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Interview with: Mary Postel Rivera
Interviewed by: Interviewer's Name
Date: December 16, 1983
Archive Number: OH 312
I: This is a December 16, 1983 oral history interview with Mrs. Mary Postel Rivera of 7542 Canal.
I: We go over just about anything.
MR: 00:23.5 Take his coat.
I: Oh, no, that’s all right. If I can just put it here?
MR: Okay, because it’s getting hot. I’d just put it there. I let it burn this long because it’s so cold.
I: How did you originally all come to Houston?
MR: Well, I guess it was when my mother and father got married in Victoria. They got married in Victoria. They had two children up there—two—which was Arthur and Angelina, my oldest sister. That’s when I think they came to Houston. That’s when we came to Houston.
I: Approximately in what year was that?
MR: Well, Mother and Daddy got married in 1901—1901. I guess when my brother was about 2 or 3 years old and my sister was a little over a year, that’s when my daddy came over here. I guess he brought my mother. I didn’t get to know my mother because she passed away when she was about 5 years old.
I: When were you born?
MR: I was born in 1910.
I: 01:43.6 Here in Houston?
MR: In Bay City.
I: In Bay City?
MR: Yes, we were living here, but Daddy went to look for a job over there in Bay City and took my mother. She got sick, and she had me over there. But we were living here in Houston. So they brought me— About 2 or 3 days later, when Mother could come, they came here to Houston. I think they were living at— You know where the bus station used to be over there on—?
I: Down there by Market Square? In that old city hall?
MR: Well, Market Square— Right there at the square. My other sister was— I know that we lived there after I was born and brought here. My youngest sister, she was born there—that place over there.
I: So it was almost in the downtown area that you all lived?
MR: It’s right there in town. It’s in the— What do you call it over there?
MS: Congress—where the rich(?) was.
MR: It was Congress and what’s the next street?
MS: Congress and Preston.
MR: Is that—? No, Travis. Well, between Congress and Preston and Travis. I think it’s Travis. Main, and then it’s Travis.
I: Right there at Market Square.
I: What is now Market Square—or was Market Square.
MS: 03:15.8 Preston and Prairie—(Coughing)—and Travis.
I: 03:22 Milam, I believe it was.
MS: Where the square was.
MR: Well, my sister Josephine, she was born there. And then from there, Daddy bought a place out here on Avenue F—on 77th and Avenue F.
MS: Market Square.
MR: And he built a house. That was where my brother—my youngest brother—was born. That was around 19— I’ll say that he was born in 1913, but he said ’14. So that’s when mother died, when he was only about 3 months old. So we were five in the family.
I: With just a father?
MR: Yeah, with just a father.
I: Did he ever mention to you why he moved from Victoria to Houston?
MR: Looking for work.
MS: Because he was a tailor.
MR: He was a tailor, and his other brothers were tailors too. Victoria was just a small—it used to be real small, and they didn’t have too much work for tailors, maybe one or two. So Daddy said, “Well, I’m going to Houston.” So he came to Houston. And his other brother who was younger than him—his name was Pete Postel—he went to Ennis, Texas, which is close to Dallas, I think. Uncle Alec, he went to Wharton. So they had to just move not too far from my grandmother. She was separated from Grandfather—because as I told you, from the neck down she was paralyzed. So she stayed a lot of years in Victoria until—I can hardly remember—until Mother passed away. That’s when Grandmother and her—she had one daughter. She had three daughters, but one was—the youngest—you know. They came here to this part of Magnolia. Then my Uncle Alec, he came over, and they opened up a tailor shop over here on Harrisburg. It was just across the bridge there.
I: By the bridge?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: What was your father’s name?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
MR: 06:07.0 Postel. His middle name was Ansaldo(?).
I: What is the origin of the name Postel? That’s an interesting, unique name.
MR: Well, that’s when—
(Speaking at same time)
MS: My grandparents were—
MR: Grandmother, she was sick all the time and lying in bed. We used to sit there and fan her. We didn’t have electric fans or anything, so we had to use a paper fan. She used to tell us— She’d try to learn me how to— I couldn’t read and write in Spanish, but I didn’t— I’m sorry I didn’t because I never did go to school. I never did go to school. I can read and write in English because I learned it. I don’t know from where. But the Spanish, I never could. And she tried to teach us Spanish. And my other cousins that she had—a boy and a girl—that her daughter—she was a widow. She left the boy and little girl with her. They know how to write in Spanish real good.
I: But you didn’t get a chance to go to school when you were a child?
MR: No, I didn’t, because I was here and there all the time. Sometimes I was with this grandmother, and sometimes I would go to Wharton with Uncle Alec. And then, when Uncle Pete Postel moved to Granada, Texas, they took me over there. And then, finally, I went to Victoria. I didn’t know my mother’s mother. I was sent there when I was about 9 years old.
I: What did your grandmother tell you about the origin of your name, Postel? Where is it from?
MR: Well, this grandmother told me that— I used to ask a lot of questions, like kids do. I said, “Where is Grandpa?” And she said, “Well, he’s living in Corpus Christie.” I said, “How come he don’t live here with you?” You know how kids ask. And she said, “Well, because he couldn’t find a job here.” So it was because they separated. I guess he got tired of her being sick all the time.
I: What had happened to her? What was her paralysis from?
MR: Well, I don’t know. It’s embarrassing to say. But she had about 8 boys, I think, and 3 girls—children. She said that when she took that, she had it from her waist down. But then, they say that—I don’t know where this doctor came from. He was going to give her electric shots. That’s when she got all her paralysis. She had her hands like that and her feet. You had to put a pillow between them. That’s the way I knew her. I didn’t know her when she was—when she started. But she used to—
I: It just got progressively worse?
MR: And sometimes she’d cry—you know—and she used to say—
I: But the name itself is French? Is Postel—?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). She would say that Grandfather came with an uncle from France. (Coughing) I’ve got this cough so bad. Then he came when he was about—Grandma said he was about 8 years old, and the uncle was about 18. And that they came—I don’t know how true it is, but she said (s/l Brenham). But the rest of my people, they said, “It’s not true, Mary.” I said, “Well, that’s what she said.” So I think they came as stowaways on a ship.
I: 10:47.8 She said they came as stowaways?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative), that’s what she told me. And they landed over here in Brandsford. They used to have—maybe they still have it—where the ships come. (Coughing) Grandma used to— They came from Spain—from somewhere in Spain. I know because they were Spanish or Mexicans. She said her father came looking for work too. He came to Mexico. He opened a school where they teach tailors—boys and girls. She said that she had another sister. There were two sisters and one brother. She said that—grandma—she used to make your suit when she was from here down—you know—paralyzed. She used to just make your coat, pair of pants. She used to help Grandpa and her father. So she said that. That’s what she used to say. She said that Grandpa Postel, he started growing. So finally, he worked out here. Most of the time he lived in Glen Flora. Do you know that? It’s someplace close to Victoria over there.
I: 12:27.5 Glen Flora.
MR: And he came, and the uncle, and they lived at this Quinones—the other Quinones. They used to live there with them, because they always claimed—these people still claim—that we’re kin to them.
I: To the Quinones?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). They always say—oh—my cousin—one lives over there on the corner, and she asked 12:56 (unintelligible)—Aunt Mary. And Grandma said that Grandpa didn’t have nobody over here—he had nobody. Then Grandpa went to Matamoros and was staying there, working and learning how to be a tailor. Then they started being sweethearts. Finally, they married. Then she said she had my father and a daughter born there in Matamoros. But the rest of them were born on this side.
I: Did they come to the United States themselves?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
MS: They come over to Victoria?
MR: Yeah, well, they came to Brandsford.
MS: They came to Matamoros and then Brandsford and then Victoria?
MR: Yeah, and then later on, when she had some more children, they moved to Victoria. I guess she had the rest of the children around there—Corpus. But I know that my daddy and my oldest aunt—his oldest sister—were born in Matamoros—Matamoros, Mexico. But the rest of them, like Uncle August and Alec, Joe—and who else?
