Pablo Macias oral history interview, 2019 December 07. OH-03719. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1qv3gm5d
Standardized Rights Statement
AN INTERVIEW WITH PABLO MACIAS
An Oral History Conducted by Elsa Lopez
Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada
Oral History Project
Oral History Research Center at UNLV
University of Nevada Las Vegas
©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada
University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018
Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries
Director: Claytee D. White
Project Manager: Barbara Tabach
Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez, Elsa Lopez
Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Monserrath Hernández, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriguez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez
The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish.
The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator.
The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada.
Claytee D. White
Director, Oral History Research Center
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Pablo Macias was born in Carlin, Nevada, a small town 20 miles west of Elko, where the local population of Latinos was small. He has lived in Las Vegas since 1990.
He is the youngest of nine children born to Sofia and Tomas Macias, who met and married while living in Utah. Tomas was born in the United States and worked as a railroad laborer. Sofia was Mexican born and found work as a maid to help provide for their family.
While in high school, Pablo took a job with a local Basque family who owned the Elko Blacksmith Shop. His older brothers worked the gold mines and Pablo most likely would have followed in their footsteps. However, he was diagnosed with scoliosis that prohibited him from doing so. Instead, the owners of the blacksmith shop encouraged him to attend college. He followed their mentorship and received his undergraduate degree from University of Nevada, Reno, and later his master’s in education from Nova Southeastern.
His teaching career began at Von Tobel Middle School in Las Vegas. He then taught at Rancho High School, where he taught English as Second Language (ESL) and physical education.
At the time of this oral history, Pablo is the Associate Director of Corporate Work Study Program Operations at Cristo Rey St Viator High School, which opened the fall of 2019.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Interview with Pablo Macias
December 7, 2019
in Las Vegas, Nevada
Conducted by Elsa Lopez
Mexican identity; growing up in Carlin, Nevada; parents’ stories, met in Utah; segregation in Elko. Learning welding at Elko Blacksmith Shop; gold mining, Basque family mentorship; higher education at Northern Nevada Community College and UNR; demographics………………1 – 10
Teaching position at Von Tobel Middle School in Las Vegas (1990); people who inspired him to become a teacher; bilingual skills; Credit Retrieval/Peterson Behavior schools. Taught Spanish and adaptive physical education……………………………………………………………..11 – 17
Las Vegas in 1990; home near Decatur and Sahara; his handcraft projects, boat, four-wheeler, hunting trophies and wild game meat. Difference between Basque food and his mom’s cooking; traditional celebrations……………………………………………………………………...17 – 22
Foreign language chair and taught all levels of Spanish at Rancho High School (circa 1995); Ernie Jauregui; student population Latino and Black; master’s degree from Nova Southeastern; Isaac Barron; Olivia Diaz, Mariana and Ruben Kihuen; meeting his wife Maria, 1995 wedding at St. Christopher Catholic Church ……………………………………………………………….23 – 29
Raising children in Las Vegas; children’s musical talents and activities. Principal Jauregui; Virgil High School; Jo Nebra; first email; Northwest Career and Technical Academy, retired from; his position at and opening of Cristo Rey St. Viator High School; Cisco Aguilar, school’s concept and philosophy etc……………………………………………………………………………….30 – 46
About speaking Spanish at home; wife’s family from Michoacán, Mexico. About teaching; advice to new teachers………………………………………………………………………………47 – 50
What Las Vegas was like when he arrived in 1990; Vegas World, Naked City; wife one of first Latinos at Whitney Elementary School; then Vo-Tech (now Southeast Career); Latinx and current political conversations; entertainment and dating when he first moved to Las Vegas; hiking hobby. Thoughts about the term “Latinx”……………………..……………..……………………..51 – 55
Hello. The day is December seventh, 2019. My name is Elsa Lopez, and I am here in the home of Pablo Macias. I am joined today with…
Pablo, can you please spell and pronounce your full name for us?
Yes. Pablo Macias; P-A-B-L-O, M-A-C-I-A-S.
Thank you. Pablo, how do you identify?
I identify as Mexican. Hispanic, Mexican, yes.
We’re going to start at the very beginning. Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up.
Wow. I grew up in a tiny little town called Carlin; it’s outside of Elko, Nevada. I’m the youngest of nine kids. My dad [Tomas] was a laborer on the railroad. My mother [Sofia] was a maid. It was just a super small town, great living, hand-me-down clothes, a lot of beans, tortillas. We were on welfare food, of course, because nine kids—that was a lot. But it was an awesome childhood. We lived by a river. We never knew that we were lacking anything, until you get a little bit older. But I think my childhood was really good. I really enjoyed it, very memorable.
Can you describe your childhood home?
Oh, my home? Oh man, it was so small. It was a two-bedroom house. My parents slept in one with my grandma. The other bedroom was the oldest brother, Martín, and Ramone on one bed, and then Jesse and Lupe on the bunks. Me and Tony slept outside—not outside—we slept on the
floor by the bathroom. My sisters had a couch that opened up and they slept on the couch. Now, we lost one of the babies when he was like a year and a half.
What do you remember about your siblings?
That’s a lot of kids.
I don’t know. It was like a hierarchy. My oldest brother always made sure that everybody was in check. He was quite a bit older than me because he went to the Army when I was five. I remember that. That was sad because I remember him leaving. But it was pretty cool. A lot of fights. We always fought. A lot of shared clothes. But, like I said, it was never something that…We would fight and then be friends five minutes later, but it was never anything bad. I always enjoyed everything we did.
Can you describe your father?
My dad was a very hard worker. He always worked. He liked to party a little bit. By the time I got old enough to realize, he had already stopped drinking. But I do remember this story, and I don’t know if you want to put this in there. This is how naïve we were, because when you’re young in a small town, you don’t know a lot of things—I didn’t know a lot.
He was the umpire for Little League; he always had first base. There was like a fence, but he had first base and he always was drinking beer, a sixteen-ounce can of Olympia beer, and he would put it in the grass. He wouldn’t hide it. He would just put it in the grass so you couldn’t really see it during the game. No big deal. It was regular baseball. I didn’t realize that that was odd until I was maybe fourteen and I was on the All Stars; I was playing baseball. “Hey, you’re the Macias kid, huh?” I go, “Yes.” He goes, “Oh, you’re the one; your dad drinks beer when he’s umpiring.” I’m like, “Yes, that’s my dad.” He goes, “Ah.” And they all started laughing. I was
like, whoa. That was something that wasn’t supposed to happen. But at the time, like I said, I didn’t know. But it was cool; that was just my dad.
What about your mother?
My mom, short, four-eleven; never missed church; everybody knew her. She never spoke English, even though she could, until she got mad, feisty. The type that she would make sure there was always food. She would never let the fact that she didn’t speak English slow her down, so everybody knew her in the town, but, at the same time, she was always embarrassed. She had this shyness about her. She was really brave, I think. She was a brave woman.
Did your parents or grandparents ever talk to you about their migration story?
My mom was born in Mexico. My dad was born in the United States. When my mom came to the United States—well, the reason she came to the United States was my grandpa got a knock on the door, and it was the priest with a guy named Ignacio. Ignacio was asking for my mom’s hand in marriage. She was eighteen, maybe nineteen. My grandpa goes, “Hey, come here,” to my mom, and she went to the door. He was like, “Do you know this man?” And my mom is like, “No.” But she did kind of know him because they had been writing letters before. She denied it all. He told the priest, “No, don’t ever come back.”
Now, that night my grandpa had already—he had most of the land—he divvied up the land parcels, because back then they were just growing corn—and that night they were on their way to Mexicali. That was probably a twenty-hour ride from Guanajuato. It took him a long time to get there. Once he got there his goal was to send my mom to the United States because there were no guys in the United States; all the guys were in Mexico. Of course, they got to Mexicali. They sent her with Deja Jesus to Ogden, Utah.
My dad was on the railroad working with his parents. Back then a lot of Mexicans were working on the railroad, so he came here. He met my mom in Ogden, Utah, and they got married at the church there maybe a year later. My grandparents never knew until years later, and then, of course, they disowned my mother because they weren’t involved. That’s how my mom got here.
Just to make sure I got this, your father worked on the railroad and that was in Utah?
Yes. He was eighteen. Back then they were trying to build the railroads and they were trying to make it better. They had all these railroaders stationed around Carlin, Elko, (Sign-o), Ryndon, between Elko and Salt Lake City, Utah. A lot of the Hispanics that would come to work on the railroad, they would be stationed throughout this whole area. Even if he was stationed in Elko, he would still have to go all the way as far as Salt Lake and then come back, just working at whatever they were doing back then. It was probably very simple work, hard work, but there were no computers, so it was just very labor intensive.
Was there a large Hispanic population in Elko at that time?
Yes, there was. They had it kind of segregated. He always said la estación, but I think he meant the section. Even when I was growing up, they had these white little trailers, little square boxes, and they would put them right there by the railroad tracks, and they would stack them all up—not stacked, but they’d be in order, and you could fit a car through there. All the workers, it was usually seasonal because it gets very cold, so when it was really cold, they’d stop the work. Hispanics that got to that part of town were mostly for the railroad, yes.
Were they mostly from Mexico, or where were they from?
I don’t know. That’s a good question. I would think they would be because I know the United States at that time were bringing a lot—because a lot of men were going to war, and so they didn’t have a lot of skilled workers to try to build the railroad. I’m not too sure on the historical
facts, but I know my dad was born in 1920, so he was eighteen in 1938 and the war was in the forties. Yes that’s probably one of the reasons.
Can you talk to us about growing up in Elko?
Well, I didn’t grow up in Elko. I was born in Elko. Carlin is twenty miles away from Elko, so we didn’t like Elko as much. They didn’t like us at all because we would always play them in sports, and, of course we tried to beat them. We were pretty equal. It was small-town living, river all the time during the summer. Showers on Sunday. Church every Sunday. It was just really small town. It’s kind of like…Have you ever seen the movie Sandlot?
