Elias Varela Jr.
November 9, 2007
Hello. My name is Elias Varela Jr. I will be doing an interview with my stepfather Jose Manual Diaz. I will be asking him some questions on how it was growing up in San Felipe. And also some questions about the 1998 Flood.
EV: What is it like growing up in San Felipe?
JD: Well, growing up in San Felipe. It was pretty hard. Bad, because we grew up in a very, poor family. And of course the barrio was weird so it was pretty hard. It all depends what part you really want to know [laughs].
EV: What did you do on an ordinary day?
JD: On an ordinary day we had to do chores [laughs] whether it was an ordinary day or not. Our chores were to get some lena (wood) so we can make a fire. To heat water, so we can take a bath, my mother can wash dishes. Stuff like that you would see in an ordinary family.
EV: Did you spend a lot of time with your family?
JD: I spent most of my years with my family. I still spend time with my family. We’re very close.
EV: What were your parents like?
JD: My parents were real good parents. My mother was real hard with us. We had to go to school. We couldn’t stay home you know what they say now “got to run the deer”. We never ran the deer. [laugh] And if we did she’d find out. That will be hard time. Because she would do us... we had to do more chores than we had to.
EV: Was it difficult to live with a large family?
JD: It wasn’t difficult living with a large family. Because when it got to where uhm we all pitched in. Now my older brothers were here and there. And the youngest one which was me and my brother Jesse we also did small jobs. We were out there and we would sell newspaper cause we worked for the nopales. And they pay 5 cents a paper. They would buy two for five cents. So, we’d make five cents. Five cents we’d make.
EV: Which school did you go to as a child?
JD: As a child I went to all the schools there in San Felipe which was “la escuela amarilla” [laughs]. Lamar, Sam Houston, Steven F. Austin, longhorns, even the high school.
EV: What sort of sports were you involved in?
JD: I really liked to play Football. I played for the ponies for awhile.
EV: Who was your childhood hero?
JD: As I can remember, I was still in school only one that I would call my hero was President Kennedy. For what he did for you know there was a long of racial discrimination stuff like that. He got that uh… yea I think he was a hero.
EV: What were your dreams?
JD: My dreams? Really didn’t because we were always busy doing something. But as I got you know older, I mean I know a lot of people say “I want to be President or I want to be this and that”. I don’t know, my dream is a body and fender repairman. I like to work with cars. And that’s what I don’t most of the time.
EV: What did you do for fun?
JD: Like I mentioned a while ago. We used to play the barrios. San Felipe was divided into El Rincon del Diablo, y las Calaveras. You know we had like five barrios. So, we got together because we like in San Felipe in the Lions Park. It wasn’t Lions Park there yet. We got quite a bit of friends, we had quite a bit of friends. We had the Hildalgos, Pinkys, a whole bunch. And we made a team and we used to play them.
EV: What sort of chores did you have to do around the house?
JD: [laughs] well the chores we had to we kinda changed. We did everything. The dishes, We had to go to the precita, the San Felipe Creek. We used to go to pick up water. So we would bring it back to the house and heat it up. There was no gas we had to go get the lena (wood). Yea make a fire we were young men but my dad took us so like I said we had to go to the store we didn’t have a ride back then. We had to walk everywhere.
EV: So, did you get along with your neighbors?
JD: We got along with the neighbors. Because, like I said we were pretty close. We like I said the Rodriguez, the Hicks, Blanks, and we hang around a lot of people.
EV: Was there racial discrimination around San Felipe?
JD: Well the discrimination way back then as I can remember was the Del Rio and San Felipe. See San Felipe was Mexicans, Del Rio was only white people. And yes there was we crossed the rios and go downtown. The only way we would mingle with white people is if we go over there and clean their yards. [laughs] we would get fifty cents for that to make a yard we didn’t have gas mowers. We had to push the suckers [laughs]. So, yea there was and plus is that nobody had killed no one.
EV: Who was your favorite teacher? And why?
JD: My favorite teacher was uh, well I have several. One is Mr Piembert. Cause everytime I need something I would go to him. He would give me some advice. And the other one was Mr Barrera. He was my speech teacher. As a matter of fact, he is my friend now [laugh].
EV: Was there a lot of crime going on in San Felipe?
JD: No, not really. Because there was not that many people. There were some here and there killings in the we called it the groundhog man. There were some in the Pig Pen, and here and there but nothing that violent.
EV: What was your first job? What did you have to do?
JD: My real first job, well like I said I worked here and there. We started selling papers. [Mumbles] And my first job was working in a fuel station with Wilber Campbell. And they were real busy. I started working there [mumbles] it took me…I stayed there for five years.