Magdalena Andrews
(Mrs. Isidro Garcia)

Duration: 1hr: 3mins
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Interview with: Magdalena Andrews Garcia
Interviewed by:
Date: April 13, 1988
Archive Number: OH 252.02

I: Interviewer
MAG: Magdalena Andrews Garcia
E: Ernest (friend of Mrs. Garcia)
K: Kay (friend of Mrs. Garcia)

I: (00:19) Mrs. Garcia, the purpose of this interview is just to get a little background on you and Mr. Garcia. How long were you all married?

MAG: Like in three years, it would have been fifty years married. We got married in 1934—in September, 1934.

I: Where were you all married?

MAG: We were married in Guadalupe Church.

I: Were both of you all’s families living here in Houston at that time?

MAG: Yes, we were. I’m not from here, and he was from Laredo—he was born in Laredo, Texas and raised in I think it was La que Ton(??)

I: (1:01:16) So he was born in Laredo?

MAG: He was born in Laredo, Texas, and from there he went back to Mexico and then he came back at the age of seven when—after he brought his mother and his family over here.

I: I see.

MAG: I don’t know very much of that time, when he was young.

I: Had he—he did have family then, in Mexico and in the United States?

MAG: Oh, he still has family in Mexico, yes. In Torrejon and Saltillo and La Queta(??), San Pedro. Families--oh, everywhere.

I: To the best of your knowledge, had his family come to Laredo, or were they always living there when he was born?

MAG: No. No. He was born in Laredo and then his father came after him and they went back to Mexico to La Queta and to San Pedro. They didn’t live only in one place.

I: I see.

MAG: (02:27) And they were raised over there, until Isidro brought them back here. Then they were raised here in Houston.

I: I see. Was his father-?

MAG: His father died when he was seven years old, just not very long before he came over here. When he came over here, I remember the story, the saying that he came so he could work and send for his family, and he was a water boy when they were working on the tracks then, they used to have trains, and trains were the main thing, and that’s how he started to work, little by little. He sent for his family and then they were raised here in Houston.

I: So he came up here to Houston to get a job and then to work?

MAG: Yes. Yes.

I: How old was he when he came?

MAG: He was seven years old.

I: He was seven when he came to Houston?

MAG: Yes.

I: To work as a water boy?

MAG: Uh-hunh. (affirmative)

I: Did he come with some other adults, or-?

MAG: Yes, he came—he probably did come with some other adults. I never knew with whom, but he did come with some other adults. I’m not very sure, but I think his mother met her late husband, Mr. Lorenzo Cervantes, there. And then afterwards, when they came over here, he married her, and in fact, they lived in a house that was next to this house and then when we got married, they were living here. They had been about three years and ever since then, I’ve been living here.

I: (04:24) This is 1114 Chapman?

MAG: Yes, uh-hunh. (affirmative)

I: This would be called Fifth Ward, wouldn’t it, it was always called?

MAG: Fifth Ward. Yes.

I: Where were you born?

MAG: I was born in El Paso, Texas.

I: In El Paso?

MAG: Uh-hunh. (affirmative) And raised in San Antonio. We were twelve in the family.

I: What did your father and mother do when-?

MAG: My father was a working man. My mother stayed home. She never worked. And in El Paso, he was working for Purity Baking Company. He used to deliver bread.

I: His name was?

MAG: Reggie Andrews. He was English.

I: I see.

MAG: And my mother was from Chihuahua, Mexico. Her family was, too.

I: I see.

MAG: In fact, that’s my mother.

I: I see. They had met there in the El Paso region?

MAG: They met there in El Paso, uh-hunh. (affirmative). They got married there in El Paso. My mother was young. She used to say she was seventeen and my father—he was older. He had been married two times before, here in Houston. In fact, I think he lived here in Houston before he went to El Paso, so that’s where he met her.

I: When did they meet and marry? About when did they get married? Do you remember the date offhand?

MAG: No, I couldn’t tell you because I don’t know.

I: But he had lived here before?

MAG: He had lived here in Houston before, yes.

I: And he’d gone to El Paso to work and-?

MAG: (06:14) He had gone to El Paso to work and that’s where he met her.

I: I see. And you were born in El Paso there, when—at?

MAG: Yes. We were born—let’s see—my brother Julius was born in El Paso; I was born there, Mary and Margaret and Frank, Josephine, and Eloise—she was the last one to be born there. And then the rest of them were born here in San Antonio and in Houston.

I: I see. Why did you all go to-?

MAG: We were twelve.

I: Why did you all go to San Antonio?

MAG: He wanted to go back there and work. He wanted to bring us to Houston.

I: How long did you all stay in San Antonio?

MAG: Well, we came from El Paso when I was just a tiny girl. Not too tiny, but I’d call myself very young, you know? I must have been seven or six.

I: Do you remember the trip, though, then?

MAG: Oh, yes. Yes.

I: How did you all travel?

MAG: By train.

I: And lived in San Antonio for a while? Do you remember the area in San Antonio?

MAG: (07:39) We used to live on Forest Avenue and Furnish Avenue.

I: Do you remember what he worked at doing?

