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Interview with Felicitas Herrera



Felicitas Herrera was born in Pirindaro, Mexico, in 1909 and came to the United States in 1920 by crossing the river at Laredo, Texas. She came to Minnesota to work in 1927 and continued to work throughout her life, while also being active in the Guadalupanas, who work to continue religious customs celebrating the fiesta day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12. At the time of the interview she lived in St. Paul. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Early life in Mexico - various jobs in field work and meatpacking - religious life - and the Guadalupanas. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: In Spanish, transcribed into English. A photocopied newspaper column on Herrera is in the Mexican-American Project file in the oral history office.





World Region




This interview was conducted as part of a series on the Mexican American in Minnesota. Fe1icitas Herrera, was born in Pirindaro, Mexico in 1909. When she was 10 years old She

she came to the United States across the river between Mexico and Laredo, Texas. came to work in Minnesota in 1927.

Fe1icitas resides in St. Paul and has always worked

as well as been active in the Guada1upanas. In this interview she discusses her background and her life in both the United States and Mexico. This is a transcript of a tap,e recorded interview in Spanish translated and edited in English to aid in clarity and ease of comprehension for the reader. The original tape

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




This is Victor Barela interviewing Mrs. Felicitas Herrera, on August

',5, 1975, at the State Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Herrera lives at 284 East Baker in St. Paul.


This is for the Mexican

American History Project, under the auspices of the Minnesota Historical Society. Do I have your permis sion to interview you? Do

you agree then that this interview will go on to the Minnesota Historical Society? HERRERA: BAR;ELA: HERRERA: Yes. What is your full name? Felicitas Lopez de Herrera. was to Manuel Lopez in 1928. I was married twice. My first marriage

By coincidence, our last names were the Our mO'irriage lasted From our union,

same so my name was Felicitas Lopez de Lopez.

for one year and ten months because my husband died. one son was born.

I then went to live with my parents and remained with
It WO'iS here in St. Paul thO'it I met

them for three and a half years.

Trinidad Herrera and on February 12, 1934, we got married. BARELA: You said that you had had a son from your first marriage. nO'ime? HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: His name is Manuel Lopez. When was he born? On August 25, 1929. Did you have any children from your second marriage? What is his



I had three but they all died before we even named them.


I remained with only Manuel who now lives in Rochester, Minnesota. BARELA: HERRERA: What does he do for a living? He and his wife work in a beauty shop. boys and two girls. He has eight children, six

The oldest of his sons went to war in Vietnam He has a daughter, so I am now

and when he returned, he got married. a great-grandmother. BARELA: HERRERA:

What is your son's place of business called? It is called Manuel's Beauty Salon, and it is located in the Silver Lake Shopping Center in Rochester. He has owned the shop since 1958.


Is his wife from St. Paul? She is from Rochester so that is why they live over there. What is her name? Her name is Josefina Struckman de Lopez. Where were you born, Mrs. Herrera? I was born in Pirindaro, Michoacan, Mexico. Is it close to Morelia? Yes, but it is closer to Patzuuaro. remained there for a few years. I was born in Pirindaro and we It's a small Indian town.

I have a few memories of the place.

Then my father took us to Patzcuaro where we lived until I was ten years old. BARELA: HERRERA: When were you born? On November 23, 1909. We left Patzcuaro and went to MoreHa for

two weeks while my mother worked things out so that we could corne to the United States .(passports et cetera).



My father had left six months before UB and was in McKinney, TexaB. When he Bent for UB, we left Morelia by train to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and there we rem... ined for about a month. accompanied by my f ... ther's cousin and his family, We had been

and when it came We

time to cross the border, he and his family crossed but we didn't. couldn't cross the border because my mother couldn't read, so they sent us back. We returned to the family with whom we had been

staying and the man of the house told us that if we wanted to cross, he

help us cross through the water, which is exactly what we did.

We had been in Laredo, Texas for about a week when my father arrived to take us with him. He never took us to get our immigration papers.

Anyway, we lived and worked here and were never bothered by the Immigration Department. My father who stil1liveB, Thanks to God,

and is almost ninety years old, has always been a very straight m ... n. BARELA: HERRERA: What is his name? His name is Julio Lopez ... nd mother's name was Jesusa Gomez de Lopez. BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: HERERRA: BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA: And you say your b.ther is ninety? He will be ninety in April, 1976. What day in April? On the 12th of April, 188~..

My mother died in 1965.

Do you remember when your mother was born? My mother was born on August 22, 1890. Where was your father born? He was born in a small town called Tiripito, Michoacan.



Where was your mother born? My mother was born in a small ranch called "Tree Mesquites, Guanajuato.

Later, my grandfather, who wae a man of wealth,

bought a ranch in Pirindaro where he had a lot of ranch hands. was there that my father met my mother. BARELA: HERRERA: What did your father do for a living? He was a farmer. He planted corn and the like. Later they got

married in Pirindaro. ' The date of their wedding was January, 1909. Then I was born in November of that same year. until four of us were born, two girls and two boys. BARELA: HERRERA: What are their names? Me, of course, my brother Jose Lopez, my other brother Trinidad Lopez, and my sister Maria Lopez de Molina. BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA: Are they all still alive? Yes, all of them. Do they all live in St. Paul? All except my brother Trinidad, who lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

We were there


father left in January to visit him, so he will be spending some time in Missouri. My father had been living with my brother Jose for some Getting back to Pirindaro,

time, until he decided to go visit Trinidad. my sister and I were born there. my grandfathe rl s ranch.

My brother Trinidad was born in

My grandfather J s name was Dimas Gomez.

Then my father carne to the United States and we went to live with my mother I s parents in Purandiro.

It was here that my brother Jose was born.

