Jesse Lomelí and Marta Lomelí

Recorded July 23, 2010 Archived July 23, 2010 02:08:43
0:00 / 0:00
Id: DDD000405


Jesse Lomelí (66) and his sister Marta Lomelí (57) talk about when their family came to the United States from Mexico, the cultural difference at home and at school.

Subject Log / Time Code

Jesse and Marta talk how their father, Jesus Lomelí, got the family to the United States legally.
Jesse talks about coming to America, going to school and how he learned English.
Jesse describes how he got interested in athletics and started wrestling.
Jesse describes how education changed his father’s mind and support for them.
Jesse and Marta talks about the Lomelí-Miller Scholarship for Vista High school students.
Jesse talks about coming from Tijuana, Mexico to Vista, CA and the difference in the schools.
Jesse and Marta thank their family and the Miller family.


  • Jesse Lomelí
  • Marta Lomelí

Recording Location

Logan Heights Library

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type



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00:04 My name is Marta lomelu00ed I'm 57 years old. Today's date is Friday, July 23 2010 and I'm interviewing my brother Jesse lomelu00ed Jesus lomelu00ed.

00:19 Is the morning room Jessie normally I am 66 years old and today's date is July 23rd, and I'm right here at the Logan Heights Center Library and in San Diego in San Diego, California and Logan Heights in Martha's brother brothers. What we wanted to say in in one of the things that really really came out was how did dad meet. Mr. Miller. How did we've come across the United States legally?

00:57 You know, it's kind of interesting you remember that. Well, what I remember was a rather interesting bit of information that came to light mostly after we were here in the United States. The Story Goes pretty much hit that my dad had been in the recital program for years working back east and you don't Chicago for the railroad and he did quite a bit of several years of work with that parody. I know at least more than one, you know, it was right during the war and afterwards he came his brother might do Miguel Mike lives out here on the West Coast and so he helped that was my Vista in LA, but I found out that he was moving down here, you know mythical place is supposed to San Diego near me and she made arrangements to to hook up with them hear you found out it was some place called Vista.

01:57 And in being in Vista, he finally came over, you know, illegally is most of the other relatives were illegals are the time and he went into the abyss. What do you have to be visiting one day and another Dunkel who was here lately and had been here for several decades at their chilo lived in in the back of their huge ears didn't me near Warminster Miller at his Ranch and mr. Miller. I barely needed to work or so. He knew my tutilo. So you ran across him as a hangout. Do you know I need to work or the salt mattucci low indicator. You know what I have a nephew just happens to be here for one day. I'm going to bring him over and

02:54 And you work you work with him or I can so he went home he went home and talked to my dad and he looked you know, as soon as I have a s s I need an orderly wants to have you ever have a worker who my dad was dying to work at him. Probably the reason he went over anyone over for just one day. The strange thing was that he went for one day, but that they never ended decades in the tell us about the

03:26 How we came across legally? How did that happen? And where do you want for that one reason having to do with that one day that my Dad was supposed to have worked at turn into over a year and mr. Miller had indicated that what do you know Jesus? I would like to have you work for me more of my dad somewhere, but I got a family and you know when I really, you know, I don't know and it says will happen if I help you with your family, so that's why would you help me since I help you fix papers is it? Whoa, that's nice. Yeah, that's nice. So they made a pact. He said he says well know if I bring your family or what's what's in it for me basically says Mr. Miller.

04:17 Bring my family over. I might come with you so packed, you know, okay, I wonder if mr. Milk did mr. Miller know how many kids dad had when he said that he was a big-time in that was part of the problem before coming over because it and those days Steven today a large family indicated in a big red flag in the most likely welfare and services and then you know, it's on and it's so they would want to put any obstacle maybe but it will they put many obstacles in front of us for not allowing this year. But mr. Miller still want to handle City. No way you will have to come over at a problem. You only he stood by their

04:57 And he stood by and they told me this look is this.

