Rodolfo Perez

Transcript of Rodolfo Perez
Interviewee: Rodolfo Perez
Interviewer: Dorothy Nygren
Place: Chicago, IL
Date: August 10, 2014
Transcriber: Dorothy Nygren
Total Time: 1 hour, 14 minutes, 37 seconds

Copyright © 2014 Edgewater Historical Society

DN: Today is August 10, 2014. I’m Dorothy Nygren of the Edgewater Historical Society. I’m interviewing Rodolfo Perez. He comes from Mexico. He has a very interesting story to tell. I hope you enjoy hearing it and I hope, Mr. Perez, you enjoy telling it. So we’ll start by asking you to tell us a little bit about where you came from.

RP: OK. I came from …. Jalisco, close to Guadalajara. So my parents, my mom and my pop, make six brothers and six sisters. “Hey, pop, you don’t have nothing to give us to eat. And then you going to make more family? You better stop, Pa.” I was thinking to come to the United States to make money. So I take thirty minutes to come from Guadalajara and I take the choo choo train to come to Chicago by plane. By plane I came to Chicago to make money for my family, to take care of my family. I take the train, the choo choo train, in Guadalajara and I hang on to Nogales … Mazatlan, Acaponita, Guamuche, …

DN: The stops?

RP: Right.

DN: I’d like to ask you first about when you were a little boy, were you in a village or a farm or what was your life like as a child?

RP: I am a ….I do many things when I am a children. When I am six years old I work…I make six pesos a day to take care of one bag of beans and one bag to corns. I go behind the cows. The cows break the ground and I put the seeds.

DN: Was this on your father’s farm or working for someone not your father?

RP: People…other…

DN: Some other person?

RP: Some other person. So my father don’t want me to work because….a long long story. My fathers don’t want me to work to make money because my father want me to follow behind my father.

DN: What did your father do?

RP: He work on a farm to put corn by hand, by hand, not by….don’t use cows, don’t use horses, by hand. So my father want me to work together. “Hey pa! Pa.” Because I work in a bakery and I make money in bakery. I make juice…Mexican juice…and I make money. “Hey ma.” (Making gesture of giving something to someone)

DN: How old were you in the bakery?

RP: In the bakery, I work in the bakery. I start working at six o’clock in the morning. I make six pesos in the bakery. From six to eight (a.m.). And then I take a shower with cold water ready to go to school. When the school finished, I have to sell Mexican duros. Cut, salt, pepper. I buy this one - twenty cents apiece. So then I go make juice, Guahache (?) Mexican guahache. Uno peso.

DN: So good profit.

RP: Yeah, so I make six, seven juice and they pay me cash. And I’m happy because I make money to give to food to my brothers. And my pa hit me. “Hey, Rodolfo. I tell you don’t go work to make money. I want you to be with me.” He hit me ten times with the belt. So my mother, “So, Benjamin, Goga (nickname), Rodolfo give us food, give us money. Now you want to go and sit down and eat Rodolfo food. You don’t feel bad in your heart that Rodolfo make the money and you don’t give me money. I am …and you no….” So that is the reason I came to the United States. I take the choo choo train.

DN: How old were you at that time?

RP: Sixteen.

DN: Did you come by yourself or with some friends?

RP: No. There were five.

DN: There were five of you?

RP: Five persons. They were looking for life. And then the train come easy. One Mexican. I see. I say, “Hey, hey, hey. I am on the train. I say hi to everybody. One man have a machete and hit me on my leg.

DN: On the train?

RP: On the train. He hit me on the train. The train stopped at Mazatlan and I go to the store and buy…how you say…acoutha…to… to…

DN: to cut?

RP: To fix. To make stitches.

DN: You stitched it yourself? Oh my goodness!

RP: So I buy a piece of thread and I fix it myself…double…black. I fix it myself and I make stitches. Double (makes an X) I talk to my guys, “Hey guys! Make pee [urine] on my accident. Make pee, because the pee…

DN: (mishearing Rodolfo as “bee”) The honey?

RP: No, no. The….

DN: Say it in Spanish and we’ll translate.

RP: The infection.

DN: The infection?

RP: The pee…no matter the woman or the man….take the infection…right?

DN: Yes.

RP: And then I try to fix my (pointing to foot)

DN: Your shoe, zapata?

RP: No. My leg, and now disappeared.

DN: I don’t see any scar. You did a good job.

RP: I have a little…

DN: Yes.

