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Interview with Crecencia Rangel

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Crecencia Rangel was born in Mexico City in the early 1900s and married in 1921 in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She and her husband settled in St. Paul in 1928 after living in Kansas for some time. She worked in rural and urban Minnesota and was an active member of the Mexican-American community in St. Paul. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Early life in Mexico - the Mexican Revolution - working for the railroad in Kansas - work in Minnesota beet fields in Bird Island, Chaska and St. Bonifacius - problems and development of the Mexican-American community in St. Paul - social and religious groups - observance of special days among Mexican Americans - and her husband's appointment as Mexican consul in 1948 and his involvement in community affairs and in handling language problems and Mexican immigrants in St. Paul.

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3:06:28

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TRANSCRIPT OF AN ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW WITH CRECENCIA RANGEL

This interview was conducted as part of a series on the Mexican American in Minnesota. Mrs. Crecencia Rangel, was born in the early 1900's in Mexico City. married in
~guasca1ientes,

In 1921, she was

Mexico.

Mrs. Rangel spent some time in Kansas when she and In 1928, they arrived in Minnesota. They

her husband first came to the United States.

worked in the fields 'of rural Minnesota, as well as in St. Paul.

Mrs. Rangel was very

active in the development of St. Paul's Mexican American community. Mrs. Rangel recalls some of her experiences while growing up in Mexico. her family and what she remembers from the Mexican Revo1ut·ion. working in Kansas and in the fields of Minnesota. She talks about

Mrs. Rangel describes

As an important member of St. Paul's

Mexican American community, she relates many of the customs and holidays observed by the West Side when she was most active. usual event in her life. This is a translation of a tape recorded interview in Spanish. The original tape reMrs. Rangel closes with the sharing of an un-

cording is available in the Audio-Visual Library of the Minnesota Historical Society.

INTERVIEW WITH CRECENCIA RANGEL JULY 2, 1975 INTERVIEWER: VICTOR BARELA

Barela:

This is Victor Barela interviewing Mrs. Crecencia Rangel, at 897 Ohio Street, West St. Paul, Minnesota 55118. Today is July 2, 1975. This interview is

being conducted as part of the Mexican American Project for the Minnesota Historical Society. for your full name. Rangel: Crecencia Rangel. Rangel. Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: What was your father's name? Anastacio Ortiz. And your mother's? Masedonia Vi1ches. Eduvij en Maya. Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: Do you know when they were born? No, I don't know. Where were you born? I was born in Mexico City. Church. In front of Chapultepec Park, baptized in Tacubaya She was born, raised and My My grandfather was Leonicio Vi1ches and my grandmother was On my father's side I am Ortiz, but my married name is With me is Ramedo Saucedo. I will start by asking you

My mother lived in Mexico City for 15 years.

married in Leon de las Aldamas, in the "Quici1lo" barrio (neighborhood). father was from the "Candelaria" barrio.

They all worked for the government.

They were all sargents and lieutenants, but I don't remember, my mother used to tell me about them. When you are young you don't know that someday you will have What I also need is schooling, which I could

to recall some of your past life.

not get because my father died in Mexico City when I was very young. Saucedo: Where did you meet your husband? Rangel: I met him in Aguascalientes. We were working in the railroad camps. He was also

-2-

Rangel:

working there with his uncle. eleven.

My husband was left an orphan at the age of

Saucedo: How did you get from Aguasca1ientes Rangel: My mother got married in Leon.

to~MexicoCity?

Why did you go' there?

After she was married, one or two of my father's Later my father went to follow his mother,

brothers and his mother left Leon.

by then my father and mother were alreadY married, they went to Mexico to be with his relatives. little girl. to work there. They already had my brother Eu1ogio and I think, also, a She started

That is how and why my mother ended up in Mexico City. My grandparents were farmers.

They worked their land, my grandThis is how they made their

mother, my father's brothers, the whole family. livelihood.

They cultivated the land and then sold the crops at the marketplace. Later whe died and

My grandmother had a little vegetable stand at the market. my mother was left in charge of the whole family. my father and they were married.

This is how she got to know

Later when I visited my mother she showed me I used to go

the church where they were married and the house where they lived. to Mexico to visit my mother quite often. years.

She lived in Mexico City 15 or 16

After they got to Mexico City, the little girl died, and she had another

one, and then I was born. Saucedo: How old were you when you went to Aguasca1ientes? Rangel: I was three or four years old, something like that, because I remember almost like a dream when we got to Leon upon our return from Mexico City. died in Mexico City. My father

There were some of my father's brothers or something, I Later my mother remarried. She

don't remember, anyway we went back to Leon. married a young man from Guanajuato. "Napo1is". He worked in that section.

He took us to a section in Leon called Later, I don't know if he lost his job His job was to repair the rails and Two families in the

or what, he went to work for the railroad. we travelled with him.