Is Purandiro in Michoacan too?
Yes, my father returned from California and we were again reunited and we went to live in Patzcuaro until I was ten years old. January, 1920, we carne to the United States. us in Laredo, Texas. Then in

My father went to get


How did you know where to meet? My mother had informed him that we would meet him there. My

father was still under the impression that we were in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, because he knew that his cousin Librado Lopez had crossed into Laredo, Tex;a.s but that we weren't able to cross. Anyway,

my father talked to his cousin and the n found out where he could find us. Then my father picked us up and took us to a hotel and we were My father then found a way for us to get to San Since

all together again.

Antonio and from there we took a streetcar to Waco, Texas.

my father had been working for the streetcars and he had some passes, we used them to get to McKinney. My grandfather and two of my

father's cousins were already living in McKinney, which is about thirty miles from Dallas. We lived in McKinney, Melisse, Farmsville,

and Denton, many of them small towns, where we picked cotton. In 1926, there was a. terrible rain storm and all the cotton was destroyed. The owner of the ranch where we had been working told my father that it would be best if he luoved on and found a job elsewhere. Then we

moved to Seymour, a small town in West Texas, where my father again found a job picking cotton.

-6HERRERA: While there, my f .. ther met .. m .. n who told him about .. 11 the jobl5 in Minnel5ot....nd th .. t interested my f .. ther very much. We returned to

to McKinney .. nd then my f.. ther decided th.. t we would corne to Minnesota. So on we went and l500n we were in Forth Worth- where he

signed .. contract for .. 11 of occurred in 1927. BARELA: HERRERA:

to corne to work in Minnesota..


Did you corne to work in the beet fields? Yel5. ton. That year we worked in Round Lake which il5 elol5e to WorthingWhen harvest time was over, we lived in Worthington. In Febru-

ary, 1928, my father decided we would go to Chicago, where he had .. cousin. BARELA: HERRERA:

What did your father and uncle do there? They worked with the r ..i1road. In November of that same ye .. r, I He was the foreman of the

met and married my first husband. railroad.

We were very happy for that year and ten months that we Then he died.


Did he have an illness or was it a sudden death? He became ill and no one could cure him. Was he very young? Yel5. I was twenty.:..one when I was widowed 150 I went back to live with

my family, where I remained for three and a h .. l£ years. BARELA: Was this in Chicago?

Ye15, but after my husband'/!! death my family and I went to work in the beet fields in Michigan. Later, we returned to West Chicago When we fir15t carne to Minnesota,

and in 1932, we carne to St. Paul.

we went to Chaska to work in the beet fields, because that was where the factory was. From Chaska we went to Belle Plaine to work in

a farm and from there we returned:to Chicago.

The reason for our

going back to Chicago was that my brother Jose and his family were living there and since we are a closely knit family, we wanted to be together. In 1933, we carne back to St. Paul and we brought him and

his family with us.


Did you always travel by train? No, my father had bought a car went.

we travelled by car wherever we

When we returned in 1933, we went to work in the farms in During the winter, we carne to live in St. Paul. From

Belle Plaine.

then until 1940, we would go work in the farms and return to St. Paul for·the winter. The small towns in which we worked were Belle Then we

Plaine, Jordan, Stewart, Fairfax, Hector and Bird Island. decided to remain in St. Paul.

In 1938, my husband was working with

the streetcars in St. Paul, but my father was unemployed and he wanted to go work in the beet fields in Montana 150 off we went. left his job in order to go. My husband

We stayed in Montana for a year only and While there, I became

returned to work in Hector, Minnesota.

deathly ill and my husband took me to a hospital where I remained for six months.


What were you sick of?

-8HERRERA: Well, at firlSt I didnlt know except for the fact that my body ached all over and I WiotlS in pain. and it walS removed. felt perfectly well. convalelScing. company and BARELA HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA:
Finally~ it walS dilScovered that I had a tumor

Thi15 occurred in 1939, and ever lSince then I have I didn't work in 1939 or 1940 because I walS

In 1941, my husband began to work with the Swift Packing

we did not return to work in the beek:" fields.

When did he begin to work with the company? He began in 1940, and worked with them until 1963 when he retired. What was his job at the company? He was a butcher. In 1949, he had a terrible accident, where he fell He was operated on

at the company plant, and was hurt pretty badly. in 1950, but he never did recover completely. BARELA: HERRERA: Did he hurt his back? YelS, he broke his ISpinal cord. and off with the company.

From 1950 until 1958 he worked on The

From 1958 until 1963, he did not work.

company was paying his salary arid hoping that he would completely recover from his injury, but he never did. he had to retire, and in 1969, he died. Since he never did,

In 1942, I began .to work at

Armour'lS Packing Company and I worked on and off for two and a half years. On December 3, 1945, I began to work with the Swift Packing

Company and on November 29, 1969, the company clolSed itlS plant I lost niy job a.nd started receiving my pension. I walS sixty at the

time and aside from collecting my retirement, I was receiving my husband's, since he had died in June of that same year. I received

my hUl5band 115 penlSion until I became sixty-five and then I started to receive Social Security.

-9BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA: Do you remember your life as a youngster in Mexico? Yes. Was it a happy life? Well, I have always been a happy person so my childhood was also very happy. I have always looked towards the future for my own well

being and I have never liked the idea of having others worry about me. I have always like to work things out by myself. BARELA: HERRERA: Was your family rich or poor? We were very poor. Before I left Mexico, I u5ed to go to the market We had to do this

place to sell tortillas which my mother had made. in order to survive.

In 1918, there wa5 a plague which struck Mexico At our home, everyone got sick except my

and killed a lot of people. grandparents and me. could recover. BARELA: HERRERA:

We took care of the rest of my family so they

What would happen to your family? They would become very feverish, lose consciousness, and hemorrhage through the no se.


Were there any phY5icians to help out? No. What 'could you give them? We used remedies which some people would give us. Everyone is our

family was cured except for my mothe;r' s brother Dionicio, who died while only twenty years of age. I remember that he wa5 sitting and At that time since there

I was combing his hair when he pa.ssed away.

were so many dead people, the corpses would be picked up in carts pulled by oxen and then just dumped in a ditch in the cementery.

