I made it. I graduated from Oxnard High, Class of 1927. It was a proud moment for my mama. She couldn’t stop crying.
I didn’t think it was such a big deal, but looking back, the teachers thought I was retarded because I didn’t know the language. Then, once they figured out that I wasn’t retarded, they still didn’t like me because of who I am. For the most part they didn’t teach me anything. They just wanted me to sit quietly and not be a bother.
It was the times, I know that. If you were Mexican, you didn’t need to learn. Your future was out there, working in the fields. It wasn’t right. I knew then and I know it now, so I studied. I learned, everything the school system had to offer. I read most of the books in the Oxnard Public Library and I kept on reading, even to this day. It wasn’t that great a fete, back then, in an age before television and affordable radios.
My mama saw how hard everyone worked, John, all his people, all the field workers in the county. She didn’t want that for me, and I was determined not to disappoint her.
By now my brother Roberto was working in Calexico. He worked for the lumber company and said there were opportunities there for me. I shook the dust off my shoes and made my way down south.