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"Voices in the Valley"
The Tubac Historical Society Oral History Project
page 4of 7


Elvira Hildalgo Amado
Yolanda Amado Wells

Tucson, Arizona

Interviewer: Betty J. Lane
Date of Interview: October 18, 1990

Lane: Junior, is living up near Madera Canyon on a ranch that was originally established by Antonio Senior.
Amado: And his wife lives up there too. She's not too well, but she's still living. She must be close to 90 years old, I think.
Lane: His mother?
Wells: No, this is Antonio Junior's wife?
Amado: My sister in law, Armida. She was one of the Aguirres, a well known family.
Lane: When you moved into the other house, on the west side of the Santa Cruz, you began to remodel it and fix it up, I presume.
Amado: Yes.
Lane: Did you add rooms to it?
Amado: No, just like it was. They just sort of plastered it and they made the .... The kitchen was just one room. There was no cabinets. And when they fixed it up, they put a sink and cabinets like a kitchen. It wasn't anything fancy, it was just roomy, very roomy.
Wells: And it was during the Depression?
Amado: Yes, during the Depression.
Lane: How did the Depression affect you?
Amado: Very badly. (laughs) We were having a hard time. Nobody had money.
Lane: Did you raise most of your own food?
Amado: No, in the summer we had vegetables, lots of vegetables. And once in a while they'd slaughter so we had meat. That's about it, I guess.
Lane: At least you had food, which many people found very ....

Wells: And she did a lot of canning.
Amado: Oh yes! I did a lot of canning.
Wells: So she did have vegetables in the wintertime. I mean, this is not fresh, but they had canned.
Amado: I used to can a lot of peaches and pears.
Lane: Did you have fruit trees on your property?
Amado: Uh huh, by the pump. You know where Gus lives? About a quarter of mile. There was a lot of trees, but they've died since.
Wells: They planted trees my dad did that so that we've have food, of course. And that's where she would plant those [ed: inaudible], and we'd can.
Amado: It was a lot of fun.
Wells: We never went hungry. (laughs)
Lane: Did you have family parties? Did the others come down from Tucson?
Amado: Oh, yes, we had a lot of company, friends. And we'd make corn tamales. You've had them?
Lane: I've never eaten them.
Amado: Oh you haven't? Well, they're supposed to be everybody likes them.
Lane: Was it Antonio who also used to have big parties over there on the east side of the river, in the older days?
Amado: Do you mean his father, or the younger?
Lane: Probably the father.
Amado: Yes, on his saint's day, which is August 13. That's Antonio's saint's day, no? Oh, he always had a barbecue and invited a lot of people.
Lane: And they came down and stayed two or three days, did they?

Amado: No, just for the day. Some of them stayed, but there wasn't room for all of them.
Wells: Mother, I think though, when my dad was young, before you got married, they would have these parties, and wouldn't they come and stay two or three days at a time, when they were younger with their friends and so forth?

Amado: Their relatives, uh huh, some of them. Well, they didn't have too much room.
Lane: And it just took longer to come from Tucson in those days, I'm sure.
Amado: Yes, it did. When Gustavo was little, they used to come with a wagon to Tucson he and his wife and the kids. And it would take them two days. I think they slept in Sahuarita.
Lane: You're talking about your husband?
Amado: Yes, and his parents. And then they'd come and stay with his grandmother who lived over here on Sixth Street and they'd spend two or three days, I guess.
Lane: So did you go to church at the little church in Amado?

Amado: It was an old church. I think somebody bought the place and they remodeled it. But it used to be an old church, adobe and ....

Amado: No, I don't think it was a barn.
Wells: It just felt like a barn when you'd go there. In the wintertime when you'd go, it was freezing.
Lane: Where was that exactly?
Amado: It belongs to ....
Wells: England?
Amado: No, not England. You don't know anybody that lives up there?
Lane: I know where Judy England's place is there.
Amado: Well, it wasn't Mr. England's, no.
Wells: It was somebody else, but I can't remember now.
Amado: He's very well known.
Wells: He's very well known.
Amado: No. I can't think of his name.
Wells: Place?
Amado: No, not Place either. He used to be a good friend of John Wayne's. John Wayne would visit him there. But I can't remember his name.

Lane: So none of your children, though, went to school at Amado they went to Sopori over there?
Amado: Sopori School, because we were in Pima County.
Lane: [to Wells] Did you go there?
Wells: Uh huh.

Amado: Until the eighth grade, until you were thirteen?
Wells: Yes.
Amado: And then she came to town.
Lane: Your son Gus was telling me that he went to school under Sister Bourne for a while.
Amado: Eulalia.
Lane: [to Wells] Did you?
Wells: Oh yes.
Lane: Describe her to me.
Wells: She was very special. She was always wearing a hat.
Amado: Cowboy hat.
Wells: Always her cowboy hat. She was a lot of fun and she got us interested in things. We'd go on field trips and we'd take little art trips. She'd make us draw whatever we saw. It was a lot of fun having her, and she taught us something. Because we did have teachers there that didn't do too much teaching, unfortunately. It was very hard when you came into town, because you just didn't know. They didn't teach you how to study or do a lot of things. I remember when she was there and some of the children that were leaving from the eighth grade she would really teach them, like their English, especially. English and math and all of that. We did learn how to read when we were in school, which now they don't, I understand, in a lot of the schools. The one thing we did know how to read and [do] math.
Lane: You came to Tucson High then, right from there?
Amado: Oh yes.
Lane: Was it difficult, making the change?
Amado: Well, I didn't go right .... I went to Mansfeld Junior High, because I had to be in the ninth grade then.
Lane: You didn't have to go back any grades?

Amado: No, I probably should have, but I didn't. (laughs) But my sister did. We went to make our first communion in Los Angeles because we didn't have the facilities, or somehow we didn't go to catechism here at the ranch. You know, the church there. And so my mother put both my sister and Inot at the same time but at separate times, to go to catechism in L.A. And we went to Catholic school there. And it was hard. I had a lot of different teachers, because there were .... The sister that was teaching my grade was sick so we had a lot of substitute teachers, and they didn't catch me, I'm sure, because of that. My sister was put down a grade, and that helped her, I think. It helped her when she went to school later on.
Lane: Did you have any trouble with your English?
Wells: Never. I went to a convent here in Tucson.
Amado: For kindergarten.
Wells: Yeah, kindergarten, with the nuns. But was it called St. Joseph's at that time?
Amado: Yes.
Wells: And I didn't know how to speak any English at all when I first started.
Amado: Neither did we.
Wells: None of us. My husband can't get over how we speak now without an accent, not having spoken anything but Spanish until we went to school. But I don't remember having a hard time.
Lane: Where did you do your shopping for groceries?
Amado: When we'd come to town, we'd go to .... Let's see, it was a Chinaman's store on South Meyer Street. There weren't too many ....
Wells: Jerry Lee Ho.
Amado: Jerry Lee Ho, uh huh. That's where we did our shopping. Because then, there weren't any stores out at Amado.