Tomas Espinosa

Duration: 1hr: 2mins
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Interview with: Tomas Espinosa
Interviewed by:
Date: January 23, 1980
Archive Number: OH 279

Interviewer
00:00:00 This is a January 23, 1980, interview with Mr. Tomas Espinosa.

Tomas Espinosa
That's right.

Interviewer
Mr. Espinosa, how old are you?

Tomas Espinosa
I'm 80.

Interviewer
Eighty years old? Born when?

Tomas Espinosa
Nineteen-hundred.

Interviewer
Nineteen-hundred. I'm sure Mr. Davila said some things about the interview, but Mr. Espinosa, tell us—basically what we want to know is how you came to Houston. When did you come and under what circumstances did you come?

Tomas Espinosa
My circumstances—I come up here when me and my mother and 1 brother over here. That was 1909. And I'm still living here on Second Ward since then.

Interviewer
00:00:51 You came to the Second Ward, and you still—

Tomas Espinosa
Yes, I born in Houston County.

Interviewer
What town there—

Tomas Espinosa
Crockett.

Interviewer
Near Crockett. What were y'all doing in Crockett, I mean—

Tomas Espinosa
We was farmers—farming over there.

Interviewer
I see.

Tomas Espinosa
My old man was farming. I was not farming because I was too small to be farming.

Interviewer
But did your father come to Houston also?

Tomas Espinosa
No.

Interviewer
I see. 

Tomas Espinosa
No, just me and my mother and my brother. That was it.
Interviewer
00:01:24 I see. Did y'all—why did y'all decide to come here? For jobs?

Tomas Espinosa
No. Another one—started living on the farm. That's where she was started living on the farm, and she wants to come then. Then my father—he pass away before we came here. And so, that's the way it was. I still living here since then.

Interviewer
I see. Did your—were your parents—were they from Mexico, or had they always lived in Texas?

Tomas Espinosa
Well, they up there because I ain't had no parents over here at all except my father and mother and my brother. That was it.

Interviewer
I see. But did they come from Mexico originally?

Tomas Espinosa
My father and mother—they was, 1896.

Interviewer
They came from Mexico?

Tomas Espinosa
From Mexico. That's right.

Interviewer
Where were they from there? Do you remember?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, they come from a place—they call it (inaudible). That's where they come from. Again, I was born in this country.

Interviewer
00:02:31 Did they ever talk about why they came from Mexico? What reasons they—why they came?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. They was intent to make abetter living in this country, and so they know about it. And so, that's the way it was.

Interviewer
I see. But you lived near Crockett. You were born and raised near Crockett, then.

Tomas Espinosa
No. I came to Houston, 1909.

Interviewer
I see. 

Tomas Espinosa
You see. And I was born up in Crockett, Houston County and since, I've been around this neighborhood over here on Second Ward. We still on Second Ward, where we're at now.

Interviewer
What street did y'all live on when you first got here?

Tomas Espinosa
When we came here? Arch Street.

Interviewer
Arch?

Tomas Espinosa
1818 Arch Street. That's the first place we lived in Houston.

Interviewer
I see. Where did y'all move after that? Do you remember?
Tomas Espinosa
00:03:22 After that, oh, yes—2222 Reynolds.

Interviewer
Reynolds?

Tomas Espinosa
Yeah.

Interviewer
What year did y'all move to there? Do you remember when y'all moved to Reynolds?

Tomas Espinosa
From Arch Street.

Interviewer
I see. Did y'all live on Arch Street long, or—

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yes. We lived on—I don't know exactly how many years, but we moved from there to our now—2222 Reynolds. It's about a half a block from Navigation on Reynolds.

Interviewer
I see. So, your mother really decided to come to Houston and brought you and your brother.

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yes.

Interviewer
Did y'all know anybody in Houston when you first came?

Tomas Espinosa
No.

Interviewer
00:04:07 Just by yourself.

Tomas Espinosa
Yes. We just come to Houston, but we don't know nobody here but the good Lord, that's all.

Interviewer
Okay. When y'all first got here, what kind of house did y'all live in? Do you remember?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yes. House like this here.

Interviewer
Frame house?

Tomas Espinosa
Yes. Wooden house or lumber house over there on Arch Street. There was not an apartment like this. It was a house, you know what I mean? It's a house.

Interviewer
Did you go to school here?

Tomas Espinosa
No. I never went to any school. I never went 1 day to sat, not even 1 day. I don't know what a school was. No, the schools—when I passed by on the street, on the sidewalk. 

Interviewer
Did you go to work when you got here, or you weren't old enough?

Tomas Espinosa
No. I just started—I was too small for that. But my old lady or my mother, she had a lady come when my father left. You know what I mean?

Interviewer
I see. 
Tomas Espinosa
00:05:07 We had a little cattle. We had mules in them days. There was not tracks in them days to be working on the farms. We had a meal bus, just 20 plows, and all things like that. You know how them old days in them days. And we sold cows and mules and horses we had and a bunch of turkeys, hens, and chickens, whatever it is. And all the tools and everything, and my old man had a lady come already. So that's the way we made—you know, coming up then.

Interviewer
Did she work here in Houston?

Tomas Espinosa
No, she did not work. She was a house woman, in other words, yes. She had (inaudible) until she pass away, but this Saturday—let's see. This Saturday—that was 6 years ago when she passed away.

Interviewer
She lived a long time.

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yes. I'm thankful to the Lord she lived—109.

Interviewer
One hundred and nine years?

Tomas Espinosa
That's right.

Interviewer
When did you—what was Houston like when you remember Houston when you first got here? What was it like?

Tomas Espinosa
Well, some places, sure. I can tell you. You know where that cement plant is part going up over here on Navigation? You know that railroad track that passes through there? That was back that way. That was in them days.
Interviewer
00:06:45 When did you first—did you— What did you do? What kind of work have you done in your life?

