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My Papa the Bracero

This item was contributed by a user and has not been curated by a project historian.




To whom it may concern,

I am the daughter of a bracero, whose father volunteered part of his youth to defend the Americas from tyranny during WW II.

My father was born in Arenal, Jalisco in 1922. When he was 21 years old, he volunteered from Mexico to aid America’s Homefront Activities. He decided to put his efforts in the better organized railroad industry (as opposed to the agricultural industry). Southern Pacific Railroad trained him, and his Mexican compatriots, as track maintenance workers. He was a member of a section gang that kept up to standard 10 to 25 miles of laid tracks. My father’s job as as a section gang member, was backbreaking and grueling. Under a blistering hot sun, he removed old crossties, replaced worn rails and surrounded the area with fresh gavel. Water breaks were called often to encourage them to drink and to take their water pills to help their bodies retain moisture. MY PAPA THE BRACERO, had aguante!
He and his compatriots were paid $1 an hour for their efforts, with ten percent retained for their pensions. However, this pension money is now in litigation due to the fact that both the United States and Mexico point fingers at each other after its disappearance. My father is currently 87 years old, and not likely to ever see his pension.

The reason I write to you has more to do to with recognition of my father’s American Homefront Activities. In a perfect world, I would like to have him interviewed on camera to give him a sense of our gratitude as a nation for his wartime efforts. All the t.v. documentaries I have seen over the years dealing with braceros, always describe them in their stereotypical roles—as field hands, or fruit/vegetable pickers. In my opinion, my father’s story deserves to be heard by mainstream America because he too indirectly aided a nation at war, but also helped (via the railroads) ferry its soldiers and their ammunition from Indio, California to the Pacific coast enroute to the European theater. My father tells a different story, one I have never heard said by a Latino WWII veteran or bracero on t.v.

Within your website, I encountered Ms. Kristine Navarro’s name, as the collections director. How can I contact her about having my father interviewed to add to your collection of oral histories. Out of his seven children, I am the one who has attempted over the years to document his recollections by writing them down for posterity. His stories are positive, and told effortlessly, in Spanish, with a taste of dark Mexican humor. He is currently an American citizen with two eagles embedded in his heart, one Mexican, the other, American.

In the event you may want to contact me, please do so at: silveria.ballaron@sbcglobal.net


Silveria Arizona-Ballaron


Silveria Arizona Ballaron



Bibliographic Citation

Silveria Arizona Ballaron, "My Papa the Bracero," in Bracero History Archive, Item #3070, http://braceroarchive.org/items/show/3070 (accessed February 21, 2019).

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