We lived in one of the boxcars.

same car, one here and the other there. the yards.

We raised our own chickens and pigs in

The animals even knew when we had to move on, because we would just

-3Rangel: call to the chickens and they would come to the car, and then we would le'ave. During the time of Villa, the same thing would happen, we would be up front of the workers, with Villa's train behind so they could fix the rails because they would come and tear them up ,and then my step-father's crew would have to fix the rails again. But they (Villa's soldiers) never bothered us. The enemy would

come and tell us to fix the rails.

It was a lot of work, but ,they never bothered

the workers because they worked for the railroad. Saucedo: Did you ever get to see a lot of Villistas or Carransistas? Rangel: Carransistas. hacienda. We got to see a battle that took place in La Trinidad with another Later

The government fought against the Carransistas, and they lost.

they came back and the enemy burned everything. office, the telegraph. government train. the little house.

They burned farm tools, the We left on the

So there was no reason for us to stay.

It was full of government soldiers.

We left everything in We left in the The

We only took the "metate" and our clothes'.

train with the soldiers and went back to Aguascalientes from San Gil.

general who was in charge of the soldiers, I don't recall his name, saw that the enemy was coming. The Carransistas were against the Federales, but the train

kept going backwards in reverse, and God helped us so that we freed ourselves from them. Barela: Rangel: How old were you then? I was about 10 ye-ars old, I don't remember for sure. Aguascalientes. By then I had already met Francisco. Then we went to He had known me since I

was seven, because we had worked for the railroad.

Later we were separated beMy husband

cause my mother and Ramedo's grandmother were very good friends.

went to Manzanillo and he was foreman of the railroad making a run from Manzanillo to Guadalajara. the neighborhood. When he came back, I was older and he went to visit From then on he used to visit

That is how I met him again.

uS quite often and then we got married.

-4Barela: Rangel: Was he born in Aguasca1ientes? No, he was born in Lagos de Moreno in the state of Ja1isco. Aguasca1ientes in Flores de San Jose Church. Barela: Rangel: Saucedo: Rangel: When was your husband born? I don't remember, I'd have to get his papers and look it up. How many of your children were born in Mexico? Four of them. Juanita, Nicolas, Fide1a, and Eugenia. Nicolas died in Mexico. We were married in

There were ten children, three boys and seven girls. Barela: Rangel: How old were you when you were married? I was a mother by the age of 15 or 16, something like that, I don't remember. My baptismal certificate was left in Mexico. came a United States citizen. Saucedo: Rangel: How did you decide to come to the United States? We came to visit my aunt, my mother's sister Lorenza, who lived in Topeka, Kansas. Saucedo: Rangel: Barela: Rat:lge1 : Did you come directly to Topeka, Kansas, and how did you get there? We had our way paid in the train because of his work. Do you remember the year? I was married in January of 1921. Eugenia was six months old and every two Later we sent for it, when I be-

years I had a child, so it must have been eight or nine years after I married. Barela: Rangel: Did you ever go back to Mexico after that? No, the reason we stayed here was because we came to visit and we had a pass, but we paid our way in pure gold. They had tables full of gold at the border Instead of getting a passport, we paid to

from people that paid to get across. get across.

When the man asked me if it was temporary, I said, "No", I wanted

to come permanently", because when one goes someplace you never know what might happen. Saucedo: That is how we came across.

Did they give you a document with a picture or something when you crossed the border?

-5Rangel: Yes, after everything was paid for. When we had the fire, our house burned,

everything was destroyed, this was before we became citizens, so later we had to get that information from the immigration office. We did get it because our

records are in the archives in El Paso, Texas, across from Juarez, Mexico. Barela: Rangel: How long did you stay in Topeka?
f~out

two or three days after we arrived I decided that I didn't like it because The Black men that used to go around selling
I would ask my aunt who was yelling, and I I

I could not understand anything.

vegetables scared me when they yelled.

she would explain that it was only the salesman. should go back because I did not like it here.

told my husband that we

could not understand what

people were saying and that he could still get his job back before his vacat·ion expired. Also, our passes were still good.

One night my husband went out with his friends because he was angry when I told him I wanted to leave. He said, "Don't tell me what to do because I came to the

United States to have a good time, you be quiet and don't tell me when to leave." When he came back I noticed that he was a little sad and very quiet. day I went over to my aunt's to help her wash and clean house.
I

The next

When I came back

fOInd my husband crying.

I

asked him what was wrong 'and he told me that the

night before they had met with some gypsies and they had stolen all his money. We could still have gone back because we had our passes and I am sure that people would have helped us feed the children and ourselves.
I

am sure we would have

made it, but we did not want to risk it without any money, and not knowing the language. My husband cried and he was very sad, I told him not to worry because
I

we still had our health and we could find some work. asked her to lend me a grinder and a sack of corn.

talked to my aunt and I

I went around to my aunt's

friends asking them if they liked tortillas made by hand. so I told them to come to my aunt's house. the tortillas. That is how we got started.

