Bracero Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Fred DeYoung was born in Seattle Washington on February 17, 1947. His family was poor and worked mostly as laborers, or in white collar jobs which paid little money. He attended high school in Salinas, California. At that time, in an effort to teach his son the difficulty of hard labor, and the value of education, Mr. DeYoung’s father required him to work in the fields. So, in 1963, during the summers after his sophomore and junior years in high school, he worked on a Bracero lettuce harvesting crew. He went on to graduate from University, and became a businessman.
Summary of Interview
Mr. DeYoung describes the work-a-day lives of Braceros on a lettuce harvesting crew; he defines “hoeing and thinning” and the difference between this type of work and “harvesting;” he details the process of harvesting lettuce and provides job descriptions for the multiple roles this process requires including, cutters, spreaders, clampers, stitches, wind rowers, and loaders; he lists the type of clothing items the workers would wear in the fields; he discusses the quality and type of food Braceros ate, as well as the conditions of the labor camps and barracks; Mr. DeYoung also describes the leisure and weekend activities of the Braceros including soccer, letter writing, card playing, movie-going, church-going, shopping, and eating at local Mexican restaurants; he characterizes the men on his crew as good, hardworking, churchgoing, family men with a great sense of humor, who treated him and the other local high school students on their crew like cousins or nephews, and who protected them from outside abuse of any kind; he expresses his belief that, though being away from their families must have been very difficult, the Bracero program was beneficial to them and their families, and the conditions of the program in his area were “a step up” from those in Mexico; finally, he expresses a desire for history books to reflect the contributions of Braceros and the Mexican culture in general to California, and for the history of the Bracero Program to be told from the points of view of Braceros and agribusiness owners.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Fred DeYoung by Kristine Navarro, 2005, "Interview no. 1586," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.