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Interview with Marcelino and Irene Rivera



Marcelino Rivera was born in Mexico City in 1906, fought in the Mexican Revolution and left the army when he was 18 to come to the United States. He crossed the river into Texas and worked at various jobs, ending up in St. Paul, where he met his wife. Irene Rivera was born in Texas in 1910. She worked in the fields before coming to Minnesota in 1925. She settled in St. Paul in 1931. The Riveras were married in New Ulm, Minn., in 1932. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Marcelino Rivera's life in Mexico and the United States - Irene Rivera's life in the United States - community life on the West Side in St. Paul - the Our Lady of Guadalupana Society, established in 1931 - community customs and celebrations - and advice to younger Mexican Americans. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Irene Rivera spoke for Marcelino Rivera, who was ill.





World Region




This interview was conducted as part of a series on the Mexican American in Minnesota. Mr. Rivera, was born in }rexico City, Mexico in 1906. Revolution for six years. He fought in the Mexican

At the age of eighteen he came to the United States.

He crossed the river into Texas. Mrs. Rivera, was born in Texas in 1910. to

She worked in the fields before coming

in 1925.

Marcelino and Irene Rivera were married in New Ulm, Minnesota

in 1932. Mrs. Rivera, spoke for Mr. Rivera who was ill. She told about his life in Mexico

and in the United States.

She related experiences from their life together on

St. Paul's West Side, especially discussing the customs and celebrations of the Mexican American who resided there. also given. 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 Some history of the Guadalupana Society is

in the Audio-Visual Library of the Minnesota Historical Society.



This is an interview for the Historical Society, made in conjunction with the Mexican American History Project, on August 19, 1975. Marcelino Rivera.

I am interviewing

Mr. and Mrs.

the fact that Marcelino Rivera is ill at this time, Mrs. We are at 1099 Gorman Avenue, which is the

Rivera, Irene, will be speaking for him. residence of Mr. and Mrs. Rivera.

First of all Mrs. Rivera, could you tell us someWho were his parents? How did

thing about the life of Marcelino, where was he born? he happ_en to come to Minnesota? Rivera:

Marcelino Lopez Rivera, was born in Mexico City, on June 2, 1906.

His father's name They were

was Crecenciano Rivera, his mother's name was Candelaria Lopez de Rivera. both born in Mexico City.

Marcelino started working when he was twelve or thirteen He didn't go to school, because they couldn't afford His mother always worked at He had to ask He only

years old in whatever he could.

to feed the children, unless he helped to support,-, them. home only.

Marcelino remembers that they were very strict with him.

permission whenever he wanted to go someplace, or else he would be punished.

remembers that his mother had a garden of herbs, these were all that she would use for any sickness, they never saw a doctor. Juarez: We understand that Marcelino was in Mexico during the Revolution. something about his life in Mexico during the Revolution? Rivera: Marcelino says that when his mother died, he was fourteen years old. Revolution with the Government, not with the other ones. Figurosa in the Revolution for six years. army. He joined the Could you tell us

They were fighting against

When he was eighteen, he got out of the He came as a Wachelor

That's when he decided to come to the United States.

to the United States.

He came to work in Texas; he would take the roots off the trees At that time, they didn't need any

and work in the cotton fields.




just crossed the river.

They call them "wet-backs."

He came in 1927.

From Texas

he worked his way through to Louisiana.

In Louisiana he worked on the railroad. He came to

Then he went to Michigan, where he started working in construction.

Minnesota in 1931, where he started working in the beet fields in Lafayette, Minnesota. In the winter he would come to St. Paul, and in the spring he would go back to Lafayette to work in the beet fields. In St. Paul he couldn't get a job, so he would cut trees He did that

and sell the wood, at that time they were using wood stoves for heat. until 1932, when he started working at Cudahay Packing House.

When he came to From then on we

St. Paul, we met ina dance that they had at the Neighborhood House.

were going together until 1932, when we got married in New U1m, Minnesota. Juarez: Rivera: Juarez: Rivera: Did Marcelino have any schooling in the United States? No, he only went to classes at the Institute. International Institute? International Institute. He learned to speak English. That's the only thing he Then he obtained

suffered with, the language, he was always trying to learn English. his citizenship papers.

Because I was born.in the United States, he didn't have any We got married in 1932, and that's the last time that He started working at Cudahay and stayed there until

trouble in getting his papers. we worked in the beet fields. the plant closed in 1954.

When we first came to St. Paul, we were living in a basement on Indiana, paying only seven dollars a month. Then we moved to State Street, we were there for thirteen years

and all the children were born there. Juarez: Rivera: Was State Street on the West Side? On the "West Side Flats". area is now. Juarez: Rivera: Juarez: And that's in St. Paul? That's in St. Paul. Irene, now that you told us something about Marcelino, could you tell us something That's what they used to call them, where the commercial



about your life? Minnesota?

Where were you born?

Who your parents were?

How you came to


I was born in Marathon, Texas, April 6, 1910.

My father's name was Deciderio Alcantar, They were on their way to Garden

and my mother's was Elifonsa Santiago de Alcantar.

