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Interview with: Estella Reyes
Date: May 18th, 1989
Archive Number: OH 261.5
I: 00:02 This is a May 18th, 1989 oral history interview with Mrs. Estella Gomez Reyes of 1010 1/2 Wooding, Houston, Texas. Okay, let me sit—we have run in—in Dr. Fetters (?) research and my research—we’ve run into the mention of the club Pan-American which was also existing with the YWCA. I don’t—it has never been clear to me, and it’s not clear to Eleanor Perez why—what the difference was between those clubs. Could you—did you know about the club Pan-American?
ER: Yes, I knew—I knew. It did belong to a group in the YWCA but—and the name was Pan-American, but it really was not organized. Mrs. Perez, Eleanor Perez, she was the one that tried to organize a group of that age of ladies which was—already had families married and other young ladies, not many, but it—older than our group, in our group. So it—for a while it just couldn’t go on. There were not enough. They were not working. There was not—foundation, how—what they were going to do. They just wanted to do something or belong to something when they moved here. When the Chapultepec was organized we—Perez, Eva Perez. She was the leader. She’s the one that organized. I believe I was the second in the group. She called on me, invited me and asked me if I would join and told me what she had planned, what her mind was (02:11 unintelligible). She wanted a group of young ladies, single, with single girls, and she wanted—most of the girls at that time were either going to high school or had finished high school and had a job in offices. And so, she called on me. She invited me to come to—she worked at the Chamber of Commerce. She was a secretary there, so I did come to tell her. We met and talked over lunch, and I said, “Yes, I will. I will join.” I liked it and I hadn’t—and I didn’t have nothing else to do, no other group of young ladies. That group, Pan-American, tried to be organized, and the same thing happened at that time that we organized our Chapultepec. There was not any place where you could go and call it—this is our place to have a meeting. Now, the YWCA, they welcomed us. They were wonderful, even made the arrangements for us to have a place in the YWCA. For the first meeting of the Chapultepec, to get us together, was in her home, Eva Perez’s home. There and there with her—her cousins. There was her sister, of course. Her sister and her cousins Estella—no, Estella was not her cousin, Estella Perez, which is Mrs. Holt now. She was there. They were all north side girls. We called it the north side because most of the girls, they were already more—advancing education and had better homes and better economically. They lived on the north side because the parents had a steady job with—I think—Pacific railroads. That was the main thing, and so we all thought we just had the same idea and the same equal—maybe education. Something like that. So we went to her home, and she had her sister and her cousins, Perez’s two—let’s see—well, one of them was Estella Perez and her sister Eva Helena Perez. Now, Eva Helena Perez was older than Estella. Estella had just finished high school, but she was there too. Now, Eva Helena Perez was one of the ladies invited to the Pan-American at that time. She was older and maybe already 25, 28, 30’s. She was one of those, but in the beginning Chapultepec was organized with those girls, some related to Eva and myself and some of the Engle girls, and I think I have a little list here. Let me go—
I: 05:56 Let me ask—let me—before you get into that, Ms. Reyes, on the Pan-American, had they already been in existence before the Chapultepec was founded?
ER: We were joining at the same time.
I: The same time?
ER: The same time, yes. The same time because we were joining at the same time and they—we had directors, a lady that would take care of that group, and she would advise us or whatever we wanted to do we’d tell that lady, and she’d get the speaker or maybe program and that was our director. Well, she said at the same time, “Why not join those ladies over here? They don’t have enough. They cannot make it” and we said, “Well, how many ladies?” There were four that I know, Eleanor Perez, they called—she used to call Nora and Olivia. Those two ladies were already married and had families. Now, Helena Perez was Estella Perez’s sister, Eva Perez’s sister. That was Helena. Now, Eleanor Perez belonged to our club because she was more or less at the age—we were teenagers mostly, sort of 20, 21. Now, her sister was invited in the other group, tried to join the other group, they could go. It was Mrs. Perez, Eleanor Perez, Olivia Pina and Mrs. Perez’s sister Salia Quintero (?) and Dora Martin, Dora Martin.
I: Now, which club were these ladies in?
ER: They were trying to organize this Pan-American.
I: Pan-American, okay.
ER: 08:12 Yes, uh-hunh (affirmative). Those four that I knew, that I knew personally. They were talking, so Nora came to me and asked—we talked in between. Each one of them had their (s/l room to help) so they couldn’t have any meeting. They could not organize. They just gave themselves Pan-American. I believe they got it from another group. There was another group of Anglo ladies that were interested in studying Pan-American countries. Yes, that’s what—and I believe that kept on, but it wasn’t these ladies, Mexican ladies. No. But they got out. They couldn’t do—they tried but they couldn’t make a group enough to be organized as a club. Anyway, when they—we did. We did, right away we had a list, a dozen of the girls, so Eva Perez made the arrangement with the director of the YWCA for us to be part of the YWCA since the YWCA is a governance organization that helped to do whatever we wished to do. And we had a lot of things in mind that we wanted to do, so they did—Eva Perez was a very smart girl, and she talked and told them. “Oh, yes. We’ll give you a regular meeting room, and we’ll have a director so she can help you whenever—whatever your program is, you tell her. Some things may not be accepted because they have certain things that couldn’t be accepted. For example, we started working there years later, at Chapultepec I’m talking about. We had—under the YWCA—we had rooms, for example, every activity we had, social activity, should be in the building. We had a building, and we had a roof for dancing which was beautiful, small. We had a big auditorium that we had Mexican dinners there, and we had other programs. We had speakers that would come and go into the auditorium and all, but it grew so big—our club—in years that later on we ourselves—I don’t think we told our director—we decided to rent a ballroom downtown. And we did have a big dance and many Mexican people. That’s where they learned to see what we were doing. So, when they found out, they were displeased.
