Summary of Interview
Alicia Sarmiento Ramirez was born in El Paso Texas, on May 11, 1946, and she recently applied for the renewal of her passport and her birth certificate said that she was born in Smelter Town, Texas because at that time it used to be separate from El Paso it was like a separate county. Her father used to be a supervisor on an American Melter called ASARCO, and her mother was a housekeeper and she had 3 sisters and her mom took care of them. Her dad worked since 1945 at ASARCO as a supervisor, he got the position because he used to be a carpenter and he had “experience” and he was giving the position of supervisor. She grew up in a neighborhood called Buena Vista, they will always stay at home and go to school, they didn’t speak Spanish at all because their teachers at school would hit them with a ruler if they spoke Spanish instead of English. She needed to find a way to learn English quickly and she watched TV and sometimes played with people that only spoke English in order to learn. She attended elementary school in Buena Vista and all the schools were very strict about the language they spoke while being at school and they would get hit, and the story continues to high school. When they were studying, they wouldn’t have a place to eat for example a cafeteria or a place to play during their recess and they were told to stay in the classroom. Her father was asked to retire early from ASARCO because he was asked to take a medical test and he had 85% of toxins in his blood and he could get intoxicated in the plant so he was asked to retire for a time but he went back but at the end, he retired early. Her father was retired for 3 months and he died from a crash and he hit his head harder enough to kill him, only 3 months later from his retirement. Working at the plant was high risk and a lot of accidents occurred in the plant and his father and brothers were witnesses of accidents there. His father used a special mask and lens because at the plant they burned metal such as silver, gold, or other metals but the gases emitted by the process of burning were toxic and very harmful for the human being. At the plant, they had special washers in order to clean every employee from head to toe so that they don’t take any kind of metal in their clothes or in their body, because even if it wasn’t on purpose it was considered a robbery. Her father had a bad back due to the hard work and that limited his walking or carrying things at work so he would have trouble doing that. The neighbors were very unified and if there was a mass they would go together or if there was a picnic they would eat together and every time it rained they would have a flood in their house and in the neighborhood and everyone in that community would help each other. She's still in touch with the people that used to live in that neighborhood, and she says that she will have messages on Facebook of people that used to know her dad from ASARCO and even her father's best friend messages her. When she finished college, she graduated with a business bachelor's, and the first job she got was on the credit bureau, then she left that work and got married. One day she was called from her sons’ school and she was told that she was going to be a volunteer teacher. Her father was buried at the Calavera cemetery where they were going to build a highway and they wanted to remove everybody that was buried in that cemetery. One day she received a call and she was told that they needed to move the body from her father's grave, and she was in shock, so they sent someone to do that job. She says that her grandfather and his father were buried in that same cemetery years apart from each other, but she says that they rest in peace together. She has a lot of good memories and a lot of pictures from their childhood and more recent ones.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
1 hour 5 minutes
Interview with Alicia Sarmiento Ramirez by Alejandro Garcia, 2019, "Interview no. 1718," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.