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LUANN JOHNSON: Okay, it is Thursday evening and it's May twenty seventh, nineteen ninety nine, and my name is LuAnn Johnson and I'm interviewing a young woman named Denise Zarate. Is that correct?


JOHNSON: For the Immigrants in Bowling Green Oral History Project, and we are in the backyard of her home on two ten (indeterminable) in Bowling Green. And, so there will be background noises of crickets and other such insects.

ZARATE: (laughs)

JOHNSON: And dogs, et cetera.


JOHNSON: Cars going by, things like that. Hello Denise.

ZARATE: Hello.

JOHNSON: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

ZARATE: My name's Denise Zarate. I'm fifteen years old. I live with my mom and dad. And my brother. I have a dog.

JOHNSON: You have a dog?

ZARATE: Yeah, I have a dog. It's barking right now. Um, I have a lot of friends. 1:00I go to school.

JOHNSON: Where do you go to school?

ZARATE: Um, I go to Warren East High School. I'm a junior. I go to church (laughs).

JOHNSON: Where do you go to church?

ZARATE: I go to church (indeterminable)

JOHNSON: What kind of things do you do um, in school?

ZARATE: Like, I teach Sunday school. And...

JOHNSON: What activities do you do in high school?

ZARATE: I play soccer. I'm on the girls team. I'm a member of the language club and the science club. Kid's team. And, what else?

JOHNSON: Okay. Well how long have you lived in Bowling Green?

ZARATE: Five years.

JOHNSON: And where did you move here from?

ZARATE: California.

JOHNSON: Where did you live in California?

ZARATE: Um, El Cajon. Have you heard of it?


JOHNSON: No, what area?

ZARATE: I have no idea (laughs).

JOHNSON: Do you remember much of it?


JOHNSON: You were about ten years old?

ZARATE: Yeah. Nine, ten years old.

JOHNSON: And where did you live before that?

ZARATE: Mexico.

JOHNSON: In, where in Mexico?

ZARATE: Mexico City.

JOHNSON: Mexico City? Um, do you have a lot of memories of when you were in Mexico?

ZARATE: Well, I don't remember that much because I was like a little girl.

JOHNSON: Mhmm. Um, well, do you know um, for what reasons you moved to Bowling Green?

ZARATE: No (laughs). I never...

JOHNSON: But you moved from California?


JOHNSON: Um, with your parents. And how many--do you have brothers and sisters?

ZARATE: I have a brother. Twenty years old.

JOHNSON: And he moved here, as well?


JOHNSON: And do you have other family in Bowling Green?


ZARATE: I have a cousin, yeah. And an uncle...

JOHNSON: And that's all?

ZARATE: Two uncles.

JOHNSON: Two uncles are here? And where do they work?

ZARATE: They work at Eagle Industries.

JOHNSON: Yeah. Has your father always worked at Eagle?


JOHNSON: So he came to Bowling Green when Eagle Industries came here?

ZARATE: Um, I think so.

JOHNSON: Okay. I think yeah.

ZARATE: Yeah, mhmm.



JOHNSON: I don't want to put words in your mouth, but, okay. So you've lived in this house the whole time you were um, here?

ZARATE: Huh-uh (no).

JOHNSON: When did you move into this house?

ZARATE: When, two years ago.

JOHNSON: And your parents own it?


JOHNSON: Yeah. Okay. So. Um, when you first came to Bowling Green, what was it like for you?

ZARATE: It was different. I wasn't used to it.

JOHNSON: What was the most different?

ZARATE: Um, well the people. Because they lived like in uh--Eleventh Street. You know how it's like one, two, three, four...It's always noisy and...



ZARATE: That's kind of...

JOHNSON: When you, where you lived in California, what was it like?

ZARATE: It was quiet. Very, very quiet.

JOHNSON: Was it in the country?

ZARATE: No. It was quiet, that's all I know (laughs).

JOHNSON: So you moved into, you moved to Bowling Green and it was noisy?

ZARATE: Yeah at the beginning. Like, first year, but then it got quiet, it got better. I had more friends, and moved to another house. And the housing....

JOHNSON: Okay. So, um, when you first moved here did you grow up speaking English?

ZARATE: Huh-uh (no). I did not, no.

JOHNSON: When did you learn English?

ZARATE: When I moved to California.

JOHNSON: So you were um, how old?

ZARATE: I was seven, yeah.

JOHNSON: So, was it easy to learn English?

