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Raul Daniels interview, July 3, 2019: transcript




Interviewed by Maribel Estrada Calderón. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1979, parents immigrated to US when he was pre-school age. By 1989, they had moved to Las Vegas where father got a construction job. Today, Raul is Vice President of Catering with the Station Casinos/Hotels. Married to Ace Daniels.

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Daniels, Raul Interview, 2019 July 3. OH-03686. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

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i AN INTERVIEW WITH RAUL DANIELS An Oral History Conducted by Maribel Estrada Calderón Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©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 Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez iii 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 Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE Before becoming the Vice President of Catering and Events for Palm Casino Resort, Raul Daniels showed unique talents in local restaurants and made the accomplishment of moving from busboy to server at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant at The Forum Shops. Much of his early childhood was spent in Cuauhtémoc, Mexico, where he enjoyed being near his grandparents. Over the growing up years, the family moved several times, including Houston, Phoenix, back to Mexico when his father worked in the braceros program. In 1989, when Raul was about ten years old, the family moved to Las Vegas and fresh work opportunities. The move was a stable one. Raul graduated from Las Vegas High School, where he was Senior Class president, in Honor Society, newspaper editor, and top of his class—citizenship would come later. From a boy selling Las Vegas Review-Journal subscriptions to the busboy at Spago’s to a manager at Mariposa at Neiman Marcus, Raul developed a reputation as an industrious worker. He is on the Board of Directors for the Las Vegas Hospitality Association and a graduate of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Raul speaks candidly about growing up as a young gay man in Las Vegas, finding The Center for LGBTQ, and meeting the love of his life, Amilcar ‘Ace’ Daniels. The two married in 2013. Married and are proud parents of Alec Daniels. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Raul Daniels July 3, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Maribel Estrada Calderón Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Expresses his pride in being Mexican, visiting Chihuahua with his young son recently; recalls childhood memories, and living a relatively privileged life; mother was a secretary to the local mayor/president and father was in banking; had live-in nannies; on being close with his grandparents………………………………………………………………………………..…1 – 5 About family move to Houston with a green card for agriculture work, brought by the economy and search for opportunities. Paternal side were poorer, maternal side owned several businesses (e.g. funeral home, boot store, etc.), some memories of Houston, relationships with his older brother and sister.……………………………………………………………………………..6 – 10 Father was part of the bracero program; eventually family moved to Phoenix when he was in elementary school; his memories of Phoenix years; compares his family to established immigrants; ESL classes, dedicated to his academics, feeling unathletic; being a Phoenix Suns fan……11 – 16 Recalls challenges of when his parents adopted three cousins; his mother’s hoarding; talks about moving back to Mexico after two years in Phoenix, when he was about 6 or 7; being jealous of richer cousins; mother opened a music shop and a restaurant , family’s financial status improved. Recollections of his educational status being lower in Mexican school than US. His first girlfriend and kiss; experience with colorism; young sexual awareness; and noticing how he was ‘different’ from most the other children…………………………………………….…………………16 – 22 Nintendo game; being teased about being gay in elementary school; being taunted to fight; family remembrances; helping out at aunt’s music store and liked earning money. Describes music tastes, which include Juan Gabriel and others; being married to a music theater enthusiast. Watches Mexican TV and soap operas; importance of music in the family…………………………23 – 28 Talks about loss of contact with his father; thoughts about his sexuality; his return to the United States in 1989 after his mother lost her businesses; dealing with the fluctuating value of the peso; moving to Las Vegas where father worked construction; lived at the Desert Inn Motel on Fremont Street and writing letters to friends in Mexico; attending John S. Park Elementary School and John C. Fremont Middle School, and no longer liking girls; moving into a rental home owned by St. Anne’s Catholic Church………………………………………….