City, Kansas and stopped at Marathon, Texas until my mother was strong enough to continue the journey after giving birth to me. My sister was born in Garden City, Kansas. I only remember that when we came All of my brothers worked in

I don't remember much about our life when we came. I worked in the beet fields. I was seven years old.

the beet fields with my dad and mother. stayed about fifteen years.

From there we went to Colorado, where we

My dad worked in the beet fiellds and corn fields then. They had coal mines in Denver, Colorado.

In the winter, they 'worked in the mines. My father died in 1925. here.

My mother came to St. Paul, because she had an older sister

We came through the Sugar Company, the Sugar Company was paying for the transThat's how we came

portation of the people if they would work in the beet fields. to St. Paul.

Then we worked in Hector, Minnesota for two years in the beet fields.

Next we came to St. Paul and my brothers and I started working in the Cudahay Packing House in 1931. We have lived here since 1931. We have never moved out of St. Paul.

They used to have "Jamaicas" and dances in the Neighborhood House where we used to go.

My brother used to take me to the dances.

There's nothing more that I can say. But by then I was married.

We were there by ourselves after my mother died in 1935. Juarez: Rivera: Juarez: Rivera: How many sisters and brothers did you have? I had three sisters and two brothers . Are they all living today? Only the oldest one is dead. are my two sisters. Juarez: Rivera:

Gregoria Rivera, and Antonia Lozano are living.


My two brothers passed away.

Did Marcelino have any other family? He had two brothers and one sister. left for the service. But he lost contact with them in 1920, when he He was only there fourteen

It was the last time he saw them.

-4Rivera: years. We have been going back to Mexico. He has tried to locate his oldest brother. He remembers that

He thinks the he lives in Mexico City, but he has never found him. he has two brothers and one sister and that's all. Juarez:

Irene, now that you told us about yourself, could you tell us about or how you met Marcelino? When did you get married? How has your life been here in St. Paul?


We were married in 1932 in New Ulm, Minnesota, August 25, 1932, at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. We stayed there in September and October to cut beets. That was

the last time we worked in the beet field.

We came to St. Paul for the winter, but I had worked

we stayed here because he started working at the Cudahay Packing House.

there also, but I had to quit when I got married, because he didn't like a working wife. At that time, he thougfut the wife had to stay home and take care of the children. That was on the corner of Fairfield. In 1934, my

We lived at 138 State Street. oldest, Manuel, was born. Juarez:

We still lived on State Street. What things happened there?

What do you remember about living on the West Side?

Were there a lot of Mexican people when you first moved to the West Side? Rivera: Yes, all the old-times are gone now, but there were quite a few Mexican families that associated with each other and were very friendly. we were. They were about the same age as When

Now, of course, some of them are scattered around, and some are dead.

we were there they had the "Sociedad Anahuac", we joined that society. tiful festivities: for the 16th of September, the 5th of May.

They had beau-

For Christmas they

used to have an Indian dance called "Danzantes". used to teach the younger people how to put on

Mr. Francisco Rangel and his wife They had beautiful plays for Marcelino


the twe]th of December, when they used to have the Novena in our church. belonged to the Sacred Heart Society too. were very united. We were all very poor.

All of our families got together and they But people were always donating to the

church, and for the dances they had. Virgin on the twelfth of December.

They had the dance for the Apparition of the Mrs. Francisca Elizondo was the one that had the She presented that beautiful play, where

book and showed the kids how to do it.

Mr. Leonso Morales, now deceased, played "Juan Diego" and Juanita Rangel played the

part of "La Virgen". to learn their parts. people are in Mexico.

Mrs. Elizondo, like I said, presented it. The older people were very united.

She showed them how

That's how the Mexican Whenever we had a bap-

Then of course, we had more children.

tism, all of our friends were invited.

We had a dinner and sometimes a little dance.

Whenever their was a baptism or first communion, all the families got together to celebrate. Everybody was friendly. You don't see people like that anymore. That's the year my mother died. Marie was

My daughter, Helen, was born in 1935. born in 1939, then Gloria, then Martin. school bus accident. Juarez: Rivera: What was his name? Martin Rivera. to try the sled.

I had a little boy that was killed in a

a Sunday, November 9th, the first snow had fallen and they wanted They were coming back when he let go of Manuel's hand. Manuel al-

ways took care of him, being the oldest. too short.

He got trapped by a school bus that turned They were going to come Of course, everybody We lived there for Then we

My son was dead before they came to tell me.

home by two o'clock, because they had a play in the church. came to see us. another year.

That was the first tragedy in our married life.

It was about thirteen years that we lived in that house. All the children were born by then;

bought a house on Ada Street. Gloria.

Marie, Shirley,

They were all born in those flats.

We moved to 479 Ada in 1938, where the

highrise is now.

We lived there for another thirteen years, until the government The children all went to school and graduated. Manuel went to Humboldt. He didn't

took the house to build the highrise.

The four girls graduated from Mechanic Arts. graduate; because he joined the army.

He went into the service before he was sixteen. After he came home . from the service, he Then he went to Vocational

He got his education through the government.

went to Globe Business Gollege, where he took accounting. School and became an electrician. Wyoming Street.

He is now married and they bought a house on Helen finished school and became a beautician.

I am very proud of him.



She was working as a beautician for a long time, until she got married. uated from Meahanic Arts, she was very good at sewing.