ZARATE: Yeah, kind of. Well, it was kind of hard because I didn't understand...



JOHNSON: Where did you learn, how did you learn?

ZARATE: In school. In (indeterminable) school.

JOHNSON: What was that like?

ZARATE: It was hard. Very, very hard. Because I didn't understand. But, it took me like six months to learn.

JOHNSON: So, how do you, how did you do that? Do you remember?

ZARATE: Watching T.V., like, T.V. in English. Like, English T.V.


ZARATE: Watching cartoons and talking to my friends. Listening to like, my teachers and writing...

JOHNSON: Did you, um, were people very supportive in helping you learn?


JOHNSON: Okay. So does your family speak English.

ZARATE: My mom a little bit. My dad does not understand....(indeterminable whispers). My brother speaks English, yeah.

JOHNSON: He speaks?

ZARATE: English, like, not that good. Kind of like me.


JOHNSON: Well, I think you speak very good English.

ZARATE: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Um, so do you, do you find, do you help your family communicate, then, when, when they need...

ZARATE: Sometimes.


ZARATE: When they want me to. Sometimes they don't want me to (laughs).

JOHNSON: (laughs) Okay. Let's see. So um, what kind of community have you found here um, as far as um, Hispanic community that like, gets together and practices um, things that you remember from when you were in Mexico? Or like, celebrations or holidays that are usually not practiced by...

ZARATE: Well, it is really like all the way out here, we don't have, we don't talk to people that much. We don't really get together with like, other people.


ZARATE: Just like family. We get together on Christmas and Halloween...


JOHNSON: Okay. So, um, are most of the holidays you celebrate...

ZARATE: It's the same.

JOHNSON: ...the American holidays? Is there any other traditions that you practice that is unique to your family?

ZARATE: Well, I turned fifteen in November and in Mexico, when a girl turns fifteen you have like, it's kind of like Sweet Sixteen. We have a big party and...

JOHNSON: Tell me more about it. What is it called?

ZARATE: Quinceañera.


ZARATE: Fifteen.

JOHNSON: Mhmm. So tell me um, what kind of celebration is it?

ZARATE: Well it's like in the morning you go to church and you have like a church. Or first you go to church, then you go to your house, then you have like a dance, kind of like.

JOHNSON: So, tell me about the church service. Is it a special service?

ZARATE: It's like--no, it's a regular mass. And it talks about you a little bit. 8:00Like, people in church talk about you.

JOHNSON: What do they talk about?

ZARATE: Like, how you were when you were little and how you grew up and how you are now. And the things you like to do, and stuff like that. Then, you go to like, to the house and you have like, dinner kind of.

JOHNSON: What kind of dinner, do you remember? Tell me about the food you ate and...

ZARATE: Mexican food.

JOHNSON: Like...?

ZARATE: Tacos and Mexican food. I don't remember them (laughs). I mean I know the Mexican part.

JOHNSON: Are they foods usually eat on an everyday basis at home or is it special?

ZARATE: Uh-huh. Yeah.

JOHNSON: Who prepared them.



ZARATE: My mom and other people.


JOHNSON: Okay. How many people came to the dinner?

ZARATE: A lot.

JOHNSON: And how many would that be?

ZARATE: Like, thirty families.

JOHNSON: That's big.

ZARATE: A lot of people came.

JOHNSON: Yeah. Where did you have it at?

ZARATE: Mexico.

JOHNSON: So you went to Mexico for your Quinceañera?

ZARATE: Mhmm. (indeterminable)

JOHNSON: So you had--

ZARATE: On the 28th.

JOHNSON: Well um, who attended? What kind of um--who were these thirty families?

ZARATE: Well, my mom, all my mom's family. My uncles and...Is that what you asked?

JOHNSON: Yeah, yeah.

ZARATE: And my friends, parents, and all my family.

JOHNSON: Wow. Did they all--did they travel to go to it?


JOHNSON: So, did you have other relatives from the States go down for it?


JOHNSON: It was a big deal?


JOHNSON: How did you prepare for it?

ZARATE: Well it took us like, six months to get everything ready.

JOHNSON: Like things like, um...

ZARATE: Like buying things. Because it's kind of like a wedding. You have to 10:00wear like, white like a white dress. Kind of like a wedding without the groom. (indeterminable). White everything.


JOHNSON: And you had to--what other preparation did you have to do?

ZARATE: Well the kind of things you do in a wedding.

JOHNSON: Like invitations?


JOHNSON: Did you help with that?

