Date: July 22, 2006
Interviewers: Jason Siska
Note: Questions are in bold italics
Today is July 22, and I am having an interview with Elidia Miller. Where were you born?
San Benito, Texas.
In what year?
Haha, I don’t like that question. Anyway, February 18, 1943.
What is your ethnic background?
I am a Texan.
Where is your family from, your parents?
They were from Mexico but they were raised in Texas since they were babies.
When did you leave Texas?
In the early sixties.
What generation American are you?
My parents were born in Mexico so that makes me first generation.
What are some of the occupations you’ve held throughout your life?
I’ve had too many, one too many. I worked here . . . I worked in the fields when I got here.
Yea, I worked [walking] beans in Towanda. I quit right there, the boss was too bossy. I walked home. I didn’t know my way around Bloomington and I walked home. I went looking for another job and I found some right away.
I worked as a nurse aide in McLean Nursing Home. South McLean, when it was South Main. Then I quit there and found a job at the Ramada Inn, West Market St. I started there when they just opened.
What are some of the factors that led you to decide to come to this area?
Money. It paid better here than in Texas. They still do. I worked here doing construction. I work here at Sugar Creek packing company. I worked there for 15 years. I’ve been all over the place.
Have you ever felt that being Hispanic has hindered your ability to find a job or has only classified you into only a certain area of work?
That’s a good thing. Since we live in a primarily white area, what are some of the ways you try to preserve your families heritage?
I speak to them in Spanish. I cook them dinner. We keep real close family relations. We’re very close.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced raising children in a primarily white area?
Go to school. Go to school.
Was it ever difficult for them? Did they ever not want to attend school?
So they never experienced any problems at school due to their ethnicity?
Coming from Texas, I’m assuming you lived in a primarily Hispanic area.
No, we lived in a barrio (Spanish word for Slum).
What were some of the adjustments you had to make when you moved into this area?
I had to speak more English.
Did you know how to speak English before you came here?
Oh yeah, I learned it in school in Texas. But, I had to practice it more because there was nobody to talk to.
What was the Hispanic community like when you got here?
Very small, it was not that many. I came to stay with my brother, Jesus. They were here already.
Was there any particular person or institution that was set up to help people when you got here?
So mostly your family and friends helped you?
What about getting food and supplies, where did you go?
Up to Chicago. We had to go to Chicago to get everything. I also went and got my husband over there too.
You did what?
I got my husband over there. My first husband I got in Chicago. (laugh) I used to go to dances over there. We had to go to Chicago to dance. There were a few here in Chenoa, Pontiac, and La Salle Peru.
Where the Hispanic populations were a little bigger?
Yeah, so you know we went all over the place to dance. Because you know, we Mexicans like to dance. We do like to dance. But we had to go to Chicago for everything.
When you came here from Texas, what did you bring with you?
I didn’t bring nothing. I wasn’t going to stay here, I was going to Michigan. I was just saying hi to him (her brother Jesus Villaneuva). Then my car broke and he said he was going to fix it and he couldn’t fix it so I had to go find a job. I was a migrant worker and I was going to work in the fields in Michigan.
So it kind of ended up by accident that you ended up here?
Yeah, it was an accident. Then he left me and I stayed here and he’s gone.
Would you say working in the fields was one of the most difficult jobs you’ve had?
Well, every job is hard.
I got used to it. It is hard though. Especially when you come back to where you’re supposed to stay and there’s holes in the wall and you don’t have no place to shower. It’s pretty bad. But here, I was pretty comfortable.
Are there any other issues that you would like to discuss?
No, but thank you for this interview and taking the time to listen to us.