-10HERRERA: None of them could get a decent burial. Well, we hid my counsin's

body in a "petate II and quietly sneaked him off to the cementery, where we gave him a decent burial. BARELA: HERRERA: Did you have a rna 1515 for him? No, it was impossible because I tell you that there were too many dead pe ople.

Anothe reason was that the priests were sick themselves During this time the revolution was Once the

they couldn't say any masses.

still going on and there were a: lot of people fighting.

revolutionaries carne to the town where we lived and they began to fight. At that time I was selling tortillas at the market place. I

remember that the people became extremely ala.rmed. BARELA: HERRERA: Where did this happen? In PatzCUOl.ro.' We were a poor family but we lived comfortably. My One

fa.ther hal5 alwayl5 been a very hard worker and a good provider. thing which we alwayl5 had more than enough of WOl.S food.

But when

my father became ill with the l5icknesl5 that struck Mexico, my grandfather had to l5ell everything and when my father was feeling better he decided to corne to the United States. He brought with him the little After

money that my grandfather had saved when he sold hil5 stock.

l5ix months of being in the statel5 he l5ent for UI5 and that'l5 when we carne to the United Statel5. BARELA: HERRERA: Did your father participate in the Revolution? No, because in thOl5e timel5 there was no draft in Mexico and thd fought were volunteerl5. BARELA:


Now there il5 a draft jUl5t like here.

Did you l5ee the troopl5 and fighting in PatzcuOl.ro?

Ye!!. Did the young girl!! have to hide from the revolutionaire!! in Patzcuarq?


Yes, we lived on land that belonged to a very wealthy woman and on her land the government troops had their headquarters,

so none of

the forces against the gover.nnient would be able to come into the town. The troops that were fighting against the government were led Though he

by Ines Chavez Garcia, a very famous man.


in stature, he was a very brave man and he had a lot of people 1\

fighting on his side~


W.., were very lucky: that nothing happened to

us, but I suppose that it was because of the government headquarters. While my father

in the United States he began to think



very carefully and decided that he didn't want his children to grow in an atmosphere of fright, robbery, etc.; in Mexico so that's when he made up his mind to bring us over here.


While your fa.ther was in the United States, did you continue to sell your tortillas?




we didn't have anything.

At first, my mother would

receive a daily allowance from the rich lady that owned the land where we lived. The money that the lady would give my mother had been sent·

to the lady by my father so that my mother would always have some income. So the lady distributed the money to my. mother as she saw

fit, but it was never enough eo we had to do something else to bring in money. That's when I 5ugge!!ted to my mother that we make tortillas

and I would sell them at the market place, which we did.

-12 HERRERA: I remember that I
e~pecially tortilla~ u~(td

to carry my four year old


around with me,

when I had to go buy the corn We did

that my mother could make the until my father

for the following day.




Then when we came to the United Sta.te ~ we went to pick cotton and by the time I
dutie~. tortilla~


fourteen, I


the one who had complete charge of the


I would rise at three in the morning and grind the corn, make the and then go out and pick cotton. All the cooking that I know, I

learned from my mother. BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA: Have you



Did you ever go to


No, and neither did my know how to read.








I know I make a lot of


in writing,

but it' ~

The reason I msver went to school here was that my Whil. I was in'

father did not believe that girls sh.mld go to school. Mexico, I went to school but just for six weeks. to school, I never learned English. making friends

Aside from not going

My parents also prevented me -from When I

that also affected me.

working with the

packing company, I got unbelievable jobs, but that



because I didn't

know any English. BARELA: HERRERA: What type of work did you do at the company? I cut meat, packed pigs feet in

turned smoked hams, and worked with When I worked at Swift's. the

frozen meats without knowing any English. woman foreman like me a lot. high in my book.

I consider her a person who ranks real

I learned to operate very complicated machinery.

-13 HERRERA: What I did to learn was to watch someone else do it and then I would be a ble to do it on my own. I think that even though I was small in stature,

because moet of the women who worked there were very big, I did a very good job. In the twenty-four yeare that I was there I worked with my hands.

When I retired, the superintendftnt called me and told me that they had been very, eatisfied with 01.11 my work, that I had a very good record. After I

rfttired, which was in November of 1969, I decided that I didn't want to work anymore, so I could spend more time around the house. This lal5ted

only a I5hort while because prfttty soon a butcher who used to work at Swiftl5 and who was not working at a smaJ1 meat market on Concord Street came by my house and asked me to work for him. After much debate, I The real50n I

decided I would work part-time for two dollarl5 an hour.

couldn't work for more -hours wal5 due to the fact that I wal5 receiving my husband'l5 pension. SOlTI.etilTI.e later, a union reprel5entative eame around

and talked to me and when he found out that I was not earning 01.15 much money 01.15 I I5hou1d, he lTI.ade them rai158 my l5a1ary to $3. 65. After l50me

yearl5, th* market moved to Minneapolil5 and I continued to work for them, but now, I was earning $4. 00 an hcmr. 1974, and they hired sOlTI.ebody eh8. I finally quit working in July of I ul5ed to make 400 pizzal5 in eight

hourl5 and the girl who replaced me could not handle the job 150 they had to do away with it. BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA: What wal5 the nalTI.e of the company you ul5ed to work for? Concord Dhtributor.
It h

located on Como and 38th Street.

Do they dil5tribute to the grocery I5torel5? Yes, they dil5tribute lTI.eat. meat and pizzas. Whilft I wal5 with thelTI., they used to dil5tdbute

They distribute to l5ix storel5 here and two in Duluth.

-14HERRERA: In October, I had made

Giovanni celned me and


me to go work for her.



income for the year, I told her that I would, but thelt

I didn't Welnt her to pelY me what I would be earning for the remaining of the yeelr until the following yeelr.
~o ~he

I didn't want to cheelt the government,

agreed to dhtribute my income from the



of the


beginning with the new ysar.

