[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.The camp was unpaved.It was pouring rain.The mud was so bad that cars couldn’t get in or out.A young girl was giving birth to her first baby.There was no way to take her to the doctor.So my mother rolled up her sleeves and delivered the baby.And it wasn’t the last time it happened.In those days few people had money for doctors.Many hadn’t even set foot in a doctor’s office.A lot of the farm workers also didn’t speak the language.Many didn’t believe in doctors.Our mother was a folk healer.Besides delivering babies and curing common colds and headaches, she cured children of sustos, empacho, mollera, pujón y ojo.Her favorite herbs were yerba buena, yposote, yerba del pasmo, sauco—and she really believed in manzanilla.I’d go to her and say, “Mamá, I have a headache.” She’d say, “manzanilla.” “Mamá, I have a stomachache.” “Manzanilla.” “Mamá, I feel depressed.” “Manzanilla.” So much so that my nickname came to be Manzi.It was also that year when Dad was hurt in an auto accident and couldn’t work—for a whole year.Our mother and the oldest sister, Rita, supported the family tying carrots in the Imperial Valley.But they didn’t know how to do the work.They were farm workers, but they were fresh from a little farm in Arizona and had never done that kind of work before.So they’d leave home at 3:30 in the morning.And they didn’t get back until 7:00 in the evening.They earned $3 a week.But they kept us together until Dad was able to work again.One January or February we were driving to the Imperial Valley from that labor camp in Mendota when we ran out of money in Los Angeles.Mamá quickly sold two beautiful quilts she had crocheted.And we had money to buy gas and continue on our journey.It was 1941 and there was very little work.We were lucky to find jobs picking cotton in the San Joaquin Valley.When our big, heavy sacks were full, we’d line up and wait to have the sacks weighed by hanging them on a hook at the truck of the labor contractor.You’d get 3/4 cent per pound of cotton.But sometimes the contractor would cheat the workers by putting his knee under the sack so it’d weigh less.Instead of getting credited for a hundred pound sack, the worker would get marked down for only eighty pounds.All this would happen pretty fast, and the victim’s view was usually blocked.Well, Mamá was pretty sharp.She saw the contractor cheating a worker who was in line in front of her—and she called him on it.The contractor was furious.The entire Chavez family got fired.It didn’t bother her.Our mother used to say there is a difference between being of service and being a servant.We were living in Delano during the early forties when I started driving.All of us—especially Rita and I—became a traveling service center.Our mother would have us do all kinds of errands, often driving people to Bakersfield, thirty miles away, to see the doctor or police or district attorney or welfare office.We drove many a girl having a baby to the General Hospital.One baby was born in the back seat of our car.After going to work in the fields early in the morning, by 10:00A.M.we’d have to change out of our work clothes, jump in the car to Bakersfield, return home, change back into our work clothes, and try to get some more work done.Mamá never let us charge a penny for our troubles, not even for gas.When she wasn’t helping people or getting us fired for challenging labor contractors, we were the strikingest family in all of farm labor.Whenever we were working where there was a strike or when the workers got fed up and walked off the job, she’d be the first one to back up our dad’s decision to join the strike.Our mother taught us not to be afraid to fight—to stand up for our rights.But she also taught us not to be violent.We didn’t even know enough at the time to call it nonviolence.But from an early age, through her dichos and little lessons, she would always talk to us about not fighting, not responding in kind.She taught her children to reject that part of a culture which too often tells its young men that you’re not a man if you don’t fight back.She would say, “No, it’s best to turn the other cheek.God gave you senses like eyes and mind and tongue, and you can get out of anything.It takes two to fight, and one can’t do it alone [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]