Dr. Monica Perales
Smeltertown Oral History Project
Summary of Interview
Ruben Escandon was born and raised in a neighborhood called “La Calavera.” This neighborhood was established before Smeltertown. He describes his childhood as being active and a great sense of community. The neighborhood had open spaces with allowed families to have livestock. The interview focuses around lead poisioning from ASARCO. He recalls being tested for lead poisioning, along with his neighborhood. His neighborhood was not affected as much as those who lived closer to the large smoke stack. Escandon describes how lawyers and politics effected the Smeltertown. People began to move out of the area to other parts of El Paso. The sense of community followed the families into their new homes. Some people chose to stay in the area. The community began to change with the introduction of the lawsuit. Families who had been established in the area did not want to be involved in any legal action, the newer families were more open to sue ASARCO. Escandon recalls the Solis and De la Rosa family who recieved money from lawsuits. He even discloses how not every family got money from the lawsuit, some just got enough to move out of the neighborhood and lived in housing projects. The conversation shifts from lawsuits to working conditions. Escandon became a plumber because the working conditions were better, he credits OSHA for protecting the workers. When he lived in the area, Escandon recalls dust and smog around. He even recalls some workers eating and drinking outside in the smog. He says there was an awareness of health hazards, but the workers did not think they would get sick. Last, Escandon adds he wishes he could go back and collect the oral histories of those who lived at Smeltertown. He does not want that part of history to die out.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Interview with Ruben Escandon by Dr. Monica Perales, 1998, "Interview no. 1661," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.