05:02 They both agreed, you know, this part of the package that came in says my dad said you bring my family over and we're here I'll work for you till the end. Please do not tell you right now cuz he thought maybe you need to come over and fix papers for him and then all of sudden say I'll see you later. You know, we still have people did my dad says the my dad his word was absolutely should I give you my word and absolutely and he kept at the very end. He was offered position after position with a railroad funeral today at work before they were born in the Pain by 6 times what he was making this I gave my word and even that are our cousin Philippe in Fallbrook Felipe. He said that

05:48 He said that he knew of a job that we're dead could earn more money up in Fallbrook and dad said no, I wear a shower was saying I gave my word and I'm breaking in and so was mr. Miller. Let me know. He he trusted my dad and he was like, they just got along so well, it was like, you know, it did they were just there was that both have the same work ethic even though I was like do they have been 23 really really hard in one of these things and that's another thing also that we came out later.

06:33 With the families do after our parents died when we started the research about the family background and so on. We didn't know about her family last name lomelu00ed you know that we knew was Italian but you know, what does that mean you talked about in the late 70s. They said I ran across an Italian myself and he said you were telling said well we were originally way in the back family. You don't need any underwear Italian this happen. We looked more Mexican than we live in Mexico, right? We're Racers on last name.

07:10 Lomeli normally non or no? It's just it's the same thing.

07:18 Mill you said yeah that Noah Miller and so here we have working for mr. Miller and I almost fainted when I pass this on to it to the a member of the family and they were they were surprised but you know, there was a connection to read it but really really hard when one that came to light. Wow. You don't end there quite surprised when he was funny cuz my dad wasn't

07:59 My dad understood that they both had all this similar philosophy, even though by that time just remember that passed away long time for

08:06 Interesting thing to tell us about that. No, I was just learning how to walk and see when I went all of this paperwork was going on but when we came to United States while I was still learning how to control my bladder you kids were going to going to school in facing learning English with what can you tell us about that. Well, you know what when we got here we were all bunch of little kids. You know, I was I was coming in I came in to start 5th grade Google, you know the next one up for me there for two years ahead. So he I gave was starting seventh grade and that he stayed back later on after pursue schooling. But so when we came across here, the first thing is we went the right down the street that was having to be a brand new school. We can Overlook all I know is it look like it was at the Hilton for us, you know, cuz

09:06 Elementary School of Creative and her first academy academy of performing arts. It was an interesting set up over there in one of the interesting things right off the bat Verizon was it you who we come to the school? And you know for sure I will hear jabber. Jabber. Jabber we can understand cuz we don't speak the language, you know, but were put into class and Justin alone survival of the fittest, you know, sink or swim and thank God summer wind blowing a absolutely tribulation so fab the immersion program, but she's cool with that. You just do the best you can and we were able to do that right with the right approach of backing in home. Okay. You want to do your best do your best don't embarrass the family doing where's your self? You know, he just give it your best shot. But like when you were in the classroom with the fur

10:06 Time the teacher said open the book to page 72. You didn't know she was saying all I heard was when the kids open the books did you do?

10:19 That monkey see monkey. Do you know I look around and you know, cuz I knew I mean look around and see all these people helping a book and I know you know, and so I got myself in trouble for any times because I'm looking to see what you know what I'm looking at. What kind of book is it? Like to be a stack of books on reason is this a book and I look next door and look at the pages and finally get it and I could hear my first teacher like I just love her too much cuz it was really very nice. Mr. CDs hit his who's number for three or number of different list of rules in remember the weather was so still funny not to this day. I will mind my own business or no real quick with that was

11:19 Many many times but very quickly got the I got the idea how to do that, you know. So again, I started learning, you know, what tuning in my ear and all and it was really nice. You know what I still got myself in trouble with the most of 5th grade and was usually the same thing cuz I'm trying to find out what was going on. I didn't want to be left behind. You know, what I wanted to at least to be competitive didn't do what do you score in the series peanuts are the teachers. I mean really really really help but you know one thing that really helped me and I found out real quick was you know, where they start laying hens and spelling book.

12:09 And it was on the hell this through Unit 32 words in every lesson or 36 lessons from per week. And so I remember the first time I get in there. Okay the first dictation so they started going where are some writing phonetically. Let me know what I'm writing what I hear and so in writing what I hear I noticed it when I got the paper prank red all over the place.

