Interview: Mike Lopez, the East Donna Story

Date of Interview: June 18, 2019
Interviewed By: Chuy Ramriez
Posted: July 28, 2021

Mike Lopez grew up in Donna, Texas during the 1950s and 60s.  As  most other Mexican American students, he was directed to attend school at East Donna, some distance away.  His recollection of attending school at East Donna elementary school and later being pushed to attend “la escuela de los burros” provides an interesting contrast with what an Anglo educator wrote about the East Donna elementary school during the early 1930s. Read the article about the East Donna Mexican school (later named Guzman Elementary) and Mike Lopez’ interview.  When I began the interview with Mike, he asked if he could speak naturally, that is, in the way South Texas chicanos of my generation speak the language (what we might call Tex-Mex).  We tried it.  What resulted is a unique display of the language which frankly I have not observed recorded.  Check it out.

Mike graduated high school at Donna in 1965, served a stint in Okinawa during the Viet Nam War and returned to South Texas to attend Pan American College. An active member of the Mexican American Youth Organization, Mike would organize chicanos in the Donna  area and would be elected to the Donna ISD board of trustees, serving two non-consecutive terms.  He would also served as city manager of the City of Donna. He is currently executive director of the Hidalgo County Housing Authority.

Notably, three of Mike’s uncles landed in Normandy on D-Day during World War II and lived tell about it.

 

 

 

 

We begin the interview with Mike Lopez’s recollection of a strange incident at Donna High School in the 60s

Mike:  In high school, Butch Sauceda Frankie Villanueva se llevaron dos gringas. Se las  llevaron—novias. Una, hija del head guy del cannery—Aigen—se llamaba Aigen.

I forget his first name. La hija de’l se fué ¿con quién? I don’t remember who went with whom. Se me hace que se fué con Frankie. Y Butch se llevo a—I forget the lady’s name. I know it, pero no me acuerdo ahorita. Se llevó la otra  de Mr. Bink—business guy de la comunidad. Well, it became a big issue in the school.  se enseño (vió) mucho—a little bit of the racist divide came to—

Chuy:  Came to the surface?

Mike:  Came to the surface. Le hablaron al FBI, a los Texas Rangers. Todos los andaban buscando. Los querían colgar. ¡Fijate!

Chuy:  ¿En serio?

Mike:  Yeah. They wound up catching them quién sabe donde—no me acuerdo. New

Mexico, Phoenix. Sepa la madre. Y se los trajeron pa’tras.

Chuy:  But they were kids?

Mike:  Yeah, they were in high school—high school kids.

Chuy:  Digo, but they must have been …

Mike:  Pero se hizo un escándalo de la madre at the high school y me imagino que in the town.

Chuy:  In ’64.

Mike:  That was in ’64. Fijate, I didn’t…

Chuy:  They disappeared, right?

Mike:  Yeah, yeah. At the end of the day everybody said, “Es mejor que no haiga legal

repercussions. So, aquellos los querían colgar, but I remember the divide of the racial

comments and stuff.

“How dare they take them!”

Los van a colgar!”

“They’re going to crucify them.”

Comments like that. First, I didn’t notice it at the time. Yo no sabia eso. That didn’t have

an impact hasta que me fuí al sevicio y regresé—kind of with my

mind more open because of the Blacks. Y luego, in the service, I met Puerto Ricans and

Chicanos de Los Angeles. They had a lot of conflicts in their communities.

Chuy:  Openly…

Mike:  Openly racist types of conflicts and stuff. Racial stuff—discrimination and all that stuff.

Like kind of filtered in pero todavía no.

Chuy:  Really? Let me ask you. So, Butch was about your age? A little younger? A little older?

Mike:  Butch was a couple of years older than I.

Chuy:  Y Frank?

Mike:  Frank tambien. Ellos dos son de la misma edad.

Chuy:  But Butch is still alive?

Mike:  No, acaba de morir.

Chuy:  Oh.

Mike:  He just passed.

Chuy:  Y Frank?

Mike:  Frank, ahí está.

Chuy:  Now, Butch had two brothers, right? The oldest one was on the school board?