They all said yes,

There I would have a place to make Little by little we started to

-6Rangel: accumulate enough money to go back. We almost had enough saved to return to

Mexico, when I met a lady named Celia, a friend of my aunt's who was very interisted in knowing where we came from. band did not have a job. I told her I was very sad because my husI asked her to ask The next week she

They worked in Pomona, Kansas.

her husband if it was possible to find a job for my husband. came back.

My husband had worked in one of the meat packing plants in Topeka, I kept on making tortillas.

but because he did not speak English, they fired him.

Celia told me that they needed another worker and that there, they would give housing, wood and a stove. that section. So we left. They gave the workers everything they would need in

My brother was already 'here in Minnesota because his brother-in-law, who had been a Villista, had escaped during the battle of Zacatecas, the battle where the blood ran like water. bodies were still piled up. We were there 15 days after the battle and the dead We just waited until they buried them so we could When he excaped he came to Minnesota where

lay the rails that needed fixing.

he was married, and that is why my brother came to Topeka and then to Minnesota. When we were in Pomona, Kansas, my husband got very sun burned and he would peel from working so long
o~tside,

on the railroad.

When my brother wrote us, he

told us of how good it was and how there was a packing house that needed workers. So we came to Minnesota. I was pregnant with Maria. She was born one month and

three days after we came here. because of my condition.

I was afraid they would not let me ride the train

So I kept hiding so they would not see me because I So this is how we came to Minnesota. My husband

wanted to get out of there.

started working at Cudahy's Packing Plant, where he worked for twenty-five years. Barela: Rangel: When did you leave Pomona? We were there a winter. Juanita was seven years old and she went to school there.

I don't remember how long we were there. Barela: Rangel: Did you have any other children when you were in Pomona? No, only the ones that we had in Mexico. But I. was pregnant again.
I had three

-7Rangel: children with
me~

one baby had died in Mexico. She was born in Mexico.

Eugenia was the baby and she was

six months old.

We were there one winter and the fo1-

lowing summer we went to Pomona, so we did not work very long making tortillas. Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: Did you keep selling tortillas in Pomona? No, my husband had a job, so I would stay home with the children. Did you come in the train? Yes, with money that my husband had earned to come to Minnesota. How much did you sell the tortillas for? At 25 cents a dozen. From Pomona you came directly to St. Paul? Yes, and we have never left. I made the first tacos for the society.
[Lui SJ

Do you remember?

I can't remember what it was called. The name was Azteca Society. And in the

The orchestra of Garzon played for it.
1\

same year, I think, 1928, Maria was born.

It was around Christimas time that I don't re-

we had the first tacos, I don't remember if it was 1928 or 1929. member what the occassion was. did not like corn tortillas. Barela: Rangel: Was this like a party?

The first tacos were made of flour, because they

Yes, it was a benefit dance to buy toys for the Mexican children for Christmas. That is where I introduced the first tacos. I introduced the first pinata. Later, I can't remember the year,

The newpaper took a picture while I was hanging I worked with

the pinata at one of the institutes in Minneapolis or St. Paul.

a lady named Black, introducing the Mexican dishes in Montevideo with Juanita and Eugenia. We had some important people from Washington, and in the hotels We got together to show the different foods

we also presented Mexican dishes. of different nations. Barela: Rangel:

But I can't remember the date.

Did you have a lot of problems because you did not speak English? No, we did not speak English. I was a member of the
Institut~

with the whole

family and all the house workers.

When the "braceros" first came I would take

-8Rangel about twenty-five workers and my whole family and I would direct the chorus for the 16th of September, I'd go to the meetings to honor Hidalgo. the whole program. We organize

Juanita and I would put on the whole program for the 16th, My children, since they were small,

this was for the benefit of the church. were taught hymns.

Once I worked for three or four months putting together some And I still do it for the I dress them as little

Mexican hymns for the children to sing at the church. 12th of December, that's Our Lady of Guadalupe's Day. Mexican Indians of a long time ago. in Mexico.

The little Indians when the Virgin appeared

Bernardino was stabbed in the heart because he was found praying.

The Indians did not believe in God; so, whoever prayed, they disliked. Bernardino got well because Juan Diego had seen the Virgin four times in which they talked. He was in a hurry looking for a doctor for his uncle Bernardino, When he came back, his sister asked why he had taken

who was wounded,by Temoc.

so long and Juan Diego replied that a Virgin had talked to him and told him his uncle was well. well. Because the Virgin's spirit had appeared to him, Bernardino got Her name was Mary

The Virgin told Bernardino to publicize his miracle.

of Guadalupe.