F: The YWCA?
ER: Yes, displeased because we weren’t supposed to get out of there. That’s why they had the building for us, and they would get anything for us. They were displeased, but we said “Well, we just didn’t think about telling you about where we planned our dance.” We were planning our dance. We just didn’t tell them anymore. I don’t know. One of those things, you know.
I: Let me—let me kind of stop here for a second, Ms. Reyes, and ask you a sequence of events and see if you can remember this. I may not be getting this clearly and correct me if I’m not. Eva came up with the idea of having the club.
I: 12:17 And she got a group of you other ladies together.
I: Was this before she had approached the YWCA or did the YWCA approach her? Did you all organize before you joined with the YWCA?
ER: No, the YWCA did not approach us, did not ask us to get together and organize, no. Their places there for us or any group that wants to be, they have a place for us and they gave us—now, Eva Perez knew that, but in order to get us together, first tell us. Tell us what (Chapultepec?) would mean for us. But then she had to tell the other invited girls which were two out of Magnolia Park. I was the only one on the other side of town. Most of them were north side and now Janie and Esther Pasco were the only ones from Magnolia Park.
I: The two Pasco girls?
ER: Yes, the two Pasco girls, and then from the other side of town I was the only one and then we invited the Engle girls, that’s Mrs. Garcia and her sister, one of her sisters and Mary Engle, Mary Engle. Then on that side, north side, she had invited two of the Davis girls which are Henrietta Davis and Annie Davis. They were north side girls over there and Beatrice Mericano. She was from the north side. Most of that little group of girls that had more education and little more better homes and everything, they lived on the north side. I was the only one on that side, and from that side I invited others to join a little later. But then Eva knew that the YWCA was open to the young ladies, women of the world, and she went and made the arrangements and then we had our meeting there. It was in October.
I: How long was it between the time you all organized with Eva until you all moved to the YWCA?
ER: Oh, next week.
I: The next week. It was within a week?
I: Okay. But you all organized separately and then went to the YWCA?
ER: 14:55 We had the first meeting so she could get us together, tell us what she was planning to do. Then she made arrangements for the club to belong to—
I: Tell us, in the Pan-American club there had—again, clearing this up—there had been, to your knowledge, a group of Anglo ladies who had a Pan-American club there, right?
ER: Yes, uh-hunh (affirmative). Let me get a drink of water.
I: Okay, go ahead. Okay, let’s see here.
ER: And when we did go to the Y, the following week we got together, Mrs. Eleanor Perez came over.
F: From the Pan-American?
ER: From the—yes. Well, it wasn’t a club yet.
I: It wasn’t a club yet?
ER: No, no, no. They were just going there.
I: They were trying to organize.
ER: They were four. They couldn’t get anymore ladies. Well, Mrs. Eleanor Perez was a very intelligent lady, had education and married to a pharmacist and so she knew she wanted to do something. Now, Olivia was already married and she had—well, I don’t if she had children, but I know Ms. Perez did. Anyway, she was a married lady already. We didn’t want to start with married ladies, so Ms. Perez came over and talked to Eva. “Could we come and join your group because we cannot make it over there?” and so Eva said, “I don’t know.” I was there with her because Ms. Perez talked to me first. I said, “We will talk to Eva.” I said, “I do not know. We have to discuss this because we have in mind only young ladies, not married ladies and we have to think—discuss it among all of us.” And she said, “Well, we want to belong to a club because we cannot get any—enough to be organized.” So the next meeting we had already—our group—begun to be organized. So at the next meeting or so, Eva brought it up. “There are two ladies that want to join,” and then she said the name. All of us were aware, and she said—most of us said no. No, because they’re—we started with a young girl age, and they are already married ladies and older and think, we’re not throwing ourselves in front of this because we needed to have different ideas than they had because they’re older and already married, and we don’t want anybody that doesn’t have the same—almost the same ideas as our group. So we didn’t want to. Finally, they kept on asking, and we kept on discussing. Finally, we had to take a vote, vote, see, if we let them in or not. So we talked about it. Mrs. Perez was very eager to join something. She had talked to me. I said, “Well, let’s do it, but just those two because if we’re going to get some more than they’ll have all the ideas that take away what we really have.” We had, I guess, ideas that are younger ideas. I don’t know. But anyway, they had other ideas. I said—well, we all said it, only these two ladies, and we had to take a vote. We voted and that’s what we did at the club.
I: 19:20 Let me ask you this, Ms. Reyes. Can you—thinking back—I know this was 50 years ago and better. I know it’s a long time ago, but can you remember specifically what it is about married ladies that you all thought might be a little bit different than what you all’s ideas would have been? They were older and married but what—besides that, what might they come up with? You know what I mean?
ER: Well, they may have—what we had in mind, we just didn’t think that they were like we were, our thoughts. All it was—what we had in mind, to take—do several things. For example, we did—we learned swinging and to 20:14 (unintelligible). We had picnics. We had lectures from different people, lecturing about family, about the lectures—about other nations, lecture about work and education and we learned that—we wanted that in mind. Also, we started—after—that was the first time. We started with and then we did—oh, at some of the meetings, kept on thinking, developing things that we saw. Then we started looking around our (s/l stated) life, about the Mexican people and we started studying and each one of us would say—we had a long study event. Well, we had a hard time getting into school, going to school, and we had a hard time renting a house and other things that we did not—we didn’t think it was the right thing for us, and we wanted to study. We studied everything and called people to give us—people to talk about certain things or I think we got things together. Now, we didn’t think these ladies were interested in that. We also were interested in little dances.