It was kind of like that. You have a bike and someone would steal your bike and you’d find it. We’d have apple fights. It was just very small town. You were always outside, always. When it got dark you’d have to come in. The kids from Elko always thought they had—which they did—they always had the newer stuff, bikes. Their parents made more money than ours; they worked at better businesses. Most of our parents worked the railroad at that time, until the gold mines came in. You know the gold mines up in northern Nevada, right, Nevada mines? They combined Newmont and Barrick, and that’s where all my brothers have worked.
Did you go to high school there?
I went to high school in Carlin. We were the Carlin Railroaders. My high school was super cool. We didn’t have any baseball, so we played football and basketball and there was track. But you could play baseball, like Babe Ruth teams, but not in high school. Now they have all that. I played all the sports.
Shop was a big thing. They would teach you actually how to weld, how to work on engines, small engine repair. Of course, no computers, none of that stuff now. But it was very
agriculture-type. Cowboys were always chewing tobacco. They would have horse trailers. You would go in school and see them in the backs of their trucks; everybody had their gun. It was old, just country living.
After high school what did you do then?
After high school, everybody was going to the gold mines to work except me, of course, because I couldn’t pass a physical. I had a wedge of vertebrae in my back. I didn’t know this until I went to the physical. It was a form of scoliosis. The doctor was like, “You’re never going to work at the gold mine.” I’m like, “Come on, doc, that’s not true.” He goes, “I’m serious.” I didn’t believe him. He goes, “You have scoliosis.” I’m like, “What?” Back then, probably now too, they won’t let you work. They can’t insure you for that.
Of course, I was bummed out because I had a job; I was going to work in the lab. I went to the unemployment office and I said, “I need a job, man. I’m eighteen. I need a job.” One of the guys there kind of knew me; he knew my older brother Jesse. He goes, “All right. We’ve got a job at the blacksmith shop. Can you be a secretary?” I go, “Of course.”
Of course, I couldn’t. I got to the job at the blacksmith shop as a secretary. I was working the front office. All the welders in the back would make fun of me, call me names and stuff, because I was way out of my league. I was not a secretary. My boss goes, “Hey, you’re going to have to move into the shop if you want to keep working here.” I’m like, “Okay.”
I moved into the shop and I didn’t know much about welding. I knew a little bit because of high school; they taught us some stuff. But this was a big welding shop. It was called Elko Blacksmith Shop. They didn’t build the gold mines, but they supplied a lot of the material for the gold mines and all the drillers. To get gold you have to drill holes, and all the drill rigs they were
drilling with back then would come through Elko Blacksmith Shop. They would have to get steel and they would work on the machines. It was really big.
I almost got fired then, too, because I was bugging them. I’d say, “Okay, what do you want me to do now?” And he’d put me on a little job, and I’d be like, “Okay, now what do you want me to do?” I remember he goes, “You need to go home. If you ask me what to do one more time, just go home. You can’t work here. Go home.”
I went home and went, “Dad, I think I just got fired.” He’s like, “What happened?” I go, “I was asking what to do for the tenth time and he sent me home.” He goes, “You get back there tomorrow and you don’t ask. You find a broom and you start cleaning. He’s going to find you.”
I went back there and got a broom, started cleaning up. The guys are like, “You work out here now?” “Yes.” I thought I was actually a welder, sort of, for a minute, but I was cleaning. Eventually—his name was Jess—he stopped me and said, “Hey, I need you to cut this piece of metal.” I go and I cut the metal. I slowly learned the machines and I worked through lunch. They all taught me how to weld because if you’re around that spot for a while, you’re going to catch onto something. In fact, everything that you see metal here is because I learned it at the blacksmith shop back in the day.
You made some of these pieces?
I made all this.
You made all these pieces (gesturing to items in the room)?
Everything you see metal—in fact, everything you see metal and wood in here, I built. I didn’t build that.
Anyway, back to the story. We kind of had this bond. They’re Basques; they’re from northern Spain. They saw that I was from a small town, the youngest Macias, needed a little bit
of help, and, I don’t know, the switch just landed on them, and they’re like, “We’re going to take care of this guy.” I worked through lunch.
Then he told me one day, “You need to get your butt to college.” I’m like, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Yes. Community college is right there. You take your classes; work whenever you can. Keep track of your time.” I did that; I went to Northern Nevada Community College in Elko.
After two years, it just so happened that his son was graduating from Elko High School, so he was going to go to Reno. I remember Jess goes, “Hey, I’ve got a condo in Reno. If you want to continue in Reno…” And I already knew I wanted to go to Reno. He charged me a hundred and twenty-five dollars a month to live in the condo. I moved to Reno my junior year and went to college for two years in Reno and graduated from UNR as a teacher.
Let me tell you about these people. They were the type of people that Christmas was always five hundred dollars, all their employees. He came to my wedding when I got married, five hundred dollars. Spring break they let me work and he’d always give me more money because they know I needed money. Whenever they’d come to Reno to see their kid, they’re like, “You want to go skiing?” I was like, “No.” They always wanted to take me skiing, and I never did go. But then they were like, “Okay, follow me to the gas station.” They would always fill up your car.
The wife, Denise, was super nice. I remember one time she goes, “Here.” It was Valentine’s Day. She goes, “Go take your girlfriend out.” I go, “My girlfriend lives in Elko.” She’s like, “Go find another one.” I thought, well, all right, Denise. She would always just give me money.
They actually treated me like their son, I would say, super cool. I wouldn’t have made it without them always being there to help. When I go back now, I try to see them as often as I can. They’ve sold the blacksmith shop because it’s gone big, to another company. They all retired. The older guy Frank, he retired. Frank was the first guy that had it. It was a blacksmith shop, a welding shop, but they also did water pumps, and they also owned a ranch, so they ran cattle. We did plumbing; out in the fields we would run all the water pumps so they could have water, and, of course, welding.
I want to know a bit about your time in Reno and what that was like at UNR.
I missed the college freshman life that you had, all the fun, because I did that in Elko. When I got to Reno, I was just so nerdy, I think. I wasn’t going with an attitude like, college life. I just wanted to get it through because people were helping me. It was kind of weird. I was a fitness instructor at Reno Athletic Club. I worked at Lawlor Event Center, not as a roadie, but just like a helper, setting up concerts. Then I worked work-study, kind of what I’m doing now at my high school. You guys know what work-study is. I worked for work-study for Lombardi Recreation Center. I juggled three little jobs because I had to pay for, still, insurance. Housing was cheap because they took care of me. But I mostly worked my way through college. I didn’t even know this until later on. I’m like, man, these guys talk about this college life; I think I missed some of that. But it was cool. I liked it. It was really fun. I had a good time.
Were you the first of your siblings to go to college?
I was the first one to graduate. My brother Tony went to Lassen Community College on a baseball scholarship, but he didn’t finish. He should have. The last game, the whole team just quit school. I’m like, “Tony, what are you doing?” He just stopped going. He’s a miner. He works at the gold mines. Making way more money than me. But that’s just how some jobs are.
What was the graduation like?
Everybody came. It was super cool. My parents were still alive back then. Everybody that I knew pretty much showed up at the graduation. It was a lot of fun…
MONSERRATH: Were there a lot of Latinos at UNR when you were going?
No. No, not a lot of us. There were a few. Mostly I met some of the Latinos when I worked at Lawlor Event Center because they were doing the same work I was doing. Then I come to find out that some of those guys were just working; they weren’t even going to school. They were just working there because that was one of the jobs where there was a lot of work. But Latinos, as far as a lot, no, I don’t recall.
Did they mostly work in the mines?
Because Reno is like three hundred miles away from Elko. Growing up there weren’t a lot of Latinos, either.
Not in Elko?
No. There were us and the Alagrias. Then right across the street was an African American family, the Wrights. But it’s also a small town. The gold mining back then was not mostly…The railroad, the laborers were mostly Hispanics, but the gold mines were a little bit fancier, I think.
What did you do after graduating, post-undergrad?
When I graduated from UNR, I looked for a job all over Reno; I looked for a job all over Elko, the surrounding counties. They weren’t hiring.
I had a job in Vegas before I even graduated, though, in May, and I’m like, I’m not going to Vegas; are you crazy? I went to get the paperwork in sweats, and the lady goes, “Can I
interview you?” And I said, “Yes, but I want to put maybe something nicer on.” She goes, “It’s okay.” Anyway, I didn’t take the job.
Come August tenth I still didn’t have a job, so I called her back. She goes, “Pablo, I’ve got the same job for you.” I’m like, “I want it.” She goes, “Get down here.” I came down and that’s when I got the job at Von Tobel [Middle School].
Before moving to Las Vegas, what were you preconceptions about the city?
I had been here once before. We came here for a basketball tournament. Just big. I remember we went by the Strip. We didn’t even want to get out of the bus. We just wanted to see it; that was going to be enough for us. I just thought it was too big. Reno was big for me. I just wanted to go back to something small, I think. When I came to Vegas, it was like, wow.
What did your family think when you told them you were coming here?
They were surprised. They were mad at me because I wanted to go on a little trip by myself. I remember my mom was yelling at me. She goes, “Don’t go. Why are you doing that?” I went to California by myself right before I came to work here. They were just worried. Small town, they always worried about things. My parents were worriers anyway. They always worried about every little thing. They didn’t want me to come.
MONSERRATH: How did you decide to study education and become a teacher?
I always liked my teachers in high school. They were always nice. My teachers would tell me, “You’re going to go to college.” And I’m like, “No, I don’t think I’m going to.” The principal would call me in when I got in trouble, a couple of times. He says, “You’re going to be something; you are.” And I’m like, “No, I’m not. I’ll probably just work at the gold mines.” But they kind of saw a little something. You kind of like somebody even though you’re trying to be negative. It still stays in the back of your mind that that would be cool. Once I was going to
community college, I thought, man, I’m here; I’m going to be a teacher. I already knew when I was at community college.
Who were some teachers that—
Mr. English, the history teacher. He was the coolest. He would always tell us—when some of the kids were already signing up, he’s like, “Hey, Pablo, did you sign up?” I go, “No, I’m not. I’m going to probably just go to the gold mines.” He was always on me, almost every day. He would show me things. He would teach me things. He would tell me how smart I was. He goes, “You’re bilingual. Man, you’ve got to do something. You are bilingual. Don’t you understand this?” Back then I kind of didn’t. But it was cool because after I became a teacher and I would go back and see those guys—he’s passed away; now he’s gone—but they were so proud. Oh my God, they would see you and they would start…Yes.
