“I am not a women to be having kids, I am a women for the fields”

Columba Adame grinding corn to make so the we could eat.
Columba Adame grinding corn to make so the we could eat.
Hector Quinones

I interviewed my grandmother Columba Adame about her life and how it is being a mother of five and what it was like being born in Mexico. She worked  in the fields for most of her life and now she’s a a grandmother of many grandchildren. She has faced many challenges in her life and I wanted to find out what some of those challenges were.


Hector Quinones: How did it feel having to work in the fields when you were young?
Columba Adame: Well we worked, and we got tired. We had to plant and cut plants.
HQ: Is that all that you worked in?
CA: Well also cutting  peppers, red tomatoes, green peppers, yea.
HQ: What time would you wake up at?
CA: Well 6 or 7.
HQ: Would you go to school?
CA: Yes but I only studied first grade and second and that’s it.
HQ: That’s it? And from there did you go all day to work?
CA: Um well once I got out of school we would go out or go clean up the plants or to go but fertilizer.
HQ: So you would just be working then?
CA: Yea, cutting wood.
HQ: Was it only you.
CA: No Julia, the mother of your aunt, and what else would we do… carry corn from the fields to the house get it close to the house, wash clothes. 
HQ: Where you the only one that washed clothes or did they make the men wash too?
CA: Well what men? There were no men. All your uncles were still kids and I was the oldest and Julia was younger, like you and your sister, we would wash clothes, dishes.
HQ: Why did you only studied for two years?
CA: Well your grandpa didn’t want me to go anymore. He didn’t want me to study anymore because one of your aunts went away to anther place and I was the oldest and your great grandma always got sick and I would taken care of my siblings but there was a grandma that would also help us.
HQ: So all you would do is just work?
CA: Well yea and then I got married and from there I would do it again, work in the fields in which we would plant green tomatoes and then fertilize it, because it would always rip.
HQ: How would it feel having a lot of kids and having to take them to the fields?
CA: Well how would I tell you, well good because I was like they’re my kids, then I didn’t want to have anymore because I was like, “I am not a women to be having kids, I am a women for the fields.” I was for the fields and then I would have to go down to Xalitanguis and have to go and do work. Sometimes we would not eat in the fields and eat until we would get to the house sometimes we would go back walking from the fields to Xalitanguis and sometimes we would get a chicken and until we got back to Xaltianguis I would put it to cook and until mid day we would eat like about 12 pm to one in the after noon, or sometimes we wouldn’t eat because we were in a hurry. There wasn’t money so we would find wood so we could make tortillas sometimes we went in a passenger car, there was only one car that would travel sometimes we couldn’t get it and walking.
HQ: All the way to Acapulco?
CA: No from Xalitianguis to Huerta Vieja. Did you not see where? Did the girls not show you?
HQ: No I don’t think so.
CA:Well because you where in back well yea… and that’s how life was well with your grandpa we stopped working when your grandpa got sick and couldn’t work anymore and then my knee started to hurt  and yea I still went but I don’t  know it has to be about six to seven years I stopped going to the fields. 
HQ: How does it feel now that all your kids are now grown?
CA: Well now they’re grown, one of a mother’s worries for their kids thinking if they got addictions, if they are drunks, even though I am far my mind is working thinking I don’t know because they mother thinks when there young its not a problem, they’re not thinking much because we get home and we all go lay down but when they’re older the sons don’t listen. They get a girl, they go out and don’t care when their mom says “son don’t go something could happen.” They go but sometimes one should listen because if something happens who is it going to harm? One!  And when one is young, like you guys are still young ,you don’t really go out and your mom goes to lay down, you all go to sleep. But when they’re older that’s why I sometimes I tell you when you’re older always listen to your mom, don’t just cause she is talking to you, you won’t be rude, you know, how right now time is.
HQ: Do you think that if you where born here in Los Angeles or the United States your life would be different?
CA: Uhm… I don’t know, maybe yes because you see your mom cut herself and she still has to go to work and in change one over there is sick they have a fever, headache, very sick, well if I am sick, well when one works what is in the fields they say “no well I can’t go I feel bad ” and they stay, but for what to do work.
HQ: And how would you feel taking my mom and uncles to the fields?
