hard. to school for about three weeks, night school. tired. for the fights'. In 1924, I turned pro. I won.

I did go I was

I used to fall asleep.

Then I found out I really couldntt go to school because I had to traan The last part of 1924, before

the end of 1926, rrry record was fifteen by knockout and ten decisions. GRANr:
GALVIN:

You won that many fight? Yes, that was professional in 1926. Omaha, Nebraska. In 1921, I was to fight ToIlll1\V Grogan from They They wanted two Irish men to fight Not onlY that, but he was fifth The fight didn't take place because I was a Mexican.

thought I was Irish with the Galvin name. although my record was good and so was his. from the champion. Grogan.
\)

I worked my head off to get myself in shape to fight I knew that

I figured if I could .just get a close decision, I would get a rating. I knew that he could hit. He was experienced.

But I wasn't going to go in there with intentions of losing. Grogan was a good fighter. I also worked hard. I had all that under consideration.

I knew I wasn't going to have it easy.

I used to work heavier fighters than myself; welter

weights, middle weights ••• to make me faster.

GRANr:
GALVIN:

What was your boxing weight? I weighed 126 pounds, feather weight. received a telegram, That is unbelievable.
~en

Two weeks before the fight, rny manager

s~ing

Tommy Grogan had busted his hand while training. I was mad.

You can strain or sprain your wrist or something, but

a fighter who knows what to do doesn't sprain his hands very easy. edge all the time. worked
SO

you get in pretty good shape, you're just like a lion in a cage, on the When they told me that I was fit to be tied because I Instead, they sent He was nowhere I didn't It's not hard to get in shape for that particular fight.

me to Fargo and I fought a fighter by the name of Joey White. near the caliber of a fighter that Grogan was! want to knock him out. I just cut him up. manager started to bawl me out. his fault that Grogan backed out.

I punched him badly.

At the end of the second round, rny
SJ I did.

He said, "What did you do that for? Put ,him out or do something."

In the third round, I went out and had no trouble.

I knocked the kid out.

After the fight was over he came to my room and said, . "I thought you were going to kill me! You're a good fighter 1 I never thought I' d run into ar:wone like you. I want to congratUlate you!" Still, at that moment, I was going to give him a bad answer. rny fighting. Then I remembered what rrry manager said. It wasn't his fault. The kid was being apologetic about it.
So I listened to his comments about

-12GALVIN: I said, "Thanks, I'm sorry I had to take it all out on you." about it, my manager told me. I fought under three names: I'm sorry." He said, "I heard

I fought under the name Kid Galvin. The

Kid Galvin, Kid Pee Wee, and Little Dago.

reason for the changes was my mother didn't want me to fight. knowing, I kept changing my name.

To keep her from

If I came out and said, "George Galvin is I

fighting tonight, then she would make me kneel down and she'd beat me up. just laughed at her. She oouldn't hurt me.

So I just let her satisf.y herself.

FinallY I thought, instead of doing that, I just won't let her know that I'm fighting.

tV father didn't know that I was fighting, neither did she. OtherI was making money because I had He didn't tell me I was a pro I would

wise he'd probably have been after my money. . some saved up already.

rtr

manager was a crook.

when I was fifteen years old. fight six or eight rounders.

I was going to go to different states.

I never questioned him when he gave me ten dollars.

He said, "Don't tell al\Y"body that I'm giving you ten, beoause you're an amateur and you're not supposed to get more than threel" headed Jew! His name was Goldburg. He was a 11ttle J ewl A red-

I never told anybody.

I got a chance to We fought a couple

fight Eddie Anderson from Sioux City, Iowa ~ as a main go. of rounds like dogs. rug. I got up.

He dropped me in the first round and laid me out like a I got up.

I listened to the referee 'When he said, "seven."

I went after himl

Before the first round was over, I had Anderson on the canvas. I went after him right off the bat. Last time he didn't come baok so We had a full house.

On the third round, I dropped him again.

I dropped him three times in the third roundl he figured that I was luoky that I beat him.

GRA.Nr:
GALVIN:
GRAN!':

You had are-match? Yes. When you say a main go, you mean that was the top fight?

-13GALVIN:

Yes.

The top fight,

Before the fight" three fellows came in.

They were

Italian fellows. "How are ya doin?" table.

They said, "Say Paisano." I said, "Pret:ty good. II

I said, "Yea" and they said I was laid out on the training They said, "Well, you're They said,

I was supposed to go on in the next round.

going to make yourself some money." "What do you mean, ten bucks?" still an amateur." that.

I said, "Ya, ten bucks."

I said, "That's what the manager said, I'm Look at

"No," they said, "come here, we'll show you.

You and Anderson are pulling that prize.

They like Anderson but you You should I am glad they

have a good record. get $354. woke me up! me. real.
GRANr : GALVIN: GRANr : GALVIN:

We have been following you as paisanos.

I bet you, you're getting $500 for this fight."
So I said, "Well, I won't fight."

That guy had been lying to That was for

He said I was still an amateur.

No, I wasn't an amateur.

What year would that have been? That was 1926. How did that fight come out? I knocked him out. and everything off. hell with them. promoter came in. They told me before the fight. I had rrry hands wrapped I was saying, "The

I was going to put rrry clothes on.

I won't fight for him any more." He said" "What's all this?"

Just about that time, the

I said" "You guys tell him.

1'm not bothering to explain to anybody." fight this."
GRANr: GALVIN:

He said, "You"re going to have to

Did he make sure that your manager didn't keep your money? Oh yes. He said, llDid you see the crowd?1I I said, "Yes." The other follows

told me that I took him out there and showed him.