MR: Uncle August and Alec and Joe—and then she had three daughters—Manuela, (s/l Felipe), and Cook. They’re all dead. And she had— The last one she had, she had twins. She had a little girl and a little boy. And I can’t remember the boy. That was when mother passed away. He was about 13-14 years old. He died here in St. Joseph Hospital. I don’t know if he got sick of one—you know—he was sick and sick all the time. They started cutting his (s/l foot) until he came to here and he died.
I: 15:37.5 Where were you all living when your mother died?
MR: Here on Avenue F—77th and Avenue F.
I: So your parents moved to Magnolia when they came to Houston?
MR: Yes, from Downtown—
I: To Magnolia?
I: And did you go to school? You didn’t go to school when you were a girl? You didn’t get a chance?
FS: Did you work?
I: Did you work?
MR: Well, I’ll tell you. Daddy never did get married, but he used to leave us with Grandma or with this uncle here and there. That’s the way I was raised. When my oldest sister was growing up, she got married really young. She was about 14, and then she took my youngest sister and my youngest brother. But me and my other brother—you know—the one next to me, he was older than me, we were together all the time. If I was sent to Wharton, they sent him too. If I was sent to Victoria, he cried. He was just a crybaby. He was older than me, but he used to cry a lot, so I used to say, “Well, if you all want me to go, you all are going to have to take Arthur.” So they didn’t want to put up with him so we both went together. But he was a crybaby all the time. My sister raised my youngest brother—Pete and Josephine. I didn’t get to live with them too much because I was sent here and there, like to Granada and Wharton.
(Speaking at same time)
MR: And to Mackay—a little farm there, where Grandma’s sister and brother were living—in Mackay. Mackay is the name—just across the river from Wharton, like going to Victoria.
I: I know where Mackay is. When did you come back to Houston to stay?
MR: 17:44.6 To stay? From there, I was sent to— One time, some people came from 17:57 (s/l Gladisdale). It’s a little town here next to Spring, somewhere around there. This lady, she asked my daddy, “Are you going to let me have this little girl?” And Daddy said, “Well, if she wants to go.” I saw that they were in a car and everything. I said, “I’ll go,” just for the ride, you know?
MR: I was mean. And I went and stayed with these people out there in (s/l Gladisdale). Then the last time I remember, I came back here to Magnolia, where Daddy used to have that house. From there, I was sent to Victoria. That was when I knew my other grandmother. But Daddy didn’t send just me. He sent—well, Angelina had gotten married, so he sent me and Arthur and Pete and Josephine—the four of us. I can remember that he put us on the train.
MS: Had the name on it.
MR: And he made a letter. And he told me because I was the meanest, he said, “Mary, when you get to Victoria, the conductor—I talked to the conductor,” he says, “You get off.” I can remember that real good. He said, “You get off, and there’s going to be a man there by the name of (s/l Travinia). He’s one-legged.” And I said, “Oh, my God!” He said, “You give him this letter.” I said, “What’s that letter for?” I used to ask a lot of questions. And he said, “That’s for him to take you over to your grandmother’s—your mother’s mother.” I said, “Okay.” I went because—the train—that was the first time I was going to get on the train. And Arthur, my brother, he was tickled pink too. Oh, boy, we’re going on the train. But we didn’t know that we were going to stay there. So when we got there, I did just what he told me to. He told me later on, he said, “You’re trying to look for your Uncle August. He lives there in Victoria.” I said, “Okay.” He said, “But first, when you see this man, you give him the letter, and he’s going to take you to your grandma.” And the man did; he brought us over there. So she opened the letter, and she read it. And Daddy said— I think he said in the letter for them to take one—Grandma to take one of us, and my other aunts, which they did. And me, I should have never known that because I didn’t get to go to school on account of that, because Grandma didn’t believe in children going to school, especially girls. So they had a little store. They had a lot of candy, and I thought they were going to let me eat all that candy. So I says, “I’ll stay with you.” And she was tickled pink because I was going to stay with her. And Josephine and Pete went with my Aunt Mamie. And then Arthur, he went with an uncle. His name was 21:30 (s/l Dalphina). And we stayed there a couple of years—3 years—something like that. And I didn’t like it. After that day, I didn’t like it at Grandma’s. I didn’t like it. But she had a lot of grandchildren, and of course she just knew us that day. So the next day, I didn’t like it. I was sorry I stayed there. I could have gone with the other aunts that had children and could have gone to school. They had a convent right there—a real nice convent—where all the rest used to go. They used to pass in the morning because every morning, the children of my aunts, they came and said good morning to Grandma and kiss her hand. That was the way it was done. They said, “Good morning, Grandma,” and kiss her hand. “We’re going to school,” and they’d go to school, and then they’d go to church. And I never did. I told her, I said, “I’d like to go with them.” She said, “No, you’re not going to go to school. You can go to church. When the kids go to church, you go to church.” But me, I got stubborn, and instead of yes, I went, but I didn’t go inside. I stayed outside.
FS: 23:00.8 At church?
MR: At church.
MR: And I told the kids, “You better not say.” They didn’t tell her anything. So she was thinking all the time— And the sisters would come over and say, “How come Mary don’t come to church?” Grandma said, “She goes all the time.” And she said, “We never see her there,” which was true. I never did come. Just once in a while, you know? Sometimes she gave me— She used to have a big garden with roses and all kinds of flowers. She went and cut some flowers and said, “Mary, you take this to the Sister or to the Father so they can put it on the altar right there.” I was mean, I guess. I just got it and just threw it in the back and sat over there on the steps way in the back until all the kids would come and play. I played with them, but I never—very seldom did I go inside.
I: I wanted to ask you before we get too far along—you said that your parents went to Baytown when you were born. Was it Baytown?
MR: Bay City.
I: Bay City. What were they doing out in Bay City when you were born? Was it just for a visit?
MR: 24:23.4 They went for a visit and at the same time to see if he could open a tailor shop there.
I: When did he and his brother open a tailor shop in Harrisburg?
MR: I think it must have been around 1913, because my sister Josephine was born there in town—right there on the square. We were living here then. We were living there in town. And then, somehow, they opened this tailor shop. And one of my uncles—Uncle Alec—he wasn’t married. He moved over here on 76th and Avenue E. No, not E—the next street—what’s the next street?
MR: Sherman Street, I think.
MS: It was 76th and Sherman.
MR: That house is still there. That’s when Daddy built his house out there. He built a 2-story house like that one.
I: I see.
MR: And we stayed there for a couple of years. Not too much, because it was 1912 when Josephina was born there, then ’13 or ’14 when Pete was born. That’s when my mother died, after he was born about 3 months later—3 or 4 months. We stayed here, but Daddy—I don’t know what the number of the tailor shop— Anyway, he went back to Houston to work over there. And sometimes, he stayed there for weeks, and we kids stayed here by ourselves with my oldest sister. That’s when we started— When she got married, she was just a kid. Daddy got mad, you know? Then from here, well, Angelina was gone, so Daddy didn’t know what to do with us. So he said, “Well, I’m going to rent a house in Houston.” And he rented the first house where we went. It was on 2510 Congress. It was just before you get to the old underpass.
MS: 26:37.7 Olshan it is now—Olshan.
I: Second Ward.
MS: Before you hit the tunnel—I mean—the underpass. St. Charles, I think.
I: St. Charles.
MR: Grandma—they had moved her over there on Congress, but I don’t know her address. But then, Daddy rented a couple of houses down. And Josephine and Peter and I lived there for years.
I: Was this after you were in Victoria with your grandmother?
I: 27:12.4 That was after you left?
MR: Yes, that was after. Then from there, I think we came back here to Magnolia because Daddy bought land real close to the ship channel, and he built another shack.
I: 27:33.0 (s/l Boyd’s)?
MS: Around there.
MR: Yeah, around there, on Avenue K, where the church is, just about a block down. He bought a lot there, and he built just a little 3-room house. I remember I lived there with him and Josephine. Pete, he went with my oldest sister—my oldest sister—when she moved to Texas City.