RP: In Mazatlan I fix it. I say,“Hey guys, any time you feel like making pee, just come to my leg and make pee. And I put myself, pee too, Because of infection and the train…

DN: I read that. I’d actually read that urine is sterile and good for healing. You are the proof! I’d like to ask you before we go on with your story…. In your family, were you the oldest, or the youngest, or in the middle?

RP: The five.

DN: And were you the oldest son, or….?

RP: In the middle. I am the number five in the family.

DN: I’d like to ask you when you came on the train with five of your friends, were they people that you knew growing up from the farm where you were working?

RP: I working in every station. I work in every station. I work in Juamuche, Benamehi, Benhamehi. I work to cut grapes. Uvas. I have to make sixty papers for make pasas, you know pasas?

DN: Yes.

RP: Put on the floor… the big papers, put on the floor and uvas…cover up the paper. In the field. Sixty pieces for thirty pesos.

DN: Oh my. When you got on the train, when you left Guadalajara and got on the train, did you have any money with you?

RP: I put a big (makes gesture on his back)…

DN: Backpack?

RP: Uh, huh. I put too much bread, sweet bread…When the train stop, I buy Pepsi or Coca-cola. And I eat.

DN: When you got on the train, did you just jump on or did you buy a ticket?

RP: No, I am a tramp. No ticket… and my five friends.

DN: A tramp… and your five friends. So were off for adventure; to make money. You got on at Guadalajara and where did you get off? In the United States?

RP: OK. I pace in Cohoca. I start and I take, how you say algodon?

DN: I’ll look it up in the dictionary.

RP: Algodon. (Cotton) What do you use to clean the ears?

DN: Ear swab?

RP: Yes and you use alcohol and the big white piece. I cut these two. A big container. I work on this too. Algodon. And then I go to Mexicali. Mexicali I go to one tia (aunt) and I work and make bricks. I make four bricks in one time. I work making bricks. I make seven hundred pieces a day.

DN: Very hard work.

RP: Well I enjoy whatever I do. When I mop, when I sweep the floor, I enjoy. Whatever you do you have to enjoy. And thanks Lord for giving me life, power to come through a life, to help my family. And I send the money to my family.

DN: So you’re in Mexicali, sixteen years old and how did you cross the border. Did you come with a coyote.

RP: No, I come from Baja, California.

DN: From Tijuana to Baja.

RP: In Tijuana, no Mexicali, I pay three hours from Tijuana…no Mexicali to Tijuana and back. So I take a bus and I learn….I work in the grocery and I learn to take the meat from the cow, the bones?

DN: To butcher?

RP: To butcher. (Touching his lower leg) This is for make soup. (Touching his thigh) This is more expensive for the cow. I learn the more expensive. I work in Tijuana three years.

DN: So you’re nineteen years old. And how old are you now?

RP: Sixty two.

DN: Amazing. You’re so youthful. I think that’s because of all the bicycling, biking and the work you do.

RP: I never… I see the school… I never come through the school. The school is my life. The school is my life.

DN: Are you talking about now, the Trumbull School, or when you were in Mexico.

RP: In Mexico. I never come through the school. My school is the life…the experience I had.

DN: Oh, your education is life experience.

RP: Life experience. My father and my mother is one story and when I come from out from my house, it’s a different story.

DN: So let’s go back now. You’re nineteen years old; you’re in Tijuana; you’ve been working in a grocery, a mercado, as a butcher for three years learning really good skills.

RP: I start working when I come through the mercado, I start working sweeping, cleaning up the merchandise. The owner sees me and loves my job, so he show me everything.

DN: So your hard work led to promotions.

RP: And then the owners made me boss and I order… I order the groceries and I make rich the boss. I buy pigs. I buy cow. I buy salt. I buy jugos…the juice. I buy everything. I make a lot of monery for these guys. These guys pay me $35 dollars a week.

DN: So now you’re ready to move on and make money for yourself, yes?

RP: Yes, because I know many things.

DN: So you are ready to leave Tijuana and what happened next?

RP: I talk to the owners. “Don Jose, I make my project now. I want to go back to Guadalajara now to see my family.” “Oh, no, no Goga please. I double the price.” “It’s too late. You’re supposed to double me the money a year ago, two years ago. Now it’s too late. I have my project to go back to Guadalajara to see my family. I take four years out.

DN: You went back to Guadalajara for four years?

