For a series we’re calling “Letters To My California Dreamer,” we’re asking Californians from all walks of life to write a short letter to one of the first people in their family who came to the Golden State. The letter should explain:
What was their California Dream?
What happened to it?
Is that California Dream still alive for you?
Here's a letter from Sandra Barocio, to her brother, Humberto:
To My Big Brother Humberto,
It’s been a long time since we spoke face to face. Fifty-two years have gone by. My gratefulness to you is long overdue. I don’t believe any of us have truly thanked you or recognized your unselfish sacrifice.
I remember you poking me with your elbow; to wake up. You whispered, “We’re in California. I guess I’ll keep driving north to Salinas, wherever that is.”
Our Papá had asked you to drive our family to the crops of California in Papá’s Dodge Polara station wagon, filled with our belongings. You never complained about the four-day journey. You asked me to tell you stories while you drove at night to avoid the summer heat.
“Look at all the fields to be harvested,” Papá pointed out. Signs announcing small towns: Soledad, Gonzales, Chualar and finally Salinas. You took the Main Street exit and drove slowly through town.
It was you who spotted the tall eucalyptus trees at the end of Main Street. You made us feel like we were simply going to have a picnic. We enjoyed sitting with you under those trees. You told us funny stories.
Night was coming.
You ordered us to get in the station wagon and to lock the doors. Papá asked you to guard us through the night. Mamá gave you a blanket and you laid it on the dirt, under a tree.
The next morning, you drove us to the unemployment office. There were multitudes of families that looked just like us. Your persistence and tenacity made us different. I remember you going car to car in the parking lot asking, begging, for possible work and shelter. You said, “I will not have my family sleeping under a tree.”
You kept your promise; we had jobs and shelter. You left California for Brownsville, Texas, to be reunited with your wife and baby in Mexico. It’s been 52 years. All these years later, I thank you for your sacrifice.
With much love,
We’d love to see your letter to your family’s California Dreamer. Maybe it was a parent, a great-great grandparent or maybe even you were the first in your family to come to California with a dream. Fill out the form here and share your story with us!