aprende: el tiempo se divide en dos ríos: uno corre hacia atrás,
devora lo que vives, el otro va contigo adelante descubriendo tu vida.
Neruda, Oda al Pasado
From our classrooms, several times a day, we hear the long howling of the trains rolling down the tracks that cross Barrio Anita. This is the barrio of Davis School, with roots in the early 1900s, and a precious storage of living memories of the old days. As time passes, these images become more vulnerable and threatened by the mere passing of time, and by people moving away. As teachers, we have wanted to delve into the richness of the stories of real people who have left their imprints on these streets. As students, we wanted to hear the stories from the people themselves. We wanted to ask open ended questions, and were interested in scary, interesting storiesstories about the school, tales of old styles of life, of the abundant and long gone Chinese stores of the old barrio;
memories of games, nursery rhymes, gardens, celebrations, and hot nights sleeping outside. Together with the students, we became oral historians with a passion for the everyday life of the past. We recognized heroes and heroines in those who could tell us that they had attended Davis or lived in the barrio so many years ago, before refrigerators and inside bathrooms, before coolers and cafeterias. Those who could remember when the Santa Cruz River and the acequia carried water year round, and ice, milk, and wood were delivered by horse. These are some of our discoveries, passed on in this book through their voices, as heirlooms for those who will come after us with more questions.
GONZALEZ, BARRIO ANITA RESIDENT
Interviewer: Elizabeth Beamer
OLIVAS, BARRIO ANITA RESIDENT
grandma and my great-grandmother lived in Barrio Anita for a very long
time, and also about three or four of my aunts. My grandmother lived
to be 104 years old. I think she came over in a covered wagon many years
ago. When I was a child, if I did something wrong, it was O.K. for neighbors
to discipline me. And then, they would call my mom or my dad, or my
grandma, and tell them I had done something wrong, and I would get disciplined
at home again. So, I think people have changed a little bit."
"There was a swimming pool behind my mother's house where people used to go swimming. Before TV was invented, people used to listen to the radio and go to Herrera Quiroz Park. It was called Oury Park back then. (They just changed the name this year) That's where they had dances, and that's where they had baseball games. They had all these different activities at the park because it was a way of getting people together. After T.V., people didn't go to the park as much as they did before." Although Ramón did not attend Davis he was accepted by the people who lived in the barrio and knows a lot of things about it. When the question of how old the barrio was came up, he answered, "I think it's over a hundred years old. Barrio Anita is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tucson. So there's a lot of history here." When the subject of Herrera Quiroz Park came up again he said, "The pool they have at Oury Park now is the new pool. They used to have another pool, and sometimes it was segregated where only African Americans were allowed on one day and then, Mexicans on other days."
Interviewers: Kenia Beltrán, Diego Bravo,
Margarita Olivas, grandmother of Ramón Olivas. Courtesy of Ramón Olivas
Barrio Anita Landscape, drawing by Antonio Mesquita
SRA. TERI GONZALEZ, BARRIO ANITA RESIDENT
"We used to know everybody and everybody knew each other. We used to sleep outside in the summer. There were no coolers, and we trusted everybody. Even now, when I am outside watering the plants in the evenings or in the mornings, the smell of tortillas brings back the memories, because at that time, around hree or four o'clock, the mothers would build a fire. They had wood stoves. Then, the little "humito" would be up there, and the smell of tortillas, chorizos, and papas, and everything! Era wonderful!"
Interviewer: Elizabeth Beamer
DALTON, BARRIO ANITA RESIDENT
But Estela didn't obey the witch and between the shed
and that row of outhouses that were there, a huge dog came at her, and
he had red eyes and had a lot of foam coming out of his mouth. Estela
froze. "All of the sudden I heard her yelling. `I told you not
to go through there.'" Then she turned around and looked and there
was a cat, and the cat attacked the dog. "I started running towards
the alley, and as I turned around to see what was happening, the dog
had scratched across the cat's face. I heard somebody yelling at me
again. "'Run!' So I ran to the corner and I did the three corners
and I went into my house."
interviewers: Cristina Acuña, Mariah Adkisson,
SRA. BERTA RICO, BARRIO ANITA RESIDENT
"My mother's father used to sell wood. Tenía una carretela con un caballo blanco. El se llamaba Toribio Felix y era viejito ya. El es el que nos ayudó a mi mamá , a nosotros y a los hijos a que viniéramos de Cananea. Vivía con seis hijos. Todos los días iba a entregar leña. Cabían cinco cargas de leña en la carretela atrás. Costaban $0.50 cada una. Ahora la venden en el Safeway en saquitos. Siempre que la veo me acuerdo de mi papá."
interviewer: Nina Lara
BARRIO ANITA RESIDENT
Interviewer: Nina Lara
BENITEZ, NATIVE TUCSON
Interviewer: Alejandra Benítez