I: With her husband?
MR: With her husband. That’s the way we were raised.
I: Just here there and everywhere?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). And Josephine and Pete were—I know that they started in this school here—De Zavala. They went to that school. I know that I used to take Pete and Josephine. I used to walk them to Rusk School. But I never did go. I think I registered my name there, but I didn’t get to go. I know I used to go to church—Guadalupe Church. I used to go there.
I: 28:45.9 What about the school there? You never went to the Guadalupe School there?
MR: No, I just went to mass or to Sunday school.
I: How old were you by this time?
MR: Maybe I was about 10. But I traveled a lot in those few years.
I: I’m telling you. When did you finally get a job, or did you start working?
MR: Oh, yeah. Then, when I was growing, and I’d see the other girls have some clothes and everything, I went and looked for a job on Congress Street. They used to have fruit stands there. And I worked with a Jew clothing store. His name was Klein, but I don’t know the initials. I think it’s on the 1500 block on Congress. I worked in that store. And from there, I used to get the streetcar. We used to have a streetcar. I used to pay 5 cents to go.
(Speaking at same time)
MS: From 67th Street all the way to 10th.
FS: You were a sales person there?
I: What did you do?
MR: Well, I could speak Spanish—and English—a little bit, so now I don’t know how to speak it real well. And—you know—they used to have this bunch of socks hanging with strings like that. By the time the ladies would look around, I would come and say, “What do you need?” And they’d say, “Well, I need a pair of socks.” “What size?” And they’d look at me. I used to put them in a bag and tell them how much it was—15 cents, 12 cents, or whatever it was. Mr. Flaherty was an older man. He would be right there watching the register—right there.
I: How old were you when this took place? Were you pretty young?
MR: Yeah, I was just— He didn’t want to give me a job, but I told him that I needed the job. I said, “I need the job.” And he said, “What about your dad and your mother? What are they going to say?” I said, “Well, they can’t say anything because I don’t have a father and a mother.” I told him I didn’t have a father and a mother. I didn’t have a mother, but I had a father. Then from there, another fellow—he was a Jew too—he had a fruit stand, and he asked me how much they paid me here. And I don’t remember just how much they paid. He said, “Well, I’ll pay you a quarter more—25 cents more.” So I quit here, and I went over there.
I: 31:33.9 Who was that man? Do you remember his name?
MR: The other Jew? I don’t remember the other man.
I: Did you know a Sig Frucht? Did Mr. Frucht have fruit stand there on—?
MR: He was a kind of taller guy.
I: No, Mr. Frucht was a little— But it was on Congress?
MR: On Congress.
I: Congress, okay.
(End of tape _001)
(Start tape _002)
MR: The Solo Serve Store.
I: 00:03.2 Oh, the Solo Serve?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). A lady by the name of—which her name is Tijerina now. She was just a kid. She came from some country. I don’t know from where. She used to live out here on Avenue F. We got to be friends. So she asked me if I wanted to work there, which I would just work there 1 day, I think. The boss man there didn’t like me, I guess. So they paid me—I think it was 75 cents. From that 75 cents, I met another girl as I was living here, and they said—I went to get the streetcar, and they were waiting for the streetcar. They lived out here on Navigation. I asked her— She says, “Mary, what are you doing here?” I said, “You know what? I went to work over here, and they just gave me a job for 1 day.” And she said, “Well, why don’t you come work with us.” I said, “Where is that?” And she says, “In the bag factory.” They used to make burlap.
FS: Southern Bagging Company?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: Was it Southern Bagging?
MR: Southern Bagging. The first one was on—I think it was right there on that same street where the courthouse is, but down like you’re going to—
MR: I think it was on Sunset.
I: I believe so.
MS: I think it was Sunset.
MR: 01:41.9 And then—well, I worked there some time. Then from there, I went to work in another. It was on—I think it was on Nance Street. I think there was a man that used to run, or was the owner— It was (s/l Barossa—Tommy Barossa).
I: Italian fellow?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). My mother-in-law used to be the boss lady there. I wanted to become my mother-in-law. She was the one that would inspect the—if you do a good job. I never did learn how to sew on that machine, but I made some—what do you call them? Where you put all the sections together then they take it to the compress and make—como se llama este? Like where you press the cotton? They make that—
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative), burlap. They put all that burlap, and then they used to put it—like when they make these cotton bales.
I: Oh, cotton bales.
MR: Yeah, but it wasn’t cotton bales; it was burlap.
I: They were making bales of burlap.
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). I was making that.
I: I see.
MR: 3:00.2 I used to just put the bags in and count a hundred and made a twist there and make 500. Then we used to put it out there to have it fashioned. I worked there a good while until they fired me too.
I: What happened? Did they just lay you off?
MR: Well, I tell you, my mother-in-law thought I was too young. Well, she was not my mother-in-law yet. She thought I was too young.
FS: And how old were you then?
MR: Well, I was around 13.
MR: And then the girl— My mother-in-law was a beautiful woman. She had red hair, red eyelashes and eyebrows, big, blue eyes, and she had sons. Everybody was calling her mother-in-law, and she didn’t like it. She didn’t like it because her boys—you know—they were French and we were—she said we were Mexicans. I told her one time, I said, “Listen, I’m not a Mexican. I’m French and Spanish,” which I always say I am. And she said, “It doesn’t make no difference. My boys have got better girls—pretty girls.” She used to—you know—with all the rest of the girls, so they used to tease her. Not me—the rest of them.
MS: She wasn’t kidding.
MR: And then she came and told me— That was one of my girlfriend’s fault because she went and told them. Well, I saw my husband come in a car. He came in a car and picked up a girl. My mother-in-law was inside checking, and he came and took one of the girls. I was standing there—you know—by the trucks over there. Me and this girl from Magnolia, they used to call us “countries.” We were country girls—living in the sticks—which it really was like that then. And there were town girls. So they’d all say, “Oh, this is”— My husband was a nice looking man, but I was too young. I didn’t think so. One time he came, and he started getting a bunch of girls in the car—all that could fit there. I was just standing there, and they said, “Come on.” I said, “Where are you going? You going to Magnolia?” And he says, “No, I’m going down Main.” I said, “No, that’s not my way.” So I wouldn’t go. So then, he used to come every day over there—every day. So the last evening that I saw him— Oh, a friend at my house that used to have ball games—all these boys from town, they used to come see the girls. There were a lot of pretty girls here then. One of them, they used to call her Flapper Number One. She was a cute girl. Her name was Eloise Gutierrez, and then they had another one named 06:37.6 (s/l Fella Leder)—that was her last name—a beautiful girl—red hair—really pretty. And then this O’Hara girl. So a bunch of boys would say, “We are going to see those country girls.” So my husband was one of them. They’d come—you know.
MS: The only one that had a car.
MR: 07:03.7 He was the only one that had a car. He used to work for Southern Pacific at that time, when they had that strike. He was only 15 years old, and he said that he was 19 so that they would give him the job. He had to stay in there because he used to be better when they made them strikes. Well, I started growing up, so then they used to make dances out here on Navigation. That dance hall is still there—Juarez.
I: Salon Juarez?
MR: Salon Juarez. They used to have stands and sell ice cream or them Kewpie dolls.
I: This was in the ‘20s now?
MR: Yeah, ‘20s. So then the man over there says— He always used to pick the prettiest little girls to be in the stand. So one day I went over there, and I told him, “Look, do you want me to run one of the stands?” And he says, “Okay, you run it. You work for me, okay.” I said, “But I wanted every Sunday.” He said, “Yeah, you can have every Sunday.” So finally I worked there every Sunday. And then, the streetcar used to come there. It stopped right there, and all these boys from town used to come and get off there to come just to see the girls. So finally, that’s where I got to know my husband a little better.
I: At that little stand at Salon Juarez?
