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Interview with Jesse and Josephine G. Jimenez

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Jesse Jimenez was born in Hollandale, Minn., in 1935 and spent most of his childhood in southern Minnesota towns. He entered the service, then came back to Minnesota and worked in 1958, when he and Josephine Gallo Jimenez were married. The following year, he went to Tallahassee, Fla., where he lived for six years, then came back to Minnesota in 1965. Josephine Gallo Jimenez was born in Mason City, Iowa. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Jesse Jimenez discusses his family background - education and employment experiences - participation in social and fraternal organizations - his drive-in restaurant, which he bought in 1969 - hopes for his children - boxing and other sports - and subtle discrimination. Josephine Jimenez discusses her family - employment as an office worker - and her children. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Josephine Jimenez's comments are at the end of the interview.

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, i

TRANSCRIPT OF AN ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW WITH JESSE JIMENEZ

This interview was conducted as part of a series on the Mexican American in Minnesota. Jesse Jimenez, born in Hollandale in 1935, has lived in Minnesota most of his life, spending a term in the armed forces and gainng work experience and post high school education for a six year period in Florida. He has raised four children in Albert Lea,

Minnesota, where he has owned and operated a drive-in restaurant business for seven years, as of July, 1976. Active in civic affairs, Jesse devotes much of his time and ener,gies to providing for the needs and comfort of his parents who live in the same town, as well as keeping close contact with the interes':s and activities of his children. This is a transcript of a tape recording interview edited to aid in clarity and ease of comprehension for the reader. The original tape recording is available in the

Audio-Visual Library of the Minnesota Historical Society.

INTERVIEW WITH JESSE JIMENEZ JULY 12, 1976 INTERVIEWER: GRANT MOOSBRUGGER

Moosbrugger:

I am interviewing Jesse Jimenez, in Albert Lea, Minnesota. July 12, 1976.

Today is

Do I have your permission to interview you for the

Minnesota'Historical Society's Mexican American History Project? Jimenez: Moosbrugger: Yes, you do. Good. Could you tell us your name, where you were born and the date

of your birth? Jimenez: I'm Jesse
Jimenez~

I was born in Hollandale, in 1935.

I spent just We

a few years around Hollandale. moved around, from town to town: Finally, we settled in Easton. hood was spent around Easton. years.

My folks were migrant workers.

Albert Lea; Hayward; and Bricelyn. I guess I can say that most of my boy-

I went to grade school there for eight After Then

I went to Our Lady of Mount Carlo, a Catholic school.

grade school, I went to Dalen High School for a couple of years.

they re-district the whole area, so I had to go to school at Wllls. Right out of high school, I went into the Air Force. Force for three and a half years. I was in the Air

I was in the administrative group.

After being discharged, I came home to Albert Lea, where my folks lived. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: What year would that have been, when you got out? That was in 1957. I worked at odd jobs, like construction. I got mar-

ried in 1958, on October twenty-fifth.

I had worked on construction. My wife and I decided We left, and

In 1959, there was a bad strike here at Wilson's. to leave town.

We knew there were going to be hard times. We went to Tallahassee, Florida.

I went to school. lives there.

I have a sister that

I decided to go to -a vocational school, since I had G.I. That wasn't quite enough, so I went to work at

Bill coming to me.

-2Jimenez: Phillips 66. Then I went to school. After about a year of working at

Phillips 66 and going to school, I delivered nespapers for the Publishing Company. He asked me i f I would be interested in a job, and I said, "Well, At the time, we had a daughter, and I was kind of

if it pays good, sure."

running out of funds, so I decided to drop out of school and go to work. It was quite an experience for me. That probably was the best thing that I had the opportunity

happened to me, working for this newspaper company. to talk with people.

As far as finances was concerned, I had a chance to As I look back, I realize A great many experience.

collect money, and assume some responsibility. now, that those were the years of experience. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: What subject area were you studying in Florida? It was bookkeeping and accounting.

All the time I spend in the service, In the back of my mind,

I always had a part time job as a food waiter. I was preparing for business. That's helped me some. Moosbrugger:

I took up bookkeeping and accounting.

You had some background in bookkeeping and administrative work in the Air Force, also?

Jimenez .:

Yes.

In the Air Force, I had some administrative responsibilities and

correspondence of all kinds. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: What year was it when you came back to Albert Lea? In September, 1965. for Fuller Brush. to Albert Lea. In the meantime, I did a lot of door-to-door selling I picked up a few extra coins that way. Then we moved

I went to work for King Sealing Corporation, where they I stayed there for three and a half

make the Scottsman Ice-Machine. years. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: That was what kind of work? It was
maki~g

Ice Machines.

