This interview was conducted by Aurora Cardenas on March 24, 2012 in Austin, TX. as part of Palo Alto College’s History 1302 – Spring 2012 class.
Julio Ramon Ojeda born in San Antonio, Texas (Bexar County) on July 22nd, 1951 to Espiridion Ojeda & Julia Torres. He was the second son of three sons, older brother Espiridion Ojeda born February 07, 1949, and younger brother Juan Alberto Ojeda born October 1st, 1954 (passed October 28th, 2010. Lived on the West side of town, moved to Main Street in the mid-fifties, and attended school at all his years in San Antonio. He lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962). In high school he was assigned to a class label “Drafting”, which he loved and really excelled. After graduation he moved to Austin and married and divorced, Veronica Ojeda and had two children, John and Jason and many grandchildren. He had worked for Texas Instruments for 36 years as a mechanical hard tool designer until the closing of the plant in 2005. He has been in Austin, TX since 1969 and is my favorite uncle out of so many that I have.
What are your earliest childhood memories?
They were playing with my brothers, riding a tricycle, learning how to ride a bike, and learning how to play sports. We were always outside in the summer time because we didn’t have air conditioners. We would sit under the trees and we would either be climbing the trees or swinging on them. We use to use our garden hose to cool ourselves off. My family would go with our cousins in our truck that was used to carry ice to people’s houses and go swimming to the river. We would take watermelons, fried chicken, potato salads, and cold drinks to eat while we were there.
So what did you do for fun back then?
When we were growing up around the age of 6 thru 10, we lived one block from the Navy Arsenal on Arsenal Street and we would sneak in there and play with the tanks and anti- air flight guns. We would go fishing at the San Antonio River, then go pick up our friends and go and play sports and of course hide and seek. We would play a lot of types of sports such as baseball, football, and different games. We would do just about anything to be outside. We lived close to the San Antonio River so we would hang out there a lot mostly fishing and getting wet. We would go home only to eat and sleep. My parents trusted us and knew all of our friends. We would do that almost every day.
What kind of job did you father do in San Antonio?
My father was in the ice business. He would deliver the ice to the west side residents so they could keep their food cold. Many of them did not have refrigerators back then. They would use coolers in their homes.
What was school like?
School was a lot different back then. The teachers were mostly white and they did not want you speaking Spanish. In case in point, my middle name was Ramon and it was quickly changed to Raymond because they did want to deal with the Hispanics talking Spanish and quickly changed our name to English speaking name.
What language did you speak within your family? English or Spanish?
When I was growing up we spoke mostly English except when we would speak to our older relatives then it would be Spanish. Our parents wanted to make sure we learn how to speak English because we would get in trouble at school.
Did any significant event happen when you were growing up and how did you react to it?
Well when I was in the seventh grade, one on the students in at my school got stabbed to death in the hallway. This shocked everyone and he was a friend of my older brother. They use to play baseball together. I was 12 and my brother was 14. It was very tragic and this was the first time I have ever attended a teenager funeral. It was very sad.
What were the top vocations when you were in high school?
Almost all of the women wanted to be in cosmetology and secretary positions. The men wanted to go into the military. San Antonio was once on Hitler’s top 5 hit list because of all the military bases that were located here. We didn’t have any computers, cell phones, or calculators back then.
What were some of the fads or styles in your teenage years?
One of the biggest fads was the group The Beatles. I was in the seventh grade and they came to America on Feb 7 and they did the Ed Sullivan show on Feb 9 and the rest was history. The girls were just goo goo over those guys. Of course, some of the guys grew that Beatle hair and used the boots. So I would have to say the Beatles were one of the biggest impacts in my teenage years.
What was your first job?
My first job that was actually a paying by the hour was working for the San Antonio Independent School District was drafting, and surveying the schools. I would go around measuring the buildings, platforms, and the portables, such as where they were located. I would create drafting prints for them and submit them to the school district for their records.
Do you remember what you could buy back then, compared to the prices now, like say for a nickel or a dime?
If you have a nickel or a dime you were considered rich. You could buy a soft drink
for a nickel or six cents. You could buy a chocolate candy bar that was three times as big as the ones today. Chinese candy and lemons were under 5 cents.
What was transportation like?
We would walk everywhere, to my buddie’s house, to school, and to downtown San Antonio. As I got older I starting riding my bike to my buddies. The buses took a long time to come by and were not on a schedule.
Where would you walk to in San Antonio?
