Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Refugio L. Saldaña Sandoval was born in Tlaltenango [de Sánchez Román], Zacatecas, México, on December 21, 1939; she was the fourth born of her three brothers and two sisters; her father was a metal worker, and her mother was a housewife; she was formally educated through the sixth grade; in addition, she grew up surrounded by a very close-knit family, which included extended relatives; in December of 1958, when she was nineteen years old, she married a man named Nicolás, who served in the bracero program both before and after their marriage.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Saldaña describes her childhood and adolescence; she recalls meeting Nicolás, her husband, when she was fifteen, and she details their four year courtship; in 1959, a few months after their marriage, he returned to the United States on a new contract; while he was away, she stayed with her parents; shortly after his first return home, she became pregnant; his mother and sister, who lived in Santa Ana, California, insisted that Refugio have the baby in the United States; Refugio was hesitant at first, but she eventually agreed; Nicolás obtained a visitor’s permit and worked at a bakery in San Bernardino, California, while she lived with her mother-in-law in Santa Ana; consequently, all six children were born in the U.S.; Refugio goes on to chronicle the different places she worked and how her husband studied to become a realtor; although she did not suffer very much, because she was surrounded by her family, her husband did; he often cries when reflecting upon his experiences as a bracero; even so, these memories served as motivation for him to work hard so his children would have a better life; traveling to the United States was especially difficult, because he was transported in trains used for animals, which smelled horribly; Refugio concludes by stating that what helped her the most, especially in dealing with the clash between two cultures, was her family and the faith they instilled in her.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Refugio L. Saldaña by Anabel Mota, 2006, "Interview no. 1171," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.