The Journey of Mexican Woman in the 60’s and 80’s
- Pages: 7
- Word count: 1604
- Category: Mexican
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My interview with Maricela Adame, who is my girlfriend’s mother opened my eyes to the journey that she had coming to America from Mexico as first a tourist in the 1960’s and eventually as a permanent resident in 1986. Her story is also full of challenges that happened before and after becoming a resident. Maricela was born on October 20, 1953 in Nueva Rosita in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. She lived there until she was six years old. She then moved to a pueblito that was 30 minutes away from her birthplace. It was here she became close to her grandparents and they helped to raise her into the woman she is today. As a child, she remembers the area fondly as beautiful and everyone being very friendly. Maricela’s journey is like that of many other mexican women of this time.
As she came to the States to visit a few times after he studies were completed, she always returned the familiarity of her home. Her relationship with her mother had always been strained but the relationship with her grandparents specifically her Grandma was the one that gave her hope for the future of opportunity. But the downside here was that the opportunities she had were limited in Mexico as compared to the United States. Like many other mexican women of that time, Marciela would eventually find herself was looking for two things that many hope to find, love and opportunity.
She remembers the first time she came to America was as a young girl and being around eight years old in 1960. The next time she remembers coming here is as a tourist in 1968, she recalls seeing the Hemisfair in all it’s glory of the World’s Fair and being mesmerised by it. But she also remembers going back home to the pueblito to finish her school studies in typing and shorthand. She also still has the original certificate of completion from 1971. But it was that pueblito that she knew as her home until she was 33 years old in April 1986 when she finally came to America for good in the wake of Ronald Reagan’s amnesty bill.
Maricela had gone through a difficult first marriage in her journey as her first husband which she did not want to talk about much, had been just a very hurtful man according to her. From what she said, he was very rude and abrasive in addition to being unfaithful in their brief marriage. She looked to the states for that hope she would meet a better man. Luckily fate would intervene as during a visit before she came here permanently in 1986, she met a man named Pedro Adame through a neighbor of her mother who had already relocated to the states permanently. Pedro was 12 years older but was a man of character, she described. He had been through his own hardships as he had journey from Mexico for a better life also. He came after the end of the bracero program in the early 1960’s just hoping to have an opportunity to work. As the oldest of twelve children, he wanted to make sure he had money to send to his mother and siblings. He started off working in construction especially in cement laying. He eventually found steady work as a foreman for a cement laying company, a job he would stay at for decades until his passing in 2005.
At first, the two were friends as they were both going through separations. Pedro had also been married previously but like Maricela, it was a rocky marriage with unhappiness. Their journeys were similar in the hopes that each just wanted an opportunity for work and to have a real relationship. As their friendship grew into a relationship, Maricela still found herself having to travel back to Mexico. But all that would change soon with Ronald Reagan’s proposed amnesty plan in 1986.
President Reagan believed in amnesty for those who had been here before 1982 and also for those who came forward. He felt that those who had been here illegally just wanted a chance to be Americans and granted that in November of 1986. Maricela would come here beforehand to work and live with her family here in San Antonio in the 1970’s at the Fine Silver Building sewing clothes in addition to alternating between here and Mexico where she went back due to her first marriage. Marciela officially became a United States resident on April 30, 1986 and Pedro being here before 1982 also became a United States resident as a result of President Reagan’s amnesty bill. As Various Authors, Women and migration in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands: a reader, it describes the bill as favoring men who were more likely to have formal employment and thus were able to document their status. It painted the bill as more favorable to men which was just another challenge for Maricela to overcome in her journey of opportunity.
Maricela who had the credentials to be a typist or secretary for a company here in America but as she started working at Finesilver during the 1970’s, she also continued that work as she worked at Levi’s in the early 1980’s leading to her place as resident in the United States. While there was more opportunity for her to make money rather than Mexico, the adjustment was to something she had grown up with as a child in terms of sewing and homemaking rather than what she had been trained for with her typist skills.
Her adjustment to a different career was one that many women had experience in the transition from Mexico to the United States. As described Various Authors, Women and migration in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands: a reader, Mexicanas’ choice of jobs within this polarized labor market depends in great part on their social location. San Antonio was known during the 1970’s, 80’s and until the present day as a place for manufacturing in addition to other occupations. Levi’s was a hub for that until the 1990’s when the warehouse closed here amid a move overseas. Levi’s along with Fine Silver not only presented to opportunity to Maricela, but also to her sister, Leticia who worked at San Antonio Shoes as a shoe maker. Leticia who had come here like Maricela, worked here way up at SAS as a shoe maker before eventually making her way as an insurance agent until retirement. Their mother, Emma had come during the 1950’s and had worked housekeeping in addition to working for Mi Tierra.
Maricela and Pedro had their transition of becoming permanent United States residents happen in 1986 in addition to getting married in early 1987. They also became parents to a daughter named Janie on December 2, 1987. This was another challenge for Maricela to overcome as she had faced a difficult pregnancy and delivered a month early via a cesarean section. She had complications and nearly passed away but pulled through.
Together, they would raise Janie with the expectations that their parents had for them and she would become an A student. As Janie got older and Pedro was the sole provider for the family, Maricela found herself going back into the workforce and this time with the manufacturing jobs of her past gone. Levi’s had closed and she turned to retail, first working at Weiners in the stockroom before eventually working for Ross. Ross would give her opportunities to run the stockroom with the experience she had brought from Finesilver and Levi’s. She helped to open new locations here in San Antonio also. But her toughest challenge would come in 2005.
Pedro and Maricela had been married for 18 years as 2005 came. He was a strong noble man who cared about providing for his family even through his own health issues. He had rheumatoid arthritis and had fought through that pain. But in June 2005, he was diagnosed with cellulitis in his legs and while fighting the infection, he suffered complications and sadly passed away the next month in July. This was a devastating loss that is still being felt to this day for Maricela and her daughter, Janie while still honoring their husband and father everyday. Pedro like Maricela came to America, and forged his american dream in having an opportunity to make a decent income, have a family and be a good man.
Maricela faced this challenge like she had faced her previous ones of coming to America, becoming a citizen and went right to work providing for her family. She worked at La Margarita first as a tortilla maker where she also worked with Janie who was in her first job as a hostess there too. Maricela would also work at Taco Cabana as tortilla maker and Mama Margie’s too as a tortilla maker. She would have a fall there which would keep her at a work for a time but she eventually found a job doing something she loved to do, helping people.
Maricela became a provider for the elderly and forged the bond with her clients as this was her job that she loved. She was always one to help people just like her grandmother helped her. She forged bonds with those who she helped as she became not only their provider but also their friend. One notable gift that she has received from a client who passed is a parrot who has been with them now for the past 2 years. She stopped working after facing another hurdle with gallbladder surgery and is since enjoying retirement but her journey was filled with hardships and triumphs. She has overcome those to become the strong person she is today.