Regular Americans Speak Out Part 12 Farmworker and Third Graders

A series of essays from various regular Americans on love, work, and life in these United States including a farmworker and a third grade class.

America Speaks

ROBERTO ACUNA, farmworker, Arizona and California

"According to Mom, I was born on a cotton sack out in the fields, 'cause she had no money to go to the hospital. When I was a child, we used to migrate from California to Arizona and back and forth. The things I saw shaped my life. I remember when we used to go out and pick carrots and onions, the whole family. We tried to scratch a livin' out of the ground. I saw my parents cry out in despair, even though we had the whole family working. ...

"Being a migrant, it tears the family apart. You get in debt. You leave the area penniless. The children are the ones hurt the most. They go to school 3 months in one place and then on to another. No sooner do they make friends, they are uprooted again. Right here, your childhood is taken away. So when they grow up, they're looking for this childhood they have lost.

"I wanted to be accepted. It must have been in 6th grade. It was just before the Fourth of July. They were trying out students for this patriotic play. I wanted to do Abe Lincoln, so I learned the Gettysburg Address inside and out. I'd be out in the fields pickin' the crops and I'd be memorizin'. I was the only one who didn't have to read the part, 'cause I learned it. The part was given to a girl who was a grower's daughter. She had to read it out of a book, but they said she had better diction. I was very disappointed. I quit about 8th grade. ...

"When people have melons or cucumber or carrots or lettuce, they don't know how they got on their table and the consequences to the people who picked it. If I had enough money, I would take busloads of people out to the fields and into the labor camps. They they'd know how that fine salad got on their table." (From: Working by Studs Terkel. New York, Pantheon Books, 1974.)

3RD-GRADERS, Vermont, in answer to the question

"What troubles you about being a child?"

I don't like school

Im to small

Hereing my mother and Father yell.

I wouldn't have to go to school.

older kids push around.

My biggest sister hollers at me

They don't let you stay home alone.

I would like to be stronger

I get blame on evey thing.

You cannot do anything you want.

they don't take me wait then.

an older brother

Daddy and Mother said that you can not do that you are to small.

growup beat us.

We can't do what we want.

to do my arithmetic

There is only one thing that bothers me. I can't voat.

The only thing that I dont like about being a child is that you cant do what you want.

(From: What Bothers Us About Grownups edited by Russel Hamilton and Stephanie Green. Brattleboro, Vt., Stephen Greene Press, 1971.)

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