lost my father when I was four years old, and my mother and I went
through terrible things. Many times, believe it or not, I was hungry.
And I'm not ashamed to say that I was hungry, because it was true. I
didn't go too far in school, only went to I think third grade. So
anyway, my teacher. (He shows me a photo of his teacher.)
One day I was copying something at blackboard, and I was humming,"mmmm,
mmmm, mmm." And she come from behind, surprise, put her arm very hard
like this. (Hits his own shoulder.)
She said, "Ah, so your the one who's making the kind of noise." "I'm
sorry." "Stand up." I got up, she took me to the hall. At the time they
used to spank you. She had a ruler like this. She said, "You've got
three choices. I'm gonna give you ten, or you have to stand in front of
the class with tape on your mouth one hour. Or you want to sing? What
do you choose?"
So we went and went back to the class, I start singing and within
thirty seconds I had the whole class singing. She kind of liked it. And
she arranged with a pianist to practice and go to PTA meetings and
DAVID B. GREENBERGER: So she was a pivotal person in your life.
DBG: I've never met anybody that had a picture of their school teacher in their wallet. What was her name?
Miss Mosley. We need more good teachers. she was very kind, very nice.
I used to sit on her side and read the book, read the first lesson.
I wanted to go to school and study a professional something, but there
was no way because I needed to help my mother and my two brothers. It
After working in the fields in Texas, I came here to California and
worked on the vines, sometimes 110 degrees. Sometimes very cold,
pruning. But by the grace of the almighty I'm here. After working in
the fields in San Joaquin Valley, 140 miles up north, I decided to work
in a market with the Chinese people. They wanted to keep me cleaning
bones and doing the cleaning, they don't want to teach me the trade. I
don't know why.
I decided to apply to go to college in Toledo,Ohio, 1960, to meat
cutting school. I wanted to learn at least something, some kind of
basic trade. I was able to go there, but only had the ticket and ten
dollars, no more. I drive over there on a Saturday. On Sunday I pay ten
dollars for a YMCA. I had to report to school on Monday. Fine.
Lunchtime I was hungry. Nothing, no money to buy anything. Three
o'clock. What are you going to do?
What came to my mind to get a job, to wash dishes and have lunch or
something. But I went to main office and I told them, I explained to
them my case, I came here by fate and you have to do something about
it, you have to help. (laughs) They said, "We will. We'll lend you money, at least so you can eat."
The course was two months, the second week they send me with some other
guys that paid the rent for the whole time, and I didn't have to pay
anything. I purchased an air mattress, $1.89, and put in some air. And
the second day it had a little hole in it, and I used to wake up on the