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Interview with Alberto Villarreal



Alberto Villarreal was born in Blue Earth, Minn., in 1933 and grew up in Iowa and Albert Lea, Minn. He has worked in a packing house, a foundry, construction, a hospital and a furniture store. Since 1960 he has been a member of the Albert Lea Police Department. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Education, work and family history - involvement with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) - and the Azteca Club.





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This interview was conducted as part of a series on the Mexican American in Minnesota. Albert Villarreal, was born shortly after the Great Depression, and spent his early years moving from town to town, getting his formal education in relatively disjointed segments. He worked at a variety of jobs as a young man, and for a period of several

years before the fact, aspired to join the Albert Lea Police Department. His employment as a member:of the police force has led him to developing interest in training police attack dogs and serving as an interpreter in the courts. settled and established in the Albert Lea community. This is a transcript of a tape recorded interview edited to aid in clarity and ease of comprehension for the reader. The original tape recording is available in the AudioHe is happily

Visual Library of the Minnesota Historical Society.



This is Grant Moosbrugger interviewing Officer A1 Villarreal, also known as Va1arie1, in the Albert Lea Police Station. Today is July 12, 1976. Do I

have your permission to interview you for the Minnesota Historical Society, Officer Villarreal? Villarreal: Moosbrugger: You do. Thank you. Maybe you could start off with a little background. Could you

tell us when and where you were born? Villarreal: Moosbrugger: I was born April 23, 1933, in Blue Earth, Minnesota. Could you tell us a little about your parents and if you have any brothers and sisters, and in what order you come in the family. or the youngest? Villarreal: I have two brothers and three sisters. brother. Moosbrugger: Villarreal: I have an older brother and a younger Are you the oldest

My sisters are younger than me.

Are they all living? Yes. I have a sister that lives in Minneapolis; a sister in Reno; a brother

that's a school teacher in Northfield, Minnesota; and a brother that's retired from the service. Moosbrugger: Villarreal: Moosbrugger: Villarreal: He is living in Texas.

Are your parents still living? Yes. They live here, in Albert Lea.

When did they come to Minnesota, do you know? My dad came from Monterrey, Mexico in the early twenties. originally from Kansas City, Missouri. My mother is


Do you recall hearing what brought them to Minnesota?

-2Villarreal: Moosbrugger: Villarreal: No. I really don't know.

So you don't know if it was relatives or friends that were up here? Well, my mother came to Minnesota. My grand-father moved from Missouri. At

that time, they were 'working in the fields. Moosbrugger: Your older brother, was he born in Minnesota? I'm just trying to figure out

roughly what year your folks might have come to Minnesota. Villarreal: Moosbrugger: Villarreal: Moosbrugger: I think he was born in Texas. Your married sister in Minneapolis, what's her married name? Her name is Caroline Navarette. Navarette? married? Villarreal: Moosbrugger: Moosbrugger: N-a-v-a-r-e-t-t-e? Okay, thank you. Your other sister is also

What is her married name?

Sarah is married to Stanley Suiter. Suiter. S-u-i-t-e-r? And where do ,they' live? I have a sister named Cruz. She is married

They live here in Albert Lea.

to Gordy Anderson, who is a musician, in Lake Tahoe and is also a teacher. Moosbrugger: Villarreal: Moosbrugger: Villarreal: Moosbrugger: Villarreal: Moosbrugger: Where' does your brother live? My brother in Northfield is a teacher. Is he with the Northfield schools? Yes. High school. He is also the head coach.

What subject does he teach, do you know? I don't know. Could you tell us a little bit about your history, where you grew up, where you went to school and any experiences you had?


Well, I didn't go to school in Blue Earth. I was born, I guess.

We moved from there shortly after I also went to

I started school in Richmond, Missouri.

school in Mason City, then to school here in Albert Lea, and back to Mason City, where I finish school.

-3Moosbrugger: You finished school in Mason City, Iowa? from Blue Earth, Minnesota? What age were you when you moved

You'd mentioned you had spent some time in

Blue Earth, when you were growing up? Villarreal: Mostly here in Albert Lea and Mason City. from there when I was just a little kid. Moosbrugger: I see. So you were born in Blue Earth, but spent most of your time growing Do you remember anything significant that I was born in Blue Earth and moved

up in Mason City and Albert Lea.

you would consider unusual, different, or interesting about your high school and grade school years? Villarreal: No. I don't believe it was anything outstanding. I was just a regular

student. Moosbrugger: When you got out of high school, what were your ideas on what kind of work you wanted to do? Villarreal: Moosbrugger: Villarreal: No. Or did you go into the service?

I was married too young, so I never got into the service.

How old were you when you got married? About nineteen. I just worked here: in our packing house; foundry work;

construction; shipping clerk for a furniture store and factory; and also for a hospital. Moosbrugger: Villarreal: Moosbrugger: What was your wife's maiden name? Isabel Perez. P-e-r-e-z.

Could you tell us about your children, when they were born and what their names are?


My oldest daughter is twenty-four years old and she's married and lives in Clear Lake, Iowa. Her name is Linda Estretch. Rosaline is twenty-three, and I have a

she is married to Gordon Hacker. daughter named Debra.

She lives here in Albert Lea.

She is living and working in Winona.

She's twenty-two.

Albert Junior just got married this summer.

He's twenty-one and he works for

-4Villarreal: the city. home, now. He works for the Park Department. She is sixteen. I only have one daughter at

Her name is Cynthia, and she is the youngest

of my children. Moosbrugger: Villarreal; How did you come about deciding to get on the Albert Lea Police Department? I have always been interested in law enforcement. when I was twenty-one and didn't make it. I put in an application

Then when I was twenty-eight or

twenty-nine I applied again, and I made it that time, that was about 1960. I have been on the force now for almost sixteen years. Moosbrugger: Villarreal: Do you belong to any civic clubs, social groups or church groups? Mostly P.T.A.'s, and the Catholic Church. I don't belong to any other clubs. I belonged to

We used to have what they called LULAC Club, a Mexican Club. that for a while, until it finally fizzled out. Moosbrugger:

In your social life, have you other friends of Mexican descent?


would it

be just coincidental and your friends of mostly other nationality groups? Villarreal: No. I have equal amounts. The population of Albert Lea is roughly twenty

to twenty-one thousand.

It's safe to say that I know just about all the

Mexican people that stay here year round and some that migrate back and forth. I know quite a few of the people that work in Hollandale too. Moosbrugger: Are there ever any fiestas or social life, that are more interesting or more understandable to people of Mexican descent, that goes on around here? Villarreal: Well, September sixteenth is Mexican Independence Day. every year. Moosbrugger: Villarreal: Do you have a parade or a fiesta, what do you actually have? Well, not so much now. more. Moosbrugger: Villarreal: When we had the LULAC and Azteca Club, they did a lot We have a fiesta

My dad was the one that organized the Azteca Club years ago.

That is no longer active? No. That kind of died out. We went into the LULAC, because that was quite

-5Villarreal: Moosbrugger: Villarreal: a big club. It was nationally organized.

What year would that have been that the Azteca Club died out? It must have been about 1963, somewhere in there.


The remainder of this interview is inaudible. minutes.

These were the first clear nine

There was a total of fifteen minutes recorded.