12:34 In summer in the same lesson like house or the word know to do know know and so when I wrote on the Tesla runs don't think I remember being seeing a toy that kind of started to relate to the written word with what I was hearing. And so we gon story short. I said the started to think wait a minute something wrong here you do you say dictating the works and I'm not getting right so I won't have to listen to how they pronounce them and then associate to the Sound with what I see and then remember me in Spanish near like to know and I know it has a cake. I know okay, like the knife kneafsey, you know what I mean after my second test. So by the third week that I was saying test

13:26 I was missing you know stores two or three if I v I remember right by there's a from V on to the 36th. I might have missed my maybe two words, but man I need those words and I mean, you know, how are they produced? This is what it is you English. You know, I'm My Own myself something. I still wonder if you want to get that pronunciation, you know, I started to work in that fashion.

14:05 And also had another interesting than in the game with a lot of Hispanics and another foot lot of people coming into their country here in two schools from a different culture different language experience and similar things that same year my sister year. I've been here maybe two months maybe three months in the year. So your leggings cheap you all work out in the kitchen. You know, I got the idea that there was a math contest and so it was because he wouldn't we have someone here in our business and he doesn't know what that's going on in the language. So they said why you do for him a little more brighter on the board.

15:02 Okay, so they can write on the board, So I mean they're halfway finished with a problem and I need the number to Highland Olympus real quick and I can sit here - I mean plus Inn on Division and multiplication. I had it right away. You know. Well, it's really interesting because you know, last man standing was he destroyed me and they were all like he's the last one standing on this competition you Leticia was scratching their heads. Wow.

15:48 You can do it when you as you were learning English. I was I was looking out the window everyday waiting for my brothers and my sister to come home from school. And I thought I got some day. I'll get to go to school someday. I'll get home. Where would you live? If you would have had your choice if you know soon as you could crawl over the shooting in over their email. I used to I used to ask my mom, you know, well our mom, how come Jesse and Google and Pancho and Lolly that they always come home with books and how come the other some most of the other kids in the neighborhood didn't and then it would say you noticed that very good. It's because the other kids are stupid.

16:42 You know mean having time for 37 years and Plaza in his school district and seen the high school kids. You know, she know how true that still is. You know, how does a penis ready for my mom? You know, I always tell the kids, you know in the house in the closet a guy's you know, if the book is too heavy to take home you wait to see was waiting for you. Once you're out of the high school. Cuz when I said I said those books 20 * and open them. Yeah, dad gave us. Hope they had hope the gamble they took forcible to get us over here. You know me. So amazing. I mean it was a big is a masterpiece, you know to come back in order that they were not very well educated. I was it because of the situation mom only finished second grade and my dad went to the first grade for 1

17:42 I heard I heard 3 days and then he kicked out and so he went home to work because I get an older brother had come over here to the states and you know a little later but I forgot, you know, I wasn't there a time in in our family history when Dad was wishing that the boys would help out more on. Mr. Miller's Ranch and doing other things and and he would say stop doing all that extracurricular stuff after high school, you know come and work with me. How did you convince him to let you follow your path will personally he came from the the philosophy of the old country of you know, you know go to work and you go to work as soon as you possibly can cuz that you know, he was they had no idea of what education could do for them. All of us had this little fire in this bed and in disbelief, you're the faith of it we can do something.

18:42 Superheroes, like, you know, if you're not in my you're wasting a lot of time, you know, he was really looking to say who's your owner called and not too strong and obviously working make some money in the money's words that you can make money as soon as the better and so, you know, we we just didn't share that Neil. We we we share the idea of responsibility and work. Yes. And again, we still had like I said we had this phase of I think this is something better and I think that's why you folks brought us here and let you know he wanted us to work and I know my mama say no, I think my mom was really believe I think education before I think education Devil's going to get you, you know, so do your best. It's a long shot but you don't mean we could see it was like like seeing right now to tell you know, what, you know, what the next week you could be up the moon we say all fat chance.