………………………....29 – 34 vi Explains that his father wanted to join the union; memories of moving in the middle of the night; by time he was in high school father was in the Painters Union and able to buy a house; mother cleaned houses and later a maid at Four Seasons. Mentions that he is an executive at Palm, and is anti-union himself. Shares his father’s dream to get everyone their citizenship, and why is was delayed; attended Las Vegas High School, UNLV. Recalls first jobs, from selling newspaper subscriptions to working in fast food; opening of Sunrise High School and Las Vegas Academy; learning about the Gay and Lesbian Center; ‘the story they tell you when you’re gay’; his first boy-friend……………………………………………………………………………………......35 – 41 More about the Gay and Lesbian Center groups meetings; Fruit Loop, describes businesses in vicinity; getting hired at Spago, first Wolfgang Puck restaurant at the Forum Shops where he could make a hundred dollars a night in tips; nickname Saturn Raul; and how he transferred to Florida International University to study international business, and returned to UNLV and Las Vegas, and Spago; includes a memory of helping with a meal for President Clinton at the Brian Greenspun home; David Robins; promotion from busboy to server; tips and taxation compliance; takes offer to be assistant manager at Mariposa at Neiman Marcus.......................................................42 – 49 Describes his next move to Olives at the Bellagio, Kelly Sumner; lost his job there, cracking down on comps, but more likely a gay and racist situation. Next job was a Nine Steakhouse at Palms in its heyday; lifestyle of restaurant managers; getting into event management; effect of the recession of 2008; recalls impact of 9/11. Father left construction and moved back and forth from Las Vegas to Mexico…………………………………………………………………………………...50 – 55 Talks more about The Center for LGBTQ community; safe environment for gays, especially for Latinps and other minorities; Antioco Carillo; experience as youth liaison at The Center, story of getting caught in a lie about attending a SOL meeting, and coming out to his parents, their reactions; Ace being in his life and his mother’s acceptance.…………………………..….56 – 61 Marrying Ace; sister coming out to their parents at age 40; adopting Alec and being loving grandparents to him; teaching Alec Spanish; being two dads together…………………….62 – 66 Tells the adoption story; concerns with background check; going to Virginia for the baby’s birth; emotional rollercoaster adjusting to parenthood; Nelson Araujo assistance for interstate adoption approval; creating a normal, successful life as a couple and a family, role model for others raised in Hispanic cultures…67 – 72 Talks about AFAN; scare with HIV over a decade ago……………………………………72 - 75 vii 1 Today is July 3rd, 2019. My name is Maribel Estrada Calderon. I am at the UNLV Oral History Research Center, and with me are… Rodrigo Vazquez. Monserrath Hernandez. And? Raul Daniels. Raul, can you please spell out your name? R-A-U-L. Last name is Daniels, D-A-N-I-E-L-S. I always like to ask people what terms they use to identify themselves. He. Is there a term that you use to identify with your nationality, your culture? Oh. I thought you meant like sexual orientation. I’m Mexican, Latino. What does that mean—to be Mexican? I’m really, really proud of it. I just got back from vacation last week and I took my son for the first time—well, he had been to Mexico, but for the first time to the city I was born in—well, that I was raised in, in Mexico. He probably won’t remember, but I took a lot of pictures of him walking in the streets that I used to walk. We went to the house that I used to live in. He got to meet a lot of my older relatives. I spoke to him in nothing but Spanish for five days, so we got to work on that. I’m really, really proud of being Mexican, really, really. I’ve never hid it. I’ve never been ashamed of it. What state were you born in? Chihuahua. I was born in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, which is the capital. I don’t remember living there, but my dad’s family lived in a small, little town called Gómez Farías, which is like really, 2 really super small, maybe ten thousand people, maybe less than that back then, but now I think there’s about ten thousand people in there. Then eventually we moved to Cuauhtémoc, which is where I lived most of my childhood while I was in Mexico. Can you tell me about some of your childhood memories? I remember a lot of it from Gómez Farías. I remember we had one of the bigger houses in the town, but there were still a lot of houses that were like mud, the mud bricks, and that didn’t have paint or anything like that. None of the streets were paved with the exception of the main road. The main-main road was paved, if I remember correctly, but nothing else. As soon as you drove off, it was just dirt everywhere. I remember it would rain and just because it was dirt there were huge holes in the ground that would get filled with water, and I remember playing in that when I was probably like three or four. Next to us was our grandparents, so my father’s parents lived right next door to us and our backyards were connected. Our houses weren’t, but our backyards were connected. They owned…I think half of the block was their backyard. My grandmother raised chickens and stuff like that. I remember when we would have chicken, going out in the backyard with my grandmother and she would actually chase the chicken and she would kill it and that’s what you ate that day. I remember there being a lot of trees in the backyard. Later I found out they