This interview was conducted by Susan Hernandez on March 21, 2014 in San Antonio, TX. as part of Palo Alto College’s History 1302 – Spring 2014 class.
Alice Z. Hernandez (nee Zamora) was born on October 9, 1949 on the West Side in San Antonio, Texas to Hermilo A. Zamora and Concepcion L. Zamora (nee Lopez). Alice has an older sister named Gloria and two younger sisters named Herlinda and Rosa. Originally named Alicia, she didn’t change it to Alice till she began attending Edgewood High School, where she graduated in 1968. In December 1968, she married Ruben R. Gonzales, who was in the United States Navy, and had two kids, Mary Alice in 1969 and Gracie Ann in 1971. In less than two months after Gracie Ann’s birth, she passed away unexpectedly from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Later that same year, Alice and Ruben divorced. On November 18, 1975, Alice married Celso L. Hernandez and had four children, all girls. Their first child together was Sally Ann, born in 1975. Next was April, born in 1977, Elva, born in 1978 and lastly, Susan, born in 1980. Alice has had many jobs but none more important than her current job, a housewife. She and her husband have been married for 38 years and have 16 grandchildren.
What hospital were you born in?.
I don’t recall being born in a hospital. I think I was born in a house. The address was.. I believe it was 1132 Leal Street in San Antonio, Texas.
Wow..Okay.. What makes you think that? Is that what your parents told you?
No, I just feel that I wasn’t born in a hospital.
What is your earliest childhood memory? How old were you?
There on Leal Street, I remember going down a little hill into a creek … and I think its San Pedro Creek…and just playing in the water and grabbing I guess they were crawfish, I thought all this time they were shrimp…come to find out that they were probably crawfish…I believe I was two. And I remember that.
How would you describe your mom and dad? And your siblings?
My mom was very quiet, hardly told us..hardly demanded anything from us. My dad was the parent, the stricter parent that would discipline us and just really take care of us and my mom was just a homemaker, a loving homemaker. My siblings, they were all quiet and I think I was..no..not I think, I know I was the one that created more of a turbulence in my house… ( she laughs ).. yeah.
How is your life different than your mother’s and grandmother’s?
Umm..its just that my mom was a stay at home mom for a long time and then for me, I tried to be a stay at home mom but you know.. there were times that I had to go to work or wanted to go to work and so that’s where we were different… you know that I went to work and she hardly worked. She was a stay at home mom up until maybe the age of 35 or 40, she started working and then my mom just enjoyed work.. so that’s where we were different.
Was there a lot of racism or segregation while you were growing up?
Ummm… not where I was growing up, especially in high school. I went to Edgewood High School, where there were a lot of blacks and we never gave it a second thought that the color of them or us, we just blended in together and everyone went to football games and classes with a lot of blacks but we never knew what racism was until we started hearing about it but other than that we didn’t live it.
What can you tell us about the Walkout in 1968? Could you tell us more on that?
I remember classmates passing the word around that we, the Senior class and anyone else who wanted to go, to walk out of the classes and go down the street. It was about 6 blocks away from the main building that housed everybody who had something to do with the school. The reason we decided to walk out was because of the fact our bathrooms were very old and we wanted something to be done about it. We felt that if we took a stand and walked out then maybe they would listen. Nobody got suspended, nobody got in trouble. I don’t even know if they did listen but we made it a point to tell them that we needed something better in the bathrooms. Not just the females but the males also. We feel the Walkout did help. It stood for something. It was something that we needed to do and I was all for it. Anything to leave class.. (she laughs).
So was there a lot of crime when you were growing up?
Well, when I was growing up, I didn’t hear of a lot of crime but that’s because we didn’t get a t.v. till I was..well it was about 1959, 1960 that we got a T.V. and even then I never looked at the news, I was always outside playing. I did get to see The Beatles on T.V. and umm..I guess the worst thing that happened growing up was that they shot Kennedy. But other than that I didn’t know about crimes. Growing up we used to walk everywhere, nobody ever tried to pick us up but we were several girls that walked far. We walked miles and miles. And nobody ever tried to scare us or pick us up. I don’t think there was a lot of crime because growing up we all went to church. Our parents made us go to church and we went every Sunday. Everybody hung out at church, that’s why we went…( she laughs ).
So what did you want to be when you graduated high school?
I wanted to be an Airline Stewardess but I never did.. I just wanted to be that, but I never looked into it and soo..you know.. that never happened. But I always would dream, I wish I could be an Airline Stewardess, to just be on a plane and fly everywhere.
Did you go to college?
I went one year to a small community college, San Antonio Community College. But that was it. Cant recall… I was taking something like typing or something..
Why did you not finish?
I don’t even know why I didn’t finish, I just didn’t continue.
So were there a lot of women going to college back then?
Yes, and they basically did business with umm.. at that time it was the electric typewriter so there was a lot of that.
What were your thoughts on Vietnam?
I didn’t think about it at the time because we didn’t know about the war. We weren’t really informed about the war until we started hearing that some of the guys that graduated with us were being killed and you know.. the war was like..to me.. a waste of lives, friends that got killed in the war.
So what was your favorite job that you’ve ever worked at?
