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Interview with Bill Villarreal

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Description

Bill Villarreal was born in Sabinas, Hidalgo, Mexico, in 1909 and came to the United States in 1923. He settled in Albert Lea in 1948. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: His early years working in agriculture in the United States - his involvement in clubs and societies in southern Minnesota, including the League of United Latin American Citizens - his role in founding the Azteca Club - the education and careers of his children - the need for Mexican Americans to be organized - and philosophies and viewpoints on progress and reform of society and its subcultures. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: In Spanish, transcribed into English.

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0:46:16

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,I

SUN MAR Y

ORAL HISTORY mTERVIEH
WITH

BILL VILLARREAL Interviewed by:

(1909 -

)

Grant liloosbrug(jer on July 27, 1976

Born in Sabinas, Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon, Nexico, Mr. Villarreal came to the United States in 1923. Hi3 describes his employment in this country and mentions his children's occupation. He out lines his participation in social and civic orgrulizations. He

praises L.U.L.A.C. (League of United Latin American Citizens) for its goals and objectives and was proud to be a member of that organization until he moved to Minneapolis in 1964. He believes in three basic rules handed to him by his father: 1) 2) 3) Always \'lOrk hard and do your very best at what you undertake; it Never lie; especially when a serious situation is involved. If you go out with a beautiful woman, if you become seriously Be careful
on~y

is the price you will pay for successful employment. If the truth can't save you then for sure a lie ,vill condemn you. interested in a beautiful woman, others will also find her attractive. in what she says, for she will she likes. Respect her, but be cautious. The cassette tape is in Spanish and is approximately 45 minutes in duration. This interview does not contain a refined English transcription; it does however contain a rough 1st draft translation.

tell you those she doesn't like, not those men

Ttranscript of a taped interview
w~th

Bill Villarreal Grant Moosbrugger

Jm1y 27, 1976 rmterviewer: Moosbrugger:

Thlis is Grant Moosbrugger interviewing Bill Villarreal in Albert
~ea,

Minnesota.

Today is July 27, 1976.

Wom1d you please tell us where you were born and your backgromnd history? Villarreal; . I was born in Mexico in the city of Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico on April 21, 1909. States in 19 3. I came to the United Since then I

t

I didn't want to go to school.

worked at different jobs in the United States because to get a good job you need a education. Moosbrugger: What are some of the states you first worked in when you came to the United States? Villarreal: Well my first job was in the state of Texas. a farm
wa1~ing

I worked on

a plow with a team of mules.

I worked fourteen It wasn't even

to sixteen hours a day for one dollar a day. nine cents an hour. school. to study like my parents wanted me to. So r had to work at hard labor. We got married in 1932. and I raising a family.

I thought a lot about going back to Mexico No one made me quit In 1931 I met my
wife~

We continued working on farms, my wife In those days there weren't any jobs If you were from this country Otherwise you looked for I started working I don't
j~b.

for Mexicans who came from,Mexico. you could have hope in finding a work in the farm fields.

After World War II there were more jobs. at packing plants and foundries.

At the same time I had to go

back to the farm, because I was registered as a farmer.

-2-

know why they did that.

The government extended my permit. This way I

Every six months they would send me a permit called aD-form. I would fill it out and send it to Washington. couldn't stay at anyone job. by force. In those days I was working at the packing plant. not going back to the farm. Army. You're going into the When I told them I had to go back to the farm they said, "No, you're Army." I'm going back I showed them They had orders that if anyone who doesn't work has to go to the I said, "No, I am not going into the Army. to the farm, because that's what my papers said.
my papers.

I had to go back to the farm

They couldn't send me to the Army because my papers I had to do what the government In 1948 I always worked on the farm

said I was to go back to the farm. said. fields. land. I came to Albert Lea, Minnesota.

That's how it was, I worked many different jobs.

I planted a little vegetables and when I could I rented I planted and worked for many different farmers.

