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September 22, 2021

This Week in Pajaro Valley’s Past, Aug. 13

25 years ago on Aug. 12, 1996

Thousands of farm workers and their families marched through Watsonville, waving flags and banners to protest the United Farm Workers organizing efforts. In March, the UFW announced plans to organize the 15,000 berry workers in the Pajaro and Salinas Valleys, but has not yet submitted plans for an election. AFL-CIO coordinator Arturo Mendoza called the large march a reaction by area companies to the UFW’s efforts. He said workers were told it would be wise for them to attend the march. The march stretched from Main Street to Walker Street, filling Riverside street from curb to curb. As the marchers walked, they shouted “Quien es la union, nosotros!” (“Who is the union, we are!”).  Jose Ortega, president of the march committee and a worker for Dutra Farms in Watsonville, said workers are worried they will lose their jobs because of negative propaganda the UFW has given to strawberries. Well-Pict employee Maria Chavez said simply, “If I don’t work today, I won’t have food for tomorrow.”

50 years ago on Aug. 13, 1971

The Santa Cruz County Housing Authority voted to assume responsibility for the Buena Vista Migrant Labor Camp, and would seek to open the camp for another year to provide migrant housing for another season. Of the field workers at the camp, 83% are green card holders who come from Mexico and then return there after the season, but return early next season for housing. Some complain that blocks migrant workers from Arizona and other parts of California but can’t obtain housing at Buena Vista despite working and paying taxes year-round. Florence Wyckoff reported the authority is studying acquiring additional agricultural housing and believes a 100 unit project would be best. Wyckoff has been dedicated to the rights of farm laborers since her 1930s work with the State Relief Administration (SRA). She also voiced support for state efforts to upgrade migrant camps to meet normal building and housing codes, bringing good housing instead of more “ticky-tacky” housing.

75 years ago on Aug. 9, 1946

Mrs. Liddie Pruden observed nearing her 104th birthday in her Eureka Canyon home with many friends and family, plus delivery of this week’s Pajaronian “Bouquet of the Week.” She shared childhood memories of visits to her Ohio home by both Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson. In fact, she’s a great-grandniece of Old Hickory. She later crossed the country driving an ox cart across the plains to Colorado, carrying a young baby and an ailing husband. They were with the Barber wagon train on that perilous journey, and while they were not attacked by Indians, they passed plenty of evidence of raids on other trains. Mrs. Pruden opened a tavern in Denver and her husband freighted across the plains until 1871. Her brother Minor Shafer joined them in Denver and was associated with the first publishers of the Rocky Mountain News, still going strong today. A nephew, Tom Shafer, is publisher of the Wasco (Calif.) News. In 1935, Grandma came to the Pajaro Valley to visit her son, Seth, and has been here ever since. 

100 years ago on Aug. 12, 1921

The word “Metropolitan,” according to Webster, means chief, leading or principal. Willie Smith, lessee of the new Smith’s Metropolitan Market says that’s exactly what he hopes his new business to be, “the chief market of the chief city in this neck of the woods.” The new market was formally opened yesterday, with business kept at a high tension through the day and into the evening with numerous bargains in various departments. Fred Sutherland’s orchestra, with Miss Thelma Elliott at the piano; Vincent Anderson, violin; Ralph Marsh, clarinet; and other musicians, furnished the best of popular music for the big crowd. Approaching the market from Main, one is first attracted to the Bake-Rite Bakery next to the main entrance, with it having the innovation of electric ovens. Also near the entrance are the fruit and vegetable concessions, a delicatessen and fresh meat market, and light lunch counter. Finally, a large restroom, whose modern comforts will be appreciated by customers from the more rural districts.

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