Tomas Espinosa
After I was went to the farm until I would be old enough to work over here. I was going with chopping, cutting, all the stuff like that, working on the farm. Then I'd be old enough to start working here.

Interviewer
Then what did you do here?

Tomas Espinosa
I started working—let's see—on different places for, you know, when I first started working. I worked in one of them warehouses over here on Commerce. Over here used to be warehouses and have your fruit and all stuff like that in them days. And then, I started working for River Oaks Country Club, but I was old then. And I worked for this company here on Navigation—Parker Brothers. I worked for them 14 years. And I worked for Meyer Park and Company over here on Reynolds. I worked 27 years in there. And then over here on Brookside Memorial Park where I retired, I worked 19 years.

Interviewer
So, you've had various jobs—different jobs.

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. I did have many jobs, but I was still working now. I work over here at Ripley House for 4 years, almost. It'll be in June—I'll be 4 years at Ripley.

Interviewer
So, you're still working in—

Tomas Espinosa
I just work 4 hours for retirement. Yes, I still working.

Interviewer
00:08:25 Which job did you like best of all the jobs you've had?

Tomas Espinosa
I been liking every one of them except Park Brothers. I was really like that job because in them days when I was work for them, they started over on Allen Street. You know where Allen Street is?

Interviewer
Yes, sir.

Tomas Espinosa
All right. I started when they first started up there, this company—Parker Brothers, but they was good people to work with. In them days, all the brothers were living there, and they move them here—right over here at (inaudible) over here on Navigation. And I worked there until I got sick with my lungs, breathing too much cement, and my lungs started to get in bad shape, so I quit working there. Worked for the—it was good people, good pay, good people, assign us people to who you could work with. On second war, I was up past (inaudible). I got more there with my boys. I did cart, that was working on defense jobs. In them days when, you know, with second war—1942. 

Interviewer
Yes, that was weapon—

Tomas Espinosa
All over the—these people got—had a job. They had over in Texas City. They had some over here around Houston—the Sheffield Steel Mill, what is that over there on by the waterfront, the bare minimum—that canal there. This sort of Brown & Root shipyard, and Parker Brothers got the—no, Texas building ships. It was next to Brown & Root, and then Parker Brothers had this shipyard in there. They still got them in there where they build these towboats and barges and all stuff like that. And then I just had to quit in there because I already been work with them, and I breathe too much cement. My lungs—I had to go to the hospital, then quit. They asked me if you still want to work, and I said, "No, sir. I'm tired of that." So I quit and then went to work for the Meyer Park Furniture factory over here on Reynolds, and then they closed up. They went to (inaudible) over here from (inaudible) in Dallas. And they wanted me to go follow them, and I said, "No, sir, I can't go." My kids—I was married, and I had some kids. They don't want to go up there. And so, I still look for jobs. I went work for River Oaks Country Club—worked about 2, 3 years in there until they went out of jobs, so I just moved from there.

Interviewer
00:11:15 What year was that? Do you remember what years that you worked for River Oaks Country Club?

Tomas Espinosa
No, not exactly, but I believe it was—let's see—I started working for Brookside, 1960, January 16, is all I remember over there on Brookside Memorial Park on Highway 59. But I believe it was around 50-some. I'm not exactly—it was that, but I sure—I'm not remembering it exactly when they closed up. I mean, when they let peoples—there was 5 of us—over there at River Oaks Country Club. Not only me. There was 5 of us. And so then, I'm look for a job until I find this job over on Highway 59. That's in Brookside Memorial Park. That's why I retired from there. I was there for them people 19 years. And I'm still working with this, oh, Mr. (inaudible) on Ripley House. He begged me, because I know that man before he was born. I might as well say because I know his—before his mother and father married. I'm telling you that he born right at their—this here Catholic Church over on Navigation and in Mcalpine—over there on Mcalpine Street, 1 block from where that cemetery is over there. Well, that street just cut up there from the bayou back this-a-way, and it crossed Navigation. This where Mr. (inaudible) was born up there—the whole family.

Interviewer
So, you've known them all those years, huh?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yes.

Interviewer
Since you've been here—since 1909, has Second Ward changed any? 

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, lots of. Lots of.

Interviewer
00:13:18 Can you describe the change? How do you think it's changed?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, lots of. See, Reynolds was an Irish street in them days.They had a brick—now they got concrete. It was about 5 or 6 years ago, maybe I'm not exactly—when Mr. Smith—his first name, Ward Smith—lives over on Canal and that railroad track up there on Canal Street. He's the one put that street in there. And all that—(inaudible) over there where they put a little curve in there. No sidewalks and none of that—plain street. They put that street in there himself. 

Interviewer
What about the people? Have the people changed?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, the people. They all moved way up—(inaudible) way up there. Some are in Peter Woods, some are over here on—you know where Camp Logan is up there? Well, that's the same way. All of them 0:14:16 (inaudible) and other places.

Interviewer
Speaking of Camp Logan, you were here when they had that riot out there?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. That was 1918. That black people from the north fight these people over here. They bring them all the way to the main street and fight—shoot one another, like beyond the wall. 

Interviewer
Did you hear the shooting or not?

Tomas Espinosa
No, not exactly, but we was seeing them people. They come all the way from (inaudible) back this-a-way over on Washington—all them places there. And they coming over and shoot when that was the camp right there in them days. They was up in the country because there ain't nothing but woods in them days, that-a-way. They was where the camp was.

Interviewer
00:15:11 What did you think about that? What did you think about that riot or that shooting?

Tomas Espinosa
I don't know. That was a discussion from one another but discrimination—the whole thing like that. Since them days, and they don't want them black people to treat them like over here in Texas. They're from—some of them Yankees from up on the north. You know what I mean? And they were speaking over the (inaudible), and then that's when you started this discussion and all of that.

