Victor: My father's name was Pedro Aros but his nickname - people knew him as Prieto, and my mother's name was Lupe.
THE AROS BROTHERS GREW UP ON A RANCH IN SOUTHERN ARIZONA
My father was a cowboy there, he was a working cowboy, working for Howell Manning at the time. "El mudo" they called him, the dumb one. He owned all that ranch. The ranches - he had anywhere from 12 to 14 ranches, stretching all the way from the Canoa Ranch here on the Nogales Highway, all the way to the Mexican border. And he had Mexican vaqueros working in all these ranches, one on each ranch. And we happened to be the vaqueros at the furthest end of the spectrum over there, at the ranch by the name of Poso Nuevo, "the last water" they called it - "Sister" Bourne called it "the last water" - there, which was in the Manning Ranch. Of course they had other waters further up - the Gills, and so forth and so on. There's a lot of other cattle ranches back up in there.
SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS AND CHORES
Joan: So, you had 16 kids, though, at the time you were in third grade and Pete was in so-called kindergarten?
Victor: (laughs) Yeah...well, unless Eva and Mercy hadn't been born yet.
Pete: No, hmm...there was Stella, Stella was born. Stella. Yeah. She was younger than me. It was Stella, and then me, and Connie, and you.
Joan: So, where did you all sleep?
Victor: Wherever. Wherever it got dark (laughs)
Pete: Well, the girls had their own bedroom and the boys had their own bedroom...mostly on couches. And there was always somebody willing to help you out, so we had plenty of couches.
Pete: We had a lot of cots too, remember - catres, you know.
Joan: Was it warm? You said there was a fireplace between the two rooms.
Pete: We had a fire place, hmm, hmm. We were warm enough.
Joan: The fire place was needing a lot of wood, though, I would think.
Victor: Oh yeah.
Joan: Who got the wood?
Victor: Well, I'll give you three guesses. (laughs)
Pete: It's the boys. The boys, all the boys did it...
Joan: And that wasn't one of your favorite jobs.
Victor: There wasn't any chain saws in those days, either.
Joan: No, so what did you do?
Pete: Just with the ax. Just with the ax.
FOOD IN THOSE DAYS
Pete: My older cousin, Manuel, he was the farmer of the family. And with their old mules and the horses there, he used to plow down, some big, some pretty good size fields in there. In those days it seemed like it rained more. These were all what they call temporales, you know, just temporal rains. They used to come at certain times of the year, and that's what he raised a lot of corn and beans and squash and watermelons. And people used to go over to the ranch to help themselves to our bounty there. And of course we got that beef ration every month. Sometimes we'd - the size of our family -sometimes we'd eat TWO cows a month, you know, but we used to eat a lot of jerky, a lot of dry meat, you know, because there was no refrigerators in those days. You eat fresh meat for two, three days and then you have to start jerking it, you know. We knew we had to have meat so, we didn't, we never complained too much about how much meat we ate, you know - which we ate quite a bit, I might say. To this day, I don't know whether it's good for the cholesterol or not, but we didn't care, we ate it anyway. (laughs)
Joan: What else do you remember that you ate?
Victor: Well, a lot of ah, (laughs) a lot of corn.
Victor: A lot of tortillas..
Pete: We had beans all the time.
Joan: Who made the tortillas?
Victor: The girls, the older girls, and they made good ones too.
Pete: Big old ones like that. Some of them, big tortillas, the biggest, they used to stretch them, you know, stretch them until they got up to the arm, like that. Then they were ready to put in the hot stove.
Joan: What was one of the schools?
Victor: Las Moras,
Victor: Las Moras.
Joan: You were the winner. You were the winner for at least two years.
Victor: Oh, yeah, at least two years in a row, maybe more. I used to get it all over my face, my eyes. I used to dig right in there, because we had to have our hands tied behind us. We couldn't use our hands to eat it. We had to eat it you know. That was part of the fun to see how much pie you got all over your face. (laughs)
Joan: And Pete was in a watermelon eating contest.
Pete: (laughs) I don't remember.
Joan: You were really little.
Joan: They said you didn't win but you didn't stop eating after it was over; you just kept eating your watermelon. (laughs)
IN 1935 VICTOR AROS WAS IN SECOND GRADE AND HIS BROTHER PEDRO (PETE OR PILLY) WAS IN KINDERGARTEN AT BABOQUIVARI SCHOOL. THE SCHOOL WAS LOCATED IN ONE OF THE ROOMS OF THE POSO NUEVO RANCH, WHERE THE AROS FAMILY LIVED.
Joan: School was in the room on the end of the whole length of the ranch house…
Victor: Of the ranch house, yes
Joan: Of Poso Nuevo.
Victor: We were all under one roof.
Joan: And, do you remember what the school room looked like?
Victor: Just a room at the end of the...at the end of - over there, now let's see. It went from east to west. And on the east wall, that's where they had the blackboard and the pictures of you know, different kinds - well like you know a school room would, you know, have - pictures of horses, and mostly horses and cows…and bears, and letters that we got from these people from Alaska, and from the Navajo reservations here - they used to write to us. They used to pin their letters on the board, you know. Things like that. It's like a school, just a regular school room. Then, they had the little chairs. Not too many of them because there was...I think the most people they ever had in school was 10 or 11.
ONLY THREE ANGLO KIDS AT BABOQUIVARI THAT YEAR
Victor: But the Emerys came later on, and that's because their father started working at the mines over here, and then they somehow or another had to go a couple of miles to where the bus started - you know where Don Pasqual, the bus driver, used to live - and from then on they used to get on the bus and go to school. But Ines and the other boys there, they, uh, at that time, they were the only Anglos that went to that school there. And then that was only for a matter of about only four months at the most, that I can remember, because then their dad moved, or they got another job somewhere else.
Joan: But they didn't speak Spanish?
Victor: Oh, no, no, they didn't speak Spanish.
WRITING AND DRAWING FOR THE LITTLE COWPUNCHER
Joan: Do you remember writing those stories for the Little Cowpuncher?
Joan: You don't remember any?
Victor: I remember some. I remember drawing some pictures.
Pete: I think the older kids were, you know, were doing that better. I used to like to draw a picture of a horse, you know, but it never turned out looking like a horse.
Joan: You had a very nice picture of somebody lassoing...
Pete: Oh, yeah. (laughs)
Joan: When you were really little like five or six.
Pete: Yeah, and after that I just started... I'd draw the head first and then, but then I didn't know how to put the rest, (laughs) finish the rest of it. So, I just gotta leave it like that. You'd see a lot of pictures without - with no body in them.
Joan: But you had a lot of models on the ranch.
Pete: Yeah, oh yeah...
EULALIA "SISTER" BOURNE
Joan: What do you remember about Eulalia Bourne?
Pete: Sister Bourne was a good teacher. When I was a kid, you know, getting into things, and I - she'd come into town on the weekends - of course going back on Sunday. But she always brought a lot of goodies, you know, like fruits and candies, nuts, whatever...so I'd be waiting out there, and I'd hear the truck coming, so I'd run up there and open the gate for her and everything. "Thank you Pilly" and everything. Then she'd go and start unloading and stuff, and I'd just sit there and watch her, thinking something's gotta happen here soon. And she would, pretty soon, she would come and give me an apple or something. So, that's why I say she was a good teacher - to me. I wasn't learning much, but she was a good teacher. (laughs)
Victor: That's where I learned most of my, my, uh, well, my times tables. She'd be driving and, "What's five times five?" (laughs) or "What's the capital of Vermont?" "Montpelier?" See, I remember all those things, but that is the way it was. She was giving me homework on the way to over there, you know. (laughs)