I: Was there anything about them being married? Was there a difference between single ladies and married ladies in those days?
ER: Well, they were older, and we thought that being just older they would overpower us. They would—we’d say something, those ladies would say “No, we don’t like that. We’re not going to do that.” That was the main reason. That was the main reason.
I: That they would dominate you all’s activities?
ER: Uh-hunh (affirmative). That was it. Those ladies—
I: 22:57 Did they ever—did they ever establish a Pan-American club though? Did they—were they—you said that they couldn’t because there were so few of them. Did they ever establish one on their own that you—?
ER: No, no. No, they—they still kept on saying that we had a Pan-American. How could they have a Pan-American? There were four steady person’s there. They couldn’t have a meeting. They tried to get together with the other ladies, I think Anglo ladies. They couldn’t make that—there was—no, no there was no Pan-American club. They did try, they even took that name, but I know that they were organizing, did what we did to make our club, organize our club, even select a name and gave their opinion to the girls. “Do you like this name or what name would you like, and why did we name it Chapultepec? What is the idea in that?” Even the music to go with our club, Chapultepec music. Why? Because although we were already here, Mexican-Americans, we wanted to be identified with our name and our music as the background. Not being American we didn’t want to be—Pan-American could be anybody in the world of Central America.
I: You all wanted to be Mexican. I mean, you all wanted to be Mexican—you all wanted to be identified with the Mexican heritage.
ER: Not lose the Mexican heritage. Most of our girls already—I guess Americans. Most of the girls, almost half of us, were born in Mexico, were raised here, go to school here and were (s/l going to live for a time) so we wanted to do—follow our manners and school and dress and all that and not really Mexican, no, although we wanted to keep the music, the name, and we also did one time—that was not our point when we organized—celebrate Mexican patrias, Mexican fiestas. No, but one time there was no one that would do that because they didn’t have any money. That was—my goodness—during the Depression. So we got together and said “Why not us?” So we did and we made collections, collected little dollars then we had the other (s/l Antonio)—I think the people from the (s/l Antonio), they let us have free—just pay the lights so we could use them. But there was no Pan-American. These ladies joined us later, and these two other ladies like Eva Helena Perez, Estella Perez’s sister, well, they were already—they already had boyfriends and getting married, so they were married at the 26:35 (unintelligible). Now, Dora Martin, she didn’t feel much—comfortable with us. She was an older girl and I guess she just didn’t feel like—she just didn’t feel—she was—well, much older and she got out.
I: Tell us—tell us about Eva Perez. What was she like? Did you know her very well?
ER: Very well. My goodness, I’d been trying to—
I: Go ahead. I mean, we’ll cut it out later.
ER: 27:17 Besides being a beautiful girl, she was intelligent. She was secretary to the president of the Chamber of Commerce, and she had one of the first jobs, a Mexican-American girl in Houston besides Carmen Cortez. She was the next one that had a job, and she was very active. She belonged to a very nice family that had an education background and she wanted—after she finished high school that’s when she had her job, and she wanted to organize girls just about her age and almost with the same education to do what we—
I: You know where she was from originally? Did—
ER: I don’t know. I know somebody that knows them very well, but—
ER: I could find out later.
I: Okay. Did she work at the Chamber of Commerce? She worked at the Chamber—
ER: Yes. I gave you a beautiful picture of her cut out from the paper. Well, that came out of the paper, and then I had pictures of the two from the club when we had a picnic. You can see Eva Perez in front. We lined up, took a picture with Eva Perez here and then me and oh, some of the other girls in a line. I have it somewhere. I couldn’t find it. Olivia, her sister, did not join our club right away. She did go a few days, but she was still going to school, so she didn’t really join us. Later on she did join us. So those were the first girls that joined our club, and Mrs. Perez and Olivia were the only two ladies left that joined our club after we decided. There was no Pan-American.
I: There was really none? There was that Anglo club that had the name, right?
I: Did these ladies—I saw in the paper where they were with that group. You think that they had kind of hung around with that group or something with the Anglo ladies? The Pan-American club?
I: Because they were dressed up in costume and what not.
ER: 29:52 They were. They tried to work with that group, but the other group, other ladies, had different ideas too as a group later. They had—they always studied different countries.
F: The Pan-American—the Anglo women in the Pan-American.
ER: Yes, they did have other ideas, and when they went to the Y looking for a club to join, they had that group there and that was the only one they thought they could mix with and have about the same ideas. So they stayed there, but no, they couldn’t make it, and the same thing happened to us. They said “Why do you girls want to be”—we wanted a separate room for our meeting—and “Why do you want to separate yourselves? Why? We have a professional department at the YWCA, and we already have a professional girls club. Why not join them?” We said no. What we had in mind, we have to do it ourselves, and we want our group separate, but they didn’t want us to be separated. They wanted us to be with the other group, the business professional department, and we said no, we will not because they may have their own ideas. They were not Mexican-Americans.
F: Yeah, they were Anglo.
ER: But that was—later on we had a lot of these girls visiting us to just come and see us work because they did not—what we’re doing. They said “Why do you want to stay by yourself?” Well, we had conventions for the YWCA. Then we sent representatives, two girls or one girl from our club, Mexican-American young ladies club. So we became known in Houston as the first one—(tape ends 32:14) (new tapes begins 00:07) There was to—a young ladies club too that from our idea—they didn’t want to join ours. Somehow they had more interest in dancing, dances, so they organized the Tesiquoray (?). But later on in years they just didn’t like what we were doing. Really we were not just social, dances and—
I: Were they more social?