Whelt kind of work do you do for I work with Do you





or do you help

~omeone? u~

We make them.

Right now there are only four of

working there, but there We melke the

are timelS when there are five or

WQmen working.

we remove them, we cut them, clean them, fire them, paint them and fire them agelin, and then they are ready to be BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA:

there a


there to



ceramic~? churche~

No, $hter Giovanni


them to




They are very colorful, elren It they? .

we melke


of all



Eventually, I decided that I

would like to continue working for her. a I'!

She began to pay me my backpay

I'!oon al'! the new yeelr I'!tarted until we finally I'!quared



really enjoy doing thil'! type of work. BARELA: When you carne to St. Paul, were there elny familiel'! which you held already met? HERRERA: No, I met them all here around October of 1933. on India.nel Court. the

My father rented a houl'!e

We lived there elll winter elnd then we went to work in

In February of 1934, I melrried my I'!econd hUl'!belnd I'!O each

family went on hh own to work.

-15 HERRERA: In October Of 1934, we for


to St. Paul and my Side.


rented a horne

on Conway Street in the


In 1935, we all lived around the to Robert Street.


neighborhood in the We ~t Side,


So all thh time you worked?



working at the age of eleven in the nien. My father worked in a


together with my place.

brother who BARELA: HERRERA: What



did you pick? tomatoe!'!, !'!tring
bean~, ~weet potatote~,

Cotton, In


peanut! (in



we ju!'!t worked in the beet We


at fir!'!t and later with


and onion!'!.

worked with our


In Michigan, we worked with


bean!'!, cabbage, and corn.


Did you enjoy doing this? Be fore I got married I really enjoyed it When working really became hard for me ill. I

becau~e wa~

I have


liked to work. became

when my

fir~t hu~band

to leave horne to go tQ work at four in the morning and would


return at ten at night. during the day.

My mother would ta.ke care of my
ju~t ~leep




Ma.ny time 1'1 I would

for an hour so very

period of

my life wal'l very rough.

The following year


for me


wa~ a widow and even though I wal'l living with my family,

life wa:! not the


Then I met my l'Iecond hUl'lba.nd, but I jUl'lt couldn It think of
~econd tim~.

married a

I have good


of my firl'lt hUl'lba.nd.


did he get upl'let with me for anything. BARELA: HERRERA: So your Yel'l.
relation~hip ~ay

with your firl'lt hUl'lband


a very ha.ppy one.

He ul'led to

that I wal'l a very good wife, but I aho

that he


a very good hUl'lband.

-16 -'
HERRERA: I do admit that I wa!! a good hou!!ewife but that wa!! becau!!e I wa!! u!!ed to it and I never found it trouble!!ome to ha.ve to do it for my hu!!ba.nd. lived with my in-law!!, and my father-in-law wa!! very good to me. BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA: What wa.!! your father -in-law'!! name? Hi!! name wa!! Felipe Lopez Did your mother -in-law live at thi!! time? Ye!!, her name wa!! Felipa Lopez. When my hu!!band took me to live with We

hi!! parent!!, h. told them that my !!ervice!! were only for him, not for anyone el!!e. He told them that if I wanted to do anything for the, it wa!! my Well,

perogative but that no one could force me to do anything but him.

!!ince I enjoyed hou!!ework and !!ince my mother-in-law wa!! kind of fed up with it (!!he never had any daughter!! !!o !!he alway!! had to do everything all by hltr!!elf) I decided that I wa!! going to take over the kitchen. Every day,

my hu!!band would bring hi!! father and brother!! home to eat and !!ometime!! my father-in-law would a!!k me if he could bring I'lome fdendl'l over to eat with Ul'l. I would alwayl'l tell him that I wal'l more than glad to !!et a few My hUl'lband never minded that I did thi!!. So When

more pIa.tel'l for hil'l friend!!.

My father -in-law wal'l very proud of mt! and cared for me quite a bit. you I'lee, I wa!! very happy during the time that my hu!!band wae alive. myhu!!band dit!d, I had no choice but to go to work in the fielde. BARELA: HERRERA: How many brother:! 'did your hu!!band have? He had three brother:! who!!e name:! were Ro!!alio, Usta!!io and Toma!!. father-in-law dit!d in 1930, a !!hort time before my hu!!band. BARELA: HERRERA: Did your father -in-law die in Taxa:!? No, he had gone to Mexico to !!pend hi:! vacation!! and died over there.


-17 HERRERA: A short time llitter my hueblitnd died, litnd my

went to live with
I remember that

her other sons in Ohio, litnd I went to live with my plitrents.

my mother-in-llitw wanted me to go live with her in Ohio, but my mother thought thlitt it would be be st if I returned to my family. So, when I re-

turned home, I took on the I5litme obliglittionl5 thlitt I had before I had been mlitrried. husband, BARELA: HERRERA: After I remarried, I was aglitin under the obliglittions of my

I never really knew whlitt it WIitS like to be free until now.

Which families were already in St. Plitul when you litrrived? The Sauceq.o'l5 (Rlitmiro'l5 flitther), Rlitngels, the family of Bernardino



Cervlitntes, Arturo Coronlitdo, Agustin Rodriques, Jorge

Prlitdo, Mr. Lllitnel5, Florentino Hernandez, Cirilo Rocha, Manuel Mlitrtinez, litnd his sons Antonio and El5pirion Mlitrtinez, Jorge Glitlvlitn and others. BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA: BARELA: HERRERA: Did everybody live in the same vicinity? Yes. Was it clitlled the Wel5t Side? Yes. How did you get t() know 1it11 the l5e people? Mr. Rancil5co Rangel WIitI5 our neighbor. Mr. Leonzo Morlitlel5 lived in the Mr. Eutemio, I can't

I5litme houl5e which hlitppened to be lit two I5tory houl5e.

hil5 lal5t n;a.me, litnd his family litnd Mr. Nicho Mordel5 litnd hil5 Mr 15. Rlitnge1 lived right acro 1515 Rlitmiro

family lived in the l5ame houl5e that we did.

the I5treet from UI5 litnd then Mr. Coronlitdo lived next to her. Slitucedo'l5 flitther lived litround the corner. BARELA: What I5treet WIitI5 thil5 on?

