Academic journal article Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy

Theresa Perez: Memories of Growing Up in Manassa, Colorado, during the Depression

Academic journal article Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy

Theresa Perez: Memories of Growing Up in Manassa, Colorado, during the Depression

Article excerpt

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The ninth of twenty-two children born to Adelaida Chacon and Augustin DeHerrera, Theresa Perez, my mother, recalls her early years growing up in the small agricultural town of Manassa, Colorado, during the Depression years. Winters were long and hard, and her parents had many mouths to feed, yet Theresa says, "I don't remember ever being hungry. We ate good food that we grew ourselves that, today, would be a luxury." While she and her siblings slept three or four to a bed, she says she never thought she was poor.

The family had a small plot of land, and "everybody worked hard in summer to prepare for winter, even the children. We had to harvest and can the food we grew." Her mother canned meat and stored vegetables, such as beets, rutabagas, turnips, and carrots, in the kitchen "cooler" (a sandbox in the subfloor of the kitchen) where they would stay fresh through the winter months. Her father always had chickens, cows, rabbits, and pigs so they were supplied with milk, meat, and eggs. Having lost his leg to gangrene, however, Augustin relied on his wit and humor to get the work done in the field. On crutches, he would spread uprooted bean vines on tarps to dry and then call on the children to jump on the layers of tarps, as if jumping on a bed. "We had a great time and didn't realize we were helping our father harvest the beans. …

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