This is an interview with Arturo Gonzalez by Sandra Shipp on February 28, 2005. Arturo tells about his life here in Del Rio and what influenced him to become a laywer. Arturo Gonzalez was born in 1908 in Del Rio, is 96 years old and still practicing law in Del Rio. Arturo is still of sound mind and very intelligent and is aware of the history of the courts in Del Rio for the past 70 years. Arturo Gonzalez has been involved in community affairs of Del Rio and has done a lot to give back to this community over the years but is very modest and does not talk about what he has done. This is why we need to be aware of what he has achieved in Del Rio, as it is a part of Del Rio history.
SS: Where were you born?
AG: I was born in Del Rio.
SS: What year?
AG: On October 4, 1908.
SS: Where did you go to school at?
AG: Del Rio.
SS: And to college?
AG: No, no wait, Guadalupe School, on the corner of ?, and operated by the priest of the Sacred Heart church, right by the convent.
SS: Where did you go to college at?
AG: I didnít!
SS: You didnít? So how did you become a lawyer?
AG: My mother died when I was a child, and the lady that reared me, Madrina, and she was a native from Zacatecas Mexico, taught me how to read and how to write, and she had a very wise mind, she thought the mind was very simple and very easy, and I felt differently when I was a child because children wanted to fight you, and I wanted to fight with them, and I wasnít going to fight with people, what ever you do you donít fight with people, somebody gets mad at you let them get mad, if he wants to stay mad let him stay mad, you donít fight with people. Life is very simple, very easy, I want you to think about it, what I am going to say to you, thinking good and doing good, before you go to bed every night just think about that, thinking good and doing good, and you will understand why I say that life is very simple. If anybody else wants to live a different life, let them live it, and you remember that, always remember that. And when you grow I want you to be a lawyer. Why do you want me to be a lawyer for? So you can help people. You do that. It turned out to be later on that I found out that her property had been taken away from her by renters, but she never complained about it.
So when I was 8 and 9 I decided that I was going to be a lawyer, I wanted to be a lawyer. I graduated from Guadalupe School, thatís the old Guadalupe School that I am showing you here, on the 23rd of May 1923 I came to Del Rio High School in the 9th grade and just couldnít get out of my mind that I wanted to be a lawyer. I played basketball no not basketball, I played baseball then I gave up, I wanted to be a lawyer, and Iím going to be a lawyer. Several lawyers from town said you have to go to school, you have to go to high school, you have to go to college. I went to Bay Town, worked there for a while, worked in Houston for a while, we came back to Del Rio sometime in 1928, 29 and I went to work for the Guarantee store, I managed it, then I, I was smoking a lot, then I decided I was going to work for Mario, I went to work with him, I ran a register for National Title Company, I worked for I Shine Shoes, I did what I had to. I worked at a grocery store on Main Street and Greenwood.I shined shoes across the street from the grocery store, I could never get it out of my mind that I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I went down to work for Boarder Line Gas Company, there was a service station right on the corner, on Lasoya Street and Pecan Street. The owners at that time were older and their names were Maronini, I was pumping a little over 55 thousand gallon tank of gasoline, Raymond took it over with pleasure and when he did that I was very pleased. The father of Joyce Stemech passed by, a very impulsive mind, a very impulsive man! And I was effected, and I kept on thinking one of these days I am going to be a lawyer, a very, very, very aggressive man. And then, after working for the Border Line Gas Company, I went to work for the drug store as a delivery boy. Then I went back to Bay Town and came back to Del Rio and found that I needed to work, and then I went back to work for the Guarantee store and then I quit. And on that very 31st day of December 1931 I went to the Guarantee Store to borrow 5 dollars from my sister, Louisa, because you had to pay the poll tax at that time, 2 dollars, I will sell buckets of tin for you on Las Vacas. After the 1st of the year 1932, 1931, something like that, I was living with my father on 504 Las Vacas Street, then sometime in March, I went back to my job ÖÖ..
I lit fires, to burn wood and weeds, and we were very cold I remember, and I lit fires, and what I had on Ö., and there I found an old magazine and I saw an advertisement, American Correspondence School of Law, Chicano News, so I wrote them, and they wanted twenty dollars down and 20 dollars a month and I didnít have the money. I thought about it for a few days and they wrote me a letter saying they had narrowed down the payment to 6 dollars down and 6 dollars a month. I went back to guarantee and told them I wanted to work on Saturday, and he said I want you to work every day and I said no, no, no, I want to work on Saturday, I am going to study law. Where are you going? No where, I am staying right here in Del Rio. I got my books, no problems, and on the 19th of April, 1932, I opened my first law book. I use to smoke a lot, sometimes, maybe even a pack and a half a day, so I then decided I would quit Ö I even quit smoking, I didnít know how I would do that but then I wanted to see how much will power I had. And on that same day my sister Juanita came in, I opened my first law bookÖ.., and, I borrowed an old typewriter that belonged to my sister and used it, Juanitaís typewriter, I wrote something, I typed something, on what I was going to do, still have it, and I will show you. On that day, I quit everything. I even quit smoking. I didnít think I could do that, but I bought a pack of cigarettes around the corner to see how much will power I had, and I then decided that nothing was going to keep me from being a lawyer, I mean a law degree. From realizing it, that was in April 19th, 1932. Then I came to see the lawyers in town and they said I needed to go to school. I didnít have the money to go to school, I hadnít graduated from high school.