19:36 You you were you one of the things your extracurricular things you're doing with Satan in high school. You you were you did wrestling and end in down will got into it. And just as lettings basically kind of light by the back door, and the reason was recently than you know, we've been working since we've been working since I was a little kid selling the street, you know, it was a second and third and fourth grade course 2 years ahead of me, and we're at their house in papers and almond so coming here with some but you know, we don't want to work that hard. So in essence

20:19 What we decided to do it when we got to work, you know, but here we still playing time for us was rare. So every time we got to know being kissed with every time we got a chance to play wow, so then we come here getting into the school to see Augustine or like all these games. Do you know and the providers and I mean it was like going to Disneyland. So, you know, we never we never want to stay home cuz we stayed home and you got to go to work we go to school books play time. You don't know pain got about until a mirror in a little nice. So we just get points in High School athletics was fine and we were praying for me we pray for rain because I was will be working.

21:17 You know and so we got into Athletics and we got through into wrestling because of Cousin Tony may you rest in peace and he and he was a good wrestler, you know a great wrestler scholarship in his name and Bill. We just did it for a year for a couple years and So eventually, you know, when I got out I was getting too high school, you know, the coach saw me playing around, you know, cuz I go and watch the wrestling matches in East Haven.

21:43 So where you from and what time I'm at the Lincoln Junior High School what grade are you in the main street right in the palm of your right b a high school system or you going to start wrestling in high school? And that's that's how we started and I was doing well until I got injured later on a couple years later coming from Mexico from vacation. And then I took the cross-country, you know, and you're done with had a little that little more time. I'm older I'm able to do more more work and do it faster so I can do more time and then during the rainy season which you know, what's a fun and so I got a chance to do this as well. And now it's time I step into varsity position is this going to fuel the you know, that the desire to be to be in fortunately. I was blessed with some Talent than that and I did very well.

22:36 You know and this was what started making making me think about me. Just go beyond this. You know, what does only competition was in college after that and that's why they getting also started to leave the County area and and that Dad didn't dad tell you something about the prove it to me that this education stuff is really worth it money something about my world yet. He was always have me about the money. They're not at work and I remember sitting with him and sent right there.

23:07 Renters the Ender UVA College not wasting our time then I'll tell you we've always said that we got the faith I said, but you know what I said God willing, you know down the line if I can do something with the first whatever I get for the first working with Athletics or what whatever it is. He knows it doesn't to be yours. That's for you. Okay, so usually when I get in like start teaching and then I get into the wrestling officiating and I went to a officiate a wrestling match in Fallbrook. You known for an hour and a half's worth of working at $26 for my time is making you that time they were $75 a week.

23:54 So I went home, you know know without anything. My dad comes home has been got something for you. This is for you. So you could have seen yesterday's memories. I was wasting my time and all that time. You think that's what I'm doing is more than 1/3 already made in the week and I had made in an hour and a half and it's really a man. This is something that I never will forget as long as I live he made the change immediately night and day night and day for you like just like I promised

24:44 And from that day on Monday start with the neighbors hate because got to go to school and you can make sure right now and then go to work and make sure they're not wasting your time. No school main School the way to go, you know, mr. Miller and mrs. Miller day. They were they were very supported. They wanted, you know, they would they did they didn't preach to us, but we knew that that they were very happy that that we were all going to school and after our parents passed away in mr. Miller and mrs. Miller had gone there came a time when you and read or who knows who you know, I think it was me, but everybody seemed to be thinking the same thing that we should do something to honor of parent.

25:43 In the wake of my mom and my dad and we solidified and we just happen by accident. We were going to I talked with several family members, you know about getting a scholarship because you know, that was my mom's gold and silver in doing so at the wake and talk to Rita's what you know, we want to remember you want to go and start a scholarship, you know Pokemon for my mom and my dad are you know, cuz they loved education. So we were thinking maybe just for a few years was here we can do and so I started talking to him and told him about you know, that the possibility of doing this and told him the story about the Omaha my dad and his dad got together and you know the ages of the Loyalty with both of them and how they kill the end and even love yourself her position and he was moved and he says, you know, what is it less if you were if you would like to talk to your family that you can get both times together we can do more.

26:42 In a way, you know and sold out of the beginning and then we've got it started right away. And so we we gave one one the first year one the second year and after that we've been going over in the last few years. We got four to six scholarships of a thousand dollars in Vista High School Vista and we set up the rules. You know, I'm going to be right cuz it's basically are your guidelines. Yeah read.