In 1949 there was formed a baseball team in Maple Island, Minnesota. The team wanted to form an organization. We had our For the first meeting to name president of the organization. Most of the team was from Texas. was left alone. In the winter of 1949 some of the Mexicans asked me to organize the Mexicans in Albert Lea. the first Sunday. their families. community. it over. The next Sunday we met at my home again. members. Later we choose the name Club Azteca. We had thirty-eight For a number of I was afraid I told them that all that I could do I invited them to my home on is help them organize themselves.

short time that it was in existence it was called Club Alegre. When they went back to Texas I

There were a lot of people because they brought I told them the ideas that I had for organization I gave them a week to think

to help the Mexicans, our children, our families and our It sounded good to them.

years I was in charge, I really didn't want to be.

-3-

that if I quit the club would go downhill and that's what happened •. I quit the club so that they would have to get a new leader and it went downhill. brought the club back up. Then the Sociodad Lu1ac, United Latin American Citizens they said they wanted men like me to join their organization. I didn't want to leave the organization that we established here in Albert Lea. I asked them to tell me what they were They told me that education We So we changed to Lulac. doing for the Mexicans in the state. was the most important thing. I joined again and

worked hard and I'm proud to say that our chapter of Lu1ac was the strongest in the Midwest. because of my job. In 1964 I moved to Minneapolis When I left the Lu1acs were working.

After ten years I returned to Albert Lea and found nothing. It hurts me to say that after so much work in organizing the society we ended up with nothing. anyone to tell us what to dol not from an6ther':Mexicant equal to any other race. Why? Because we don't want We don't want to take orders

from a Mexican but we can take, orders from somebody else, but There are so many intelligent We could be As long as we don't think about getting Mexicans that could lead us to the highest level. organized we will never be or reach anything. It doesn't matter how powerful or rich you are, you can't do anything unless you are organized. you have everything. anyone. When you are organized I have spoken to a lot of my friends that

bring home good checks and they say they don't need any help from That is absurd because sooner or later you're going to It would be nice to have your door open to any need somebody.

one of your brothers who need help. In another way it could get you enemies because being proud of yourself because you are lucky and your life is good. proud will get you enemies. "All right you bastard, now you remember me." For example we have the black families. Being When they need help they'll say, It's very sad. When I came to

this country the poor black person was separated from everyone

-4-

in everything.

They were lucky, they got their freedom. Their black capitalists We could

They thinked and worked together.

donate money to black colleges so that other blacks can have the same opportunity to educate themselves. do the same thing if we were organized. by side to work for the education of our children: I'm happy to say and give thanks to my God for giving me the energy to work hard so that my children didn't have to work like I did to make a living. Moosbrugger: This makes me very happy. We could work side

In what condition was the Lulac Club when you left to move to Minneapolis?

Villarreal:

The club was left in good conditions.

We had the

opportunity to save money in the treasury for education so that children with good grades could get money from our club to continue their educations. the requirements. We would go to the high school and check their grades to see if the boy or girl met Unfortunately some of our members wanted When their children their children to receive a scholarship but wouldn't take under consideration their children's grades. didn't receive a scholarship they would quit the club. When my youngest child was in college, I didrih have a job for three months. my son and help. from anyone. I asked the Lulacs for help. All my family had been working for the Lulac Club. They didn't give

Nevertheless I didn't stop working for Lulac.

We were lucky because my son finished his studies without help But that's not the reason why I quit Lulac, just My family continued working Like in the out because they didn't help my son. things done.

for Ltilac because I believe that's the only way we will get We have got to get involved. organization I told them, "I want you " t6 bring ideas on how to make money. I will choose the best idea. I don't want the other ones to get mad because I didn't choose their idea and then quit the club." That is not how it should be.
If you want an

organization to work, you have to work together.

Naturally in

-5-

any organization enemies and friends will be together. long as they're together they must treat each other as brothers.

As

If after the meeting they don't want to talk to But as long as we are in the In other

each other that is up to them.

meetings we will treat enemies and friends equally.

words if you have an enemy at a meeting and you don't want to go because your enemy is there, then don't go to the meeting because there is work to be done. to work for a common cause. When I returned to Albert Lea I came with the to work. Not because we lost what we lost. why we lost our organization.
attit~de

We all have to be united

I can understand

I am still ready to work if

there are people who want to get together again. Two weeks ago I was called on by some older members celebrating their gold caps. asked where I was from. Lea. Later I went and spoke with He is a new priest. He the priest at our Catholic Church.