I said, "Ever since I was

fifteen years old, when I turned Pro, he told me that I was still an amateur and he was giving me ten dollars. He said not to tell al\Ybody an.ything, beJust about

cause it was against the law--that was giving me ten dollars.

-14GALVIN: that time, Goldburg came in and said, "Well you're on kid. was surprised. turned Pro. What's this?" He The promoter said, "You have been cheating this kid since he

You're going to pay him all the money or else you'll never manage You've

another fight in the state or in the United States for that matter. been giving him $10 for every fight since he turned Pro." even want to talk to you. as a manager. discuss it." GRANr: GALVIN:
GRANr :

So I said, "I don't

I trusted you.

I thought you were a friend as well I don't want to

You managed your own pocketbook, not minel He said, IlBut I do."

In the end did you get your money back? Yes. Did you fire him or did you contime with him? No. I didn't fight for Goldburg anymore. The promoter promised me that he was

GALVIN:

going to get me the money that I was supposed to get from the time I turned professional.
GRAN1':

At that stage of the game, were you still working at the packing house? Oh, yes. school. it. I was still working at the packing house. I was still trying to go to I just couldn't make

GALVIN:

I attempted to go to school three or four times.

GRAm: GALVIN:

Would this be in South st. Paul where you were going to school? No. I was going to school at the University. I got that money. I told him He I You

that I wouldn't fight for him a.l\Vffiore.

I said, "You and I are through."

tried hard to convince me that he would pay me every penny I had coming. said, "I don't even want to deal with you, I'm dealing with the promoter. pay him every cent you owe me, otherwise, I won't fight." for that fight. I didn't pay him anything. I said,
II

He did give me $500

As far as you're cut is
We

concerned, you can just climb up a tree and stay there until I pay you. " were re-matched again for about sixty days. I won.

I didn't want to lose. I wanted to make my

I dreamed that some day I would become a good fighter. dream come true.

-15GALVIN:

I worked hard.

I stayed home.

I didn't go out nights.

Maybe once in awhile

I'd go to the movies. plant.

That's all I had on my mind.

I worked at the packing

I was the idol of Swift's Packing Plant.

Not only of the workers,

but the management also.

On the day of the fight, Mr. McDonald would make The men and the janitor would put two I'd
l~

sure I was sent to the dressing room.

benches together and get some clothes and make a pillow for me.
and rest.

down

I got paid by them. I knocked him out.

So I beat Anderson three times.

I fought him We

three times.

We used to go out after the fights. We talked.

would go out and maybe have something to eat. to get you George." you can hit hard." I said, "That's all right. He could.

He said, "I'm going

You've got two good hands and

Then I went to fight in Milwaukee, which was a I was a success there, too.

very good town for me.

They liked me quite well.

I was doing good until I was matched to fight Grogan in the fall of 1927, but
my training period was through August and September.

Believe me, it was hot.

For seven long weeks, I ran ten miles everyday.
GRANT:

You were matched against Grogan, the fellow who backed out on you the year before?

GALVIN:

Yes.

Then I used to have Earl Sayten, the Golden Glove, light, heavy-weight Then I had Lawrence Plant, he was also a Two weeks before

champion, work with me everyday. Golden Glove champion.

I was getting ready for the fight.

the fight, Grogan backed down. North Dakota.
GRANr: GALVIN:

That's when I fought Joey White in Fargo,

Afterwards you were in Milwaukee, right? Yes. Let's go from there. After I fought in Milwaukee, I didn't have my heart in it pulled that on me. I did win my fight.
~ore,

GRAN!' :
GALVIN:

after they

After I turned around and told my I said, "I'm

manager I didn't want to fight anymore, he said, IIWhy' kid?"

-16GALVIN:

all right, I'm not hurt. seventeen years old. aqr good bouts.

I think I've reached my peak.

I'm young."

I was

What I meant

b.Y that is that

th~

wouldn't give me

B.1 the time they'd get me to a good bout, I'd be no good.

So as long as I couldn't get the bouts that would do me some good, I didn't want to fight. championship. Singer did. ing hard. breaks." I said, "Al Singer is
o~

eighteen years old.

He won the

I'm seventeen years old.

I can make it.

The same as Al I'm work-

I'll go down in history doing the same as Al Singer. I'm positive that I can beat Grogan.

They just won't give me the Then in 1928, Her name

"Well," he said, "suit yourself."
~

So I didn't fight.

I chose another fight--getting married. was Veronica KessKert.

first wife was German.

She was from Forest Lake, Mirmesota.

I had three Her folks

children from her, two girls and a boy.

Well we were to young.

didn't want us to get married, not because of the fact that I was Mexican, but because of age. Of course, my mother didn't want me to get married either.
~

She said, "You're too young."

dad said the same thing.

He said, "Why don't But don't get

you go to New York and see the world? married.

Or California, aIVPlace?

After you t re away for a year or two, and i f she still feels the same

way about you and you still feel the same way about her, well, then all right, get married." see you again." I was willing to do that but she said, "If we don r,t, 1'11 never That I know. So one night we talked until 3t.30 in the morning, I wanted to take my dad up on that trip. He never had aqr. Where

because I was going to leave.

he was going to get the money, I don't know. never told him that I had any money.

Of course, I

When I quit fighting, I had around $2100 Besides, I used to buy my brother When I quit, I
Th~ all

which was an awfUl lot of money in those days.

his clothes and pay his way to the show and his dues in the gym. gave hiM all of my equipment and everything.

I' d PuY my own clothes.

would want to know where I got the money. "Oh, I do a little work at night," I'd say. GRANr: In addition, you were also working at the packing plant?