Marie grad-

She wanted to earn money, so

when she got out of school instead of continuing with her sewing, she went to work at Armouts. Then she got married. Now she is going to school. Gloria graduated and She

took typing, she is a secretary.

Shirley always was interested in the hospital.

wanted to be a nurse, but a year after she graduated from high school, she got married. Now they are going to school and they are advancing themselves. Juarez: Mrs. Rivera, now that you have told us about your family, could you tell us some other things that you remember about your life on the West Side? Rivera: The older Mexican people were friendly. We always got together in different things.

Like Mr. Gabriel Avaloz, now deceased; Senor Alfonso de Leon; la ,familia Coronado; Mrs. Guadalupe Cruz, were all living on Eaton Street. houses and beautiful flowe'l" gardens. They had


L lived upstairs and I always used to think

that someday when I'd move, I would have a garden of my own, because I loved flowers. Mrs. Coronado had a winding rose that she brought from Texas, it was in her house, it was really pretty. Everybody supported the church, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. At

that time Father Gilmet was the pastor. families were there.

Mr. Luis and Angelita Lopez and all of their When I moved

There were so many old friends that I miss now.

from there, the old West Side, all of them scattered around to different parts of St. Paul, so that we don't see much of each other, except at funerals. so generous, even though most of them were on relief. working. They were all

Most of the people weren't

They didn't have the money to support anything, but they sure had money to They made pledges when

share with whoever needed it and especially for the church. we built the new church. that stands there now. All generations were poor.

But we did build the church

Like I said, when there is love among the people, you can Now, this generation is proud. They don't

accomplish more than when you are divided.

get together, because everybody thinks they have more than the rest.

I remember when

Father Ward took over, he started to make the "fiestas", the 5th of May and the 16th

-7Rivera: of September, and everything, the money that was made from the "Fiestas" always went to support the church, and help the families that needed help. were poor, but they helped each other more than they do now. Juarez: While living in St. Paul, was there any discrimination? with the other people outside of the West Side? Rivera: The West Side was formed by all kinds of nationalities, mostly Mexican and Jewish and Colored people. We never thought that anything was different in color or the way Everybody was friendly. We got together in the Neighborhood They had a free clinic Did you feel any discrimination All the old timers

they talked, or anything. House.

They had programs to learn how to knit for the women.

where all the Mexican mothers, Colored, and Jewish, also Syrian people, used to meet all together. I can't say that we were discriminated against. We just minded our

own business and got along with everybody and everybody got along with us, because we didn't bother them and they didn't bother us. inated against. Juarez: Irene, could you tell 'us about Marcelino? the West Side. Rivera: Marcelino was working at Cudahay's in the daytime-. He was always working as a partHe I understand that he owned a business on I can't say that we were ever discrim-

time helper tending bar in the Carioca Bar that was on Fairfield in the'f1ats. worked there for about eight years.

Then when we moved to Ada Street, that was 1954 With the money that they gave him to

or 1956, they closed Cudahay Packing House. retire, he opened a place for himself.

He had the practice and knowledge on how to It was in South

be a bartender, so he thought he could build a place for himself. St. Paul on Armour Street somewhere.

He worked there for nine years in his own place.

r tried to help him in the beginning, but since I was working at Swifts, in the daytime, I didn't have much time to help him. I helped him through the first two years.

After that, he hired someone else to help him,with the business, but mostly he was all by hims~f. After nine years, they sold that place, so he moved farther down on He worked there for another eight years, until he

Concord Street, by the Ford Plant.

-8Rivera: became sick. the children. Working like that, we never had much companionship. I was always with

When they were growing up, he was working nights, so that he didn't That's when he started working so much that in 1960 Of course, the doctor made him retire from But all the money that he had saved went For a time, He was really

have much time for the family.

or 1961, he had his first heart attack. the place. He had to close his business.

to the doctors, until he was disabled and couldn't find any more work. he was working in construction, in the daytime, and the bar at night.

tired out, by the time he got the heart attack, he didn't have the strength to fight it. That's been his reward. After that he had another stroke, a severe one. But

God has been good to him, he hasn't been paralyzed. more. Juarez: Rivera: Irene, how has your health been? Well, about 1964, I had a heart attack, too.

He can hardly walk or talk any-

That stopped me from working.

I was

working at the Viking Drill, making drills at the time. Juarez: Rivera: Juarez: Rivera: Where is Viking Drill located?

Seventh Street, close to Arcade, I don't know exactly where.

In downtown St. Paul? Downtown St. Paul, yes. And of course, I had to quit working then. After his last

stroke, all I have been doing is taking care of him. fore.

Now it's more serious than be-

Before at least he could work, or go outside by himself, now he can't even

stay by himself, because if he gets a stroke or falls down, nobody would be there to take care of him. He would 'stay there until somebody would pick him up. Neither of

us are in good health, but thank God, I can still do my own housework and take care of him. Juarez: Irene, did you or Marcelino ever went to Texas to your home or back to Mexico on a visit during vacation time? Rivera: I never went back to Texas where I was born, but we did make seven trips to Mexico. Almost one every year since the first trip in 1947, when we all went. were small. Then we made three more trips with the children. The children

After that, we just



went by ourselves. he was born. of Mexico.

We went to Mexico City, where he was born.

He showed us where

It's all changed now, where he was raised.