ER: Yes, they just wanted social activities. Why, no, we did more studying, and I learned a lot.
F: So you had a lectures and things like that.
ER: Oh, yes. I think that was like 00:56 (unintelligible). I met a lady that gave us a conference about the family, family and my family had (s/l the chance) together. In fact, I think it was a little too much now, and she asked me to say something about my family. I said—01:23 (unintelligible) She was so glad. That lady came from New York, Mrs. Street. She came from New York to give conference about family. She used to come from New York, write to me from New York. She didn’t forget your family, never. Well, just like you told me, I just admire you so much and we learned a lot from it.
F: 01:56 What kind of things did she say? Do you remember? I know it was a long time ago.
ER: From the family?
F: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
ER: Well, how the family should be, live together, show all the older mothers and children—to the children, the fathers and mothers live in a happy home and that’s the kind of things she talked about. And we did—that’s why we asked her. We selected certain subjects that we wanted to know and then the director, we’d tell the director, and she would get someone. But one time after we got in the later years, ’37, we had already done a lot of those things, and we had done lots of study. We studied the conditions of life and Mexican people all together, not just the young people. The conditions in the home, in work, wages, law, justice and we decided to put it down in a letter. (phone ringing)
F: That was the letter.
ER: Excuse me. (tape stops and restarts 3:25). —to do. And they liked what we studied. Each girl would come and say “Well, I saw this happen to my father, my mother, my brother, my sister. Well, my father went to the barber shop, and he was refused service, and my mother went to the store and needed to go to the restroom, she was refused service. My brother wanted to go and eat in a restaurant, and they wouldn’t let him.” So all of us putting our ideas, what we had seen. We decided to write it down and write it down and maybe present it to the other neighbors. This was Texas we’re talking about. We’re talking about Houston mainly because we were from Houston, but these things in that time happened all over Texas, so we said let’s write it down. So we started putting down things, all the secretaries, and put down everything and the director knew what we were doing, and she thought it was nice. Yes, it was nice because we were studying conditions, and so we put it down and we made a list, I believe, ten items, ten conditions that we thought it was just not the right thing for the Mexican people and wrote it down and put it in a letter, down in the letter to direct that as a complaint. I didn’t know who—we were supposed to think about presenting that complaint to the congress, the lawmaker’s, Texas. We never got to. We never got to. We just put it down, and it was very interesting and it was—some people knew about the letter and put that in a magazine and there was a group of YWCA people, colored. At that time they were still separated. They didn’t belong to our YWCA. They had their own groups, but they considered themselves about—some of those problems we had they had for a long time and they admired our letter, so they came and asked permission if they could publish that letter in their small magazine they had, kind of magazine. So we said yes. We didn’t ask our director, we just said yes, go ahead. We didn’t think nothing wrong. So they got to read that someplace in their report that we made local and say this—there’s nothing wrong. After it came out in that paper we displeased all the association. They were not—did not like it at all because it had gotten—I guess—out of hand, gone to the other association, the colored people, and they had problems too. That’s why they liked our list that we made. So there was a lot of talk going behind us, not in front of us. They just told—no, we did not like it. We did—we gave permission. Our director disappeared. I guess she was fired and tell us—“What happened to Miss Louis?” “We don’t know, she’s gone” and what we figured it was—we caused problems on account of that. Well, we forget everything else after the letter was published, but it arose interest in different groups and interest in other people that thought themselves with the same problems. But what we had in mind was later, somebody presented to the lawmakers in Austin—because it was a Texas problem—and see what they could do about law. We never got to because we were—I guess—stopped.
F: 9:00 Stopped. Silenced, in a way.
ER: Suppressed, and it was—we didn’t have any plans. We didn’t even know things could be—as demonstrations, nothing of those things. We didn’t think of that. We wanted to do it the proper way. The proper way. I wrote a letter later on in Spanish, but I was called on to write problems, something like that. I had written with all the ideas to present in a convention of Mexican consuls that was in Galveston. I think it was 1941 or—
I: That is the document that you gave to us. That speech that you—
ER: In Spanish.
I: In Spanish.
ER: I wrote that in Spanish, almost the same things because I knew—but besides that, I wrote how I thought it should be faced, what should be done. I added that. That was my idea, but I was not allowed to give it. No, because that time you could hear already the war. World War II was going on and anybody that would—at that time—that would even discuss things like that, they thought we were against the government. So Mr. Deplane (?), he was the Mexican consul, he was a very brilliant man. He was very intelligent and liked what we were doing. So I was waiting for (s/l him to get out of the office). The next thing he said “Oh, Estella. I’m sorry, but no. We don’t want you to read this because they may think that you are against the government. They may think you’re a communist. They may think so many things because you’re saying—although that’s true, I think we’ll just let it go. I’m sorry.” And I did.
F: 11:31 How did that make you feel?
F: How did that make you feel that you couldn’t give that speech?
ER: I was disappointed. I even had written how—what to do, for example, justice but not—just like—now at least you can say something. At that time you couldn’t. You couldn’t say it. Something would happen to people and you couldn’t even—were not even allowed to go and (s/l charge and call) and make a complaint. And then later on in Spanish I wrote how I thought it could be helped or why we did—doing that. That was my idea a long time ago.