were pecan trees. MONSERRATH: Oh, Nogales. Nogales, exactly. I just found out what they were on this vacation. I think we lived, for the town, a pretty good life. My mom was the secretary…in Mexico, we called them presidents of the city. It’s equivalent of the mayor, I guess, here in the United States. My mom was the secretary of the president of the town. What year was that? 3 I was born in ’79, so you’re probably talking about ’83, somewhere around there, so I was like three or four. Yes, she was the secretary. My dad was the manager of a bank, of one of the branches of the bank. I do have memories of it, but I’ve been told a lot that I was a really independent kid. Back then it was a whole different way of living, so there was no kidnappings or anything like that. I remember just leaving the house and walking to the La Presidencia, which would be like court, or I don’t know what they call it here. Anyway, just crossing the street and being by myself and walking around as a three-, four-year-old, and going to see my mom at work. I remember I would have to climb a bunch of steps and I would get to her office. My grandfather also used to work in the same building because he was in charge of the electric company for the town. It was like a normal childhood. I didn’t go to school there. We had live-in nannies and maids and stuff like that. I remember I used to call the lady who used to take care of me—her name was Chaio—I used to call her Momma Chaio. I still keep in touch with her kids via social media, like Facebook and stuff like that. I reconnected with them. They’re also in the United States now. I would walk to her house and it was blocks and blocks away. It was just a safe, little town. We had a big house and my parents had a lot of people over. My parents hosted people over a lot. Later on my mom ran for president. I don’t know if she won. What is your mom’s name? Leticia. She ran for president. I remember outside in her house the backyard wall where she had, “Hey, vote for blah, blah, blah for mayor,” because there was no printing, so people used to paint things on their walls. A mural. 4 Yes. There wasn’t a lot of hospitals or anything like that. There were doctors because I got really, really sick, dehydration, severe, severe dehydration, and my mom had to take a bus from Gómez Farías to the capital for the doctor, which was like an hour and a half away, and she was in public transportation. I was getting sick all over her. I remember going to the hospital and they told her, “Thank God you got on the bus and came because he would have been dead. He is on the brink of dying and an hour or two hours later he would have been dead.” Yes, it was a small, simple life. Then we did move to Cuauhtémoc. Before we move on, can you tell me what it’s like to have your grandparents live so nearby you? The funny thing is that in Gómez Farías they lived right next door to us and in Cuauhtémoc they also lived…but it was my mom’s parents that lived next to us. I love my grandparents. My parents worked. In Mexico it’s very different because I remember even later on in life my parents would go to work and my brother and sister would go to school and I would stay home with the nannies and stuff like that. Then I remember they would always come home and we’d always have lunch together and have the afternoon together and then after lunch they would always take naps, like the Mexican siesta was a real thing, and then they would go back to work and they wouldn’t come home until eight or nine o’clock at night. It was great. My grandparents helped raise us in both cities. I was very, very close to—we call her Chonita, which was my dad’s mom. I was super close to her and I would spend the night even at her house. Again, we were right next door. She had a bedroom for me there. I would eat a lot over there. She had apple trees as well and I remember she would take a knife and she would peel the apple for me. I remember we used to drink coffee and she made the best coffee ever. Rather than heat up the water, she would heat up the milk. She would heat the milk and then she would add the coffee 5 and the sugar to the milk, so there was no water involved. I remember that. I remember being super close to them and them being very involved in our day-to-day life. We had nannies and people that would clean the house, but they were very involved. I remember my grandmother taking more care of me than the people that were living at the house. Yes, I was very close to them. Then when we lived in Cuauhtémoc, same thing; my grandmother was very, very involved; now my maternal grandmother was very involved. But it was not just us. Even my uncles and aunts that didn’t live right next door, I think grandparents were an extension of raising kids whereas here you just go to your grandparents to have fun and on special occasions. In Mexico, well, at least in my family, it was very much like your grandparents were just as involved in raising you and spending time. It wasn’t a special thing to go to your grandparents; they were just there all the time. How old were you when you left the first neighborhood and then you went to Cuauhtémoc? Four, because I still wasn’t in school. I didn’t go to school in Cuauhtémoc at first because we moved to the United States and then moved