Chicken Beaks Forever: An Hispanic Migration

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Trafford Publishing, 2005 - Humor - 174 pages

In the 1960's a depressed economy in the southwestern United States created an accelerated migration to California. Countless families pulled up stakes and looked with hope toward a land where jobs were plentiful and food affordable. Despite the trials and struggles, families found humor in everyday life. Unity became the foundation for strength and survival. This book retraces experiences of a Hispanic family leaving New Mexico and relocating in California.

THE LAND OF GOLD

On Labor Day weekend of 1968 my family traveled toward a dream we believed would be found or made in the land of gold. I had lived my entire life in Northern New Mexico and never traveled more than 150 miles in any direction. My parents had suffered a few financial setbacks and my father and eighteen year-old brother, Louie went to California to find work. Two months later, my father returned for the rest of the family.

My two younger brothers were soon asleep with the hum of the motor and movement of the car. My seventeen year-old sister, Marcella was irritable, but quiet. It had been a tiring day, renting and hitching the tiny U-haul trailer and stuffing our belongings, before driving three hours to the airport to pick up Dad. He had worked in the morning and taken a late flight from San Francisco to Albuquerque.

"How long will we be on the road?" asked Marcella.

"We should be in San Jose by Monday morning," said Dad.

It was a long trip, compounded by the slow speed we were forced to travel. The U-haul had signs painted on all sides that read 45 MPH. Dad violated the limit most of the time, but not by much.

Although there were six of us in the car, we were not crammed. Joseph, being only three, sat in front, between my parents. There were no seat belts to worry about at the time, so he was able to stretch out and sleep.

"Mejór ladeate (You'd better pull over)," said Mom, when she noticed the car weaving.

Dad drove the car off the shoulder of the highway where we'd be safe from traffic.

"Are we going to sleep in the car?" I asked.

"No," said Dad. "Vámos a sacar un colchón (Let's pull out a mattress)."

Dad and I unlocked the trailer and tossed a twin-size mattress on the ground. The night was dark, but warm and comfortable. The only noise was the occasional sound of passing cars. We stretched out, with a thin blanket and a couple of pillows. The rest of the family stayed in the car.

Dad shook me.

"Vámos (Let's go)." I felt a chill as Dad pulled off the blanket. I wanted to sleep longer. The darkness was disappearing.

"Ahorita paramos a comer (We'll stop to eat soon)," said Dad, starting the motor and pulling onto the highway. I envied Johnny and Joseph for their peaceful sleep. Marcella was curled up like a possum.

"Give me room," I said, claiming space with my elbows.

"Why don't you ride in the trailer?" grunted Marcella.

Dad looked at us through the rear-view mirror and I held my tongue. Although I was nearly sixteen years old, I knew better than to make Dad angry.

A few miles inside Arizona, we stopped at a service station. It had clean restrooms and an outside picnic table. We enjoyed Mom's baloney and green chile sandwiches and apples we'd picked from the trees back home. The morning chill gave way to a harsh sun.

"We have to get moving," said Dad. "We'll rest later, when the day gets hot."

We had never owned a vehicle with air conditioning and had never missed it - until now. The mid-afternoon sun beat on the car, threatening to melt the windows.

"It's like an oven in here," said Marcella. She rolled down her window and a gush of hot air assaulted us like a torch.

"Close it!" cackled Johnny. At eight years of age, his shrill voice annoyed everybody.

I had my shirt unbuttoned and wat

 

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Contents

THE LAND OF GOLD
1
EDUCATION
7
FIRST IMPRESSIONS
8
SPACE ALIENS AND HOLY WATER
10
WHERE IS NEW MEXICO?
12
PULGA
14
FRUIT AND TAXES
17
MIGRANTS
19
MIDGET CAR RACES
91
WHOSE PARTY IS THIS?
93
CHILE CON PAN
97
NOISE
99
HAND SIGNALS
101
IDA WHO?
104
KEEP THE CHANGE
107
RAKE ROWING
110

THE CHURCH
21
THE RING
22
LOS VECINOS
25
THE TURKEY
28
STARLIGHT
30
THE SANDWICH
33
THE QUINCEAŃERA
36
TOUCH OF CLASS
39
LICENSE TO DRIVE
41
EARTHQUAKE
43
CHRISTMAS IN CALIFONIA
45
LIFE ON SOUTH 22ND STREET
47
CLASH DUMMIES
49
WHOS SMART NOW?
52
WHOS NEXT?
54
INSIDE JOB
56
BRINGING HOME THE BACON
59
A LITTLE BIT OF HOME
62
THE LAUGH
64
WRIST BAND
66
THE MESS
69
EVERYONES GONE TO THE MOON
73
PRINCE VALIANT
75
THE SCARF
78
AN HISPANIC MIGRATION
81
GOING IN THE OUT
83
CRUISIN
86
HALFDOLLARS
89
CHICKEN A LA FEATHER
113
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
117
ON THE BALL
119
DIPLOMA
123
GOING HOME
124
JAVELIN
128
THE WORLD IN COLOR
129
COLLEGE BOUND
131
IN SEARCH OF
132
FRANCO
133
JUANOTES
135
BOWLING WITH PAUK
137
R A
139
I FEEL A DRAFT
141
ITS IN THE WRAP
143
MOVING EVELYN
147
WEDDING BELLS
150
PINCHING PENNIES
152
THE CAKE
154
TOLL OF THE BELLS
158
RECEPTION
161
HONEY WHERES THE MOON?
164
BOARDWALKING
166
CHICKEN BEAKS FOREVER
169
GLOSSARY
171
About the Author
175
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