Mike:  Tenía un older brother que murió. Esa gente murió de heart condition very early. Era un older brother y luego tenía Cecilio y luego tenía Simon.

Chuy:  They were older?

Mike:  They were younger.

Chuy:  Oh, they were younger.

Mike:  Butch tenía un older brother and then it was him and then it was Cecilio, Then, there was Simon. Simon was my age. Y luego tenía an older sister and another sister—I think three sisters.

Chuy:  The one who was on the school board—who was that?

Mike:  That was Simon Sauceda. Graduó conmigo.

Chuy:  Moreno, moreno.

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  El otro no tan moreno, ese es…

Mike:  No, el otro estaba chaparrito.  Simon was my age and Cecilio was about a year or two— no sé si Cecilio was older than Butch. Yeah, he was older than Butch. He was a couple of years older than Butch. Cecilio was superintendent there at one time.

Chuy:  Okay.

Mike:  He was (an) administrator.

Chuy:  Oh, he was not on the board.

Mike:  No.

Chuy:  So, who was on the board?

Mike:  Simon. Yeah, Simon Sauceda.

Chuy:  And Cecilio and Simon are both alive.

Mike:  No. As a matter of fact, they are all deceased—todos los brothers.

Chuy:  Really? ¿Sí?

Mike:  Yeah. El hermano had heart problems real early. I don’t know how early—fifties, I guess. Cecilio was already (in his) mid-seventies when he passed. Butch had heart problems on and off all the time. Simon was around sixty-two when he deceased (passed, died)—ay por ay—del corazón también.

Chuy:  Okay. I used to see one of them—and I don’t know which one it was—it wasn’t Butch. But I used to see one of them at the courthouse a lot. I don’t know if he worked for somebody or was always in trouble or was working with a lawyer or something.

Mike:  It had to be Simon.

Chuy:  Okay. It had to be Simon.

Mike:  It had to be Simon. I don’t know exactly what he did, pero that would be him.

Chuy: So, you were born and raised in Donna?

Mike:  Uh-uh. I was born in Grand Junction, Colorado. Mi jefito era troquero. He would truck.

Chuy:  But where was he from?

Mike:  He was—pos originally, they were from Michoacan, Mexico.

Chuy:  Um-hmm.

Mike:  Y luego se vinieron el abuelo y la abuela. Se fueron pa’Temple to desenraizar. Pero dijeron que it was too heavy work pa’ los chamacos. It was just too heavy—andaban desenraizando arboles y la ch—-ada. Este, so they moved to the Valley. They moved to Weslaco. They settled in Weslaco.

(A)Mi abuelo no le gusto, “No, I don’t like it. Let’s go back to Mexico.”

Mi abuelita—segun la historia de mis tias—mi abuelita dijo, “No, yo no voy a llevar mis chamacos pa’ aquella vida. Aquí esta mejor.” Él dijo algo por este estilo, “Bueno, tu quédate. Yo me voy a ir. Ahí nos vemos cuando puedamos.” Algo así. Y se fue mi abuelo. He left back to Michoacan. I had an uncle, Pimentel—last name Pimentel—in Zamora. He was the bishop of Zamora for 50 years.

Chuy:  In which state is Zamora.

Mike:  In Zamora, Michoacan.

Chuy:  Michoacan.

Mike:  Fuí y lo—I went to meet him.

Chuy:  He was a bishop.

Mike:  He was a bishop of the Catholic church. P—ches iglesias que había ahí. Hijo de la… Anyway, it was interesting because I knew his story. Fuí a conocerlo. I spent some timewith him—two or three days. Y luego me vine.Anyway, so mi abuela settled with all the kids in Weslaco.

Chuy:  What year would they have settled finally there in Weslaco?

Mike:  Oh, man. It would’ve been—maybe early 40s.

Chuy:  Okay. So, she was a Lopez by marriage. Or was she on the maternal side.

Mike:  Yeah, she was a Lopez. She was Pimentel—Lopez by marriage.

Chuy:  Okay, so that was your grandma?

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  So, that was your dad’s mom.