MAG: He was working as a delivery man for another bakery. I don’t remember the name, but it was another bakery.

I: What year did you all come to Houston? ‘20s or ‘30s?

MAG: I think it was in the ‘20s. Yes, because I met Isidro in ’29. I didn’t know him very well. I knew it was him, you know, that he was Isidro, but then I-

I: Where did you all meet? Under what circumstances?

MAG: At a dance, you know, a party. Around the corner from the house.

I: I see.

MAG: Then from there, I couldn’t get him away from me, so we got married in ’34.

I: I see. What was the dance—the party?

MAG: It was just a birthday party.

I: I see. Where were you all living? What area of town were you all living in, your parents?

MAG: What area is it, Ernest? Where Washington Avenue and Edwards?

E: Fifth Ward.

I: I see. Fifth Ward. And he was working there for another—as a delivery person, also?

MAG: Oh, you mean my father?

I: Your dad, yes.

MAG: No. No, my father wasn’t—he had a little restaurant across the street from Jefferson Davis Hospital. The old hospital.

I: Yes, ma’am. The one that’s still standing.

MAG: It’s still standing there, but that’s what his job was and he worked hard.

I: I see. What was the name of the restaurant?

MAG: (09:38) Just a little restaurant—it was Andrews’ little restaurant. Just not a big thing; just small.

I: I see. Were there other Hispanic people living in that area at the time?

MAG: I think that’s all there was around there. Yes.

I: Did your father—he was English—did he get along well with Hispanic community—with the Mexican-American community?

MAG: Oh, yes. Yes.

I: Did he speak Spanish himself?

MAG: When he married my mother, he didn’t speak Spanish. Mother taught him how. But afterwards, he learned, and he learned pretty good. He used to speak Spanish every—with anybody.

I: I see. Did he and your mother get involved in Mexican-American organizations here in town?

MAG: No, my mother didn’t get along—didn’t have any friends because she was kind of a person that was--a long time ago, you stayed home, “I can’t go out because my husband won’t let me or because I’m not-.” She didn’t care to go out. She was a family lady. She took care of every one of us. We were twelve--we were a lot of work. No, she didn’t have—just the friends, the neighbors around there, you know?

I: Yes.

MAG: And my father, he never cared for any social--anything.

I: He just worked and family.

MAG: He just worked and family, that’s all. Worked in the yard and planting the garden and he had cows, and that’s about it. We were simple people.

I: Had you gone to school in San Antonio or El Paso?

MAG: Yes. We went to school in El Paso, but I don’t remember the school. In San Antonio, we went to Briscol(??) School, I think it was, on the—I can’t remember the name--Houston Avenue? I can’t remember the name of the street.

I: You all mainly had girls in your family, when you were mentioning-

MAG: (11:59) We were seven girls and five boys.

I: I see. The oldest children were girls, though, correct?

MAG: No. My oldest—Julius was the oldest brother, and then there was Frank between Margaret and Mary, and the other three were smaller.

I: Did all of the children go to school there in San-?

MAG: Every one of them. Not all of them in San Antonio. The ones that went to school there were before Eloise was—Eloise was the smallest, then the rest of them were born at—Beatrice was born in San Antonio and Ernest was born in San Antonio and Fred was born in San Antonio. Here in Houston, they weren’t born. They weren’t born here. Yes, Richard, my brother-

I: Was born in Houston? He was the only child that was born here?

MAG: Yes. The only boy. The latest—the smallest one.

I: What was your full name? Your full maiden name?

MAG: Magdalena Andrews Garcia.

I: I see. When you came to Houston, did you go to school here?

MAG: I went to school, but not very much.

I: Where did you go?

MAG: No, no. I’m lying—I didn’t go to school here. I went to school in San Antonio, Briscol it was, and I only went to the third grade.

I: I see. Why did you leave school at the third grade?

MAG: (13:36) Because I had to stay home and help my mother.

I: I see. Was that a tradition in the family that girls do that?

MAG: No. We were too many, sir, and my father couldn’t make it alone, so I quit and I went to work making flowers—ribbon flowers--and I used to stay home and help my mother.

I: Where did you make the flowers? At home?

MAG: No. There was a place—do you know where that river, what do you call it?

I: The River Walk?

MAG: Yes. There was a—it was different then. It wasn’t like it is now. Now it’s very modern. But then, there was a store in the corner of where the restroom was. The Restaurant was named Black-eyed something, and in the kitty corner was where I used to work. There were a lot of girls working there making flowers out of ribbons--roses to decorate dresses—evening dresses. Then, flowers were used very much, you know?

I: I see. And how did you get that job? Did someone tell you about it? Or did you know the people that were operating it?

MAG: No. No, I was told that they were hiring people there and I went to see about it and they hired me. I was good--I’m still good--I’m very good with my hands, doing things with my hands.

I: What was it paying like?

MAG: Very low. But at that time, the little wages we used to get used to go a long ways because we weren’t like nowadays. We didn’t have no credit cards. We could buy what we could—my mother used to make our dresses and our coats and the boys’ pants. She used to be a dressmaker and that’s how we got along. We were poor people, but proud.