-17GALVIN:

Yes, but I told her that because I didnlt want her to know where of income were coming from.

~

other sources

GRAN!': GALVIN:

I know

th~

didnlt approve of you boxing.

So then you got married? I figured, well, if

I got married in 1928 and we were married until 1933. thatls what she wants, all right.

GRAm':
GALVIN: GRANl': GALVIN:

When you say thatl s what she wants, do you mean a divorce? Yes. I see. Yes. Well, we never got a divorce. So you parted compaDi.V. I never bothered her. I never went near her at all. She tried to cause She got married. Catholics couldnlt get a divorce.

trouble for me because she wanted to come back to me again. I found out she was going with another fellow.

She called me up one time This

when I was li-ving in st. Paul Park, and said she wanted to talk to me. was in 1945. The kids were big already'.

In :fact, I had ~ second oldest They were trying hard to get us She told me about the

staying with me then, just for the sunnner. back together again. kids and all that.

I went to see what she wanted.

I had one of them in the house, so she talked about the She was all dressed up. She said, llWell, where are

boy and the other girl. we going?l1

I was all sweaty and dirty and I said, llWe l re not going aDi.V place. 11 I said, llIf that I s what you called me for, you You did it once

I had been working on the yard.

might as well just forget it right now and get out of the car. you I11 do it again.
all right.

I don I t want to be bothered that way. I think that J ean,
~

The kids are doing

I pay them alim0Di.V. 11

~

oldest daughter, told He I s never

my wife, llWhy do you keep bothering

dad?

He never bothers you.

around here to give you aDi.V trouble, so leave him alonel him to give you aDi.V more alim0Di.V. 11
GRANr: GALVIN: .

I donI t think I want

So in 1945, I stopped paying alimony.

Going back, were you still working at the packing house? Yes. I was a foreman at the shipping and calf-killing department. Then, of

course, there came a break for me in 1944. an organizer.

I havenlt gone into my history as

In 1933, I had ~ first experience in walking out with the farmers

-18GALVIN:

I was the only one that stuck with the farmers when they went on strike in 1933. I was one of the number-one moochers there. I used to go out and mooch from

the stores; vegetables and soup bones and things like that to make soup for the kitchen.
GRAN!': GALVIN:

Fbr which

p~ople?

For the farmers, themselves. worked at night. and mooch.

They went out on strike for better prices.

I

I'd go out there and carry the banner with them, then go in

GRAN!': GALVIN: . GRAN!' :

To help support. the kitchen? Yes. So you were working at the packing house in the day time and at night you would be working with the farmers?

GALVIN: GRANl':

Yes, I put in 11T3' time for them. You were working at a packing house in town, what drew you back so that you aligned yourself with the farmers?

GALVIN:

The fact th at the farmers were figh ting for what was right. that a person should fight for what was right. price for their products. for $2.50.
Actual~,

I always believed

They weren't getting a decent

you could go out on a farm and get a hog into the So I

They were better off then, taking a big load of hogs

stockyards and ending up owing the stockyard. went out with them.
GRAN!': GALVIN:

That's the way it was.

I campaigned for them and everything.

Against the stockyards? Yes.

IV first experience as an organizer was in 1934. We started organizing thE
I was right in the middle of it. I knew the

DF'L, the packing house workers.

guy that was the leader, Bill McCoy.

Bill McCoy had a record of running away

with the treasury in 1920, during the big strike, the packing house strike. He figured, by coming back in 1934, fourteen years later, that the people would have forgotten him. month. But he got fooled. He got away with it for about a He said we needed to be

He came up th ere and he gave us union talk.

-19GALVIN:

organized, and all that.

I was all ears to see what the purpose of the union Then' all of a sudden a fellow sitting I know that you were out

was, because I didn't understand.

alongside of me said, "Georgie, I like your spirit. with the farmers. What made you do that?"

"I did that because I believe

they were fighting for what's right," I said, "That's the reason I went out with them." He said, "are you willing to fight for what's right, right now?" He said, "Well, that man up there is no We looked for him allover. He's not lying, Then he took

I said yes, that's why I'm here. good.

He ran away with the treasure in 1920.

He had gone off, clothes and all. because we haven't forgotten him. the treasury. about it?"

Gone, but not forgotten. He turned his back to us.

I said, "Tell me more about it."

He said, "What will you do So he went on and Nobody was talking.

I said, "I'll expose that man right now." Whatever he could right there.

told me all about it. I raised mY hand.

I had a piece of paper, but the piece of paper was blank. So he said, "Yes, young man?" I said, "Mr. McCoy,

He thought I was readin it. what are you here for now? it?"

To create another treasury so you can runaway with I said, "In 1920, you turned your I'm

He asked me what was I talking about.

back to all the packing house workers and ran away with the treasury.

going to tell you, right now, Mr. McCoy, we do want to be organized, but not
Qy a man like you!

You better leave town before the rest of them find out. Then this Romanian man said, "Georgie, I said, "I haven't got the experience.

Your life isn't worth a slug nickel." why don't you go and talk to this man?" I don't know anything about this."
him what you think."

"That's all right," he said, "you just tell

GRAN!':

The fellow next to you told you? Yes. He told you to talk to someone about the man? The group. There were around

GALVIN:
GRAN!':

GALVIN:
GRAN!' :

7,

to 100 people there.

So after you had told who this McCoy fellow was, he left the scene then?

-20GALVIN:
GRANr :

Yes.

He took off.

Then this Romanian man encouraged you to go and become one of the leaders? Yes. Okey, what happened then? Everyone said all right. After I exposed Bill, I got up there. Everybody was

GALVIN: GRANr: GALVIN:

in favor and said, "get up and say something."

