A Walk Through Life in South Colton From 1890-1960

Tom Rivera, Henry Vasquez and Frank Acosta wanted to interview those from the Mexican side of town

Published on LatinoLA: March 4, 2016

A Walk Through Life in South Colton From 1890-1960

When Tom Rivera, Henry Vasquez and Frank Acosta embarked on their South Colton Oral History Project, they merely wanted to interview those who made their homes in what was known for years as "the Mexican side of town."

The interviews gave them what they wanted in the rich, sometimes hard, remembrances of growing up there. But in the doing they also introduced residents to Cal State San Bernardino, a campus on which most of their subjects – beyond 70 by now -- had never set foot.

On Wednesday, March 2, at 6 p.m., the three friends shared the stories of growing up in South Colton, and how those stories parallel the history of Cal State San Bernardino, which is in the midst of commemorating its 50th anniversary.

"The experience of participating in an interview on campus," said Rivera of so many long-time Colton residents they spoke to, "has resulted in a new-found appreciation for CSUSB as a valuable community resource, and as a vehicle for furthering their family's educational and professional advancement."

Armed with a $10,000 grant from Cal Humanities, Rivera, Vasquez and Acosta launched their project in 2013. The videotaped interviews document the life stories of people born and raised in a part of Colton that for 70 years had isolated the city's Mexican-American population.

The proposal for the project was first presented to Cesar Caballero, dean of the CSUSB Pfau Library, by Rivera and local retired educators Acosta and Vasquez. Rivera retired from CSUSB a few years ago as associate dean of undergraduate studies after 40 years at the university.

The video interviews will be housed in the library's Special Collection Archive.

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