Mary T. Vasquez

As Interviewed by Sophia Rodriguez, March 8, 2018

Mary T. Vasquez: In Her Own Words

My name is Mary Meza Vasquez. I was born in 1952 in a home in North Fort Worth. The house was a duplex. We were attached to a little corner store, and I can remember having three rooms -- a living area where my mom and dad had their bed, a kitchen area/dining area, and then we had one last bedroom were all the children slept. We had one, two...two beds about double-sized and a set of twin beds, bunk beds, for all of us.

My father was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and what I know is that he came to work in the States. My mother was born not too far from here in Lockhart, Texas. He worked for the gas company, Lone Star Gas Company in Fort Worth. He was mostly construction, on the construction end. My mother used to work for a hospital in the kitchen, dishwashing and things like that.

I never felt mistreated or discriminated against; I never felt that way. We left that duplex when I was six. I started in elementary school in the neighborhood -- and when I was six and going into the second grade, we moved into a home, but it was farther down and a little bit west of where we lived then.

Food and clothing, my mom was always the cook. We never had takeout. I rarely had a soda. I cannot remember candies or snacks -- it was all real homemade food. Mexican food, homemade tortillas. Probably Kool-aid, but most of the time it was homemade tea because tea would be cheaper to make. But I remember just meals, homemade meals, potatoes. I mean whatever we had, we cooked and ate.

I had a teacher that gave me clothing one time because she could tell I didnít have a lot. But I loved school, so she saw the determination and would give me odds and end pieces that her niece had given up. I guess my mother would buy me clothes. Haircuts were home -- and mom would cut my hair. Iíd always had it cut with bangs. I guess I always had a coat; I never complained about the cold. But back then we wore dresses, we didnít wear pants, so we always had our legs out.

I feel like we did not know, but we were below the poverty level. You were asking me about clothes, I mean I had them, but there were times that my shoes had holes and we would put cardboard in them, you know, just to walk to school. I would walk to school maybe a block or so. We didnít know we were under the poverty level, you know... We existed. We made our meals at home. My mom was resourceful and so was my daddy. We survived, whatever it was we survived. I remember there was not a lot of money either. It would take a lot to get a quarter out of Daddy. Oh my gosh, but you know, I donít know what he made per hour, but it wasnít much. We barely had furniture -- well we had everything we needed, we didnít have anything extra. We didnít have money to improve or to maintain the house. I can look back and appreciate it, but I didnít know I was poor. I mean no one pointed that out or no one said ďEw, youíre poor.Ē No, I never knew that. We had what we had and we kept going.

I guess I donít get upset about discrimination because obviously they donít know me. They donít know where I come from. They donít know what Iíve been through -- so Iím friends with everyone, all kinds of people. But I feel like itís so prevalent now -- everyone has a tag on them. ďIím this... Iím that... I want to be called this... I want to be called that.Ē