I said, "I know for one thing,

I'm not a speaker and as far as I'm concerned, I have no experience whatsoever, but I do know that in order to win a battle we must be organized.
By saying

organized, I mean we should get united and think as one not as a group."
GRAN!' :

You were ~reaqy known to the packing house as Kid Galvin?
\

GALVIN:'
GRANr:

Oh, yes. And you were already a popular figure? Yes, so then I said, "Now, we've been here. 50, 75, and 100 people. quit organizing? We have gotten together with about Are we going to

GALVIN:

Each time it seems to be growing.

We need an organization.

1934 is the year we can start You

organizing because President Roosevelt has given us the right to organize. can go back to your homes and think it over. Think
constructive~,

Let's think and think right. Let's

not destructively.

We don't want to kill people.

do it politically."

Everyone said, "he's right."

Then I told them, "So when I'm not going to call Then you let me know that

you people call again, I'm not going to come back. meetings.

You people are going to call the meetings.

you are having a meeting. hundred.
GRAN!':

But when we do meet, I want to have more than a

How maqy people do you guess were working at the packing plant? Oh, Cudahays had 1400, Swifts had about 2500, and Armours had better than that. So with different packing houses, you had potential for a lot of union members? Was this the beginning of your activist as a union organizer?

GALVIN:
GRAN!':

GALVIN:

Yes.

-21GRAN!' :

So did they call you back in 1934? Yes. Later in 1934. I remember that in 1934, I wanted to make a come back I found out that George Degedo from Minneapolis had gotten He wasnl t even a start I knew I could beat George. When

GALVIN:

again in the ring. $150 for a fight.

they told him that I was making a come back and wanted to fight him, George didn't want any part of it. So I forgot about boxing, for the simple reason Late in 1934, we

that these people had 350 people for our first meeting. got in contact with a National Office in Chicago. out.

They started to send speakers

Ille to the fact that I thought my education was very limited, I figured That I s the way I thouglt then. I let others We organized

I had no right to be in front. move in.

At that time w~ were organizing a union for a purpose.

a union to make things easier for everybody; for your household, your family, your future, better economical living, and better education. the things that exist today. It was not for

The underworld has moved into the racket now. Everytime you turn
around~

They move into labor and everybody goes on strike. Ilm not in favor of that. Packing Plant.

But, we won our first big strike against Cudahay I.said, "They will be back with full

They fired about 49 men.

pay and back pay.
GRAN!':

We are going to fight it."

What did they fire them for? For union activities.
Why they didnlt fire me is a mystery, because I often

GALVIN:

asked that question myself.
GRAN!':

You were with Cudahay also at that time? Sure. They were more afraid of me men I got at the negotiating tables than Glanchenender still is in the District They would have They called it

GALVIN:

they were about Simonson or Glanchender. Office in South st. Paul.

In 1937, we beat Oldahay in court.

to pay $125,000 in back pay for all the men they had laid off. "laid 6ff" but they were fired. return.

They lost nothing, they got everything in

But Simonson took credit for all the activity and George Galvin was We had a big meeting one time in South St. Paul. They wanted me

pushed aside. up there.

-22-

GALVIN:

They said, "Just go up in front.

We're going to ask you the question:

How

come this Bud Simonson got ahead of George and Bud Simonson hasn't done a darn thing for the people?'l fact that George started it. This organization is organized because of the He was the one who exposed Bill McCoy. 11 I

said, what did Bud Simonson say?

He said, "I agree I haven't done anything."

Then the people said, "Then why should you hold the position that you have?1I
GRAN!':

What was his position? He was President. among you fellows. together. Then I got up and said, "I don't wa nt to start any friction As I told you before, we want to fight as one, all of us If Bud Simonson is doing a But I knew the reason why

GALVIN:

We will stay .as one, not as a group. I don't want to be up there. 11

good job, let him. I said it.
GRAN!' :

Because I thought •••••

You should have had more formal education? Yes. So I figured, what am I going to do? I would have had to make reports to

GALVIN:

the National Office, all this writing.
,-

I figured that I wasn't right up there, Bud went back in there. He was

able to do that.

So I made it easier for Bud.

tickled to death that I made a statement that they didn't expect me to make. Glanchenender thought it why you're place.
SO
WLS

very nice of me to do that.

I said, "I don't know
~

tickled about it, that I stepped aside to let someone take

Why are you people so tickled about it?

Because I'm a Mexican and you I said, "I

don't want a Mexican up in front?"

They said, "Oh, no George."

think it is and there is one thing I can tell you.
I

I may be a Mexican, but I'm

not afraid to get up there and fight and tell the big shots what I think of them. Before I go over there, I've already gone through in
~self
~

mind what I'm

going to tell these people so I don't catch case."

in a tough spot and lose the Finally, in 1942, They couldn't get a

We won case after case against the packing plants.

they were having trouble with the sheep and calf killers. foreman that knew how to run the department. know one guy who knows his sheep."

So Ik>c Baker told the manager, "I Ik>c said,

The manager asked, "Who's that?"

-23GALVIN:

"He's George Galvin." Mexican. "

The manager then said, "He made me money, but he's

Then Doc Baker Said, liThe guy has been working for your compal'\Y
I

all his life and you still hold that against him, because of his nationality?

You'll never find another one that knows how to pick out a lamb in the coolers and i f you show him what's wrong with that lamb, he".ll go right back to the killing floor and point to the man that did it. can do that?" all the time.
GRANr:
GALVIN:

Now show me another one who He was pretty good to me

So I owe Doc Baker that much, anyway.

