Heritage, Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 1992 Page: 35
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and will hopefully stimulate local historians
to conduct similar searches for historical
photographs of landscapes and interiors.
Further, Brandimarte's book educates
us about the limitations of these photographic
Doing What the Day
Brought: An Oral History
of Arizona Women
Mary Logan Rothschild and Pamela Claire
Hronek. University of Arizona Press. Paperback,
Review by Ada Gonzalez-Peterson, Bilingual
Educator and Director, Socorro School Oral
History Project, Socorro, Texas
The peach trees of my grandparent's
house on Fremont Street in Laredo provided
nourishment after chasing my brothers and
sisters around their big yard. We would
suck on them and the juice would roll down
our chins and stain our tops. When the sun
set, we'd stretch out on the grass and listen
to stories of lechusas, apariciones, and el bale
del diablo. My grandparents talked about
how well my grandmother's neighbor
Alejandra, una cuarandera, had cared for
Admeeda's empacho. Finally the cool breeze
would begin to blow, and we'd go home
sleepy-eyed with the images nesting in my
How much more could I have learned
about the lives and stories of my grandparents
had I realized then that my father's
family hadn't always lived in this house,
that they had farmed in San Ignacio, and
they had been children once, too? How
many things could they have told me
about the way it was to live in South
Texas? As we grow older we come to
appreciate the wealth of knowledge our
elders can share with us and, sometimes, it
is too late.
Other questions that come to mind are,
why do history textbooks fail to include my
grandparents and their neighbors in Texas
history? Why aren't ethnic communities
and their histories represented? Why do
they choose to feature only the famous and
wealthy while it is obvious that this coun
try was toiled by the common class of all
colors? They argue that there is limited
space and students need to know "basic"
United States and Texas history, so they
supply token paragraphs on Cesar Chavez
and Martin Luther King.
Oral histories are a way to respond to
these questions of exclusion and preservation.
Through the interview and publication
process, scholars and teachers have
incorporated what the textbooks leave
out and what the young need to learn
before it is too late. It is a way of collectively
remembering and storing in the
community memory the lives and stories
of the people who have lived and worked
together to build the cities and towns in
which we live. Every person has made a
contribution by raising children, picking
cotton, driving trucks, working oil rigs,
and churning butter. In this way, we
affirm all the efforts of all the people,
regardless of ethnicity, class, and religion.
They are all important to the development
of who we are as a nation.
The authors of "Doing What The Day
Brought" did just that when they conducted
interviews with 30 women living
in Arizona. The authors should be applauded
for their multicultural perspective
and their insistence in dealing with
the issue of womanhood and racism in the
pioneering Southwest. The three premises
of the book are that women are usually
under-represented in the history of the
Westward Expansion; that minority
women are even further ignored; and that
the lives of "ordinary" women should be
explored. So they proceeded in interviewing
Mohave-, African-, Japanese-,
Anglo- Apache-, Russian- and MexicanAmericans.
Some were Jewish, Mormon,
and Catholic. They included members of
the Republican Party, the Democratic
Party, and Tribal Council. These women
were ranchers, teachers, homemakers,
midwives, activists, clerks, social workers,
accountants, and screen writers. They
shared one element in common and that
is living in the harsh desert climate of
Arizona during the 20th century. While
some loved the area, others were ambivalent.
All agreed that the pioneering
days of the early 1900s were difficult, and
that they did not want to ever go back, at
least not past the 1950s.
The multi-racial, cross-economic focus
of this book delivers some interesting vignettes
and expresses how differently each
cultural group perceives and is perceived.
For instance when asked about schooling,
Sallie Lewis explained that she didn't like
the government boarding school three miles
from Mesa, but the other girls liked using
the bathrooms and washing. Ruby Estrada
remembers students being punished with
straps for speaking Spanish. She added,
"The teacher was mean, then the kids got
The title of the book implies that women
were helpless and just took life as it came.
That was true of certain situations such as
the case of the young mother ofAnne Bush
who crossed Utah with a three-month-old
son and a boy of 14 or 15 driving the wagon.
But most of the women, either as housewives
or teachers, sought to improve the
physical and social conditions in Arizona.
The stories repeatedly testify to the strength
and grace of these women in a newly settled
The unique experiences of each individual
is like a special-colored thread woven
intricately into a serape, the whole of
which tells what it was like being a women
HERITAGE * SPRING 1992 35
The Lynch Line
f ii,(5 Items
j(/ji * Books
At the Light
P.O. Box 1208
Albany, Texas 76430
our TeXas history."
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 1992, periodical, Spring 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45420/m1/35/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.