Do you think bilingual was very unique?
In high school it definitely was. It was weird being—when I went to UNR, this is how smart I was. I was in Spanish. Senora Dibitonto [my Spanish teacher] called me up the first day. She was taking roll and she was saying our names. She goes, “Pablo Macias?” And I’m like, “It’s Paul Macias.” She stops and looks down. She goes, what the heck? She walked over to me and got this far. She goes, “You were born Pablo Macias, and from now on until the day you die, you are Pablo Macias. Do you understand that, Pablo Macias?” It was quiet in the room. There were like thirty, forty people. I’m just like, “Yes.” She walks back to the podium and she was like, “Pablo Macias?” I go, “Aquí.” Done deal. I’ve been Pablo ever since.
You went by Paul? I went by Paul most of the time, yes.
Because everybody spoke English.
And they couldn’t pronounce Pablo?
No, they could do Pablo. My parents would call me Pablo, Pablito. You know how they put a diminutive in everything. But, no, it was just—not my parents and my brothers and sisters—Paul, they always called me Paul.
When you did start going by Pablo, was it strange for you for other people to start calling you that?
No. No, because I just learned right away that’s my name; I’m Pablo. At first it might have been. But, no, it wasn’t. That’s when you start realizing that maybe I am Mexican; I don’t know. You’re kind of in a shell and you kind of bust out. All my brothers were that way. My brother Tony, his name is Antonio. Lupe, his name is Guadalupe. Josie, her name is Josephina. Sarita, they call her Serita. Martin, my brother Martín. Raymond, Ramone. Jesse, Jesus. They called us all by English names.
At home you were the Spanish name?
Yes, at home it would be, yes, our parents would call us by our Spanish names.
Let’s now move you to working at Von Tobel.
Oh, Von Tobel days. A kid puked the first day of class, very first day, right on the wall. You could see the Gatorade just coming down the side. I was already nervous and the first day he walked in and just, blah. It was a good way to start.
I honestly think you learn everything by teaching once you’re in the classroom. College is fine. It was cool. It helped me with my Spanish. But you learn most of the stuff when you’re in there. I remember I had to have course expectations turned in. Ms. Skaggs, the lady next to me, she goes, “Do you have your course expectations done?” And I go, “Yes, I do.” She goes, “Can I
look at them?” I showed her. She’s like, oh God. She took it back to her office. She goes, “Turn this in.” I looked at it and I’m like, “Wow.” She did a great job. That lady is another one who took me under her wing. She took all of us under her wing.
What’s her name? Ms. Skaggs. She did her student teaching in the room right next to me back in the day. She taught thirty years in that room. Then she wanted to continue subbing and they told her that if you turn down a subbing job, then you’re put back on the bottom to be called to be a sub again. She’s like, “That’s fine. I’m just going to volunteer.” She just volunteered at Von Tobel for years after she retired.
Did you have any experience working with kids before you were a teacher?
Not really. Actually, no, I was the aide for first grade; I remember that. At my school if you were a senior you had to be an aide for one of the classes. We went and helped them.
Was that your first official classroom?
What was that like?
They trained you when I was in Reno. I remember going to trainer middle school and doing all the practicums and doing all my student teaching at Wooster High School. You learn a lot. Wooster High School was the best experience because Mr. Matise was my student teacher—I worked under him. He was retiring that year. He told me, “You’ve got to do this stuff. Meet me in the morning. Give me the keys.” He got me going at first. But he turned me lose after a week, and that’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It was super fun.
I don’t think there were as many discipline problems back then. Discipline was very easy. The kids were good at Wooster, I thought. Wooster was known for football back then. I
remember Mr. Sellers, he was the football coach at Wooster. You know how Bishop Gorman is now? Kind of the powerhouse. Wooster was the powerhouse in Nevada back then. The other PE teachers didn’t like him because all he did was get his kids to lift weights. I remember when he gave me a Wooster hat. He goes, “Hey, I’m going to give you this hat. I know I don’t work with you. Those guys you work, they have no pride. This is Wooster pride.” And he gave me the hat. It was super cool.
He coached for a long time. You kind of learn things from people sometimes that are tough, just one of those strong guys. As a PE teacher, you kind of want to portray that tough guy sort of thing. But he had a soft side, too. He was very kind, but he’d never want to show it. Some of that stuff I picked up on it and tried to do that with my kids at school, not now. This job I have now is a little bit different. But when I was a PE teacher at Northwest—and all throughout my career I’ve been a PE teacher—I’ve always tried to be tough just because I want to toughen the kids up. I didn’t want to make them feel that everything is easy and it’s nice and everything is free.
What do you mean by toughen them up? What did that look like?
Here’s an example. Whenever we pick leaders, line leaders, I always picked the first ones the first part of the year, and then after that I’d pull the kids. I’d say, “Come here. Your time is up as a leader. You need to pick somebody new. Don’t be picking your friend. You pick the person who is not a leader and we’re going to make them leaders.” They would go pick the worst kid. The worst kid meaning not athletic, shy, quiet. Then I would tell them, “Hey, you know why you were picked?” They’re like, “No.” “Because you’re a leader, man. You’re going to be able to do this.” It would just pump them right up. It was awesome and it worked.
Once I figured that out the kids were just coming around. They loved it. They would get letters or they’d tell me, “I always hated PE, but now I love it.” It was just enough to keep you going. At Northwest, we were not very athletic. There is no sports program there. A lot of those kids would come in not ever playing sports and always hating PE. It was cool. It was fun to do that.
What year did you come to teach at Von Tobel?
1990. I taught five years at Von Tobel, five years at Rancho, and then I went to Credit Retrieval, which they don’t have anymore. They used to have Credit Retrieval here. That Credit Retrieval turned into Behavior School, so I taught five years at behavior school.
CLAYTEE: Credit Retrieval?
Credit Retrieval. The kids that weren’t doing well—say, for example, at Rancho you flunked all your English and you have to make it up; it was kind of like a fast track to get them back on track.
Was this at their school, or was this separate?
No, it’s a separate school at Peterson. It’s called Peterson Behavior now, right by Centennial High School.
MONSERRATH: Is it run by CCSD [Clark County School District]?
Yes, CCSD. It’s kind of like the adult learning centers now that they have.
Like Desert Rose?
Exactly, yes, same thing. But now Desert Rose is just adult. Back then it was for the high school students that were behind on credit.
At Von Tobel what were you teaching? Were you PE?
I taught Spanish and PE. I taught adaptive PE then mostly because there was an adaptive education program there. I taught sixth-grade Spanish and eighth-grade Spanish, and then I did one adaptive PE class, and then we had some special ed kids that I’d work with in regular classes. They didn’t want to pull them out and label them, so they worked with them in regular classes also.
What did Las Vegas look like at the time in 1990?
Las Vegas was way smaller than what it is now. The road Cheyenne was the end of the freeway right then on the 95. You go out there and then it turns to just a two-lane.
What part of the city were you living in?
Oh, as in this house?
When I moved to Vegas, I got an apartment by the school, but then I realized that I probably shouldn’t be living right by my students. I didn’t know that. Then one of the teachers was renting this house from her sister, so I moved in with her and her boyfriend, and there was another guy, so four people were renting here. She gets into a fight with her sister a month later and her sister kicks her out, so everybody is gone except me. I tell her, “What’s going on? Do I have to leave?” She goes, “No, if you pay four hundred and seventy-five dollars a month, you can stay there.” I’m like, “Okay.” I paid four seventy-five a month for about a year and a half. I met my wife two months after I got to Vegas. I met her in October. We got married a year after. Make a long story short, I got married and moved into this house.
I want to know a little bit about this house because the people listening can’t see it, but it is amazing. Can you tell us about some of the key pieces here?
This is all grass from right here. From right here that way was all yard and my wife loved it.
CLAYTEE: We’re outside in the back of the house.
Yes, this is all yard. In fact, that right there, that room when you walked in, that was all cement; that was not the house. The house was where the wood floor starts. This was all pretty much open. I asked her if I could build a little garage and she said yes, but I knew I was going to go bigger.
You eased her into it.
Yes, it was as big as that.
This is about a three-car garage.
It’s a three-car garage. Never had a car in it.
Tell us what’s in it.
It’s like a little man cave. It’s got a little pool table, the TV, weights, foosball table, refrigerators, freezer, tools, cleaning supplies.
Are the file cabinets for your work?
I have charcoal in there, my hunting boots, fertilizer. I got my safe with my guns because I like to hunt.
You have a boat in your yard.
Got a boat, yes.
Can you tell us about the boat?
The night Julio César Chávez fought against—not Héctor Camacho because I went to that one—I think it might have been Oscar [de la Hoya]. We had my wife’s family, a lot of Latinos when I came here. That boat was sitting right here, just the bottom part, just the white part was sitting right there, but I already had the frame on the bottom ready to go. I said, “Hey, we’ve got to move that boat.” They’re like, “What?” They moved this part in. Actually part of the frame was
on there, too. This roof was not here. That night I told them, “We’re putting that boat right through that door.” And they’re like, “It won’t fit through that door.” And I’m like, “Yes, it will.” I had already measured it. Nobody believes me even to this day. The white part, not the metal part, just the blue top and the white, sideways like this, fits right through that door. We fit it through there. They couldn’t believe it. Then the frame, we put it on top of the roof and slid it down, and I set it on top of there. The rest of the night they were out there after the fight and they’re like, “I can’t believe you’re doing this.” I’m like, “I can’t believe it got through the door.” It looks like it would never fit, huh? It did. Then I started building on the frame over there more.
How long was the process, or did you just do this over the years?