So then you got the job? No, not that easy yet. drop my union badge. I told him that I would take the job but I would not I said, "You want me, you're going to hire me around the Is this department going to be mine? The

department, I'll take it by the hour.

Or am I going to have someone else come in here and tell me what to do?" superintendant said, "No, you are going to be running it. report. II

You will make your

That was another thing I didn't know because of lack 0:£ education. They could tell you when a mare

But, I got to be just like the old timers.

was going to have a colt, or a sow was going to have her pigs, just by the moon.
GRANr :
GALVINl

They could tell you anything like that.

Something you don't learn in school.
/

No.

I could tell you exactly how fast the chain was going just :by staring and

looking at it.
GRANr:
GALVIN:

You're talking about the slaughter house with the assembly line chain? Yes. So in other words, you knew your business? Yes. I would go stand out there; the guys would go out there with a stop watch.

GRANr:
GALVIN:

They'd be timing the dog-gone thing and I'd look at it and say, "The chain is going 150 miles an hour. weren't timing it."
GRAN!' :

He would look at me and say, "How did you know? I timed it.

You

I said, "1 know.

I don't need your watch."

You had enough experience.

Then what year did you take over the sheep room?

-24GALVIN: GRANr : GALVIN:

In 1942.
You mentioned you had a big break in 1944? I'm coming to that now. After I got the job running the department, I went on

for two years, having no trouble.

In fact, I plugged up the

shobt~,

because

they couldn't take care of the sheep pelts. the floor, I had no stoppage of a:n:y kind. hide cellar.

The way I had my men lined up on We had a Bohemian man running the

He came running, IIWho in the hell is running the department now The dog-gone shoots are plugged."

for Christ's sake? GRAN!' :

In other words, you were turning out so :much work there was a bottle neck at a 'later process.
They couldn't keep up with you.

GAEVIN:
GRAN!' :

That's right, because I had no stoppage. Right, I was just explaining that so that they'll know what you mean when you say they're plugging the shoots.

GALVIN:

Big shots from Omaha used to come in and wrinkle up their nose when they saw who their supervisor was. Baker always said, "Ibn't look at his nationality. Ask him a:n:y

Look at him as a man, and what he is doing for the department.

question you want to know about the sheep: how you can tell whether their lamb is a yearling or whether it's just a lamb; or how old the darn thing is. ask him. II One of them did call me; he said, IIHey you, come here." Just

So I just

looked at him and turned around and walked away from him. supervisor in the hog field. shot. II

Sid Churney was the

He came over and said, "Christ Sake, he's a big
My name is not· Hey," and I

I said "I don't give a damn who he is.

said it loud enough.

"If he hasn't learned that much in school, hell with If he doesn't like the way I'm running He knows what my name is. They're

him, I don t t have to answer to him.

the doggone department, the hell with it. prejudice because I'm a Mexican. GRANI' : GALVIN:

That's too God damn bad, I am a Mexican."

Did you find a lot of prejudice in those years? Oh, yes, quite a bit. I didn't go. Pretty soon he came over. He saw that I wouldn't move.
that~

I said, "You tell me if you don't want me around, because of

-25GALVIN: I'll be glad to step out. II They said, "Dh, no, gee whiz George, control yourself.' Then the superintendant came in and they You want to

Control my foot, hell I didn't have to. were talking.

He said, "If you did that to George, he won't come.

talk to George, you go over there and talk to him.
GRAN!' :

He said he won't come. II

So the superintendant stood behind you? Yes. Then he came up to me and said, "Mr. Galvin, I'm sorry. You're right. If

GALVIN:

I have to learn to conduct myself with people, with all the years of education I've had, you have the right. II I said, "Well, what .do you want to know? You'll never learn it in the books." What He

can I tell you about these animals? said,
II

Can you'tell me when the sheep are all dressed on the line?
,
'I

Can you

pick out a year:Jj.ng?"

I said, "Dh, yes.

It's very simple."

So I grabbed one

from the head and I pushed him. Those are the baby" teeth. to show him another wa;r.

I said, "See the teeth here being pushed out?

You can still classify that as a lamb."

I was going I

I waited for him to say, is there another way.

said, "We'll try the same one, that's one way."

I reached over on the lower How does it feel? Soft?

part of his leg, on the back and I said, "Feel this. That's a lamb. II "How do you know? look at it." I felt the other one.

I said, "That's passed."

He said,

You haven't even looked at it?"

I said, "I don't have to I said, "See." He said,

I reached down there and grabbed it.

"Another yearling."
GRAN!' :

Their spine would harden up? Yes, the soft bones were there when it was a lamb. After they passed a year,

GALVIN:

the bones harden .. ~~I said, "There's another way of finding out, the way the toe breaks." They weren't satisfied. They figUred they'd take me to the coolers. I said, "There's a lot of lambs and They're in good shape. You can cover He shook That

I went into the coolers and I showed them. a lot of yearlings that can pass as lambs. them up. Cover it and cut the krmckle.

A knuckle shows this way. II

his head and said, "You were right, George, we don't learn this in books." took place in

1942

t

I had big shots from different places.

-26GALVIN: I won the respect of these people. me. When tha,y used to come down they would call I had something worthwhile. I

They wanted me to have coffee with them.

gained respect by showing them that I was superior to them in knowledge of the sheep and calf-kill department. calf, beef, hogs, anything. boners on the cutting floor. on my arm. Of course, I was an all around butcher: sheep,

A Norwegian boy and I were the two fastest shoulder-

Jwtv' diplomas are the cuts and scars that I have
I not only won the respect of many, but even One of them turned

In 1944, I got a break.

those officials from the plant thought a great deal of me.
my name in to the War-Food Administration in

1944.

