Margarita Verdin

This interview was conducted by Crystal Verdin on May 26, 2003 in San Antonio, Texas as part of Palo Alto College’s History 1302 – Maymester 2003 class.

Introduction

My grandmother, Margarita Perez Verdin, was born on September 10, 1933 in San Antonio, TX at her parents’ house. She was born to Reyes and Anita Perez. She is the oldest of nineteen children- four girls and fifteen boys. Throughout her childhood, she lived within the west side of San Antonio in a neighborhood that was united. While the war was going on, she was making lives better. She was a nine year old involved in a school program that helped needy children by providing milk for them in the mornings and work at a local bakery shop in the afternoon. She would also help out neighbors with their grocery shopping or any other particular chores that they needed to be done. Her spare time would go to help doctors that aided veterans. Other occupations that she performed in her life were: nurse’s aid, waitress, and a house wife. She married my grandfather, Marcos Verdin, an employee of General Motors, in 1962. They had one son, Juan Marcos Verdin. Two years later, tragedy strikes. Her mother dies and her husband leaves to Michigan for a better living. She is left with her son and her disabled younger brother to take care of. She manages to make a decent life for these two individuals though life for a single parent- especially a female- was difficult in the 1970s. She now has three grandchildren and through the way she lived her life, she taught them the value of how life isn’t easy but make the most of what little is given especially the one lesson-never forget where you came from.

Transcription

What were your parents’ occupations?
He was a full-time cook at the Manhattan Cafe on Houston St. and at night he would work at the St.Anthony’s as a cook. My mother was a housewife making babies. (laughs)

What would you do for entertainment during the war?
At the time of the war, we would get free movie passes and watch movies that were made about the war. I remember this one particular movie that made me think horribly of the Japanese people. These people would amputate their arms and legs and cut off their tongues and dump them in rivers. Thats what made me more patriotic. My family and I would watch other movies that are cartoon oriented as well as comedy and such.

What would you call a typical day in your life during the time of the war?
I was nine at the time when the war was going on. I would around from 7:00am to 8:00am , I would pass out milk to children who did not receive milk at home. I would go to school until 3:00 and clean blackboards and go to work at the bakery until 9:00 or 9:30 at night. I had got that job when the war broke out through a court order by Judge Onion in order for me to support my family.

How were wages during and after the war?
During the war, wages were pretty bad, but as soon as the war was over, wages got lowered.

What kind of effect did World War II have an effect on you and your family?
We used to have “black outs” or in other words air raids in the first portion of the war. My siblings and I were told to get under our bed for our safety. It did have a great effect on me throughout. I remember the family would gather around the radio and listen in on the latest of what was going on the other side of the world. I was praying that the soldiers would be safe. Those movies that I watched at the theater made me fear for the soldiers more.

I understand you were young when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president, what were you told of him based on his decisions on the war and home-front?
I was told how much of a great president he was and what things he did for this country. I remember my father and my mother would constantly on a daily basis talk about how great of a man he was. They thanked God that someone like him supported giving back to the elderly by making the New Deal. On the radio, we listened as he would give his speeches. He was indeed a good man that was patriotic of his country.

How would you describe patriotism in the United States during this time?
I would describe patriotism as being proud to Americans and being free. I remember while the war was going on in elementary, every morning I used to be proud to stand up and say the “pledge of allegiance”(saying the “pledge of allegiance out loud”) because of what those brave individuals were doing for our country-fighting and dying for our freedom and rights. People around this time were patriotic and they showed much respect to our soldiers who fought in the war. We all were strong people about the war and believed that the United States would come out victorious in this battle. Foreigners would send their children to schools in America to teach them of what it is like to be free and live in unity, I believe, so these children could pass it on to their parents and later on their children of their teachings in schools here.

What was the most important saying you recall during this time?
I remember my father saying to us not to be afraid that we are in America and that we should be proud to live in a place of unity and freedom. There are other countries in this world that wish they could have this kind of freedom. He also told us to be careful with our surroundings as well.

If you would want to change anything about the past, what would it have been?
I wish that I could have finished high school because I needed to help my family out so I could not finish school. The other things that I lived through, I would not want to change at all.

Analysis

Most stories that my grandmother has told me in the past never seemed to interest me because I did not care to here about how life was back then. It was taught to us in school-the world wars and inflation. Now that I have actually cared to take part in learning about history, it seems more intriguing to be able to hear it from the person who actually lived during this time. I then realized I learned the most valuable lesson while
interviewing her- never forget where you came from and how you got the freedoms you did, because of the people who lived before you wanted the next generation not to suffer.

There were other topics that I found very interesting about my grandmother. One was where she was stating the “Pledge of Allegiance” and how in elementary school she was proud to be an American. Also how she helped out unfortunate children receive milk when they were not receiving it at home. She admired greatly how united her neighborhood was during the war and how higher powered officers handled the situation. She also recollected how Texas and World War II were interrelated.

She taught me through living in the World War as well as many other battles that America fought in and her financial problems due to numerous amounts of siblings, that she still was proud to live the life she lived and to appreciate the simple things in life.

Throughout this interview most subjects touched were either positive or taught me to be a better person and look at that particular time frame in a different light. I learned of the patriotism of people within her neighborhood as well as her constant need to help out another human being in need of sheltering. There was one slight draw back to this interview, though. I learned that she had personified the enemies as all the time being cruel and judgmental because of what was being to her by the media and the Hollywood genre.

I believe that learning through a relative or some elderly individual would be an efficient way of learning about the past is because they have so much to tell and we, as people, should value these instances greatly in order to not make a past mistake as well as become more unified and appreciate the value of life.

Annotated Bibliography

  • Effect did World War II
    I found this website useful in a sense that it did give the Americans more patriotism for their country after the Pearl Harbor attack.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
    I found to be interesting on this website was the fact that it was all about FDR. This would be a good website for people wanting to know the 411 on perhaps
    the greatest president that ever lived.
  • Patriotism
    The following website made me a believer of patriotism. As soon as you click into the website there’s an American flag in the background as well as on the front face. It looks like the perfect site of defining patriotism and it shows too.

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