When we were kids we walked everywhere, to Play Land Park, Brackenridge Park, Butter crust bakery, and downtown to the movies. Every Saturday morning, they would advertise the free movie at the Texas theater in exchange for 6 Pepsi bottle caps to get in. Every kid was also looking for those bottle caps. The movies were .15 cents to get in. I remember I was in the 5th or 6th grade and this one kid told me to meet him at the Majestic Theater one day and we could get in for .05 cents. He told me to go around the back of the theater and we could get in. When I when to the back it was a different marque on the theater. I asked him how he knew about this and he said he would go all the time. The catch was you had to sit on the 3rd level of the theater which happened to be the area where the black people would sit to watch a movie. They could not get in thru the front door. I think that was the first time I saw how blacks were treated differently from everyone else. I had never seen a black person until I was 8 or 9 and it was strange to see them. Our neighborhood was mostly Hispanic and white, and mostly of the city was broken up by the different races.
What was the minimum wage in the 60’s?
If I remember correctly the minimum wage was set around a buck and a quarter in 62 or 63. I remember when I first starting working at TI in 69′ I started at 1.74 an hour which was way above the minimum. It felt like it stayed at 1.25 forever. Within a year I was making over three and a quarter. Back then, that was a lot of money, but gas was only .34 but it starting going up.
What was San Antonio famous for during the 50 and 60’s?
Well, San Antonio was a huge military city and all the soldiers would go downtown on the weekends and they would shop, eat, drink, and get in trouble. San Antonio was a sleepy town until 1968 when the Hemisfair was open for the first world fair.
Where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot? And how did everyone react?
I was at Page Junior High in 7th grade on November 22, 1963, it was a Friday and we were at lunch. The teachers were running up and down the halls. Everyone was in shock and the teachers assembled us in the classrooms and told us the president have been shot. Everyone was dazed, confuse, sad and crying, because he had just been in San Antonio the day before.
What did you think about Fiesta? Did your family go?
Yes, we went every year with my family. We went to the river, day, and the night parade. We would walk everywhere. Back then it was not as expensive as it is now. It was also safer. We would go to the carnival and we would have the food that was available at the market and the carnival.
What was San Antonio known for?
Well, the Alamo, the River walk, the rodeo, fiesta, military bases, and HemisFair ’68. That was very huge for the city. It was the first official world’s fair in the southwest United States. The city build the Tower of the Americas and also made the river walk longer. I think it was from April to October of 68. The opening day was very limited because it had opened two days after Martin Luther King had been shot (which was April 4, 1968). People were afraid to go to the cities because of the riots that were happening around the country.
Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?
Yes,I love San Antonio, and I will consider it as my home town.
I learned many things about growing up in San Antonio in 1950’s and 1960’s. I also got to know my Uncle Raymond as a child and the events he lived thru as a boy. The most important points in my interview were about the discrimination that Mexican children had to go thru while in school in the 50’s. They were not allowed to speak Spanish anywhere in school and were actually treated differently than white children. I learned about the Hemisfair 1968, John F. Kennedy’s visit to San Antonio in 1962, and how everyone walked all over San Antonio. I learned how much you could buy for a nickel back then versus today. I really enjoyed my topic because I have lived here all my life but have always wondered how life in 1950s and 1960’s. I learned how much San Antonio has grown over the years. My uncle is an intelligent, honest, loving, trustworthy and loving family man, and I am happy to have him in my life. He is loves to dance and will never say no to a woman when she needs help. He never lies and will be brutally honest if you ask him a question. I verified the stories he said by asking his brothers about the events that happened. Uncle Raymond was very helpful in answering my questions without hiding anything about his past. I feel that I learned about my family and the hard times they had to endure growing up. I really believe this is a great way to learn about the past and the people we interview. I really enjoyed doing this interview.
- July 22, 1951 – Julio Ramon Ojeda born in San Antonio, Texas (Bexar County)
- October 1, 1951 Younger brother Juan Ojeda born
- May 1969 Gradated from L. W. Fox Vocational High School
- June 1969 Moved to Austin, Texas and begin work at Texas Instruments
- August 1971 Married Veronica Gonzales
- March 1972 First son John Roland Ojeda born
- December 1978 Second son Jason Renea Ojeda born
- 1987 -Divorced after 16 years of marriage
- 2002 -first grandchild – Sofia Kathleen Ojeda born
- 2010 -last grandchild – Mae Noi Ojeda born
- March 2012 Interviewed by Aurora Cardenas
- Texas Instruments this is where my Uncle Raymond worked in Austin, TX.
- soft drink this is a picture of sodas my uncle drank back in 1960’s.
- Play Land Park place where my Uncle would go in San Antonio.
- Majestic Theater Theater where my uncle would go see movies.
- Photographs and/or documents on this website were provided by Julio Ojeda. Photographs were located in Mr. Ojeda’s personal photo collection.