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  Okay. And so, your dad. When was your dad born?

Mike:  Cruzaron en—lo tengo documentado, fijate. Cruzaron en 1915 and he was like five. He was like three or five.

Chuy:  And do you know where they crossed? Brownsville? Donna? (There was no crossing at

Donna. In Texas it was maybe Brownsville, but usually, it was Laredo, Eagle Pass and El Paso)

Mike:  El Paso, Juarez.

Chuy:  Now that’s interesting.

Mike:  I have the census.

Chuy:  They followed the west—because Michoacan is in the west, right. So, they followed the west (western road?) to Juarez. Sorry, I interrupted you. So, by 1915, they find themselves at Juarez-El Paso or they are more or less crossing the border.

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  Heading toward where?

Mike:  Temple.

Chuy:  Temple. Why Temple?

Mike:  They had relatives ahí. Y les prometieron trabajo.

Chuy:  Okay. And so, you said that you had ancestry history?

Mike:  Uh-huh.

Chuy:  Okay and what does that say about that? Birth certificates or dates of birth?

Mike:  Pos, it lists all my tios y tias that crossed.

Chuy:  All of them crossed there?

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  Did you make reference to the census?

Mike:  Its’s like a census form, yeah.

Chuy:  Okay, so maybe they were enumerated that year?

Mike:  Yep, yep.

Chuy:  Or close to there. Maybe they spent some time there in Juarez, I’m sorry, El Paso?

Mike:  I don’t know if they spent any time (there).

Chuy:  But the census enumeration was from where?

Mike:  From El Paso. From Juarez—they crossed. The crossing at El Paso—ahí cruzaron.

Chuy:  Who created the document or where did you get the document?

Mike:  From the census.

Chuy:  From the census. Any particular…?

Mike:  Tengo la copia.

Chuy:  I’d like to see it. It’s interesting.

Mike:  Yeah, make a note. I’ll bring you a copy

Chuy:  1915 is a very important. The Mexican Revolution is taking place, right?

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  So, people are rushing out.

Mike:  Yeah, they are rushing out. Y se me hace que fue lo que pasó ahí.

Chuy:  So, they had a hand-up in Temple, en el desenraice? The root-plowing (clearing the land) by hand, by mule.

Mike:  Si. Estaba muy pesado, No pudieron. So, se vinieron to work the fields in Weslaco…

Chuy:  Okay.

Mike:  and pick cotton.

Chuy:  Here it was already root-plowed.

Mike:  Yeah, a lot of farming—big time—en esos años. So, they settled ahí.

Chuy:  And so, have you been able to determine what their socio-economic status was in Mexico?

Mike:  No.

Chuy:  Because they were already married—your grandparents were already married, right?

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  And they were crossing with children already. Then they are probably from the 1880s or 1890s.

Mike:  Yeah. Never researched that.

Chuy:  Okay. What was your dad’s name?

Mike:  Maximino.

Chuy:  Maximino. And so, did he go to school—public school—in the U. S.?

Mike:  No.

Chuy:  Not a lick?

Mike:  No, nunca se hizo citizen tampoco.

Chuy:  Not a citizen. How about your mom?

Mike:  Mi jefita era de aquí. Mis abuelos—mi abuela—came over—mi abuelo se quedó en México. I guess he could never cross. Nunca logró cruzar.

Chuy: He stayed behind—or at least, that’s the story that they’ve told you.

Mike:  That’s the story that they’ve told me, yeah. Y mi abuela se vino and they settled in Salt Lake City.

Chuy:  This is your mom?

Mike:  Yeah, my mom’s mom.

Chuy:  What was her name?

Mike:  No me acuerdo—Felicita.  Let me ask her.

Chuy:  No, that’s okay. We can fill in the blanks. What was her last name?

Mike:  Ah—Salas.

Chuy:  That’s your mom’s last name?

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  Or your grandma’s last name?

Mike:  No, my grandfather’s last name.

Chuy:  On your mother’s side.

Mike:  On my mother’s side, correct. See, my abuela’s maiden name—I know it, but I can’t recall it.

Chuy:  And so, your mom was born in Salt Lake City?