I: Ms. Reyes, I’ve got—I want to—while we’re doing this, this is a photograph of the club Chapultepec officers from 1935 and 1936. Would you tell us about some of those people there? Like Esther Pasco? What did you know about Esther Pasco?
ER: Esther Pasco’s one of the first girls that joined the Chapultepec and belonged, one of the two girls from Magnolia Park.
ER: Esther Pasco—the two sisters and the father and the brothers later on—I guess not after 13:11 (unintelligible) went back to Mexico City.
I: They did?
ER: In Mexico City. Janie was one of them and Esther Pasco. Esther is still living in Mexico City. She married over there and she has a son, Diego, (?) and she’s of course retired. I mean, she never worked after that, but she was one of the first members of the Chapultepec. Her sister Janie came back to Houston later. She married over there and came back to Houston. She passed away about eight years ago.
I: 13:48 Did there—do you know what their parents did? Did you know their parents at all?
ER: Yes, I knew the parents. Well, I did not know the mother at that time, but I knew the father. He was already old. He was not working, but I didn’t know what he did before. He must have worked here some time—
I: Why of all the people in Magnolia Park did—were those the only two girls who were—
ER: Why? Because they were two of the most active girls, and they had almost the same ideas as us. We wanted better things. Other girls, there were not too many that would try, although there were other nice girls and all about the same age, but they were not trying to do—and they—
I: What about this Eva Helena Ramos? Did she—?
ER: Eva Helena Ramos, she was a secretary. She was a north side girl too. These two are sisters.
I: Yes, Janie and Esther.
ER: Yes, this Eva Helena Ramos came from some other part of Houston later, in—I believe— 1936. She worked at Solo Serve as a bookkeeper, and from there she joined our club, and she was very intelligent too. No, she became secretary, she became—representing the club, various international meetings, state meetings and all.
F: And that was Eva Helena Ramos?
ER: That was Eva Helena Ramos.
F: Do you know if she married?
ER: No, she married but—
F: You don’t know her married name?
ER: No, there’s certain times we just—after the war we just—
I: 15:55 Did she stay involved for a long time? Did she stay in the club a long time?
ER: Until we finished our club, until 19—I think it was 1945.
I: The same way with the Pasco sisters? Did they stay in the club until you all—
ER: Yes, until they left for Mexico. They moved to Mexico.
I: Why did they move to Mexico?
ER: This is a family affair.
I: Okay. Now what about Manuela Olivares?
ER: She was one of our nearest friends from our side of town.
I: From the Sixth Ward?
ER: Yes, I invited her to join us.
I: Oh, you did. What did her parents do? What did her father do?
ER: Her father worked as a salesman at the Solo Serve store. The Solo Serve store, it was a store—something like K-Mart, where they had low-priced merchandise. He was a salesman all his life. He was a shoe salesman. He took care of the department there. Then she started working there when she was 15. By the time she joined us she was 17, 18.
I: What happened to her?
ER: And she was up until the last—yes, she’s still living, although she doesn’t go out anywhere.
I: She doesn’t go out anywhere?
ER: And she’s married.
I: She married?
ER: Yes, she married, but she doesn’t go out. And this girl—
I: 17:36 That is—
ER: My neighbor too. She was my neighbor, beautiful girl.
I: Maria Ann Helena Garcia.
ER: I invited her too, to the club. The war started in ’41, when we joined, the United States. So let’s see.
I: Okay, let’s see—
ER: There’s Rosa Mendosalvo.
I: Uh-hunh (affirmative). That’s—she—Rosa, what, Mendosalvo?
ER: Yes. She is another north side girl. She joined our club soon after we organized, and she stayed until she married. She married maybe’38 or ’39, somewhere in there, and of course, Carmen.
I: What did—what did she—her parents do for a living, do you remember?
ER: A barber.
I: Her father was a barber?
ER: I think one of the men, one of the barbers that had a barbershop down on Congress.
I: Okay. And what did Manuela Olivares—no, that’s the one that worked at Solo Serve.
I: What about Eva Helena Ramos? What did her parents—?
ER: I didn’t know about her family. I didn’t know too much—
I: What about Garcia? Did you—?
ER: Garcia? I know her brother worked—I believe he worked in the Rice Hotel. That’s it, Rice Hotel.
I: 19:03 That photograph is manuscript 194, photograph 406. I mean, 106, in the Carmen Cortez collection. I want to do this—now, this is the club Chapultepec 3637 and Guadeloupe Gomez. Would you tell us a little bit about Guadeloupe Gomez?
ER: Guadeloupe Gomez was secretary, working as a secretary to a business office. I just don’t know which one, and she stayed until the (s/l last day of our club).
I: Do you remember—
ER: Yes, she was a high school graduate.
I: She was a high school graduate?
I: Do you remember what her father and mother did?
ER: Yes, her father—the mother did not work. Her father worked in the spaghetti factory. They had a spaghetti factory somewhere, and he was the one that made the spaghetti.
I: Then here is Galvan—
ER: It’s Mary Louise Galvan.
ER: Yes, I know more about that family. Mary Louise Galvan finished high school. She had music talent that—she took music and graduated from the Harmon Conservatory of Music (?). She could sing very pretty and play the piano. Her father worked for the Southern Pacific, her father. Her brother, which is Frank Galvan—
I: Frank Galvan, yes.
ER: He started a business with jewelry. The mother did not work and Mary Louise 21:04 (unintelligible) although she did not work. She worked with Frank most of the time in the jewelry department. She didn’t use her music for business, no, but she would sing in clubs and parties. She would play, but she didn’t go out and teach or anything like that, no.