RP: No. I take four years to my story. I take the bus to Guadalajara to go back and I see my family. I take three months in Guadalajara and then I come back to Tijuana. I pay three hundred pesos for the bus. Then I find out a good coyote to pace (take?) me to Los Angeles. I cross the border close to Tijuana when Julavista (?) and I take now my brother Francisco and me and a woman of sixteen years old [and] a woman of forty years old. The coyote….and then the coyote say, “Hey, you guys stay here. Don’t go nowhere. Let me take first the woman and then I come back for you guys.” “How far you go?’ is me. “How far you go?” “Three blocks from here.” “Ok,” I was thinking, “No way Jose! These men, two men, the coyote and the helper, ah no. Unh, unh. These men try to do something to the woman. Come on stand up, Francisco. Let’s find this man.” So I cut big stick and I scream, “Hey where are you guys?” I found one means to take the clothes (pushes shirt off the shoulder) like this to the woman and already the boobies. [I] say, “What happened?” I talk to the woman. “What happened, lady?” “Oh, these men tell me [he] have a cold.” “Oh, you have a cold? OK. You have a cold?” “Try to take me out the clothes, out.” “You have a cold. Let me know when you finish frio…cold.” I hit a lot of times. “OK.OK. I have no more cold. No more frio.” I….

DN: You hit the cold right out of him!

RP: Yeah. “Oh, you already warm?” Hey, no matter what part… It made me crazy because he tried to use the woman. “Where are the other men?” “Come follow me.” The other man already…. only have the breast….sixteen years old!

DN: The lady?

RP: The lady. He have the breast and calzones (panties) this part (points to crotch). I see he tried to take the panties off. I don’t say nothing. I hit like six times. So, “OK. You guys. Stand up. Hey, you coyotes. You better take us to Los Angeles. If I go back to Tijuana… you make me go back to Los Angeles. You don’t take me to Los Angeles, I’m going to report you to …. You are no good. You are not working good.” “OK. OK. Rodolfo. OK.” So he takes us to Los Angeles. It’s two hours.

DN: How much did the charge you?

RP: Two hundred dollars… each person.

DN: You had to pay right then?

RP: No. When you have the pollo…the men….You know the name of the people is coyote. The pollos is (pointing to himself)…chickens… OK. These guys call my sister, because I have a sister here.

DN: In Chicago?

RP: In Chicago, one.

DN She was already here?

RP: Oh yes. So now I have five sisters in Chicago.

DN: One sister was already in Chicago while you were in Tijuana.

RP: Uh huh.Yeah.

DN: You could pay the coyote later?

RP: Later.

DN: OK. So you and these other people are with the coyote in Tijuana. How did you cross the border? Did you walk at night?

RP: Walk.

DN: Walk. How long a walk was it, do you think?

RP: Well….like one hour.

DN: Were you a little scared or were you confident it would be OK?

RP: No problem. A big tunnel…I go through a big tunnel… too many rats!

DN: Rats!

RP: Rats in the tunnel.

DN: You had to go through the tunnel. You had to go through the tunnel with the rats?

RP: Yeah. Everybody; women; children; no matter what. You come through the tunnel. But no parado… no walking. (makes gesture of crawling)

DN: Crawling?

RP: Yeah.

DN: And you could hear the rats?

RP: All over the place. All over the place.

DN: And you were not scared?

RP: No.

DN: You were just in a hurry to get to the other side?

RP: You just keep in your mind you come to the United States to make money.

DN: So the idea of coming to the United States and the opportunities here were enough to make you close off the whole idea of the rats and the dark tunnel?

RP: Whatever dangers, no matter what, I have to make it. I have to do it. No matter what.

DN: Then you came out of the tunnel, and did you continue walking or was there a pick up or what happened?

RP: No. The coyotes rent a motel. OK. I keep the women here. I sleep on the floor and the women in the bed. I take care of the women. “You guys, go in another room. I take care of the women.” These guys, the coyotes tell me, “Hey Goga, you want to work for me? You are like Pancho Villa! You are very mach….? “Oh, no, no, no. Forget about me. I working by myself. A straight thing. No wrong thing. No wrong thing. I never do wrong thing.” Because the only Man I scared [of] is Dios [the Lord]. I take the bus to Los Angeles. I go to Los Angeles. I call my sister, “OK, Lulu, send the money. I am in Los Angeles. Send the money in my name…in my name, OK, Lulu?” It’s two hundred dollars. I buy the flight in Los Angeles to came to Chicago, because long time, don’t ask you for (makes a sign with his hand of writing on a paper)

DN: Identification?