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  Why?

Mike:  They went to work out there. They settled there.

Chuy:  They actually settled in Salt Lake City?

Mike:  Yeah. Fue mi abuela and her family—I guess her brothers and sisters—me imagino— settled there and worked there and they grew up there.

Chuy:  And where were they from? Your mom or her parents? Were they native tejanos?

Mike:  Ah, no, no. They were from—I don’t know what state. Pero el pueblito se llama—te quiero decir—Antet. Now, I don’t know how to spell that—Antet.

Chuy:  Do you know what state in Mexico that was?

Mike:  No.

Chuy:  But it was in Mexico?

Mike: Si. Louie, mi hermano, went to the village. El y mi tío traveled to that state. I forget what state it was. Y los dejo el bos, late in the evening—let’s say six, seven—ay por ay. Les dijo, “Aquí esta. Se van en el camino ese y el pueblito esta alla”—at the end of the road. Dice que they got off the bus and it was todavía poquita luz and they started walking. dice que they must have walked three to five miles pero by the time they got there estaba todo obscuro y no podían ver.

Chuy: ¿ No había luna ni estrellas?

Mike:  No, I guess not. “It was dark,” dice. “We didn’t have any flashlight or anything so we tried to keep to the road. Al fin, vimos una luz.”  Dijo, “Vimos just a little light bulb.”

Chuy:  Amazing. What year was that?

Mike:  No me acuerdo. Y fueron a dar ahí and knocked on a door. Y salió (una persona) y (les) dijo, “No, pues a donde pueden ir es a…”—a little village restaurant, I guess. They knocked there, y los dejaron quedarse ahí in a little shed room que había ahí. Ahí se  quedaron.

Chuy:  Oh, my.

Mike:  Ahí se quedaron. Les digo, “Chin—-da madre. No planearon nada. Estan bien jodidos.” Se fueron el y mi tío a conocer el pueblo de donde era mi abuelo. 

Chuy:  Yeah, they obviously didn’t plan it at all. So, you’re describing to me pretty much the

same socio-economic situation that most of our ancestors had, right?

Mike:  Yeah, yeah.

Chuy:  They’re running away from Mexico; going to wherever they can find work.

Mike:  Running to wherever they can make a living.

Chuy:  Yeah. This is interesting because you’re talking about 1915. On both sides of your parents (family), your parents would be reaching maturity age by 1935. They would be in their 20s. So, in 1935 they’re in their 20s and probably all they’ve known living in this country is poverty, Spanish and that culture that your grandparents grew up in— Mexican culture, right?

Mike:  Right.

Chuy:  They’re moving to spaces in this country where somebody has told them, “Come over.

We’re here. There’s work here.”

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  And with that faith, they come over here. They have no plans except survival.

Mike:  Except survival, yeah. Y mis tíos, fijate, I had three uncles at the same time on D-Day. Se metieron al Army.

Chuy:  Joined?

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  Wow.

Mike:  They joined the Army. I don’t know if they joined voluntarily, or they were drafted. I don’t know how it worked back in the day. But, pero, tres tíos, they all landed on D-Day.

Chuy:  They all landed in Normandy?

Mike:  In Normandy.

Chuy:  All of them?

Mike:  All three. Que loco.

Chuy:  Did they survive?

Mike:  Yeah, they survived.

Chuy:  Are any of them alive? No.

Mike:  Ya murieron mis tíos.

Chuy:  Did anybody do their oral histories or anything?

Mike:  Chin—do, I don’t think so.

Chuy:  What about their kids—their older kids?

Mike:  Quien sabe. We don’t see each other.

Chuy:  On your dad’s side or your mom’s side?

Mike:  They’re on my mom’s side.

Chuy:  What was their (last) name?

Mike:  Salas. Eran Manuel Salas, Isaac Salas y Anthony Salas. Three uncles. I mean, there were more.

Chuy:  Did they grow up in Salt Lake City?

Mike:  Yeah, they grew up in the Salt Lake area.

Chuy:  And what was in Salt Lake (City)? What kind of employment was there?

