I believe it’s important that future generations understand the sacrifice that their parents & grandparents have made for them, so they can in return have a better future. My Tia Guadalupe loves sharing about how her and her family came to San Antonio from Monterrey, Nuevo León and ended up in California, and I enjoy listening to every word my aunt shares with me.
My Tia Lupe, as we call her, is one of the oldest of nine children. My grandparents where both born in Mexico and settled in the city of Monterrey. My Tio Paulino Mata and Tia Guadalupe came to San Antonio with their four small children in March of 1954. They all had passports and legal green cards, as they where called back then. When they first arrived, they lived in the garage of a family member’s home. My Tia Lupe describes the small garage with not much space or furniture. She told me they were poor and didn’t have much; they didn’t know how they where they going to make it and provide for the family. My aunt recalls that some of the pieces of furniture had where given to them.
Their journey to California was an unexpected one. A man that my uncle came across through work asked him if he could take a used car he had and drive it to California for him. He needed a driver and my uncle happened to be the perfect one. My aunt says that they didn’t think twice about this offer. The life they had in San Antonio was a rough one; they hoped for a better life for their family, as they hoped for a new start.
My Tia Lupe told me, “We had no idea where we where going or if your uncle was going to find work. We packed our things into this small car & left with our four small children. Rosa, their oldest daughter, was only 6 years old. And we drove and drove for many miles. We arrived in Watsonville, California. There, we were fortunate that we were asked if we wanted to work picking strawberries in the field. Several months later, your uncle was offered a job with the Driscoll Strawberry Company. The owners were good to us, we went from picking strawberries to becoming Medeiros (a Spanish word for sharecroppers),” my Tia Lupe tells me.
They would work alongside other workers that were in California as Braceros. Mexican farmers came to work under this program in the fields of California. My aunt also recalls that my grandfather’s brother, Ezekiel, was working as a Bracero in the fields of California.
My cousin Rosa states, “We were very poor back then; none of us ever knew it, because we always had more love than money could buy. My dad would come home beat from a hard days work, but never too tired to play with us. It seemed as though we energized each other. We lived across from a park and played baseball every day. I must say that to this day, we all energize each other at any family function. We’re blessed to have our parents who taught us about work ethics, and to help each other and be proud of who we are.”
One thing I know for sure is that life has a way of compensating our hard work. Their daughter, Rosa Boutonnet, has worked at Ocean Mist Farms in Castroville, California for over 45 years. Ocean Mist is celebrating their 90th anniversary this year, and are famous for their delicious artichokes. My cousin Rosa ended up marrying, Mr. Ed Boutonnet, CEO/President of Ocean Mist.
My Tio Paulino and Tia Lupe have been married for 68 years, with 8 children and several grandchildren and great grandchildren. My aunt and uncle have been residing in San Antonio, TX, for over 10 years. Their life hasn’t been easy, but their children and grandchildren are enjoying a better life due to their sacrifice and hard work in the United States.
Norma Garcia is a Staff Writer at Latino Giant. Norma was born and raised in San Antonio, TX, where she has served as a real estate agent for over 14 years. She has an impressive record of volunteering and giving back to her community, beginning at the age of 18 years old when she would go to Laredo, MX to help do missionary work at a small Christian church. She is the author of “My Dear Jasmine: From Tragedy to Triumph” published in 2008.