RP: Identification.

DN: Do you remember what year you came to Chicago, or how old you were at the time?

RP: OK. ’75.

DN: Wow. Where did your sister live in Chicago? In Edgewater?

RP: My sister live in Berwyn, the street, and what is next… Sheridan….what is next?

DN: What is next to Sheridan is either Kenmore or Winthrop.

RP: Winthrop. Berwyn and Winthrop. You know, it’s three sleeping rooms. You pay one hundred fifty dollars.

DN: A week or a month?

RP: A month. For no matter what person. One hundred fifty dollars. But this is thirty nine years ago.

DN: Yes, Yes.

RP: So I take the flight. I’m here is Chicago. So I start working aluminum siding in Chicago. Aluminum siding and then next steel siding. The style first is aluminum, then steel. This is my first job in Chicago. And then I find out a friend of mine find me a job in Duplicolor, make paint. I learn make paint for car. I don’t have the paint. No, no. I make the paint. Any color that you want…..

DN: You know how to make it, to mix it?

RP: Yeah, mix it. And make the same color.

DN: To match it.

RP: Yeah. More better than computer.

DN: I agree with you. What was the name of the company, Goga?

RP: OK. First thing is Duplicolor and then Duplicolor sold the name to Sherwin Williams. Then the company close because too dangerous, the paint.

DN: The lead paint?

RP: You know the solvents… the solvents… under the ground. Many kinds of solvents. Not only one solvent. Many kinds of solvents. I know the code…162, 106, 101, the solvents. I know all the colors. I make all the colors. I take twenty seven years in Duplicolor. Close the factory and move to North Carolina.

DN: Did you go with them, or did you stay here?

RP: I stay here because my wife start …. You know, I have four. Well, my wife tell me that I have four. I’m not really sure, because the owner of the cow is the owner of the children.

DN: Wait. You have four children?

RP: Four children. Well my wife start to be sick…. Well Jasmine already have twenty. My wife start sick when Jasmine has four.

DN: I’m not sure I understand. Who has four?

RP: Jasmine.

DN: Jasmine is your wife?

RP: No, Jasmine is my daughter…. Anna is my wife.

DN: Jasmine is your daughter…Anna is your wife. Anna start sick…have a tumor behind the head…ah, start sick… have operation…one operation. Jasmine, my daughter, have four years old. Now have twenty. Daniel have six when Anna, the mother, is sick… start with sick. Now Daniel have twenty two.

DN: Oh my. So from the time she was sick from six to now twenty two.

RP: And that is the reason I no move to North Carolina.

DN: Your family is here.

RP: My family is here.

DN: You live on Farragut. When did you buy that house?

RP: I have thirty years.

DN: You have thirty years there. Is that a two story building, two apartments, or one family house?

RP: It’s two units and the basement.

DN: You were telling me you also have two other properties. You’ve been very successful.

RP: I start buy properties, no…. I start loan money to my friends, for free, no for free. They pay me the money. But my friends tell me, “Hey Goga, you loan me, you give me money. You supposed to charge me something.” So these guys give me the idea. “OK. How much you give me? “How much you want?” “One thousand.” “OK. How much you give me?” “How about sixty dollars a month?” “OK. You give me sixty dollars a month?” The guys tell me, “When you want to pay me the money?” “The sooner you give me the sixty dollars, take one year, two years, three years….” This way I make my money… my property.

DN: Let’s say he’s borrowing one thousand dollars from you, but he’s giving you extra sixty dollars a month to borrow the money? Let’s say as an example.

RP: Yeah.

DN: Whew! Very interesting. I’d like to go back to your wife Anna and ask how you met her.

RP: How I see Anna? So when I work in aluminum siding, my boss is from Monterey. I see Anna…. Anna’s father has a little restaurant. The name [of] the restaurant is Cafe Santa Rosa. I come to the restaurant and I order a menudo and Anna see me. I see Anna, and I ignore Anna. But Anna see me, how I am … very friendly….I don’t know. Anna’s heart likes me. It’s not my fault.