I: What years were you working there? Do you remember? It was in the ‘20s?

MAG: I must have been about sixteen. I started working when I was fourteen, making little dresses for children. There was a factory there in San Antonio—I don’t know if it’s still there—that used to hire ladies or girls to sew the little dresses for babies and I worked there about three years. I was fourteen until I was sixteen, and that’s when I started working making the flowers.

I: When you were there, were there ever any people that tried to unionize you all? Was there ever a union?

MAG: No. No. We never had any trouble with anybody, you know? Everything was so peaceful then. It was so different.

I: In the ‘20s it was?

MAG: (17:01) Yes. It was very different.

I: Was the person that you all were working for; was it an Anglo or a Mexican-American?

MAG: No, he was an Anglo. He used to deliver those flowers to the largest stores there in San Antonio. Sometimes they used to send the dresses there so that we could put the flowers on them. It was very pretty. It was a very nice job. Very interesting; to me, it was an interesting job.

I: Do you remember his name?

MAG: No. No, I don’t.

I: Or the name of his company, you don’t remember that?

MAG: Uh-uh. (negative)

I: But it was there by the river, where the River Walk is?

MAG: It was right near the River Walk.

I: How long did you work in that capacity? How long were you out there?

MAG: Well, I worked there until we came here to Houston, and when I came here to Houston, I can’t remember how old I was, but I must have been about seventeen. I worked there about three years, I think.

I: When you got here, did you look for a job when you got here?

MAG: Oh, yes. I got a job right away.

I: How did you get that job? What was it?

MAG: We used to live on Holly. It was a little house and if you were to see it now, you’d say, “You lived there?” But we were poor, we lived there, and across the street was a factory that they used to make bags. What was the name of it? Oh, I wish I could remember. It’s still there.

I: They used to make bags? What kind of bags?

MAG: (19:01) Yes, bags to cover your suits with when they’d bring them from the laundry. They used to be made out of paper then, not out of plastic or anything. I think you remember them, Ernest.

E: Yes, I remember that.

MAG: And then they used to-

E: A lot of the cleaners used them.

MAG: Yes, cleaners--for the cleaners, you know. And then we used to make envelopes also.

I: Was this by hand?

MAG: It was made by hand. [She rips off a piece of paper] The bags were like that. That’s a bag. We used to put paste on here and the hanger would come out through here. See? [She illustrates what these bags were like with a piece of paper.] There.

I: Were there other women working there with you?

MAG: Yes, there were about six girls.

I: Were they Anglo and Mexican-American?

MAG: We were all Anglo—Mexican-American. No, Olivia Ypina was Mexican. She was from Mexico. Do you remember her? Did you know her? Olivia Ypina. You didn’t know her? She was a singer.

I: She was a singer.

MAG: Yes, and she used to sing beautiful.

I: But these women, you said these were women who were born in the United States, but of Mexican heritage, right?

MAG: Yes.

I: But except for Mimi, who was-

MAG: (20:33) Except for Mimi that was from Mexico.

E: (inaudible) That was Ralph’s wife? Raul’s wife?

MAG: Yes. (?) Moreno’s wife?

E: Yeah.

MAG: She used to be a beautiful person, yes.

E: Very good singer, yes, good-looking. I didn’t know her last name. Yeah. I remember her.

MAG: She was my friend. She was the one that got the job for me there. And then after that, my sisters Mary and Margaret worked there for a while, but then they were going to school so they kept on—they went through to the seventh and eighth grade. They didn’t finish their school.

I: How did you feel about leaving school?

MAG: Well, I felt very bad because I wasn’t able to learn like the rest of them, but I was very happy because I was helping my mother. I wasn’t the kind of person that is dissatisfied because you can’t get what you want, you know? You do what you can. I was happy.

I: And your sisters? How did they feel? Did they want to go to school and everything?

MAG: They sometimes wanted to stay home so that I could go to school, but I told them, “It’s best that you finish what you’re doing. You’re going to school, you’re smarter than I am because I didn’t go after the third grade and I think that you can do better than I can. It’s best that I stay home.”

I: How did your mother and father feel toward education when you all were young?

MAG: My father tried to educate us, you know? He tried, but he—there were too many. You can understand, being twelve in the family and it’s too much for one man only working, so there was nothing he could do. And my mother used to sew. She used to help people. That’s the only thing she could do.

I: So how long did you work with making the bags?

MAG: (22:45) I was about seventeen, I think; sixteen, seventeen. Yeah, seventeen, because I worked three years over there when we came--about seventeen. I worked there until after I was married.

I: I see. So you stayed at the one job?

MAG: Yes. The only time that I didn’t work was when my daughter was born. I stayed home three years, and then I went back to work at the same place.

I: I see. Who was the owner of that place?

MAG: Mr. Owens. He’s still there. If you go on Holly Street, it’s still there, but it’s a much bigger place now, they say. I haven’t seen it since then. I think his son is running it now.

I: So you were fairly satisfied at that job with the working conditions?

MAG: Yes. I couldn’t do nothing else, so I was satisfied. I have always worked with my hands. After I quit there—after a long time, I got a job making candy—chocolate candy. I worked—there was a little store here, a little place in the corner there. As you come, you see a little beer joint there or something in the corner?