I: What had happened to her?
ER: 21:32 She’s still living and she can 21:35 (unintelligible). She’s just about as good as she’s—and she’s married too, and her husband is Italian, Italian nationality. She had—she married several times, but that’s her husband now, which I don’t know the name.
I: What happened to Guadeloupe Gomez?
ER: She passed away. She passed away about 8—7 years ago she passed away. She died of cancer.
I: What happened to Eva Perez?
ER: Eva Perez? She married, to a Mr. Hiser.
ER: Yes, and they had two children. They had two girls that I know of, beautiful girls. They live here in Houston, I believe.
I: The girls—
ER: I don’t know, maybe they go on already, married and go on, and they moved from Houston for a while. They came back to Houston because she was sick. She died from cancer.
I: She died from cancer?
I: And Ann Rodriguez, who’s the vice president in this picture?
ER: Yes, Anna Rodriguez is another girl from Magnolia Park. She stayed in the club until later. She worked in a drug store. She had a drug store with her brother and mother, I believe, the family drug store. They had a drug store here in Magnolia Park.
I: Where was—where was Galvan and Gomez from? What part of town were they from?
ER: Galvan was from—or Gomez was from—let’s see—what street she lived on—before she married she lived on—towards Dallas somewhere. What we are trying to figure—
I: On Dallas?
ER: 23:45 Yes, they had the factory, macaroni factory there, and they lived nearby, somewhere right there.
I: And Galvan? Where—
ER: Galvan? Well, Galvan was usually also from the north side or around Holgum and Main. That’s where she came from. After that they moved different directions, but between homes and 24:16 (unintelligible).
I: Now, this down here is—I can’t read that name. Can you remember that?
ER: I can’t see.
ER: Oh, Mamie Olivares. Well, that’s my dear friend.
I: That was the other one, right? Didn’t we identify her in the other picture?
I: What about Alicia Perez?
ER: Alicia? Still my dear friend. I talked to her the other day. She’s sister to Mrs. Nino.
I: She’s sister to Mrs. Nino?
ER: Yes, and sister to Mrs. Chavez and Mrs. Nino, Mrs. Chavez, were music teachers. Mrs. Chavez was my violin teacher, and Mrs. Nino was my sister Alvita’s piano teacher.
I: I see.
ER: Yes, they taught music. They were music teachers, both of them. Alicia was—did some secretary work at home when she married. They had a big business. She did most of the business at home, bookkeeping, but her husband—she married Cruz, named Cruz Lopez. He had started from the beginning and went as high as being the director of an employment office commissioned here in Houston. He passed away about five years ago and Alicia is home. I believe she has one son only. She’s still living at the old home in Magnolia Park.
I: 26:14 Now Louisa—Morales, is that?
I: Lucia Morales.
ER: Lucia Morales.
I: That’s the lady—
ER: She’s another north side girl. Her parents worked in the Southern Pacific too. She was very active, stayed in the club until she had a brother to go—she and her brother went to Laredo to help her uncle manage a furniture store, and as far as I know, they stayed there and she’s in the club, she left.
I: Okay, that’s all in that picture and that picture comes from your collection. That’s the one with the black background done by (s/l Cantu). This is about a three by five photograph in your collection and could you name—this is—this has an emblem, the YWCA banner in the background with the ladies in festive attire.
ER: Yes. Yes, that’s right. Of course, let’s see.
I: Let’s see if we can—
ER: This is—I think Eva Perez.
I: All right, let’s identify these ladies.
ER: So that’s me right there.
I: That’s—okay, the bottom left row the sitting—and the bottom front row is you?
ER: This is me. That’s Beatrice Mericano and Mamie—it’s about at that time, Mary Louise Galvan.
I: Okay, that’s the end—that’s the full front row. Now, the back row, left to right.
ER: This is—
I: Let’s go left to right.
ER: 28:07 I don’t know that girl. This is Mary—Mary la Cavu Apina (?), this one right here.
I: Okay, now she’s the fourth from the left. On the back row is who? What’s her name again?
ER: Mary—she’s married, of course, right now. She married Letabuda. Letabuda Apina (?) and she’s—I don’t know her last name. I forget it, this long—that’s Mary right there.
I: That’s who? Do you recognize any of these other four on the back row?
ER: Well, yes. I think this is Margaret, Margaret Coronado.
I: Margaret Coronado? She’s the second from the left?
ER: No, Margaret Reyes.
I: Margaret Reyes? Second from the left?
ER: Yes, Margaret Reyes, and I think this one in the middle is Lupe, and I don’t remember her.
I: You don’t recognize the one on the extreme left back row? But that’s you. That’s Estella Gomez on the front row left. Now, where was this photograph taken?
ER: At the Y.
I: At the Y?
I: What had you all done? What was that—what was the occasion there?
ER: The occasion? We were having—we had several programs that we’d dress in Mexican dress, and we’d serve Mexican food or we had displays. I was called on all the time because I was the one that had the Mexican things to put on display, maybe pottery or play Mexican records. I used to sell the Mexican records too, held the music and invite—mostly we tried to get the American—Anglo-Americans to come in and see how we were and they did. They enjoyed them all and they loved it. They never had anything like it before.
F: 30:39 So many of the community—Anglo community—would come to these functions?
ER: Yes, uh-hunh (affirmative). We invited the Mexican people, of course, our families would be there and their friends, but we also tried to get the other Anglo-Americans to come and see and learn. A lot of them didn’t even know how an enchilada looked.
F: No Mexican restaurants back then, huh?
