Gus Amado

Joan: Gus, is this the ranch that you lived on when you were a child?
Gus: Yeah. Yes.
Joan: And it looked pretty much like this when you were eight years old?
Gus: No. It changed quite a bit, you know. The house, everything around here is changed, but mostly - mostly it's the same.
Gus: I guess this house was built by my great grandmother, 1911, the year was on the house where it's made, on the wall.
Joan: The Amado family has been ranching in this area for...
Gus: Well, as far as I know since 1848.
Joan: Your cousins, Tony and Laura, they must have lived on the ranch…
Gus: Yeah at -across the river - at Rancho San Antonio.
Joan: But they were your closest neighbors then?
Gus: Yes, then - and some cousins over here - Amados, yeah.


Joan: So, you were born… you were born in Tucson.
Gus: in Tucson.
Joan: You were born in Tucson.
Gus: Yeah, and then they brought me out here, yeah. At that family Stork's Nest
in Tucson - it was the only one that was.
Joan: And then you went all school years, from all your elementary school years…
Gus: To the sixth grade. And then the seventh grade I went to Tucson, because my sisters had to go to Tucson, because there was no more…
Joan: That's right, because they were older.
Gus: That's right.
Joan: And your sisters' names are?
Gus: Natalia and Yolanda.
Joan: And Natalia was in fifth grade when you were in third grade.
Gus: Right. Yeah.
Joan: And Yolanda was in seventh grade.
Gus: Seventh grade.


Joan: How far was it from here - from the ranch - to school?
Gus: I'd say about ten, twelve miles.
Joan: That school was actually further away than Amado School.
Gus: Oh yeah. They'd go up the Aravaca road, about, I'd say ten-twelve miles.
Joan: Yeah. But you couldn't go to Amado School because that was in Santa Cruz county and this is Pima County.
Gus: Pima County, yeah, that's right...And most of 'em were ranch kids,
you know. Their dads worked on the ranch, and what have you, so they went
to school at Sopori.


Joan: …Beverly (Gus' wife) - she told me that you brought things to play with at recess, that you'd bring in the bus.
Gus: We'd take our tires.
Joan: Tires?
Gus: Yeah.
Joan: And what did you do with the tires?
Gus: Play with 'em.
Joan: Roll 'em?
Gus: Roll 'em. Yeah. 'Cause there was no - we didn't have no - nothing to play with. There was no swings, no nothing. And so we took our own tires, and maybe two or three of us would take tires. (laughs)
Joan: (laughs) You mean there was room in the bus for a couple of tires, plus all the kids?
Gus: (laughs) He-he. Yeah.

Joan: Baseball. You guys played baseball, too, right?
Gus: Yeah, we didn't have a backstop, but we had a garage door. That we had the schoolhouse, and then the garage door with a two-car garage, out of wood. And the doors would open that way to put your car in, and close it, all right. So those doors fell - or they wore off - and we took 'em and used 'em as a
backstop. So with that ball, we'd hit that backstop, and all the balls were egg-shaped, you know, after a while they just …
Joan: And you had - so that was your equipment, an egg-shaped ball and a bat, and a homemade backstop.
Gus: Yeah, and no coach, no nothing.
Joan: And all the kids played - the girls, too?
Gus: Oh, yeah, yeah, and it's a wonder we didn't kill ourselves. And the teachers - they'd never come out. Mrs. Bourne - well very seldom she'd come out.
Joan: She wasn't an umpire or anything like that?
Gus: No. no. no. She was pretty much of a cowgal.


Joan: What do you remember about her?
Gus: Oh, she was, she was...uh…everybody liked her. And I learned a lot from
her. She'd talk to you, and what have you. And she lived in Oracle. On weekends she'd go home, I guess.
Joan: She had a homestead in Peppersauce Canyon.
Gus: Yeah. But during the week, she'd stay here and they had a room there for the teachers - they stayed there. But I remember on weekends she'd go home. And I remember I'd get a ride with her, because she was coming this way. And sometimes I'd get an early ride - maybe half an hour before the bus left - and I said - and I asked, "Mrs. Bourne, will you give me a ride?" "Sure..."
Joan: What was she driving in those days?
Gus: She had a 19 - let's see - I think it was a 1944 coupe… and we went by here and, well, I didn't say, "I live here." (laughs) We were down there by the rest stop, and I go, uh, I said (laughs) I just kept looking at her (laughs) and she says, "Oh! I forgot you!" So she made a turn. She kind of left me off. She turned me off. Yeah, yeah.


