Welcome to the eighth and final issue of Narratives: Stories of U.S. Latinos & Latinas and WWII.
Within the these 112 pages, you’ll find an amazing array of experiences before, during and after WWII. You’ll meet Guadalupe Conde, who came back from the war with terrible “nerves” — what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder. His doctor’s recommendation: Find a good wife. He did and has lived the rest of his life in complete devotion to her. You’ll also meet an Anglo woman who married a Mexican-American man in West Texas — seeing for the first time the discrimination that must have surrounded her before, but which until that time had been only on the periphery of her consciousness. And you’ll meet Philip Benavides of El Paso, whose dreams of becoming a professional musician were crushed after injuries in the Pacific. We have our first Chilean (Judge Harold Valderas) and our first Ecuadoran (José Borja, a former Merchant Marine).
What may not be apparent to you is the behind-the-scenes work of the men and women we’ve interviewed to put together the highquality publication in your hands. Over and over, we’ve asked these men and women for a little more: Can we get a better photo? Do you know the date this photo was taken? And where it was taken? Can you please answer these questions that we didn’t ask you during your interview? Can you please get us this material ASAP? Mrs. Aurora Castro, for instance, was asked to send us a selection of photographs of her husbands, The men were brothers — she married one after the first husband, his younger brother, passed away. She sent us a large cardboard box of hundreds of photos — originals — dating from as early as the 1920s. Mr. Richard Dominguez sent us a similar box of beautiful family heirloom photos.We have guarded these treasures, scanned them at high resolutions and returned them to our interview subjects. But when those boxes have arrived, it has been like Christmas morning: The quality and quantity of those photos have taken our collective breath away. We’ve stopped in our tracks and gathered around to ooh and ah.We are touched and humbled by the generosity that these photos symbolize. We are being allowed to borrow these so that these stories are told and understood more totally. We can use only a few photos in Narratives, but stay tuned: Soon enough, we’ll be working on a book that showcases these beautiful pictures.
Narratives requires a determined band of people at all levels, students, volunteer interviewers, a few student staff workers. Last winter, Robert Montemayor, one of the best veteran journalists around, came from his home in New Jersey and spent a week editing like a man obsessed. Thomas Meredith has been our hard-working photo editor for two issues now. Look at all the photos in this issue, and know that Thomas has scanned about five times as many for future work related to our project. The ever-meticulous Katie Woody is our captions ace, making sure we know where and when. It’s an essential job, and not everyone would enjoy it. But Katie does it cheerfully. Violeta Dominguez, a native of Mexico City, is our top-notch translator from English into Spanish. She also is a pro at keeping us on track and organized. Israel Saenz has handled our corrections, a fairly complicated process that requires great analytical skills and a tolerance for filling out shipping labels. Israel has been superb.
Family members have been pressed into service. My brother Robert (Bobby to me) in El Paso has responded time and again when we’ve absolutely needed an interview. He goes on record for doing the longest interview for the project — eight hours over several days. My mother, Henrietta Lopez Rivas, and my sister, Guadalupe Lopez Rivas, have both proofed pages on a quick deadline — and they can do it in English and in Spanish. They have eagle eyes, those two.
Paul Zepeda and Ernest Eguia in Houston continue their excellent work of gathering interviews. In this issue, several of the stories were based on interviews by these two dedicated volunteers.
We have some other true standouts, people without whose efforts we would surely founder. Our military historians, Richard Brito and Bill Davies, keep us on our toes and make sure we get as many crucial details as possible. This time, for a few weeks when we were in a pinch, we also got a hand from Richard Koone of the Museum of the Pacific in Fredericksburg, and Bruce Ashcroft of Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio. Guillermo Torres, a longtime friend and copy editor at the San Antonio Express-News, has been our steadfast partner for four years. Guillermo has never complained throughout the process, although, after editing around 80 stories for the current issue, he sent an e-mail and asked plaintively, “Are we nearly there?” As you see, we still had lots more to go. As an aside, Guillermo’s own father, Gilbert, was (finally) interviewed for this issue. Beth Butler, our layout/design editor stepped in rather late this spring when our original layout person stepped down for health reasons. Beth did our Narratives Vol. 4, No. 1, so she already knew what to expect. She has performed yet another miracle — creating lovely order out of a conglomeration of computer files.
And the San Antonio Express-News has again ever so graciously printed this as in-kind support. We are so grateful.
This, then, is our final Narratives. We will still accept interviews; let us know if you have some you want to do, but those new interviews will appear in a shorter newsletter coming up next winter and beyond — nothing as huge a production as Narratives has become.
We have been privileged to work on Narratives and on this project. We have learned a great deal in the process. And we have had the honor of meeting hundreds of remarkable people, both our interview subjects and others who have supported our efforts. Naturally, we feel a bit sad on this final issue. It’s been a part of daily life for many of us for five years. But it’s time to work on books based on these interviews. The first will be called something like “No Greater Patriots: U.S. Latinos & Latinas and WWII”; we’re still shopping for a good publisher. We hope the books will help disseminate these stories to a wider audience and will provide funding for the project.
For now, we go out with a happy bang — 105 great stories about great Americans of the WWII generation. Hope you enjoy.
Associate Professor of Journalism and Director,
U.S. Latino & Latina WWII Oral History Project
AUSTIN, TEXAS — Antonio Cantu, Mary Alice Carnes, Nikki Cruz, Juan De La Cruz, Violeta Dominguez, Delia Esparza, Raquel Garza, Laura Herrera, Rasha Madkour, Erika Martinez, Ismael Martinez, Shamiso Masowsue, Joe Olague, Maggie Rivas- Rodriguez, Virgilio Roel, Israel Saenz, Yudith Vargas
BERKELEY, CALIF. — Mario Barrera
BOCA RATON, FLA. — Carlos Conde
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS — Manuel Medrano
CHICAGO, ILL. — William Luna
CUMMING, GA. — Annabell Garay
DALLAS, TEXAS — Karina Valenzuela
EL PASO, TEXAS — Elizabeth Flores, Wilfredo Prado Lopez, Robert Rivas
HOUSTON, TEXAS — Dana Calvo, Ernest Eguia, Adrian Gerald Marquez, Paul Zepeda
IRVINE, CALIF. — Steven Rosales
KANSAS CITY, MO. — Ascension Hernandez, Manny Lopez, Mary Sanchez
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — Henry Mendoza
MIAMI, FLA. — Adrian Bashick
NEWTON, KAN. — Patricia Aguirre
PHOENIX, ARIZ. — George Diaz, Norma Gallegos, Ricardo Pimentel, Claudia Provencio
PUEBLO, COLO. — Irene Consuelo Alires Chavez
SAGINAW, MICH. — Elizabeth Aguirre, Raul Garcia Jr., Juan Marinez, Gloria Monita, Jeffrey Wattanabe
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — Raul Tamez
SAN JUAN, P.R. — Carlos I. Hernandez, Doralis Perez-Soto
SANTA FE, N.M. — Brian Daugherty, David Gray, Adriana Lujan, Norma Martinez, Andres Romero
TAYLOR, TEXAS — Alfred Saenz
TUCSON, ARIZ. — Olga Briseño, Hector Espinoza, Ernesto Portillo
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lorena Ruley