MR: Yeah. They had an Easter Sunday fiesta out in Baytown. They had an Easter Sunday fiesta. The big truck would come and get a load of girls, and we used to go over there. My husband, of course, he had this car, so everybody wanted to go in the car. That’s the way I started knowing him.
I: 09:23.2 How long did you all go together?
MR: About 5 months—6 months.
I: When did you all get married?
MR: I got married in 1920—I don’t remember exactly. I think it was ’25.
I: Okay, so you were pretty young then?
MR: Oh, yes. I was pretty young, but I wanted to have a home. I wanted to have a home. He was young, my Daddy, at that time. Of course, we were in his way all the time. He used to drink a lot. Of course, he never did mistreat us, but he stayed out too late, and he would bring us to the house. One time I said, “I want to go live with you.” And then, when I got here, he had a lady there. We never did get along, me and that lady. I asked him, I said, “Who is this?” And he told me, “Well, she’s a friend.” And she was the boss lady, so we didn’t get along, her and I. So I said, well, I’m going to live right in back of it with one of my aunts, but she had a lot of children, and I had to be babysitting all day. So I wanted to stay with my grandma that used to live on Navigation. So I went over there and I asked her if I could stay there, and she told me, “Well, just for a few days because we’re too many in this house.” So I said—well, at that time, I started going with my husband. I was working over there at that place. So he says, “Mary, why don’t you marry me?” I said, “Well, I don’t know.” And then, he said, “I’m going to go ask your father,” because I guess the rest of the girls told him the hard time that I had, so I guess he felt sorry for me or something. So he came and asked my daddy, and my daddy said no. He said, “No, because Mary is too young. And besides, you can’t boss her because she’s her own boss. She’ll do whatever she pleases.” So my husband said, “Well, Mary needs a home.” He says, “I don’t care. She’s better off the way she is. I don’t want her to have any children or anything.” So finally, we didn’t talk to each other for about 2 or 3 weeks. Finally, he came over to my aunt’s and said he wanted to talk to me. So my aunt said it was all right. And then he says, “Mary, how come you don’t live there?” And I told him, “No, I don’t want to live there on account of that woman.” And he said, “Why don’t we get married?” I said, “Okay.” I thought he was kidding(?). So I said, “Okay.” So the following week, we got married. We went to the courthouse, and we got married. The judge that married us, his name was Overstreet—Judge Overstreet.
I: Was your husband young then—I mean—was he relatively young?
MR: 13:04.2 Well, he was about 5 years older than me, because he was born in 1905.
MS: He was about 19, and you were about 14.
I: Where did you all go to live? Where did you all live when you first got married?
MR: We went to live at— The first house that we went to live in was 1111 Harrington, out on the north side.
MS: 13:32.0 That’s Houston’s main street around here.
MR: He had an apartment already fixed and everything, because my husband was going to marry somebody else. He had a girlfriend, but they broke up. He kept the rings and everything. He didn’t marry her. I didn’t know it until after I got married, but my mother-in-law told me. One of my sister-in-laws, she never did like me. Her name was Mary too. We never did get along. So the first day I came over there, she didn’t like me.
I: Did you get along with your mother-in-law pretty well?
MR: At first, we didn’t because she remembered me right away—that I was the girl from that place—that factory—and she wanted something—she wanted to make a wedding for her son. He was the oldest and all that. At first, she didn’t like me too much. But after my first baby was born, oh, she wouldn’t change me for nobody in the world.
MS: My oldest brother, he’s got the same face as my mother.
MR: It’s my mother-in-law—just like her—big, blue eyes and real red curly hair—nice-looking baby. She went crazy about that little boy.
I: How long did you all live at the place in Harrington?
MR: In Harrington?
I: We lived there I’d say about— They like to move a lot—my mother-in-law. She always was looking for— If she passed by the street and she saw a pretty house, she used to say, “As soon as they leave that house, I’m going to arrange it.” So in 4 years, we moved everywhere over there.
I: Then you wanted to have a home, and you were still moving around?
MS: The whole family.
I: 15:36.0 Oh, you lived with the family?
MR: Yes. In Harrington, I had my apartment.
MS: They lived in an apartment house with two apartments in it.
I: I see.
(Speaking at same time)
MR: Then we moved on Nance and Engleke. No, not Engleke—Charleston—some street close to Harrington.
I: Still on the north side?
MR: The north side.
MS: Charleston is the one beside the three-way.
MR: And then, she used to rent a big house, and she used to take half of the house and we’d take half of the house. It was too much for me because those houses were real big. But she had four daughters and three sons, besides my husband. And my father-in-law was there too. They were separated for years and years, but they lived in the same house. It was funny because he had his room, and he’d do his (s/l scooping) in his room. He used to be a brakeman on Hardy Street.
I: For SP?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
FS: Your father-in-law?
MR: My father-in-law. But the way he met her—my mother-in-law—I don’t know where they got married. They got married over here in Houston. My father-in-law used to—they used to— Remember years ago, they used to take a bunch of men to work on the railroad tracks, and then they even brought the family on the boxcars—you know—they had a place? Well, that’s what he used to be at first. And then when he got married, well, I guess he stayed a couple of years, and then he got a job as a brakeman. But he got hurt. He kind of broke his leg or something.
I: 17:42.2 Working for the railroad?
MR: For the railroad. But anyway, they let him work while he got well enough to be a watchman or something.
I: But he lived in the house with them?
MR: He lived in the house. He lived in the house all the time.
I: Did they get along pretty well?
MR: Well, they used to just—They met in the doorway on their way out. He used to work at night, and she used to work all day. Then in the morning, when they met, they said good morning.
I: And that was it?
MR: That was it. But my husband was worried all the time. He wanted them to be together. He was the oldest, so he used to come and talk to his dad and then to my mother-in-law. You could hear her say, “No, no, no.” So I was always asking—I asked her, I said, “How come he cooks by himself and you cook?” She says, “Oh, Mary, you know what? Your father-in-law and I, we’re married, but we don’t love each other no more.” I said, “Do you have to love him to live with him?” She said, “Yes. You don’t understand, but you’re going to grow up and you’re going to know.” And my father-in-law, he was such a good man. And she was good too.
I: You got along with him well.
MR: I got along with him real well, and I got along with my mother-in-law after I had my little boy. Both of them—that kept them more together, because my father-in-law was—
MS: He never left after my brother was born. He never left.
I: He liked to stay around.
MS: To stay.
MR: 19:40.1 Then I got tired of that. Then one of my brother-in-laws got married—Dave. Him and I, after he got married, we didn’t get along. He always wanted to—the best rooms of the house—
MS: Boss you around.
MR: Boss around and everything and my husband was the one that was paying the rent. So I told my husband one time, “Look, I married you because I wanted a home, and you promised to give me a home. Now we’re all in together, and I don’t want that.” I said, “Either we move by ourselves or I’ll leave you.” He said, “You can’t do that, Mary, because your daddy won’t take you back.” I said, “Well, he never did take me back—never.” He said, “Yeah, but what are you going to do with Jake?” I said, “I’ll take care of him.” So I was always telling him that. Finally, one day I kept my word and got Jake up and came over here to visit my sister—my oldest sister. And I spent all that day and all that night. The next day he came over and said, “Mary, I was waiting for you.” I said, “I told you I was going to go some day.” So he said, “Well, do whatever you want.” I said, “Okay, I’m going to go and look for work.” He said, “You can’t do that, Mary. You can’t work. Who’s going to take care of Jake?” Oh, my sister was crazy about Jake. I said, “Don’t worry about that.” So finally, my father-in-law came. He said, “Mary, you can’t do that.” I said, “How come?” He said, “We all get along just fine.” I said, “Yes, but I want to live by myself. I want to have my home.” So finally, my father-in-law said it was better for us to move. But my husband wanted to stay in Houston, and I didn’t want to live there. I wanted to live here.
I: In Magnolia?
MR: In Magnolia, close to my sister. So finally, I went. I rented a little house, and I lived there.
MS: 22:00.9 Arturo, he’s the one that helped us.