Hmmm… and I’ve worked at a lot.. ( we laugh).. Wow.. probably when I worked at delivering flowers so I enjoyed that because I got to drive around town and just deliver flowers. It was exciting. Beautiful flower arrangements that people would get. Just the fact that I wasn’t in one place.
And you started working at what age?
Are there any jobs that you’ve had that no longer exist? That you know of?
Well when I was 16 there was a program called SANYO and that’s not around anymore.. everywhere else its still there.
How has San Antonio changed since you were younger?
Its changed with the housing, freeways, just a lot of buildings. Houses especially, what used to be the…what do you call it…like you used to be able to go from San Antonio to Helotes in like 15 minutes, now it can take you an hour to get there because of all the cars and movie theatres and business. The hill country is covered with houses. It has grown a lot.
How has women’s roles changed in your lifetime?
Women have become a lot more independent. I see they are taking jobs that men and boys used to do. Women are doing them now and they’re not afraid to do them. Especially the grocery stores now. The girls used to be the cashiers and the guys would be the guys who took the groceries out and now the girls are taking the groceries out and guys are the cashiers. So.. they enjoy that change.. Me, personally, no.. I’d rather be taken care of than to be taking care of somebody.. (we laugh)
So what do you think happened that made the biggest change in your life?
The biggest change that happened is that my mom died…. I just don’t think that…. I mean.. that’s a big change in my life
Who do you admire the most in your lifetime?
Probably my dad, in fact, I was just talking about him… He was a smart person considering who knows up to what grade he went to.. He always had some good advice.. Didn’t always take it but it had some good things say in life..
What is the one thing he said that probably stuck with you?
The fact that I didn’t like school and he said, “I just want you to graduate. ” And I did.. after that I got married and all this but he would say some smart things to us.
Out of all the places you’ve been to, where has your favorite place been?
I really enjoyed Las Vegas. I really enjoyed living there in Las Vegas for a year ’cause it was so small and everything was just right there. I thought it was a beautiful city, the mountains, the altitude was like wow.. The temperature was 115 degrees and the humidity was 2%. Like what.. I could walk blocks and not sweat.. ( laughs ) that was like weird.. I really enjoyed being there..
So is there anything else you would like to add?
I just feel I’ve lived a very comfortable life, if I struggled it was because of my own doing not because of the people around me. So Im content with whats happened in my life.. I always think of what legacy could I leave… but when I find out what the word legacy means, then I will leave one.. (she laughs).
My grandparents from both of my parents have passed away. And although I know just a handful of people who are older than she is, I chose my mother because she is always talking about things that used to be but no longer are. Its always a show and tell with her. She will pull out tools that were my grandfathers and she will start telling me what its for. I’ve always had a great relationship with my mother. She has always been so willing to share her story with me. So many late night chats taking me back into time. So many lessons learned from her experiences. My mother has loved and lost more than anyone can know. She’s lost a child, her father and recently her mother. Her heart still breaks for the recent loss of her mother. She has such a big heart, her heart still breaks for her friends she lost in the Vietnam War. She once took us to the Institute of Texas Cultures to see a traveling Memorial Vietnam Wall and I remember she broke down in tears when she found the names of her friends she went to school with. She has had many health issues including a brain tumor, diabetes, and a heart attack but has remained an Overcomer. When we went anywhere, out of state, lakes, rivers, anywhere but here, it was because she planned it. I still listen to the advice my mother has to give because she has been there, done that. I’m still learning. I actually never knew she was born in a house instead of hospital. I’m always more than willing to go down memory lane with her. However, it is my dad who is the reason I love them oldies but goodies.
- Born on October 9, 1969 in San Antonio, Texas
- Graduated from Edgewood High School in 1968
- Married Ruben R. Gonzales, U.S Navy, in December 1968
- Daughter Mary Alice was born on November 29, 1969 in San Antonio, TX
- Moved to Hawaii in 1970
- Moved to San Francisco, CA in 1970
- Moved to San Diego, CA in 1970
- Moved back to San Antonio in 1971
- Daughter Gracie Ann was born on June 25, 1971 in San Antonio, TX
- Daughter Gracie Ann dies on August 14, 1971
- Divorced Ruben R. Gonzales, late 1971
- Married Celso L. Hernandez on November 18, 1975
- Daughter Sally Ann was born December 5, 1975
- Moved to Chicago, IL in 1976
- Daughter April was born in April 4, 1977
- Moved back to San Antonio, TX in 1977
- Daughter Elva was born June 1, 1978
- Daughter Susan was born February 8, 1980
- First grandchild, Matthew Zachariah Martinez born September 22, 1991
- Father Hermilo dies July 1995 in San Antonio, TX
- Moved to Las Vegas, NV in 2007
- Moved back to San Antonio 2008
- Mother Concepcion dies December 2012 in San Antonio, TX
- Roads less Traveled Barnett, Tracy L. “Walls that Speak: Westside of San Antonio Murals.” Roads Less Traveled. 20 February 2014. Web. 6 May 2014.
- Texas State Historical Association: The Handbook of Texas Fehrenbach, T.R. “San Antonio, TX” Texas State Historical Association: The Handbook of Texas 15 June 2010. Web. 6 May 2014.
- 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.