-18HERRERA: The street where Ram.iro'l5 father lived on was Eaton Street. were very clol5e together. BARELA: HERRERA: The hom.es

We ul5ed to live on Indiana Courts at the tim.e,

Did som.eone com.e and introduce him.self to you when you arrived? Mr. Rangel, who wal5 a wonderful perl5on, did. did. etc. Mr. Urbano Zamora aho

We 01.1150 met a lot of people at partiel5, dancel5, dinner 15, baptil5ml5, Al5ide from. that we would meet otherl5 through our friendl5.

In 1943,

Mrl5. Rodriquez, Mrs. Cruz, and I began to take from horne to horne.

picture of the Virgin

We belonged to the Guada1upana15 and Mrs. Rodriquez I told her that if I5he

called and al5ked m.e if I w,ou1d like to help her. I5howed me I would and I5he did.

She ul5ed to pray jUl5t beautifully and it I did know l5om.e prayerl5 that

wal5 becaul5e of her that I learned to pray.

m.y mother had taught UI5, becaul5eshe brought UI5 up in the Catholic faith. I had to al5k m.y hUl5band for I5pecial permil5l5ion to join the Guadalupanal5 becaul5e he did not like the idea of com.ing hom.e and not finding me around. He finally conl5ented and I wal5 able to participate more in the Society. BARELA: HERRERA: When did thil5 idea of taking the Virgin from place to place originate? About the 15 of November of 1946. -We would go in a procel5l5ion and l5ing and pray and go to one horne one night and then to ganother the following night and 150 on.
It wal5 kind of similar to a IIPol5ada. II

We would al5k

the people if they would give UI5 permil5l5ion to come into their home 15 and l5ay the rOl5ary. At the end of each Our Father and ten Hail MarYI5, we I

would l5ing a hymn and do thil5 continuoul5ly until the rosary was over. think thel5e hytnnl5 are beautiful 150 we I5till continue to have the same . practice al5 before. BARELA: Are there five hytnnl5?

-19 -



If you would like, you could corne another day and listen to a tape
In later years, my husband helped me to carry At this time my husband was already

that we have em the rosary.

out the tradition of taking out the Virgin.

sick, but he would still get up to participate in theproce s sion.


Would all the families get together for theprocession? last?

How long would they


At first they lasted two weeks and then three.

When my husband started, When my husband died,

we would go on for the whole month, day after day. it lasted for fifty-three days.

In 1973, it lasted for fifty-three days too.

Last year, I had to start a lot later tion.



problem of transporta-

Therefore, a lot of people did not have the opportunity to have the The Virgin has gone as far aa Cottage Grove and

Virgin in their homes.

aho in South St. Paul.
Do ycm start with the Virgin in the church? No, I go to the church and the prielSt gives it to me. I bring it horne. We ISing a hymn and I

Then at seven OLClock I begin to take her around.

make a list of the horne s to which she is going to go and then see if it is in agreement with the people. ·She goes to a different horne each night, we

pray and sing the hymns and she remains in that horne til six in the evening of the following night. Then I pick her up and take her to another horne. '.


Do other people go with you? Of course, there are just a let of people. The horne IS get full. This year

we are going to start on the first of October.


Do the people call you to ask you to bring the Virgin to their homes? Yes, because that way they simplify things for me.

-20BARELA: HERRERA: Do the Anglo familietl!5 participate in thil!5 too? Yes. There are l!5ome who have a lil!5t for me prepared in advance for the Peoplet who el!5pecially want for

daYI!5 when I don't have anyone on mine.

the Virgin to corne into their homel!5 are thol!5e who have recently moved into a new hornet, or if they have a new baby, of worry. Thel!5e people have a lot of fa.ith. or if they have 1!50me l!5ort There il!5 a I!5pecial cal!5e where She

a lady'l!5 l!5on wal!5 killed and the lady could not find peace in herl!5elf.

didn't even want to go back to work 1!50 we took the Virgin into her horne, and you I!5hould l!5ee her now. She hal!5 rel!5tored herl!5elf and ever l!5ince, There ie I!5till another cal!5e of the l!5on of Hil!5 name wal!5 Kevin

I!5he hal!5 found peace in her l!5elf.

thil!5 friend of mine who wal!5 going to the l!5eminary.

Freyer and he al!5ked me if I would take the Virgin into hie horne. spoke very good Spanil!5h but I wal!5 hel!5itant about l!5aying the rOl!5ary in Englil!5h. agreed. I told him that I could only do it in Spanieh, to' which·.. he I!5trongly Hie horne wal!5 completely filled with Anglol!5. I remember that

there wal!5 thil!5 very old couple right behind me and at the end of the rOl!5ary, the old man called me and told me that even though he did not under I!5tand a word I had l!5aid, it haa all reached hh heart. believe

Would you That' 1!5 why I

knClw"how to l!5ing the hymnl!5 in Spanil!5h? Then Mrl!5.

don't want for the hymnl!5 to be tranl!5lated. article printed about me in the paper.

Freyer had an

Before I knew it, Mr. Oliver

Towne, the newl!5paper editor wal!5 calling me and informed me that a certain man wanted me to go to Mexico City to lil!5ten to the Novena for ten dayl!5. He wal!5 willing to pay for all my expenl!5el!5, including a jet flight. left speechlel!5l!5 for a few moments and he al!5ked me to make a decision withh an hour and call him back.