We have gone to the Basilica

Juarez: Rivera:

Did you visit any relatives in Mexico? Well, like I said, he could never find his brother or sisters. went he really went out looking for his relatives. in their nespaper. to visit. The second time we

He even put an ad in the paper,

But he could never find his brother, so we never had any relatives We never had any relatives.

We always went and had to stay in a hotel.

My family are all dead. Juarez: Rivera:

your cousins? I know that somewhere on my side of the

If we have any, we haven't found them.

family, my mother's sister was living in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, at the time and I am sure that we have cousins there. Juarez: But like I said, we have never found them.

Irene, you mentioned that you didn't have any relatives in Mexico, but I remember you once told me about a cousin that you had in Mexico. went to visit them? Do you remember when you


Well, yes.

I'd forgotten about them, because my sister's here now.

But my sister,

Mrs. Lozano, was in Mexico the first time that we went in 1947. that we took especially to find her. to Aguascalientes. Aguascalientes.

That's the trip So we went

We had been writing to each other.

She was living in San Antonio, Tepesela, just outside of My sister had gone there in 1935 or 1936 They

They were really poor.

when they were deporting the Mexican people that were not American citizens. had deported her husband. She went with him.

Most of her children were born there.

The oldest ones were born in Colorado. were really poor. garden.

The first time that we went to see her, they

They didn't have anything to eat, only what they raised in their

He had a big garden of chile, that he used to pack and sell in the markets. So when we came back, we always

That's the only time that they had a little money. sent her money to live on.

Then after three years, her oldest daughter, now Juanita



Moreno, came with us.

She lived with us for three years to help support her family. She paid the expenses of

She was working at Armour's, she is still working thore. bringing her mother and sisters to St. Paul. Jessie Ramo, and Margaret, his wife. daughter.

Three years later, we went and helped

She is my niece, my sister Antonia's second We went on vacation He got a job

Marcelino was still working and had his business place.

and he wanted to help them, so we brought Margaret and Jessie Romo. right away at Swift's. back to Mexico.

He worked there until a few years ago, when he left to go So all the family is now in St. Paul,

They adjusted really well here.

because they helped each other. Then after that her brother came.

Juanita was the first one to come and help her mother. He also helped the other ones to come, so they are After they all came here, then we didn't have any

all enjoying life in St. Paul now. relatives over in Mexico. Juarez: Rivera:

We have them here.

Wha't year was this, that you first went down? In 1947, it was the first year that we went and she was in San Antonio, Tepesela. Juanita came in 1948 to work and help the family back in Mexico. 1950 or 1951 that we brought Jessie Ramo. little while on 479 Ada. hard. I think it was in

Her sister Margaret lived with us for a He worked

Then they found a little house and rented it.

Then they stayed here. Did you used to make the trip to


Do you remember when Marcelino got his first car? Mexico?


He always had a carl little coupe.

When I met him, he had a little Ford with just one seat. He always had a car.


I have pictures there of him.

I knew how to

drive a Model-T.

My father had taught me how to drive.

Then when he got a car with We have always had a car.

shifts, he showed me how to drive and I changed to that.

It wasn't a new car, but it was a somewhat better car, it was a Chevy, that was in 1947, when we got the car and then we went to Mexico. except for the last three trips, we flew. We always drove to Mexico


-10Rivera: Moreno, came with us. She lived with us for three years to help support her family. She paid the expenses of

She was working at Armour's, she is still working there. bringing her mother and sisters to St. Paul. Jessie Romo, and Margaret, his wife. daughter.

Three years later, we went and helped

She is my niece, my sister Antonia's second We went on vacation He got a job

Marcelino was still working and had his business place.

and he wanted to help them, so we brought Margaret and Jessie Romo. right away at Swift's. back to Mexico.

He worked there until a few years ago, when he left to go So all the family is now in St. Paul,

They adjusted really well here.

because they helped each other. Then after that her brother came.

Juanita was the first one to come and help her mother. He also helped the other ones to come, so they are After they all came here, then we didn't have any

all enjoying life in St. Paul now. relatives over in Mexico. Juarez: Rivera:

We have them here.

Wha·t year was this, that you first went down? In 1947, it was the first year that we went and she was in San Antonio, Tepese1a. Juanita came in 1948 to work and help the family back in Mexico. 1950 or 1951 that we brought Jessie Romo. little while on 479 Ada. hard. I think it was in

Her sister Margaret lived with us for a He worked

Then they found a little house and rented it.

Then they stayed here. Did you used to make the trip to


Do you remember when Marcelino got his first car? Mexico?


He always had a car! little coupe.

When I met him, he had a little Ford with just one seat. He always had a car.


I have pictures there of him.

I knew how to

drive a Mode1-T.

My father had taught me how to drive.

Then when he got a car with We have always had a car.

shifts, he showed me how to drive and I changed to that.

It wasn't a new car, but it was a somewhat better car, it was a Chevy, that was in 1947, when we got the car and then we went to Mexico. except for the last three trips, we flew. We always drove to Mexico

-11Juarez: Rivera: It was a 1947 what? A Chevy, about a 1945 Chevy. Mexico on that car. Juarez: Irene, I understand that you were one of the charter members of the Guada1upana Society. Could you tell us about the society and how it started. Who were some of It was in real good condition. We made two trips to

the members? Society? Rivera:

What was your role as a member throughout the years of the Guadalupana

I think the Society started in 1931 or 1932.