This is-why he got a group of little Indians together they went

and gave thanks, they were dressed like they used to before, with "huaraches",) "cintitos", and "calzoncitos." After the had gone to give their thanks, they

would sing their praises like "0 Maria Madre Mia", and since then this is sung allover Mexico. This is why I form groups of up to 75 children. But now,

little by little it seems as though people are losing their faith in God, so we don't get as many to participate. I have been doing this for about thirty years.
'U

I also do it because when I was a child I sa t on my mother's stove and got badly burned. I did not go to a doctor or anything. My mother cured me. I

don't have any scars. only daughter. Indian.

She prayed to the Virgin to cure me because I was her

She promised she would take me to the Basilica dressed as an I thank God.

I remember that promise and I have kept it faithfully.

He wanted me to live, otherwise I wouldn't have lived.

-9Barela: Rangel: When you first arfived in Minnesota, were you active in different doings?
r

In 1930 there was a layoff at the packing house and we went to work in the beet fields that year. We all went. We left in March and we almost froze beThey gave us a petroleum or kerosene

cause we did not know that it was so cold. stove and a grainery to live in. some wood cabinets.

We fixed the grainery with newspaper and put
Aft~r

We left to work in the beet fields in Bird Island.

work we went home and made dinner, it was around this time of the year, a comadre came over and after dinner she said she would help with the dishes and she put an aluminum pan with water on the stove, the flame went up and the paper and cabinets caught fire and everything went up in flames. When it got dark we Even

stood under a tree with the children around us, some were even barefoot. Agustin's bottle went up in the flames. eight days.

Some friends took us to their home for

But when you have a family it is hard to live cooped up like that.

We came back and cleared up under the trees and we used some of the scraps left over from a highway construction crew. we slept. We made a little house and that is where

The farmer was mad and wouldn't give us another place to stay, he Whatever has happened to us has not been our

said we had burned his place down. doing.. Barela: Rangel:

When you first came to St. Pau1',where did you live? We lived on Eaton. member the address. A little house that was separated in the back. I can't re-

Barela: Rangel:

Did you have a wood burning stove? Yes, we had a wood burning stove. any gas then. We would put in coal and wood. There wasn't

When we first came there wasn't even bread.

We had to make the

bread ourselves. Barela; Rangel: Did you have to carry in water? No, that we did have. We also had baths. The Jewish people lived there before We had

us, but they moved out when we came in, because they did not like us. some problems with them.

After the fire, I had a child in Bird Island on

-10Rangel: October 19th. My daughter Genoveva was born under the trees. The farmer did

not want to give us another house because he thought we burned the grainery on purpose. He was upset because the animals were right behind us and during the So he would not give us another place to live in As a result of that

fire all the animals got out.

and we had to complete our work even though I was pregnant.

the child was born with a bone deformation because I worked on my knees with the short hoe, we were trying so hard to finish the work so that we could get back to St. Paul in time for my child to be born. Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: How long did you live here in St. Paul before going out to work in the beets? It must have been almost a year. Did your husband start working with his activities right away? Right away. This was the reason why he started, because I gave birth to my After we had completed the work, the farmer brought But half way here, it had only been ten days since

daughter under the trees. us in his car to St. Paul.

I had given birth, before we got to Chaska, one of the chains of the trailer broke off and my brother was on top of the trailer, but since we could not speak through the glass window, all I could do was scream but he could not feel that lhe back chain had broken off. My brother jumped off the trailer. I let out a

scream and finally he felt that the chain was broken and the car ended in the ditch, otherwise we would have all ended up in the ditch. When we got to Chaska

some of the people helped my bnother, whom I thought was dead, but God took care of him because nothing happened to him. I guess he had wrapped himself up in a All the traffic had stopped to look.

blanket and it kept him from getting hurt.

When we got to Chaska, the farmer was afraid to come to St. Paul because there were so many Mexicans and he was afraid of them. for what had happened. He felt he might be blamed He

Then my husband got off at the office in Chaska.

needed someone to interpret for him, finally he told a lady what had happened and the farmer was listening, so he was afraid to bring us to St. Paul. My

husband was very upset about the whole thing because they took away the trailer

-11Rangel: and the car did not work and it was raining and I had my 10 day old baby. It

was a very frustrating experience because neither one us spoke the language. Finally they asked for a truck from Chaska to bring us to St. Paul. When we

got to St. Paul, my husband wrote a letter to Mexico telling them how we had been treated. He had a lot of i:friends that were important people in Mexico. Even

My husband could have been one of them if he would have stayed in Mexico. now, my husband's friend, Mi11ares, is still an important person. Barela: Rangel: Who did your husband address his letter to?

I don't know who he addressed it to in Mexico, but he told them what had happened to us. He also had other information from other Mexican workers, such as But the worst

the farmers would not pay them for the acres that they worked.

part of it was that none of us could speak English to defend ourselves, including myself. When we got back my husband was called back to his job. He was an

inspector of skins in the packing house. farm work.

