Orozco & Mendibles Family

St. Mary’s First Communion class, 1953

Alice Orozco, the oldest of eleven children was raised by her maternal grandparents, Rosendo Mendibles and Trinidad (Trini) Maria. Rosendo was born November 29, 1900, in the Mesa area. Trini was born January 3, 1903 near Tumacacori, Arizona. In the early 1930s, Rosendo and Trini married in Tempe at Mount Carmel Church, which is currently the Newman Center.

After Alice’s parents divorced in 1948, she visited her mother in Los Angeles every summer, and saw her father a few times throughout her childhood. Her other siblings lived with her mother.

Rosendo’s father owned property on the corner of what is now McQueen and Chandler Boulevard. Rosendo’s father sold the property because of fears over World War II. He had already lost a son in the war and was worried about their future. The war ended soon after selling the land. Rosendo’s father then bought a house on Saragosa Street and Arizona Avenue. The lot is the second one on the east side off of Arizona Avenue.

Alice and her grandparents lived in a house, purchased in the late 1930’s, on 130 S. Colorado Street in Chandler. The house consisted of two rooms with three rooms added in the mid-1950’s. The house had no inside bathroom; instead, it was located as a separate building in back.  Her family’s house was in the downtown business area, located at the present-day site of the courthouse and police station. Alice remembers learning to drive a tractor at thirteen, and learned to drive a car on Pecos Road. All the roads were dirt until paved by the City. Alice remembers her neighborhood was very family-oriented; everyone worked and played together.

Alice’s grandfather owned a small business that operated two to three trucks, which transported hay and other materials for farmers. Rosendo was well acquainted with the farmers of the area. Alice also remembered him going to Yuma and other places across Arizona hauling barley and cotton. Rosendo worked long hours due to his job and was often absent. In the mid to late 1950’s Rosendo became ill and was forced to sell his trucking business. Rosendo started to work at the San Marcos golf club in the late 1950’s and remained there until he retired.

Alice had a strong relationship with her grandparents. She spent a lot of time with her grandfather, learning to use various tools for repairing plumbing and electrical problems.  Anyone who knows Alice now understands why she loves to go to Home Depot or Sears.  Alice’s grandmother was a housewife, and was very intelligent and talented.  She was able to duplicate the recipe of any restaurant she visited.  She also tried to teach Alice how to make tortillas, but finally gave up.  Somehow Alice could not make a round tortilla: square or football shape was Alice’s specialties. Alice spent Christmas with family, eating tamales and the traditional soup called menudo, which contained tripas, corn, and a cow hoof for taste.

Alice attended St. Mary’s grade school and graduated from Chandler Junior High and Chandler High School. She recalls going to the movies at Parkway Theatre and the soda fountain at Arrow Pharmacy as her main activities.  Family trips consisted of going to Phoenix to shop.  Alice’s grandmother taught her English, as she was not allowed to speak Spanish at school.  Like others in the neighborhood, both of Alice’s grandparents spoke English and Spanish.

All of her family and relatives attended St. Mary’s Church.  Alice remembers her mother being a very religious woman. The community at the church was very close knit. There were often weddings and parties held in the basement of the church. Alice belongs to the Alter Society, which runs a small gift shop in the church and provides for the needs of the church.  Alice is the treasurer of the Guadalupanas, a group that raises money for supporting families in need within the church.  The organization also has a yearly celebration for the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Alice is not married and lives with her two cats on Dakota Street. She attended Mesa Community College and received an Associate of Arts Degree. Alice was the first one in her family to receive a higher education degree, and she encourages her family members to attend college.  After graduating from college she went to work for the City, where she retired after 35 years.  Alice has worked in the Public Works, Parks and Finance departments and was a Library Assistant at the Basha Branch Library.

The city has changed a great deal; Alice remembers the cotton fields between the towns of Gilbert and Mesa. She recalls area farmers using and housing migrant workers as laborers on their farms where they grew cotton, corn, watermelons, and peaches. Workers were brought to town weekly to spend the day. Alice says that the workers were always very clean and polite.

Alice thinks that understanding the Hispanic community is important to understanding the city as a whole. Hispanic workers provided most of the labor that allowed the city to develop. Much of the Hispanic community’s history has not yet been revealed, or has already been lost due to deaths and urban redevelopment.

Biographical Research and Biography Submitted by Dan Killoren

Trinidad Mendibles in camera store, c. 1965