Maria Teresa Zuniga

This interview was conducted by Becky Ann Zuniga on March 20, 2008 in Floresville, TX. as part of Palo Alto College’s History 1302 – Spring 2008 class.

Introduction

Maria Teresa Castillo Zuniga was born in San Antonio, Texas on March 26, 1938 to Jesus Castillo and Ernestina Rios Castillo. Maria Teresa was one of nine children in her family. As a young girl she enjoyed spending her time playing tennis with her friends and family and attending the local theatre whenever possible. After earning her high school diploma, Maria Teresa married a young man named Reynaldo Zuniga and would later bear five children, including my father. As a strong woman, she would devote herself to raising these five children during some of the most significant times in history. Today, she is a proud grandmother of nine and great grandmother of three who enjoys crocheting, attending Sacred Heart Church (a Catholic church in Floresville where she lives), and playing poker with a small group of friends. The history that she has seen and lived through gives me some perspective of where I would have stood during some of the greatest moments of the past century.

Transcription

Where were you in this picture?
That was when I stayed with my grandmother, I think I was ten right there, ten years old. And these pictures, we have so many of these pictures because anytime you walked in front of this, I think it was Wings or something in San Antonio they would take a picture of you and I guess it was real cheap because we have so many pictures of everybody that would walk through there my grandfather, my grandmother, my uncles, my aunts, you know. But you can tell that they’re very old. That’s right downtown, right in the corner. That man was there every day, just taking pictures. And you can see, by the way I’m dressed, I guess my grandmother went shopping a lot. Well we did, I remember going with her to San Antonio and we would go and eat at this place Casa Mi Casa and we would go to the, she loved to go see the movies at the Nacional Alamedia, those Mexican theatres that they had, and they would sing ‘Bring Me Stars from Mexico’. Oh, and we always traveled by taxi. She didn’t ever have a car. Just get a taxi-call a taxi- pick us up, and come home in a taxi, go to church in a taxi.

When I was young and living with my aunt in Floresville, we always had to work at the bakery. I worked there when I was fourteen until I got married. I sold the sweet bread and we used to have coffee and a little café. We served and washed dishes and we mopped, we got everything ready for the next day. We didn’t really get a chance to go out much. Very seldom when we weren’t busy we could go and play tennis. We’d go play tennis or go to the movies. Go to the movies on Saturday night after we closed at seven.

I didn’t start driving until I was a junior, and only because it was introduced at school that’s the first year they ever did that as a class. And Mr. Stevens was my teacher. He’s the one that taught me how to drive but I was already a junior. But in those days, we didn’t really have a car. They would go and drop me off at school. Although Norma could drive, we didn’t have the car. We would walk to school.

And this one here, I kind of think that I was a freshman or in the eighth grade, this was my first Easter hat and high heels! I stood like that- I remembered how models stood and I took my foot and I said I’m gonna stand like this, like a model! (chuckles).

When and why did you move to Floresville?
Well, as you know I came to live with my aunt when I was two years old. So I stayed with her until I was about seven or eight. And they were going to move into Floresville and open a bakery. My parents didn’t want me to come over here so they took me, but I didn’t want to go with them so I went with my grandmother and stayed with my grandmother. And then I would come like during summer, grandma would come a lot to Floresville and I would come and that’s when I saw your grandpa once. He was a freshman I guess, and I saw him walking down the street. And then, I didn’t see him for a long time. Until I had gotten hold of an annual and I saw his picture there and golly I cut that little picture out and…I don’t know who’s annual it was but I must have ruined it.and then until he came back that one summer which I was only fourteen. And he asked me for a date and it was tough days. Grandma was real strict and I really didn’t think she was gonna let me go and I said ‘well go ahead and ask her’ you know, I just, I don’t care, she’s not going to let me go and she said yes! Because he told her that Norma could go, and that a friend of mine, Alice was going to go with a friend that Reynaldo brought from college so, so she said yes. We went and I was only fourteen and I guess I didn’t really, until I was sixteen, I guess, I didn’t really go out until he came back and we started dating again. But even so, all the time we dated we never went out by ourselves, Norma was always with us, we had to have a chaperone. Even when we went shopping for my wedding, and when we went to go for the blood test and all that Norma was still tagging along (chuckles).

So you never had alone time?
No, well right here we were. When we went…well, in this picture here. We were with somebody but we just took this picture by ourselves. We went to the rodeo for the first time, this was probably our first date, in San Antonio at the Freeman Coliseum.

After you got married as a junior in high school, was it common for other young married women to remain in school or where they asked not to continue their schooling?
No, I think I was one of the first ones but I think there was another girl besides me but you didn’t see that too much then but then of course you never saw a pregnant girl going to school either you know (chuckles). But you see, your grandpa was over seas and he came on a… Saturday or Sunday but he only had ten days and he wanted to get married so we went to talk to the superintendent I said, ‘we’re gonna get married he’s only here for ten days. We’re getting married Thursday, he’s gonna leave Monday can I continue to come back to school?’ I went back to school Tuesday and, I was going for a whole year and he was still overseas when I graduated. I graduated from Floresville High in 1957 and he missed my prom by one day, by one day. He came Saturday and the prom was Friday.

