U.S. History I Professor Braudaway April 10, 2005
ďA MajorĎs Role in Del RioĎs HistoryĒ
Jennifer: Hello, my name is Jennifer Kuaea. This is April 10, 2005. I will be conducting an interview with Mrs. Sharon Walker. She is a major and a program facilitator at Laughlin Air Force Base. I thank you for time and contribution to Del Rioís history.
Jennifer: Mrs. Walker, how long have you been in Del Rio?
Mrs. Walker: About fifteen months.
Jennifer: When you first arrived here in Del Rio, were the residents friendly? Did you feel welcome?
Mrs. Walker: I did. I felt very welcome.
Jennifer: Mrs. Walker, out of all the places to live, Why did you choose Del Rio?
Mrs. Walker: Iím in the military and I was assigned here.
Jennifer: Assigned here, uh. From where?
Mrs. Walker: I did choose, Well, From Lackland in San Antonio, Texas. So, I, I actually pursued the job and it was in Del Rio, it came with the job, but I didnít have a problem with that.
Jennifer: But where are you from, though?
Mrs. Walker: Originally?
Mrs. Walker: From Gary, Indiana.
Jennifer: How did you end up going to San Antonio, were you assigned there?
Mrs. Walker: Yes, just with the military. I joined the military and Iíve been assigned to different places and that was one of my assignments.
Jennifer: Do you live on-base?
Mrs. Walker: No, I live off-base right there from Wal-Mart. (interrupted)
Jennifer: Is there a certain reason why you donít you live on base?
Mrs. Walker: Well , base housing wasnít readily available, but, we found a house in.. in town, and (pauses) we love it. Yeah.. our neighbors are nice.
Jennifer: Would you still live here in Del Rio if you were not serving in the military?
Mrs. Walker: Hmm, probably not because I donít speak Spanish real well.
Jennifer: Where would you go?
Mrs. Walker: Hmm. Closer to home, closer to Indiana. I donít know where. (Laughs)
Jennifer: In Indiana, you have family there too, huh?
Mrs. Walker: Oh, I have family in Indiana.
Jennifer: Do you have family here?
Mrs. Walker: Well, yeah, my husband and my kids, and my mom. Me. But no thatís it.
Jennifer: Oh, Ok.
Jennifer: What is your view on how Del Rio residents treat Air Force people?
Mrs. Walker: Oh, I think they, they are very, very supportive of the military and the military personnel. Like different functions we have, they come and try to support it. I think, I think they are very, very good to us.
Jennifer: Ok. How do Air Force people treat Del Rio residents?
Mrs. Walker: I think thereís a strong responsibility at Laughlin to keep the communication going because the Del Rio residents help out so much with different functions that the Base has and so, we both need one another. So, I think they treat them well and they,
Jennifer: Nothing negative has happen that you can think of?
Mrs. Walker: No, Iíve been here fifteen months, and me being a promotion manager, I involved in a lot of community-liason communion-based activities. So, I.. we work really well together.
Jennifer: Ok. Could you share an experience you have had regarding Air Force people and Del Rio residents? Maybe workingÖ I know you said about the lia..liasons.
Mrs. Walker: Ok. Like the Military Affairs Association,( interrupted)
Mrs. Walker: Yeah. The Military Affairs Association helps out with the military projects a lot. We had one deployed family member dinner and Military Affairs Association made up of retired people who are in Del Rio and a lot of them are from that Chamber of Commerce. Del Rio Civic Center. They come to different functions and theyíre always willing to speak about the city and what the city has to offer, too. Like our new troops coming in.. and uh, then at this one dinner that we had, they actually gave a donation so we could buy dinner for members who have active duty people deployed. So, itís called Deployed Family Members Dinner and we give dinner for the families who are left behind.
Jennifer: Is there anything that you do not like about Del Rio? Is there an issue you feel the city of Del Rio needs to address?
Mrs. Walker: I have a difficulty with going into a store and looking for something and then, the merchant doesnít know what Iím talking about because they donít speak English and they donít understand it and thinking, Well, why are you working in this store? This is America, you should speak the Native language and so, thatís like, thatís like the biggest thing and it happens over and over again. And, I mean non-speaking I mean people who donít speak English not to say theyíre bad or anything like that. But, youíre in an English speaking country, you should at least know and understand the language. Especially, if youíre going to live here, if youíre gonna work there (corrects herself) work here. So, thatís what I think and then, people might think well, you know youíre next to the border. So, you should speak Spanish. Well, I donít speak Spanish well. I donít speak it well at all, I try and I understand it a little bit, but not enough to speak well. But still, on the flip side, I just think that if people are gonna work.. I wouldnít go over to Mexico and work because or do anything over there. Thatís probably why I hardly ever visit because I donít speak the language and I donít like to get jipped on my money.