ZARATE: Yeah. I did invitations on the computer.

JOHNSON: Oh! Cool. Did you--so you designed them?


JOHNSON: What were they like?

ZARATE: They were like on the regular paper.


ZARATE: Like regular sized paper, just folded a bunch of different ways.

JOHNSON: What kind of--did you have pictures or anything on them?

ZARATE: It had like, like flowers and it had purple writing. Like Old English letters

JOHNSON: Nice. That's what you liked?

ZARATE: Yeah. I chose everything.


JOHNSON: Tell me about your dress.

ZARATE: It was white. It had purple flowers, like violet flowers.


ZARATE: Where?


ZARATE: All over.

JOHNSON: All over it?

ZARATE: Yeah. I mean, not all over it but...It was pretty.

JOHNSON: And, tell me more then, is there more to describe about how the ceremony was or how the party was?

ZARATE: Just that it was a regular party. Very formal.

JOHNSON: Are there other people dressed up?


JOHNSON: Who? Everyone?

ZARATE: Yeah. It's like, kind of like a wedding, you know. Everything's very, very formal.

JOHNSON: Did you have um, what other decisions did you have to think about when you were planning it?

ZARATE: The colors and--

JOHNSON: Are they symbolic? Other than white, I mean I know that's symbolic, but...

ZARATE: Huh-uh (no). No. (indeterminable)

JOHNSON: What does it symbolize?

ZARATE: Um, I have no idea (laughs). It feels like, you become like, a woman.



ZARATE: Yeah. You're not a little girl anymore, you're a woman.

JOHNSON: Did you have um, any special instructions in religious education?

ZARATE: Huh-uh (no).

JOHNSON: Like when you're going into your Quinceañera?


JOHNSON: No preparation for that?

ZARATE: Huh-uh (no).

JOHNSON: Were uh, did you have like a line of other--like, brides have bridesmaids. Did you have any other people in your line or in attendance with you?

ZARATE: Yeah, instead of um, bridesmaids it's boys (indeterminable).

JOHNSON: So you had special people that stood with you? How was that organized?

ZARATE: Well, I could, since I was here I had my cousin in Mexico. She helped with everything. She um, got together with the guys and she--

JOHNSON: What were their jobs?

ZARATE: They took um--I don't know, they didn't do anything. Followed me everywhere.


JOHNSON: Oh, they follow you?

ZARATE: We kind of did like a dance, like a dance with them.

JOHNSON: Okay. Were they other, other girls your age there, as well?


JOHNSON: But they didn't have a special role?


JOHNSON: They just came? Did the boys stand up front with you at the ceremony.

ZARATE: Mhmm. Yeah.


ZARATE: I've got pictures.

JOHNSON: I want to see them. That would be very nice. Um, so you, do you go down to Mexico City to visit a lot?

ZARATE: Um, I haven't--well I went in like, December, but I don't think I'm going back for three years.

JOHNSON: In three years?

ZARATE: In three years.

JOHNSON: Before your um, before December, did you go--when was the last time you had visited Mexico?

ZARATE: Four years. (indeterminable)

JOHNSON: No? But what was it like for you as a child um, going back and forth or understanding that that was where you born--


ZARATE: I liked it (laughs), I liked it (laughs).

JOHNSON: Yeah. What did you like?

ZARATE: Well, everything. It was different. I mean, because I lived in California then moved back to Mexico. It was...

JOHNSON: Yeah. What was the community in California like that you lived in? Was it a lot different from Mexico, as well?

ZARATE: Huh-uh (no).

JOHNSON: It was...

ZARATE: Kind of like the same.

JOHNSON: Okay. Was it Southern California?

ZARATE: I don't know (laughs).

JOHNSON: You don't remember?

ZARATE: I don't remember.

JOHNSON: Yeah. What was it like um, starting in, settling in to Bowling Green as a home?

ZARATE: I don't know (laughs).

JOHNSON: It's hard to describe?


JOHNSON: Do you um, what are your plans as you're growing up now? Do you have 15:00any plans for where you'd like to, what you'd like to do or where you'd like to live?


ZARATE: Mexico. Go back to Mexico.

JOHNSON: Would you?

ZARATE: When I get out of school. Get out of high school. Then I'm going back to Mexico.

JOHNSON: What would you like to do there?

ZARATE: I don't know (laughs). Like go to school, college.

JOHNSON: Yeah. You want to go...What are you interested in studying? Do you know yet?

ZARATE: I want to work in a beauty school.