E: Around the corner there?

MAG: Yeah, at this one? That’s where the candy factory was and I used to work there.

I: Who owned that? Do you remember the name?

MAG: No, I’m not too much good in my mind right now. I forget things. And then after that, I started working at Foley’s and I used to make the candy there at Foley’s.

I: I see. You worked—was the person that owned the candy store, was he a Mexican-American or Anglo?

MAG: No, he was Anglo. Yes. They were nice people—very nice people. Til they closed down, they closed the place up and I started working at Foley’s and I stayed there until--I think when I stopped there when I was operated on my heart.

I: I see.

MAG: And that’s when I quit.

I: Is this fairly recent or has this been a number of years ago when you had your operation?

MAG: That was a year before my husband was sick.

I: I see.

MAG: My husband has been dead now—it’ll be eight years in July, so he wasn’t sick very much.

I: No, he was a very robust person.

MAG: Yes.

I: Do you remember how much you got paid when you started working here in Houston?

MAG: (25:49) It wasn’t very much. At Owens’ there, we used to get I think it was $10 a week. It wasn’t very much pay, but-

I: Now this was around 1929 when you went to work there?

MAG: Yes.

I: Did things change for you at all in that job during The Depression? Or did you-?

MAG: We changed them. I was the one who started and another friend of mine—we got them to change the salaries for the girls. We started getting the minimum wage and the law got after him for not paying us more. And so afterwards, he paid us the same wages, and ever since then, he started paying us the minimum wage.

I: That was in the ‘30s, right?

MAG: Uh-hunh. (affirmative)

I: How did you do that? Did you have to go to him to talk to him? Or did you go to the-?

MAG: Well, he was very nice. We told him that we wanted a raise and he said he couldn’t give us a raise. Then afterwards—I don’t know how we started it, but we got the things moving so we could then go there to the government or the city or whatever to find out about how much they pay the employees, and they came to me. In fact, I called them. But I wish I could remember—I called them and I told them when you go there, you be sure and look for me so Mr. Owen won’t know that I was the one that called you. That’s the way I’d done it. And so afterwards, he was alright.

I: How long did this take to get this straightened out?

MAG: (27:51) Not very long. Not very long.

I: How many girls were working there at that time, would you say?

MAG: Still the same ones.

I: Six or seven?

MAG: Yes.

I: Were all of them supportive of what you were doing?

MAG: Oh, yes. We used to work very hard for such little money, you know? And working by hand, by the evening, it was not possible—(in Spanish??). You know, we used to start in the bottom, putting the bags as we finished them were fifty in a bunch, and when we finished them we would put them on the floor off to one side and then to the other until we got—by the evening, when we got through, it was this high. And it was tiresome, but we enjoyed working, so-.

I: But you all did sort of lever the minimum wage at least?

MAG: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. He didn’t get angry. He was very nice. He didn’t get angry. He said he realized he was doing wrong, you know, and he didn’t want to lose. He could have fired us, you know? But he didn’t. He was nice.

I: So you stayed there--this was during the 1930s--and you met Mr. Garcia at just a neighborhood party?

MAG: Yes. Before that.

I: I see. This was after you were married that you all had the thing over the minimum wage?

MAG: No.

I: You weren’t married yet?

MAG: No, I wasn’t married. No, I didn’t marry my husband until ’34.

I: Now, pursuing this thing on the minimum wage, did you and one of the other girls get together or did you think of this by yourself, or-?

MAG: (29:52) We were talking about it, and my sister Mary and I used to say, “We’re not getting enough money here. We ought to go look for a job someplace else.” I said, “Yes, but if we can let somebody know how much we’re getting, maybe we can get as much as other girls are getting someplace else.” And then we got together and we made the call. I wish I could remember who I called, but who do you call when you want a minimum wage?

I: Well, I would think that it was after the federal government instituted that first minimum wage.

MAG: He had offices there. They had offices, and I don’t know how we got the name—the number. Anyway, we called them and that’s how.

I: But it didn’t take you all long to get action then, after?

MAG: No. I think he started paying us minimum wage in two or three weeks.

I: Were any Mexican-American organizations involved in helping you all getting that minimum wage?

MAG: No. In that time, I didn’t even know about—the only club that I knew about was the Mexico Bello and my father was so strict that he didn’t let us go dancing no place.

I: Even when you were working, when you were a young woman?

MAG: Even when we were working. I didn’t start going to dances until I- [abrupt end of tape 1, truncated beginning of tape 2] -waiting for us. You’d better go to your room before he knows you just got here. He didn’t let us go for a long, long time after that.

I: I see. But he knew you all had come in late?

MAG: Yes.

I: What was the dance? Do you remember the dance?

MAG: It was a Mexico Bello dance, a social dance.

I: I see.

MAG: (00:26) I believe it was the Halloween dance. You were very young then, Ernest. It was a Halloween dance, and I dressed as a Spanish lady—a Spanish senorita with my—I had very long hair and black, and I looked different. (laughs)

I: What year was this, about?

MAG: Well, let’s see. I had just gone out with Isidro, so it must have been ’32.