Interviewer
Did they treat black people pretty bad in Houston at that time, or—?

Tomas Espinosa
Exactly, they didn't feeling like it is now. They feel a little worse than what it is now. See all them going to cafes now, but in them days, they wouldn't. 

Interviewer
What about Mexican-American people? Did they get treated bad like that, or did they—?

Tomas Espinosa
Not exactly that ways, but it was. In some places over here, they had discrimination. I was told my mother was begging to go back in the country in them days, because over in east Texas, we didn’t have that. Only 1 family in east Texas—that was that family—Mexican people. And 1 guy was married a Polack girl—a lady—she was over in Lovelady, Texas. That's the only Mexican neighbor we had in them days. That's 18 miles from where I used to live. You know what I mean?

Interviewer
But when you came to Houston—

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, we see lots more. We see discrimination, but some place overnights, on Pasadena. All over on Sugarland or Fort Bend County—all them places there. That was real discrimination then. I was intent to go back over there on Houston County, and now—
Interviewer
00:17:00 Do you remember any incidents that happened to you or anything like that?

Tomas Espinosa
No, not to me, but some other grown people, there was. I heard when it was year 1920, I believe, and I'm not exactly—but I believe, 1920, where the City Gas Park over here on—yes, that's on—it used to be Congress. Now, I forgot what's the name of Congress—Gaynor, something like that. Yes, that's Gaynor and that City Gas Park—I guess on this side of that Rusk house now—I mean, Rusk School, now it was. And then they moved from Gable Street to there. In them days, their big band from that Mexican president coming over here to show them—these Mexican people that are living here—what kind of music they had in Mexico. And then they had a big fight. There was—all most Italian people used to live in there, and they had a big fight. They had some killed. I'm not exactly remember how many that got killed on each side. They had a big fight in there because that band come and play in the park in them days.

Interviewer
And the Italian people and the Mexican people got in a fight over it?

Tomas Espinosa
About that. I tell you the people—they was figuring to have too much fuss in it with that band. I believe 100-and-some-odd people playing in that band, and they think they have too much fussing. About around 8:00 or 9:00, they all stood at that time when them people starting fighting about that.

Interviewer
That was in the '20s, though.

Tomas Espinosa
Yeah, 1920. Like over here, on that church—I go to the Guadalupe Church around Navigation. We supposed to belong to that church over on Crawford. What is the name of that church up there? That's a Catholic church.

Interviewer
Annunciation?

Tomas Espinosa
00:18:55 Annunciation. Yeah. I believe that's the name of it. We supposed to belong there, but we don't go up there. 

Interviewer
Why not?

Tomas Espinosa
In the first place, when they first preaching by the name of Stephen. He passed away now—I read—in San Antonio. He started—because we used to see so many discrimination by them Italian people. You're like, "Hey." And then, he decided to build a church the way what they got them now. They had built a little bitty church, not big as this house in here—a small church. There were not many people would living on Second Ward then. And they building that church, and we started coming up. Some more people starting coming up from Fifth Ward and some others from different places, so we had—what is scattered around—to come to there. So, they had no room for them. So, they have to build another one—lumber church again. They put his face in—they used to call it Marshall Street in there. Now, they are all (inaudible) Navigation. They used to call it Marshall Street. And then, they built another church—a big one, and that little church—they had the little from school, for school. Then, after that, 1912, he starting the (inaudible) started some people I know. They already pass away. They started to get up the money in them collections or whatever it is, but it was giving that church to building that church what we got in there. Since then, I will go to that church every Sunday. I ain't saying I go every day because this church be open every day from 6 until 6. But I don’t go every day—just go on Sundays from here where I'm at.

Interviewer
But Father Stephen was the priest there.

Tomas Espinosa
He was the preacher, and he built another church over on Center Street—I believe, the Sixth Ward, I believe—right over on Center Street, by his name. The Stephen church over there on Center Street. And he built another church somewhere, but I forgot where. But, anyway, that preacher got so old, so they sent him to San Antonio, where the old preachers retired—some kind of convent or some kind of place for them people to retire—sisters and priests. 

Interviewer
00:21:41 And he just died?

Tomas Espinosa
He passed away about 3 years ago. Sister Bonita, the same way—the oldest sister that came to Houston first. They was teaching them kids—put up a school for them. And then, they bring 2 more, but I forgot them people. Bonita, I believe. There was Sister Bonita and Sister Dolores. Now I not forget her name. There was 3. They bring them from San Antonio, Santa Maria convent—I mean, convent, I believe. And they started teaching them kids over here, them little boys and girls and all, so—like the public school.

Interviewer
Did you ever heard the Our Lady of Guadalupe band play over there? Didn't y'all have a band there at 1 time?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. Mr. Gutierrez, the one that used to have them and then—they have 2 in there, but Mr. Gutierrez, the 1 they had at present. Then, a fellow by the name Louis, but I forgot his last name. 

Interviewer
He had that there.

Tomas Espinosa
Yes. 

Interviewer
And the harmonicas? Did you hear those?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, I've been hearing—go there, harmonicas most of the time, they have 1 until now.

Interviewer
When did they start having those, do you remember?

Tomas Espinosa
00:23:03 When first building that church. The oldest church, not this one—they really tried to get us some money to build them churches.

Interviewer
What happened to your brother?

Tomas Espinosa
My brother? He's in Mexico. 

Interviewer
Why did he go to Mexico?

Tomas Espinosa
I don't know. He just like the—we had some kin peoples from my father's side, and we had an aunt in Mexico City. And he went up there—because he didn't drink. He don't do nothing but just—be like here, he was great over here on Rice University. 

Interviewer
He graduated from Rice? Do you remember what year it was?