I just didn't know what to do. Both my son and my sister thought that it was My

a marvelous idea and that I should take advantage of the opportunity.

sister took me to buy a complete wardrobe, including new lSuitcases, and off I went.
I arrived in Mexico at eleven at night and spent the night there

but decided that the next morning I would go visit some friends in Morelia. After I got there I told my friend Lupe -why I was in Mexico and she said she would go to Mexico City with me. Print ing in St. Paul, in MoreUa.
I also met Tom S exton from Sexton

He happened to be a very good friend of Tom took care of getting us to a

Lupe's and went to Mexico City with us.

hotel and then thought it was time for him to go back to his place but I convinced him that I wanted him to stay with us, even if I had to pay for his hotel sccomodations. While in the capital, Lupe called her cousin who also

lived there and told her that she wouldn't be able to visit her because she was going to be spending her time with me. The cousin told her husband

about it and he said that he would take me wherever I needed togo and he did.
I had never met thelSe people before and yet they were extremely nice

and went out of their way to help me out. his trouble.

He didn't even accept a dime for

Then after some time, I suggested to Lupe that we go back to

Morelia and I would aSlSist at the Novena for the last three days over there. Anyway, it would be the same as the one in Mexico City. capitol city and went back to MoreUa on the 7th. So we left the

We arrived in Morelia on

the 8th in the evening and I decided that I wanted to go to Patzcuaro to attend the feast of Our Lady of Good Health that day. BARELA: What is the festival like ?


It is a big celebration somewhat like the feast of Our lady of Guadalupe in
Me,q.co City.



When we arrived at Lupe 'e hOnle, ehe told her father the reaeon we were back. Since her father owned a car and ueed it like a taxi, Lupe aeked We

her father n0t to go to w0rk eo that he could drive ue to Patzcuaro.

left Morelia about ten in the nlorning on the evening on the 8th and on the way to Patzcuaro, a car paeeed ue up. but the Biehop hinleelf! Well, who should be in that car

We reached Pdzcuaro about 11:15 and we went Who ehou1d

to the high Maee for the feaet. who paseed ue up on the road.

the Maee but the Biehop

We etayed at the Fiesta celebration for aThen for with the When

while and then returned to MoreUa becatuee I felt kind of tired. the feaet of Our Lady of Guadalupe in MoreUa, I prayed the


reet of the proceeeion until we reached the entrance of the church.

one reaches the door to the church, the roeary ie cOnlp1eted, eo you can inlagine the long walk we have. The l!Itreet that 1eade to the church ie

divided in euch a way thott the care go on the eidee and the people in the proce e eion.

ie for the

Before I forget, I nlet the nlan who eponeored

my trip before I left otnd I aeked hinl if there wae anything epecial he wanted nle to do while in Mexico. he' hoped I would do. He replied thott there were two favore which

One wae to have

Motee eaid for nly deceaeed

huebotnd, nlyeelf, and nly fanlily along with all the people who went on the pilgrinlagee with nle. The other favor wae to have another Maes dedicotted

for the man who l!Iponeored me, ,hie family, atnd all the people in the world who don't pray, and I did. everyday. San Diego I would go to the Basilica and pray the rosary

When I wal!l in Morelia, I sdd the roeary in the church called The picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe is eet way in the front

of the church and it ie juet magnificent.

115 $an Diego the Cathedral in Morelia? No, it is just a church, in which the Virgin is in the center. God is in the center of the alter. In the cathedral,


When did you Inake your pilgriInage to Mexico City? In 1969. Who was the person who sponsored you? JUl5t Mr. Wonderful, because he didn't want his name Inentioned. naIne is Juan but he did not want for anyone to know who he wal5. he wanted was for Ine to reIneInber him in Iny prayers. Hi! first All that


115 he sti11 alive?
I believe

He used to COIne visit Ine but I haven't ween hiIn for the past

two years.


Did he speak Spanhh? No, but he used to like to cOIneand talk with Ine. Let's continue talking about the boy!. There have been Inany young boys who COIne to Ine because they feel nervous and uneasy. You could say I c0ulisel theIn and they find SOIne relief when Before they leave they eInbrace Ine and thank Int!L

they COIne to talk to Ine.


Have they found out th,at you are a good person who COln give good advice? Maybe. They want to talk and let out their probleIns.

What was it thOlt Inade you have such a great devotion towards the Virgin? I have always had her very close to Intt. deep in Iny heart. There is a prayer which I hold very I

It says "I have loved you ever since I was a child.

learned to love you froIn what I heard Iny Inother' 15 lips utter."

My Inother

was Ol very devout Catholic and she hOld a great devotion for Our Lady of Guadalupe.

-24BARELA: What did Mrs. Rodrixtuez say to you to :make you a part of the group that took the picture of Our Lady fro:m ho:me to ho:me? HERRERA: Both of us were :me:mbers of the Guadalupanss. that she found a lot of trust in:me. I guess that you could say

It's hard for :me to say why, but

everybody knows :me and everyone has a lot of trust and confidence in :me. Also, whenever there were function or festivities, I was always her right hand :man. Another thing was that I wanted to learn how to pray and she She encouraged

was the ideal person because she would pray beautifully.

me to pray a whole lot and once at a wake she told me to say the rosary, because she wanted :me to ·say the rosary at her wake when she died. was exactly what I did. That

Her sons say that every time they hear :me saying Her youngest son is

the rosary, they think it is their :mother saying it. the one who takes me to work every day me. BARELA: HERRERA: Did she use a book when she prayed?

They have all been wonderful to

Everything she said was through :me:mory, jus t like I do it now. while I take notes but just to re:me:mber what I plan on doing.

Once in a


Did you learn all this fro:m Mrs. Rodr iquez? Yes. It's very interesting that now there see:m to be more people who participate in your pilgri:mages.


Oh, yes.

I tell you that this co:ming year, I will have two :months to take the

Virgin around, and even then, that will not be sufficient ti:me to take it to all the people who want her in their ho:mes. I have a lot :more people now.

Ra:miro and Rudy Saucedo's wives would always ask:me to take the Virgin to the home where they grew up and still, I take her now.