They were looking for a

man who could speak Spanish and English, to take care of and to represent all the Mexican". Nationals coming from Mexico into this country.
GRANr :

Which administration? War-Food Administration. all I know. It was under a fellow by the name of Wright. He came up there. That's

GALVIN:

Mr. Wright saw me once.

He was very pleased

with the way I was handling these fellows.

Now at this point, I could understand So maI\Y' times, I was just

Spanish, rut I couldn't speak Spanish very well. guessing what these people were telling me. They were very- nice.

I had a group from Mexico City. The first day went by, the I talked to

They spoke very good Spanish.

second day, finally the third day I lay my cards on the table. them. I said, "You know I can't speak Spanish very good.

I'm going to school

now, to try and learn to improve my Spanish. do all I can to help you. II

If you fellows will help me, I'll

GRANr:
GALVIN:
GRAN1':

These Spanish-speaking men from Mexico City were working for you? At the Burlington Yard. This was because of the shortage of food in war time? to the troops as well as the people. Mexico for extra supplies and meat. Tha,y had to supply food

They had to work with the people of

GALVIN:

They brought in thousands to help out. well educated.

These fellows that I'm talking about were

They just took the job to come out and see What the United States

-27GALVIN:
GRAN!' :

Looked like. When you say thousands, do you mean they brought in thousands of workers? No. Mexican workers were called "Nationals," not only in this part of the They came here on a six-month working permit. I was

GALVIN:

country but allover. in charge of them.

Bill Casey was one of the watchmen.

He was the one Who After that, when It said

introduced me to Mr. Wright.

Mr. wright sent me a letter.

I accepted the job, they would send a car to the front of the gate. on it, "WAR-FOOD ArnINISTRATION." see that they were fed proper food.
GRAN!' :
My

job was to inspect their camps and to

The Mexican National workers? Yes. If they were being treated right. I was even sent to Wisconsin. There

GALVIN:

were 150 in a group there.

They were very pleased to see me.

When they saw He said,

me, the man that was in charge spoke a little Spanish to them. IIThis is the man from the .goverrnnent." parted.

When he told them that, they all They were working on the

One line stood on this side of the tracks. They took their hats off.

railroad track.

The foreman told the, "This is a So instead of

representative of the government.

He is your representator."

saying, "pleased to meet you, how do you feel?" "Why do you take off your hats for me?" important person."
on~

I asked them one question:

They said, "Because sir, youlre an The

I said, "You shouldn I t take off your hats for me..

ones you should take your hats off to is God, to show respect to a lady, That I s when you should take off your hat. Youlre not in Mexico To a man who is your
~ore,

or an old man.

equal, you never take off your hat. to dominate you because you are poor. helped him make his money. the rich man anything.
GRANr:

where men try

The rich man has his money because you You donlt owe

You need a job that he offers you.

He is the one that owes you." That was fascinating work. You were able to

That was a good lesson for them.

do a lot of work for the people, the Mexican Nationals, when they were here. GALVIN: Was that full-time employment? Were you also able to work for the stockyards? MOst of the time for them. I was working with Cudahays and then they'd send

-28GALVIN:

a dar for me.

They came in sometimes.

I barely got started.

MY

hands would

just get bloody and they'd come in and say, "George, there's a car for you." They couldn't say anything, because that was the Federal government. different call from the Immigration. I got a

They wanted to know if I'd be willing to

go translate and be a service interpreter, for the ±mmigration and wetbacks they would be catching. had was a German woman. I was doing an awful lot of studying. She spoke very good Spanish. The teacher I

They thought I was there

because of the girls in the classes.

There were a lot of girls in there, trying I was the
on~

to learn Spanish and Russian and all nationalities. the classes.
GRAm' :

Mexican in

Where were these classes? They were at the Universi ty extension. the book we had in school. Everyone had to read a paragraph out of I noticed that they showed beginners They'd ask "What's this?"

GALVIN:

I just watched.

a loaf of bread, a prune, a chair and table.
GRAm' :

This is too elementary? Yes. So I didn't
s~

GALVIN:

anything.

I thought maybe they'd send me some place else.
"Mr. Galvin," the teacher asked,

My turn came to read a large paragraph.

I

said, "Yes mam." all," I said. read. now.

111):)

you mind reading the ne--:t paragraph"?" she asked.

"Not at

I got up and read that paragraph right on through, because I couild
Not'~good,

I learned to read and write both languages.

I'm much better She

lowed that to my insurance business, Which will come up later.

asked me to read that paragraph.

Everybody turned around and looked at me.

I just sat down. Then she said, "Mr. Galvin, I'd like to have you stay after class." She was kind of rough with me, after all the class was gone. What's your purpose?" she asked. "Now

what are you doing here?

I said, "Oh, I'm

afraid you have the wrong impression of me.

I have been offered a job at the

WAR-FOOD ADMINISTRATION and I have also been offered a job to serve the Immigration Department, whenever they need me. Now I feel that I just cannot I want to improve

speak Spanish good enough to serve these two organizations.

-29GALVIN:
my Spanish. It

Then she said, "I'm

sorry, but a lot of young guys and young

men come in here and they just fool around with the girls." "To tell you the truth, I haven't even noticed them, because my mind is occupied," I said.
GRANT:

You were thirty-four at this time? Yes. In

GALVIN:
GRANl':

1944.
I'm sorry George.
'

GALVIN:

She said, "Well
T.T

This isn't going to do you aI:\Y good.