My mother was the first member. The older members

Mrs. Rodriguez, (Lola), was the one that organized the society. were the ones that start it. There was:

Elifonsa de Santiago, Mrs. Lupe Cruz,

Mrs. Soto, Paulina Cortez, Mrs. Teresita Ramirez, Julia Sanchez, Arturo Coronado's mother. Some of these people are now deceased. I joined the society in about 1946. We used to have Father Ward, he We

I was the President of the society from 1947-l94B. was the treasurer and secretary.

We only had a president and a vice-president. We had a bake sale every

used to make "Jamaicas" to raise money for the church.

Sunday, not just the first Sunday of the monthfj but every Sunday 1 a "tortilla" machine to make "tortillas de maiz" (corn tortillas).

Father Ward bought I remember that

Dona Atanacia Ortiz and Dona Maria Bonilla would get together and make "enchiladas" every Friday. or "tortillas". People would stop by on their way horne from work and buy "enchiladas" All the money went to support the church. Father took all the money After a

for the support of the church and buy whatever we needed to keep on going. while, the younger people joined, like Rosa Campa and myself. a very good member. Juarez: Rivera: What year was this? In 1947 and 1948, I was President than. She has been a member for a long time I

Mrs. Mini Gaston was

They must have started the society in 1931, Mrs. Dolores Rodriguez was the

1932 or 1933, these older ladies that I mentioned. president for the longest time.

She was always working, regardless of who dropped out

-12Rivera: or who helped her. different places. join. She was always active in it. Like I said, we had to move to

All of them were scattered around so they didn't come back to Father Ward organized the

But Mrs. Rodriguez always kept making tortillas.

16th of September festival. would help him.

For everything he made, or organized, the older people

Pomposo Guerra, Alfonso de Leon,

Rodriguez, Pedro Rodriguez, Everything

Wally Santos and Marcelino, they all helped to make these big festivals. that was collected from there, was for the church. and helped with the festivals.

Father Ward supported the church

But when we moved, they never set up the machine for She would make the They kept it there for a long

the "tortillas", because Mrs. Rodriguez was sick by then. "tortillas" in her home. time and never used it. We didn't set up the machine.

Dou'a Atanacia Ortiz and Senora Bonilla would also get toIt was quite a thing that the older members kept

gether and make "tamales" to sell.

helping, without any benefit for themselves. Mrs. Rodriguez and Felicitas Herrera, with her husband, Trinidad, they started to have the procession of the Virgen, the pilgrimage. They would take the Virgen to

different homes during the month of December, they used to start nine days before the twelfth of December. Juarez: Rivera: Is this the Posadas? No, it is a pilgrimage. That's at the church. They used to have the posadas, too, but that's different. They used to have them from house to house," like it really

should be, at that time, they made everything Mexican style. have changed it. and sing there. Now, they do the posadas in the church. Before, they used to be in the houses.

time goes on, they

They just open the door The pilgrimage of the Virgen,

Mrs. Rodriguez s~tart iiit with Dona Chencha de Leon, Dona Chencha Rangel; arid her husband Francisco Rangel, Dona Dolores Rodriguez' husband Agustin, those people;and afterwards, Mrs. Herrera. But first, it was the Rangel s and Rodriguez

that started taking the

-13Rivera: Virgen from house to house, with donations that each family would give. was for the church. Nobody benefited by it. Everything

Nobody used the name of the church to Father took the All No-

gain money for themselves.

This was done absolutely for the church.

money and everybody was glad to help him. of a sudden she was gone.

Then Mrs. Dolores Rodriguez got sick. It was just dead I

The Society broke up for a while.

body took any interest in it. Juarez: Rivera: Juarez: Rivera: What year would this be? I think it was in 1964 or 1965. Then for how many years did the Society cease to be? Oh, about three years, until Father Wolski came. with the regular committee. He proposed that we start it again

That's the first time we started as a Society with We started with thirteen members

president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary. that year. Juarez: Rivera: Juarez: Rivera: Juarez: Rivera: It was four or five years ago now.

Do you mean 1969 or 1970? Yes, 1969 or 1970. It was about five or six years ago.

And it started up again? Yes, with membership. At that time, do you remember who the officers were, once it started again? I was president. Felicitas was the vice-president, Carmen Santos was the secretary We had it for a year and a half. Like I said, we

and the treasurer was Evelyn Rocha. started with thirteen members. hundred members.

By the time a year and a half went by, I gained oneNow the Society

We had one-hundred members, by the time I left.

counts with about 150 names in the book. members.

That doesn't mean that they are all active Some of them pay their dues, It grew in proportion. The first Besides

I think we have only fifty active members.

which helps, and some of them don't pay their dues.

year and a half I was there, we made over five-thousand dollars for Father. that we had set up an account for the Society to put money in the bank.

We only took

-14Rivera: one third, the rest went to Father for the support of the church. With that third of With

the money that we keep, we have a bake sale every first Sunday of the month. what we have left, we have it for ourselves. with the Society, to pay for whatever we do. $1000 in the bank.

