Juan Martinez' story conveys pride, strength and even a bit of the blues, like the many well written arrangements in Mexican ballads he enjoys.
Play a corrido instrumental while you read the page!
Two steps onto the driveway, encompassed by the familiar acoustic guitar strums in the Mexican corrido playing in the background, homeowner Juan Martinez stepped out of his garage and generously took some time to share glimpses of his life with my research partners Chrystin Sanchez, Dr K, and I. To visualize immigrant Phoenix, we were exploring a neighborhood in Maryvale where more than fifty-five percent of the residential population are foreign born. On Saturday September 17, 2016, we were lured in by the front yard living room furniture and statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe outside Mr. Martinez’s house.
Like the lively musical arrangements playing in the background, Juan’s childhood memories came spilling out in well composed phrasing. Born in Mexico and relocated to Phoenix, Arizona when he was just four years old, Juan was the second to the oldest of seven children. To earn a living as migrant farm workers, his parents would board up the windows of their phoenix home and pack up their children to live in Hollister, California to work the summer harvest. Working the summer harvest, Juan explained how even as a child he was expected to carry the heavy burden of the work load in the fields. As the oldest boy, he carried heavy baskets of onions and other seasonal vegetables through the fields after they’d been picked, and dumped them into the piles to be sorted for quality.
The salt and pepper hairs on his mustache bowed up as he snickered when recalling the tiny wage of $1.85 an hour that he earned when he began his career driving forklifts at the age of 14. Juan is currently employed as a forklift operator for Gatorade. Juan Martinez became a United States Citizen when he was 20 years old. Juan has been a home owner and a member of the Maryvale community for 35 years. His story conveys pride, strength and even a bit of the blues, like the many well written arrangements in Mexican ballads he enjoys.