This interview was conducted by Francis Marie Diaz on March 27, 2010 in San Antonio, TX. as part of Palo Alto College’s History 1302 – Spring 2010 class.
Alexander Pinales Ayala was born on July 8, 1935 in Martindale, Texas. His parents were Felipe and Eulalia Ayala, they had 12 children together Alex being the youngest. Growing up he lived on the farm where his father would pick cotton for Ahsmith Gin Company. When living on the cotton farm they had their own garden patch to grow fruits and vegetables, and Alex would help his father maintain it. At the age of six his family moved to San Antonio TX. He went to J.T. Brackenridge Elementary than went on to Lanier Junior High. At the age of 16 he dropped out of school to work, he worked at Kelly Air Force Base for about a year doing maintenance then Division Laundry and Cleaners. He did a couple jobs here and there but ended up retiring from Royal Casket Company after 33 years of work. At the age of 22 he married Mary on February 14, 1957 they have been married for about 53 years. They have 5 children: Alexander Jr., Miguel Angel, Martha, Daniel and Sandra Ann. Now at the age of 75 he spends his days with his wife and babysitting his grandchildren. He is my great uncle.
What are your earliest childhood memories?
When I was about 5 years old I would take tacos and all that to my dad and brother in the field
when they were working plowing the field and all that.
What was it like being the youngest of twelve?
Well being the baby, because the time I was the baby all the oldest ones were all grown up. And the only one I got to actually play around was my sister Lile and Vicki beacause I was behind your grandma bout 2,3 years.
Did they pick on you for being the baby?
No,they would take care of me.
What schools did you attend?
School, my elementary school.The first one J.T. Brackenridge Elementry and then from there on uhh I went to Sidney Lanier and quit in the 9th grade to go work.
Did any of your brother’s or sister’s finish school?
No, not one of them they stay home they stay home and work uh doing ironing for to survive.
Is that why you dropped out?
Mostly because I wanted to help my brother David.
Where you born in a hospital?
No, I was born in the farm why back they called they had mid-wifes.
What jobs did your parents have?
Well my mom was a house wife, and than my dad was a farmer and then when he came to San Antonio
he was a custodian.
What would yall do for the Holiday’s?
Well when I was younger well mostly at my sisters house they would do tamales and all that for holidays
like in Thanksgiving they would do turkey and all that.
What jobs did you have growing up?
Umm, whe I was growing up well umm cutting grass working for a service station, and doing laundry washing clothes. And from there on well besides Kelly I start working for a casket company I worked at different casket companys that go way back. The first one was uh Southern Casket Company and I work for Monterry Casket Company, and for Howard Casket Company and than what was the other one uh the last one I worked for was Royal Casket Compnay, thats where I retire.
When did you get your first car? What kind?
When I turned 16 or 17 it was uh 1949 Ford Custom two door and it was blue.
When did you first get a T.V?
Not til I was married.
What did you do for fun?
We use play ball with old cloth and all that wrap it around and that would be our football or like they would say kick the can, we would be kicking the can that would be our past time or either spinning tops and the yoyos.
Did you go to the movies?
We use to go to the movies downtown we use to love the movies that the movies about the lone ranger the cowboys and all that they use to have movies like chapters you go one week on saturday they show you a movie and you had to wait until the next saturday to see the other series.But we had to sit on the balconys because we were Mexican. But it was ok because the view was way better up there anyways.
How much did it cost to go to the movies? Gas? Milk?
Movies were 9 cents 10 cents. Mild was about 15 cents and then gas at that time was about 16, 17 cents the gallon, milk at the time the milk man would take the milk to your house. At night you put them outside the door, he’ll take em he’ll leave you three bottles full. Yall are lucky now in days yall have expiration dates, back than you would just have to smell it and whooo just through it way!
Was church a big part of your life growing up?
I attended first prepetory church on Durango street, we went alot because my dad was the custodian there
he would clean wednesday, saturday, and sundays and my sisters were in the choir. So the had to go practice and all that.