We put it in the bank to keep on going After awhile it got to be that we had

We decided that we were going to set up a scholarship fund for Preference would be given to the Society members' children

the children of the parish. and grandchildren.

They would have two memberships for college and one for Brady High We gave them $150.00 each, for the scholarships. By the time I left, they had over

School, or wherever they wanted to go. Then they just put that in.

They did pretty good.

$2000 in the savings account, which went to help keep on supporting the Society and to

keep on going for the scholarships that we set up.

Then we have this ha.ke sale, whatFather Wo1s~ti , that first

ever we make, a third goes for us and the rest for Father. year had $5000.00. church.

He used i t to beautify the church and do a lot of things for the

When I got out, Rebecca Montez became president, Jenny Arias, vice-president, Then we ran it for another It was very

Juanita Sanchez, treasurer, and Alice Vasquez, secretary. year. They also made pretty good.

Our Society has picked up ever since.

fruitful when we first started. generation doesn't believe in. Juarez:

The older ladies did a lot of work, which the younger

They jus tput·on dances and whatever. Do

Besides the activities for raising funds, was it also a religious organization? you have masses said?



The first Friday of every month there is a mass, always for all the members of We pay for that mass. Whenever anybody gets sick, we

the Society, dead or alive. send them flowers.

If any of the members die, the Society takes care of the funeral Then it was started

expenses, as far as the church, the mass, and if someone sings.

that a breakfast is given to the members of the family, if she is a member, those are the benefits given if you belong to the Society. Once a year, they make a dance to

-15Rivera: support the Society. They have a few things for all the active members. They have

a dance and a Cristmas party, that's usually done in December, to thank the members that were active and working all through the year. We donate to handicapped people. We help them in whatever

We either give them a birthday party or a Christmas party. we can.

We also belong to the Archdiocese Council, so we help all the members of all When I was president, every third month they had a meeting and we

the societies. went to it. meetings. Juarez: Rivera:

Now, the girls think that it-isn't important, so they don't go to the We still belong to the Archdiocese Council.

Are you an active member now? I forgot to say that when I first joined the Society in 1948, Helen, Marie and Gloria were only small girls, but they always helped me. They were always active, I joined

them in the Society when they were eleven years old. Juarez: You were talking about how when your girls were members of the Society, they used to help you. Rivera: Since they were small they used to take things to the bake sale, when I used to make doughnuts. Now they remember, and tell me, that when I'd send them with a pan of

cookies or a cookie sheet of date bars, they used to eat half of them by the time they got to the church. Mrs. Ortiz would always reprimand them.

Mrs. Ortiz, never told

me what they were doing. of it.

would reprimand them when they got there with one-half One time the girls were telling me in the church. I bet

She never told me until now.

Senora Ortiz said, "Yes, I remember reprimanding them, I never told you, did I? the girls thought that I did." But she never did.

They all liked the girls because

they were always helping me, the three girls. eleven years old. always helped me. Society.

They were members since they were They

Then when it picked up again, they were active members .•

Now I have five grand-daughters, that are members of the Guadalupe

That makes four generations, because my mother was the first one, then me,

-16Rivera: then my daughters, and now I have five grand-daughters that are members of the Society. They are active members of the Society now. My daughters are always helping. The Now

year after Rebecca Montez was president, Marie became president for a year too. it's Ronnie.

Ronnie Segovia is president\Margaret, my niece, the one we helped to Rebecca Rojas, is the

bring here, she is the vice-prsident at the present time. secretary and the treasurer is Juanita Sanchez. Juarez:

During my work this summer, I have been trying to locate records that the Society has kept through the years. cords. I haven't been successful in obtaining any type of re-

Could you tell me if they kept records from the beginning of the Society? If

Like minutes of the meetings, newsclippings, photographs, this type of thing?

they did, do you know where I can locate the person who might have these things? Rivera: Well, I was asked that before. We did have a ledger, a book Mrs. Rodriguez, like I She had this ledger and a lot

said, was the last president of the original Society. of clippings and pictures we took at that time. always took pictures. every year.

Whenever we had a procession, she

We had a procession and Novena for the twelfth of December, She had all of them. She said most of

We usually took pictures there.

what she had was lost in the flood.

Her house was in water in the flood of 1965. What was left, she gave to the priest.

When they moved, she had very few pictures.

I know that when Father Ward was living, he had all these pictures of the Society. He had a lot of pictures and records that Mrs. Rodriguez had saved from the flood. When Mrs. Rodriguez died, Tootsie Munoz was the secretary. She said that Annie Moralez had the rest. She gave us what she

When we checked with Annie, she said that Annie was the

her mother had them in the basement and she couldn't find them. secretary for a while.

She was the one that had a lot of them, which she gave me.

The only thing that she gave me was a very old book, in which the members were paid up, nothing of great importance. All of this, and a few clippings, we gave to the

-17Rivera: historian. Society. We voted for her and she was to write a book on the history of the All of the clippings that I had she took. First we gave them to Nicha

Coates, she was going to do it. do it, so she returned them back.

Then she changed her mind and she didn't want to Then we gave them to Shirley Gaston. As far as

I know, Shirley Gaston has them now.

Father Ward had all the pictures and clippings.