27:15 In speaking to Calvin his brother. You know Paul's Miller's they both decided you were going to rule pattern do after the lonely family. So I had to be legally here knows through some kind of way to me. They had to be on their way to graduate with a minimum of 2.5 GPA grade point average and and then see where we can make the difference, you know, and you know that other scholarship programs and ended, you know, Grant and like that I usually focus on high schools and then end it and if they do it's good you're going to have to have a 4.0 or something like that and they're like our scholarship to what makes her scholarship different really special and probably I think people really got open their eyes. I would really see that this is where it's at for a most people in a really because of financial aid at the college level.

28:15 And the reason is we chose it because of the fine for financial aid if we gave $1,000 pretty much they were losing $1,000. So it was it was I wouldn't mind you're you're rewarding and send someone else's taking away. So we decided to spend more time cuz we didn't have a chance to spend that much time on your studies. I mean I wasn't available we have to work. So for these kids is assuring him of being able to make it to that next step and we've been very successful were these kids at the high school? That's what they needed. They don't have to go out and work a lot of kids don't have a mom and dad at home. We did we get it from Mom would get it from Dad now and end up families are more fractured noun and

29:10 Yeah, what is it? So it's been that has been really really nice. You don't have a lot of very good feedback. We had won one of the visual actually did who made it was he even admitted to Berkeley Inn in a made it very clear says, you know what I made it to Berkeley in spite of all my difficult time and we're talking about really enough time to tell you all the story about him because the lonely Miller scholarship, which is what we call the scholarship.

29:40 In his sophomore year at Berkeley looking for a soul to get into Berkeley. Okay. What's the West quite an honor second of all his second year he was he was granted he was so I recruited by the Livermore Laboratories and he was designing parts that were being installed in satellites, you know, within months of several months of you know, when he was a sophomore at the University of Berkeley UC Berkeley, you know designing Hardware software and in the end Hardware or consider the space program.

30:29 Citizen you you helped me get through. So it's a real tearjerker.

30:39 Will

30:42 Is there anything else that you want to add? Yeah, you know, what's going to be the one who had do, you know was some of the cultural differences that we didn't we notice this week when we first came over from from Mexico, you know, have you lived in Tijuana weekends before you know, and that we found that they were so that town in the making it was considered a hell hole in those days it but it was and it was just about being you know, they were the one I was beginning to expand. It was just you know, it was a waking even now well-known Latin American Wellmont. UConn North I think his name is Luis Alberto urrea in one of his books. He referred to Tijuana is the Calcutta of the border, which I think is a gracious curly Acura TL, you know, not so much today as it was before but do you know of anybody who would say probably know if it is still be fairly close, but it'll definitely I mean

31:42 We were there we have to go to a brand new school. Amelia was just opened right now is nothing has won basketball court that was put in a nose hoop. There was a volleyball court that they put in between also and in but usually no one had a volleyball to play in a little like in you up to look up there in that PE equipment equipment than they know they're brand new funny things that are really exciting the monkey bars and all these little Islands Wings to go to the into the cafeteria is like a palace, you know, it was it was it was weird.

32:41 And then I don't think I should take them in recess the relax and go and play games and and in a bus to bring you to school. Oh my God in a brand new one to boot. You know what we got here. It was hilarious. We got in but we were laugh now it's really but

32:59 We were stopped at the bus stop, you know, and they still had the plastic ramps around the seats of the for the bus. Wow is bus number for Tina to remember the number and a walking a new vehicle.

33:18 So who's going to buy this back-and-forth? It was it was nice in the first house. We lived in in in in Vista. We stated and placed it was in the several months. There was a very quickly remove to how many bones do they have you went to see a house right by Washington Funeral, Colorado Washington Middle School now or I'll wear all of his school is now either right side by side and you wouldn't look at a house and he had been told it was $11,000 and this was figure like right now seeing a million dollars. You have to insult my dad and look at it can happen typical agricultural worker outfit in the owner says I'll know it's there.