ER: There was one, but not very—people did not go out. They didn’t know. In fact, they did not know Mexican food at all. They did not know tortilla. My father is the one that taught the people about tortilla. My father had the first tortilla factory and later, after he was settled and making good, he would receive groups. They’d suggest could they come in, like the Brownies, most of them little girls. They’d come in groups, and they’d let us know what day. My father ordered that we should start—I was one of the hostesses there for the group, then he said we would teach those children how the corn was cooked, how we wash it, how it was—(tape ends 32:15) (new tape begins 00:01) So the (s/l cups) the (unintelligible), how the tortilla was manufactured. After we finished, we showed it to them. We cooked it, showed them how to make the enchilada or taco, and we usually brought little paper plates and gave them a sample of those two or one of the Mexican foods or three, maybe the tortillas. They knew how it was made. They knew what it contained, and they liked it. We served all of them on little plates, you know. We had several groups until almost—I think couldn’t do it anymore. That was one thing that helped. People learned about Mexican food. But at that time—(phone ringing) Excuse me.
I: Ms. Reyes, this other picture of the club Chapultepec, which is an eight by ten picture of a group, 1935. Where was this taken? (phone ringing)
ER: Oh, my—
I: Hold on.
ER: That was my great niece Olga Salise (?).
I: Oh, Olga. She’s a wonderful person.
ER: She’s the one that took me to the reception.
I: I saw her night before last.
ER: 01:20 Yes, she’s everywhere. She said, “No, I’m not—I come and see you sometime.”
I: Where was—what was the occasion on this picture, Ms. Reyes? I mean, you all are dressed up.
ER: At the YWCA.
I: That’s at the Y also?
ER: Yes, that’s in front of the auditorium that we had.
I: What was the occasion?
ER: I think it probably was an anniversary of the club because we were there at the only two anniversaries. I just don’t know what year.
I: You think it was an anniversary though?
ER: I’m trying to figure what year it was. My sister Mary’s here and Olivia is here and Alicia and Helena and Janie and Julia. Really, could that be me? I think it is.
I: There—where are you? There you are, right there, Ms. Reyes. Ms. Reyes, do you remember this lady’s name here?
ER: That’s, that’s Eva Helena, Eva Helena Garcia.
I: This number four?
ER: Yes, the one that went back to Mexico.
I: Garcia. And this lady here, do you remember her name at all?
ER: That looks like Tina Helena.
I: Is that—is that Olivia?
ER: No, it’s Olivia over here.
I: Yeah, I think seven. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. That’s Mrs. Epina.
ER: 04:06 Yes, uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: That’s Olivia.
ER: Yes. And this is—this is Margaret Andrews.
I: Margaret Andrews, one of the Andrews sisters. Now—
ER: And Mary Gomez, my sister.
I: Uh-hunh (affirmative). But number three?
ER: Number three, I think her name was Lucy, Lucy Alvarado. Lucy Alvarado.
I: Let me see, nine is—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. This lady here, do you recognize her? We couldn’t identify—this is supposed to be Lupe Gomez there, and this is supposed to be Mary Galvan. No, wait a minute, Mary—
ER: No, no. That’s Mary Galvan.
I: This lady here. Do you remember her?
ER: No. No, I don’t. This is Eva Perez, Eva Rodriguez.
I: Where is that?
ER: This one right here.
I: Okay, okay, let me see. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. You had that as Eda Sota.
ER: Well, Sota, that’s right.
I: That was her first—that was her maiden name?
ER: Her maiden name, Sota.
I: Okay. And then you, but this lady here, who is that?
ER: This one?
I: 05:44 Right next to you. She would be thirteenth.
ER: I don’t recall her name, but the next one is Julia Garza.
I: Julia Garza. The only two people that you didn’t name is number nine and number thirteen. This lady here, you can’t remember her, and then this lady here.
ER: Uh-hunh (affirmative). Well, that’s Mary Louise Galvan.
I: No, that’s Mary Galvan.
ER: No, that one in the black dress.
I: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
ER: This is Mamie Olivarez.
I: Where’s this? Mamie Olivarez, yes.
ER: Eva Helena Rose, now this one—
I: Okay, where was—number one is Della Ramirez. Where was Della from?
ER: It’s not the first name, Della.
I: It’s not—
ER: Uh-hunh (affirmative). Delphina Ramirez from my neighborhood, from Savine, Savine Street.
I: Over there on the Sixth Ward, basically.
ER: Henrietta always slept there on the north side.
I: Okay, on the north side.
ER: 07:13 Henrietta Davis.
I: Number three is Esther Andrews.
ER: Number—uh-hunh, yes. She lived on my side of town later when she was going 07:22 (unintelligible).
I: Okay. And Elvita Hernandez? She was from your neighborhood?
ER: She was from my neighborhood too.
I: Okay. Anita Davis is number five.
ER: Yes, Anita. That’s—yes, Anita is Henrietta’s sister, Henrietta’s sister. She was from the north side too.
I: Okay, Lucille Juarez?
ER: She is—
ER: She was north side too, and that’s Lucy Morales, I believe.
I: It said Emma, but maybe not. Who—
I: Let’s see, seven is right there.
I: Or is that the right name?
ER: Well, it could be—
I: This is the—I want to—
ER: Emma Garcia. She looks like—I’m not sure.
I: 08:14 Okay. This is—this is the first anniversary.
ER: This is—isn’t this Mary?
I: Mary Ramirez?
ER: Yes, that’s her sister.
I: That’s—okay, that’s eight.
ER: Yes, my neighborhood—
I: Margaret Andrews, another one of the Andrews sisters.