DN: (chuckles) This is such a good story, Goga. I’d like to ask you….you’ve lived in Edgewater…

RP: And Anna invite me to go, because Anna is in the school. Anna invite me to Brookfield Zoo. She send me a paper. She give me an invitation to go to Brookfield Zoo. She give me the paper and you answer. “I think I like you. I think I love you. Can you want to be my friend?” “Yes, I want to be your friend and I want to go to Brookfield Zoo with you.” At Brookfield Zoo I have a good time. I see the lions, the elephants. I talk good stories to Anna. I don’t touch Anna, just talk…good stories. Anna invite me to see the movies at Broadway…Uptown. This Uptown… how you say it in English… teatro?

DN: Yes. The movie theater.

RP: And then the next….what is the other?

DN: The Riviera?

RP: Sometimes go to the Riviera, and sometimes go to the Uptown. Then I talk to the father, “Hey Viejo. I call him Viejo. Can you let me try to your daughter? Just try. Like one doctor try your lungs, try your heart, give you medication. If it works… then I ask you for girlfriend?” “OK. Rodolfo, you have my permission. But you have come here to to pick up Anna at the restaurant and take her to the church.” I take the whole family to the church. And the movie.

DN: The whole family?

RP: The whole family. And I have to pay two dollars.

DN: You took them to the movie?

RP: Yeah. I make good money. I go to the restaurant. I take her to Santa Ita (Saint Ita’s Church). You know Santa Ita? The church….I take her to the church and then I take her back and get ready to go to the movies…and one little…. Her sister…her name is Paula. Anna’s sister [is] Paula. “Hey Rodolfo, can you put me on your back?” So I take it [her] on my date. I walk to the movies.

DN: Did Anna come from Mexico also?

RP: From Monterey and the father fixed the papers.

DN: Oh, she didn’t have to come with the coyotes?

RP: No, no, no. The father….the father… this is a different story. The father came… same thing like me, like a wetback. He tell me the story, ah ….

DN: That’s OK. I was just wondering what the story was. How did you get your immigration papers? How did that work?

RP: I start to fix my papers when I went to one institution in downtown, ah ….

DN: Do you remember what year? Was that under the Reagan Amnesty Program?

RP: I don’t remember the institution. I start to fix my papers…..It’s Comite El Cardinale. And then when I marry to Anna, Anna and me go to Immigration. When I marry to Anna… “OK. Let’s go. Anna, I start already to fix my papers.” “No, no, no, I am a citizen….”

DN: Anna was a citizen.

RP: Yeah. “… and I fix your papers quickly in six months.” “OK. Let’s go to Immigration.” And I go, Anna and me. I see Immigration Building. I come to. “Oh, hi. I am Rodolfo Perez. This is my wife.” And I explain this story. “Hey,” the inspector tell me, “Hey. What reason you come here to fix your papers?” “Oh, ah, you want me to go to Jewel, to the police station, to the pharmacy store, or the gas station? This is Immigration right?” The inspector see me. Oh, my goodness. Now I get in trouble. “OK. Go. You are a citizen?” [to my wife] “I am a citizen and I want you, if it is possible, because I want Rodolfo here. I don’t want Rodolfo in Mexico. Can you tell me what I need, what papers I need. He give me the whole story what I need. “If you, Rodolfo, you can’t fix the paper now, you can take to Mexico City. “The inspector say, “Oh you guys do the right things. Because many people, lawyers, take places…and the people charges money and they never fix the papers. The poor peoples lose five, ten thousand dollars. They never fill the promise. So you guys do the right thing because this Rodolfo have a good reason and this is Immigration Building. OK, Mr. Perez you have to…need a police….say sorry, go see the police station downtown and make a paper. Say sorry and give the right name. Now what your name? Now my name is Julio Figueroa. My real name is Rodolfo Perez but alias Julio Figueroa.

DN: So for a long time you were here, you were giving not your name, but a different name?

RP: Oh yes, different name because you find out….social security…wrong social security…

DN: So you had a social security card, but not in your name?

RP: Not in my name. Somebody loan me their social security…Say Ramon Figudor. The social security was for ten or fifteen people.

DN: Did you have to buy that or was it given to you?

RP: Yes, I give him twenty dollars. He give me the social security. And I work as Ramon Figudor.

DN: But then when you filled out the official papers you gave your own name?

RP: My name…my name. You have to…you never lie to the Immigration or Inspector…never to the police…to the FBI… never lie to these guys. You have to respect the Constitution from United States.

DN: I’d like to ask you then…. You’ve got your immigration [papers]. You’re living on Farragut making your family. You’re living in Edgewater. How do you like living in Edgewater? Do you think it’s just OK? Do you think Edgewater is a special place? How do you feel about Edgewater?