I worked in the shipping department. It was quite a business. ,\(

I

shipped parts allover the country.

-3Jimenez: My brother had a little restaurant, that He was working as the manager. I have now, "Quick-Stop-Drive-In".

He told me that he was planning on leaving. I had an interview with the I felt it was

I told him that I was interested in the job.

fellow, and at that time, the Drive-In was kind of rundown. an opportunity for me to step into something. of money.

I didn't have a whole lot I went

I thought, "Well, I have worked for a whole lot less." It was Labor Day Week-end.

to work for the fellow. ience. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Moosbrugger: Jimenez:

I had quite an exper-

I'd never seen so many humburgersl

It was busy.

What year would that have been? That was 1970, or 1969. Well, I am in my eighth year.

Then it was shortly there after you took over? I took over, then we bought it in March. Of the next year? Yes. We have been in business ever since. It's been good for us. It was

long hours, but when I look back,it doesn't seem like it.

I have enjoyed

it and I guess the reason why I've enjoyed it, is that it's been rewarding to me. I've never had a job where I can honestly say that I have gotten To me, that means a lot. I am living better "

paid for what I have done.

My whole family is living better. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: How many children do you have? I have four children. fourteen. is eight. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Moosbrugger: Are they all going to school? Yes. Maybe we can back up. you have. Jimenez: Oh, yes. We didn't touch upon how many brothers and sisters My oldest is Jody, she is sixteen, Jaqueline is

I have a boy that is eleven, Jeff; and the baby is Julie, she

Do you remember, in order from the oldest? The oldest is getting up there in age. That's Theresa. She

lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

Sophia lives in California.

She's the next.

-4Jimenez: Then it's Kathleen; then Victoria. I am next, then it's Sarah. Vicky and Kathy live here in town. Beatrice lives

Sarah lives in Mason City;

in Pine Island; Dolores lives in Rockwell, Iowa; Frank is in Birmingham, Alabama, working in a restaurant there. Fred, he works for GE in After Fred,

California, he just went back yesterday, after a vacation. comes Lois. She lives in St. Paul, she is a housewife. He's finishing school.

Then it's John.

He is the baby. year. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Moosb'rugger: Jimenez: Where's that? At Mankato State.

He should finish college this

And your parents just celebrated a wedding anniversary? They just celebrated their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. That was yesterday? Yes, here in Albert Lea, July 10th. We had quite a gang, quite a few. We

figured there's forty-three grandchildren. Moosbrugger: Have you been active in any clubs? recreational pursuits? active in bLxing? Jimenez: Well, ever since I lived in Easton. started boxing at the age of five. It was kind of a boxing,town. I What have been some of your social and

I think we mentioned before, you were a little bit

I got around the county quite a bit. That was back in the

I went to the state in boxing and golden gloves. fifties. to it. I really enjoyed it.

At the same time, I kind of looked forward

I remember one particular time we fought on a Wednesday, Thursday, Boy, I was in the bucks!

and Friday, they gave us {ive bucks a fight. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Nice money for a young child. It was a good experience.

I always stayed in pretty good shape.

My other

brothers took up boxing, too. professionals. Moosbrugger:

In fact, FranK and Fred both turned into

Are either of them boxing professionally now?

-5Jimenez: No. Frank isn't, but Fred is a little bit. He's still doing his road

work, when he's on vacation here. He trains kids in California. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Working partly and then co'aching? Yes. He enjoys it.

In the morning he'd come in all sweaty.

It's part of his entertainment, I guess.

Have you been active in any clubs or organizations? Well, I haven't really been too active in any. Mostly I have been really active in the Lions. But I belong to the Legion.

Moosbrugger: Jimenez:

Lions Club? We have a club. They call themselves the Cloverleaf Lions. I help them sell pop and stuff. It was organ-

ized two years ago.

I belong to the

Eagles and the American Legion.

I also belong to the Moose, in Austin. At

I'll tell you why I joined and why I don't belong to the league here. the time, I was kind of interested in joining the Moose Club. I was at the drive-in and a fellow came in and I said, been?" He said, "I have been playing cards. I said,
'~ere

One night have you

Why don't you go over there,
"1(';

so we can get some of your money?" He said, "Why don't y(U sign up?'"

don't belong over there." So

I said, "No one has ever asked me." They must have had a drive on, at

he took my money and my application. that time.

After I filled out the application, he said, "Well, I'll take I turned around and gave him He had a few drinks, I

it, but you have to give me twenty dollars." the twenty dollars. guess.