No. I asked my uncle one time for a boat. I go, “If you see a boat out there, let me know. I want to buy a boat.” We went to Mexico. I get home from Mexico and my neighbor runs over. “Hey, man, there’s a bunch of Mexicans over here like a week ago. I think they stole the trailer and they just pushed a boat in your yard.” I’m like, “Really? That was my tío Paco.” So I got the boat. It took probably five or six months to do it. I took my time on it. We would always change plans on it. I always did all kinds of things to it. The railings are supposed to be swords.
MONSERRATH: Oh, I see it.
You see the swords there? At one time I had a TV in there. I had cable. That steering wheel that steers it is actually off that truck, off my ’41 Dodge. I modified it to make it look like that. It spins.
You built this for your kids, right?
Yes. They didn’t use it very often.
It’s a good piece of art, though.
Yes, it’s fun. I can show you guys later if you guys want to see it. It’s got little different designs on it.
CLAYTEE: I want to know about this Jeep.
Little four-wheeler? That’s just to go hunting. It’s just four-wheel drive to get it out in the mountains when you’re hunting.
What do you hunt?
Deer. You see the deer? Elk.
You hunted these?
I killed both of those. My son killed the top one here, and my daughter killed this one. My buddy who moved out of his house left that, so I brought it here. That elk horn right there, I bought it for two dollars at a yard sale. That one right there, I found it when we were hunting. Did you see the ones inside the house? Those are the ones I killed. I got the elk about 2012.
I assumed all that was decorative.
Do you have it dressed?
We field dress them out in the field. As soon as you kill an animal, you want to get it to cool down as fast as possible. Of course, you gut them and you take all the guts out, and that’s one of the ways to cool it. There’s a new thing—not that new—once it’s down, you put it on its belly and you cut it from the back. I hope this doesn’t gross you guys out.
Oh no, I grew up on a farm.
Okay. You just slice him down his back.
We usually do it down the front.
Right. Now they’re doing it down the back because it’s easier. It’s less guts. The gut pile doesn’t come out, so it’s less smell. You have more time in case there’s mountain lions or coyotes around. You slit him down the back. Take the back strap out and you work on the front shoulder, rear shoulder, get the loins.
How do you pack it in the field?
One of these. Everybody’s got these.
Oh, wow, this is a large backpack.
You can probably put sixty, seventy pounds in here if you’re man enough to do it.
MONSERRATH: Is that a cooler?
No. Just a backpack. See how it’s got the metal frame? You can put more weight on these. A lot of the guys that do them, they’ve got better packs than this. You’ll see when you’re out hunting, they don’t carry anything in them except water. They will be the ones that pack most of the meat. We have a friend Johnny Hempstead. He smokes, chews tobacco at the same time, drinks, but he’s a nonstop walker. He can walk for days. His pack is just like this but super flat, but it opens up the same way and he’s got nothing but waters in the bottom. He’s the mule; he can pack everything out. Yes, he’s a good guy to have with you. But you just pack it out usually. If you’re lucky enough, you can drive up to them. I drove up to my elk. I got lucky enough when I shot him that we drove to him to pack him out, and it’s a lot easier.
What do you do with the meat?
You eat it. Can’t you tell?
What do you make with elk meat?
Our favorite dish is carne en su jugo. It’s a dish from Guadalajara. They usually use beef or pork. It’s like a stew. Of course, whenever you get a gamey animal—you might know this—like
wild game, elk or deer, you cut all the fat off because their fat is not like beef fat. Beef fat kind of tastes good. This is more gamey. It gives it like a bitter flavor, so you make sure there’s none of that. Then the meat is just a hundred percent protein that’s good meat. You can make little steaks with it. You can make hamburger out of it. You can make carne en su jugo, like stew. It’s really good.
CLAYTEE: I wanted to ask you the difference in the food you grew up with that your mom fixed and Basque food.
Oh, good question. The Basque food, if you ever go to a Basque restaurant, you’ll see tables a lot like this, maybe a little longer, and they’ll have three different wines, spaghetti. They’ll have salad, fries. They have all types of food. You share it with everybody; it’s not your food. If somebody down there wants the food, you just pass it down to them. That’s Basque-style dining. They like their lamb. They eat papaya, kind of like the Spanish dishes because it’s in northern Spain, so they’ve got a hint of that. They’re very much into steak and seafood.
Compared to us growing up…I don’t know. You know how Mexicans are. We were traditional Mexican, but we were definitely beans, eggs, tuna fish, a lot. We would have meat, but my parents wouldn’t spend a lot of money on meat. With nine kids…There were eight of us then. My mom would make a thing of tortillas this big every day. I remember when you would get the last tortilla on the bottom, it was all soggy. Ugh, I hated that.
You had to be first or else you’d get…
Well, she would do that but we would eat that for breakfast and lunch and for dinner. They were gone every day.
MONSERRATH: What kind of traditions or celebrations did your family do when you were younger?
We would do all the American ones. We did the traditional Thanksgiving with the turkey, but enchiladas. We always had enchiladas. Christmastime we would do the tamales and posole. All our friends, man, that’s when you had friends that you didn’t even know because they would always want to come to our house and eat. My parents still kept those things. It was fun.
Did they always live in Elko?
After they got married, they lived in Elko for a little bit, and then they moved to Carlin. In Carlin, yes, they were there since. They lived in Ogden for just a little bit, but my dad already lived in Elko, so they came. Yes, they were in that area the whole time.
They never lived in Vegas?
No. They were always in Elko County.
I want to now move to talking about Rancho because Rancho is really special to me.
Yes, Rancho High School is awesome. I loved Rancho. I taught Spanish at Rancho. I was department chair. I was over six different languages. Let me see if I can remember them. Spanish, French, Italian, German, Latin…I don’t know what the other one was? Did I say Chinese already?
No, I don’t think so.
I think Chinese was the other one. They were starting the medical program over there.
Oh, they were starting it back then?
Yes. I was there in ’95. It might have been one year already going when I got there. I was the department chair, super cool. I loved the kids at Rancho. It was so much fun. I remember getting in trouble because we would order in pupusas every Friday from El Salvadoreno Restaurant. I don’t know if you’ve been there, on Main Street. I went there the other day and I talked to the lady and she remembered me. She’s been there for thirty-something years.
I remember the principal coming in. He goes, “Uh, Pablo, are you ordering food on Fridays?” I’m like, “Yes, sometimes.” He’s like, “Oh, okay.” I sent him a plate the next Friday. Then he comes back in. He goes, “Hey, wait, you’re doing this every Friday.” I go, “Yes.” He was like, “No, you can’t do that.” Because we were sending kids to do that. All the kids were bringing money, they were collecting money, and then one kid would go, one of the seniors who didn’t have the class. Mr. Jauregui says, “No. No, you won’t do that.”
His problem was with—
Kids leaving campus and coming back. We had a thing going. It was super fun. It was a lot of fun.
What was the student population like then? Was it still primarily Latinos?
Latino and black, yes. I had a foosball table in my room, so all the kids would come after school and during lunch to play. It was the most fun thing. I used to beat them, most of them. They would always want to play soccer with me after school. “Come on, Mr. Macias, let’s go play soccer.” I’m like, “Hey, I’m better at basketball.” Soccer wasn’t really my thing because growing up we didn’t really have soccer. I got most of them convinced to playing basketball, so we would play basketball after school a lot of times. A lot of the kids that played soccer would play basketball. It was fun. I would buy Gatorades and Sprite. It was a lot of fun.
Rancho was one of those times where I couldn’t wait to go to work. It was just so exciting. Coming from junior high, I thought that was the best thing ever. But when I got to Rancho, I actually got high school kids that actually you can talk to. You don’t have to be goofy.
There is a big difference.
Yes. You don’t have to be goofy in high school. When you’re a middle school teacher, you’ve got to be kind of weird like the kids to get along.
MONSERRATH: It’s an awkward stage.
Yes, it’s very awkward. I didn’t know any better, so I was doing that. Then I got to high school and I was like, wow. It was so much better. Then I stayed in high school from then.
You were teaching languages and what else were you doing?
I taught only Spanish at Rancho. I didn’t do any PE in Rancho.
Who were the kids in the Spanish classes? Was it an introductory Spanish?
No, all the levels. I taught Spanish Two. I taught them all really. I taught the AP one, also, and that was the hardest class in the world to teach.
Why is that?
Because the kids that are taking AP were already Spanish speakers, super smart, the smartest kids at Rancho, and then here I was. Of course, I had a degree, but they were still smarter than me. I would always prepare the day before better than…so I could kind of…But, no, those kids were super smart, the AP kids.
Who was the principal?
Mr. Ernie Jauregui. He’s gone. He’s not there anymore. He retired.
I can tell you how I got my master’s degree real fast. I was at Rancho and my neighbor Mr. Knaus, who is still a friend of mine, he just out of the blue came in one day and goes, “Hey, Mr. Macias, do you have your master’s degree?” I’m like, “No.” He goes, “You’re an idiot.” And he walked out. I was like, well, that was kind of weird.
Next day, same thing. I go, “Gosh, what are you doing, man? Why are you doing this in front of my kids?” He goes, “You need a master’s degree. I’m going to do it every day until you sign up to do it.” I’m like, “Okay.”
He came in and he goes, “Hey, you got your master’s degree?” I go, “I signed up already.” He goes, “Good.” A year and a half later I got it. I got it in educational administration. I went through Nova Southeastern. I haven’t heard much of Nova now. It was big back then. I got it in a year and a half. They had a satellite school here. I went Tuesdays and Thursdays and half a day on Saturday.
Where was it?
It was located on Sahara by the freeway, but it was just a satellite college. There is a real Nova Southeastern University in Florida. A lot of teachers were doing that to get their master’s.
What did you do with the master’s? How did it serve you?
I didn’t do anything with the master’s. But back then if you got your master’s degree, you get a pay raise. They would say, “Make sure you get a master’s degree in something you want to do later on.” I’m like, well, I’ll probably want to do administration later. Actually, that helped me to get this job. But I never did want to be a dean in the school district because I would rather work with kids than adults, and I was that way all the way through until the last couple of years.
Did Isaac Barron work at Rancho at that time?