RP: You know what, the Lord give me a good direction because when you do wrong things, the Lord don’t help you. When you do good things all the way, the Lord put you… the life in front of you. You know, I make people in Mexico, my country tell me, “Goga, I make a nursing home. I make a committee in Chicago, and I make a committee….” “So, OK. You guys make your committee….Atlaztan in Mexico. I make committee here.“I donate one car and I make a lotto for make money to make a building in Mexico, a nursing home. Now I help twenty nine or thirty five people.

DN: So you feel the Lord put you here in Edgewater to give you a good life and Edgewater has given you a good life. And now you want to return some of that help that the Lord gave you by making a nursing home in Mexico?

RP: No. The Lord tell me…the Lord do everything, not me. The Lord use me. The Lord give me 100% everything…. Life. I never use a tattoo…. give me good ideas; give me good imagination… the Lord. One reason the Lord help me out [is] because I am a good son of the Lord.

DN: So the Lord is using you to help the people.

RP: Yeah. The Lord don’t give me the money; don’t give me the ideas; how I help to the people . You know, when I go to Mexico, when my father and my mother… the life…. I go every single year and I collect… I make an order in the bank, new bills, this deep [make sign with fingers three inches thick] one dollar bill, five dollar, bill, ten dollar bill, twenty dollar bill, no thirty dollar bill because you never see one. (Chuckles) One hundred dollar bill….

In Mexico, too many poor people. The children you see take a tortilla, a dura, a piece of bread very hard. I see, “Hey, kids, I give you some. I give money to the woman. “Woman. Take this. Go to the store and buy a big container of milk and a big basket of bread and give it to food for your children.” I say, “Hey, you have a husband?” “No, my husband leave me, because he made me too many children, too many bambinos and now he leave me. Now I have wash clothes, iron, and work to do something in the houses, clean up houses and my…. “”OK.” “Who you are?” “Forget about my name. Forget about who I am. Give food to you children.” So I do this…

DN: You are a good man.

RP: I never ask something to [the] Lord. Unh-unh. How you asking for something to the Lord when you have no credit? Hey, wait a minute. You know how you have to ask him, the Lord? You know the way? You have to be nice with everybody. Help. You know already I lose [count] of the account of how many people I bring from Mexico. I lose the account. How many people I start bring people when charge the coyote four hundred dollars from Tijuana to Chicago.

DN: Do they come to Edgewater or just to Chicago?

RP: (Shakes head no and make grand gesture all over the room.)

DN: All over Chicago or just to this neighborhood?

RP: No, no, no. I bring people to Los Angeles, to Chicago, to Nebraska, to New York … all over.

DN: I’d like to ask you…you came here to live with your sister. When it came time to buy, you stayed in Edgewater. Was that because you wanted to stay close to your sister or because you liked the neighborhood?

RP: I’m sick and tired to pay rent. I pay $350 in Foster and Magnolia. All the time I like to ….. I don’t like…. I live a good time, nice clothes, nice neighborhood… Like I say, when you be nice…. Everybody brothers in this life. You and… Dios…everybody. So when you do good things, the Lord… you make happy the Lord. When you do wrong things, the Lord cries. “Oh, no, no don’t do this.” So you give good satisfaction to the Lord, and the Lord help you. Don’t make you sick; how you call this part inside….appendix, inside your ribs, uh huh organs, yeah… so I tell you I never use a doctor. This is the best part, the Lord gives to me.

DN: I understand.

RP: So I tell you this way I make my money.

DN: But when you decided to buy a house because you were tired of paying rent, why did you stay in Edgewater? I mean, you could find cheaper rents outside the city or maybe farther away.

RP: Oh, OK. I’m not a Don. I’m a Mexican, but I’m… not a how you say…a stupid Mexican? Unh- unh. I tell you I like good things, straight things. I never steal nothing for nobody. So the reason is….if you want the Lord [to] help you, you don’t ask Him, you don’t have to ask Him nothing, because the Lord have you credit. I never ask Him anything, the Lord, so be nice with everybody. Give us food. Give us money. Try to find a job.

DN: Do you think the Lord showed you this house when this house was available? It was like, “Thank you Lord. This is the house you are showing me…..”

RP: I never say thanks to [the] Lord. I say, “Thanks Lord because you made me like that.” I know, I know, I know the Lord gave me everything. My voice. My kind. Goga. I never retire to say thanks. Right now the Lord listens and hears you and hears me. I am straight and not a hypocrite. This way the Lord help you. This reason….the right way you ask Him. You don’t have to ask him straight. Do good things and this way the Lord help you.

