Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Adolfo González was born on September 26, 1933, in San Antonio de Padua, Zacatecas, Mexico; he had six siblings; his father worked in agriculture; his brother was also a bracero; in 1952, he worked in the United States as an undocumented worker; in 1954 he became a bracero; he worked in the fields of California; in Imperial Valley, Mr. González picked lettuce, melon, and watermelon; in Salinas, California, he picked lettuce, green beans, and apricots; his last bracero contract was in 1960; he immigrated to the United States in 1961; he married in 1966-67; Mr. González became a U.S. citizen in 1999.
Summary of Interview
In 1954, Mr. González went through the hiring process to become a bracero; he went through the contracting center in Mexicali, Mexico; he goes on to detail the camp size, living conditions, provisions, duties, payments, deductions, remittances, treatment, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities; he recalls working for Spanish-speaking Japanese foremen in Imperial Valley (1954-56) who did not give the braceros a day of rest; later, he asked for a transfer to another company; he was sent to work in the fields of Salinas and Yuma, California; he describes his workdays as very long and strenuous; he recalls using short-handled hoes; the braceros were not given provisions; they had to purchase their food and prepare their own meals, unlike the braceros that stayed at El Centro; they also had to buy their own laundry detergent; Mr. González earned seventy cents an hour; he mentions sending money to his parents; in addition, Mr. González recalls the discrimination the braceros endured from Mexican Americans; he recalls going to bars in Mexicali, Mexico and playing cards for entertainment; he mentions a gas explosion that occurred in Salinas, California in which many braceros died; he further describes a train accident that occurred in González, California; thirty-three braceros died and many others were injured; in 1961, he immigrated to the U.S. and continued working in the fields of Texas, Colorado, and New York while following the lettuce crops; he briefly discusses his opinion of the Mexican police and the Mexican government; Mr. González discusses the ten percent savings deductions; he states that although he did suffer as a bracero, his overall memories of the program are positive.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Adolfo González by Rochelle Garza, 2006, "Interview no. 1295," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.