I: ’32? So it was in the early ‘30s, 1932?

MAG: Yes.

I: Where was Mr. Garcia working when you all met?

MAG: He was working for Senators(??). Yes, he was working there. He worked there; I think it was twenty-five years. (audio pauses, resumes) –working for Real Tailors. He worked there a long time until they closed—not the place down, I believe, no? Uh-hunh. (affirmative)

I: So your parents—your father in particular—was very strict on the girls?

MAG: Oh, yes. On the boys, too.

I: Was there a difference between the way he treated the boys and the girls in regard to their social life?

MAG: No. The boys didn’t go out, either.

I: Really?

MAG: No. He was very strict. He was—he said that his family was strict and his ways were different.

I: Where was he from, your father?

MAG: From England.

I: He was from England?

MAG: (02:34) Yes. He came here as an immigrant. He came to Houston as an immigrant with a family. We don’t know who the family was and we don’t know who his family was—my father’s family. We don’t know. We don’t know anything about my father. All I know is that he was a good father. He brought us right. And to see that so many of the—we were so many girls, you know, that we could have gone wrong in some way or the other if he hadn’t been so strict, I think.

I: And the boys, too. He was strict on them as well.

MAG: Yes.

I: Did the boys go to school?

MAG: The boys went to school, yes. Frank didn’t finish his school. He had to start working. He started working at Senators(??) with Isidro, as a salesman.

I: Did any of the children finish high school or-?

MAG: No. No, they got to the seventh and the eighth grade, but they didn’t finish it.

I: Here in Houston, where did the children go—the children that were going to school—where did they go? Did they go to Guadalupe School or did they go to Dallas school-?

MAG: No. No, there was school on Houston Avenue-

E: Hawthorne.

MAG: Hawthorne School.

I: Okay. They went to Hawthorne.

MAG: Yes. And when they were going to high school, I really don’t know where they went to high school. I don’t remember.

E: Sam Houston.

MAG: I guess so. I really don’t know.

E: Where I went.

MAG: You did?

E: Sam Houston.

MAG: (04:45) Did you know my sisters then?

E: Oh, yes. I knew them all.

MAG: You did?

E: Sure. Josephine and I were--in the eighth grade, I was the prince and she was the princess and didn’t talk much.

MAG: I got some pictures there; you can see them.

E: Okay. Yes, that was back in Hawthorne, then we went to Dallas, and then we went to-(pause)

I: Where did you and Mr. Garcia go while you all were dating and getting ready to get married, for a social life? What type of things did you all do?

MAG: Not very much. Not very much. We went to the theater once in a while, but we had to be home early, and if we ever went to Mexico Bello--it was social dances at Mexico Bello, you know—that was the only club that he used to let us go, but like I tell you, we had to be home early.

I: After you got married, you stayed working except for when your daughter was born.

MAG: Yes.

I: Was that unusual in those days?

MAG: No, it wasn’t. If you wanted to help your husband, you would keep on working like me. I wanted to help him to get a house, and we got this house, so I didn’t mind it. I used to do my work just the same, my washing—I used to wash by hand, and things were not as easy as it is now that we have a washing machine and a dryer and everything. Everything was a little difficult, but we used to get along. We used to do it.

I: When you and Mr. Garcia got married, was this you-all’s first house?

MAG: Yes.

I: You all moved here and stayed here?

MAG: (06:45) Well, I’ve been here since then.

I: And his parents lived-

MAG: No, they lived here. When I got married, his mother was in the hospital with my mother. They were both in the hospital; they didn’t know each other, and they met there, and then when Isidro went to see his mother, he saw my mother there and so they introduced each other, you know? Then afterwards, his mother passed away and my mother passed away. She wanted a drink of water and nobody could hear her, and she fell and that hospital—Jefferson Davis hospital—they used to have some pipes near the beds going up, and that small one on the bottom, so when she fell, she fell on that small pipe and it opened her forehead up right here. I’ll never forget that. And then, something happened to my father and he didn’t know what to do without her. Just—he was devastated. He was devastated, you know? He just-

I: Was she still relatively young at that time?

MAG: Uh-hunh. (affirmative) My mother was forty-five when she died.

I: When that happened?

MAG: Uh-hunh. (affirmative)

I: What was wrong with her? I mean, in the hospital?

MAG: At that time, they used to call it diabetes—no, not diabetes—dropsy. Dropsy, and in these days, they don’t call that no more. It’s her blood turned to water after she had the last child. She didn’t have the proper care.

I: Was it pretty hard on your mother with the children and everything?

MAG: Well, it was kind of hard. It was kind of hard.

I: Your father, did he ever remarry?

MAG: No. He never remarried. He stayed with the family. He raised the latest boy, you know, my youngest brother, until he got married. My brother, I mean. My father died of a heart attack.

I: What year was that? Do you remember what year?

MAG: (09:43) Well, let’s see. Richard is fifty-four. My father died when he was six years old.

I: Before you were married, were you ever involved in any clubs with other young girls?

MAG: No. No, never. Not until after I got married.

I: I see.