Jennifer: Ok. (laughs)
Mrs. Walker: But anyway. Thatís the biggest problem.
Jennifer: The food and the music. How about that? What do you feel about it. Do you think they need to be more diverse.. Del Rio?
Mrs. Walker: Uh, well, the culture is mostly Hispanic heritage. So, you know, Iím surrounded by that culture, but, I donít have a big problem. I did have a problem when we did the Martin Luther King March and as we were walking into the park, they started playing Hispanic music and I know that Martin Luther King was for peace and equal rights for all people, but, itís like we should have been playing like, Stevie Wonderís, ďHappy Birthday to YouĒ or something.
Jennifer: Mrs. Walker, is there an issue you feel the city of Del Rio needs to address?
Mrs. Walker: Well, I drive back and forth to work twenty-five minutes each way, a lot of times I see children, small children, just kind of flopping around in the cars. And, you know, they should be in their seat belts or in a car seat. And you know, I see the police and border patrol pass those cars all the time and maybe they are coming from Mexico. Maybe Mexico does not enforce that, but, you know, itís dangerous. And so, I just think that that should be enforced and then, because when youíre in America, or when youíre in a place, you need to abide by those rules. But, I see it all the time and it seems like the law enforcement just kind of turn their heads. It just bothers me becauseÖ
Jennifer: Thatís childrenís safety.
Mrs. Walker: Right.
Jennifer: Any other issues?
Mrs. Walker: Just the Spanish speaking thing and thatís it. Iíve only been here fifteen months and Iíve really had positive experiences here and working out in the community.
Jennifer: Ok, uh, what is it that you like mostly about Del Rio and its residents?
Mrs. Walker: Well, its residents. My neighbors are nice. Theyíre very helpful. Uh, people on base, who I meet who, itís amazing, even, thereís a large military population, I canít say large, I donít know the percentage, but, since I been here thereís been at least four people who retired or separated and they still live in Del Rio. So, thatís good, thatís shows a lot for the community, I mean, itís a nice community, itís close-knit and a lot of communities arenít like that. People are friendly here.
Jennifer: People have a tight-knit relationship over here. But do you feel like they, itís about who you know and what you know pretty much sometimes when it comes to job qualifications? You know what I mean.
Mrs. Walker: That is everywhere. People are going to try to get their friends and families in if they have a certain position, now that happens everywhere. I mean, I wouldnít say that happens more so here. But, I mean you see that everywhere. (interrupted)
Jennifer: But, you said the Spanish- speaking.. uhÖ You felt that that person didnít have at least didnít have the qualification of speaking English?
Mrs. Walker: Yeah, thatís a point. Exactly. Youíre right. Iím sure a lot of people come over here and get jobs that theyíre not really qualified for just because they donít understand the language, but, they get the job. I mean you could see that in places like Wal-Mart. You know, you kind of expect it in personally owned businesses. A big establishment like Wal-Mart or even the mall, thatís different. It shouldnít happen there. I donít think so.
Jennifer: Out of all the churches here in Del Rio, you chose Mount Olive Baptist Church as your church. Why?
Mrs. Walker: Well, I know thereís a lot of churches here because I saw it in the phone book, but, Iím from a predominantly gospel background. Iím non-denomination, Iím a christian and my family and I since weíve been here. We pretty much went to churches every Sunday and we visited at least twelve churches in Del Rio. And, Mount Olive.. (interrupted)
Jennifer: Were they just Baptist churches?
Mrs. Walker: Well, no. We went to Del Rio Christian Fellowship. We went to a Methodist Church because someone invited us and they were like Oh, we really a progressive church, is it First Methodist? We went there.
Jennifer: So, it didnít matter what type of religion as long as it shared your beliefs?
Mrs. Walker: Right and that preaches the Word where you can understand it or teaches the Word where you can understand it and also the music is important and the fellowship too. When you walk into a church, people turn their head and walk the other way. Youíd be less likely to wanna be a part of that church. But, we actually we did not have that happen in any of the churches. But some peopleÖsome churches are more friendly than others of course.
Jennifer: But why this church?
Mrs. Walker: Because mostly the spoken Word and the songs I could relate to. When I sing a song or when I hear a song, I listen to the words. The music Ok it is important. But the words and the way that people, the way that people present themselves and the way they act. You know theyíre trying to live the words that theyíre singing and you just feel that at Mount Olive.