That was on a Friday night.

Anyway, he took the application, and on Saturday, it was supposed But he returned the application and the money. No ex-

to be initiation.

planation was ever given to me as to why it was returned. word got around tha't he hadn I t turned' it in.

Later on, the

The same weekend, or the I thought,

following weekend, a friend from Austin asked me to join.

"Well, if I am not good enough to join in Albert Lea, I'll just go ahead and join here. I'm going to be a moose one way or the other." I went and

-6Jimenez: joined in Austin. for a transfer or important. Moosbrugger: What do you think the explanation was? individual? Jimenez: Yes, I think the individual himself was the problem. got that I was a minority. Moose Lodge yet. I don't know. At the time, he forWas the problem with this one Since then, they have been asking me why I don't ask
so~ething

like that.

I really don't care, it's not that

There hasn't been a minority active in a

So, I suppose he was afraid of losing a friend or two. I thought it was kind of funny At least if I took some-

I am just assuming this.

that I got the money back, and no explanation.

one's application, I'd tell him why I was returning it. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Do you feel any discrimination here, in town, against Mexican Americans? I think so. I think there's a-little discrimination here. It's a little,

it's not the open discrimination, it's discrimination that you hardly get from a lot of people. You have to sense it. You
~now

it's there.

For

example, if you don't like somebody you may not show it to him, but deep down in your heart, you don't care for him. really hard to pinpoint. welcome you. That's discrimination. It's

You know when you are among people who don't It's there. But then again, a lot of

You get the feeling.

times a person can bring it upon himself.

A guy can get along in the My in-

Albert Lea community if he does his share of wanting to belong.

volvement has been because I want people to know I live here and I care about the community and I want to contribute something. the Knights of Columbus. I also belong to I was navi-

That was a real great experience.

gator of Knights of Columbus, Fourth Degree. and I was the chairman of that for two years. Moosbrugger: Jimenez:

That's equal. t.oa .Shriner, I just finished last June.

Chairman of the Shriner's or Knights of Columbus? No. It's equal to the Shriners, but it's the Fourth Degree Knight's Club. Once a year, we would have a

We had some real good events going on.

-7Jimenez: social gathering of the Shriners and the Knights of Columbus. brated our tenth anniversary on that. We cele-

It was a real big affair, because

ten or twelve years ago there was quite a difference between the Shriners and the Knights of Columbus. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: A lot of competition? Yes. other. Moosbrugger : Jimenez: Moosbrugger: There are good feelings now? Yes, Actually, we look forward to it. Have you been a member of any other organizations, like LULAC or anything specifically for Mexican Americans? Jimenez: Yes. I was chairman of GI Forum. I was a member of LULAC. I was a Maybe the competition is still there, but at least we talk to each They couldn't see eye to eye.

member of the Club Azteca. izations.

When I started they were all really good organThe reason

I guess the one that I have in mind is the GI Gorum.

for that is because it had to do with veterans, Mexican American veterans who had been in the service. Our prime reason for having the organization I

was to put on projects to raise some funds to send somebody to school. was chairman of that. It was like all the other organizations.
.1.

new

organization is hard to get going these days. But I felt that we did some good. them money. good. Moosbrugger:

There's so much going on.

We helped out a few people and gave It was really

We were known in the community as the GI Forum.

I enjoyed it very much.

Are any of these organizations like LULAC, or GI Forum or Club Azteca, still functioning at all?

Jimenez:

I think the only one that's going on now, I don't know if they have any officers or anything, is the LULACS.

Moosbrugger:

Back to discrimination, we are here at your home, a very lovely home in a very nice neighborhood. Do you think there has been discrimination in
matte~

housing, are there any extra difficulties, or is it just a

of what

-8Moosbrugger: Jimenez: you can afford? I always like to tell a story about when I get together with a bunch of people from different clubs, organizations and groups. They'll ask, "Why

aren't there more Mexican Americans included in participating in community activities?" And I tell them this; right now, a lot of the Mexican ;\ For many years the

Americans are, more or less, having a "fiesta."

Mexican Americans worked hard for seven days a week, and they never got paid for what they did. Right now, most of the Mexican Americans in They are making good money

Albert Lea are holding down pretty good jobs. and they are enjoying themselves.

I think the time is going to come when

they are going to have to realize there is more than just living and going to work and living it up. We are going to have to start participating in

some community activities and show that we are interested in what's going on in Albert Lea. I bet you in the next ten years there's going to be a

big difference, because their children are growing up, and my children are growing up. Moosbrugger: We have given our children more opportunities.

