They live in one of a handful of similar homes built along a wide dirt street that parallels a mountain stream. It is a place where a young boys chief occupations are keeping out of the way of hard-working elders, running constant errands for every adult in the village, and watching the animals—a burro, dog, and chickens—at work and play. Jalco, as the town is nicknamed, numbers among the many forest villages in which a boys chief sources of education are the stories of his mother, observations of the adult men at work, and the few travelers that pass through the village. Galarza recalls the pre-dawn departures of his uncles going to work in nearby fields and the monotony of diet among the villagers. His account also describes the sense of community among the residents, none of whom are wealthy or even financially secure. Galarza graphically illustrates the size of the community: Whatever happened in Jalcocotán had to happen on our street because there was no other place for it to happen. Two men, drunk with tequila, fought with machetes on the upper edge of the village until they were separated and led away by neighbors.
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The earlier large Spanish land grants in California had been taken over by American occupiers, and the hacienda boss had been replaced by independent contractors. These intermediaries between workers and landowners hired, fired, and neglected the workers in ways that resembled their mistreatment in Mexico. The major differences between the giant farms of California and the landholdings of Mexico were the absence of revolution and the abundant demand for seasonal laborers. Wages remained dismal, although better than Mexicos hacienda pay. Mexicans working California farms could beautiful earn large wages by mexicos standards; some made as much as 60 a day. The contents Galarzas autobiography begins with his birth in 1905, chronicling the young boys life until about 1920, when he enters high school in Sacramento. (The dates are estimated since galarza provides none). The story is divided into three basic parts—early life in a small Mexican village, migration to california, and life in the barrio of lower Sacramento. More specifically in his introduction, galarza describes five sections: Mexican village life, his familys uprooted wanderings in response to revolution, flight, life in the sacramento barrio, and living on the outskirts of the barrio (Barrio boy,. Galarza introduces readers to his first home, established when two uncles and his mother move to jalcocotán leaving his Lutheran father in a larger town (Miramar) and carrying mother Henriquetas only property from the breakup of the marriage, an old Ajax sewing machine.
Sacramento, for example, with a population of about 50,000 in 1910, included about 10,000 Mexican, Indian, and European immigrants. It was a small but growing city, destined to reach a population of 65,000 by the end of the first quarter of the 1900s. Sacramento was dominated by the capitol building and its churches—which, along with its Mexican-based name may have been the only elements recognizable by the mexican immigrants. Most of these mexican immigrants found lowcost and substandard housing near the sacramento river in what was known properly as lower Sacramento, a name warranted by the areas condition, although it was not much different in elevation than the rest of the city. Field workers Some, but not by any means all, of Sacramentos Mexican residents earned their way as field laborers on the nearby farms. Here they found conditions similar yardage to those in Mexico, where farm hands had been recruited, bossed, and sometimes harassed by managers of the large haciendas. On the haciendas peasants had been paid miserable wages, and they had been left to find their own shelter once the crops were harvested. In California, the farm laborers found giant farms organized on the hacienda pattern.
They were in time replaced by japanese workers in the fields, who, in turn, grew in number and effectiveness. By 1910 the japanese had become worrisome, too; they organized to best hire their own field bosses and contractors, which only added to the distrust. When the mexican revolution began, japanese immigration was being discouraged. The door consequently opened wider for Mexican laborers as well as for workers from Europe and India. At first, mexican laborers were welcomed without restraint in Texas and California. As the numbers of immigrants rose, however, both federal and state governments attempted to control the migration. Regulations were enacted to limit the business of contract farm labor, to place perperson taxes on workers brought in by contractors, and to demand that permanent immigrants pass literacy tests conducted in English. Nevertheless, between 19many as one million Mexicans left their native land to work in the United States. Sacramento sections of the existing towns throughout the farm areas of the American southwest soon had populations of migrant workers that exceeded in size the towns they had come from in Mexico.
Contractors—Mexican labor recruiters— replaced the hacienda managers as the source of jobs. The pattern of employment and attitudes toward immigrants had been established by the time the galarza family left Mexico. Carey mcWilliams describes the unwritten policy. Factories in the fields: The practice has been to use a race for a purpose and then to kick it out, in preference for some weaker racial unit. In each instance, the shift in racial units has been accompanied by a determined effort to drive the offending undesired race from the scene. 130 number of united states immigrants from mexico (Adapted from Galarza, barrio boy, 1964,. 28),287 Among the first laborers in the American West were Chinese immigrants, but by the 1890s they had become too numerous and too solidly established as excellent workers for the comfort of many whites. Viewed as a threat to the white population, the Chinese were beaten, robbed, and otherwise encouraged to leave.