MR: Then I told my— My father-in-law left insurance for us—for my husband and I—his insurance when he passed.
I: He passed away?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). He left the insurance. And before that time, he used to tell me, “Look, Mary, whenever I die, I want you and Eli to get the money and buy a home, but don’t buy it here in Houston. Buy it over there for you so you can move out there. I want you to do that.” I said, “Well, when are you going to die, because I’m ready to buy a home?” So he said, “Well, someday.” So, he did; he passed away.
MS: Nobody knew he had left the money.
MR: Yeah, nobody knew it. So my mother-in-law— At that time, my mother-in-law had already took off. She took off. She went. Nobody knew where she went, but she went to Galveston, and she was living there and working for the same company over there. The kids used to come and ask Mr. (s/l Barossa). He said he didn’t know. So then from there, she moved to California.
I: She just made the kids stay here and she left?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). They were all grown up. Not grown up, because three of them—which was Lily and Annie and Henry—they were still 11-12 years old. So when I moved here, I brought those kids with me—the two little girls—and my father-in-law took the little boy. And then, I lived around here. So finally, I used to go to the store over there. Arturo Perez used to have a store. I told him, “Mr. Perez, whenever you know anybody selling houses, you let me know.” He said, “Mary, you want to buy you a home?” I said, “Yeah, I want to buy me a home.” And he used to laugh. He said, “How are you going to buy a home?” I said, “Sure, we have the money.” So finally, this man went to the store and he asked them if they knew anybody that wanted to buy a home. So he said, “Yeah, that girl that lives there across the street. She wants to buy a house.”
MS: We used to live across there.
MR: So he called me—he called me. Mr. Perez called me on the phone. I had a phone. He said, “Mary, there is a man here that wants to sell a house.” I said, “How far from here?” And he said, “Right there on Canal.” And it was a nice neighborhood then. It was real nice. Right here—all this. So I said, “Good.” So I met the man over there, and we came to see this house. I said, “Yeah, I’ll buy it.” So my husband came to see me, and he didn’t like it.
I: This house here?
MR: This house. I bought this house in 1930 or 1931.
I: I see. And you’ve been here ever since?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
MS: And my father, he wanted to move over—
MR: 25:29.7 My husband didn’t want to move here. He had his idea all the time that he wanted to buy in a good neighborhood. But this used to be nice neighborhood. It was clean and well taken care of. The people that lived here used to take care of their homes. But he didn’t like it out here. But finally, after I made up my mind, I said, “Remember, half of that money is mine.” I told him—
I: Was this after your father-in-law had died, when you bought this?
MR: Yeah. I said, “Remember, half of that money is mine. And if you don’t want to buy here, well, you buy in town—your home—and I’ll buy over here.” And he said, “Well, let’s go together and buy a home over there.” I said, “No, I want to buy here first. And then you buy your home there, and if I like it, then I’ll go over there.”
MS: And my mother put down a down payment on the house, he—
MR: I gave some earnest money.
MR: And he always said, “Well, I still got my part of my money. I’m going to buy in town.” I said, “Good, maybe I’ll move over there with you some day.” And instead of buying more, I bought the next little house next door. And if it had been for me, I would have bought that lot with a house and the corner lot and across the street, but he always said no, no, no. And Daddy—my daddy—instead of helping me, he came and lived with us. And my Daddy, instead of helping me, he said, “Mary, you can’t do that because that money is yours and Eli’s. Let him buy whatever he wants.” I said, “Well, I’m not bothering him. I’m going to buy out here, all I can.” And that’s the way I have these homes. If it wasn’t for that—
MS: If you hadn’t bought this house, I wouldn’t have nothing.
I: 27:35.2 Did your husband finally move out here with you?
MR: Oh, yes.
I: Soon, or did he—?
MR: No, soon. But the funny thing was that when I bought here, he says— From that little house, I moved here. When he came from work, he went over there and he looked and looked and nobody was home. He had no idea where I went. So he went and asked my sister, and he said, “Just where did Mary move?” And she said, “She just lives out there on Canal.”
MS: Across the street from it.
I: Oh, this house you lived in was just across the street from where you bought?
MR: It was on Avenue H. So he came over and he— He was tall, like you. He said, “So you did what you wanted, Mary. So you know what? You’re going to stay here by yourself because I’m not going to move over here.” I said, “Okay. All right.” So then, he left and went over to his brother’s, because my father-in-law was dead already. He spent the night there. About the next day, after work, he came. And then, Mary (s/l Rayna), she was married by then. My husband’s car broke down, and her husband used to be a mechanic. So I said, “What are you doing?” And he said, “My car broke down. I’m going to take it over to (s/l Rayna’s) to have it fixed.” So I said, “Okay.” So he went over to (s/l Rayna’s). They fooled with the car over there. Then there he comes with Joe (s/l Rayna). He told Joe, “Look at the home I bought.” He gave the credit to himself.
MR: He said, “How do you like my home? I just brought you so you could see my home.” Then I came over there jumping. I said, “This is not your house. I bought it.” And then Joe looked at him and looked at me. I said, “He didn’t want to buy it, Joe. He didn’t want to buy this house.” Joe said, “I didn’t know about this house. I would have bought it myself.”
MS: Mary (s/l Rayna) said the same thing. Joe didn’t want to buy.
MR: And Mary (s/l Rayna) was having the same trouble with him. He didn’t want to buy a home. He didn’t want to buy a home, and Mary opened a little store and she sold clothes. She made the money. His money, he had it tied up—Joe. So finally, I told him about that house that she’s got there. So she bought that house, and then she bought the next house. She said, “You know what, Mary? They want to sell that next house.” “Buy it,” I said. She said, “Yeah, but Joe—” I said, “Never mind Joe. You’re making the money. You go ahead and buy it.” So she bought those two homes. Then a man came, and he came at a bad time because my husband was here. He wanted to sell me those three lots, and he said no. He didn’t give me a chance to talk to the man. He only wanted $100 dollars for each lot—for each lot.
I: 31:06.6 Why wouldn’t your husband buy something like that?
MR: I don’t know—I don’t know. He just didn’t want to. He said he was going to buy a home in town.
MS: He was working in Denver Harbor for Southern Pacific. He wanted to buy there.
MR: He wanted to buy in Denver Harbor, and it was pretty good then, but now it’s bad.
I: So you all lived here. So he finally moved in here, and you all have been living here since when? 1931?
MR: Yes, since 1931 or ’30.
MS: Since 1930.
(End of tape _002)
(Start tape _003)
MR: —because of course it’s now run down and everything, but still it’s my home.
I: 00:14.4 It’s a roof over your head.
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: Did you all—? Were you all involved in many organizations in this area when you all were married?
MR: Well, we started at LULAC—him and then I started. And then, we used to— I just went to the meetings to see if I wanted 00:42 (s/l this Mexico). We went to the dances they had. We used to go to the (s/l Armon) ballroom and to those nice places—the Rice Hotel—you know—the nice places. But after he— Well, he used to belong to a lot of clubs, but not me. I didn’t go to the meetings because I started having my children. I didn’t want to leave them. And then I had my daddy here too. After all those years, then he came and lived with me. So I said, well—
MS: He had him spoiled—to my daddy.
I: He what?
MS: He had him spoiled.
MR: He had my husband spoiled, not me. He used to like my husband very much.
MS: Before, he didn’t like him, but after that—
I: How did you all get involved—? How did your husband get involved with the LULACs at first?
MR: The LULACs? Well, that was when Mr. 01:49 (s/l Mr. Graceburn)—him—that they—
MS: The first Latin-American policeman at that time, when they had the black gang.
MR: They had this black and red gang—you know—them boys from town used to come and fight with these kids, like the gangs they have now. That’s when they decided in the meetings that they should open LULAC.
MS: For Latin-American policemen. They were the first two LULAC members.
MR: No, the very first detective we had in inner Houston was Mr. Corrales. That was my brother’s father-in-law later. Arthur, my brother, married one of his daughters. And then next to him—he got killed out there on Congress.