JOHNSON: Is that what you want to do?

ZARATE: I plan on going to beauty school.

JOHNSON: Okay. And you're going to go to school for that in Mexico City?

ZARATE: Mhmm. That's my plan.


ZARATE: Beauty school.

JOHNSON: Did you have a lot of--you have a lot of friends in Bowling Green?

ZARATE: Um, no. I don't go out that much so...

JOHNSON: At school, though? Do you hang out with people?

ZARATE: Yeah. Yeah, they're like school friends. But I don't go out with them. 16:00They stopped coming (indeterminable).

JOHNSON: Why is that?

ZARATE: I don't like going out that much. I don't like it.


ZARATE: I don't know (laughs). I just don't.

JOHNSON: What do you do at home?

ZARATE: Practice soccer.


ZARATE: Watch games. Play with my dog. Listen to music. Talk on the phone.

JOHNSON: Who do you talk to on the phone?

ZARATE: My daddy.

JOHNSON: Where is he?

ZARATE: In Mexico.

JOHNSON: How long has he been back down?

ZARATE: Four months.

JOHNSON: Is it business, or?

ZARATE: Um, we had a death in the family.


ZARATE: My uncle. He had a car accident.

JOHNSON: I'm sorry. So are your grandparents still down in Mexico?


JOHNSON: Do you have family come and visit you a lot, or?

ZARATE: No. I have a boring life.

JOHNSON: You do not (laughs). You do not have a boring life.


ZARATE: (laughs)

JOHNSON: I won't believe it.


JOHNSON: (laughs) So, do you remember um, what do you remember from when you were little in Mexico? What were some things that you has a young Mexican girl did in Mexico to play? Do you remember any games that are different from around here? Any--

ZARATE: I don't remember anything.

JOHNSON: Any songs?

ZARATE: (laughs) No.

JOHNSON: I'm going to put you on the spot. Any songs?

ZARATE: Huh-uh (no). (laughs) I don't.

JOHNSON: (laughs)

ZARATE: (laughs)

JOHNSON: Any nursery rhymes? In Spanish, you can...?

ZARATE: Huh-uh (no).

JOHNSON: You don't have to translate them.

ZARATE: I can think of one (indeterminable) long time.


JOHNSON: Have any new stories that your parents told you when you were little? What kind of stories did they tell you?

ZARATE: I don't remember because I didn't live with my parents. When I was a little girl.

JOHNSON: Who'd you live with?

ZARATE: My uncle. My uncle.

JOHNSON: Your father's brother?

ZARATE: My mom's.

JOHNSON: Your mom's brother. How long did you live with them?

ZARATE: Like two years.

JOHNSON: And where was your family? Where was your mom and dad?

ZARATE: In another part of Mexico.

JOHNSON: Do you know why that you were, that...?

ZARATE: Because they were working.

JOHNSON: Yeah, they were working. Was that pretty usual situation?

ZARATE: Huh-uh.

JOHNSON: No? That must have been rough.

ZARATE: They had business. They had business.

JOHNSON: They had business.

ZARATE: They came and visited me like, once every month. They'd come back. But I 19:00couldn't stay with them. They had business to do.

JOHNSON: You were little? How little?

ZARATE: Like, two years.


ZARATE: Yeah. I was an ugly girl, little girl (laughs).

JOHNSON: You were what?

ZARATE: I said I was an ugly little girl.

JOHNSON: You were what? (laughs)

ZARATE: (laughs)

JOHNSON: Why do you say that?

ZARATE: Because I've got pictures.

JOHNSON: Oh, you can prove it?


JOHNSON: Oh, I still don't believe you.

ZARATE: I can show you.

JOHNSON: Well yeah, but I still doubt I will believe you.

ZARATE: (laughs)

JOHNSON: I don't know many ugly little, little girls.

ZARATE: (indeterminable)

JOHNSON: Of course you were.

ZARATE: I don't know what happened to me (laughs).

JOHNSON: (laughs) Stop it. Alright, well can you think of anything else that I haven't asked you that you want to talk about how, about growing up here, or living here in Bowling Green? And your experience being um, kind of resettled here?

ZARATE: I don't know (laughs).

JOHNSON: No? No? Well, maybe um, well it's been good to talk to you and get your 20:00perspective as a fifteen year old. And maybe we'll, we can um, talk with your mom sometime, too and you can help me translate with that. That would be fun.


JOHNSON: Okay, thank you very much.

ZARATE: You're welcome.