34:18 10000

34:20 Sao Hollow some Mexican shows up in the in the price of a Henry cell with you know, and of course eventually we settled in the one in there because that was the one more reason we could do payments in no hurry to be tough. Make the payment. Don't worry about it. But still housing in West Connecticut when we moved in the boys room where it say it was you and Google and Italy here and Pancho all four of you boys buzz by you had been born yet. It would didn't have black tar paper on the walls.

35:12 Do we have until just like nt1a Woods on the inside and just tar paper outside in a Domino's bestest siding. It was good that I wasn't we came over there all these phones that stopped outside the Milkman come by and drop all these things there and no one would take him bicycle sitting out there another equipment, you know, you know what touch, it would have been gone when you saw it.

36:00 You know when the kids tons of toys you were all this, you know, it was weird. I did notice one thing also, then I was kind of surprised. I looked at it. It was food. See all these kids coming to school with her the sandwich with jelly peanut butter and jelly. I had no idea. What was really questioning what the heck he was fixing one of those nights and I looked and I saw I saw the picture of a peanut butter jar.

36:45 You know, it was a little cultural differences Lincoln Elementary School Lincoln Middle School in nice homes now, but it was weird because it ran a little long in my house. I remember seeing that messy house so a boy this will not go in my house. So with we've talked about how we came across in and that the strong bond between mr. Miller and Menard ad that how you convince dad that education was important. And by the way, thank you for that because if your boys hadn't you know done as well as you did I would have never

37:39 I've been able to go to college and write my book wensel's from the house on West Connecticut Avenue, etcetera, etcetera, like all these little Pebbles fall in the in the water and the ripples reach out mine. And that here we are. I'm 57 and your 6666. We're missing our parents will always miss them. But but but will they give us hope and that we share that hope with our kids and the desire for education and to get ahead and represent our people well or family well, and I know we're just glad to be in America and I mean

38:19 You know, we just figured we belong here and we just wish we had more people like us to help make the image of a Mexican Americans more representative of Irish people basically, which we are Universal.

38:35 Well, you know it did you want to say say hello to anybody living or not living you know it because we're at the end of I like to thank first of all all our family and every single one of us me my deals were helping us and get a culture rated my grandma get for example, really hope that she was wonderful singing jingle bell. Jingle bell jingle bell jingle all the way.

39:18 But also mr. Miller for a minute, you know, I haven't taken a gamble on us, you know, and for having the smarts to realize that my dad wasn't on it was an honest person and always want to sit around and you know through and through and it was my mom wasn't a real trooper and a real believer in education and you know that they just thought that we came to the United States, you know, God was smiling on us and

40:03 It was great. I want to say thank you to my family my wonderful son Pasquale lomelu00ed Benitez Piper daughter Liliana lomelu00ed and my wonderful husband David Miller no relationship to the Miller family from Vista. And also thank you to my sister Lily.

40:22 The best sister one could ever hope for she was like a second mom to me. Thank you very much and thank you to our listeners for listening to a story and thank you also for having me hear the interview did not like my wife. That is Terry and my daughter Veronica. We love very much and thank God thank God for giving us this opportunity think of you storycorps story club. Yes.

40:51 As your father, can you tell me his name?

40:56 Did for the for Mr. Millar the name of Jesus lomelu00ed Ramirez, and he was the manager of the the ranch and Nursery business Eminem nursery and mr. Miller property ranches in everything there.

41:14 General wrench work picking up picking avocados maintaining the Groves, you know animals horses and he was an avid Horseman planting seedling planting seedlings working with macadamias subtropical fruit trees. That was you know, it was the nursery who brought a lot of weird species from other parts of the world and introduce the Mexican territory here to this area.

41:44 My other question is in relation to what did you become and you mentioned a little bit about teaching and yeah, okay. I I became a teacher and a coach.

41:59 In teaching Spanish for and the hours of First in the first group of bilingual teachers certificated by the state of California San Diego State. We are the first program here and I was on the first group to to do that and I was instrumental in developing all the bilingual programs. Well the beginning of a little person Vista Unified School District at the secondary level.

42:29 It not your Mother's Day Guadalupe lomelu00ed.

42:35 As I sent you a s c e n c i o

42:41 Go to the United States in 1954, August 11th, which never forget the day.