Tomas Espinosa
No, I sure don't. Maybe—I don't know—you know good and well, I know when me and my mother went up there. They called us to go up there. Probably you remember this doctor that got killed over here on—Dr. Gonzales killed over on Congress and Fanning. That day, I was heading to work. I was working over here on Brookside Memorial Park. He was laying about this-here, facing like that—the other hand back this-a-way. I was riding a NAN bus that morning because I used to catch my bus over here between Prairie and Preston on Main to go to work up there. That doctor—the one that helped me to put my brother in there on Rice, and we sent him and saw another doctor, and Dr. Matthews used to have his office over on Crestfield. Them 3 people's give me, "It is okay to sign here, my friend," (inaudible).

Interviewer
But he graduated from Rice?

Tomas Espinosa
00:24:53 From Rice University. He's working in Mexico City for the government up there now. He went up and get a Mexican citizen's papers because he wasn't allowed to—but he's working there now.

Interviewer
When did he go to Mexico? What year?

Tomas Espinosa
I'm not going to tell you the day or month, but it's 1938.

Interviewer
In 1938? Do you think he went because of the Depression here?

Tomas Espinosa
No. He was (inaudible) Depression before he—because we had (inaudible). My father never let him come, and we spent—me and my mother—all that because he wants to be what he wants to be, and he passed. He graduated, and I don't know how to explain. This is a—they wanted doctors at first, they treat him to bring the babies. And then, be the doctor for medicine, and then this-here surgery. (inaudible). Yeah, he passed all them 3 of those, so he's okay.

Interviewer
And he's doing that in Mexico?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. He's doing it. 

Interviewer
Is he younger than you?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yes. He's younger than me.

Interviewer
00:26:06 When did you get married?

Tomas Espinosa
Me? 1936.

Interviewer
To a girl here in Houston?

Tomas Espinosa
No, she was from Mexico. She raised in east country, but she was born in that country up there. That was my first wife.

Interviewer
How long were y'all married?

Tomas Espinosa
She lived until we—was 18 years, I believe, and 2, 3 months.

Interviewer
And you got married the second time?

Tomas Espinosa
Yes, that's right. 

Interviewer
How many children do you have?

Tomas Espinosa
We had 7, me and my first wife. Seven, but 2 of the oldest—a big boy, the oldest—it was a boy, and he got drowned over here in Buffalo by the way up. You know where Memorial Park is? You know where they having all that picnic outfits up there? And where that bayou goes, it make that curvy like a river? It's where he drowned. It lacked to be 1 month and 3 days to be 11 years. One or 2 boys pushed him in there. And they were scared. You're like the Boy Scouts, but 2 boys pushed him in there, and he get in there, and he could hardly swim, and he drowned. Not exactly drowned up there because they got him out before he drowned up there. They take him to this-here Buffalo Speedway Jefferson Davis, but he was still alive, but he passed away anyway.

Interviewer
00:27:53 And your other children? You have how many boys and how many girls?

Tomas Espinosa
After another girl, next to him—she was passed away when she was about 3 weeks old. Then, I got this boy what lives up by Bethany Church. He is the oldest in my family, and we had 5 more. That was 7 all altogether.

Interviewer
Are they here in Houston now?

Tomas Espinosa
Yes.

Interviewer
All of them stayed in Houston?

Tomas Espinosa
Yes. They're all here in Houston.

Interviewer
Have they gotten married?

Tomas Espinosa
All of them. 

Interviewer
Did they all—

Tomas Espinosa
00:28:28 Except this one over at my house—my oldest because he went sick about 6 or 7 years ago. He got this nervous. He was working over here—a janitor—because he never did went to school because he didn't want to. He feel he go to school just to be sitting in there. And he got sick when he was—he went for some company. Let's see—it's an automobile company—that building in there. He was working, starting then, and he went all the way, and they make a foreman out of him on a janitor's outfit. And then, he didn't like that job over there because they didn't pay enough, and he moved to over here on sanitation over in that courthouse up there. Then, he got sick again, and I told him he better not quit what—that's why I won't let him work on—sometime it's 3 or 4 months, he wasn't good. He wants to go to work. I said, "Uh-hunh." (negative) Some of these days, he would going to halfway-life like killed up there on the steps over there when he fell up there. And I don't want that to happen.

Interviewer
The other children, though, got married. 

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. They all got married, and they got family. I got some grandchildren with family.

Interviewer
How are your grandchildren? Are they raising them like you were raised, or—?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yes, almost, because I teach them how they raise. I tell my boys, the way you can raise this kid like they raised me. That's the way it is.

Interviewer
Did your children all marry Mexican-American people, or did they—?

Tomas Espinosa
Yes, all of them married—some is just from Houston. Yes, they born and raised in this city.

Interviewer
No Anglos—they didn't marry any Anglo people?

Tomas Espinosa
00:30:30 No.

Interviewer
Did your parents have any education? Did they go to school at all—your parents?

Tomas Espinosa
My parents—that's all the parents I have— (inaudible).

Interviewer
Did your mother—did she ever go to school?

Tomas Espinosa
In Mexico, they didn't know how to write and read because they born in 1896. When they come to this country, they passed through Laredo, Texas. That's when they came here—her and my father.

Interviewer
They came up through Laredo, and they went to Houston County.

Tomas Espinosa
Not exactly. They was living in Asherton. You know where Asherton, Texas is?

Interviewer
That's where Mr. Davilla is from.

Tomas Espinosa
Is that right?

00:31:25 (end of audio 1)

Tomas Espinosa
That's what I said, I just went up there after. I was talking about—from (inaudible) while them people—while my father—they was working in them there when they came over here from Mexico to the United States. And so, I just wanted to find out how them place, so I be looking everything, so I found out.

Interviewer
00:00:26 And they lived in Asherton, though, and then—

Tomas Espinosa
But when they came, and then moved all the way to Crockett.

Interviewer
To farm?

Tomas Espinosa
In the farm, yes.

