Elias Bonilla


Richard Baquera


Bracero Oral History Project

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

Elias Bonilla was born on April 1, 1934, in Tornillo, Texas; his father was originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, and his mother was originally from Coahuila, Mexico; he was the eldest of five children; his father managed a grocery store in Tornillo and was also involved in the family construction business; for a brief time, his family moved to California but returned to Tornillo; he helped his father at a commissary on Allison Farms, where many of the clients were braceros.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Bonilla recalls his childhood growing up in Tornillo, Texas; he goes into great detail about the construction work his father and grandfather would do with adobe buildings and houses; his family moved to California from 1946 to 1949 then returned to Tornillo; upon returning to Tornillo, he helped his father work at a commissary on Allison Farms; he describes the commissary and the various services they provided for the braceros; in addition, he recalls what kinds of items the braceros would buy, what their favorite things were, and how the kinds of clothes they wore were often very telling of the different cities in Mexico that they came from; in 1952, he left to join the military, and goes on to tell what his experiences were like while in the military and what life was like afterward as well.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

122 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1553

Transcript Number

No. 1553

Length of Transcript

39 pages


Vanessa Macias

Interview Number

No. 1553

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