Lozano Family

Members of the Lopez, Lozano, and Vasquez families in Hightown, 1930

Carmen Lopez, Ralph’s grandmother, came to Chandler with her adopted son, Guillermo Lozano, in 1922. They left during the Mexican Revolution and eventually settled in the area now called Hightown, located at southeast corner of McClintock Road and Chandler Boulevard. They were the first family to live in this tiny, rural barrio.

Residents originally called Hightown, “El Chamizo”. “El Chamizo” refers to the type of scrub brush that grew in the area. During the 1920s and 1930s, more Mexican farm workers settled in the Hightown area, and eventually the landowner subdivided the land where they lived and formed a subdivision with eighty lots called “Pueblo Alto,” or “Hightown,” in translation. The families who had already built homes on this patch of land had to move into designated lots, which created quite a bit of confusion and difficulties.

Hightown families lived in hand-built homes made of found materials, such as tin and scrap lumber. Some of the shacks were constructed from a mixture of tin, wood, and cardboard. These early residents used a substance made from flour and water to seal their humble houses. Just east of the small settlement of Mexican families was a group of Yaqui Indian families who also performed agricultural labor. Eventually, some of these families integrated into the same neighborhood. Hightown grew over time, but was still in a very rural area until Chandler expanded westward and developers created new businesses and homes, beginning in the 1980s.

Ralph’s grandmother, Carmen Lopez, worked for nearby ranchers, performing housework and childcare. She did not speak English but always found a way to communicate with these families. Although she was a small woman, only four and one-half feet tall, she had a commanding voice and a friendly demeanor. She passed away in 1983 at the age of ninety-eight.

Ralph was born to Guillermo and Rafaela Lozano in 1938. His mother’s parents were Manuela and Jesus Lopez, who had also come to the Hightown area in the 1920s, from Mexico. Ralph grew up with eight siblings, and completed his education through middle school, in Kyrene. The Kyrene School was segregated, and Mexican children were kept separate from white children until fourth grade. His father would not allow him to attend high school because there was work in the fields. Ralph later received his GED and worked for the Tempe High School for eighteen years. He also worked for the Marathon Steel Factory and the Phoenix Brick Company.

Margaret Aguilar Lozano was born in 1938 to Juan and Francisca Aguilar. Juan worked for the Boswell Gin, located at Frye Road and Hidalgo Street. Margaret’s grandparents, Justo and Rita Aguilar, came from Sonora, Mexico in the 1920’s and settled in the Chandler area. Margaret grew up with her eight brothers and sisters on Hidalgo Street, near downtown Chandler. Even though her family and many others were poor, they had a good childhood, playing baseball and enjoying other activities to pass the time. At home, there was no indoor plumbing and water was not always available.  Francisca Aguilar died at a young age so Margaret and her siblings did not get the opportunity to learn much about their mother’s childhood or family.

Margaret learned English at a young age because she was raised in the city and went to school with children of different ethnicities. She attended Seton High School. Her future husband, Ralph, did not become fluent in English until he was out of school, due to his rural upbringing and poor educational experience at Kyrene School.

Ralph and Margaret met and married in 1959. Margaret moved to Hightown with Ralph, and she became well acquainted with Carmen “Nina” Lopez. She remembers that “Nina” showed her how to eat rattlesnake to help cure sore throats. Ralph and his brothers often hunted rattlesnakes in the desert. Both Ralph and Margaret respected and loved Carmen very much. In 1961, Margaret and Ralph bought their present home from a homebuilder in Phoenix. The payments on the house amounted to $69.00 a month and they paid their house off in ten years. Movers brought the house to Hightown, and the Lozanos have lived there ever since.

The Lozanos have seen Chandler’s Mexican community change over the years. In Hightown, and other neighborhoods, families have dispersed, with many of the younger generations moving to other locations. New families have moved in to the area. The urban development of the Hightown area has provided some new amenities such as stores that are close by. But they do feel a sense of nostalgia for the “old times,” and they miss the strong sense of unity and community that once existed in Hightown.

 Biographical Research and Biography Submitted by Dan Killoren

Carmen Lopez at her home in Hightown, 1980s