Later, the girls and I went back to I took the little ones, My

They were very good at it I taught them.

even if they cried.

We worked for the pea factory in Osseo, Minnesota.

husband had a lot of data concerning the Mexican workers.

The farmers would

not pay them for their work and sometimes some of them were injured by the tractors and horses. I don't know exactly all the details, but my husband did And this is how he got started in the other activities. He just did it out of the goodness of his heart.

not like all these things.

He did not receive any salary. Barela: Rangel:

Were there a lot of farmers that did all those things? Yes, I kept working on the fields. One time when I was working with my daughters, He did not
~ay

the farmer cheated us of seven acres. Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: How much did you get paid per acre?

us for them.

I don't remember if it was $17 or $16 per acre. Did your husband want to go back to working the beets? No, he went back to work for Cudahy, here in St. Paul. Later, when it closed This is when he had

down, my husband worked for five years at American Hoist.

-12Rangel: a heart attack. This is how we ended up staying here. with Mexico. My husband started this way corresponding

I have those letters somewhere, addressed to him, where they All those that we have are complaints from other

praise him very highly.

Mexicans telling about some of the things that happened to them. Barela: Rangel: Did the officials pay any attention here in Minnesota? Yes, the first records that he presented at the Neighborhood House. There was

an incident at the school where they talked about how they only gave us the beet work, that there wasn't any choice for the Mexicans. the Mexicans because we were in the minority. the animals that work in the soil. ness do you have in school?" how they treated us. They did not care about You are like What busiThis is

"What do ypu know?

What civilization do you have?

And my daughter Juanita would defend us.

That is why my husband started to send for books so they Now there is no need for that be-

could see that it was not like that at all. cause so many tourists go to Mexico. Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel:

Do you remember the first organizations that united the Mexicans that were here? I don't remember, but they are there in the books. Is this what encouraged him to do something? No, he got an answer to all the complaints that he told them about. When the

second or first "braceros", I can't remember, of the complaints that he wrote about, the Munoz were already here, they were very young.
'-----

And Cruz Gallo lived

by the river and they took a picture of her with a pig in her kitchen eating corn. And there was an article in the paper which said the Mexicans ate corn

like the pigs.

My husband was very upset with that.

He tore out the articles
Munoz~

and sent them to Mexico.

Later they took a picture of the younger

all

dirty with big shirts, all badly dressed and again it appeared in the newpaper, telling about the Mexicans. Barela: Rangel: He again tore the article and sent it to Mexico.

Was this in the St. Paul Paper? Yes.

-13-

Barela: Rangel:

Do you remember the year? No, but it did come out in the paper. and he did not like, he sent to Mexico. Every article my husband saw in the paper There were a lot of complaints. Some

of them were still very sickly and weak from their operations. were very thin like skeletons. Our home was always full.

Some of them

It was like a hospital

and a restaurant and God helped us for everything. Barela: Rangel: And you were like a nurse? Yes, I was like a nurse because I took care of them. otherwise, but it isn't so. Although rumors have it Some of them

It was because I took care of them.

suffered from bronchitis and I would put plasters (Velladona) for their cough. The men always talked about me, saying that I knew how to cure them. not care as long as they were grateful for what I did for them. how my husband started to do things for the Mexicans. But I did

And this is

He organized a society, And later

I don't recalled the exact name of it, but is all there in the books. he organized the auxiliary for/the same society. Barela: Rangel: Did you take part in this?

No, the first ones were myself, Rosa Campa, Lola Rodriguez, Elvira Coronado and Father Guillemette. with Father's help. We were the ones that organized the Society of Guadalupe There were the four of us and Father, we were the first.

I belonged to it for many years, but I dropped out because there were too many differences of opinion, plus I don't write. I never went to school because I

was an orphan and I had to work to help my mother. and write.

My brothers know how to read

I recognize the numbers but I never had the opportunity to learn be-

cause of the chores in the home, which were very hard, plus I was also very active in the festivities of the 16th of September and Christ's Passion plays and dances that we would put on for the benefit of the church. There were so

many things that had to be done for the Guadalupe Society and Anahuac which was later formed. I was a member of both and I was one of the pUblicity managers

for the dances and the programs and chorus.

-14Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: Did you go out in the streets? Yes" we had a parade from the Neighborhood House to the Auditorium. Where did you live then, after returning from the beet work? We lived on State Street. We rented from a Jewish man, but since we had so

many children, he kicked us out in the winter time, he put us out in the street. We found another house also on State Street. and we also lived on Eva Street. Later we moved to Kentucky Street When

We later bought a house on Eva Street.

we lived on East Fairfield we worked very hard. Barela: So you used to help many people with food and medical attention. band also help many people? Rangel: Yes, they would take up collections to help each other among the same members of the society. When anyone needed help, such as food or clothing, the members Did your hus-

of the Women Auxiliary would get together and take the needy families food, clothing and also money. Barela: Rangel: Did y,ou have dinners? Yes, we had benefit dinners for different purposes. put on a dance ,and a dinner for the young people. Almost every month I would

We would sell tacos, enchiladas, We would also, put on dances
~lTas

or whatever we could find to sell for the auxiliary. for the church and different things like that.