I: Mr. Corrales did?
MR: 02:48.3 I was working just farther down.
I: What happened to him? How did he get killed? Do you remember?
MR: Well, I think this man was in the penitentiary—the one that killed him—and he got out of the penitentiary. His wife was working at this saloon, and he came to take her out of there. When he was— He was going to kill her, I guess.
MS: Kill her.
MR: And then, when Corrales used to—you know—them policemen used to walk down Congress. It just happened that his son, Pete Corrales was working right there on the corner at a drugstore—there on the corner—the place he was in. So when he came out of the drugstore and he came, somebody says, “A man went in there with a gun to kill that lady over there.” So he just came and stood in the door.
MS: He was going to shoot him.
MR: That man didn’t give him a chance. When he stood there in the door, right away he shot the policeman, but Mr. Pete shot him too. He killed him too.
MS: They killed him.
I: Now, did Mr. Crespo ask your husband to join the LULACs? How did that happen?
MR: Yes, Mr. Crespo and—I don’t know. What was his name?
MR: No. He was an— He took Crespo funeral home after Crespo went to Spain. What was his name?
MR: Villareal, I think it was.
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative), and Mr. Morales.
I: Mr. Morales, also?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative), they were good friends together.
I: 04:31.5 And this was back in the ‘30s when they began LULAC?
MR: Yes, 1930.
I: They began—
MR: That’s when they began.
I: Do you remember—? So they got him to go to the meetings with them?
MR: To the meetings, yes. They got him to go to the meetings, and then my husband was in the auxiliary police after that—you know—help them with the juveniles.
MS: Associations of different—
I: Did the LULACs help him get into that or not?
MR: Well, he started— My husband and Crespo and this other man, they started the LULACs. And after them, a lot of them joined there, like Mr. Garcia and Mr. Raymond—what was his name? He used to live on Hardy Street too.
MS: Then the lawyer—judge—Judge Hernandez, he was in LULAC.
(Speaking at same time)
I: When did you get involved in it? After your husband did?
MR: After my husband. I believe it was about 19—a couple of years later. He insisted on me joining. I said no; I didn’t want to go to the meetings because I don’t have anybody do take care of the kids. And he said, “It’s just an hour or two, Mary, that’s all.” Then my lady friends used to come and say, “Come on, Mary. Let’s go.” So I finally went, and my sister would come and stay with the kids.
I: Who were the ladies that came and asked you?
MR: That was Mrs. Felix. Mrs. Felix was one of them.
MR: Felix Tijerina.
I: Tijerina? Mrs. Tijerina was involved in it?
MR: Yeah, she was one of the first that started—that got us together.
I: In the ‘30s, huh?
MR: Yeah. She was not even— I don’t think she was even married to Mr. Felix.
I: At that time?
FS: Do you remember her maiden name?
I: Janie Gonzales.
MR: Yeah, Janie Gonzales. It was—
(Speaking at same time)
I: What about Mrs. (s/l Rayna), was she?
MR: I brought Mrs. (s/l Rayna).
I: You brought Mrs. (s/l Rayna) in?
MR: I brought her in there because—I don’t know—like Mrs. Tijerian, she was the one that said, yes, she can join. We had to have a meeting and say, well, I want this friend of mine, so-and-so, to join the club, and then we had to have a meeting by ourselves. We had to see if she had a good reputation and who she was.
FS: So there was a selection process?
MR: Yeah, selection. And that was when I brought Mrs. (Rayna), and then I brought Mrs. (s/l Orista)—(s/l Florence Orista). We used to have the knittings over at Mrs. Garcia—what was the—Anderson. That was the last name by the father—his wife, (s/l Mya Lynn).
I: Where did you all have your meetings to begin with?
MR: It was here in a house—the same house where she lives—Mr. Garcia used to live. I don’t even remember what street that was.
I: In the north side?
MR: On the north side, where they live. Then a lot of ladies started joining. Then the girl that lived here in the back, her father and mother were one of first ones to move here—Esther Marcus. (s/l de Hoyas), that was her father, then she married this Marcus—Albert Marcus. I guess the rest of the sisters of Mrs. Garcia. There were a bunch of ladies. We all were young then.
FS: 09:06.0 So there were some who were married, and then there were some single girls?
MR: Most of them were married.
FS: Most were married?
FS: Were there any young women who might have been a school teacher or anything like that? Do you remember any young women?
FS: What about daughters? Were there any mother and daughters involved?
MR: No, not yet. We had small kids.
I: Were most of the ladies young?
I: There weren’t any of the older ladies involved?
MR: No, we were all young.
I: Why did they start the club? What were their reasons for the club?
MR: Well, the reason was—that’s what we used to say—so our kids could go to the parks. Like over here at Mason Park, my children and Mary’s children couldn’t go over there and play because they chased them from there.
MS: Because they didn’t allow Mexicans.
I: Into Mason Park at that time?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). Then over here not far from here at—
MS: Then the schools here in Franklin, you couldn’t go. You lived right here, but you couldn’t go here. You had to go over there.
MR: No, this was just for the Mexican children. Our kids were not allowed to go to Franklin School. But at first, when I tried to put Jacob over there—(s/l Hemmington) was his last name—the principal—he told me— I told him that I wanted my little boy to go to school there, and he asked me, “Where do you live?” I told him I lived on Avenue H. And he told me—that was his saying—he says, “Well, I’m sorry Mrs. Rivera, you live close to that De Zavala School. Your son can’t come to this school.” On this side of the street was a lot of—all American people down to the eighty—on this side of the street. So he says, “Unless you live on this side of the street—on this side of Canal—then they can come here.” So when I bought here, I took Jacob over there. And he told me, he said, “If I can remember, your name is Mrs. Rivera?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Well, your little boy doesn’t belong here.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “Because you belong to De Zavala School.” I said, “Well, you told me once that if I lived on the other side of the street that my little boy couldn’t come to this school. But now, I don’t live over there. I live on this side of Canal.” And he said, “Well, do you rent there?” I said, “I bought that house.” So he said, “Well, we’ll see about it. You come next week.” I said, “Well, my little boy is going to be out of school all this time?” And he said, “Well, I’ve got to talk to somebody else.” So the following week, I went again and I took Jake. I guess, if I’m not mistaken, he was the first little Spanish boy that went to that school.
I: They finally let him in?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). They let him in.
I: Because you lived on this side of Canal.
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). Because he had already told me that if I lived on this side of the street—and I told him.
I: Was that in the ‘30s?
MR: No, that was— Jacob was—
FS: What year was Jacob born?
MR: He was born in 1926.
I: It would be in the ‘30s—the early ‘30s.
MR: They had kindergarten and all of that.
FS: This would be his first grade?
MR: I think so. So then I had a daughter. Five years after I had Jacob, I had my daughter. Clarabelle was her name. She didn’t like the schools around here. She didn’t like them. She wanted to go where the nuns were—the Catholic Church. So I used to take her over here at that—what you call that?
MS: The one—Texas (unintelligible) they call it.
MR: That church over there. They used to have—
MS: In Texas. In Crawford.
I: Oh, Annunciation.
MR: Annunciation, yeah.
I: You took her to that little school there?
MR: Yes, my daughter, I used to take her there. Then after she learned—the street car—the bus used to stop right here and pick her up. She used to get on and go to school, or I would go and bring her.
I: Now, were the LULAC ladies that you were with—were they aware of this sort of discrimination that was going on?
MR: Yes. They had the same thing everywhere they went in town. They had this trouble too.
I: What kind of activities did you all get involved in? Did you all do anything? Did you all raise money or anything like that?
MR: Yes, we used to have the PTA, and then we had this settlement house. They call them settlement houses.
I: (Speaking at same time)
FS: LULAC Settlement House?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). We used to come over there and make cookies and do a lot of things so our kids would go to the camp for 2 weeks.
MS: Raised money too.
MR: We raised money. That was other ladies. I didn’t want to get anything like Treasurer or anything because I didn’t know how. I never did go to school. You need somebody that knows how.