I told him I was from Albert Lea.

He asked me why the Mexicans aren't organized here in Albert I told him we were organized, but since I have returned He told me that one day I there is no organization anymore. hope it is true.

soon he and I will get together and organize the people. my life, I could leave the town of Albert Lea organized. Moosbrugger:

I would be very proud",.if in my last days of

It seems that up to this point the Mexicans aren't too interested?

Villarreal:

No, now we are more apart than ever when we should be closer than ever before. don't need anyone. out of this?" Maybe I am wrong, but now that everyone has a good job and making good money they think they But that's not idea they should be willing Many say, "What am I going to get to help the organization.

It's not what the organiza.tion can do for you

but what you can do for the organization. Like what President Kennedy said, "It's not what you

-6-

can do for your country or the country do 'for you. what you can do for your country." organization to see what you can get. your family, your community. down. Moosbrugger: Villarreal:

It's

You don't join an No, you try to see

how you can make it bigger for the benefit of yourself, In other words, we are sitting We have to stand up and be responsible for our people. What kind of advice did your father give you? Sure it is a beautiful thing. I will never forget it. After I left my They told I said, I said, He said,

I am sixty-seven years old thanks to God.

home for two years, I went to visit my parents. "No, Papa.

me, "Now you're going to be stable and stay with us." I am going back to the United States." "You know you're going to have to work hard to live." Maybe I like it."

"I already know that because I have been working for two years. Then my father said he was going to give me three rules to live by. live. First of all, you are going to have to work to When When he is not around work. Secondly Be complete in your job, as if it were your own.

your boss is around take your time.

Work hard so that they will see you don't need someone to watch you'.', When you finish your work don't brag about it. don't lie. are in, don't ever lie. lie will condemn you. I don't say I have never told any white lies, like the Americans say. many occasions. Thirdly my father told/me, "Someday you will be a man. You will find a young lady that you will want as your wife, to spend the rest of your life in her company. in her. But if she is really beautiful you are not the only one who will be interested There are going to be others who are going to be But when it comes to something serious I do The truth has saved me in everything possible,not to lie. It doesn't matter what kind of circumstances you If the truth doesn't save you, the

-7-

interested in her and attempt to court her. man she won't say anything. she doesn't like him. she says. Moosbrugger: Villarreal:

I~

she likes the Why? Because

But if she doesn't like him she

will tell you that so and so is bothering her.

So don't put too much attention to what

Respect her in certain situations, but ignore others." It's very beautiful.

Yes, they are good rules.

I have worked at different jobs in the sixty-five years that I have worked. me helped me. work. It seems that the advice my father gave I have retired and it's an honor to say that

there isn't a man who can say he wasn't satisfied with my I always did my best. You have a good family. names and their order? My son Alberto is the oldest. me the job as a policeman. auxilliary police force. job. He is a policeman. They offer Would you like to tell us their

Moosb!ugger:
J ,

Villarreal:

I tried it for two summers on the It didn't appeal to me so I left the I told him He put it

Then my son asked me if he could have the job.

he had to pass a test and to put in his application. in and got accepted. fifteen years.

He has been on the police force for

My daughter, the oldest of the girls, she didn't want to go to school like me. children. She's only been a mother, caring for her She worked for the The third continued her studies.

printing department for the Albert Lea newspaper for six years until she got married, and her husband didn't want her to work any more. very fine. They moved to Reno, Nevada. My grandson, is a musician. They have been there for He plays with a well He His profession is a music She went to fourteen years. They have established themselves and they're

known orchestra in the United States for the past seven years. has come to the Minnesota State Fair. teacher. My third, she lives in Crystal, Minnesota.

-8-

school to be a beautician.

She didn't like it, and she He is a teacher and coach. My wife

went to work for the telephone 'company. My last son is the youngest. He also likes to golf. He coaches football and wrestling in Northfield, Minnesota. He has won a few trophies. and I are very happy with our family. in any gang or jails to this date. They have never been