A People’s History of the Inland Empire Digital Archive

Labor, Citrus, and Community Oral Histories by Antonio Vasquez

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  • Manuel Reynosa Interview

    1997 interview with road layer Manuel Reynosa and his wife Patricia Reynosa. The interview begins with a discussion of Reynosa's family history including immigration from Silao in Guanajuato and building a home in Colton, CA. The Reynosas discuss Manuel's stepfather, Elvenjez Nuñez's work selling fertilizer and magazines from Mexico for extra money, working in agriculture with citrus and walnuts, and working on the canals in Riverside. During the depression, Manuel's first job was picking mustard plants out of the alfalfa fields in Cooley Ranch for 25 cents a day, then putting fertilizer on orange groves, irrigating and picking oranges in Highgrove, Agua Mansa, and Bryn Mawr. After WWII Manuel worked laying roads in San Bernardino and at a winery in Colton, construction, and irrigating for Western Fruit Growers. Patricia Reynosa discusses some of the local organizations they were involved in including the Progrestista and the Feminil which started in 1970 and was still in existence at the time of the interview. Patricia also discusses her work at Norton Airforce Base. At the conclusion of the interview, they discuss the 1938 flood and other floods in the region.
  • Aurelia Ruiz Reyes Interview

    1994 interview with Aurelia Reyes. Aurelia discusses her life growing up in Redlands, California, and how the city has since changed, including the topics of discrimination, education, citrus, and local businesses.
  • Gilbert Zamarripa Rey Interview

    1995 interview with Gilbert Zamarripa Rey. Gilbert discusses his early life in Redlands, California smudging and picking citrus. He also discusses his participation in World War II and his long career in the military.
  • Rose Ramos Interview

    1994 interview with Rose Ramos. Rose discussed her life growing up in East Highland and her participation in community efforts to improve Redlands. Additionally, she discusses her and her grandparents' participation in the citrus industry.
  • Rita Richardson Radeleff Interview

    1997 interview with Rita Richardson Radeleff about her Mexican and Scottish family background. From Antonio Vasquez' interview preface: ""Her family story provided insights into the depth and diversity of Mexican settlement in Redlands. Up to the time Rita and I spoke, all of my interviews included people primarily of Mexican descent, most of whom lived, worked, or spent some point of their life in the barrio of north Redlands. With her interview, my efforts to gather stories and history widened in scope and geography to include information about 19th and early 20 th century settlement in south Redlands by working class Mexicans and people of European descent like her father, Palmer Leland Richardson, a chauffeur and a small business owner. Rita’s story as well as that of her mother Tomasita, whose strength and determination first as a young widow, then in an interracial marriage, and finally as a working single mother are fascinating to read. They also contribute to an emerging multi-faceted historical portrait of Mexican women in and out of their homes, a subject this series only begins to touch upon. I had several conversations with Rita about her family and her experiences and in this interview, she reads sections from her self-authored family history."
  • Connie McFarland Interview

    1997 Interview with Connie Mcfarland. Connie talks about her experience in high school and church choir in Redlands CA.
  • Oddie Martinez Interview

    Interview with Oddie Martinez on April 18, 1994. Oddie discusses his life growing up in Redlands, California, his experience serving in the Navy during World War II, the Redlands citrus industry, his career in education, his local activism, and his involvement in local politics (first Mexican Mayor of Redlands, 1978-1982).
  • Armando Lopez Interview

    Interview with Armando Lopez on February 9, 1995. Armando discusses his early life in Redlands, California, including the sharp divide between the Presbyterian and Catholic communities. Additionally, he discusses his career as a teacher and administrator and the struggles for equity in the public school system. Also speaks about his local activism.
  • Rose S. Lawson Interview

    1998 interview with Rose S. Lawson May 7, 1998. Rose S. Lawson briefly mentions her family history in Redlands and her detailed experience working in the citrus industry as a "rot girl" and a quality grader.
  • Lupe R. Yglecias & Margaret Castro interview

    Interview Lupe R. Yglesias & Margaret Castro focusing on their childhood upbringing, the various types of labor their family were engaged with, and their educational progress and social mobility spanning across multiple generations.
  • Joe Howard Herrera Interview

    1994 interview with Joe Howard Herrera on his citrus work, including the "girdling" process, his WWII drafting experience, experiencing segregation and discrimination, and how the Mayor of Redlands stood up against it. He lived most of his life in Redlands.
  • Graziano Gomez Interview

    1995 interview with Graziano Gomez as he speaks of his family migration, military service, and co-founding the American Legion 650 chapter with other Mexican American Veterans of WWII.
  • Rafael Gonzales Interview

    1992 remastered interview with Rafael V. Gonzales, note: audio is of poor quality, the transcript contains many blanks due to this. Rafael Gonzales begins by discussing his work as a cobbler as well as his life growing up in Mexico City. In 1940 he immigrated to the U.S. first arriving first in Arizona and then in Montana where he worked as a bracero before picking oranges in Redlands. He discusses what it was like to work in the citrus industry and his decision to stay in the U.S. rather than return to Mexico.
  • Prudence "Lencha" Gonzales Interview