Interviewer
Did your children—other than the oldest boy, he didn't go to school, but what about—

Tomas Espinosa
He went to school. My oldest boy, yes. He was in 8th grade. I mean, 6th grade—

Interviewer
When he died?

Tomas Espinosa
When he passed away, yes.

Interviewer
But the other children—did they go to school?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. They all went to school—all of them.

Interviewer
In the schools here in Second Ward?
Tomas Espinosa
00:01:01 Yeah. When we was in all Rusk school—it used to be on Gable Street. Now, they move over here. I forgot this other street over here, but pretty close to the City Gas Park—pretty close to that. Then, they located somewhere—Palmetto—something like that. Garrow and something like that.

Interviewer
Garrow.

Tomas Espinosa
Garrow and something, but I don't what the street is crossing. But I think close to that City Gas Park.

Interviewer
Did they graduate from high school, any go to college or anything?

Tomas Espinosa
No. They just went all the way through high school, that's all.

Interviewer
But they didn't go to college?

Tomas Espinosa
No.

Interviewer
When you first came—when you were growing up in Houston, when you were in Houston as a young man, what did you do for fun? What kind of things did you do for fun in Houston?

Tomas Espinosa
You mean, for fun? I used to participate in baseball.

Interviewer
Play baseball?

Tomas Espinosa
00:01:54 I played 14 years.

Interviewer
With what teams? Here in Houston?

Tomas Espinosa
Yeah. I played with Southern Select, and I played for the Nines over there in Mexican—on Second Ward. (inaudible). Diego and (inaudible), they would go up at the Ripley House. I played with them. Guadalupe, know them, and I used to know these other guys. They used to play in Washington. They called them, Los (inaudible).

Mr. Davilla
(inaudible)

Tomas Espinosa
Yeah, and his uncle. His—Eddie—we used to call him, "Uncle Eddie." Freddie, and all of them guys—I used to know them because they was too old for me to play with them. But after that, I was—liked baseball. We used to play on the city league.

Mr. Davilla
Did you ever play with Mancuso?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. Only Mancuso's Italian. 

Interviewer
Is that where Frank Mancuso knows all the Mexican-American people—from playing baseball?

Tomas Espinosa
Yeah.

Mr. Davilla
He comes from Magnolia.

Interviewer
00:02:52 He comes from Magnolia?

Tomas Espinosa
Yeah. And these other guys—them guys used to play for Houston. I played against them. Me and Houston, help us also. We used to help them when he go out because we used to play on the city league on Saturdays, so we had a chance to go out of Houston and play with some clubs way up there.

Interviewer
Mr. Ray Garcia—do you know Ray Garcia?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, Ray Garcia, yeah. He was the manager for Southern Select in them days. Now, probably you know this other guy. He's living here, but I don't exactly—they live on Super over here somewhere. Hooker Garcia. Oh, yeah, used to play for the Buccaneers in Galveston. His father had a barber shop over on Houston Avenue. It was named, (inaudible) Garcia. That was his name. He's still living, but he's really old. I don't know exactly how old he is, but I know he's pretty close to 100, maybe a little over 100.

Interviewer
What stadiums did y'all play in here? Did you have fields?

Tomas Espinosa
On the fields, open play. Probably you know, what do you call? YMCA or something like over there on Louisiana—close to what used to be Buffalo Stadium in them days in West End. You don't know them—

Interviewer
No, I don't remember that one.

Tomas Espinosa
Well, that's about it. It's what I used to wear. No, that guy that used to call—you know who they call the "Bambino."

Interviewer
00:04:30 Who was that?

Tomas Espinosa
Babe Ruth.

Interviewer
Babe Ruth.

Mr. Davilla
Yeah. Oh, Babe Ruth.

Tomas Espinosa
They was coming—he was not playing over here in Houston with a Texas game. But his game—he put exhibitions games. They put up before they started playing on the big leagues. There was Texas league over here, but he used to come in exhibition games. I used to know him over there on West End.

Interviewer
Did lots of Mexican people here in the Second Ward play baseball then?

Tomas Espinosa
When we first started coming in, yeah, but we used to have it mixed up.

Interviewer
Any other kind of social functions—any other things you'd do?

Tomas Espinosa
I used to do boxing a little bit around—over on Gable Street, but that was—I don't mean, I was good at boxing. I just trying practice, and that's about all—

Interviewer
What about dances or anything like that?

Tomas Espinosa
00:05:20 No, I never did like music or dances.

Interviewer
You didn't like music?

Tomas Espinosa
No. I got a radio and then I got a T.V., but I like hearing the news. When I seen my favorite sport, I put it on every time they come. If they tell me at night, I'll stay and watch a little baseball. 

Interviewer
Baseball?

Tomas Espinosa
I like 3 sports on television—hunt, fishing, and baseball. Those are my 3 sports. My favorite, what I mean. I might see another sport I like better, too—soccer ball or tennis. I might see that a little while. Football—I don't like it because—I don't know. I just don't like it, the way they play. Sometimes want a poor man be running—pow, pow, pow, pow. You see them get on them, and I don't like that. They might be good sport. I ain't say they not good. Only those years ago, I usually don't go for because I don't believe—I don't go for that.

Interviewer
Where were you working during the Depression? Do you remember?

Tomas Espinosa
The Depression? I was working for these people over here—Parker Brothers. Part of it, and then, the business went all down to bad, real bad. So, I just hang on. I used to work on Houston when they moved from over here. Yeah, this is, (inaudible) Steel, I believe. But they had that club—Houston club, golf. And then remember, way up yonder on Bel Air somewhere. We used to work—I went and worked over there for them people. Digging grass and fill up holes and everything.