Gus: But you know, when I went to school, I didn't know how to speak
English at all. Nothing. My sisters did, but uh...
Joan: So you spoke Spanish at home?
Gus: Yes.
Joan: With your family?
Gus: Right. Yeah. But my mother did, my dad did, my grandfather did (speak
English) but…
Joan: What'd you do when you started school, not speaking English?
Gus: Boy! I just…I just was lost, completely lost.
Joan: Did your sisters help you? Did the other kids help you?
Gus: Yeah, I don't know how I started. I don't know when I learned it.

Joan: There must have been other kids too, because…
Gus: Oh yeah. All the Anglos didn't know how - they learned how to speak Spanish, and all the Mexicans learned how to speak English from the Anglos. Yeah, and it just…
Joan: So you ended up all being bilingual.
Gus: Yeah, right, 'cause we played together. All the cuss words, everything.


Joan: And you brought the tires to play with, and did you also have games
that you played on the playground?
Gus: Slingshots. Yeah.
Joan: What did the girls play - slingshots too, or did they have?
Gus: No, they played their own...hopscotch or whatever, you know, but…
Joan: So the boys and the girls didn't necessarily play together?
Gus: No, not really. No. We'd get into fights and what have you.
Joan: They talked about playing roundup too - with ropes. Did you do that?
Gus: Yeah, probably, yeah. Another time we used to - well, Eddie Hackett
started during World War Two - foxholes. Well, Eddie Hackett started digging a foxhole - a trench you know…
Joan: In the schoolyard?
Gus: Yeah. Right. And he kept all by himself. We'd be playing other things -
you know cowboys and robbers, or what have you - and he'd have been there for maybe a couple of days, and "Lets see what Eddie's doing." (laughs) So, we went over there and his head stuck out, all full of dirt, (laughs) and so we helped him. And well, oh I guess, you know, about that deep, probably. (shows how deep)
Joan: You guys were about eight years old?
Gus: Yeah, yeah. Then we take shovels and hammers and anything to scratch the ground, just throw the dirt out. And maybe that trench was probably, you know - I want say from here to that tree, but that's too much - about ten feet long and then four foot. When we were that old, you walk in there, and you couldn't see it. So, and then we put corrugated sheet on top. Where we got that, I
don't know, maybe we took it to school. And we covered them up…
Joan: On the bus with the tires?
Gus: Yeah. Right. And then we'd cover it up with dirt. And then about five, six,
seven days later - maybe the next week - Mr. Mote - he was a school teacher - he come out and he said, "What are you boys doing?" because we were smoking - we were smoking that Careless Weed and we'd break it and puff on it, and he saw the smoke. "What are you guys doing?" - "Nothing." (laughs) And so, then, they made us bury that foxhole.


Joan: Did Mrs. Bourne ever punish anybody?
Gus: Well, yeah, but it wasn't - She'd bawl you out, but physically no, no, wouldn't spank you or nothing. But the Romos (two sisters who were teachers at Sopori after Bourne) would, you know. And ah, yeah, the Romos would. They had a rubber hose that they'd spank you with. They tried 'em on me.


Joan: You had Defense Stamps. Your sisters wrote in the paper about how they were collecting - or saving - money to buy Defense Stamps
Gus: Oh yeah. Right.
Joan: And you had a Victory Garden in the schoolyard.
Gus: Victory Garden, yeah. We planted - Ms. Bourne, yeah, she was great
at that - we made her furrows out, and planted radishes, and turnips, and, yeah, keep it clean, yeah. And then we'd march up and down that Arivaca Road for the parade. Oh yeah.
Joan: Oh, because you went to the Armistice Day Parade that year.
Gus: That and the Rodeo Parade too, yeah.
Joan: That's right. What do you remember from those?
Gus: Well, we'd go to town - big deal, you know - oh yeah.
Joan: How would you get in to town - all the kids?
Gus: Well, lets see. I think my mother took some, and her (pointing out his cousin, María Amado Byers) mother took some, and the bus, I guess, took us too. I guess we all went together in the bus, and then we come back with our mothers or what have you, you know.
Joan: Did you just stay over night in Tucson then?
Gus: No I think we'd come home.


