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I Don’t Cry, But I Remember

A Mexican Immigrant’s Story of Endurance

By Joyce Lackie

Publication Year: 2012

When Viviana Salguero came to the United States in 1946, she spoke very little English, had never learned to read or write, and had no job skills besides housework or field labor. She worked eighteen-hour days and lived outdoors as often as not. And yet she raised twelve children, shielding them from her abusive husband when she dared, and shared in both the tragedies and accomplishments of her family. Through it all, Viviana never lost her love for Mexico or her gratitude to the United States for what would eventually become a better life. Though her story is unique, Viviana Salguero could be the mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother of immigrants anywhere, struggling with barriers of gender, education, language, and poverty.

In I Don't Cry, But I Remember, Joyce Lackie shares with us an intimate portrait of Viviana's life. Based on hours of recorded conversations, Lackie skillfully translates the interviews into an engaging, revealing narrative that details the migrant experience from a woman's point of view and fills a gap in our history by examining the role of women of color in the American Southwest. The book presents Vivana's life not only as a chronicle of endurance, but as a tale of everyday resistance. What she lacks in social confidence, political strength, and economic stability, she makes up for in dignity, faith, and wisdom.

Like all good oral history, Salguero's accounts and Lackie's analyses contribute to our understanding of the past by exposing the inconsistencies and contradictions in our remembrances. This book will appeal to ethnographers, oral historians, students and scholars of Chicana studies and women's studies, as well as general readers interested in the lives of immigrant women.

Published by: University of Arizona Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Maps

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Many friends and colleagues contributed support and advice toward the completion of this book. I owe a special debt of thanks to two women: Maria Lopez and Dollie Zamora. Maria, Professor of Spanish and former Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado, ...

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pp. 1-13

The room simmered quietly with anticipation and not a little fear, a bubbling pot of incompatible tongues, as at least a dozen languages momentarily emerged and receded in the hot room. Viviana and her son sat on folding chairs in the open space between balustrades that lined both long walls. ...

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Chapter 1. The Early Years, 1910-1926

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pp. 14-29

Viviana’s story begins on a ranch called La Hacienda Jiménez in the state of Durango, Mexico, where she was born in 1911. The Mexican Revolution, or as many Mexicans see it, the civil wars of 1910–14,1 had begun to rage, in part because of the vast inequities between the wealthy and the struggling poor. ...

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Chapter 2. Courtship and Marriage, 1926-1930s

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pp. 30-54

None of Viviana’s positive childhood experiences with her father or the tightly knit community gave her the courage to reject a devastating marriage. At sixteen, she was pursued by Jorge, a widower nine years her senior who was known to have beaten his first wife. As she remembered the situation almost sixty years later, ...

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Chapter 3. Crossing the Frontera, 1940s

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pp. 55-83

By 1946, Viviana’s nomadic marriage, the bearing of nine children, and the balancing of her own values and needs against her husband’s unpredictable temper had forged her remarkable strength. Now she was about to experience another major life change—immigrating to a new country. For what she and the family were about to endure, she would need every bit of that strength. ...

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Chapter 4. A New Country but No New Refuge, 1940s and Early 1950s

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pp. 84-106

Once the family became familiar with the migrant cycles and began to follow the harvest from Texas to Colorado and back, they sent for the four younger children who had remained in Mexico. Viviana then had three more children and more than one miscarriage, giving her twelve children in all, eleven living with her and Jorge. ...

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Chapter 5. Transitions and the Road toward Cultural Adaptation, The 1950s

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pp. 107-128

Wages for beet workers were good in northern Colorado, but the beet season averaged only forty to sixty days a year.2 By 1949, the Salguero family owned a small car for traveling between jobs. Each trip brought its own struggles, from carrying all their gear to keeping the vehicle running. ...

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Chapter 6. Motherhood in the Labyrinth

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pp. 129-148

Crucial to Viviana’s identity was her role as mother, the central hub around which her active bunch had grown up, learned to work, left home young, married well or badly, experienced joy or catastrophe, and, in many cases, now returned frequently for a good meal or a chat. ...

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Chapter 7. Faith as a Bulwark

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pp. 149-170

No matter what the struggles or crises, Viviana did have one solid refuge that never failed her, and that was her religious faith. Her conversation was punctuated with expressions of gratitude and si Dios quiere, if God wills. Though she had no opportunity to attend church during most of her married years, she had grown up in a religiously oriented society, ...

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Chapter 8. Citizenship and Politics

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pp. 171-189

Viviana still loved the country of her birth, indeed maintaining that some aspects of Mexican culture provide a much healthier lifestyle than that on this side of the border. She missed the sharing that goes on in a society with more collectivist values, but she also recognized flaws in the political systems of both Mexico and the United States, ...

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Chapter 9. Looking Back

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pp. 190-196

My relationship with Viviana continued until her death in the year 2000. As she became more frail, she tried to find a grandchild or other relative to live with her in her little house, but none of those arrangements worked out, so both elder daughters opened their homes to her. ...


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pp. 197-214


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pp. 215-223

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About the Author

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pp. 239-240

Joyce Lackie is Professor Emeritus of English from the University of Northern Colorado. While earning her PhD in English Education at the University of Alabama in the 1970s, she took a Spanish-language workshop, which led to a fascination with Latin America and immigration issues especially. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599677
E-ISBN-10: 081659967X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816529964
Print-ISBN-10: 0816529965

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 2 maps
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 855895391
MUSE Marc Record: Download for I Don’t Cry, But I Remember

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Subject Headings

  • Salguero, Viviana, 1911-2000.
  • Mexican American women -- Colorado -- Biography.
  • Immigrants -- Colorado -- Biography.
  • Mexican Americans -- Cultural assimilation -- Colorado.
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