Isaac Barrón, of course, Mr. Barrón, Councilman Barrón. We were going to go hunting. I went to Houston for a conference. He came to the opening of our school, Mr. Barron did. He pulled a sneaky on us. You know he’s a politician, right? He wasn’t on our schedule to speak, but at the last minute he goes, “I’ll just be short.” He went up there and talked. He kept it cool because he’s cool. Barron is cool. Then afterwards I’m like, “Tell them about the hunt.” Anyway, his hunt started the day I got back from Houston. I’m like, “I don’t think I can go, Mr. Barrón.” He had an area by Utah. I didn’t go with him. I don’t know if he killed or not. But, yes, I know Mr.
Barrón. He was the soccer coach back then, super cool, right down the aisle from me. He is still at Rancho.
He is still at Rancho.
I was there when Olivia Diaz was there. Do you know Olivia? She was at the opening. The Kihuens, Mariana and Ruben, they were at the opening. They were all at Rancho when I was there.
MONSERRATH: They were all students, right?
Yes, they were all students. When they saw me, Mariana is like, “Macias?” I’m like, “What’s up, Mariana?” “What are you doing here?” I go, “What are you doing here?” Kids see me…Kids now that see me from my last job because I was a PE teacher and I was the one with these famous skinny legs, so everybody made fun of my legs the last twelve years, which I really don’t care. Now they see me in a suit and tie, and they’re like, “My God, Macias, what are you doing, man?” I’m like, “I changed jobs.” You know how kids are. You know when you see your teacher sometimes, you can’t believe…
CLAYTEE: They’re actually people.
Yes, they have a real life. We went to the mayor’s breakfast a couple of Thursdays ago, and I saw some of my students from Northwest, and they were freaking out. Have you ever been to the mayor’s breakfast?
MONSERRATH: The mayor’s prayer breakfast?
I did Color Guard in high school for one of her breakfasts.
There was a Color Guard there; Centennial was there for the Color Guard. You went to Valley?
Valley. I would do the Army Color Guard over at Valley.
My youngest son is trying to get into the National Guard. He wants to go.
Can you tell us about when you met your wife?
Yes. One of the ladies at Von Tobel where I worked, because I was single there, she is like, “Oh, Pablo, you’ve got to meet this lady. She’s in the choir.” I’m like, oh gosh, here we go. I went to church, St. Christopher’s. I was waiting there. I felt so dumb because the choir comes out last. I’m like, I’m going; I’m not waiting. I went home. The next Monday, she’s like, “Why didn’t you wait?” I go, “I felt weird.”
The next Sunday, she’s the first one down. She’s like, “You’re not leaving.” I waited there. First comes down her mom. I was like, wow, that’s a good-looking woman right there, but that was her mother. Then I met the dad and then I met her sister and then I met her brother Javi, who was actually in my class at Von Tobel. Javi was one of my students. Then I met her and I was like, holy crap. She’s like, “I’ve got to go to the bathroom.” She ran to the bathroom, to do her hair, I guess. I don’t know. Whatever you women do in the bathroom.
Anyway, she asked me to go to choir practice. I’m like, “I’m not going to choir practice.” One thing led to another. We went on a date. Our first date, there was a shooting at the movie theater, the one on Lamb. It’s not there anymore, Lamb and Charleston. There was a movie theater. It’s not there anymore.
MONSERRATH: Do you remember the name?
CLAYTEE: Near Nellis?
Yes. Was it Nellis or Lamb, the movie theater? If you’re going down Charleston, you would turn right on Lamb and it was on the left-hand side.
It’s not that fancy looking theater.
No, no. It’s before you get to Sam’s. Yes, there was a shooting. I don’t think anybody got hurt. I think she ran into the bathroom. There were girls in the men’s bathroom because I was in the bathroom when it happened.
I met her there. It was super weird. She thought that she would never—when they told her I was a teacher that wanted to meet her, she thought I was just…I’m sure I was a nerd, but she didn’t see me as a nerd. I’m sure I was a nerd, nerdy guy.
I don’t know. I was never going to get married. Once I got to Vegas, I had a new truck and I had the new job. I didn’t know what Vegas was really like and I was kind of really naïve to it. But I was never going to get married, no way. I was going to find something cool about Vegas. Two months later I was in love, and then two years later I was married.
What was the wedding like?
We got married at St. Christopher’s [Catholic Church], right there in the same place we met. It was nice, expensive. I remember I called my buddy the day of the wedding and I said, “Hey, man, I need a loan.” He lent me five hundred dollars so I could go on the honeymoon, B.K. He’s a schoolteacher. But it was nice. We had a little reception at an RV park. It was for retired people out by the Silver Bowl. That place is still there because we went to a wedding there not too long ago. It’s not fancy at all. I thought it was fancy then, but no. It was just a typical, I think, Catholic wedding. She had all her aunts and her sister as the bridesmaids.
Do they live here?
Yes. Yes, everybody lives here. A couple of them live in California, but most of them live here.
MONSERRATH: What part of town do they live in?
Her whole family lives like Hollywood and Sahara, totally opposite from us, most of the time.
CLAYTEE: Sunrise Mountain area?
Sunrise Mountain, yes. Her mom is getting up there in age a little bit. She’s getting a little bit of dementia, so they’re facing all that right now, her whole family. It’s tough.
Can you tell us about what it was like raising children in Vegas?
At first we were skeptical. We were really trying to keep them down and making sure they weren’t seeing any violence, controlling the TV; all that stuff. Then after a while the kids know more than the adults. I learned that in fourth or fifth grade when I was always excited to do homework with them. Then I was thinking after a while, man, I’m in the way here. Your parents can’t help you on certain things. Then as you start letting them branch out, like my daughter—I don’t know if you’re going to meet her. She gets out at two. She is very independent and there’s no way that she wants her dad around in a lot of things. She’s got her little boyfriend who is in the Air Force. She was daddy’s girl back in the day, but that’s over. But, at the same time, when that happens as a parent—do any of you have kids? Okay. As a parent it’s like you feel good and you don’t have to really show all this love for me. But as long as I know that you’ve got what it takes to be successful, you’re like good. That’s how it is right now with them. I’m pretty proud of them. I don’t know why they all want to be musicians, but that’s what they want to do.
You said that you’re not a musician.
And your wife isn’t?
No. The closest she ever came was singing in the choir. I played in the high school band, bass guitar. But, I’m serious, I was like, bum, bum. I did not know any notes. Then I played maybe three different times. But, no, our school was tiny. There were like eight of us in the band.
Does that mean that you attend all of their bands…orchestra?
Functions. Forever. They never stop. Now they’re in a hand bell group, too. It’s a group called Harmony. They play hand bells. Oh yes, it never stops. It’s nonstop all the time. The only good thing—now, this is a confession that no one’s got to know—LVA, they start scheduling so many events, like mariachi, choir and band in one night, okay, well, that’s a ton of people. When I’d get there, not very often—during the World Series I did this twice—you get there and you’re in line, and the line is like from here to the street, and it’s already time for the concert. I went downtown, watched the game, come back at the end. I’m like, “Hey, great concert, guys. That was so good.” You have to. You get in the concert and it’s standing room only and people are rude; they’re mad; it’s hot. You can’t enjoy it. I’ve seen them enough times anyway that I really didn’t miss much.
That’s what being a parent is like?
Yes. You have to do that. If you want to stay sane, you have to do stuff like that. I’m serious.
Which one of your children is in LVA [Las Vegas Academy]?
They all went to LVA. The last one is the one that plays sax. He’s the one that wants to go to the National Guard, but he wants to also be a music teacher when he gets out. They’re pretty good. They’re very disciplined when it comes to music. Other things, no. But music, they all talk about it and they’ll write it and they’ll read it and they’ll talk with their friends. They’re just totally into it. I can’t get on them about that.
How has CCSD changed over the years as you’ve worked there?
CCSD, when I first started, was still the good old boys’ system. Mr. Jauregui was the principal; he had friends that were principals, and they were all friends. The schools liked each other and they did things together, for each other. You’d share a piece of equipment. If you needed
something you’d ask maybe Valley. “Of course you can have them.” By that time it ended, it’s all documented paperwork; they’re checking it; it’s just a lot of red tape.
I remember when I became the bowling coach at Von Tobel. My first year we’re at the meeting and they introduced me as a new teacher. Then the librarian stands and he goes, “And he’s also the bowling coach. Give it up for him. Mr. Macias.” And he was the bowling coach, but at that second he gave it to me. I go, “What are you doing, Stan?” He goes, “You’re the new bowling coach. You’ve got to coach something.” Being naïve again, I’m like, “All right.” After about a day I felt like, yes, I’m the bowling coach, not realizing that he didn’t want it anymore. But it’s kind of like that.
I remember when you wanted to buy shirts when I was at Rancho. Was I the bowling coach at Rancho? No, Mr. Jauregui was also the principal at Von Tobel. That’s why I went to Rancho; I followed him. But if you wanted to order something, he would say, “Order it with the credit card. Get it from the secretary.” All that stuff was so…I don’t know if they had the money then. But now you can’t do any of that. You have to do requisitions and you have to prove why you need it.
MONSERRATH: Then grant writing.
Yes. Oh geez, when I was in Northwest they wanted you to write grants. I’m like, “Come on. I’m the PE teacher. I don’t need to write a grant.” They wanted all these grants.
When did you start to see things change?
Probably when I was leaving—when I left the Behavior School, I went to Virgil High School. I worked with a lady named Jhone Ebert. I don’t know if you guys have heard of Jhone Ebert. She was big in the school district here; she was the head of technology. Now she works with the State of Nevada. She’s up there in the State of Nevada. She went to New York for a year and then she
came back. She and I started the same day at Von Tobel, by the way. In fact, the principal from Centennial High School—I don’t know if you know—Coach Day. You can’t call him Coach Day; he was the coach, but now you’ve got to call him Mr. Day. He is the principal. In fact, I was going for the PE job at Von Tobel, and we were in the same room. Then when they told us and they were like, “No, you’re the Spanish teacher,” I was like, oh man, okay. He got the PE job.
