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Digital Delano: Oral Histories

Digital Delano

Oral Histories

Digital Delano has a small, but diverse and growing, collection of oral histories from Delano community members regarding their history and family experiences in the area. If you are interested in contributing your story, please contact us for more information. Family history and story-telling is important! Our equipment is portable and we can make arrangements to meet you. Abstracts and finding aid information can be found here. Please contact us for more information if you are interested in learning more about family oral history and to make arrangements to listen to existing oral history recordings and/or read the transcript at the Bakersfield College Delano Campus Library. 
Some important themes/topics that have emerged within the oral history collection include: international migration, Delano during World War II, Japanese internment, agricultural labor, women’s activism, civic life and participation, and much more.
In Spring 2018, an oral history project was assigned to students in a section of the intercultural communication course at Bakersfield College. As the semester is wrapping up, the interviews are being translated, transcribed, and evaluated. Bakersfield College faculty who may be interested in incorporating a local history project in their curriculum should contact the Bakersfield College Delano Campus library directly at 661-720-2015.

Oral Histories - Abstracts and Keywords

Narrator: Arbolante, Kimberly 

This oral history by Kimberly Arbolante is primarily focused on her grandmother’s life story. Her grandmother, Luz (Sarmiento) Arbolante (1925-2015), was born in the village of Alangalang in Leyte, Philippines. She lived there throughout WWII when the Japanese invaded and occupied the Philippines. Lu was also there during the liberation of the Philippines by the United States. Her observations of the violence perpetuated by Japanese soldiers would influence her future beliefs and writings. Luz Arbolante’s mother was a nurse. Her mother died in a tragic car accident while working at a U.S. military base leaving Lu and her sister as orphans at a young age. Raised by an aunt and uncle, Luz became a teacher and taught in the Philippines. She came to the United States through a sponsorship program in 1952. Upon arriving in United States, Luz’s teaching degree was no longer valid and she picked grapes in the fields of the farming community of Arvin. It is while working in the grape fields, Luz met her future husband, Tiadoro Hernandez Arbolante (d. 2000), who was 25 years older her senior and a farm foreman. Tiadoro came to the United States from the Philippines in 1920 via pineapple plantations in Hawaii. Tiadoro supported Luz furthering her education before they married. She attended Bakersfield College, then located at the Bakersfield High School location. Luz was mother to three children and lived in East Bakersfield for over 40 years until Tiadoro’s death. A devoted Catholic, she was an active member of both St. Joseph’s Church and the tight-knit Filipino community. She stayed connected to current events in the Philippines and maintained her sense of Filipino identity throughout her life. Luz opened Arbolante Imports selling items from the Philippines in the 1970s. She advocated for the poor, downtrodden, and those escaping war, famine, and torture. According to her granddaughter Kimberly, her grandmother’s “day to day life was writing.” A prolific writer, Luz wrote on a variety of topics including education, religion, race relations, politics, and immigration.

This interview of Kimberly Arbolante was conducted by Dr. Oliver Rosales, Professor of History at Bakersfield College and Project Director for Digital Delano, on January 9, 2018. Digital Delano is funded by a grant from The National Endowment of the Humanities that was awarded to Bakersfield College Library’s Delano Campus with the goal of preserving Delano’s diverse community history through photographs, documents, artifacts, family letters, artworks, heirlooms, and oral histories.

Key words/search terms: Catholicism, civic engagement, education, farm labor, feminism, Filipino, humanitarianism, immigration in United States, import business, Japanese invasion of Philippines, journalist, matriarch, Philippines, politics, race relations, WWII

 

Narrator: Marshall, Monte

This oral history by Monte Marshall spans over a century of Delano’s history. Monte Marshall is the 4th generation of 7 generations living in the City. His great grandfather, Thomas Ewing Clark, homesteaded in Earlimart in 1889 where he started farming the valley’s first raisin grapes.  The family moved to Visalia and raised their 5 children there. One of them, Edwin Curtis Clark, returned to Delano in the early 1900’s and ventured into real estate when he established Clark Brothers Real Estate. Edwin married Etta Pearl, and the couple became involved in the political and social life of Delano. Edwin served as mayor and helped promote Delano at the Kern County Fair and the Panama San Diego Exposition. Etta became involved with the library, music, Delano Women’s Club, and local newspaper the Delano Record. Edwin and Etta retired to Long Beach, where he served on the city council. Their daughter Edwinna, met Harold Marshall at Delano High School. The couple married in 1931 and opened Marshall’s pharmacy and Monte was born in 1934. Monte Marshall recalls his memories from grade school and high school, and describes the social and economic situation in Delano in the 1930’s and 1940’s. He recalls people and places from his childhood, addressing community diversity, bullying, and more. He was in 1st grade when WWII broke out. Marshall recall that during the Japanese internment, his father took over his Japanese competitors store and ran it while he was interned in Poston. Marshall has submitted copies correspondence from this period to the archive, and provides supplementary information in this oral history. He speaks to the international makeup of the various ethnic groups in the city, and about how each group had its stories.  In 1949, a teacher did not get a renewed contract when found to be a member of the communist party. Marshall played football, wrote for the school newspaper the Delano Live Wire, and was the valedictorian when he graduated Delano High School in 1952. Monte then went to USC where he graduated from Pharmacy School with a Ph. D. Monte talks about the move towards a college going culture post WWII and details the education and career choices of many of his classmates.

