Gonzales Family

Tony, Aruroa, and Noel Gonzales
Chandler Museum Collection, 2005.38.7

Consuelo Gonzales was born in Morenci, Arizona, in 1919. She is the daughter of migrant workers. Consuelo experienced a lot of traveling between farms located in Fabens, Texas, and Chandler.

In 1935, Consuelo and her son, Tony, started a new life when she married Guillermo Gonzales, Sr. Guillermo was a farm foreman for migrant workers. Consuelo and Guillermo have two children: Guillermo, Jr. (Gary), and Yolanda.

The Gonzales family settled on the Bogle family farm in Chandler. The Bogle farm was a cotton ranch once located near the Ocotillo community on Alma School Road in the Sun Lakes area. Other Mexican families in Chandler lived in similar housing projects. These homes had indoor plumbing that provided running water, but community showers and toilets were used. The migrant families were expected to pay rent. They earned money by picking cotton and other produce for less than six cents a bag. When filled to the top, these cotton bags could be as large as six to eight feet long.

In the late 1940s Mexican families relied on their migrant jobs because there were few opportunities for other types of work. Until the 1950s, jobs were not plentiful outside of the farm until business owners such as the Basha family started their grocery store in downtown Chandler. The Basha grocery warehouse employed many of the Mexican workers who live here today.

Consuelo’s children attended Cleveland School in Chandler. At that time, Mexican school children were taught to speak English exclusively. If the children were caught speaking Spanish in the classroom they were punished or spanked. Gary remembers how a Mexican friend from school took him to see his mother at work. His friend’s mother was a pastry chef at the San Marcos Resort. Gary and his friend delighted in being offered such exquisite treats as pastry.

During the 1960s, Guiellrmo, Sr., and Consuelo divorced. Now a single mother with three children, Consuelo’s money was running thin. New public assistance programs supplemented the economic support her family needed. She did not want to make her children go to work on the farm after school in order to make ends meet. An industrious Gary saved money he earned by picking potatoes at six cents a sack. Because of his hard work, the first Gonzales family car was made possible.

As a youth, Gary remembers attending the Parkway Theatre located on San Marcos Place. The brick walls and emergency doors of the old theatre can still be seen there today.

Gary was 16 years old when he managed to obtain a summer job through a youth program. For three years, Gary was responsible for working the runway and shipping airplane parts for Williams Air Force Base. The Gonzales family became proud homeowners through pure dedication and perseverance. They pooled their money together to purchase a brand new home located in Arcadia Village for $24,000. The family home was later sold to a local schoolteacher for twice the value that was invested.

Today, Gary is a Media Coordinator for Mesa Community College. He and his wife reside with their children in Chandler. They participate in local organizations such as Chandler Center for the Arts. Gary believes that Chandler has been an excellent community for Hispanic citizens.

Consuelo is 84 years old now and still cooks traditional Mexican dishes such as frijoles, enchiladas and rice. She lives modestly in Chandler and is a devout member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. She remains in contact with a childhood friend, Maria, who lives in Mexico. Consuelo enjoys visits with her great-grandson every Saturday.

Biography researched and authored by Mary Polanco-Gerlach and Diane Brown