Upstairs, when

the first part

of the church, later they bought the whole building, the downstairs was a pool hall, so we kept expanding. This is where Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was.

Upstairs was where we first started making the tacos every two weeks or once a month to raise funds for the church. My husband was one of the men who was

honored by putting the first stone in the altar along with Ramedo Saucedo's father. Barela: Rangel: There were many others, but I don't know where they are now. Was he an educated man? Whenever anyone needed Especially when

Did your husband know how to read and write?

Yes, he knew how to type and he liked to write letters.

a letter they would tell him and he would write it for them.

they invited the Consul from Chicago, we would have dinners for them at the

-15Rangel: Barela: Rangel: the Neighborhood House. Why did the Consuls come to St. Paul? They would come to talk to the Mexican people, to encourage and advise them, to keep going in spite of the discrimination that we were faced with. Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: Did they help you out with some of your problems? Yes. Is this how your husband started corresponding with the Consuls? Yes, those in Chicago and in Mexico. The letters are all there.

Did everyone from the "barrio" come to your husband for help? Yes, there was even a case when someone needed counseling with their marital problems, something about a separation. self with everything. They all came, he would involved him-

Barela: Rangel:

Do you recall any of the other cases that he helped with? There was a man called Cortinas, who was killed by the Anglos. They hit him on He

the head with ropes or something like that and they cut all his hair off. was related to Amador. There were many other cases.

Chucho's father-in-law

was also killed by the Anglos, at a bar) I think that is also in those papers there. Chucho!'>s wife's name is Antonia Hernandez, her husband Chucho was lame,

anyway, she is still living. Saucedo: Rangel: What was Cortinas last name? I don't recalled, but they brought him already dead and I went to his wake. I

prayed the rosary for him at the wake. The other, Antonia's mother is Maria, she is still living I don't remember her husband's name. There are a lot of things

I don't recall, but if you want to know more about it, there are records of all these things in Mexico. Barela: Rangel: Who would come? My husband kept the copies.

Did the Mexican Government write to the police here?

The immigration officers were good friends of my husband and they would come to our house. And my husband, whenever he knew of anyone who was a wetback, (illeThe

gally here) he would go talk to the immigration and get a permit for them.

-16Rangel: immigration would let them stay here for three months to work and after that they would return to Mexico. They would stay at our house. During all the

complaints some of the officials from Mexico came dressed as civilians, lawyers and other government officials, they worked in the beet fields to see for themselves how they were treated, to verify the reports that Pancho, my husband, had written them about. There were many complaints that in Texas some of the

places would not sell food to the "br aceros" and Some of these were closed down. Pancho would spend hours writing letters and listening to people's problems. The officials that came from Mexico would complaint of how hard the beet work was, especially since they were not used to such work. The "braceros" deserted

all the fields and the immigration officials would go to get them out of their house. That was the only 16th of September when it was so beautiful that it I chose a bald headed man to play Hidalgo and others for

looked like Mexico. other parts.

We got a group of them to carry the banner from the Neighborhood Many of the men from the armed forces got together I had a group of girls dressed as China Pob1anas on the Maria, my comadre

House to the Auditorium. and formed a squadron. back of a truck.

We had a little girl dressed as queen.

Luisaand:wou1d take" care of all these things. these activities. it would cost.

Since I came we started all

I liked to involved all my children regardless of how much When I go to Mexico I

Even now I don't care about the cost.

bring them a lot of things so they can keep up the traditions and celebrations. Barela: Rangel: Were there a lot of other Mexican people here in St. Paul? Not top many, but there were some. Coronado and Monita's. Barela: Rangel: The Vasquez, Guerra, Lopez, Julia Sanchez,

I don't exactly remember all the people.

Did some Qf the people practice their Mexican traditions? In the Azteca Club, Luisa Guerra, would dance the "Jarabe", it was the only thing they did. When the Anahuac Society was started, I was the first one to

do other dances and I made the first Mexican costume for my daughter Juanita. Her picture appeared in the newspaper taken by the airport with her Mexican

-17Rangel: costume which I made for her. It wasn't until later, when I went to Mexico,

that I bought them their own costumes. Barela: Rangel: Did you celebrate Christmas and the Posadas? I was the first one to start the Posadas at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, but I don't remember what year it was. charge of the Posadas. has one. Barela: Rangel: You did the Posadas, even in the harsh winter weather? Yes, even in harsh weather. I would go knocking on doors in the colony asking We would get a lot of candy Vita, Lola, my oldest girls and me, were in

There is a film of some of the Posadas, I think Victoria

people for donations to buy candy for the children. for the children. "Pastorela".