How did you meet Tia Mary?
Uh well everybody bould be going after school on Guadalupe street and all that and we kinda start looking
for girls we kinda as you call it glanced at each other we met threw mutaul friends.
What side of town did you live on?
We live in the projects in the Alazan Apache Courts Housing on the west side.
Where did yall get ya’lls food?
We only had like mom and pop grocery stores and than uh at that time when I was growing up there were only two grocery stores well known in San Antonio on the west side Senteno, El reyes super market they were the only two.
Was there any places you couldn’t go because you were mexican?
Yes, at that time there was alot of places thats you couldn’t especially if you went to New Braunfels, Selma in Selma you had to be careful passing selma you were over the speed limit you get pulled over right away because they had it like against hispanics it was all white, and if you go to a place some places they would say no mexicans allowed or if they would serve you, you had to go to the back and eat or drink water you drink it out the hose.
Was there any wars growing up?
Well in 1940 and 1941 there was that war with Japan and all that.
How did the War affect you?
Once in a while they would have what you call em like black outs everybody would turn there lights completely off and all that because they would hear strange airplanes in the sky and than everybody not even smoking so they wouldn’t see us.
Has San Antonio Changed?
A lot because San Antonio was there was a lot of places in san antonio that you could go like for instance to a drive in no more drive in’s.Drive int o go eat there was a lot of them where you would just park and they would bring you food and eat. There was Palmer Reed, the Malt, and the Cooper Chicken Coop and Davilas, Rey’s all of those was drive in to go eat. But the drive in for the movies there was a lot like um Diversity, Fredricksburg Drive In, Mission Twin, Lackland, umm Kelly drive In. People have changed a lot they can’t live without there cell phones there eating on there phones.
How do you like being retired?
Well it has it’s up’s and downs once in a while mostly you can’t be retired after you have grandsons,
you gotta be on stand by cause you never know when they call you pick me up or take me there and all that.
We enjoy, I enjoy being retired.
Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?
Well for me to be here at least 10, 15 more years with the family. Enjoy who evers gonna be coming into this world like uhh like if my what you call like my grandsons they get married I would like to see there grandchildren too and all that.
I actually learned a lot from this inteview with my great uncle. I learned that my grandmother which is his sister was born on a farm and they lived in Martindale, Texas. I also found out what my great grandparents name were and what they looked like because luckly he still had some pictures. I learned that he worked at many different casket companies though out his life. He was actually very alert and remembered a lot of information about his past; he was very happy and silly though out the whole thing. I tried to find the cottin gin where they were all born but it was so long ago that I could not find anything. I think there can only be benefits when learning about where you came from and how you got where you are today. I was very excited during the interview bacause it was information that I never knew, even my dad learned new information as well. I really enjoyed and learned a lot about my past and family and I think I will continue to learn about my family.
- Alexander Pinales Ayala was born on July 8, 1935 to Felipe and Eulalia Ayala in Martindale TX
- Moved to San Antonio TX in 1942 at the age of 6
- Attended J.T. Brackenridge Elementary School beginning in 1942
- Attended Lanier Junior High beginning in 1947-1951
- Dropped out of school in the 9th grade in 1951
- Began full-time work as a maintenance at Kelly Air Force Base in 1952
- Married Mary ____ on February 14, 1957 in San Antonio TX,
- First child Alexander Jr. born on May 29, 1958 at
- Second child Miguel Angel was born on January 3, 1960
- First daughter Martha Isabel was born on December 15, 1960
- Fouth child Daniel was born on October 26, 1962
- Last daughter Sandra Ann was born on December 23, 1968
- Retired from Royal Casket Company in 1993
- Interviewed by Francis Marie Diaz on March 27, 2010
- J.T Brackenridge Elementray
This was his elementray and it is still there today.
- Alazan Apache Courts This is where he lived and grew up in after his family moved to San Antonio.
- Martindale TX. His home town.
- Photographs and/or documents on this website were provided by Alexander Pinales Ayala.