back later on and I did go to school later on. But in Cuauhtémoc, I don’t have a lot of memories of that. I don’t know why. I remember Gómez Farias a lot. I don’t have a lot of memories of Cuauhtémoc. From my parents I’ve been told we were just there for a few months. We were just there for a few months and then eventually we moved to Houston, was the first city we moved to in the United States. Back then you could get a green card if you could prove that you had farming experience or you knew about farming. My grandfather, my dad’s dad, had that big backyard at his house, so there was pecan trees and apple trees and they would farm, so he had experience, but he was a banker. My dad told me that basically my grandfather 6 wrote up a little letter saying, yes, that he ran the farm, and that’s how my dad ended up getting a visa to work in the United States. MONSERRATH: Why did they choose to apply for visas? What brought them here? Economy. What was going on? I don’t remember a lot of it. But what I’ve been told by my parents is that back then, if you were from a small town in Mexico, there wasn’t a lot of opportunities. I was four probably when we first moved to Houston, so that was thirty-six years ago and my mom was probably twenty-six or so, twenty-six, twenty-seven, somewhere around there. They were no opportunities. It’s funny. Every time I go back to Mexico most of the time we drive and we fly sometimes. This time we flew to El Paso and my dad came to get me and we drove from El Paso to Cuauhtémoc, a four-hour drive. You drive through these little towns that have never changed. There is one house with a beat-up Ford outside and there is nothing going on. I remember even this trip I was like, “What do people do there? What do you wake up and do when you’re in these little isolated towns with ten, twelve houses and you don’t see anybody in the street?” You’re just passing by on the way to Cuauhtémoc. My mom was always like, “That’s what they do here; you wake up, you take care of the house, you take care of your kids.” I’m like, “But where do people work?” And she was like, “Well, that’s why we don’t live here because there wasn’t a lot of opportunity.” My grandparents were always business owners. They were very commercial that way. It was our house in Gómez Farías, our house, and then my paternal grandmother, and then attached to her house was like a little convenience store where half of it was liquor and then the other half 7 was like a tiny 7-Eleven with random things, milk and stuff. My dad’s side of the family was very, very poor. My mom’s side of the family was the one that had money. When we moved to Cuauhtémoc, my mom’s parents could help them out and they would work for them. My grandfather, my mom’s dad, had a funeral home, a boot store, like a shoe store but just boots, cowboy boots, a jewelry store, and then one of my mom’s sisters, my favorite aunt Sandra, she had a music store. Back in the day you would actually go to a store to buy records and tapes. There were no CDs back then, but records and tapes. That’s why we moved to Cuauhtémoc, to have a better opportunity, I guess, for my parents. It wasn’t even about us at that time. It was about them. Okay, now you’ve got to figure something out. My mom’s political party lost and so she didn’t have a job. If you were the secretary to the mayor and your mayor lost reelection, you didn’t have a job, and I think that’s what prompted them to move. The other thing I remember a lot about Gómez Farías was my dad was in the city baseball team. He was in the bank and in the afternoons he played baseball. Not this trip, but we have driven by the field and I remember it being huge. We drove by it and it was just a dirt lot with the diamond painted on it and just a few stadium seating, but I remember it being ginormous. I remember my cousins and I, we were all little, we would just go on excursions. There was a little river around there. We would just go and play outside in the river and get wet and hunt for things, just random. I guess back then a four-year-old could wander the city by himself and nothing happened. Eventually we moved to Cuauhtémoc and I don’t have a lot of memories. My mom was like, “Well, because we weren’t there very long.” She was set because she was with her family. I never dared to ask, how was the marital thing working back then? She has shared with me that 8 her family didn’t want her marrying him because he was poor. In Mexico, even now—I don’t know where you guys are from—the division of classes is huge. You’re either dirt poor or you’re really wealthy. I think my mom was with her family now and she was good. My dad moved by himself first. I remember he left and then eventually we followed suit and we moved to, I’m pretty sure, Houston first and then eventually we moved to Dallas and then eventually to Phoenix, Arizona. How long were you in Texas? I don’t think more than a year because what I remember from Houston was that was the first place that I have a memory of school. It wasn’t kindergarten because I was probably still too young to go to kindergarten, so around four years old still. We’re still talking about four years old. But I do remember a school. I do remember a bus. I do remember our apartment where we lived. I do remember going downstairs