Fanny Miller is the owner of El Latino, the largest Spanish language newspaper in the United States. Today, El Latino is one of the top ten Latino newspapers nationwide and the only Latino newspaper in California owned by a woman. In 2018 she started a new venture, Celebrando Latinas, a magazine about issues that are important to women in the Latino Community. [Read more…]
On March 31, 1942, Roy Cazares was born in San Francisco del Oro, Chihuahua, Mexico. Roy Cazares is one of ten children born to Carlos and Norberta Cazares. When Roy was two years old, his family moved to San Diego and lived in Frontier Housing, located in Pacific Beach. His father Carlos had taken a job as a mechanical engineer in wartime San Diego. Roy was much too young to remember living in Mexico; however, he does remember that, while living in Frontier Housing, he and his brothers collected aluminum and rubber tires for war-focused San Diego. [Read more…]
Jose “Pepe” Villarino is an icon in San Diego’s Latino community, where he has been known for over four decades as an educator, activist and musician.
Pepe was born in Winslow, Arizona, on March 19, 1930. He is the second youngest son born to Rosa Rios and Leocidio Layva. When Pepe was seven years old, just a few days after Rosa gave birth to his sister Rachael, his mother died.
After the Mexican Revolution, Leocidio came to Winslow to work for the railroad. Pepe says his father was light skinned and he believes this trait was crucial for being selected for a better job. Because of this job, the family lived in a house with indoor plumbing. Leocidio paid ten dollars a month for their two-bedroom house. [Read more…]
When Tina Real opened Tina Real Talent Agency in 1972 the successful San Diego businesswoman drew upon her experiences and contacts as a John Robert Powers model and employee of John Alessio at the Agua Caliente Racetrack. She also continued the legacy of strong independent women established by her mother Priscilla Yanez and maternal grandmother Mercedes Murgia Morales. Tina’s path to this success was not always easy, but she persisted. [Read more…]
About month ago I sat down to interview Tina Real. Tina has memories of San Diego that span her eight decades here. What began as an interview of Tina herself quickly expanded to encompass her heritage of strong independent women–her grandmother Mercedes Morales and her mother Priscilla Yanez, who would become a spy for the United States during World War II. [Read more…]
Paula and Nicolaz Casillas raised three daughters in the post World War II boom. The previous article “Matriarch Paula Casillas and Her Daughters” details Paula’s life journey from the Pala Indian Reservation to Chula Vista where she and Nick raised their family. [Read more…]
Part I: From Douglas Arizona, to the Pala Indian Reservation to Chula Vista
I interviewed Paula Casillas in November 2017. The first thing you notice is how well dressed she is. Her hat matches her clothes and she certainly does not look like a woman who was born in 1923. Gloria Casillas and Mary Salas, two of her three daughters, are with us.
The Casillas family has deep roots in Chula Vista, California. Before moving to Chula Vista, Paula grew up on the Pala Indian Reservation. Her father, Jose Rafael Silva, was born in San Pedro, Sonora, and moved to Douglas, Arizona around 1914. Jose served in World War I and has his draft card to prove it. Paula’s mother, Rosa Limon Silva, was born in Hermosillo, Sonora. There were seven children in the family, three brothers and four sisters, and they survived as poor land farmers.
Paula’s father also worked at the Copper Queen Smelting Company in Douglas, which produced 25 percent of all the world’s copper at that time. Mexicans worked in the worst conditions and held the most dangerous jobs in the mine. There had been a strike at the mines and the Mexican workers were basically used as strike breakers, but became so valuable for the dangerous jobs that they were kept as laborers. [Read more…]
Editor Note: This is the final article in the four-part series Brother Martin: From Logan Heights to a Trappist Abbey
Brother Martin devoted his Wednesday morning to giving my companion José Goytia and me a tour of the grounds of the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Oregon. This time he was dressed in his monk robes. He showed us the dining room with its beautiful wooden tables. [Read more…]
While he was readjusting to living in Logan Heights, Brother Martin was having a war inside himself about what he wanted to do with his life. He spoke with priests and nuns about his confusion. He taught catechism and led a Boy Scout troop for boys from Saint Augustine. He seemed to have one foot in the religious world and the other in regular everyday life. He was unsure if he wanted to follow a religious life or continue on the path he was on. [Read more…]
Brother Martin remembers that Australia of 1943 looked like America of the 1920s. He was assigned to the 1st Calvary Division in a camp located near a suburb called Strapfine. He was an assistant to the “BAR Man.” (BAR stands for Browning Automatic Rifle, which was a big gun which fired 20-round clips with 30-caliber ammunition.) The BAR Man, Dick Chase, was an Episcopalian from Minnesota. He says they had some interesting discussions about their two faiths.
He celebrated his nineteenth birthday on an LST (Landing Ship, Tank) going from Australia to Oro Bay, New Guinea, on the way to a planned invasion of the Admiralty Islands. [Read more…]
While I was collecting material for the book “La Neighbor: A Settlement House in Logan Heights”, my friend Emma Lopez recommended that I get in touch with a monk named Brother Martin, who grew up in Logan Heights. I wasn’t sure how much he would have to share, or, for that matter, how much he would remember, since he had been at an abbey for over 60 years. But I followed Emma’s advice and contacted Brother Martin via regular mail.
On one particular day, he asked when I was coming up to visit him. I promised I would go “next summer.” As “next summer” came to an end, I began preparations to meet Brother Martin. [Read more…]
On Sunday August 20, a memorable event took place at the Women’s Museum of California. It was publicized as a book signing of the recently released Chicana Tributes: Activist Women of the Civil Rights Movement, but in reality, it was an ebullient celebration. The book documents the work of sixty-one women who were fearless and committed trailblazers in the Chicano civil rights movement in the late twentieth century and beyond. A number of those women were and still are deeply connected to San Diego’s own history of that movement. [Read more…]