What was it like when your family left Texas and came to California? How did Grandpa learn como sobar? Where did you meet mom? Why did you guys call yourselves los Marcianos?
I know the answers to these questions. As a kid, I loved listening to stories of dad and mom’s “little lives.” Dad has a way of making the sad stories of his childhood somehow funny. Mom’s stories are filled with mischievous deeds, cleverness and narrowly escaping punishment through simple luck and collusion with a sympathetic sibling or brother-in-law.
In college, I had the opportunity to delve into my family history as part of my coursework in Sociology and Chicano Studies. I interviewed Papá Chepe about being a bracero and asked dad a dozen questions about Grandpa’s ability to heal people with his hands.
I wanted to know how the macro forces of the 20th century affected my family.
Why did your family leave Salamanca? What was it like going to school in Texas in the early 60s? Do you remember the East LA blowouts?
Later today, I’ll put on my inquisitive hat once again as I participate in the opening day for StoryCorps Historias in East LA.
Dad and I will talk about his life, his family and especially his parents. Sadly, by the time I got very curious about family history, Grandpa and Grandma had already passed away. Dad’s stories will be recorded and hopefully I can share some of them here.
I won’t stop with dad. In the near future (what dissertation?) I’d plan to take my digital recorder and do like Studs Terkel.