I have been told that Father Wolski either threw them away or kept them because he was the one that started the Society and he had all this. the Society go. He helped a lot to make After that There

He got us the banner and the ribbons for the first year.

we have always paid for them.

But as far as I know, Father Ward left all this.

were three priests after Father Ward, and before Father Wolski came. they must have thrown them away. Juarez:

He claims that

In the change of the priests, they got lost somehow. Do Or

Now I'd like to ask you about the customs and traditions the Mexican people"had. '1 you think they have been maintained the way they were when you first came here? have they changed quite a bit? ditions of Mexican people?

What are your impressions of these customs and tra-


Well, they certainly have changed.


a girl, my parents would never think that we Whenever we did

could have dates, or that we should go anywhere by ourselves, never!

go to a dance, that's about the only thing that they took us to, both of our parents went with us. We all had a good time, that's how we met. We had boyfriends. During

the dance, we talked with them, but as far as having dates, never! changed.

Now that is all

When I had my girls, the two oldest girls, Helen and Marie, they never had My husband was very strict with them and never let

any dates that we approved of. them go alone.

They might have gone out by themselves when they were at work, but Lake Helen, when she became engaged He was very strict They always obeyed

they never had permission until they were engaged. to Roman, then she could have dates. as far as that goes. their parents.

Marcelino approved of them.

Our girls were very good about obeying him.

Manuel, when he was a boy, if he wanted to go swimming, or go any-

-18Rivera: place, he had to ask permission from his dad. If he wanted to let him go to the They obeyed their parents.

show, he would, up until the time he went to the service. That's what good training did.

They had that fear that they had to obey their parents. They still went by the ten

To be a good Christian, you had to obey your parents. commandments. Now it's so much different.

My last two girls were the youngest ones. They always asked their dad, but by She had more dates with

I was always in between, trying to get them.

the time Gloria was going out, she would butter him up. different boys than the older girls.

The older girls couldn't have dates, until Then they could go out

they got engaged to them or they were going to get married. with them, but otherwise, before, they never did.

Shirley and Gloria broke him down.

As time went on, I used to have a lot of arguments with him and tell him we were different and living in a different world, that they had to know the boys before they got married. The two younger ones had a few dates with his permission. They all got married in the church. That was the

start 6f the changing.

He walked them down the I see with Helen's girls

aisle, because they all obeyed him until the last. their girls, they don't have anything to say. are much different.

It's different now.

They always have dates.

They were born and raised here.

They follow the traditions. They

They go according to the American way. go allover.

They do have dates and go to the prom.

Before, Roseline, my oldest grand-daughter, who just got married, ran I don't mean that they don't obey their mother. There

her life just like any American girl. They

respect her, but they of course, don't ask any time they want to go out. Our customs really have changed.

is where the change is. anymore.

You don't see strict parents

There is a very few old families in which the children are good to them, Most of the parents of the old people,

now in their old age, and they visit them.

the girls and the children, don't look after their old people like we did in our childhood. When we were kids, we always had to look after our parents. Now days,

it's very changed, very different.

Sometimes they don't even visit their parents.

-19Rivera: I am very lucky, because like I said, I followed my mother's traditions and my girls followed mine. I was a little bit more strict than I would be now. Now, I probably

would have changed, living in this age, I would they wanted.

probably have let the girls do what When I used to take them to We picked

But I see so many girls now on their own.

work, I used to drive a car and take them to the onion and potatoe fields. potatoes and onions in Hollendale. Then the children went with me.

If they have a

part-time job, it's a lot of responsibility. them work so much. That's the difference now.

They complain that the mother makes There's no tradition now, like the The only thing

tradition that the older people kept.

We live in the modern times.

my family still does is go to the pilgrimage.

When we have this pilgrimage, my girls That's the only old The children now

still have the Virgen at their house and they say the rosary. tradition that's being kept in this generation, that I can see. days don't obey or have respect for their parents. spect now.

You see so much of this disreTheir

The older people complain that they are left alone, completely.

children don't visit them or take them out anyplace.

Like I said, I am very lucky

because my girls are still a little bit old-fashioned, because they do see that we get what we need and they always visit us. like that, that visit their parents. But you see there are very few families

They just completely forget about their parents.

Sometimes they even put them in a highrise and think that they are well taken care of there, and they are forgotten. Juarez: Did you observe more Mexican holidays in the older days than you do now? If you did,

what are some of the old Mexican holidays that you observed, that you don't observe today? Rivera: Oh, for instance, the sixteenth of September was always a big fiesta of the Mexican people. I remember when we were girls, we used to go thirty or forty miles in a My parents used to take us. To the fifth of May

wagon with horses to the fiestas.

-20Rivera: and the sixteenth of September. Now, when my girls were small, that was what we For baptisms, we were

always would do, the fifth of 'May and sixteenth of September. always invited, we always went. people. You don't see that now. We had picnics.

We had gatherings of the Mexican

We used to have posadas:for Christmas and we used All our children were there. Now

to have processions for the Novena in December.

days, you don't get the children to go to mass, much less a Novena Procession, like we used to have. boy at the church. what I remember. they are now. All our girls were in the procession. Even Manuel was an altar That's

None of my grandchildren have been altar boys, so far.