I don't remember if two, or one year, my husband presented a My husband

The first "Pastorelas ll were presented by Mr. Zamora.

would write up the script for it.

Including chants, dialogues and narrations. It wasn't too long ago that

We would present this at the Neighborhood House.

they displayed the newspaper clippings and photographs at the Neighborhood House, of things that we did in the past. Barela: Rangel: Do you recall some of the schools your children attended? Lafayette. Mechanics. Mechanics. That was where all rr.:r children went to school. Later they went to

My youngest, Raquel, went to Humboldt, but all the others went to

Kiko went to a Catholic School for two years, he did not like it so The school was very close. We lived for twenty-

he quit and went to Lafayette. two years at East Fairfield. lived downstairs.

The place burned down because of the drunks that

We were left on the street, but we had the help of many people The priest from the church, Father Ward, gave me $50,

with clothing and dishes. he has since died. Barela: Rangel:

It was such a tragedy.

Was your husband always a secretary? Yes, in Mexico. is syndicated. He was secretary of the Railroad when it was a Cron, now it All the offices are syndicated now.

Have you ever been to Mexico City?

-18Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: Yes. Have you been to Aguascalientes? No, I have not been to Aguascalientes. That is where they have their big offices, in Aguascalientes. Did you celebrate weddings too? Yes, the first wedding was the Lopez' wedding. The second wedding was Juanita's.

It was the biggest wedding that we had, about forty couples accompanied her. We celebrated the wedding at the Neighborhood House with a dinner and a dance. Eugenia started an orchestra with Nicolas Castillo. of the orchestra. In January 20, 1961 my husband died. One day before Kiko' s birthday. We had Later my son was also part

always celebrated his birthday since his first birthday, but that year we did not celebrated. Barela: Rangel: Kiko was with your husband when he died? Yes, my son Kiko and my daughter Raquel were the only ones that were home when their father died. cough. I had just gone back to work after staying home with a bad

That morning before leaving for work, my husband asked, "are you really And I told him that ) was well enough. He

well enough to go back to work?"

said, "I want you to come home by 3: o'clock, come right home, don't stop to cash your check. Tell your driver to bring you right to the door because it's

awfully cold and you might get sick again; besides that is what you pay him for." He asked me how much I owed the driver, I said $1.50, and he gave it to me. He opened the screen door for me. I left and he stayed by the door. About a

block away I somehow or something made me look back and he was still by the door watching me. When the foreman told me there was an emergency at home, I He died of a heart

thought maybe one of the school children had been hurt. attack. My husband had never really liked it here.

He especially wanted the

children to be educated in Mexico, that is why he bought the houses in Mexico. After he died, I had no need for those houses so I gave one to my brother-in-law

-19-

Rangel: Barela: Rangel:

and the other to my sister. Can you tell me which of your relatives are still living?

My brother Jose Ortiz, his children are:

Carmelita Ortiz and Javier Ortiz. Juan, Mario, Jesus, and

My sister, Maria Ortiz Trujillo, her children are: Lola Truj illo. Barela: Rangel: Where do they live? In Juarez, Mexico.

My sister has a bakery on Vicente Guerrero Street.

The

name of the bakery is "La Paz."

My niece, Lola, has a s tore nearby the bakery,

I don't remember the name of the street. Street. Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel: Barela: Rangel:

My brother lives on Jose Gorrunda

And all your sons and daughters, do they all live here? Yes, except for one daughter in California, Eugenia. Who did she marry? She married Benjamin. Is he from Minnesota? He was born and raised in California. The ones that live in Minnesota are:
m~n,

Kiko, Agustin, Raquel:and Fidela are married to Black Jose Gaona. Barela: Rangel:

Genoveva married

Do you still do a lot of Mexican cooking for your family? Every so often we prepare them for special occassions. prepare the foods now. It's harder for me to

Saucedo: Rangel:

But you still eat the "tortilla", "frijol", "sopa de arroz?" Yes, we still eat tortillas, sopa, frijoles. grinder to prepare the tortillas. them how to make the tortillas. I have a "metate" and a corn

The other day I went to Mi Cultura to show They filmed the whole thing for televison, but About three weeks ago I made a

now they told me that they had lost the film. dinner for 300dhildren at Cherokee School.

I made enchiladas, sope de fideo, People often call me to make

sopa de arroz, tortillas and even cinnamon tea. "mole" or other l-lexican food for them.