I think probably right there when I started working at Virgil High School and started noticing more things…Because when computers started—I remember when I got my first email. I was at Rancho when email first came out. It was optional; you didn’t have to have it. Can you imagine life right now without email or texting? I won a cell phone on the radio here in Vegas, the one you plug in like a big old block thing, like 1990. I don’t know what year it is, ’92 maybe. But that’s when it started changing. When computers came in, it was much easier to keep track of things probably, I guess, so that’s when I really noticed a big difference.
Was Northwest Career and Technical Academy the last school that you worked at?
Yes, I retired from there. I opened it in 2007, I think, six or seven, and then I retired last year from there.
Tell us about all of that experience.
Northwest was the best. Northwest was a magnet school, so we could handpick the kids. It was easy because I was on that committee. We had all these lists of the kids who wanted to go to school there, and you would find all the A’s and all the O’s and no referrals; they go to this pile. The ones that had a B and still had no referrals, they go to another pile. We would mostly pick from the best pile. That all changed. They don’t do that anymore. It’s different now.
MONSERRATH: It’s a lottery, right?
Yes. It was a lottery then, also, but the lottery now they have to have equal…a lot of stuff. Race, gender; they’re making sure that’s going to be there, even special ed. Some of the schools, we weren’t taking special ed kids and now they are. The qualifications to get in there, I think it’s a C. I’m not sure what it is now. That committee that we used to be on to pick the kids, they did away with that. We no longer could do that after about five years. We were picking from the top kids. It was very good. There were no sports, so some of those kids’ parents were thinking, when I was in high school, we played sports; how come they don’t have it? They didn’t understand that. We should have advertised it more that it was mostly academics. Now I think they’ve got that figured out.
It was super cool. The kids were good. They want to be there, for the most part. I never had one problem at Northwest. I never had no problem in any of my schools. I would have some problems once in a while, but it was just simple, silly stuff. I was fortunate enough to always like it.
CLAYTEE: Your timing was perfect.
Yes. I actually wanted the dean’s job at Cristo Rey. I applied for the dean’s job, but I didn’t know that they already had it filled.
Who is the dean?
Mr. [Chris] Zunno. He was a teacher at Bishop Gorman. He was at Liberty, also. A lot of the people at Cristo Rey come from Gorman.
MONSERRATH: How did you meet Cisco Aguilar?
Cisco was huge on founding that school. Cisco’s been fighting for that school for five years. Cisco went out on a limb to try to get people to fund it. If there was no Cisco, there would be no
Cristo Rey; he is the one who founded it. He’s on the board. He’s the COO. He pretty much hired me.
CLAYTEE: Tell us about the school, the concept and everything.
The biggest thing at our school is the kids work one day a week to pay for their studies. The money that they earn from the businesses goes back towards their tuition, and it can offset it by 60 percent. We don’t turn away any kids; they haven’t at this point for financial reasons. If you have a financial problem, if it’s very low, we’re going to work with you.
They’re all freshman, so they’re fourteen-year-olds. My job mostly is logistics. This is what I worry about anyway. I’ve got to get them to work and I’ve got to get them back. I have to have my vans, my drivers, and my routes. If a kid gets sick, I’ve got to get them back. I’ve got to make sure they’re dressed properly. I’ve got to make sure they’re there on time. I’ve got to make sure that they’re actually working at work. Some of these kids are so shy. We have a three-week training program in the summer that really helps them. If you could have seen them when we saw them in summertime compared to right now, oh my God, totally different.
What goes on during that three-week training?
We do a little bit of English and math just to get up their skills because our students are a little behind as far as that goes, and our goal is to get them up to college readiness. But mostly, we work with office entry-level skills because that’s what their jobs are. They work at De Castroverde, Findlay Chevrolet, Southwest Gas, numerous law offices, Catholic Charities, Three Square, some realty offices, so we need to see some basic things, like how to shake hands, how to say hi, filing, computer stuff, scanning. A lot of that stuff goes on at work. Those three weeks when we have them, how to answer the phone is big. You should see the kids. One kid cried, “I can’t do it; I can’t do it.” I’m like, “Get over here, man. Pull your cell phone out.” He gets it out.
I’m like, “All right, are you ready? Don’t even turn it on. Just act like I’m talking to you. Hello, Roberto?” “Oh hey, Mr. Marcias.” I go, “No, no, no. Relax.” We worked on that for days. It took him a little longer. He’s doing fine. His problem now is he’s too excited, so instead of walking like normal kids walk, he wants to run. You had to have these little things.
The empowerment is a key thing for these kids. Once they go to work and they know that somebody is…
They’re in a brand-new school. A lot of stuff is given to them, even uniforms. These kids can’t believe their parents. They’re like, “Are you serious? How did my kid get this?” They’re just in awe. If you haven’t seen the school, you need to come see it. Come anytime you want and you can ask for Cisco or you can ask for me. I’ll give you a tour.
CLAYTEE: Who are some of the sponsors?
Findlay Chevrolet and Southwest Gas are huge. Southwest Gas loves our kids. Cosmopolitan Resorts, MGM—they have three different locations—United Healthcare, United Way, Catholic Charities, LGA, which is the architect that actually designed the school, Make-A-Wish Foundation is with us, AIS. The kids work with AIS a lot. AIS do all computer stuff throughout the whole valley. They have our kids and they love them. All these department, they have marketing, advertising, they have the kids working on repair. There is a lot of stuff going on.
How do the kids balance their work and then going to school as regular students?
That’s a very good question. Our days are longer; that’s one thing, and we go longer in the year, also, because they do miss one day a week of school. To make that even that’s what they do; they go a little bit longer, which is a big thing right there in itself. Our kids actually don’t get out until June twenty-sixth, and most schools are going to be done May twenty-third. They know they have to push it.
It’s very rigorous.
I think it is. It is very rigorous and we’re really on them. We have detention for them if kids are messing around. “Hey, you’re getting a D.” We have a lot of events for the kids. The prayer breakfast, one of our kids couldn’t go because he had a D. I was like, “Come on, let him go, man.” I’m always on the kids’ side. I’m like, “It’s going to help him more to go and learn and see something than getting that little D.” But I often lose. Everybody has my attitude; it’s just that we all can’t say, let’s do it for the kids, all the time, so that’s kind of good.
CLAYTEE: Who is on the board of directors?
Cisco is one of them. Patrick Miller from MGM, he is one of our big ones. Jim Silvestri from Pyatt Silverstri, he’s one of the lawyers that’s on there. The De Castroverde Law Group, they’re on there. Numerous priests. I’ve been to one board function, but I see the name of the people on some of the emails that I get.
You said this is for ninth graders.
Only ninth grade. Our inaugural year was ninth graders. Next year we’ll take another group of ninth graders, so we’re ninth and tenth. We’ll just keep adding every year. Our goal is to have five hundred students.
Is that how most new schools work out?
When we opened Northwest, we opened as freshmen and sophomores. Then you always add a class until you get to the senior class.
It’s super cool.
MONSERRATH: How many kids are in the class right now?
Right now, we have ninety-five for our first year, which is huge. Now, there’s thirty-seven schools in the whole United States. We’re the thirty-seventh and we’re the only one that was built from the ground up. Right now in good old Vegas fashion, we are like the model school. One school, I think in Milwaukee, they made a school out of an old Kmart. The Kmart is now the school. But we were fortunate enough to have enough money from somewhere…That’s probably a Cisco question right there…to build from the bottom up. It’s super nice. They’re building a gym right now. We’re going to have a field.
Are there going to be official sports?
Yes, we’re going to have a sports program, too. We’re going to have basketball, volleyball, track, soccer, not football and not baseball right now. We’re located in North Las Vegas. I don’t know if you know where we’re at, by the community college.
Across from Swap Meet.
Across from Broad Acres, yes. We pretty much serve that community.
How did you guys recruit?
Churches. There was a lot of recruiting at the churches. They had radio events. In fact, before I even had a job, I was going to these events. They were looking at me like, who is this guy? When I finally got hired, Father Tom goes, “Pablo, it’s going to be real short.” I go in there and he goes, “I feel like we really know you very well right now. We see you at all these events.” But I interviewed for the dean’s job and didn’t get it, so they kind of knew me. I wanted to work there. It fit perfect for my retirement. I got lucky. I don’t want to be the dean anymore.
Most of the students—do they live in that area?
Yes, most of them do live in the area. A few walk to school. But we’re trying to serve that area. That is an area of need. How did you know Mr. Barrón?
Well, he was my teacher, but then also I’ve just…because he’s so involved in all this.
Yes, he is involved.
We did interview him as well.
You serve mostly that area.
Yes. That was one of the key things when they were trying to find a location. There were numerous locations that they could have picked, but they wanted to serve that because we’re the Viatorians. We’re Cristo Rey St. Viator, and the Viatorians are known for helping those in need and they’re very well into education. We have Brother Rob and, of course, Father Tom and Brother Carlos. Their mission or their goal with the Catholic Church is to help the underserved, so they go way out of their way. It’s amazing to watch that. We always are trying to better ourselves most of the time, and these guys will go out of their way to help somebody that we would just not even help. It’s cool to see that.
CLAYTEE: How close is the campus to the new East Las Vegas Library?
What street is the East Las Vegas Library?
Twenty-eighth and Bonanza.
It’s a little ways away from that. We’re closer to the CSN campus.
You’re closer to Cheyenne.
Yes. From CSN campus to our school is literally two minutes, driving. You just make that turn on Van Der Meer and you’re there.
When it comes to college readiness, how do you prepare the students for that?
We have a college readiness counselor; that’s his job. He should be in that. Of course, he’s not. They’re only freshman still and he doesn’t really have to do a whole lot now. But there are fifty-
seven universities that work closely with the Cristo Rey network, so they already have an in through those universities. The goal is to get them to go to college and it’s worked already. There are some schools that have been open for sixteen, seventeen years, and the majority of those kids are attending colleges. It’s a model that works.
CLAYTEE: This is for just boys?
No. Boys and girls. Any race, any denomination.
I didn’t realize girls were included, fabulous.
Oh yes, boys, girls, any denomination.
MONSERRATH: What are the demographics right now, looking at Cristo Rey?
As far as the racial makeup? I bet you we have—let’s go with a hundred because we only have ninety-five kids. I would say 60 percent are Hispanic, probably 20 African American, 20 white, Caucasian, a couple of Asian.