and going to a bus and going to school. That’s probably the first place that I went to school. I don’t have a lot of memories of Houston. I do remember our apartment. Can you describe it? It was small. It was one bedroom. I remember my brother, my sister, and I slept in the living room. We had, I think, a couch that made into a bed or maybe just a mattress on the floor, I’m not sure. We all three of us slept in the living room and then my parents had a bedroom. My parents’ bedroom—I have pictures of it—my parents’ bedroom had a small, little twin bed, I guess, or something like that because my sister would sleep in their room a lot. We were all supposed to sleep in the living room, but my sister was very, very close to my mom, and she was the only girl so they took a little extra care of her. 9 I remember going to the Astrodome to Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, and I remember my mom was like, “You used to butcher that name.” I remember going to the circus. I remember going to the Astrodome to watch the Astros play. I don’t think they’re called the Astros now; Houston Rockets I think they’re called. But back then they were the Astros and it was the Astrodome. I remember going there and we were there on a game that the U.S. played Japan, the U.S. team played Japan. My brother has a ball that he caught, which we still have at my mom’s house. Yes, I don’t remember a lot more from Houston other than that. Are you the eldest? No, I’m the youngest. Oh, you’re the youngest. Yes, I’m the youngest. I’m forty. I just turned forty. Tell me about that dynamic with your siblings. My sister and I were super, super close. My sister is a year and a half older than me and my brother is four and a half, almost five years older than me. My sister and I have always been super-duper close, very, very close; we were like best friends. If you fast forward to high school, people used to think we were dating because we were really, really close and we would hold hands in school and we were really, really close. We played; we had the same friends. She was older than me and I remember we used to get in fights and she would beat me up because she was older than me, so I remember that and we still laugh about it now. She’s like, “Yes, I used to kick your ass when you were little.” She’s a lesbian now. My brother, who is older than me, he and I have never really been close. We’ve had a really rough—not rough in a bad way, just not close, not like…My sister and I have a lot of 10 resentment—not resentment; that’s probably the wrong word. We have a lot of…yes, I would say resentment is probably the right word. MONSERRATH: Maybe a grudge. Yes, yes, yes. Because he went through some stuff, like he’s a recovering alcoholic. Fast forward, we’re jumping way ahead, but he had a very bad drinking problem in his twenties, and still has; he’s recovering. My parents paid a lot of attention to him, like a lot of attention to him even to this day. Me and my sister would always talk, like, huh. My brother and I, nothing bad happened or anything like that that I remember. I just remember we weren’t close. What he tells me is that my sister was closer in age to him, and so they had about a year and a half when it was just the two of them, so I was too little to play with. He would teach my sister a lot of sports and a lot of games. My sister was always really good at sports. I came to find out she was a lesbian. But she was always really, really good at sports, and so he would play a lot with her and teach her how to play basketball and baseball. I don’t think they ever picked up soccer, but baseball and basketball were the big things in our family growing up. Yes, my brother and I never really…We were good, but I wouldn’t say I have the same relationship with him that I have with my sister. It’s very, very different. Like I said, I’m not a hundred percent sure whether it was Houston and Dallas, but it was really short, total less than a year between both cities. My dad never worked in farming, obviously; that was just to get a green card. During that time the United States government wanted farmers to move to the United States. Yes. In exchange for what, just employment? 11 That you would work in the field. That you were in California and you would pick strawberries and the stereotypical things that Mexicans come to do here in the United States, yes. It was called…the bracero program. But, yes, it was a program that the U.S. had. If you were Mexican and you have experience in farming, come to our country because we want you. MONSERRATH: Amnesty? Do you remember what year it was? Yes, like farmer’s amnesty; something. Was it during Reagan? Yes, yes, it was during Reagan. My dad came the same way. When he applied for his residency, he said, “Oh, I know how to pick cabbage.” Yes, yes, same exact thing. In the interview they asked him—the immigration attorney told him, “This is how you do it. Make sure this is what you say.” He just said what the attorney told him to. Yes. And they would set you free; they never followed up that you were going to work in the field. They never followed up on it. My understanding was that my dad knew some people that were already here, more established. I remember some of them. They had gone into the construction