MAG: After I got married, there was a lot of young girls from there—from the factory--that we organized the club. It was—what was the name of it? Mexico Bello Ladies Auxiliary Club.

I: Around what year was that, did you all-?

MAG: I know you’re asking me the years, and I forget about it.

I: I know it’s very—yeah. In the ‘30s though, it was in the 1930s sometime?

MAG: No, it was later than that. It was later than that.

I: I know it’s very difficult to remember the years. Some people can recall them like that—it’s very difficult.

MAG: My sisters can recall things like that, but I can’t. I just can’t.

I: Who were the girls involved in organizing the club? Do you remember their names offhand, some of the girls?

MAG: Well, I can show you a picture if you wait, I’ll go get it. Maybe you’ll know them. I’d better show you the picture if I can. (pause)

I: The club that you organized, that was-

MAG: Chapultepec--I didn’t organize it. I was one of the girls that used to help them, you see. I didn’t organize. I was invited by I believe it was Estela—Estela Gomez, and—let me see that picture. Maybe I can tell you better.

I: Sure.

MAG: (12:00) Olivia Ypina and Mary—my sister—belonged to it, too. We were just a few girls. Afterwards, all of this started coming in.

I: I see. This was in the 1930s. That was in the 1930s.

MAG: Yes, that was in the 1930s.

I: What did you all do in the club?

MAG: We used to make suppers and dances to help needy people and on Christmas we used to make baskets; food for the needy. And we used to help a lot. It was a good club. Until little by little, everyone started drifting, and-

I: About World War II—after World War II, you all were no longer active?

MAG: No longer. We’d have very nice dances and picnics and things like that to help people. Then the Mexico Bello organized the LULACs girls—Annie—when she quit—when she finished her school, she graduated—my daughter. She came home crying because she wasn’t going to see her friends anymore. She’s very sensitive; she used to be very sensitive, and I told her, “Well, you don’t have to cry on account of that. You can always get them all together and make a club. Organize a club and get them all together.” She said, “You know, mother, that’s a good idea.” She did. She organized—did you all remember that club? That Mexico Bello Girls Auxiliary Club?

E: Sure.

MAG: They used to make really good dances and they used to help people also, and baskets and all of that. There were a very young couple—a young group of girls that used to like to help until afterwards, they started getting married and the club dropped out. Then the Mexico Bello Ladies Club organized a Ladies Club, and I was one of them, too. We used to do the same thing.

I: When did you have your daughter? Was this in the ‘30s or ‘40s? When did you-?

MAG: She was born—I was married in ’34 and she was born in ’35.

I: I see. Was that the only child you all had?

MAG: (14:48) No, I had another little baby boy, Isidro, Jr. He was born ten years after.

I: I see.

MAG: But he was a blue baby. I don’t know if you know what that is.

I: I’m not familiar with that.

MAG: For seven months, he passed away. Thank God for that; He took him away.

I: And so those two children were the only two children born?

MAG: No, I had another boy: David, my son. Where is his picture? It’s in that book. But yes, it’s in that book, Ernest.

E: Okay.

I: Was this after the second child, or was this-?

MAG: Yes, after my baby died.

I: But he grew up alright?

MAG: He’ll be forty in May, the 29th. (audio pauses, resumes) He’s a very good son and I have a very good daughter. God has blessed me.

I: Are they both living here in Houston, too?

MAG: Yes. He’s married now, but he’s got three children: two boys and one girl.

I: So you worked and had two children growing up at the same time?

MAG: Yes.

I: Was that difficult?

MAG: I had my sister with me at that time and she used to take care of Annie when I was working, and we used to help each other like that.

I: Did you all—was it normal to have other members of the family living with you at that time?

MAG: (16:38) No, I was used to that because when I got married, his mother passed away after a few months and there was Lupe, Janie, Socorro, Joe, Salvador, Lawrence, Natcha, and Lolita. There were eight in the family when I got married. I helped take care of them. I stayed home then.

I: I see.

MAG: And then afterwards, little by little, they got married and moved.

I: And you went back to work?

MAG: But I was used—coming from a big family and after married, living with a big family. It was nothing to me, you know? I was used to it.

I: Was the Chapultepec the first club you were involved in?

MAG: Yeah, the first club.

I: I see.

MAG: The first club, but then I was already—I was also already married. I had just—my daddy couldn’t tell me anything.

I: Was your relationship with your father after you got married--did you stay close to him?

MAG: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. We are a very close family. We are; to this day, none of us have been like other people that forget. No. We’re a very close family. We were brought up that way.

I: Did Mr. Garcia—now, Mr. Garcia was involved in LULAC very early, wasn’t he? Was he in LULAC when you all got married, or after?

MAG: I used to hear that he belonged to the LULAC way before I met him, before he was my boyfriend, and he must have been under twenty-nine or around there. Yeah.

E: The President of that Council was—let’s see, was it 1932 that they formed-

MAG: ’32?

E: In Houston. However, LULAC had been in existence since 1929, when Houston’s first Council was formed in 1932.

MAG: 1932. Well, you see, I forget the dates.

I: Well, dates are kind of difficult to remember. But he was involved in LULAC when you met him then?

MAG: Oh, yes.