I: Where you ever—?
MR: But I was a member anyway.
I: You were a member? Were you ever an officer? You weren’t ever an officer, though?
MR: Just a member.
I: Just a member?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). I never did want to take any.
MS: My mother used to, all the time, help them.
MS: She used to help a lot of children that were sick, crippled, something like that.
I: 16:00.3 When you first got in, how many ladies were involved in it would you say?
MR: I say it was about six.
I: At first?
MR: At first. There was Mrs. Garcia, Mrs. Felix—
MR: —Tijerina, and if I’m not mistaken, there was a lady there by the name of Mrs. LaRue.
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). (Coughs)
MS: Morales’ wife—I mean—Crespo’s wife was in it too?
MR: No, she never did come to the meetings. Mrs. Morales never did either.
FS: Were most of those women housewives?
FS: Mainly housewives.
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). I’ve got this cold so bad.
I: Oh, I know. The best thing to do is to drink a lot of water.
FS: Were most of the women—had they attended school, and could they speak English?
MR: Yes, most of the ladies.
MS: Most of them had high school.
MR: Like Mrs. Tijerina, she didn’t have much school. Felix Tijerina didn’t. I don’t think Mrs. Garcia— There were a bunch of sisters—about nine or ten sisters.
I: Is that Mrs. Madeline?
MR: Madeline, uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: I see.
MR: 17:39.8 Yeah, she’s got a sister by the name of Mary and Margaret and Josephine, Beatrice, Connie—a bunch of sisters and three brothers.
I: Did you all ever meet with the men’s LULAC at all, or was it separate?
MR: No, we were separate.
I: Did you all ever help them?
I: You all did separate things?
MR: Separate, uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: Didn’t they have a council number? What was the number of the council? Didn’t they have a—?
FS: Yeah, I think it was 14.
I: Was that 14?
I: Was it Council 14?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). When it was getting real good, that was when my husband passed away.
(Speaking at same time)
MS: That was 1948.
MR: He was the one that used to get involved in everything.
I: Were you involved all the way to 1948 in the ladies’ LULAC?
I: But he was very involved?
MR: Yes, he was very involved.
MS: He never missed it.
MR: He wanted to be a policeman, and he wanted to help with these kids. We used to have mean boys around here. He wanted to help and everything, like when they had this explosion in Texas City. He was one of the first ones that went up there. They called him where he was working at Southern Pacific, and he came and changed clothes and got in his car, went and picked up some other men, and they rode with him over there.
MS: He was involved in that.
I: What other organizations? He was in LULAC. Were there any other organizations that you remember?
MR: 19:28.2 LULAC and I don’t know. I never did—
(Speaking at same time)
MS: (unintelligible; speaking at same time)
MR: But he had—(speaking Spanish)—they had over here at Morales? (Spanish)
MR: It’s another organization.
I: Union Fraternal? Was it the Union Fraternal—the Mutual Aid Society?
MR: No. They still have this. It’s—
MS: Like Benito Juarez—what do they call it?
MR: No, it wasn’t Benito Juarez. It was— They used to have all the meetings out here on Morales.
I: But he was involved in that too?
MR: He was in that too, and anything that would— Of course, he didn’t talk much about what he used to do or anything. And me, I don’t know, I never did ask. All he said was, “I’ve got to go. Tonight I’ve got to go to a meeting.”
MS: Sometimes it was Lion’s Club too.
MR: I think so. I don’t know.
I: Any other activities that you all go involved in with the ladies’ LULAC that you can think of?
MS: 21:01.0 Frazier—what meeting was that he used to go to with Frazier?
MR: Mr. Frazier? The attorney?
MS: Attorney Frazier, uh-hunh (affirmative). He was in—
MR: I never did join any other clubs.
I: You didn’t?
I: You were just in that?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). Well, to tell you the truth, it was because, like Mrs. Morales and most of those ladies, they had funeral homes and they had the money. They thought they were better than us. You could see that they didn’t want to have much to do with us ladies. So I didn’t—I said, “Well, I don’t have to belong to that.” I always used to say that I didn’t have time.
I: Did Mrs. Tijerina—was she involved with you all?
MR: Yes, she was very involved with us.
MS: Her and Mary (s/l Rayna) had been all the time.
MR: Well, Mary (Rayna), she belonged everywhere. I’d get mad at her sometimes. She’d come over here.
I: But you brought Mrs. (s/l Rayna) in, right?
MR: Yes, I brought her in.
I: Who else? Did you bring any others in that you remember?
MR: I brought Mrs. (s/l Orista), Florence (Orista?), and I don’t remember. I brought a couple of ladies.
I: A couple of others?
FS: Did you ever sponsor anything with any other women’s clubs or organizations at that time?
MR: Well, once the LULAC ladies—we used to, on Christmas, get together and go to the stores and ask for some groceries—like Mr. Perez and all these people that had stores.
MS: Fixed baskets.
MR: And we fixed baskets. And on Christmas, we used to—if we’d fix them here, we used to deliver them to the houses.
MS: Whoever needed them.
MR: Whoever knew how to write, we’d go here and we’d go there. I used to help with a lot of that. Then, too, there was a little boy across the street. His name was Lorenzo Gutierrez. He was already about 8 years old. He used to run and play on his two little hands and his back legs because he didn’t have a kneecap. The lady was a widow, and she had a bunch of kids. And when they moved here, I could see that little boy running like that. They used to play ball, and he would be running up and down like that. I called my husband and said, “Look, ain’t that a shame? Look how that little boy is.” And he said, “My God.” There used to be a lady there by the name of Mrs. Vaughn. That was her last name. It was only her and her husband. He used to belong to the Shriners. And she got where she liked my children because my kids wouldn’t go up to the next door and play. They were out here on my yard. And a bunch of children were always up and down the street, and she used to say, “Why don’t you all do like Mrs. Rivera? She always keeps her children in her yard.” So she got where she liked me. So one day I went over there, and I said, “Mrs. Vaughn, have you ever seen that little boy—the way he is?” And she said, “No.” I said, “He plays ball and he runs with his hands and his hind legs.” And she said, “My God.” I said, “Come on. Come and see it.” So I brought her, and I showed her. And, oh, she felt so bad. And then I said, “Mrs. Vaughn, I understand that your husband belongs to the Shriners. I wonder if you all can do something for him.” She says, “Well, I’ll ask him.” And I said, “Well, I’d sure appreciate it.” So I went and talked to the mother. I asked her how long he had been like that. She said he was born like that. She said—what do you call it? Not the doctor, but the inmate—or who brought the baby. We used to have this—
I: 25:39.9 Midwife.
MR: Midwives. She said, “I think she hurt him. Then my husband died. There’s nothing I can do. I don’t have any money.” So I told her, “Well, if I look for a place where you don’t have to pay anything, just sign that they can operate on your little boy and cure him, would you let them?” And she said, “Oh, yes.” So then Mr. Vaughn came and we went and talked to the lady. He put him in the hospital.
FS: The ladies group, or you as an individual?
MR: No, with the Shriners.
FS: Oh, the Shriners.
MR: The Shriners. So I think he must have been there about 6 months or more. And I used to tell— She said, “How can I go see my little boy?” I said, “I’ll take you.” So I used to take her every time she wanted to go. If she had time, I’d take her. So finally, they sent him home, and he had crutches.
MS: He could walk and everything.
MR: And he could run with them things. So he started getting better and better and better. So finally, they bought that house and she had to move, and that’s when I lost track of her. I didn’t see her anymore. But she came and told me that she was going to move, and she gave me the address. “You come and see me.” And I said, “I will,” but I never did. So years passed and passed like that. One day, I was digging my little plants outside. I was digging my plants, when I saw a little boy coming. He came like that. He was a nice looking little boy. He was coming like that, and I looked up and saw him walking to the driveway. He came and stood right next to me, and he says, “Miss Mary? Do you remember me?” I says, “No.” He said, “You don’t remember me?” I said, “No.” He said, “I’m Lorenzo.” I said, “My God.” He said, “Look, I’m well.” I said, “Can you run?” He said, “Yeah, I’m working.”