Mike:  I don’t know que hacían. Te quiero decir there were mines of some sort. I don’t know if it was salt mines or coal mines. It was mines. Eso recuerdo yo. Pero no me acuerdo que clase de mines.

Chuy:  Okay.

Mike:  I have a couple of cousins—male and a couple of cousins—female—son todavía de allá. I should have a conversation with them Mi jefito andaba—by that time he was migrating back and forth. You’re talking 1945, ’46. Andaba migrando  back and forth. They would go to that area—Grand Junction, Denver, Salt Lake—that area. Geographically, I can’t picture it in my head but there was farm work in that area. I don’t know what they grow—strawberries—sepa la madre que.  So, he migrated over there—one year. Conoció la jefa y la hizo novia. And then he came back y le dijo que prometía that he’d be back the following year. This is the story my mom told me—that he’d go back the following year. Entonces the following year—that would have been late ’45—se fue para atras, se casó y se quedo un año. 

Chuy:   When he was a trucker—I mean, he was a trucker. This is in the late 40s. He would be by that time, someone in his late 30s—perhaps—or younger?

Mike:  I think he was 28. Parece que me dijo la jefa—he was 28—she was 17. Ahí por ahí.

Chuy:  Estaba zocito el bro.

Mike:  Yeah. He—there was an eleven or twelve-year age difference. Entonces se casó y tuvo  que quedarse almost two years porque se casó. He got married over there. Se quedó. I was born. When I was a year old, they moved back to Weslaco.

Chuy:  Okay. So, you say he was a trucker. Was he a trucker in the sense that he owned his truck and transported goods or was he a crew leader with a truck?

Mike:  Crew leader with a truck.

Chuy:  Okay. Can you describe what he did? I take it that he did that while you were growing up as well.

Mike:  Si.

Chuy:  Describe how he made a living as a crew leader with a truck. Day to day, what did he do?

Mike:  He…Una temporada, me platica él, mi jefe, he was around a fourteen, fifteen-year-old—

he took a job as a dishwasher in El Keno Restaurant—en El Keno.

Chuy:  Wow. That’s in Weslaco, by the way. Still is.

Mike:  In Weslaco. Entonces el Gulf Distributing Company, which was donde esta El Keno, en la esquina. You go east maybe a couple of blocks, and they had the Gulf Distributing Company. Ahí venían todos los troqueros to unload their goods. They would process them in those plants. Los batos venían a El Keno a tomar café y a comer.

Chuy:  Sure, sure.

Mike:  El jefe got to meet them and talk to them about what they did and whatever. Así me  platica el jefe. Dijo, “Ch—do, esto es lo que quiero hacer yo. Estos batos hacen feria.” They make money instead of being the dishwasher here. Y estaba chavalo. Dice que he was fourteen or fifteen years old. He saved some money. Fue y se compró una troquita when he was seventeen. He started picking up a crew and getting work. I don’t know how he met people pa’ que lo mandaran to work up state, pero he started migrating going to different places to work. Se llevaba gente con él, regularly—regular people que trabajaban con él.  Me acuerdo de un señor que se le pegó toda la vida. Se llamaba Benigno Castañeda. That guy—it was a love-hate situation. O sea, he was his right-hand man, forever, pero he was problematic y todo el tiempo vivían en conflicto peleandose y la chin—da. Regañandolo.  Lo regañaba. Una vez entró el señor a la casa. El jefito tenía botellas de licor y este señor tenía la maña de entrar, agarrar una botella and take a couple of shots. No pedía permiso  ni nada.

“¿Que estas hacienda? Deja ahí.” Lo regañaba el jefe. One time, no sé, for whatever reason, la jefa compro una botella de alcohol. It was alcohol—pa’ untar. Rubbing alcohol. And she put it on the counter donde estaban las botellas. Entró el señor ese, agarro la p–che botella—thinking it was tequila or vodka. It was clear. La abrió.

Chuy:  Riata!

Mike:  Palo! Ya se quemaba todo el triperío. Se hizo un escándalo ahí en la casa. Yo me acuerdo del señor ese. Pos este pendejo ¿ pa’ que agarrabas esa botella?