Jennifer: Iím about to ask you two questions pertaining to what if Del Rio was history?
Jennifer: Ten years from now, let us imagine that Del Rio is going to have a massive flood and we are a told to evacuate the city, what would you take with you to remember Del Rio and why?
Mrs. Walker: I know, I saw that question and I was thinking well, Iíd just be trying to get out of there.
Jennifer: I know, but if you were the only person to preserve history.
Mrs. Walker: I have a picture. I mean really I have a picture in my office. Yeah, itís a picture. Oh, goodness. I canít remember the artistís name.
Jennifer: What is it a picture of?
Mrs. Walker: But, itís a picture of the Base. Um,, like airplanes and itís got a cowboy on a buffalo or something like that a bull and itís got the cowboy has a rope and the rope is around the airplane and so itís just combines Del Rio and Laughlin together. If that, thatís what I would take with me to remember Del Rio and the Base here.
Jennifer: Gotcha. Ten years from now, Ok Iím sorry. Letís imagine in fifty years, Del Rio is a ghost town. What do you think people who use to live in Del Rio will remember mostly about it?
Mrs. Walker: They would remember the park because I see kids jumping off the little bridge and hey, I remember how I use to see kids jumping off the bridge. Since I been here, the fifteen months, (interrupted)
Jennifer: Which park is it? The one right there by the base.
Mrs. Walker: As I pass right by the base and no, itís not Moore Park, is it?
Jennifer: I think I know which one youíre talking about. The one right there on the corner on Gibbs Street.
Mrs. Walker: Right by Mcdonaldís. Right by Gibbs and Bedell. Right across from Sonic. And the other one, the other thing, is how excited people are about having a Wal-Mart and IHOPís, That is so funny.
Jennifer: Itís twenty-four hours, too.
Mrs. Walker: So thatís funny and thereís another thing, Oh yeah, and since Iíve been here, just how the people work together, we had the biggest Gospel Fest on base that we had in years. Thatís what Iíve been told. Iíve only been here fifteen months. The other thing was the marches. There have been two first ever marches. Martin Luther King March, that was the first ever. I mean, this is 2005. Come on people. (Laughing) Then. the Ceaserís Band March. (interrupted)
Jennifer: Thatís another thing the city of Del Rio has to work on, huh? More activities for different ethnic groups.
Mrs. Walker: Getting their movies in on time. What was this movie I wanted to see? The one with, by Tyler Perry and we went to see the movies because it was out. The movies were out.
Jennifer: (figuring out the name of movie)ďMamaÖ
Mrs. Walker: No.
Jennifer: ďThe Diary of a Black WomanĒ.
Mrs. Walker: Yeah, that came a week later.
Mrs. Walker: They said oh, we didnít get it in the mail?
Jennifer: Oh, you shouldnít be surprised because usually it takes about three months to four months to come down here. So, actually thatís actually pretty good for Del Rio.
Mrs. Walker: It was about a week to ten days later and it was so funny. Itís like I donít believe this, so thatís how when I realize how different Del Rio was.
Jennifer: This will be the final question, Mrs. Walker. Finally, Del Rio is becoming more and more like a big city with the International Airport that just opened, new stores, and restaurants. Why or why not?
Mrs. Walker: Well, itís nice. It would be nice to have an airport to fly out of Del Rio as oppose to drive all the way to San Antonio, but because I have ties in San Antonio, I donít have a problem doing that. But Iím looking forward to that, I had made reservations previously in a couple of weeks and I fly out of San Antonio. But, the next time I, I plan to look into flying out of Del Rio, but as far as it being a big city. No, no.
Jennifer: You donít think it will grow into a big city or kind of developing into a big city?
Mrs. Walker: Well, probably be a big city who lived here before but, no.
Jennifer: No? Itíll stay a small city, huh?
Mrs. Walker: WellÖitís a nice city. Itís a nice friendly place. You have the theater, itís amateur, but you have the theater, art walk show every Friday, museumÖ. Well, the base. Thatís an attraction, too.
Jennifer: But you canít go there unless you know a person who works there or it has to be approved?
Mrs. Walker: Right, but you can be sponsored in, yeah, youíre right, you have to know somebody who works there to be sponsored in there. But if thereís an activity and theyíre inviting the community, then you just get in touch whose sponsoring that activity and get on the entry authorization list and that way you give them your name and make sure you have valid license and ID and you can get in. So whenever they have a function there, itís not a problem for you to get in, or anybody whoís called and registered for the event, itís not a problem.
Jennifer: Mrs. Walker, thank you for contributing your time and testimony to Del Rioís History.