Roger Villanueva (RV) and Lourdes Villanueva (LV)
LV: Everywhere we went, ah, even if we were going to be there for 4 weeks, 6 weeks, picking the crops, my mother would make sure that they enrolled us in school…and Spanish was not allowed in the school systems. Even out in the playground they used to have the little playground patrols, which were our friends that were supposed to turn you in if you were speaking Spanish out in the playground which, of course, I was always in trouble because I was being bad–I was speaking Spanish.
Then of course in the 9th grade is when you started working for credits to graduate and we never stayed in one place long enough to get any credits so why even bother? I thought I knew everything that I needed to know at that time and I got married at 18 and had you. I was picking crops and you pretty much grew up in the back of the pick-up truck. In my breaks, I had to change your diaper and do whatever needed to be done and continue on working. And, uh, I always thought that you need to do what I didn’t do, which is finish your education first.
RV: You always said that you were going to lead by example. I remember when you got your GED you were in the fields and instead of having lunch you would have your books, and you would be studying with all of us in the back of the truck. After that, I remember that you said, you know, I’m going to go to the community college at night. And I remember you taking one class and you started off like that and then Dad was the one to take care of us and cook for us and we hated the beans and eggs because that’s all that he ever knew how to cook for us. I can remember us getting food and stuffing it under the refrigerator and then we would act like our plates were done. He used to make us eat everything because he wanted us to appreciate everything that we had because I know that both of y’all came from basically nothing. I mean, I was just so proud the day that you graduated.
LV: I had to hurry up and graduate before you guys did because I knew you guys were coming right behind me…
RV: Yeah, well, I really thought that was something special.
If I was to have the choice to choose another mother I would never choose anybody else but you…and when I look for my partner I always said, If my wife can be half the woman that my mother is, I will be okay. And I know I’ve never told you that but, that’s the way I feel.