Chuy:  Oh, my gosh. So, how does the crew leader job work? How did your dad work with the crew? Describe the business. How does that work?

Mike:  You get a truck. Luego tienes que arrimarte a la bodega. Tienes que arrimarte to get hired. The company has field men. “Tu, tu y tu. Vénganse. We’re going to do some work.” Y los mandaban a los fields. To do that, tienes que estar preparado con tu troca y tener gente. ¿Como cuanta gente voy a necesitar? And then, have your regular folks. No hombre, ahí en el campito cuando primero entré—pos I’ve been there twenty-some years—cuando primero entre—  let’s say twenty-five, twenty-seven years ago. Tengo veintiocho años ahí.

Chuy:  Cuando dices tu, “Entré”, you’re talking about the Director of Housing.

Mike:  The Director of the Housing Authority. Cuando estaba yo ahí, venían familias, “Oh, yeah, anduve troqueando con tu jefe. I was working the fields with your dad.” El papa de  ¿ como se llamaban los de TRLA (Texas Rural Legal Aid)? No eran abogados ellos.  Eran…

Chuy:  Paralegals.

Mike:  Paralegal pero activists de a madre. ¿Como se llamaban? Esos batos still exist. I don’t

know where they went. Pero el papa de eso chavos…

Chuy:  Samudio?

Mike:  No. Trabajaban con Samudio. ¿Eran Diaz? No me acuerdo el last name. Very well-known guys ahí en el campo porque organizaban. They were activists. Peleaban todo and they worked for TRLA. Trabajaban en la labor pero trabajaban parte ahí con TRLA. I am talking about fifteen, twenty years ago, todavía estaban ahí. Some of those families I knew. I was around there when some of them worked there.

Chuy:  So, your dad then was independent—what you might call an independent businessman.

Mike:  Independent trucker, yeah, I guess you could call him.

Chuy:  And he would then establish a relationship with a produce shed or packing shed through a field man, right?

Mike:  Yep.

Chuy:  And so, the farmer was the grower of the produce or the vegetables, but it was the packing shed through the field man that contracted with the crew leader.

Mike:  Yep.

Chuy:  They established the labor wages, or the compensation of the workers based on whatever the market for the produce or the vegetables was for that period of time.

Mike:  Yeah. Si la compañia estaba pagando la packing shed te contrataba a ti, the trucker. Por ejemplo, le decian el field man, “¿Sabes que? Vayan y corten el cabbage y les vamos a dar 30 cents a sack.” I don’t remember the rates, but let’s say 30 cents a sack was the going rate. Porque el precio…

Chuy:  Variaba.

Mike:  Variaba.

Chuy:  On what basis would your dad be compensated by the packing shed—on the terms of Volume or sacks or bags? Bushels or whatever?

Mike:  Volume. Porque me acuerdo if it was sacks, entonces contaban the sacks and X number would go to the trucker.

Chuy:  Okay, so the trucker gets his overhead and profit from the gross amount and then he compensates the worker.

Mike:  Yeah. Sí, porque me acuerdo, por ejemplo, en la pizca, it was by the pound.

Chuy:  ¿La pizca de algodón?

Mike:  De algodón. Entonces, el que pesaba, whether it be el jefito, yo, o Benino. El que pesaba would keep a record: Chuy Ramirez—100 libras. De rato venias y pesabas otra vez— 150. It was manual.

Chuy:  Right. It was a hard-back ledger.

Mike:  It was manual. So, at the end of the day—600 libras at 8 cents. I don’t know what the rates were. Let’s say 8 cents a pound was the rate for that day. En la bodega, iban y pesaban la troca llena y la troca vacía—two thousand pounds at 10 cents (a pound)two cents eran del troquero. Ahí sacabas tus expenses or whatever—overhead.

Chuy:  Um-hmm. Okay. And so, when you were growing up with your mom and dad, where…go ahead…you have a thought.

