Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Erasmo Corral was born in 1914, in Tepehuanes, Durango, México; he had six brothers and two sisters; his father worked in agriculture, and his mother was a housewife; he was never formally educated, but he did learn to read and write as an adult; by the time he was eight years old, he helped care for animals; during the midthirties, he worked in the United States without legal documentation for six years; in 1943, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked on railroads and in cotton fields.
Summary of Interview
In 1943, Mr. Corral went though the contracting center in Queretaro, México to enlist in the bracero program; he was medically examined before being transferred to the United States by train; as a bracero, he worked on railroads and in cotton fields; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, living conditions, accommodations, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, deductions, remittances, correspondence and recreational activities; his first contract with Western Pacific began in San Francisco, California and ended in Flanigan, Nevada; he started by working on the railroad tracks with a shovel, and he gradually progressed to a foreman’s assistant and finally to running the commissary; moreover, he explains that the camp moved around and consisted of a number of box cars, including some for the commissary, dinning and housing, which held eight men per car; he stayed with Western Pacific for six months but decided not to renew his contract, because he wanted to go home to his family; his second contract took him to the cotton fields of Mississippi; he traveled for three days on a bus, where he was fed poorly and only once a day, before arriving in the camp; once there, the men were treated horribly; they were forced to pick what was left in fields that had already been harvested; furthermore, they were given furnaces used in cargo trains, and they were expected to use them as stoves; during a strike, he spoke with officials, and they were able to resolve the problems; he stayed in Mississippi for less than forty-five days; despite his difficulties, he still has positive memories of the program.
Date of Interview
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GMR Transcription Service
Interview with Erasmo Corral by Cristina Berumen, 2008, "Interview no. 1409," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.