CA: Uhm…well I took them and took your mom because she was young and well I had to take her more older, I left her well, that’s how my life passed, how years passed, and now well I would like to go to the fields but I can’t just to go up from Las Marias to where the grave is at. You did see it right? I can’t anymore, now to go down it hurts me going do because don’t you see it like this a little and going more down it is more like this… yea and that trail I would walk daily, daily yea we would cut tomatoes and would walk to the house to sleep and then again I would wake up in the morning to make tortillas to take and eat at 12, warm up, like how I put when you went with Nancy, tortillas and food that’s how it was before.
HQ: Did you ever feel like you wanted to stop working in the fields?
CA: Sometimes I would feel tired, but we had to work because we didn’t have money. we didn’t have nothing we, didn’t have a house.
HQ: Do you think that if I work in the fields and did everything you did I would be able to do it?
CA: No you would not be able to handle it. Over there the men cut with a machete, they fumigate with liquids, that’s why I say “work hard here in your school, you work so when you’re older you have a good job and… and you will feel good with your little job that you have that god gave you and that you have and take care of yourself.”
HQ: How does it feel to have a lot of nephews?
CA: Uhm… well nice mhm… yea well yea that’s how our life goes, some sister of model and some of other, and some that didn’t work the fields  like your aunt Norverta, you saw her right, you remember her, the one Alex has, she looks like your Aunt Lucina, she well got married and her husband worked he had his little job let’s see what is he… well he is like well he studied a short career, he works at how does the work place called… oh where he works is called is the Ford-stand, he works there he goes to school and well… I don’t  know what it is it’s like, about trees and well there he gets his money every 15 days. He receives bonuses and then your aunt didn’t work as much as us, well yea but only in the house that he would help my dad, but it wasn’t the same like we would help like us. Why? Because her husband had his own profession, not so big but he had his own profession. 
HQ: Did you like working in the fields or no?
CA: Well sometimes we didn’t want to but because they sent us, we had to work mhm.
HQ: And if you were able to change one thing what would you change?
CA: No well me when I was young I didn’t really like school because I didn’t understand and also because I only studied until my second year. But in that time when I young the teachers taught you very good, all the mathematics they taught you in your first year, that’s how it was in second, more third, fourth, fifth, sixth, well you already knew and not with phone nor calculator  because there was nothing, all with just your head… yea and then when the calculators entered was when your uncle Jesus went to high school that he needed calculators and that’s how kids, rare to find one that knows from memory. Because what do they do when they say “take a count for me?” They grab their phone and no, before it was all in your head [points to head] and your grandpa knew. He studied elementary, middle school, well he finished his… elementary first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth six years… mhm and he learned, well he knew how to take count with his head he would say so, and so, so he did know but he said he was going to study but his dad, when he finished elementary, Ray his dad broke his arm, I think, and he couldn’t work, so he stopped working and he couldn’t go to school anymore because he was the one that worked. He helped his dad and before when he finished some would become teachers with only elementary, like let’s say with only elementary, they were teachers or middle school, they studied and there they were teachers.
And they also gave them their classes and everything and he couldn’t because of that, because he got sick… yea well he knew from his pure head now, you ask let me see “Hector make me a count from your head” you’re not going to be able to because you need a phone [points to phone], now its phones, before it was calculators and that’s how it went and now even the most poorest have a phone and before, no before when would kids be having 1000 pesos, 500 pesos, that’s a lot of money, the Mexican money was valuable if it was ten bills of 100 pesos, it was 1000 pesos, a $20 dollar bill was close to over there to 2000 pesos, now it’s like 200 pesos, how much that’s nothing much, then Mexican money went down and lost value and now the dollar is what went up you see now it is pretty cheap, who knows if it will grow or not.
HQ: Do you think you like being born in Mexico having to work in the fields and everything?
CA: Well one would, I say one comes to the world because of the parents, but one doesn’t know where they are going to be born, the parents being from a place, that’s where one is born and you see how all of your uncles studied over there, finished, and came over and you see all their kids are from here and so coming back is hard… yea.
HQ: Thank you.
CA: Yea son.
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    Fatima GonzalezOct 13, 2023 at 10:58 am

    I never knew that Hector’s grandma used to work in the fields.