Mike:  We would pay cash. Now, I don’t know si al jefito le pagaban cash o le pagaban cheque and he would go cash it. I don’t remember. Pero parece que le pagaban cash. No me acuerdo, Chuy. That’s an interesting…

Chuy:  Yeah. My recollection from what little I recall is that the crew leader would get a check and he would go straight to the bank to get money and then on Saturday—’cause typically you worked until lunchtime on Saturday. So, Saturday you’d line up and he had a bag of money.

Mike:  Saturday afternoon—line up—y pagabamos. Nosotros ibamos house to house. I guess a veces lo miraban somewhere, I think, if I recall correctly. But mainly, on Saturday afternoon, me daba el morral a mi.

Chuy:  Oh, okay. Cuenta.

Mike:  Yeah. Me acuerdo un guy—Neto—le decían Neto—bien de aquella. Good soldado del jefe—hell of a worker. Le decía, “Neto, ciento veinte dolares y cincuenta centavos.” You counted to the penny.

Chuy:  Sure.

Mike:  Count it y ya estaba listo. Cuando llegabamos se lo dabamos.

Chuy:  Now, you grew up in Weslaco.

Mike:  I grew up in Weslaco ‘til I was six years old.

Chuy:  Where did you live/

Mike:  Una casita alrededor del barrio de la iglesia. ¿Como se llama la iglesia by the expressway? San Martin de Porras, ¿no? En la otra.

Chuy:  Sacred Heart. It’s over on—by the water tower. That’s a very poor neighborhood.

Mike:  Yeah.

Chuy:  That’s an old neighborhood.

Mike:  Yeah, old neighborhood. Por alla viviamos en una casita ahí y alrededor vivían mis tias y mis primos y mis tios. And that was an ongoing conflict at the household porque trabajaba todo el pinche dia el jefe, se iba a la cantina on weekdays. Iba y nomas tomaba on the weekdays y luego se venía. Me imagino yo que he got home at eight, nine o’clock. I would imagine.

Chuy:  He had to work.

Mike:  Y luego, cenar, acostarse y get up at five, five-thirty in the morning. Get ready. Y la jefita lonche ready y la ching—da. Esa rutina. Pos la jefa se canso, So, la jefa dijo, “Ya”. porque on Saturday…

Chuy:  Era parranda.

Mike:  Pagaba y agarraba parranda. Iba y jugaba. Le gustaba jugar a mi jefito. He was a gambler. Iba y se metía al Paco. They had three or four regular places that played Paco— regular customers.

Chuy:  What’s Paco? A card game?

Mike:  It’s a card game como—algo como pinochle, algo así.

Chuy:  Okay. And Saturdays was the parranda.

Mike:  I knew how to play, pero se me olvido.  So, Saturday, llegaba a la una o dos de la mañana y con el p—che lipstick de las viejas…      

Chuy:  Cantineras.

Mike:  Cantineras que se arrimaban y bailaban, sepa la madre. Whatever. And it was an ongoing conflict at the house. So, la jefita put her foot down. Le dijo, “¿Sabes que? We either move from this town or yo me voy con los ninos pa’tras.” Segun me dice la jefa. I knew about the conflict porque los oía.

Chuy:  Sí. You were the oldest one?

Mike:  I was the oldest one. Y la jefita regañaba al jefe y se peleaban. El jefito nunca—very traditional—el jefe bien calmado nunca le hablaba pa’tras. In the later years—alegaba un poco. La jefa dominaba in terms of the conversation. The activity that would go on— about that—llegaba con lipstick. A la jefa se le volaban. Llegaba tomado so that became a conflict. So, dijo el jefecito, “No, no, nos movemos.”

Mike Lopez

To Learn More About Mike Lopez

Mike Lopez Interview Continues

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PUBLISHER’S NOTICE

The September 2021 edition of IberoAzltan will be our ninth. We had projected publication of six editions which would be focused primarily on an interview project which we began in 2017, called the Chicana/o Legacy Project. The interest in and support for IberoAztlan was Unexpected.

Rather than ceasing publication as originally intended, we are offering to transfer all publisher’s rights, powers, and legal authority to anyone (individually or otherwise) who has the interest and wherewithal to carry on the project.  The purchase price is $1.00, and the consideration and conditions are negotiable.

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