Bracero Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Elio J. Pompa was born in 1956, in Chihuahua, Mexico; during the early 1950s, his father worked in the bracero program; he labored in the fields of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas; in 1958, when Elio was roughly two and a half years old, his family immigrated to the United States; he lived in a labor camp in Litchfield Park, Arizona, with his family until he was roughly seventeen years old; during that time, he also worked in the fields; he later became a firefighter.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Pompa briefly talks about his father’s work with the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas; in 1958, when Elio was roughly two and a half years old, the family immigrated to the United States; he remembers they traveled seasonally with other families and groups of braceros; by the time he was five years old, he was working in the fields with women and other children; his father regularly labored in a different field and on occasion in a different camp altogether; Elio explains that in Casa Grande, Arizona the family was subjected to what he believed were third world living conditions with bare dirt floors and no heating or running water; moreover, meals had to be prepared outdoors, over an open flame; his father eventually found permanent work with Goodyear Farms, and they settled at the accompanying labor camp in Litchfield Park, Arizona; although everyone worked hard, they also played hard by listening to music and drinking to unwind; Elio and the other children played sports or hide-and-seek; he even remembers his father making him and his brother sing Christmas carols and “The Star-Spangled Banner” for company; he was proud of the transition they had made; Elio also mentions several other anecdotes about his experiences, including the strong attachments he formed and getting picked up by immigration officials; he lived in the camp with his family until he was roughly seventeen years old, and he eventually became a firefighter; he concludes by stating that he and his family were able to use the opportunities that the bracero program offered to their advantage
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
GMR Transcription Service
Interview with Elio J. Pompa by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1596," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.