I: My goodness. How old was he by then would you say?
MR: 28:14.9 By then he was about 18 or 19.
I: I’ll be.
MR: But he came and saw me. He wanted to thank me with his mom, but she had already gone— She had sold her homes there, and she went over on—(inaudible; dog barking). And that’s the only way I used to do it. If anybody was going to have a baby, they’d come running to me. “Mary, can you take us to the hospital?” And I used to drive them. I’d put them in the car and take them over there. That’s the way I spent most of my time. And then, I had my brother and his kids. They’d come over here and spend the day. That was during the Depression. I was the one that had little 29:06 (__?) and everything to spare, so I’d have my brothers.
I: Was it pretty rough here during the Depression?
MR: Oh, yes. Not for me. I didn’t even feel it because my husband had a good—
I: Had a good job?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). But my brothers—you know—used to work for the—
I: What was your husband doing at that time in the ‘30s when he got involved in LULAC? What was his business?
MR: Well, he was a foreman there for a while. He used to tell me, but I didn’t put much in it. Every time we’d see a train go by, we used to stop and he’d say, “You see, Mary, those big wheels there? Well, I work under them, fixing those wheels.”
MR: Yeah, and that’s what he used to do. Then he took care of the tool rooms, where people used to steal the tools. He used to take care of that, and then during the Depression—no—when the war and all that, he used to take the men that got hurt to the hospital. They had an ambulance, and he used to drive it.
I: What company? For what company?
MR: Southern Pacific.
I: For SP? He worked for the SP?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
I: Did he work there until he died in ’48?
MR: Yes. He had a heart attack.
FS: 30:40.8 Did you work with the PTA?
FS: When did you become active in that group?
FS: When did you become active in the PTA?
MR: Well, after my brother had his kids going to that school here—under 30:59 (s/l May phase) and all of that. We used to come and help there, do sewing and things like that. I never did like to get too much involved in things because I didn’t have time. Besides that, I didn’t know much about it.
FS: So after you had your children, you didn’t work outside the home anymore?
MR: No, I never did work after I had my children. And after my husband died, I never did work either. I wanted to go to work, but my—Jacob never did say anything, but Eli—one time I was getting ready to go out—me and Mary Raynaud and a bunch of ladies, we were going to work at—
(End of tape _003)
(Start tape _004)
MR: —night. So that day, about 4 or 5 ladies came, and Mary Raynaud came too. She said, “Come on, Mary, let’s go to work,” and I already had my lunch and everything. Eli was married already. When I was coming out, he says, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to go to work.” He says, “Work?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “You’re not going to go to work, Mother.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “You don’t have to.” I said, “Sure, I have to.” I said, “You’re married and (s/l Clarabelle’s) married and Jacob is married and I have to go to work.” I didn’t get any pension then because I was not old enough to get my pension. So he says, “No, you’re not going to go.” And he went over there and told the ladies to go on—that I wasn’t going to go. So I didn’t go, and now I’m sorry because they’re all receiving some money—the ones that were working—and me, I just live on my pension, that’s all—small pension. And Eli used to ship out. He was a seaman. But it’s been 4 years that he hasn’t shipped out because I don’t feel good. I have high blood pressure, and I’m hurt in my back.
I: You’re a sailor?
MS: Fifteen years.
MR: So he helps me around the house. I live out—I rent my rooms upstairs—in a little apartment. It’s never ready. You’ve always got to do something to it.
I: Rental property always takes—
MR: Oh, I’m telling you.
I: —something. You’ve got to have three handymen to keep the rent property.
MR: I wish some company would come and buy everything here. But it’s got to be a company so I can get—
MS: She wants to move to Spring where my brother is.
I: How often did you all meet in LULAC?
MR: Every week.
I: 02:09.6 Every week? You all met every week?
MR: Every week—every Friday.
I: Every Friday.
FS: Was it kind of like a social organization too?
FS: How was it?
MR: We’d come and talk about doing this and that.
I: Did you all ever put on any dances or anything like that?
MR: Yeah. We had a dance over here at—on Franklin—right across from that bank there—right off of Main in the building that was there. We used to have these 10-cent dances.
I: A 10-cent dance?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). They’d come over here and pay 10 cents and dance. I used to help selling tickets.
I: This was the ladies’ LULAC?
MR: Yes, the ladies’ LULAC.
I: Did you all get bands to come there and play?
I: Do you remember any of the names of the bands?
MR: No, but the one that used to do that was Mrs. Tijerina.
I: Mrs. Tijerina did that, huh?
I: 03:13.9 This was in the ‘30s or ‘40s?
MR: Well, it was already around the ‘30s and ‘40s.
MS: There was a good dance at Milby Street. I think the club on Milby, before you get to Church’s.
I: (s/l Dockie’s Hall).
MS: They used to make dances there.
I: And you all put the dances on there too?
MS: For a long time, they used to do dances.
FS: How did the ladies’ LULAC help other women in the community?
MR: How did they help? Well, the ones that knew how, like Mrs. Tijerina, if they had a little trouble or something that they want to find out or help them do it, well, she used to be the leader.
I: Mrs. Felix was the leader?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
MS: 04:18.9 She used to help. Her and her husband started most of it. They helped a lot in the neighborhood. This school, Mr. Tijerina was the first one that—at a Spanish school—teach Spanish—English and Spanish.
I: Yes, he was. You knew Mrs. Felix from the time that you worked at Solo Serve that time?
MR: Before that.
I: You knew here before then?
MR: Uh-hunh (affirmative). I knew her when she first came here, when she was living here on Avenue F with some aunt—Mrs.—O’Hara was her last name.
MR: Lola O’Hara. She had a daughter by the name of Petra and Josephine and one named—I think it was Juanita. Of course, they were older than her.
MR: Petra, yeah. They lived at 80 and Avenue F.
I: Did Mr. Felix—was he involved in LULAC in the ‘30s with your husband?
I: He was involved there at the beginning too.
MR: Yes. He was a good man, Mr. Tijerina. He’s the godfather of Eli and Janie.
I: Oh, he is?
MR: He’s—my daughter, (s/l Clarabelle).
FS: Did you sponsor a junior LULAC Council here?
MR: Well, after my husband passed away, I didn’t go any more to the meetings. That’s when they sponsored that.
FS: But not while you were in it?
MR: No. We were all young too. We didn’t have grownup children yet.
FS: Is there anything that you did to help young girls—Girl Scouts or—?
I: Did you all ever do anything with Rusk Settlement House?
I: What about in any of the churches? Did you all ever go—the ladies’ LULAC—ever go to any of the churches and do any work there at the churches?
MR: No, at least I didn’t. After my husband died, I just didn’t go anyplace. I just stayed home with the kids. Of course, Daddy was living here with me, and he didn’t approve of me going here and there. He said, “You have plenty here at the house.”
I: Did your husband—he stayed active in LULAC up until 1948 when he passed away?
I: 07:43.2 The name— Mr. Quinones—Mr. Felix Quinones—mentioned a while ago to us that a man by the name of Mariano Hernandez helped to start LULAC here. Do you remember that name at all, Mariano Hernandez?
MR: He didn’t start it. I know my husband and Crespo and those men, but not him.
I: You don’t remember his name?
MR: No. My husband brought in some other men, like Mr. Frank Salazar and—
MS: Frazier was a member of that.
MR: —Frazier—Attorney Frazier—and some other men. I never did go to their meetings or anything, so I didn’t get to know much.
I: Well, I have no further questions. Do you have any other questions, Cynthia? We’ve talked to you over an hour and a half, and I don’t want to—you know—you get tired sitting for so long.
MR: No, I’m sick in my back.
I: We really thank you a great deal, and if we have any further questions, would it be all right if we called you up and asked you?
I: Thank you.
(End of dictation 09:06.6)