Welcome to the Weekly Gaucho Podcast! My name is Blanca Lara and I will be talking about migrant workers. Both of my parents come from this type of background. My father belonged to a big family that included 13 kids. These 13 kids had to work in the farm fields with my grandpa. My father only went up to the 8th grade. My mother was also from a big family and there were 7 kids in her family who also worked in the fields. She only went up to the 6th grade. Both my parents never went back to school because they had to work to help the family make a living. This was in the 1960’s when my parents had to start working in the fields. In my grandparents generation they always seem to have a ton of kids. My grandparents only had elementary education if anything at all. I would always hear stories of how the men would give each other props if they had more family than another man did. It was like winning the award for man of the year for having the most children! Maybe it was to help out the family financially or maybe they just loved to have big families.
My mother’s family moved to Oregon from Texas when she was 10 years old and my father’s family went back and forth from Arizona to Oregon for work. There were many migrant workers that would come and go. There was even a place called the Labor Camp which would house all of the migrant workers during summer time. When they would leave it would become a ghost town in that area of the projects. In the 80’s and early 90’s is when I had a taste for this type of work. I was the oldest kid of the family and when I turned 11 years old I also had to go work in the fields during the summer time. It was almost like a tradition. The magical number was 11. I had friends working with me sometimes. This would make the day go by quicker if anything. My mom took my brother when he turned 11 but he got fired the first day. I wish I would have thought of that! My mom knew I could handle it so she took me during the summers until she got a job at Ore Ida which is the potato plant that makes your fries. It’s now called Simplot. My father became a welder in 1990 and now has his own business. The only difference for my generation was that now we were allowed to go to school and finish unlike my parents. I think my parents’ generation realized there was something better for their children. Something better than what they had to go through. Going to College was a big thing. I think for most Latino families from my generation we were the first to ever go to college. I am really thankful to my parents for breaking that wheel and not taking us out of school. I know there are laws that don’t allow that anymore. If there were laws at that time then they were not really enforced like they would be today.