business. Phoenix was growing really, really fast, and so there was a lot of construction jobs in Phoenix, and that’s how we eventually moved to Phoenix. Phoenix I have a lot more memories than either Houston or Dallas because in Phoenix, now I’m probably like second grade, so I remember the school very well; it was called Mountain View Elementary School. It was a few blocks away from our house. I have really good memories of the apartment we lived in. It was two bedrooms and I remember it had orange carpet. It was 12 gross. I remember my sister and I became huge (fans)…I don’t know what they’re called now, but at that time whatever wrestling federation it was, like WF, something. It was called something else back then. We became fans. We would watch it a lot and we would bet nickels every match. We had a little pile because we would bet a nickel for whoever won the match, so I remember that. We lived in—I’ve been to it many years later and I’m like, God. It was apartments and then it shared a courtyard. I remember playing a lot in the courtyard. There were a lot of blocks like that where it was a U-shaped thing and then a courtyard and then another U-shaped. My dad’s friends’ families lived in the other, so we would always jump from one courtyard to another courtyard playing, like random stuff like ball, sports, hide and seek. We would make our Olympics; I remember that. We would make all these Olympic games we would make up and we would give medals to each other. Quarters, we would drill holes in them and tie them and that was your silver medal. Random stuff like that. Just really normal because there was no technology. I remember my mom would always say—it was really hot; Phoenix is hotter than Vegas—I remember my mom would always say, “Go outside and play.” We’re like, “What? What are you talking about?” We didn’t want to go outside to play. But now that I have a kid I’m like, “Oh my god, just go outside and play,” like give me some time. He’s only three, so my mom and I laugh about it now. I’m like, “Remember when you used to tell me, ‘Go outside and play,’ and we’d be like, ‘Why is she always telling us to go outside and play?’” Like, not get it. She wanted some time alone, like get out of my face and give me five. That’s what it was. It wasn’t she wanted us to go outside and play. She just wanted to get rid of us for a little bit. I remember that in Phoenix a lot. 13 I remember my school very well. I remember some friends. I remember what then seemed like forever, because again my parents had friends that were more established in the United States already so they had houses. At that time I was like, “Oh my god, you’re so rich.” We would go see this family that we were friends with and they used to live in Tempe, Arizona, which was like a forty-five, maybe an hour drive. But forty-five minutes, an hour, maybe when you’re like five, it’s forever. I remember we had a brown station wagon. Where the luggage would go, my sister and I would actually take pillows and we would take naps. It felt like we were going to another city on the weekends. There were a lot of barbeques; that’s what my family and their friends did every weekend. It was routine. It was either at our house or somebody else’s house, but there was also a party. Was it like carne guisada? Carne guisada, yes. It was always carne guisada and the kids would all get together and play. If there was a boxing match, oh, forget it; it was like a national holiday. I remember that. My whole family is very into sports, very into sports, fans, fans and played, baseball, basketball, and boxing has always been huge, back in the day when Juilio César Chávez was a big deal. It was like a thing. Even if we were broke poor that was the one luxury that my parents always ordered whatever fight was on Pay-per-view. It was always on. Anyway, I remember that. I remember being just being super hot and really big. I have really bad feelings about Phoenix. I hate that city. I don’t think anything happened to me that I blocked or anything. I just remember it being hot and dirty and there was nothing to do. It was just really hot and big and there was a lot of traffic. What were your neighbors like? 14 They were all Hispanic. There were no white people that lived—I never asked. Maybe we were like in…I don’t know. Now that I’m talking to you about it, it feels like maybe we were in government housing because all the—I’ve never asked, but how I just described there were all these apartment doors that would all share a courtyard and there were rows and rows of them. I never really thought about it, but maybe it was assisted, not government housing, but like— Public housing? MONSERRATH: Subsidized. Yes, subsidized housing. I remember having a lot of black and Latino, Mexican neighbors. Is that what your school looked like? Were there Latino students, dominate? There were white kids at Mountain View. I have driven by it after because when you’re in the same city, you’re like, “Oh, let’s go see where we used to live.” No, I remember a pretty diverse school. I remember my teacher and the nurse and all that and it was a pretty normal school. Field Day was probably your favorite day of the entire year. I remember that. Did you already speak English when you started school? No. I remember going to ESL classe