The gatherings for the family, were more then, even in my age, than They go by

Now, the girls think that they can't be with the parents.

themselves to do "their own thing", they call it. anymore. Juarez:

There aren't any family gatherings

If I remember right, did Manuel belong to a boy's group as a young man, known,Bscthe Crusaders?

Rivera: Juarez: Rivera:

Yes. Do you know anything about that organization? Well, I don't remember too well.
.< ,,"';.

But I have a picture of him the way he was a Then they had boy scouts. Marcelino, Mr. De Leon, They used

drummer boy.

They took him out.

Mr. Leonso Moralez, and Wally Santos, were all members of the Boy Scouts.

to take Manuel and the boys to different gatherings and different father-son dinners. They used to go to a lot of places. Juarez: Rivera: That I don't see anymore.

Was that the same group known as the Crusaders or was that the Boy Scouts? They were little, about seven or eight years old. These crusaders used to have a

-21Rivera: little red cape and a white cap. They used to take them to the council meetings in Do you mean

the Knights of Columbus and all that for little plays that they had. Crusaders, like the Brown Berets? Juarez: Rivera: No, this was a church group, I think. I am not sure.

Was it called the Crusaders? They only went during the

Yes, it was the Crusaders and it was a church thing.

processions that they had and some gatherings, like I said, Father and Son dinners. We only had Manuel. We don't know how many more boys went. But I know that all

these boys now, Joseph Moralez, Manuel Lopez, and Wally Santos, all those boys that were the same age as Manuel, were in those Crusaders. Juarez: Irene, we have covered quite a bit of your life and Marcelino's life. Now, I would

like to ask you and Marcelino, if you had to give advice to the young people of today, what is it that you would tell them? I'd like to add here that Irene is going to

give Marcelino's advice in Spanish so it can be clearly understood, then she will try to translate it into English.)

She feels the same as Marcelino.


Les diria que la viej a generacion esta;'.orgullosa de su nacionalidad, de ser Mexicanos. Es honra para la gente vieja que no se forzaban en los Americanos de ser apreciados. Como ahora se forzan que los acepten y quieren ser "American Mexican" y se llaman "La Raza" •

Para mi, esa palabra es baja.


Yo quiero ser mexicano y ser llamado mexicano •

Asi cuando you vine a los Estados Unidos, sufri en no saber hablar ingles, pero fue el International Institute que ense~aba el ingles a qui{n interesada y aprend~ porque a m:L, me interesaba aprender el idioma.

i Que/me hacia mucha faltal

Luego ya mi

familia crecian y aunque visitaba a Mexico cada ano me hice ciudadano americano, sacando los segundos papeles porque mi esposa fue nacida en Texas. de corazon mexicano, cambie solo por beneficio de mi familia. no iba a regresar a Mexico a vivir.



Yo siempre fu£'




Porque sabia que ya

Yaqui mis hijos nacieron, todos en San Pablo,



Minnesota, y yo tenia que buscllr ('1 modo de vivir en '10s ERtados Unidos y 10 que fuera mas util para mi familia y ense~arles a que fueran mexicanos de sangre y de corazon.





Pero que ellos no se llamen, Ifni R.aza, ni Chicanos", y hasta ahorita todO$ Creados en los Estados

ellos se honran en decir que son mexicanos de nacionalidad.

Unidos, y por eso se llaman "American Hexican", pero no les gusta tampoco a ellos que les llamen "Mi Raza" ni "Chicanos". Son puros mexicanos.

Ser trabaj ador y no

moles tar a nadie y es suficiente para el mexicano de corazon ser respectado.


camente no forzarlos a que los acepten porque son, ellos quieren llamar, quieren los beneficios de los Estados Unidos, y quieren que forzados a que los quieran. ser respectados. Juarez: Rivera: Es el ~nico consejo que yo doy un mexicano de coraz~. Solo

Now, Irene, will give the advice i.nEnglish. Well, it's quite difficult to translate it, but my opinion is that in our generation and customs, we are proud to be Mexican born. American". American. We are proud to be called "Hexican

But Mexicans, because we are born in the United States, have to be Mexican We don't like to force ourselves to be apprciated by others, only to be


respected as Mexican American.

We don't like the word, "La Raza", nor do we like To us and our children, we were brought up

the word, "Chicano", nothing like that.

calling ourselves Mexican, well, Mexican American, because they were born here, but are of Mexican nationality, and they are not ashamed to say that they are Mexican. We are not. We taught our children to be proud of their heritage and not to force to say that we

themselves to be liked and not to force their ideas onto Americans:

have the same right to be called, our right is to be respected, as we respect them. We have nothing to claim that we haven't got by being just Mexican American. would be my advice. That

If I was to tell the younger generation to stop calling them-

selves "La Raza", "Chicanos", and be proud to be Mexican and to say that we are being integrated, just to be themselves. Be Mexican and be proud of their heritage,



not be forcing themselves into saying, "We have got to be called this. to be called that, because we are Chicanos". by our nationality and very proud to be that. yourselves, only claim respect for yourselves. We are not.

We have got

We are Mexican American

Be proud to be a Mexican and not force


Thank you very much Irene, this has been a very fruitful interview with you. is one more thing that I have to ask of you. this tape on file with the Historical Society?


Could we have your permission to put

Rivera: Juarez: Rivera:

Yes, you have my permission. Thank you very much. You are welcome.