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Fleeing Mexican peasants first gathered in centers where transportation was available—the larger towns and cities. Located along the dream western ridges of the sierra madre mountains, these towns were themselves not large. In 1911 the city of Tepic, the first stop for the galarza family, counted just over 10,000 residents. The largest community on the path, mazatlén, was just twice that size. Most of the traveling villagers had little money. They found housing in the poorer parts of the larger communities and earned cash how-ever possible until they were able to take the next step on their journey. Men living in these barrios, areas occupied by migrants from closely connected communities, hired themselves out as day laborers on the developing railroad.
Women sewed and provided other services for the more affluent townspeople. Galarzas mother, dream henriqueta, for example, had gained an old foot pedal sewing machine, an Ajax, in her divorce settlement. The Ajax accompanied the galarza family on the first legs of their journey, allowing Henriqueta to help with the family finances. California farm labor, by the end of the nineteenth century, many impoverished Mexicans had found opportunity in the fields of Texas. Later, as the revolution gained headway, the dislocated villagers on the west side of Mexicos mountain ranges saw hope in the valleys of California. Both Texas and California had long depended on immigrant labor to work the fields, build railroads, and to provide services in the developing cities. America initially encouraged Mexican laborers to immigrate, seeing them as less of a threat than the growing Asian labor force.
Within a year, díaz was overthrown and Madero became president of Mexico for a short time. He was immediately opposed by several generals. The revolution would continue for another decade with various rebel leaders vying for the leadership. Suddenly, young male villagers were needed not only for mine work, but to fight on one of the sides of a civil war in which they had little to gain. As tensions rose and landowners panicked, mexicans throughout the rural areas began a massive migration, a la capital o al norte (to the capital city.
Mexico city or to the north) (Galarza, barrio boy,. In February of 1910, from. Ciudad juarez (the city of juarez) alone, 2,380 Mexican peasants legally crossed the border into the. The promises of land and the ousting of Porfirio díaz failed to stem this tide. Between 1911, when the family. Galarza began its own migration, and 1921, nearly a quarter of a million Mexicans joined in the flight to the.
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Occasionally the residents would walk or ride list to the nearest town to petition the government for help, particularly in establishing schools. More often, contact with the government was through the rurales, soldiers of the national government who would ride horseback through the villages to demand taxes, to take rations for themselves, or to look for young men to conscript for work in the mines. Except for avoiding the rurales, the typical village resident had little to do with the national government and received little attention from. During díazs era, a few Mexicans favored by the government grew increasingly wealthy, and the division between rich and poor grew ever more distinct. By the time of Galarzas birth, the mexican plantation or hacienda system was fully developed. Millions of landless Mexicans worked at the whims of hacienda managers. They were harshly treated and very poorly paid. By 1910 Francisco madero salon had become the leader of an antigovernment movement that called for government and land reform. Forces loyal to díaz clashed with Maderos followers, the maderistas, and with other rebels.
Mexicos development had little effect on these small communities. No special roadways connected them to the larger towns. Most of them existed without electricity or sewage systems and took their water from nearby streams. Residents built one-room homes out of the rock and soil in the area, covered them with tile roofs, and walled off an area behind the house to keep out the wilderness beyond and protect the family animals. A typical village consisted of a few houses lining both sides of a single dirt road and, of course, some sort of common ground, a square or plaza. In such small villages there were often no church buildings and no schools. By 1910 education had become universal and mandatory in Mexico, but there was no provision for it in the mountain villages.
Fearing separation from Ernestos young uncles through forced military or mining service, the family fled northward. The family—uncles José and Gustavo, mother Henriqueta and son Ernesto—rode the newly opened southern Pacific Mexican railroad to mazatlén, mexico; the border community nogales; Tucson, Arizona; and Sacramento, friend california. More than forty years later, galarza was persuaded to record his memories of his acculturation experiences, ending with his enrollment in a sacramento high school. Politics, porfirio díaz had become president of Mexico in 1876. Except for four years (1880-1884) during which he gave the reins of government to his friend Manuel Gonzáles, díaz had ruled autocratically and continuously through 1905, the year Galarzas autobiography begins. The president-dictator was to rule for another five years thereafter. Díaz had recognized the need for Mexico to improve its economic base and had done much to encourage foreign investments, particularly in mining and in the railroad system needed to bring the mined materials to market.
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Literature and Its Times, copyright 1997 Gale research Inc. By Ernesto galarza, the literary work. An autobiography set in Mexico, arizona, and California between 1905 and about first 1925; published in 1971. Synopsis, ernesto galarza recalls the travels of his family from a small mountain village of west central Mexico to sacramento, california, at the start of the. Events in History at the time the autobiography takes Place. The autobiography in Focus, events in History at the time the autobiography was Written. For More Information, ernesto galarza was born in the small town of Jalcocotán, mexico, in 1905. While he was still a small boy, challenges to the thirty-year reign of Mexican dictator Porfirio díaz resulted in widespread revolt.