Is this because that’s the makeup of the neighborhood?
Yes, of the community, I think so. It’s super cool as far as that goes. Now, they are going to look at that also in the recruiting process. See, Cristo Rey, it’s a network throughout the United States, so they’re above us. We follow that model, but we can do our own thing. We’re going to have the main man come on the sixteenth to see us. I was talking to my boss and I was like, “Do I have to do everything he is doing with these other schools?” They’re like, “No, we don’t have to, but he’s just seeing that we’re staying along the guidelines.”
Do you work with the other schools in any other way?
Yes, a lot. I visited Tucson and Houston just to see what was going on. We have to have a way of checking these kids out. We have to load them on buses. It might sound easy, but you cannot leave one kid behind. It gets hectic in the cafeteria sometimes. All departments on how to get
clients and how to get businesses to sponsor our kids. There is a lot involved, but I’m mostly logistics.
I went over there and kind of saw how they do it. Houston is awesome. They have a bus with sixty kids and there are three stops downtown. They drop off and fifteen kids get off, they drop off, and they do the same thing to pick them up in the afternoon. There’s a table like this. The van driver is right there. The students on her van, she makes sure she checks them in and makes sure they’re dressed. When it’s time to go, she walks them out and loads them up and makes sure they’re in seatbelts and takes them to work. Then she’ll reverse the process on the way back.
What do the kids think of working in the program?
They were super nervous at the beginning, but, like I was saying earlier, they’re empowered now. It’s like, oh man, I’m going to work. I had to drive the van numerous times because just getting drivers was kind of hard. You can just hear the conversations. One girl, “Oh, I’ve got to tell you what I did. Oh, we did this.” They spoil them sometimes and take them out to eat. They treat them well. We do have problems with some kids that are struggling in some areas, but overall, they are boosted up and they can’t wait to go to work.
How do you assign the students to their employment?
During that three-week program, (ASIS) I was talking about, we’re watching the kids and we’re looking at them and also grading them. We also have surveys to see what they’re interested in. That’s a good question. After it’s all over, four of sit down and we’re like, okay, Lily Landa, she wants to be in a lawyer’s office. She did good in everything. We already have kind of a feel for them, so we can kind of place them. Some want to be in the medical field. Some want to be culinary, construction, and we try to place them. We didn’t have many complaints this year.
MONSERRATH: What days do they work, or is it like a rotating thing?
It’s a rotating thing. The goal in four years would be seniors work on Monday, Tuesday is juniors, Wednesdays…The first week there are only four classes. The Monday worker also works Friday. The second week, the Tuesday workers, the juniors, they work Friday. Then the Thursday worker works Thursday and Friday. Our freshmen work Thursday and Friday, and then that just rotates. One time a month they have to work twice in one week.
Five days, so a total week, for a month.
How long is the regular school day?
We start at seven fifteen and the bell rings at three thirty-five. They’re long days sometimes.
CLAYTEE: How do you recruit your teachers?
I found the job on the church bulletin, also. That’s not really my area, but I think that’s what they’re going to do because we are going to hire teachers. We have some applicants already coming in from Chicago because they hear about us. It all started in Chicago, the Viatorians did there. They want to come to Vegas, so we’re going to get something there.
They’re hiring out of state and then in state, too.
They do. It doesn’t matter. It’s hard to get a teacher. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. When they get teachers, they’re happy.
Are you paying better than CCSD?
Equal. Comparable; that’s how they advertise it. It’s hard to find teachers. I’ve been around for a long time. It’s hard to find good teachers and it’s hard to find teachers that actually want to be there. We all went to school. There are always teachers that don’t want to be there.
Of course. We know that teacher.
Yes, and it just sucks. We just hope that never happens to this school now where we’re trying to recruit them. They’ve done good. Our teachers work hard. Everybody is saying that. It’s also the first year. When I went to Houston, they made fun of Vegas because we’re doing so well. The main guy that was running it said, “We’ll see how they do on their sophomore slump.” I’m like, okay. Vegas…I’m not going to say we’re snooty or anything or that we’re better because we’re not, but we kind of portray that a little bit just from being in Vegas, bright lights and everything.
Because we have a chip on our shoulder.
People see us like that.
Yes, because people say negative things, so we have a chip.
We stand up for it.
Exactly. Is Tony Sanchez a part of it? … I’m talking about Nevada Power.
Tony Sanchez of Nevada Power; no, we haven’t. Now, Deborah, my boss, the lady who is above me—it’s hard to say who is above who sometimes. Cisco is above us all, mostly. Her job is to get those contracts and that’s also Cisco’s job. Cisco knows a lot of people and that’s how they work together. I’m not really in that area. I have a caseload of people that I work with now, but I don’t have to…And I don’t want to be in that. I don’t want to go knock on doors and ask for money.
I’ve got enough going on as it is.
I love the concept of the school.
It is super cool. That’s the reason I like it is because the kids work.
How many more are planned? Do you know where the thirty-eighth school will be?
No, I don’t. We were thirty-seven and I’m not sure. They’re going to look at us, I think, for the model, but then they back off because when they built our school, they spent a lot of money and a lot of people don’t have that money to spend. That’s another reason why they look at Vegas like we’re kind of snooty because we got the donors to give for a nice school.
I’m curious. The role where the students are working as a means to pay for the tuition, was that the primary reason for having the students work, or was it also to give them that work experience?
Both, exactly both. It was the need when it first started in Chicago, and that same model has been followed. That’s one of the reasons they don’t turn down anyone. For example, if you’re somebody who has plenty of money, but you still want your student to go there, they work with them, also, and they’re going to pay a little bit more to attend.
MONSERRATH: What’s the average tuition for a family that attends?
Don’t quote me on this, but I have heard this that some of our students this year are as low as forty dollars a month. I want to say twenty-five, but I don’t think it was twenty-five. That was as low as the numbers will get thrown around, and that’s pretty cheap.
This school was to compete with Bishop Gorman [High School] education and The Meadows [School]?
That’s our goal right now, but they have noticed that the students—not just us, but the whole network—they do come in lower. These kids that are coming in as freshmen, they might have seventh-grade math skills, so that’s something that they’re trying to work on. Of course, we have four years to solve that problem, and that’s one of the things we have to push. I see this pretty clearly, but some of our people don’t, is they get mad—we interview these kids that come in, and I don’t see the kid as a freshman; I see them as a senior, but they want to see them as a freshman.
I’m like, “Come on, man, this kid needs us. That’s what’s going to get him to the senior level.” But it’s so hard because the principal and my director, she doesn’t want to get the kid who is a problem kid and put them to work because if he’s at work causing problems, that’s going to give us a bad name throughout the whole…The counselor and I, we see it; we get it. But it’s not right. You have to…in this world or you’re going to have those problems.
Is the student going to continue working at that same job?
No. They do have a chance to work there in the summertime if they want to be employed by them. That’s strictly on them. That’s not on us anymore. Every school year we want to have that student get a new experience. That’s our goal. But under the table there will be some of our sponsors, for example—Southwest Gas does a great job with us; they really take care of us—if they request somebody, we’re going to give them that kid because you don’t want to make them mad. It’s also good because it’s a compliment for the student.
That they did so well.
What are some of the jobs that the students are doing right now?
It’s all entry-level office work. For example, at Findlay Chevrolet, a lot of those kids are doing inventory. They’re in the warehouse, working in parts; they’re working at the front desk, answering phones; they’re filing; they’re scanning. Most of the jobs are like that. AIS, on the other hand, they’re a little bit different because one of our kids, Miguel, is working on computers. He is actually breaking them down and doing the diagnostics on them. One of the ladies is on payroll, one of our girls. Some kids are super smart, so they put them there. One of the girls from De Castro Law, she just sent an email to us saying that when she’s absent the girl does her work for her. We’re like, wow.
And these are fourteen-year-olds doing this.
Yes. There are some also in that same office that aren’t doing as well.
MONSERRATH: It’s a learning curve.
Right. We have some at Las Vegas Convention Authority; they work there. They like that job.
CLAYTEE: Would you like to have students at UNLV?
Yes. Other networks, other schools already have them at the universities. We’re trying to go there. Trying to go to the Raiders. Trying to go Aviators, the Lights. We just had an interview with the Lights, but the Lights are changing ownership, I think, the soccer team, so that’s kind of…
MONSERRATH: Up in the air.
Yes. But that’s not my area and I keep following it. I’m like, no, I don’t want to do that. I can’t.
One of the things that we went to—and this is for everybody—upselling; they want us to be able to put our name out there anywhere we go. It could be at the grocery store. It could be right now with you guys. It could be at church. It could be you know somebody who knows somebody. For example, with Mr. Barrón, there’s a connection now that we have. I think he’s cool. You think he’s cool. We’re like, all right. That’s his area.
One of the things that they had was in North Las Vegas. If you see our name, we’re Cristo Rey St. Viator Las Vegas, and I think the mayor wanted us to be North Las Vegas, the mayor of North Las Vegas. I don’t know. That’s the politics of life right there.
MONSERRATH: You guys can do Vegas Valley.
Vegas Valley? Well, they’re strict on it. Father Tom, our president, he’s a pretty tough guy.
What are some other goals the school has for their second year coming?
I think the biggest goal right now—we don’t have a principal. We have an acting principal, Mrs. Delgado. That’s one of the things they’re doing; they’re doing national research for a principal. She has done so much work at that school. When you bring a principal in now, it’s just going to get funny for a minute because we should have had a principal last year, I think. That’s one of the goals for the upper people.
You asked me about the board members. They’re the ones that decide a lot of these things. See, I didn’t really know all of this stuff. I thought maybe it was just a panel from the school that said, yes, a good principal; we’ll take her. No. There is a lot of politics in everything at every level, not just at our school.
Our goal is to get another hundred to hundred and twenty-five students. That’s what we want to do. That means getting more people to work and teachers onboard. It’s going to happen, though. It’s happened everywhere else. You know Vegas. It’s going to happen.
MONSERRATH: Going back to your family life, does your family speak Spanish in your household?