-25HERRERA: It's really unbelieveable how the people consider it a special occasion when the Virgin comes to their homes. people who go to participate. There are always cars and cars of

The people feel that since it is such a

special occasion, they should have some sort of treat like coffee and cookies for those who join, them. The Virgin has done wonders for me.

When my second husband was still alive, he used togo off for days and run around, and he did this for a great number of years. As time went

by, he realized that I did not deserve that type of life, so he decided that it was about time that he did something about it. He had always been a

very religious man and knew a great deal about. the church and i:ts beliefs. Anyway, he went and prayed to the Virgin to help him get rid of his bad habits and before long, he became a different man. to the bar to buy a pack of cigarrettes. He wouldn't even go

The same with my son, he had My son

many of the same bad habit-s as my husband but he also changed.

had been married to a Mormon the fir st time he got married, and her family tried to convert him but he would not give up his Catholic faith. They had six children but since they had a rough life together, they decided to get a divorce. In later years, my son married another girl,

but she was not Catholic so they just got married in a civil ceremony. had a son first and they baptized him. While the child was being baptized,

the priest told my daughter-in-law that they could get married through the Catholic church even though she wasn't Catholic, but she said she wanted to receive her Catholic training before she did anything like that. had their second child, a girl, and the little girl was also baptized. weeks after that, my daughter-in-law was baptized. They Two

Then one day they

called me from Rochester and told me that they were going to be married

by the Catholic Church and wanted to know if I could attend, which I most certainly did. My son's life changed a lot with his second wife. He be-

came a real man who had a good wife and two children and a good home. He used to gamble quite a bit, but he soon got rid of that bad habit. The

winter after my husband died, my son called to ask what I thought of the idea of sending his son to a Catholic school. I to Id him that that was He then responded

his affair and it would be best·.if he decided himself.

that he had a feeling that probably his deceased father had been telling him on the previous night that he should send his son to a Catholic school. Well, he took his son to the Catholic school and he really like it. both of his children go to Catholic schools. Now

There have been years when

the tuition has gone up very high and my son has told his children that he will not be sending them to Catholic school anymore and instead, they will be attending a public schoo1.

My grandson, who is now thirteen and spends

his spare time working on a farm, calls me up right away to tell me his father's intentions. When I talk to my son about this, he says that he They just beam when The

tells his clildren that tale just to see their re action.

they learn that they will be going back to the Catholic school. thirteen year old will be attending junior high this year. his son reminds him of me.

My son says that

My daughter-in-law is a very hard worker, My first daughter-in-law came from

. uses and spends her money wisely.

a pretty rich family and we've always been poor so that was probably one of their conflicts. My present daughter-in-law also comes from a very My son says that

poor family but they are just wonderfully good people.

if God were to ask him to choose some persons to be his brothers and sisters, he would choose his in-laws, because they care for each other.

-27 -


This devotion that I have, I will bear until I die, and I will constantly share it with everyone.


Did you and your husband particpate in other community activities? Many years ago, we would put up a program with the Range1s similar to the bible story of the Prodigal Son. who had two sons. The story was about a very rich man

One of them was a very good son and the other wasn't One day the prodigal son asked his father for The father tried to

so he was the prodigal son.

his inheritance because he wanted to go off on his own.

discourage him but the son would not give in so the father gave him his share, and left the other part for the good son. went to roam around the world. The prodigal son left and

Soon his money was all gone and he The

returned to his parents home, but both his parents were already dead.

good brother took the prodigal son into his home and he repented for what he had done. My husband would play the part of the prodigal son; my

brother Jose would be the good son; I would be the mother; and Esequie1 Moreno, a good friend of ours, V\{)u1d be the father. watching this program. BARELA: HERRERA: Was this done for a patriotic feast?
I don't remember what the occasion was, but it was performed at the

The people just loved

Neighborhood House.

My compadre Esequie1,' who was a Baptist, told his

congregation about the program and they had us go over and perform for The people just loved it! With the Range1s, we put up a program We did this three

on the Passion of Christ, for Holy Week at church. times and everytime, it turned out beautifully. BARELA: HERRERA: When did this take place?
In 1937, 1938, and 1940.

-28BARELA: HERRERA: Did you participate in patriotic feasts? Just in the kitchen, because the Guadalupanas always took care of the cooking while others did other things. in the acts of some programs. BARE£,A: Do you remember who the promoters of the big festivities, like the 5th of May, were? HERRERA: I would say that the person who was the key to all the festivities was my compadre Francisco Rangel. The others who helped him were Mr. Martin My husband and my brother did participate

Aparicio, Florentino (I don't remember his last name), Mr. Saucedo (Ramiro's father), my husband, my brother, Mr. Zamora (who moved to California many years ago and died over there), and others. BARELA: HERRERA: Was there something special for Christmas? Oh yes, on December 3, I finis1ed taking the Virgin around from home to home. start. On the 4th the Novena starts and when they are over, the Posadas I don't participate in those anymore .because I am too tired, and

aside from that, all the time that I had been saying the rosary, I would not have a chance to go visit my son. I can't go off and leave someone else to They want only me to

say the rosary because the people aren't pleased. say it.

I have to take very good care of myself during ·the cold weather

because I am ver susceptible to sore throats and I don't want that to prevent me from saying the rosary, which I just love to say. in 1965, I decided to say the rosary for her. When my mother died

My sister kept telling me that I was very

it would be impossible for me to say it, but I set my mind on it.

saddened by her death, but I felt that who would be better than me to say it for my mother? When my husband died in 1969, I said the rosary at his

wake and held the Novenas at my house.

Is t'he "Novenario l' the rosary that is said for the deceased for nine days after his death?



we say the rosary and some prayers for the dead.

The horne s are

just full of friends and relatives.


Is the "Novenario " said at the horne of the deceased? Yes. A candle is lit and stays like that for the nine days. There is a rosary

said every night, just like a Novena. Novenas that I have said.

