Rudy, Don't Be Lonely, I Could'a Been Born in Tucson.
Most of the Tucsonense gentry had no idea about monopoly capital, much less state monopoly capital
Published on LatinoLA: December 12, 2008
There need be no shame in being declasse. (See "The Loneliness of Writing History" by Dr. Rudolfo Acu??a) Karl Marx was a professor, his wife noble, they died in poverty fighting for the working class. As you know, he taught that capitalism was more progressive than feudalism, that yankee capitalism was better than dixie plantation capitalism, but that eventually socialism would become possible and necessary. Marx was just beginning to see the outlines of monopoly capital when he died. The Tucsonenses didn't see it, not right away anyway. Southern Pacific and its predecessors brought progress, prosperity. The land poor got dowries from intermarriage, que no?
As you have warned others about Chicano nationalism, presentism often misses the positives of the past. My great grandfather helped organize dieziseis de septiembres and cinco de mayos, he played in the Orquestra Symphonica de Los Angeles or something like that. He and contemporaries were merchants selling from US companies to mexicano workers, some whites and Afro Americans (a presentism). They would picnic in the Catalinas on the Ronstadt wagon with the Ronstadts. My mother remembers the family borrowing the Ronstadt wagon a generation or more later for such trips. When we got her Linda's album of songs her father taught her she remembered when he was a Senior at Tucson HIgh she was a freshman. "He sang at an assembly," she said holding her hands to her heart, "He was so handsome."
Mom remembered how in the twenties her older brother ran into the house and turned on the radio so all could hear Gershwin with Paul Whiteman do Rhapsody in Blue! Mom played the piano well, cantos mexicanos, Rachmaninoff, she loved to hear Ella Fitzgerald do Gershwin. Her younger brother Rudy would take his friend Lalo Guerrero to help him serenade Artemisa who became my aunt Arty.
The depression made a big difference. My grandfather died the night the bank foreclosed on their home. The women wore mourning for months, in the twenties it would have been a year and more. Mom thought that working in CCC camps helped break his spirit and health, he was middle aged. Most of the older brothers had got their start in the business world in the twenties as artisans and salesmen, the darkest featured one became a worker. The four young daughters married a Southern Pacific worker (they lived on Bean Ave), another a Sears bilingual salesman from Guaymas, mom married an immigrant, chaparro y prieto, divorced!, and with a Masters Degree, the youngest daughter never married and took care of nana (Like Water For Chocolate). Mom and her younger brother were the only ones to go to college, he ran around with a vato like Lalo, but ended up as a commercial artist in Manhattan.
My mom, I miss her. She would play the swing tune In the Mood for me as a kid, I would dance around like crazy She graduated from the Uof A summa cum laude, she hated the discrimination. She worked as a typist for professors and at the new welfare offices where her top grades in English and Spanish were put to much use. She couldn't find a better job after graduation. Then as if by miracle she got a teaching job offer from the small town of St Johns. Somehow liberal mormons had handed over a school to a board of Mexican American parents and they wanted to hire Mexicans teachers. The university placement office didn't tell her about it, but somehow the town heard of her and also her keyboard skills and the local Catholic church needed an organist so someone was dispatched to Tucson to hire her.
My dad was already working there as a social worker, he was Tempe's first mexicano Master of Education, but he had to get naturalized before he could teach. My dad recalls playing golf with Stewart Udall on the high flatlands near New Mexico, when they hit a zinger with no arc it was called a rabbit killer. What the New Deal brought together nobody, not even the Pope could pull asunder. They were married for 63 years till dad passed and mom shortly thereafter. It may be that her last rites were her first communion since she married the dark divorced Mexican son of a Methodist minister. But she was a widow. She probably could have done it before, but she was old school, and too feeble to go to mass after dad died.
My older sister and brother were born before dad went to the South Pacific. I was born like 9 months after he got back. Right away he got a job teaching in Tucson at Safford I believe. But he wanted to get into social work and there was a job open in Flagstaff where a guy named Wilson Riles needed social workers for adoption work. My mom wanted to stay in Tucson and have at least one child born there, my tia Celia was expecting about the same time.
They moved to Flagstaff where I was born. I am told dad brought home other babies at times, African American, Native American, Mexican and white. My cousin Sylvia was born the day before by a few hours in Tucson. Mom never let Dad forget she never had a child born in Tucson. When dad thought of retiring in Mexico, mom said go ahead, I'll move in with my sisters in Tucson and be close to my kids and grandkids. Of course dad stayed, he loved her.
One of my favorite Tucson stories is Thanksgiving 1969. Nana was 90 and mom wanted us all to see her together, it was a must. I was traveling all over Aztlan having just refused induction and organizing against the Vietnam war, I had long hair, wore guaraches and beads with a peace sign, and was on a fast, you remember those times Rudy.
My uncle whose sons went to the UA and with ROTC became military and then corporate officers, was incensed and was giving mom the business about her mechudo son who wouldn't even eat the food his sisters had spent all day cooking. Nana went to sit at the table and called out to me. Rosalio ven aqui, quiero ver tus ojos, te vez muy mexicano. My uncles eyes and skin were more huero than mine and I got to sit at the place of honor next to my nana. That night Sylvia took me to meet a firebrand Mecha member named Grijalva.
Last January I was in Tucson to meet with Lorenzo Torrez and others to talk about the election. My nina Celia, then 96, gave me the business for my political affiliation but was anxious to hear what I thought of Obama and Hilary. Her other daughter Gloria said Ross you should say CPUSA means Chicano Power USA. And so it goes, I coulda been born in Tucson, maybe a contender for the cabinet.
One of my cousins from Tucson just died, he was eighth generation Tucsonense from presidio days. He was a retired marine officer. My mom was 3rd generation, her grandparents came from Hermosillo by covered wagon, others walked.
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