My Father, Salvador Garcia

Oral Histories - Maria Del Socorro Garcia Thompson


My Father [Salvador Garcia] 

"I remember the rocking chair in the living room. It was really the only comfortable chair we had. This chair was considered my father's chair, except when he was not at home. My brothers and I would fight over this chair. My father would sit on this chair for hours and hours reading the paper or just quietly with his eyes closed and his hands folded on his lap.

At home he wore his everyday clothes, a pair of blue jeans sometimes quite worn out at the knees and mostly faded. A light blue denim shirt was part of his attire. To complete his outfit, he wore this very unforgiving hat. A brown felt hat worn down with daily use, out of shape, and dusted with outside dirt. This hat caused a rage with my mother. She always said she was going to hide it or throw it out. But she never did. The shoes, those shoes were another story. He never changed the style. He always wore high-laced shoes.

Come Sunday this man was transformed. He never missed church on Sunday. My father's appearance was the opposite. Early in the morning he would dress himself in a pinstripe dark blue suit. He would put on a clean white starched shirt and a tie with a tie clasp. His shoes were shined the night before. They were his special shoes or dress shoes, black leather high to the ankle laced with eyelets and just before the top of the shoe there were button like hooks to finish lacing the shoes. Then came his coat and hat, not the same hat, heaven forbid. He has his special Sunday hat. It was a blue gray felt hat with a grosgrain ribbon band at the brim and a little feather stuck it the band. He always made sure the hat was shaped properly. With his hands he would go over the folds to make sure they were straight and even.

My father came from Mexico in 1912. The first years he lived in Texas. His mother, Maximiana, died in Texas. Then his family came to California in 1920 settling in Orange. He had three brothers and four sisters. My grandfather, Luis Garcia, had a music teacher come to their house to teach them music. My father learned to play the saxophone and his brothers learned other instruments. In time, other friends who played instruments joined them and together they formed a small band. They played at neighborhood parties making them the neighborhood musicians. This home was alive with music and parties. Friends and acquaintances always dropped in for good time. In spite of all this, my father was a quiet person.

After he got married to Jesusita Campos in 1936, his life style changed. The Depression came and the musicians disbanded and it was a time for quiet married life and hard work. He was an orange picker, working very hard only summers and sometimes a little more. He raised chickens and planted vegetables. By this time there were three children, two brothers, Sal and Louie, and myself. I was the oldest. It was 1941 and World War II had started, food and shoes were rationed. But my father, with his deep sense of responsibly, found a way to mend our shoes. He had a shoe form that stood on a stand where he put new soles on our shoes. After the war our lives changed, he got a job in a factory and our lives became easier.

Later, when my father was in his later years, I used to ask him a lot of questions about his life in Mexico. He would tell me stories of his life in Mexico, but every time he told me the same story again it was different. So you see, ask for information while their minds are still young. My father, Salvador Garcia, died in 1986 of a heart attack after and illness with Alzheimer's.

Life is a novella..."