1'm always happy to do it, if they give

-20Rangel: Saucedo: Rangel: me enough time in which to do it. Do you still celebrate the Posadas? No, we don't because there are not enough people that want to participate. young people do not seem to be interested. don't have a chance to get involved. the church choir. The

And since I live so far away now I

Juanita used to teach the children for If we

But now our choir is made up of mostly older ladies.

could get the young people interested, maybe we could start again. Saucedo: That could easily be done by getting the young people from Roosevelt or Humboldt schools. Rangel: Barela: Yes. Do we have your permission to give this recording to the Minnesota Historical Society where it will be heard by anyone who wants to use the tape? Rangel: Barela: Yes. Thank you very much for the interview.

.)

THE STORY OF THE INDIAN BY : MRS. RANGEL

Rangel:

Once there was an Indian.

An Indian from long ago because he wore a white

feather in his head, a black cape and leggings. Barela: Rangel: Where did this happen? Here in Minnesota. still there. I can't remember the name of the farm or town. It's

Anyway, it was by' a tree.

I didn't see him at first, Eugenia

and Maria saw him. when I saw Maria.

Maria was sitting by a window and I was sitting near by, She stood up suddenly, threw down the book that she had She said, "I saw him from far away and before I knew I saw his shoes and leggings. I looked him up and

been reading and ran.

it, it was in from of me. down. Barela: Rangel:

He had a cape to the side and a feather in his head."

Outside the house? Yes, the house wasn't far from there. working the beet fields. running. We were by Victor Zamora. We were

Anyway, I went to Maria and asked her why she was I said, "What man?" She explained to

She said, "Oh mama, a man."

me what the man looked like. shoes by the little tree.

She came in bare footed because she left her

The next day she asked me where her shoes wer,e,

and then she remembered, she sent one of the boys to get her shoes because she was scared. Another time we were going to have a program. ging around with a hoe and they hit some metal. chains and a lot of noise by the same tree. started running. girls? They came to me. They were outside playing, digThen they started to hear

They threw down the hoe and

I said, "Well, what's the matter with you They said, "Oh mama, there are chains I scold them and they didn't play

You were out there playing I

and noises."

I told them they were crazy.

-2with the hoe anymore. There was a boy who's name was Gregorio, he was about 13 years old. One time He

Rangel:

I told him to come in because we had to get up early the next morning.

said, O.K., but don't shut the door because I am going to be outside for a while. A little later I heard a scream, a loud scream. It was a beautiful

night outside, the moon was shinning over the tress. I found him
layin~

I ran outside and there

on the ground, like a crossl

I grabbed him and I thought,

"He is dead", Then I thought, "No, it is that a dead person spoke to him." I screamed to the girls, "Bring me the salt and an onion." All the girls There

would do was throw it out the window to me because they were scared. I was with the half-dead boy. around.

I gave him the salt so that he would come

I screamed to the girls to tell Victor and Chemo to help me bring I couldn't leave him out there. So we took him in the He finally

him into the house.

house and we started putting alcohol, onion and lemon on him. started to talk. and he grabbed me. happen to me." I said, "What happen to you 7"

He said, "A man was coming Then I don't know what

I didn't know what he was saying.

I told him that he was a coward.

Everybody else left and I looked around the

the boy started taling again.

I wanted to go outside.

house, I was going to go outside because there was a jar outside, I decided I was going to bring it in. scared. If the girls went outside again they might get He could harely I went outI had

When I passed by my son he grabbed me bT-my dress.

talk and he was pointing that there was the man outside the door. side.

I went to where the boy had fallen, I went by the outhouse too.

some long matches and a candle, but I didn't see anything. heard was dirt breaking up, like someone walking. anything.

The only thing I

I looked but It wasn't

My little boy wouldn't stay at home after that, so I had to take I had a lot of work, plus the children. I

him with me to the beet fields.

-3Rangel: would get so angry because the child wouldn't stay home. Once we went out and Chemo st!Ad, "Is it 12 my watch?" I got up and looked at the sun. o'clock yet, because I don't have It wasn't 12 o'clock yet. But

we left anyway. him." broom.

I said, "It's just that he is scared and I am going to cure

So on the way home I cut a lot of weeds, brush and grass to make a When we got home he was really tired, he said that when he looked at It,;,was the dead man who wanted to

the shadows of the :tree he felt .sleep.y. talk to him. to do it.

I told ,him to talk to the dead man, but he didn't have the nerve

So I started praying, I said three creeds, I swept and swept and

I screamed three times, I swept over him twice, one for the water and one for the river. The child was cured. After that he would go and stay out late at

night playing with the rest of the farmers. Later Eugenia was rocking in a hammock I made. behind her. She heard some steps coming But

When whe heard the steps, she jumped and ran into the house.

no one, not eveR I, told the farmer that we were digging or that we found anything. I didn't think anything. I just worked in the fields with the children. It was close to Cosmos

I don't remember the name of the farmer or the town. and Bird Island, here in Minnesota. because he was starting to talk.

Kiko was about three or four, maybe less,

It must have been about 1939.