Did you attend any of the proms before that?
Actually, I went to the prom when I was in the eighth grade, the ninth grade, the tenth grade and I said, I have it made now, I’ll go my junior year and my senior year. No body has to invite me. Well, I got married so that takes care of that.

While your new husband was away for an entire year what was that experience like?
I stayed with my in-laws and lived there for the whole year that he was gone. Well it could be boring you know (chuckles). They were living by themselves at that time. The girls had already gone and gotten married, but they were real nice to me. My sister in laws tried to take me out. Aunt Vangie took me for my first hair cut, I never had a short haircut. That’s when I really…I really, look like a boy here. And she took me to Frost, which was like Macy’s or Dilliard’s or one of these fancy places and I couldn’t believe it cost me twenty- it cost her twenty dollars. That kind of money was a lot of money, right now that’s a lot of money, right? And then Aunt Lala took me to the ice capades or they would take me to the movies you know.

Was it just you girls going out or did you need a chaperone of some sort?
No, they were with their husbands. Like Lala had her husband when we went to the escapade or when they would take me to the movies, with their husbands.

What did you do when they weren’t taking you out? When it was just you and your in-laws?
Nothing…(laughs)… Nothing. That time you just, you couldn’t really go out. My father-in-law kept a really good eye on me. I couldn’t even wave to the guys, he’d say ‘you know your married you’re not supposed to do that’. You know, he was really strict. And then when your grandpa came back we lived with them another two years. Cause your grandpa, I think it was, what, two or three months after he came he had that really bad accident. And he had a cast for nine months. So we had no choice but to stay with grandpa and grandma…then, we moved out. Actually we moved out in two years when Selina was nine months. So your dad was about two years. We’ve been here 48 years in this house.

So how did you even go about buying a house?
Well, we lucked out. I mean at that time. Grandpa (my father in law) had a grocery store. And these people that lived here were actually my godparents and they bought a new house in San Antonio and then I guess it was pressure for money and they let us have it real cheap and we bought it. Or actually grandpa I guess paid for it. When we moved here we only had the crib. And the bedroom set. But they left quite a few stuff. They left me the stove and the refrigerator, the only thing that we didn’t have was the washing machine and the t.v. and it was like, what are we going to get. The washing machine or the t.v.? But, I won, or thought I had won and I was going to get the washing machine but I guess his dad turned around and bought him the t.v. so, I guess it worked out real good for him.

Did you go on dates after you were married with the kids?
Well we had to. Everything with the kids. We took our kids to church. We took our kids to the football games. We took our kids when we bowled, I mean we bowled for about 35 years. We took them when they were little, they did their homework there at the bowling alley. We went camping a lot.

How did the married life suit you?
Now, I wonder how I did it. Not actually when they were little but I know I did a lot. You had to be at the PTA’s and the field days, and because I didn’t work they always felt that I could open up the stands and work and even when the boys got to highschool, I was pretty busy. Your grandpa worked from seven to eight, and that was seven days a week! Right now I complain that he doesn’t know how to do nothing but that’s because I took care of the trash cans, I did my yard work and my hedges, everything. And your grandpa he was working all the time! He didn’t spend too much time helping with the kids. He never knew whether it was time to change a diaper, give a bottle, get up at night, nothing like that. Whenever he got off we would try and go out with the kids….So, now I have nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren!

Would you like to add anything else?
No, I just hope this interview turns out good for you.

Analysis

My grandmother has lived an amazing life. I am so glad to have the opportunity to interview her and get a little insight into who she is and what she’s about. Projects like this give people, like me, the opportunity to realize how different times have changed and how different a life could have been had one lived a generation or two ago. The most effective way of learning about the past, is going straight to the source.

Timeline

  • March 26, 1938- Maria Teresa Castillo’s birth in San Antonio, Texas
  • 1950- she moved to Floresville with her parents so that they could open a bakery
  • August 1952- Met her future husband
  • February 14, 1956- she became engaged to my grandfather, Reynaldo Zuniga
  • April 19, 1956 Thursday- she married in Floresville, Texas
  • April 23, 1956 Monday- her husband was sent to Okinawa with the marine core leaving her behind
  • May 1957- she graduated from Floresville High School
  • June 1957- finally gets to live with her new husband in Corpus Christi, Texas
  • July 1957- ’59- moved back to Floresville to live with her husband and her in-laws
  • July 1959- her husband is in a terrible car accident and must be his sole caretaker for many months
  • January 1960- she and her husband purchased their first and only home
  • August 14, 1958- her first son, my dad, Robert is born
  • November 24, 1959- first daughter is born, Selina
  • June 15, 1961- another son is born, Ricardo
  • February 3, 1963- final son is born, Reynaldo
  • October 11, 1965- youngest child is born, Veronica
  • March 2008- interviewed by Becky Zuniga for oral history project

Annotated Bibliography

  • Cost-of-Living Calculator.
    The calculator uses the Consumer Price Index to do the conversions between 1913 and the present. The source for the data is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Consumer Price Index reflects the cost of items relative to a specific year. The American Institute for Economic Research. P.O. Box 1000. Great Barrington, Massachusetts. 01230.
  • Photographs and/or documents on this website were provided by Maria Teresa Zuniga. All photographs are property of Maria Teresa Zuniga. These are only a few of the many, many pictures taken over the years of her life. Today, she continues to capture many of her day to day moments in photographs and newspaper clippings.

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