Interviewer
00:07:14 Let me ask you this, Mr. Espinosa, what were the first baseball teams here in the area that y'all had? Do you remember when they started, and who had them, and what their names were, like the Southern Select, and—

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, no. That was with Eagles. They used the Mexican club. They used to play on Washington over where that foundry is over on Washington. I believe—what's the name of that foundry? It used to be open play in there. That's where they used to play. Sid (inaudible) and them guys.

Interviewer
That was the first one?

Tomas Espinosa
Yes, what I remember. Mr. (inaudible) and all them guys.

Interviewer
After that, what teams were there? Do you—

Tomas Espinosa
They started coming up from different places. Just like over on North Main, they had one (inaudible) used to call them. From the lefthand side, just when you cross that Omni pass, on the lefthand side about a block or two from there. Another used to be called, "Mexico Vejo," way up there. Another one, they used to be over here on Magnolia, but I forgot what they call in them days, that club. These guys, they got that tortilla factory—(inaudible)—probably you know him. I play against him when he was a young man in them days. Used to have a little (inaudible) way up in the other side where he got his tortilla factory now. Way up yonder. I used to play against him. He's been pick up. Then we used to go outside, like up here. After we started playing on the city league, really just us, in them days. Second Ward—that's all. On city league, Mexican (inaudible)—whatever you want to call it. That's all on the city league. And then we talked to the head of all them clubs. We wanted to play on Saturdays, so we can go out on Sunday. And he said, "All right." 

Interviewer
Did y'all go out of town and play?
Tomas Espinosa
00:09:27 Oh, yeah. We went all the way to Dallas 2, 3 times. Over here in Waco, over here in Bryan, Calvert. Back this-a-way, we went on Bellville, (inaudible), all where, different places, all over the place.

Interviewer
What position did you play?

Tomas Espinosa
I used to play a little bit 1st base and right field.

Male Speaker
That's what I used to play, a little bit.

Tomas Espinosa
I didn't say I was good, but I was just there.

Interviewer
You were there.

Tomas Espinosa
That's right.

Interviewer
Did you—you say you've been going to Our Lady of Guadalupe the whole time, huh? That's your—

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yes.

Interviewer
Still go?

Tomas Espinosa
00:10:08 I'm still go every Sunday, that's what I'm saying. I ain't never go every day, but I go every Sunday. Every time they call me for something, well, I go. But what I mean, just my regular time is Sunday, that's all. I got my bunch of envelopes in there, you know.

Interviewer
You like the church pretty well?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. I don't believe there's nothing better on earth, just like, for me. I don't know for the rest of the people, but I believe there's nothing better than that.

Interviewer
Did you learn to speak English here in Houston or in Houston County or—

Tomas Espinosa
No, here. I learned both of them. Of course, I didn’t speak English, you know what I mean?

Interviewer
You could've fooled me! I tell you—

Tomas Espinosa
But I still know a little bit, and so, I just—

Interviewer
You think you speak Spanish better than English, do you think? I mean—

Tomas Espinosa
Me? I don't know. What I speak in Spanish, I believe I could speak in English.

Interviewer
Better?

Tomas Espinosa
00:11:09 Both. Because when I was not had 1 day of education in schools or anything like that. I started learning both of them when I was 18 years old. Was (inaudible)—was left and right on Congress and Chenevert. You know where Chenevert Street is, and Congress? They used to have a fellow was selling all kinds of Mexican books and all stuff, Mexican stuff. Food and everything. By name (inaudible), probably you'd remember. His son, I believe, is still there with some kind of business up on Main now. I believe his name is Pedro, something like that, discotheque or something like that. This guy—there was 2 brothers, Cordero and Felipe, the oldest. That boy's father—I forgot whose—I believe it was Felipe. That's the boy that's got that business over on—they used to have them on Preston. I believe that's from Train and Louisiana—I mean, Myron and Louisiana, right on the middle of the block on the righthand side, it goes that-a-way. And so, I've been having different ways to go on and all like that. But any way, I remember lots of things. You remember 1935? I had a boy was drowned in them days, that overflow we had. I believe that's the biggest we ever had over here in Houston.

Interviewer
A flood then?

Tomas Espinosa
Since I been here. Do you remember?

Interviewer
No. I don't. Did it flood in Second Ward here, or was there water in here?

Tomas Espinosa
No. Yes, you know where that post office that-a-way used to be a Southern Pacific Railroad depot. Was flooded up in—water coming all the way to Travis. And it had a post office right on the edge up on Franklin—a post office. Used to be a hotel. Used to call—you know them—hotel, small hotel. The water washed them up, and they washed away by Buffalo Bayou. Mail bags all over the bayou.

Interviewer
00:13:15 They were going everywhere.

Tomas Espinosa
Yes. Somebody people said they didn't get letters because of that water wash away. Just sometime, you used to find them about 2, 3 months later on the sand, on the water—end up on the bushes and everything. 

Interviewer
Did you teach your children to speak Spanish? Your children—

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. You don't hear my boys speaks English in my house, I'll tell you that.

Interviewer
They speak Spanish here.

Tomas Espinosa
Yeah, so that's the way I told them. I said, "Don't forget our (inaudible) language. Because you know, that's (inaudible). I said, but my Spanish or better English. But you know English is the 2nd language in the world, and Spanish is 1st.You know that yourself. Because I read, after I started read and write a little bit—because I don't know how to write and read yet, but a little bit what I know, I've been reading more important things they wants to know. Especially Mexican history, United history, and what's been happen when first starting coming up. How these people come to this country and other stuff. I learned a little bit. I ain't say, no too very much because I don't know, but I still like, and that's the way it was. No boys in my house. You won't allow some Mexican boys over here on (inaudible) now. I got some grandsons, my granddaughters. Oh, jo, jo, jo, jo—English. Well, it's all right. Ain't nothing with it. That's not my business. That's their business—mother and father, that's their business. But I mean what I raise. I say, "I don't want you to talk English over here. When you come here. Speak that English when you need it because it's a little (inaudible) like I'm saying. They don't work like me. That's all I'm saying. It's another thing. They got a little—I ain't said they make money. Excuse me. (phone rings) 

Like I'm saying—my mother and my father, they told me—I used to (inaudible). They say, "Don't forget the Spanish language. And don't—when you ever learn English, don't forget that either." I used to work when I was traveling all over United States except Hawaii and Alaska. I don't know nothing about them because they just joined the Union probably—you know that. And everybody knows that. But the rest of the 48 states, I been all over. I ain't saying house-by-house or little, small towns, but most the important cities, I've been all in them. I used to work. I used to live over here on Santa Mejo Street and Commerce. That's where my depot used to be, riding the freight trains—hobo or whatever you want to call it.