ER: Right here.
I: Number nine was Margaret Andrews.
I: Number ten is—that’s an Andrews too, isn’t it?
ER: Or Mary. Let me see.
ER: Number ten. It’s Mary.
I: Number ten right there.
ER: That’s Margaret.
I: Margaret Andrews.
ER: And I think this is Josephine.
I: 08:54 That’s Josephine Andrews. Okay, that’s Josephine Andrews.
ER: Yes, she was the youngest of the two girls.
I: Okay, now there’s Mary Andrews, number eleven.
ER: Oh, that’s Mary, yes.
I: Okay. Number twelve is Ortagone?
ER: Oh, Mary Ortagone.
I: Mary Ortagone?
ER: Mary Ortagone.
I: Okay. Number thirteen is over here. You can probably see her better here.
ER: Oh, yes. But that’s the one I can never remember the name.
I: She was in the other picture too, and we couldn’t remember her name.
ER: You don’t have anything on this name in number thirteen?
I: No, no. Number fourteen is Eva Helena Ramos.
ER: That’s—no, Eva Helena.
I: Is that Eva Helena or no?
ER: That looks like Lucille, Lucille Juarez.
I: Oh, that’s Lucille Juarez. No, six. That’s Lucille Juarez there. Is that Lucille Juarez?
ER: Yes, and then that must be Evan Helena. This one right here.
ER: That must be.
I: 10:12 Number fifteen, right there. She’s got it marked as Mary Salinas.
ER: Well, somebody told you it was Mary Salinas—I couldn’t recognize her.
I: You don’t recognize her? Okay. Number sixteen right there, which as you could see probably better there. They have that as an Alvarez, Passione Alvarez.
ER: Oh, Passione Alvarez.
I: Is that—
ER: Oh, yes.
I: Okay, okay. Passione—
ER: Yes, yes, yes. Uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: Okay, now this other number, number seventeen. I’ve got that as Emma Bell. Was there an Emma Bell?
ER: Emma Bell? Which one is it?
I: She would be this lady right here.
ER: Yes, it is.
ER: Her first name is Nareva Emma—let me see. Emma Bell is aunt to the Ramirez girls.
ER: She married Mr.—her last name was Ramirez too, was her father’s sister, and she married Mr. Charles Bell. That’s why she’s—her last name—
I: Okay, what was her name then now?
ER: Her first name—Emma—it didn’t sound good but it could be. It didn’t sound like the first name to me.
I: 11:51 It didn’t? What do you think her name was?
ER: Let me think. I can’t think right now. Her first name didn’t sound just right. Not Emma, no.
I: Not Emma? It wasn’t Emma?
ER: And she was so popular that we just talked about her all the time.
I: Now, this next one was Elvira Lopez. That would be this lady here. Does that ring a bell? Elvira Lopez?
ER: Elvira Lopez.
I: Or maybe that’s a different—
ER: Elvira, no, I couldn’t remember her.
I: Okay. You don’t remember though, do you?
ER: I see Mary, Mary Pasco here. I can tell her right now.
I: Where is—where is Mary Pasco?
ER: Right here.
I: All right, let’s see. Okay, on the end, that’s—
ER: Do you have her?
I: No, that’s number eleven. Yeah, we—no, wait a minute. Number—that right there?
ER: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: I have that as Mary Andrews.
I: Or not?
ER: 13:16 Well, she was Mary Andrews before she married.
I: Oh, and then she became Mary Pasco.
ER: Mary Pasco. I thought Andrews because you 13:25 (unintelligible).
I: Okay, Andrews.
I: Okay. I mean, this looks like—were there that many members of the club at that time? This is the first anniversary on October 26th, 1932.
I: There were that many—
I: —in there? The rest of them are—I’ll tell you. The ones—the only ones—let me show you two that aren’t identified, nineteen and twenty one.
ER: Well, here’s Eva, Eva Perez right here.
I: That’s Eva Perez?
ER: Uh-hunh (affirmative). And this is me right here.
I: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
ER: And this is—
ER: Mrs. Garcia, Madeline Garcia. This is Lupe. Lupe—I forgot her last name.
ER: This one?
I: 14:19 Yes. Lupe Marine or Alonso?
I: Or not?
ER: Lupe Alonso.
I: It was Lupe Alonso. Was that before she was married of after?
ER: No, that was her husband’s name.
ER: Lupe Dominguez.
ER: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: All right. This—number nineteen and number twenty one. Number nineteen is right—right here. Do you recognize her? The one with the long hair and the long earrings?
ER: No. I do not remember her, recognize her.
I: And number twenty one? Do you remember her at all?
ER: No. Would you have—do you have the next one?
I: Number twenty two? Maria Antoinetta Reyes.
ER: That’s my sister-in-law.
I: That’s your sister-in-law? Maria—okay, and she married a Conales.
ER: Yes, uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: 15:38 Okay, good.
ER: That’s what I was just going to tell you.
I: All right.
ER: That’s Tonia, we call her. My sister-in-law, married to her brother. She passed on too.
I: She what—she passed away? Well, Ms. Reyes, I have no further questions. Emma, do you have any other questions of Ms. Reyes for now?
F: No, I mainly wanted to get an idea of the Pan-American club, which you cleared up.
ER: I’m so happy that you came.
F: Yeah, I’m so happy that you asked us.
ER: Like I said, sometimes this mind cannot remember everything, but—
F: You have a very good memory and as I said, the other oral interviews, the other tapes are wonderful and this is a—
ER: I could—(tape ends 16:29)