Have you, or any other Mexican , American living in this area that you know of, have any interest or thought of running for some kind of office?

Jimenez:

Not that I know of. chance.

I ran for the school board.

I knew I didn't have a

My reason for running was that I wanted to show that I am a part
I have children

of the community and that I was interested in education. going to school. school board.

I felt it was my obligation to, if possible, get on the The first time, I was working I thought my time

I have run twice since then.

at Queen's, I really put a lot more time into it then. was limited.

The second time I ran I found that being in business and I am sure

trying to run for the school board, my time was quite limited.

if I had gotten on the school board I would have had time to attend the

Jimenez:

meetings, after all, I did feel it was important. happy to be on the YMCA Board of Directors. I am interested in sports and young kids.

Right now, I am really

I do like to go to the Y, and

Moosbrugger: Jimenez:

How are you active at the Y, besides being on the board? Once a year, every season, I coached football with another fellow. are the champs. We have been for three years. I really enjoy it. We When

I was a kid, I always wanted to be a coach. it. So now I really enjoy working with kids.
team~

Financially, I couldn't swing I also sponsor a hockey Three years ago they asked I went ahead and sponsored a

team, that is my business sponsors the

me if I was interest in spons0ring a team. team. That year I coached hockey.

Then my boy grew up and as he moved

up, I felt I should move along with him, so I got out of the coaching part. I just followed him around and hauled him and his team around. telling you that takes up a lot of time. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: It sure does. No. What league is he playing in? A school league? It was really Boy, I am

He's only eleven years old.

He just plays and travels.

something.

I think it's important that parents, whether they are Mexican I

or whatever they are, should support their kids in what they are doing.

know it gave me a good feeling last year I sent my boy to this hockey clinic and there were twenty-eight in the class. They went to that school for a

week, and he got a little trophy for being the most valuable player. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: That is a nice honor. Yes, it was because it helped him. I think a lot of times, we have to I have only felt like So I went

follow our kids a little more, help them along. this, the past year.

I felt that my boy wasn't playing enough.

right to the coach and said, "There is more than just having a kid on a team. He made that team. He should be able to play." A lot of times, I

-10-

Jimenez: Moosbrugger:

guess, coaching is that way. It's good to keep involved in your children's interests. children simulate their interest in their heritage? sample Mexican dishes? Do yourfour

Do they get to

Mrs. Jimenez:

This is one thing we have always taught our children: they are a Mexican first, before anything else. their heritage.

Not to ever forget

They haven't forgotten

Moosbrugger: Mrs. Jimenez:

Do you ever speak the language at home? Sometimes, not often. We have been criticized because they don't know But this is
anothe~

how to speak their own language.

generation.

i have

had teachers tell me how difficult it is for the Mexican child to learn, when they speak Spanish at home, because they go to school and it's all English. It's very hard for them. We very seldom speak Spanish. My

daughter did take one year of Spanish. they speak. Moosbrugger: Mrs. Jimenez:

I think they understand more than

Have either you or your husband taken any trips back to Mexico? Oh, yes. Four years ago was the first time Jesse ever went down there. We have been back twice with the

My father always took us to Mexico.
whole family.

Last year we took a little gal with us and my oldest'ยท

daughter, it was quite interesting for her. Moosbrugger: Mrs. Jimenez, could you give us a little of your background? you born and raised? Mrs. Jimenez: My name is Josephine Gallo. I was born and raised in Mason City, Iowa. I Where were

-11~

Mrs. Jimenez:

went to public schools.

I graduated from Mason City High and started

working in what was than People's Gas and Electric, now it's Interstate Power. I started the night after graduation. I always wanted to work I met

in an office, taking shorthand, typing, answering the telephone. Jesse in the American Legion in 1958. Moosbrugger: Mrs. Jimenez: Was that here in Albert Lea? Yes. I have always had a job, working in an office.

We went to Florida

and I was working for the state of Florida. have held good jobs. Moosbrugger: Mrs. Jimenez: Moosbrugger: Mrs. Jimenez:

I have been very lucky and

Now, I am also the book-keeper for the Quick-Stop.

You are involved in the business then? Yes. Good.

MY

father was born in Jalisco, Mexico.

My mother was born in Irapuato, But she's still in

Mexico. Irapuato.

Now my mother and father are divorced.

MY

dad has since remarried and is now living in Albuquerque, I have one brother who is a dentist in Williamsburg, Iowa,

New Mexico.

and a sister who is married to a career Marine and they are now in North Carolina. Moosbrugger: Very good. That is my family. Thank you.