Si, yes. Everybody speaks Spanish. How well? I don’t know. When I went to college, I had to learn a lot of things. My wife says that I learned Spanish when I met her family. When you don’t know any different…We were never afraid to speak Spanish; that’s the only thing we had. I don’t know why, but my parents were always afraid to speak English. But all the kids, we never cared about how our Spanish came out, and it was not perfect. I know it’s still not perfect. But we never had that problem. But that is the problem now with our Latino youth, the kids; they don’t want to speak it.
CLAYTEE: What about your children?
They do well most of the time. My oldest two do; they’re fine. The youngest one, when his grandma comes around, he talks in Spanish. I’m like, wow, he’s never said it before. But he does. But with us he would rather talk English. When he’s in trouble, it’s probably Spanish when we’re yelling at him sometimes.
MONSERRATH: Where is your wife’s family from?
La Piedad, Michoacán, Mexico. From Guadalajara and Michoacán. We’re pretty much from about the same area. Jalisco and—
Yes, it’s central.
Do you ever correct people when they call you Paul?
No, no. I don’t correct anybody anymore.
CLAYTEE: He didn’t know.
I didn’t know, yes. When I got corrected it was a learning thing, but no. Even that lady, I know she’s passed, but once I figured her out…A lot of the teachers, they just wanted communication, but they didn’t want you to communicate in English only. They would be like, “Spanish is just like communicating, too, so learn how to communicate in Spanish.” It was really neat to see. That’s why the university level is different from high school. At the university there is no discipline problems, so you can actually teach and get your thoughts out. High school, there’s a few little issues.
Were you in the magnet program at…?
I was not. I was zoned for Rancho.
How about you? Were you in the magnet program at Valley?
Yes, I was in IB.
What is that?
International baccalaureate, so college prep and stuff like that.
Right. Are you still at the university?
Yes, I’m a graduate student doing journalism right now.
And that’s what you are, too.
I am undergrad, but I’m studying to be an elementary school teacher.
Oh, you’re going to be a teacher. You should have told me that and I would have told some better stories.
If there are any anecdotes that you remember that you’d like to share with us, I would love to hear about those.
I’ll tell you what. Kids figure out the teacher. We all know this. If you’re going to go to school and you’re going to actually put some effort in to teach something that day, you’re going to do fine. That’s all the kids want to know. They want to know that somebody is there to help them with that knowledge. It sounds so tiny, but that’s all it is. There are so many teachers that don’t go for that and the kids notice, and it turns them down. It will affect your class. Maybe not elementary because you guys pretty much have the same kids. You have specials, though. Why not high school?
Why not high school? Because I love working with smaller children. I think middle school, kind of like what you said, it’s a little…You have to change the kind of teaching.
You have to be goofy.
You have to be maybe a little goofy. High school, you have to be that way, too. With the elementary school students, I feel like you can be even goofier and it’s fine. I think that’s just my style.
But you’ve never taught elementary, have you?
I taught one day. I taught PE one day.
How was that?
At my school, at Northwest, we have a kindergarten program, an all-day kindergarten program. We have some kids that actually graduated from kindergarten and actually go to that school now.
Anyway, the teacher needed someone to sub, and I’m like, okay, I’ll sub one day. I was like, oh my God, what am I getting into? I called my wife and said, “Hey, will you come help me?” The first day—it was only one day—I’m like, “Anybody who is going to cry today, go see the lady in the black.” She was wearing a black shirt. They were sitting there and I go, “Okay, are you guys ready?” Five kids take off over to her. I’m like, what the heck? They’re over there crying. They were just crying because they thought I said, just go over there and cry, I guess. It was so terrible. I’m like, no way, no more. No, I cannot deal with elementary. That was terrible learning.
Is there any other advice you’d give new teachers since you’ve been in CCSD for so long?
Yes. I learned this advice and it’s very simple, too. When you’re a teacher, you need to make sure that you’re prepared to be in the classroom all day. For example, one of my teachers, when I was at Von Tobel, said, “Do you have good shoes?” I was wearing these hard shiny shoes the first day. I’m like, “I don’t know. I just bought these shoes.” He goes, “Your feet are going to kill you. Prepare yourself. Get the right clothing, food, and enough sleep, and come ready to work. You can’t come to school not ready.” That’s super important. You need to be ready, and not ready in the sense of saying that you’re not ready mentally, but just prepare every day. It makes it so much easier.
MONSERRATH: When you arrived in Las Vegas, what was the Latino community like?
I can tell you where I used to get tacos. My wife worked at Vegas World. How long have you been in Las Vegas?
CLAYTEE: Since ’92.
Okay, Vegas World was still Vegas World then. It’s where the Stratosphere is now. The best tacos in town were behind there in a garage kind of like this. You could smell the meat. Everybody was there. You couldn’t buy the tacos like you’ve got now. That was the place for tacos. They called it the Naked City. I don’t know if they still call it that.
It’s changing, though. It’s going through a metamorphosis right now.
If my wife was here, she could tell you she was one of the first Latinos at Whitney Elementary in Henderson. I’m like, “Are you sure you were one of the first ones?” Supposedly she was.
She must have an interesting story to share on that.
Oh yes, she’s very proud. She went to Vo-Tech. Remember Vo-Tech?
MONSERRATH: Yes. Now it’s Southeast Career.
Yes. Yes, she has good stories. The Latino community has definitely grown, not only in Las Vegas, the whole United States. I don’t know if it’s a good thing. It’s also a problem because it creates fear for, can we maintain the Hispanic culture, the language? There are so many Hispanics now that feel—for example, my kids—no offense to Trump; Trump’s our president and we love him, right? My kids adore Trump. The rest of the family, not so much.
CLAYTEE: Why do they adore him?
They just think everything he’s doing is right. I don’t fight politics. This is what they do to me. “Dad, you don’t know anything anyway, so don’t tell us.” I’m like, “You’re right.” That’s one of the things that they have. Isn’t that weird? Everybody I tell that to, they go, “Your kids?”
What the hell?
When you meet my kids…I always tell them, “Don’t talk politics with anyone else.” I go, “Don’t. Because otherwise it turns out to be weird.” Here is the part I like about this, though. They defend themselves in a good way. I’m like, how do you do that? They’re like little, mini politicians.
Anyway, what I was getting at, the Latinos, there’s going to be that. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but with the huge population of any race, they start losing their roots, I guess.
That frightens me because—
Yes, it really does.
—the Latin population is so huge. That frightens me.
But that’s inevitable that something is going to happen. It’s happened with every…if you go back.
I’m not talking about the number of Latin people; that doesn’t frighten me. It frightens me that they want to support someone with the attitude and the silliness and the racism of a president like this.
Do you remember when he first was going to run for president? It was a joke. Everybody thought it was a joke.
Exactly. And he comes down and he starts denigrating people as he’s coming down the escalator. Yes, that frightens me.
You know what’s even more frightening? He’s going to win again.
That’s what I’m afraid of.
We can’t talk politics. You guys are recording this.
Tell me about the entertainment life. When you married your wife, what was entertainment like for a young couple dating and getting married here at that time? What did you do?
We went to church. We always went to church on Sundays. That’s when I’d usually see her, once a week. Then she helped one of the teachers at school, the one that introduced us. She was like a little aide over there, so I would see her. Very simple, movies maybe, a dinner with her family. It was probably the way it should have been, I guess. We seemed so innocent.
Do you go to shows now? There are more Latin themed shows.
No. I don’t go to any shows. You’ll probably never see me on the Strip.
What do you do for fun?
I like to get in the mountains. I like to hike. I used to work out. I’ve got weights with dust on them. I’d rather be outside. I like to watch the sports, but I fall asleep when I’m watching sports half the time. My job is not so tiring that I’m working hard all day because we have people working on the building; they work hard all day. But you just get kind of tired, just getting older. My goal would be just to always be out in the mountains, hunting, walking, hiking. I have a lot of fun in the mountains.
And hiking, this is the place.
Yes. We were in a hiking club at the other school and we did pretty much every hike around here. It was really fun.
MONSERRATH: With the project being named the Latinx project and everything that we’re doing and this new term, what do you think of this new term?
I had to look it up, honestly. I’m like, okay, what next? What is this? I thought it was fine. I’m the type of person that I’m not going to ever try to keep something from changing. In this world and life in general, if you don’t change, you’re going to be way back there below somebody. Change is always good. You can get them to change and go the wrong way. I could agree with that. But you have to roll with change. I think it’s fine. It’s something new. It’s something different.
I love that answer.
It’s pretty basic. I’m really a basic type of guy. I’m not fancy at all. The fanciest you’re going to see me is when I have to wear a tie to work.
CLAYTEE: This is wonderful. I appreciate so much all the information about the school. That’s amazing.
The school is awesome. You guys come anytime you want, even if you’re in the neighborhood and you want to just stop by and say, “Pablo said to come by,” and just stop by for a minute.
I think we should go as a fieldtrip and just go over and see it.
Yes, you guys come by. We will be there.
You guys are finishing your first year.
No, we’re not finishing. We started late. We just finished our first nine weeks a week ago. We didn’t start until after Labor Day.
Your first year will end in June.
June twenty-sixth is our last day. Then we start up again July twentieth with our three-week program. We go July twentieth through August seventh, and then we give the kids two weeks off, and then we start classes and they go to work. The first day of school there will be a group of kids going to work that first day, also.
I love it.
MONSERRATH: The three-week program is a freshman orientation, or does everybody do it?
No. Freshmen only. It’s freshmen only or incoming sophomores because we’re going to take some new sophomores because we need to get the numbers, so they’ll have to be there. The way I’ve been seeing it, we’ll be taking incoming juniors if needed, incoming seniors if needed. That’s how they’ve been doing it in the other schools. It’s all about the numbers. They want the numbers.
Any last thoughts?
No. I wasn’t sure what this was going to be about and it’s cool. I really like it. I enjoyed it. It’s cool to reminisce and just see…I wasn’t really prepared for anything.
You did perfectly.
This was amazing.
Thank you. Wow, good.
Thank you so much.
No problem. Thank you, ladies.
[End of recorded interview]