I: He was already involved in it?

MAG: He was already involved in it, yes. Yes.

I: How did you feel about him being involved in LULAC?

MAG: (19:52) I respected his ideas, what he used to belong to. I never interfered with nothing. Even after he was married, Ernest can tell you he was always at the meetings and always—I had no complaints. I never had anything to say. He was a good husband and he loved to help people. (phone ringing) He loved to belong to clubs and go here and go there.

I: He liked being involved, didn’t he? That was my impression of Mr. Garcia. (paused, resumed) When you were in Chapultepec, did Mr. Garcia go with you to the functions? Did he participate with the club as well?

MAG: He used to go. Yes, he used to go, but I—oh, I was married. Well, let’s see, must have been in the ‘30s when it was organized.

I: I think it was organized in ’32.

MAG: Then I wasn’t—I was single then, because I didn’t meet Isidro until ’32, I think.

I: I think you all-

MAG: (21:15) No, I’m lying—no, because I was his girlfriend for three years before I married him.

I: So you were going with him when you got into Mexico Bello?

MAG: Yes.

I: I mean, pardon me, to Chapultepec.

MAG: Chapultepec, uh-hunh. (affirmative) Yeah. Those were the only places I used to go with him, and to the theaters and to the park.

I: There was a Spanish language theater down here called the Azteca?

MAG: We used to go there sometimes.

I: You went there?

MAG: Yes.

I: What did you see? What was it? Was it movies or was it live acts? What was there?

MAG: No, they were movies.

I: They were movies?

MAG: Uh-hunh. (affirmative) We didn’t go too often, but that was the only Mexican theater there was.

I: Did your father go with you all?

MAG: (22:20) Oh, my father never went nowhere.

I: He never went into it?

MAG: No. The only place—correction—the only place he used to go when my mother was still living--he used to like to go hunting and fishing. That was his sport, and that’s my brothers’ sport, also. My brothers—they all go fishing and hunting. They didn’t like no social things, you know? My brothers don’t need it. You invite them to go fishing, they’ll gladly go fishing, and if you invite them to go hunting, they’ll go hunting, but nothing else. I think Frank was the only one that used to like to go dancing.

I: Now after you left the Owens’ where you were working, with the Owens’, where did you go and work after that?

MAG: Like I tell you, that little-

I: The little candy-?

MAG: The little candy store.

I: And you worked there for how long, again? Several years?

MAG: (23:34) Yeah, around there. Where I worked more was at Foley’s. I worked ten years there.

I: I see. The downtown store?

MAG: Yeah, the downtown.

I: Was this when it first opened up in the late ‘40s or was it after?

MAG: No, no, no.

E: The store was on President, I think(??)

MAG: No, no, no. No, that was when it was first Foley’s. I didn’t know they’d—I’d never went there, to the store. It was on Main Street where I went to work. My life is not too interesting. Sorry.

I: No, no, it is very interesting. Where did you all attend—you all attended church? Did you all go to church?

MAG: Yes. Oh, yes.

I: What church did you all attend?

MAG: We used to go to Guadalupe Church.

I: Okay. That’s where you all were married?

MAG: And that was where my father—after I got married, my father bought a house in Magnolia, on Avenue F, and he took the children with him. They moved over there. I was the only one that stayed out this way. I was married to Isidro so I stayed out this way. The rest of them used to live out that way, on Canal and Harrisburg and Avenue F. They used to go—what’s the name of that church where we took Isidro when he passed away?

I: Was that Immaculate Heart of Mary-?

MAG: Yes.

E: Immaculate Conception?

MAG: Yes. They still go to church there.

I: I see. They’re on 76th, I believe it is?

MAG: On 76th, I think. Around there someplace.

I: It’s the one in Magnolia Court.

MAG: Yes.

I: So did you all remain at Our Lady of Guadalupe, you and Mr. Garcia?

MAG: (25:47) Yes. We went there for a long time—for a very long time. Then afterwards, we started going to Holy Name. No—but was the little church here? Saint Patricia? We went there til the church moved away from there, someplace else, and we started going to Holy Name.

I: Were you all very active in the church, not very active?

MAG: Not very active. Isidro was the—he wasn’t a Catholic. He was Catholic because on account of his family, you know? But he belonged to the Lodge. He was a Masonic. Is that how you say it?

I: Did he believe in the church?

MAG: No. He didn’t mind us going to church. His belief was Mason.

E: He was a Mason.

MAG: Mason.

I: And he belonged to the Masons here in Houston, right? I mean, he was in the Lodge—in the Mexican Lodge here?

MAG: Yes.

I: So you all had—were your children baptized at Guadalupe or were they baptized elsewhere?

MAG: They were baptized here in Holy Name.

I: Okay.

MAG: No! In Saint Patricia! Yeah, they were born here--in this house--and they were baptized there in Saint Patricia. Well, rather, Annie and Isidro, Jr. David, no; David was baptized in Saint Patrick’s, I believe.

I: After Mexico Bello—the Ladies Mexico Bello and Chapultepec, you weren’t involved in any organizations or did you get into any other organizations?

MAG: (28:07) I used to help the LULACs.