I could never finish counting all the

Nowadays, though, I wait for the people to ask me

to say the Novenas for the deceased- relatives, because recently I have had experiences where I have been embarrassed because certain persons don't want me to say the rosary. A lot of people from Minneapolis also ask me to My only problem is that I

pray the rosary for their deceased relatives.

don't own a car and so I have to rely on people to corne for me and bring me back.


Do you like to pray and do the people like the way you pray? Oh yes. People find comfort in what I say. Sometime ago, there was a She had cancer. and had only

close friend of mine who was at her deathbed. a few weeks to live.

My friend's sister began to have her doubts about God, I got very upset with her and told her that After her sister's death, she I told

because of her sister's illness.

we all had to die at one time or another.

asked me if I would say the "Novenario" for her departed sister.

her I would, but I didn't bring up what she had told me in the past about her doubts. I do the best I can to fulfill my obligations of saying the rosary;

neither snow, rain, or heat or whatever the circumstances are, prevent me from doing my duty. Once I had to walk twenty blocks during the

summer heat to say the rosary at this lady's horne.

-30HERRERA: Last year Mrs. Coronado was sick in the hospital and her daughter pleaded with me to take the Virgin to the Hospital to her mother. We had a few

problems at first because this was the first time that anyone in that family had ever asked for the Virgin, and then I had to see if there was anyone who would give up their.day with the Virgin so we could take it to Mrs. Coronado. We finally got everything straightened out but the day We were quite a few

that we were to go we had a real bad snow storm.

persons that showed up at a home to go to the hospital and there were only two cars to take all of us to Minneapolis. God helped us some way

because all of us fit into the two small cars and when we arrived at the hospital, the head attendant told us that we had his permission to carry out our pilgri:mages just like we did elsewhere. So we sang and prayed

as loud as we could and ther e were others in the hospital who also participated with us. When my husband died, many people asked:me why

I continued to be so devout when my husband's life had not been spared. My response was that all of us come to this world and :must also leave it at a certain ti:me. We are here for a certain length of time only and I a:m Even doctors

not going to have doubts in God because my husband died. who know about medicine more than anyone else die.

My faith in God is

still very strong and I pray that He will look upon my goodwill towards others Up to now, I still work, take care of :my house, help a lot of

people, et cetera, and my health is very good. BARELA: Does your fa:mily continue to practice the language; customs, and traditions of Mexico? HERRERA: Yes. My son speaks Spanish as best as he can. My daughter- in-law does

not speak Sp"anish, but understands it a little.

- 31HERRERA: Whenever my son and his family come to visit me, my daughter-in-law leaves us alone and tells us that both my son and myself have to have a heart to heart talk. I suppose that she is right because my son and I feel I still speak Spanish with the rest We still eat a lot of Mexican

a lot better after we've talked a while. of my family. food.

My father only speaks Spanish.

I make beans, rice, chile (pepper), tamales, tacos, tostadas, and I hsve my own garden, so I just gather many things from

other things. there. some.

For the Christmas holiday, I make a lot of tamales and even sell



What is it that has affected your philosophy on life or your way of living


As far as suffering is concerned, when my husband was very ill, I had the greatest tragedy in my life. find any peace in myself. so it wasn't as hard on me. For three years it was this and I could not When my first husband died, it was very quick When my mcther died it was a very quick thing

because she became ill at three in the morning and died at six in the afternoon. We didn't see her suffer much. But, when my second husband died,

he had been ill for three years and all this time, I was dying with him. BARELA: HERRERA: What made you relive or want to live after this experience? After my husband died, I did not want to go or do anything. I was constantly

wearing black dresses because I did not feel comfortable in anything else. I suppose that one of the things that helped me was the fact that I began to take the Virgin around from home to horne again. This helped me a bit.

Another thing was that I had started to work again, and this also helped me to recover. On my birthday of that same year, my brother threw a surprise

party for me, and was it ever a surprise.


My brother explained to

me that the party was not so that I could forget

my husband, or that he himself did not feel anything for him, but so tm t I could have a new outlook on life, so that my life wouldn't be so full of saddness. For the next full year, my brother did not try to change me.

He would take me tQ eat at his horne, or bring some food to mine, and he would take me for rides but he never mentioned taking me to a dance. Then

on my following birthday he took me to a dance and things began to change for me. Now I go everywhere. In 1972, I went to Mexico to visit my I stayed over there for

husband's family.

They are just so good to me.

two months and they wanted me to stay indefini_te1y, but I couldn't because I'm happy here and my son lives here too. My son had also spoken to me

about the fact that it was no good for me to continue living like I had been, so with time, and with the help of my family and friends, I began to change. I think that if I put all the thing s I mentioned together, those

would be the ones which helped me recover.

What advice would you give to the younger generation on leading a good and happy life?


In the case of a married couple, I would say respect for each other.


is a special case of::this one couple where the husband was running around with another woman and as a result, his wife left him. She did not run

off with another man or go to her family, but went to stay with his family. The man carne and spoke to me and I told him that he should always remember that God gave him his wife and that ,he should not do things like what he had done so openly. Well, after awhile he and his wife got back

together and now they are very happy.



As far as money is concerned, I have been able to make it very well.


times, I wish I were very rich, but not for my benefit, instead so that I can help those that need it. I do the same with my son. times when he has needed it. I share what I have with those who need it. I save some money for him because there have

I recall the once my son mentioned that he I managed to save some money We wound

wanted to buy a camper for the family.

and after a few months, I told him that we should go see them.

up buying one, my son and his wife had saved $700 and I put up the rest. I told him that it was my gift to them, because I would rather see them . enjoy something while I'm still alive. You should see how proud he is of That woman takes care of

it, and my daughter-in-law is something else. her family and her possessions beautifully. much.

She tries to please me so

They are very happy and that makes me feel very happy.


Mrs. Herrera, I would like to thank you for a most wonderful interview and for informing me about so much. Thank you. We really appreciate. it.