This interview of Monte Marshall was conducted by Dr. Oliver Rosales, Professor of History at Bakersfield College and Project Director for Digital Delano, and Elisabeth Sundby, Adjunct Reference Librarian and Project Co-Director for Digital Delano on December 4, 2017. Digital Delano is funded by a grant from The National Endowment of the Humanities that was awarded to Bakersfield College Library’s Delano Campus with the goal of preserving Delano’s diverse community history through photographs, documents, artifacts, family letters, artworks, heirlooms, and oral histories.

Key words/search terms: Civic life and participation, Delano, Delano High School, Delano early history, Earlimart, Farming history, Japanese internment, international migration, red scare, WWII.

 

Narrator: Perez, Anhelica with Victoria Fraire 

This oral history by Angelica Perez and Victoria Fraire discusses the role their family played in the communities of Delano and McFarland. Angelica Perez is currently a Delano resident and Bakersfield College student. She grew up around the Delano-McFarland area. Victoria Fraire was born in the nearby community of Wasco and is a graduate student at the University of San Francisco. They are first cousins (their mothers are sisters). During their interview, Victoria and Angelica discussed their parents and grandparents’ lives in the Delano-McFarland area. Their grandfather, Nicholas Fraire came to the United States via Juarez, Mexico with the Bracero program. Their grandmother, Josephine Fraire was born in New Mexico and worked on her father’s farm. Josephine left school in 8th grade as the oldest of four daughters, she was the one chosen to work versus finish school like her younger siblings. This family farm is where their grandparents met and as Angelica noted led to a marriage “out of convenience” which was often customary at the time. Although Angelica added her grandparents “ended up enjoying each other later in life.”  Their grandparents were migrants traveling the state picking crops including apples, oranges, cotton, and potatoes, Later, their grandfather began to work at Conklin Nursery in Delano. This gave the family the ability to stay in one place. Nicholas worked in irrigation, packaging, and grafting of roses at the nursery. In addition to working in the fields, their grandmother, Josephine would take care of her children as well as other people’s children. She worked as an interpreter in their community. She would also do outreach for migrant and farm workers. She was an active member of the United Farm Workers (UFW), meeting (and cooking) for Robert Kennedy during his visit to Delano in 1968. Josephine was also a member of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA). The importance of serving one’s community is something Angelica and Victoria’s grandmother passed to her daughters. Victoria’s mother Bertha Fraire was involved in the Brown Berets while attending college and also worked for the migrant education program in Sonoma County. Josephine Fraire and her family illustrate a legacy of passionate political and community activism in Delano.

This interview of Angelica Perez and Victoria Fraire was conducted by Dr. Oliver Rosales, Professor of History at Bakersfield College and Project Director for Digital Delano, on March 12, 2018. Digital Delano is funded by a grant from The National Endowment of the Humanities that was awarded to Bakersfield College Library’s Delano Campus with the goal of preserving Delano’s diverse community history through photographs, documents, artifacts, family letters, artworks, heirlooms, and oral histories.

Key words/search terms: Key words/search terms: Activism, Bracero program, Brown Berets, Chicano Movement, civic engagement, discrimination, farm labor, gender relations, migrants, MAPA, political engagement, restricted covenants, social services, UFW

 

Interviews

Interviews from Digital Delano's participation in the Colonal Allensworth State Historical Park Event in February 2018:


1.  Michael Eissenger discusses the history of Allensworth as one of many rural black colonies in the rural San Joaquin Valley in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  He also addresses the photographer Ernie Lowe, who took several thousand historical photographs of migrant black families in the mid-20th century.  These photographs will be on display in Fresno during Summer 2018.

2.  Laura Hooton discusses the history of Allensworth as a symbol of African American history in the American Far West and U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.  She also discusses the importance of westward migration for African Americans during the era of Jim Crow racial segregation.

Please contact the Delano campus library for transcripts or recordings.