E: You did?

MAG: Yes. I used to help the LULACs whenever they made Christmas baskets. And then they and a little organization, what was the name of that, Kay? United—what?

K: United Way?

MAG: No. Como se llamo-?

E: Unity LULACs?

MAG: Something.

E: Candy was in that.

MAG: No. (Spanish)

I: No, that’s quite alright.

MAG: I’m sorry.

I: But it was affiliated with the LULACs?

MAG: With the LULACs, yes.

I: I see. Did you ever belong to a Ladies LULAC group?

MAG: No.

I: You never did?

MAG: (28:57) They used to invite me, but no, I didn’t belong to it.

I: Why didn’t you get involved with the Ladies’ LULAC? Do you remember why?

MAG: I think I had too much going on here at home.

I: Was your home life or your work life—which was more important to you as a person?

MAG: I think both.

I: Equally?

MAG: Yes. Yes, I loved my home. I’d done things from my home. I worked, and I kept my home clean like I should have. I was brought up in that manner, and I liked to work because I liked to help my husband.

I: Did you then get your housekeeping habits from your mother, do you think?

MAG: Yes. My father, too; my father was a very clean person.

I: Really?

MAG: Yes. He brought us up that way. He had the boys helping him outside, teaching them things, and he used to teach us, too, because we had to have the house clean and we kept it clean. My mother saw to it. We helped her, everyone one of us. Some of them doing one thing, the others another thing. Our life was interesting in that manner. I can’t say we had a lot of fun like girls nowadays, but we enjoyed our life when we were growing up. They don’t do that no more. They don’t know what fun is, really. We used to sit outside and one of the girls would say a story (Spanish ?? Una quento como se di se “story?”) And we used to enjoy those things, you know? We used to play games. They don’t do that no more.

I: What kinds of games?

MAG: Well, Ring-Around-the-Rosy, Hide and Seek, and we’d take a book and one of the girls would read something and make believe we were in a stage, and performing. Our life was interesting. I think so. (laughs)

I: Do you remember—when you were in San Antonio, you didn’t go out much anywhere, did-? [abrupt end to Tape 2. Tape 252.2_03 is not for this interview]

I: [Tape 4 begins] She was there after-

MAG: Yes, she was asking for it, so he fired her, but then the rest of the girls, they all treated me very nice and we were very good friends. I used to talk English only—not Spanish, just English.

I: Right.

MAG: So we got along. I had never had trouble in any of the jobs that I have gone. Never.

I: Were the girls that worked at the Owens’ place where you all made the—did they all pretty much like the job alright?

MAG: (00:48) Oh, yes. They were satisfied with the job. There was not—in those times, there wasn’t very many jobs, I don’t think, that girls could go to work by themselves, just girls and no men around. There were only two men working there.

I: That’s what I was about to ask you, was all these jobs were just-?

MAG: Only two men, Mr. Finch and Mr. Owens that used to work on the machines—the press. I used to work on the press, too. The used to order the names of the places and they would put them on the bag, so I would feed them in the press and they would come out. After I started working with the bags, Mr. Owens put me on the press and I’d done pretty good. In fact, when I quit, I was working on the press.

I: Did your sisters—as they got older, did they start to work also? Did they go to work?

MAG: Yes.

I: Do you remember where they were working?

MAG: (02:02) Margaret, my sister, was the manager of an olive factory. Do you remember that olive factory?

E: It was on Henderson and the railroad tracks.

MAG: Someplace—I don’t remember where. She was the manager there, and my sister-

I: It was a what type of factory? I didn’t hear you.

MAG: Olive.

I: Olive?

MAG: Olive. Olive factory.

E: They used to come in big barrels.

MAG: Big barrels.

E: And these girls would take the olives and put them in jars.

I: I see. And she managed one of those?

MAG: Yes, she was a manager. And then Mary, my sister, she was a manager—her and her husband—of Robert Hall store, did you ever know that? Robert Halls? They had one here-

E: Lexington, (inaudible). No, Prairie and Smith.

MAG: Uh-hunh. (affirmative) Then after they worked here, they sent her to San Antonio when they opened the new store and she worked there for quite a while. Then she just quit working.

I: Were these two sisters close to you in age or were they younger?

MAG: Oh, yes. They were close to me in age, yes. Josephine, no. Josephine got married and she stayed in El Paso. In fact, she still goes over there very often because her sons are over there. Eloise, my sister, used to work for that—where they made calculators and what is the name-?

E: Adding machines?

MAG: (03:45) Adding machines and all that type of—it’s a big place, but I don’t know the name of it.

E: (inaudible guess)

MAG: No, it’s another one. Here where they’re quite a while.

I: Here in Houston?

MAG: Uh-hunh. (affirmative)

I: So all of you girls in the family got jobs and-?

MAG: Uh-hunh. (affirmative) Just after they got married.

I: After they got married.

MAG: After they got married.

I: Mrs. Garcia, we’re going to try to terminate this again.

MAG: Well, I hope so. (laughs)

I: It was really interesting. I don’t want to go on too long; I know it’s gone long for over an hour and a half, but it’s been very, very interesting. We really appreciate you.