DN: Yes. I see… I agree with you.

RP: I tell you the Lord give me good imagination. I enjoy every single day. I see the flowers . I see the big trees. No matter what the weather is; hot.. cold…thank you Lord.

DN: I’d like to ask you about your daughters. Did they go to Trumbull School?

RP: Yeah.

DN: They grew up in this neighborhood?

RP: This school? Only my older son.

DN: Do you think they experienced any discrimination or were picked on because they came from Mexican heritage or do you think everybody was treated the same.

RP: Well, you know what. The teachers….the directors…the principal…nobody is the same. Because the principal put the regulations. Some teachers, they say yes but never do the right thing.

DN: And what about you? Do you feel that you have been picked on because you don’t speak English well or because you came from Mexico?

RP: You know… there is discrimination. You know better than me. You know better than me. I try to help people. I bring people. I see people here….You know I have in my home already guys; two people. I take homeless.

DN: You are a good man; a very good man.

PR: I take homeless no matter what country is.

DN: So while you might have been picked on, you don’t pick on anybody else. You don’t care what country they come from, what language they speak.

PR: If you use drugs; if you smoke; if you use marijuana….the Lord is looking for wrong people. The Lord don’t worry about me. The Lord don’t worry about you….or your husband, because you guys go straight. The Lord worry about these people. So that’s the reason. I’m not the Lord. I’m not a preacher. I’m not a lawyer. I’m not a judge. I know the story already to these guys. You know, the mother, I help her. Her name is Yvonne Lopez. I see the face. “OK Stand up. You got a mother. Let me see your hands. Let me squeeze your hands. Oh, very hard worker. You don’t have to tell me if you work or not. You can see this. Hard hands. Ok I want to tell your life. How many years you be in the jail in Mexico. Maybe you be more than five. I see his scar. You’re using drugs. You use drugs/ You use rock, marijuana?” “How do you know I use this?” “My experience. I call the mother. You have to telephone your mom. OK call to your mom.” I call. “Oh hi. This is Rodolfo Perez. I have your son here in my home. Your son is going to live in my basement.” “Oh no, no, no. My son is crazy. My son use drugs. Don’t keep my son in your house.” “Victoria…” The woman’s name is Victoria. “Hey Victoria, Dios is looking for wrong.”

DN: So He is using you to….

RP: But I help…sorry I forgot your name?

DN: Dorothy…Dorothea…

RP: Oh, nice name. I have a brother.

DN: The tablet is going to be stopping in a few minutes, so I want to ask you one more question. Do you feel like an American or like a Mexican or both?

RP: That’s a real good question. You know Mexico is beautiful, but the government…. (Makes a negative motion with his hands) I hate the government. Now the situation…. Now I want to return again. Mexico is the little villages, the little houses. Monterey, Guadalajara, Vera Cruz, Puerto Vallarta is different. I love Mexico.

DN: You love the little villages. The life that you grew up in. Do you want to go back and live in Mexico?

RP: No. no way Jose. Unh unh.You know the government show to the people….give an example to steal, to kill, because the government is abased, corrupt. Did I give you a good answer? I never going to move from here.

DN: Your life is here now.

RP: Oh I love Chicago. Chicago… I tell you….if I move….you make yourself happy. Anywhere I move I make happy everybody. When I work at Duplicolor, I loan money to everybody. The personnel take me to the office. “Hey Rodolfo, what’s going on? I see a big bunch of checks [with] your name. Your name. Your name. Because you cash everybody’s checks. What happened?” “OK Trudy. I going to give you two or three names, Rodolfo, Louis, a black man. He drinks alcohol.” “Oh, I know.” “Trudy, he don’t have money for the kids. He tell me, “Rodolfo, can you loan me $50. I pay you Friday. I have no food for my children. You have a heart. The Lord give you…’”

DN: I think we have one more minute…

RP: You know what, my voice. I think I talk too long.

DN: No, I think this is beautiful but I don’t think I have any more room on this movie, so I think we have to stop now. I thank you so much. What you shared with us is so interesting and maybe we can come back and talk some more and you can share more of your stories with us. I think it’s beautiful what you said.

RP: Well, you know, its many, many, many beautiful things to talk,

DN: So thank you again Goga for such a good interview.