Joan: You had like three weeks off at Christmas - two or three weeks off - so what happened back at the ranch when school was out?
Gus: Well, a lot of times, at Christmas we'd go to Los Angeles, to visit my grandmother and grandfather, and we'd stay there two weeks probably, and then come back, and my dad would take a, we had a 19 - I think - a 34-35 Chevrolet, and he'd pack all the presents in the car, and - God we were naïve - we never saw any of the gifts, you know. But we got a lot of gifts up there with the aunts and grandma in L.A.
Joan: So all five of you would drive in that car all the way up to Los Angeles?
Gus: Yes, and uh, probably, we'd - overnight we'd stay someplace. I don't know where. But in the wintertime, you know - it's a long haul. And then usually
when we'd go, we'd always take an aunt, to go see her sisters in L.A. because…and when we'd come back, we'd bring another sister back. Oh, God, like pack them in like sardines. (laughs)


Joan: And your sisters are - Natalia lives in Sierra Vista, right?
Gus: Sierra Vista, yes.
Joan: And Yolanda died?
Gus: Yes, she died about…God, I was going to say - she died on my birthday, which is…
Joan: Which is tomorrow.
Gus: Yeah.
Joan: The 21st.
Gus: Right…maybe four years ago.


Gus: …I guess when I was twelve years old.
Joan: And you moved to Tucson at that time.
Gus: Moved to Tucson, 1941, (he must mean 1935) so I was 13 years old - 41.
Joan: How was it to move to Tucson and go to big schools there, when you…
Gus: How was it?
Joan: Yeah.
Gus: Terrib- I never knew they made schools that big. They had a bell - when
it rang, and you went to a classroom. And then the bell would ring again, and you'd go to another classroom and…God, I was scared.
Joan: A lot more kids than...
Gus: Oh yeah! In the hallway, you know. Yeah. The bell'd ring - here they all come out! (laughs) Where do I go? you know...Oh yeah.
Joan: Did you have trouble academically after going to a…
Gus: Yes, very much so - didn't know how to read. You know, I had to take summer school with a teacher by the name of Mrs. Mote - she taught here. And my mother got a letter from the schoolteacher: "Your boy is - his reading ability is as good as a second grader."
And I was in the seventh grade.


Gus: When I graduated they offered me a job, and uh, I was working in
town and I'd live here, and I'd go back and forth every day for…
I guess I was with the state for five years. And then - then I had cattle here, and
then my grandfather died, and then the family offered me to run the place - to run the Amado Ranch, so...
Joan: And it was much bigger than Rancho Nuevo?
Gus: Yes, oh yeah. So then I come down here and ran that for three or four years, and then in the meantime…
Joan: And that was a full time job?
Gus: Yes. And then after that, in the meantime, I was offered a job there in Mexico, and I went down there to farm.
Joan: Where was that in Mexico?
Gus: Caborca. Where I - I'm still there. And I stayed there.

Gus: Diana lives in Green Valley, and Gail lives in Green Valley - she's
the oldest, and then Diana follows and she's in Green Valley, and Judy lives in Tucson.
Joan: Oh, that's another one that hasn't gotten very far away.
Gus: Right, yeah...and she comes here all the time, too, which is good.
Joan: But none of them are ranchers?
Gus: No, no. They're smart. (laughs)
Joan: (laughs) What do you mean by that?
Gus: It's tough to be a rancher. Tough, tough.
And getting tougher everyday. Oh yeah.
Joan: What makes it tough?
Gus: It's…everything costs so much, and cattle prices are way down, and
land values are sky-high. And you can retire, and then you get a lot of money.
Then what do you do? Where you going to spend it, if you got a lot
of it? Jesus, you go nuts.