Interviewer
00:16:22 You rode it as a hobo?

Tomas Espinosa
That's right. I be ashamed to say that because I was doing it. And so, I used to spend—be awake in the morning. Farmers, any kind of job, I used to do. Make a little money, more than I need, so I'll send them to my mother.

Interviewer
When you were a young man, huh?

Tomas Espinosa
Yes. That's like before I married. After I married, I'll settle down. I'll go on some places now, but not like I used to. 

Interviewer
Did you ever belong to any organizations here in town?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah. I been belong to some of the other (inaudible) now. I used to belong to the (inaudible). Now I just not able to do that because I got some other important things—because are important to me, too. You know that? We try to show the public or the United States people, we (inaudible). That's what I always say, to be somewhat together so they know that we're still some together. Some of us, they don't want to be. I'm tell you that. I heard a fight over here on Congress 1 time by 2 white people. You want me to tell you that? I'll sure tell you. But one of us started saying, "Did you vote?" And he say, "Heck, no. No, I don't vote." "Well, why?" He started a discussion that-a-way. He said, "You supposed to get—" He said, "You? Oh, yeah." They started arguing and fussing. I believe that other fellow was named Lacy, the 1 that had a—he had a grocery store in Selby and stuff like that. You can write the note there. And that was—when up and drank beer. They was started drinking beer. I hear the people talking up there. And before they know, they got in a fight because one of them say, "You know what?" That's when they started fighting. He say, "You know what?" He say, "What?" He said, "Dog a whole lot better citizen than you are." That's what he told him. One another, you know. He said, "Why?" He said, "Dog got tag on his neck. He got the paper with that tag." You don't go to place where you can pay a dollar-and-a-half in them days, you remember? Used to pay a dollar-and-a-half for (inaudible). Well, and that's the way they started fighting. He had a fight for that. Some people, they start discussing, especially when they drink and anything like that. But I never did. I would always—anybody knows that. When we used to pay (inaudible), they used to pay—they gave us the 1st one, and then after that, we used to pay a dollar-and-a-half for it. Until just started give it away. We don't have to pay for it now.

Interviewer
00:19:21 But you voted, when you—

Tomas Espinosa
Ever since I was 21 year. In them days, they wouldn't let you vote unless you be 21 year.

Interviewer
Can I ask you? What political party—are you in a party or—

Tomas Espinosa
Well, I'm tell you. On some place, some time, but I always vote for Democrat.

Interviewer
Democrat?

Tomas Espinosa
Yes.

Interviewer
What about in local elections? Who would you—

Tomas Espinosa
00:19:43 Oh, the same thing. Sometimes, you know—I vote for Mancuso. Sometimes, I can't. I miss seeing him. If he ever come out, I sure going to miss him because he was my friend. Some other friends, you're like—some problems. I don't care if he get a lot because some people, they do some here like old man Holcomb. You know how many years he was on that place? Because he didn't go all the way astray like some people say, but he went—you know. Probably you know better than I do how many years was on that place. But sometimes, every other year or some 2, 3 years—but he coming back and (inaudible) stuff like that. Same thing.

Interviewer
Did you vote for him? Were you—

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yes. He was a nice man to me. He had on this-here (inaudible) radio station. They got a new one over here in Houston—Mexican women's, but all of discussions over there. (inaudible), and freedom, and talk to him about all the thing they going on, so on and so forth—he want to vote and all stuff like that. He says, most of the Mexican women, they talk to me. They say, they don't want to cut him off. I said, well, they think about Mr. Kennedy, the first—the one that got killed in Dallas. He said, they a whole lot better. He said, yeah, but that man told me they already pass away. That's his brother that running. Yeah, but I said, I believe it's going to be the same thing. That man, he said, probably—probably done. They brothers—sometimes they believe difference in the brothers, and you probably know that yourself. Probably they be the same thing, but probably they don't. Don't you think so?

Interviewer
I think so. 

Tomas Espinosa
They all brothers if their father and mother—they're brothers. To me, that's my opinion. Sometimes, you got a little difference or—see the angles they know. It's all the same.

Interviewer
All the same.

Tomas Espinosa
00:21:49 All the same (inaudible) and everything. It be that-a-way. Be all right, but see, that's the way that I see about only families. I don't care who they—see, they got a difference on the family because I ain't had much brothers—because my family was not big, but I still see in some people's, some big families. And I see some really—like Mr. (inaudible) family—they all good people. Every one of them. You talk to them. You know, one I believe was Angelo (inaudible). He is a lawyer and judge some place up in town. Any way, this same way, old Lupe—we used to call him "Chap." He got a furniture store over on Telephone Road. A furniture store, but this-here office, not a house, an office furnished. All this jewelry, same way—he got business and everything. That's why there's some peoples—but some of us want to be good girls or boys, but some just cut it off. Why? I don't know. They all not alike. It would be all right if everybody be poor or everybody be rich or millionaires. They can't be that. Can't be that-a-way. How all these people—you got to look it over. If you look, I'm right. Because I'm right, nobody right but just that man up there. But if you all be millionaires, nobody want to work for another. If everybody be poor, what we will do? So, we got to live one together. I believe that's the way to look at it. Poor man got to go to the rich man to find a job or look for a job or whatever it is, to get help. And the biggest millionaire, they got to look for the poor people so they work for them. If he don't—I'm a good—they don't want—if he's a mechanic, he don't want to grease his hands or get a pick or a shovel and all stuff like that. I don't believe they don't want to do that. The biggest people—I mean, they got millionaires or whatever it is—and I believe the world, they got to have a little bit everything. To me, my opinion. I don't nothing about that. But I believe that's the way to look at it.