What

you see tonight is where we'll be for a while, then we'll move a little bit faster, tm'1ard the end, so that they can say, "Give me a glass of water; where is there a hotel; where is there a restaurant •••• these people come here to learn a little spanish so that when they go to a Latin country, they can ask . for a glass of water or something to eat, not to carry on a conversation, but for what they need to learn."
GRANl' :

Did she steer you into a more advanced course? No. She said, "What you should do is read a lot of Spanish. Get yourself some

GALVIN:

good books and read Spanish.

Also find out where there's a Mexican family that Explain

speaks good Spanish and make it a point to go and visit them often. to them that you want to do this." Oh, there were quite a few in

So I only knew one family in st. Paul.

1944, maybe a thousand Mexicans there. But
I went to see a family by the name of I explained to them why I went to them

they didn't speak very good Spanish. Gomez in Minneapolis. I was there.

They said, "Oh yes, come in."

I was there to meet them for no special reason.

for quite some time.

With the help of these other fellows that I ran into from

Mexico City, by the time they went back to Mexico City, I could tangle with anyone. One time I had a very good experience. There were two men from Texas I was

in the Immigration and they stood there, great big guys, behind me. talking to six wetbacks. were under me.

I didn't bother with the Nationals, because they

These wetbacks used to be caught canning in factories and they'd

bring them in. I was preaching to them what they should do and what they shouldn't._dQ. I said, "If you come into this country illegally, you have to

-30GALVIN:

obey the laws of our country. United States.

You are not in Mexico now.

You are in the

You come in here especially illegally and you want to do

the things you do over there; like going into a saloon and getting drunk. You can't do that here. an awful hurry. The Immigration Department will catch up to you in

They may sometimes give you a break for your good behavior; If they

they don',t want to deprive you of making any money or better living.

don't put a stop to that, the citizens of our country won't have anything to do here. So many outsiders come in illegally. It isn't that we are picking

on you or that we don't want you here because you are a Mexican, it is because you chose to come in the wrong way. II
GRANl' :

You weJ;'e explaining to them the problems. have in talking with them?

What linguistic difficulty did you

GALVIN:

NOne.

I was all right then.

GRANT:

Oh, you had mentioned that at one time you had difficulty with the Spanish language. I thought this was that occasion. This was a bit later.
..;

GALVIN:

No, not then.

B.r this time I had caught on. Say you
You get into where you are You pick up the
Wi. th me the

take yourself with the Spanish that you know.

talking Spanish all the time or German or whatever you are. language fast because you have it. only: Spanish I used was at home. eat?
Do

You just don't get practice. Like: "ma, I'm home.

What do you have to

I have a clean shirt?"

Of course, I never had to ask my mother that I only

because everyday in the morning she'd have a clean shirt ready for me. used that shirt to go from home to the locker room. I came back. that. She'd have a clean, fresh shirt for me.

I took that shirt off when I never had to ask her

But that was the extent of my- Spanish.

When 1'd get out o:f the house,

it was all English.
GRANI':

How long after 1944 did you work with the government agency? Just that year, 1944, but the Immigration House called me even last year. So they still call upon you to serve?

GALVIN:
GRAN!':

-31GALVIN:

They call once in a while.

They may not now because I refused to go once.

I

was working in a position where I couldn' t say, "I have to go. II are not like they used to be.

These companies

You were called from your job to serve the

government or a Federal position, temporarily, a day or two days, three days whatever it is. As long as it was a Federal job, go ahead. I even had a

direct line on the phone for about six years. anybody to listen to my line.
GRANl' : GALVIN: GRAN!' : GALVIN: GRANT: GALVIN: GRANl': GALVIN:
GRAm' :

The Immigration didn't want

They got you a special phone? Yes. --When did you remarry? I married Isabel Vasquez in 1937. Did you have
a~

children?

Oh yes, one daughter. Is she married now? Yes, she's got five children. Wha t' s her married name? Her married name is Aguillar, Mrs. Albert Aguillar. Galvin. Her maiden name is Virgina

GALVIN:

GRANl':

Can you tell me the names of her children? This will be history for their children?

GALVIN:

Yes.

The oldest one is Richard Aguillar; second oldest is Steve Aguillar; then The oldest is nineteen. Steve and Richard are in

Dawn; Jody, and Christopher.
the Armed FOrces, the Marines.
GRANl':

Right now Steve loves it.

He chose a hard route.

The Marines are a-tough outfit. It stands

What part did you play in helping organize LULAC here in St. Paul? for the League of United Latin Citizens.
GALVIN:

Yes.

I received a call, at midnight on March 19, 1958.

The fellow that called Somebody told him

me, I didn't know him from Adam nor did he know me eijfher. that I was very active in the unions and organizing. about LULAC, which was actually all Greek to me.

He started talking to me

I asked him what he meant b.1

-32GALVIN: LULAC, what was it? Citizens. He then told me it is a League of United Latin American Someone called us from Chicago, he I said, "If it's good He said, "Yes, that's

It's a national organization.

said, and told us that you would be the man to contact. for the Mexican people, certainl¥ I'll be interested."

what it's for, to improve conditions for the Mexican people and to see if we
~an

send a few boys to college.

It's for improvements all around, not just

one department." I said, " I hope I can live to see the day when improvement can be made; not only in education, but housing, working conditions, repre\

sentation for migrant ••••• " He cut me off right there and said, "George, from the way you talk, you are the man we've been looking for, to organize LULAC in Minnesota." to contact?" I said, "How am I going to go about that? Who am I going

"We'll come up," he said, and we made an appointment where we were i We met. I guess this fellow had some relations We This

going to meet and everything.

here in St. Paul, on Walnut Street. happened to meet just in time.