    One of the earliest interviews conducted for this project was done on a rainy Valentine’s day in 1995 with Prudence Gonzales.  Mrs. Gonzales or ‘Lencha’ as she was known to countless friends, neighbors, and relatives was a native of Redlands and at 92 the oldest woman interviewed for this project to date.  Our conversation dealt mostly with her youth and early Redlands.  A self-professed tomboy, Lencha worked with animals and frequently drove a wagon for her uncle’s manure business.  Her observations on married life are also unique to this series. Born a generation earlier than most of the women interviewed for the project who generally worked outside of the home and reflect less on home life and personal relationships, her story is compelling for its depth and strength in these areas. Her keen memory, wit, and directness shine through in this far too short conversation. Mrs. Gonzales’ son Joe and daughter-in-law Irene were present during parts of a 90-minute interview conducted at their Webster Street home.  Joe Gonzales was also interviewed the same day, his comments are included in a separate volume of this series.
  • Eunice Romero Gonzales Interview

    1994 interview with Eunice Romero Gonzales. Eunice details her early years growing up in the Redland's citrus ranching industry, and the changes that occurred after the War and the Bracero Program. Part B discusses Education in Redlands and Racial discrimination as well as Eunice's adult life employment.
  • Robert (Bob) Garcia Interview

    1995 interview with Bob Garcia on his upbringing, citrus and farm labor, and becoming a foreman.
  • Andres & Reyna Garcia Tape 2

    1997 Interview with Andres & Reyna Garcia. Mr. Andres Garcia accounts for living in the Labor housing and everyday life in Cone camp. He also discusses discrimination by the local police against National Mexicans and Braceros and labor organizing and strikes during the 60s.
  • Andres & Reyna Garcia Tape 1

    1997 Interview with Andres & Reyna Garcia. Andres Garcia discusses his experience working in Redlands California under the Bracero Program. He discusses discrimination as well as financial challenges under the Cone Camp employers. Claims to have been the first Bracero to become a foreman.
  • Sam Coyazo Interview Remastered

    1997 interview with Sam Coyazo. Sam speaks about his upbringing, the development of surrounding communities, his education and pleasures, his work as a packer and his military experience, and the process of "smudging" at citrus groves.
  • Angelina Cosme and Margaret Castro Interview

    2000 interview with Angelina Cosme and Margaret Castro begins with their earliest memories of Redlands in what they call "the Barrio Judio" on Harold Street because "it belonged to some Jews, Jewish people." They both discuss their family's histories and particularly immigration to the U.S. Both Cosme and Castro attended Lugonia school and St Mary's church and have vivid memories of the Great Depression and World War II in Redlands. Both worked at citrus packinghouses and recall the work as well as the pay, Castro explains that due to her asthma she had to stop packing. They discuss the photographs they brought and the different people in them.
  • Amado & Jose Casillas Interview (Spanish)

    2000 interview with Amado & Jose Casillas. Mr. Amado Casillas and his son Jose Casillas who translate discuss coming to the US under the bracero program in 1956. Amado retells his experience in the program, the employee living conditions as well as social discrimination he faced.
  • Simona (Sammy) Castillo Interview

    1995 interview with Simona (Sammy) Castillo part 1. Reflects on her life and the life of her father who was one of the first Mexican workers in East Highland. For 66 years her dad worked at East Highland Ranch. He lived in Colton, her mother in Bryn Mawr before marrying. Parents arrived in the region c. 1884 from Mexico by way of El Paso. Sammy reflects on her childhood in East Highland followed by her graduation from the University of Redlands and her 42 years as a nurse which she cherished. The audio continues for two minutes after the transcript indicates the interview has ended.
  • Joe Arredondo Water Interview

    1999 interview with Joe Arredondo April 30, 1999, focusing specifically on water as Arredondo is the water man for the Greenspot Mutual and Greenspot Mutual Well in addition to being the treasurer and secretary for the water companies. He describes how he diverts the water, the process of shares, the use of Mundi water during dry years, and the growing cost of maintaining the pipes. He discusses the division of water between cities like Highland, Mentone, Redlands, Colton, as well as Riverside and Orange County.
  • Joe Arredondo and Evelyn Pedro Interview

    1997 interview with Joe Arredondo, editors note: Part 1 of the interview was lost due to equipment failure. Joe Arredondo discusses citrus picking crews and the state of the citrus industry and citrus properties at the moment (1990s). The conversation turns to water rights and the possibility of Highland or Redlands annexing Greenspot, they discuss zanjeros, well water, and the construction of larger water pipes in the region. Evelyn Pedro reminds Arredondo about his involvement in the Progretista and he describes his negative experience with the organization.
  • Alfred Armendarez Interview

    2000 interview with Alfred Armendarez in which he discusses his early life, including his earliest memory: the 1930s fire at Elephant Orchard Packing House. Armendarez discusses both citrus picking and packing in Redlands as well as his family's experience picking grapes in August. As Armendarez recalls life growing up in Redlands he briefly mentions Lincoln School, Redlands High School, Sylvan Plunge, and the House of Neighborly Service. Armendarez was drafted right out of high school and recalls his experience in the Navy and the transition into civilan life in which he went back to agricultural work for a brief time before working at Universal Rundle until they closed in 1982. Armendarez shares his songbook with old songs dating back to the 1940s and discusses some of the organizations he was involved in such as LULAC and the Menudo Club.