Interviewer
When you got married, did you buy a house? Did you ever buy a house?

Tomas Espinosa
I did buy a house, but I sold it. 

Interviewer
Here in Second Ward?

Tomas Espinosa
Yes, over on Reynolds Street. Because you know, that Reynolds Street, it was narrow, but they wider now. What I'm saying, Mr. Walter Smith—he wanted to widen that street. They didn't tore up that big building where that furniture was because he said it would cost him too much money. I heard all that on City Hall, in the paper, all that stuff. But there was no houses. A little piece of house like that one I had. He buy that property, and he widened that Reynolds Street. But that old building, that furniture factory, is still up there. I don't know what's in it now, but it's still there.

Interviewer
00:25:14 You have any other questions you want to ask, Mr. Davilla? We've covered everything. 

Mr. Davilla
You stayed in Second Ward?

Tomas Espinosa
Oh, yeah.

Interviewer
Was there a change here in the Depression, or—

Tomas Espinosa
That Depression—yeah, like I'm saying—had a little income. I didn't hurt. I don't feel that very much.

Interviewer
Because of you all's income from the—

Tomas Espinosa
Yeah, I had a—I was—my mother, she still have a little. I was working then. And they been changing until—oh, I said—that this war was going on in 1942. See, over here, I used to work for these people over here on Navigation. I was still making 70 cents an hour. Now, youngest in these days, they don't want to work for 3 or 4 dollars an hour. And these people, the best people you ever hear on history about these people—Parker Brothers—used to pay more on the side for the common laborer. Gordon Hoyt, Hayden, Charlie Young, I believe that was his name, and then another guy. And many, many of these other construction companies in them days. Gordon Hoyt used to pay 25 cents for dump truck drivers. We used to get 30 cents for common laborer with these people. You didn't see the difference? And then, really, everybody was want to work with these people.
Interviewer
00:26:57 At Parker Brothers?

Tomas Espinosa
Sure. They used to give a bonus in April, and then the only things (inaudible) them people (inaudible) because he had no holidays in there. Now, the government put them to have holidays now. But in them days, they ain't had but just 2 holidays in the year. That was Christmas and Easter Sunday. I call them Rabbit Day all the way. That's Easter Sunday and Christmas. That's only had—Fourth of July, then Veteran's and all the stuff like these, had nothing like that. George Washington, all of those—(inaudible) Day or Texas Independence or whatever it is, they had no holiday. Just go ahead and—you said, another day, just another day, Sunday and Saturday or Monday or whatever it is. It was just another day. As long as you had a job, you get—you was paid, but it was better than any other company. And here, like I'm saying, they gave you a bonus. Whatever you make, that's depends on how much you make on April and Christmas. But maybe sometimes before Christmas, sometimes about 2, 3 weeks before Christmas. But they would sure give you. Sometimes when that second war was going on, I used to get $500 and $600 for Christmas. 

Mr. Davilla
Not (inaudible).

Tomas Espinosa
And over here in Meyer Park, then that was the same thing. That would depend on what you doing and how much you make. That's just the way they give you. And over in Meyer Park, I used to get $300 and $400, but only 1 time a year. That was on Christmas. And Christmas Eve, they give you how much you had in the family. Depend on how many kids or when you plan or who you support. They give you bacon or ham or turkeys and bunch of fruit. That was all. It wasn't at Christmas Eve, but he give you the money before Christmas.

Mr. Davilla
I believe it was good and all—

Interviewer
Have you enjoyed living in Houston?

Tomas Espinosa
0:29:21 Sure. This company, when they moved to Athens, because they didn't close over here because they went broke. No, they moved it over yonder. They bought 600 acres up here. But they wanted us to go up there, every one of us. I said, "Not all of me." Every one of us to go up there. One (inaudible). I didn't want to go. Nobody went up there either. See, them people, they know they got to—they got to have time to train them peoples from the country up there. They ain't going to have nothing but farmers and that to handle all those machines and stuff. And they really want us to go.

Interviewer
But you wanted to stay here in Houston?

Tomas Espinosa
I would rather stay here.

Interviewer
Have you ever had a hard time finding a job in Houston?

Tomas Espinosa
No, sir. I really always had a little job. I didn't say, to make big money, but I still have a great job. Make a living, in other words. 

Interviewer
You always made a living at the job.

Tomas Espinosa
That's right. Like Mr. (inaudible) over here. He knows me. Just like I'm saying, I know him since he was a baby until he's up now where he is. Now everybody up—he called me (inaudible). I don't call (inaudible), probably he knows. He hear me say, "Hey, Felix!" Nod yes. That's right. You ask him. Probably he hear me. The same way—he would do the same way to me. One woman, she got married in the up-there. She said, "How come you don't call me?" I said, "Lady, you're in the office, and I'm outside. I working outside. You talk to me the way you want to here. I'll talk like I want them over there. If he say anything to me—you don't like it, but he knows. He always—I kidding him all the time. Sometimes, he say, "I want you to do this." I said, "Felix, come on, get out of here. Let me alone." But I have to work for him. He know I'll do it for him. Anything. Because I know a little bit everything. I ain't saying I'm a so-and-so, just like this man. But I say I can do little jobs. Outside.

00:31:28 (end of audio 2)