We met at their house, outside.

He was just pulling in and I was too.

man that called me was Jesse MOsqueda, from Des Moines, Iowa. the heros in the Second Wbrld War, MOsqueda, M-O-S-Q-U-E-D-A. arm. He was in the Navy. They sunk the ship that he was in.

He was one of He lost his right He·";pulled about

sixty men out of the water.

His commander said, "Mosqueda, your arm is gone. He said, "These other men need my help more

You better get in here yourself." than I do.

If I'm going to die, I'm going to die pulling these men out of here. "
They

'.Chen pretty soon he just passed out.

dragged him in with the rest of them. It is really someth4.lg

"Now," he said, "I want to see 'that we can do something. when you're out there getting reaqy to kill someboqy.
any distinction for nationality or color.

They don't seem to have

But as soon as you get back, in here, That didn't

then things are different. improve anything.

You're back where you were before.

This is for the Mexican people or the Blacks or for all That's one of the reasons this organization has

minorities for that matter.

done a great deal of improvements in the state of Texas and the state of New Mexico. Now we are going to see if we can get all 48 states."

-33GALVIN: I went to work on it right away. got a group together.
GRANr:

I called a meeting the following Sunday.

I

Who were some of these early people in the organization? There was John Aguirre. He's no longer on the face of the earth.
l~dina,

GALVIN:

But Joe

Zammarrippa still exists and Louie Medina, Joe I had a good working group.

and Manuel Aguirre. There I had

I also organized in Minneapolis.

Ibminquez and Betty Rodriquez, Frank Zaragoza, Esperanza Urvina, there were a lot of others I have forgotten.
GRAN!':

I also organized in Albert Lea. Far from being retired. You're

I realize that you continued to be ver,y active.

the kind of person that has to keep active, and keeps working.

Maybe you can

:\ .1 tell us about your present activities?
. GALVIN: Well, i really don't feel right sitting around the house doing nothing. The job that I have today really came as a surprise to me because I didn't expect to hear from anybody offering me a job. wants an old guy like me working? I'm sixty-five years old now. Who

Especially the kind of job that I'm holding.

I received a call one night to come in and put in an application at the Historical Society. They said they were gOing to take a survey of the Mexican The party that called me was Betty Rodriquez, from

community in st. Paul. Minneapolis.

After filling the application, I came here and talked to the She asked me a lot of questions.

girl and I showed her the application.

Two or three days later, I got a letter from the Historical Society, telling me I didn't get the job. It was no surprise to me. It must have been a

month after when I got a call from Jay Van Bury's office who is the Administrator for the Outreach Food Stamps Officers. take a job. Then I spoke to Judy Barre. He asked me if I wanted to
"Why

She said,

don't you come into She was asking

the office and we'll talk about it?"

I went the next morning.

me questions and writing something down.

So right then and there she said,

"We are going to have a meeting on such and such and I want you to be there. II
GRAN!' :

GALVIN:

This is Project OUtreach? Yes.

Is this a State Department?

-34GALVIN:

It could be.

That Van Bury, he's the Director of the state Department. I attended another meeting which was a

Yes,

he's in the Centennial Building. briefing.

It was to brief us on what we had to do, orientation and to explain To tell you the truth, I wasn't even listening

to us about the Food Stamps.

to half the things because I feared someone else was going to get it.
GRAN!' :

This was this year? Yes, it was in the middle of April, 1976. Judy said, "You may have to go to I

GALVIN:

Blooming Praire and have an interview with those officers over there." went to Blooming Praire and I met Benevides. Affairs.
GRAN!' :

He belongs to the Migrant

Is that an organization or a state department? A state department. He's one of the officers of this program? Yes, Benevides was there. He took the interview. Then Padres was the AdI never met the people

GALVIN:
GRANl':

GALVIN:

ministrator or coordinator over there of that group. before.
GRAN!' :

Can you tell us briefly what the purpose is of this program? To help the Migrant workers that are up here in the state. here on a temporary basis. They just come

GALVIN:

When they first come they get "zero stacks."

That means they don't have to pay for it.
GRAN!':

Is there anything you'd like to sum up in the interview by mentioning any hopes for the future? Hopes for your children? Al though my future for the

GALVIN:

What kind of hopes can a man have at the age of 65?

present seems ver,y bright, I tell my grandson, not only grandchildren but even somebody-'s else's children: The only way to getup where you can be respected If you like to take

is to be honest, not to drink to make a fool of yourself. a few drinks, take a few drinks. leave it alone.

When you feel the stuff is grabbing you, then Another thing I

You can go and dance, talk and walk around.

always preach to them is: don't ever take a dollar that doesn't belong to you.

-35GALVIN:
It's better that you learn to earn your own mone,y and spend your own money. It is
~

hope that I will live long enough to see discrimination against I told
~

our people vanish.

grandson, Steve, and

~

brother-in-law, who

lives in Madison, Wisconsin when he went into the service, "Ray, when you get in the service, keep your eyes open, ears open, and your mouth shut. You'll go a long way. Don't go over there and start bragging about how In the Army, you meet
a.~_lot

and what you are and what you can do. That's all they want to do.

of people.

They'll shut it for you if you talk too much."
~

So I got the first letter from

grandson.

I told Steve, "When you get there,

keep your eyes open, ears open and you will learn a lot by watching others. Keep your mouth closed. Don't talk too much. Answer questions when they

ask you to advance your position in the service, and you'll be liked and you'll be respected."
GRANl' :

That's mighty sound advice, not

o~

for grandchildren and people going into Well thank you for this interview,

the service, but all around good George.

thi~ing;.·.